Thomas Arthur Ellis, owner and editor of the "Osage County Chronicle," of Burlingame, was born in Coles county, Illinois, April 19, 1873, the second son of John G. and Nancy J. (Checkley) Ellis. His father was born in the blue grass region of Kentucky in 1843, but moved to Illinois with his parents at an early age and received his schooling in the pioneer educational institutions of that state. After attaining his majority, like nearly all young men in a new country, he engaged in farming and cattle raising until the war of the Rebellion, when he gallantly offered his services to the government and enlisted in the One Hundred and Eleventh Illinois infantry and served with distinction for four years. Mr. Ellis was in some of the most important and hardest battles of the war, among them Vicksburg, Pittsburg Landing and New Orleans. During one engagement he was captured by the Confederates and imprisoned for fourteen months, at Tyler, Tex. At one time his regiment was detached for guard duty under Benjamin Butler and spent considerable time in almost day and night work. At the close of the war he returned to Illinois and married Nancy Checkley, Coles county. She was born in Vigo county, Indiana, in 1846, being the daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth Checkley, who were some of the early settlers of Indiana, where they reared their family and gave to each child every advantage afforded in the new districts. Every state in the North rejoiced when Kansas was admitted to the Union free from slavery, and it became the "mecca" for young men who were starting in life. There lay the broad prairies, waiting only the work of the husbandman and his tools to blossom with fruit and grain. In 1873 Mr. Ellis determined to seek what fortune had in store for him in the Sunflower State, and located near Michigan Valley, where he engaged in farming and stock raising for a number of years. He has accumulated a comfortable fortune and now lives in Quenemo retired from active business life. He had always been a scholar, interested in journalism and for a time was editor of the "Quenemo Republican." He belongs to that patriotic organization of men whose ranks are perceptibly thinning each yearthe Grand Army of the Republic.
Thomas Ellis was only an infant when his parents came to Kansas and started the new home on the prairies. He grew up a healthy, happy, care-free boy, went to school at Carbondale, but early developed a taste for books and at the age of sixteen left school to enter a printing office at Quenemo, to learn the printer's trade. Even at that early day the idea was shaping in his brain that someday he would be a publisher. After completing his apprenticeship, he became associated with the "Quenemo Republican," and by 1890, by sheer will and devotion to one idea, he had been promoted from one position to another until he was made editor. From the first he met with success, and what had at first been largely a dream now became a reality. In 1892 he bought the "Republican" outright, and within a short time purchased the "Courier." Two years later he established the "Reporter" at Overbrook and published both papers until 1898, when he disposed of his Overbrook business. In 1898 he went to Topeka, to perfect himself at his trade, and while there gained a wide experience in reportorial work on the Topeka dailies. On his return to Quenemo he edited the "Republican," one of the popular party organs, and the Republican party nominated and elected him clerk of the district court of Osage county, which office he creditably filled four years. In 1903 he acted as secretary to the speaker of the house of representatives, and at the close of the session bought the "Osage County Chronicle," at Burlingame, one of the most influential Republican weeklies in eastern Kansas, established in 1863 by the late Col. Marshall M. Murdock. Although still a young man, Mr. Ellis has already made a mark in his chosen profession. In 1895 he married Maude, daughter of Louis and Calista Rukes, of Overbrook, and three children have been born to themMarcus, Thomas and Edna.Pages 1567-1568 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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