John S. Gilmore.In presenting to the readers of this volume the biography of John S. Gilmore, of Fredonia, the aim is to perpetuate the life record of a Kansas pioneer whose entire career has been marked by the deeds of a public-spirited citizen, not only as an early settler of the state and a man whose energies have been devoted to its development, but still more as a leader in public affairs and one of the oldest newspaper men of the state. Among all of its citizens, Kansas can boast no stancher or more loyal Republican. His blood is Scotch-Irish, a strain perhaps the most vigorous physically, the most alert mentally, and the most robust morally that has mingled in the shaping of American character. Mr. Gilmore was born in Rochester, N. Y., Dec. 6, 1848. His father, Robert G. Gilmore, was a native of Donaghadee, County Down, Ireland, born Sept. 19, 1811. Though of Irish birth his people were originally of Scotch Covenanter stock, his ancestry having migrated to Ireland from Scotland on account of religious persecution during the reign of Charles II. He wedded Helen Storrier, who was born in Dundee, Scotland, April 28, 1812. In 1838 they came to the United States and resided in Rochester, N. Y., until their removal, in 1857, to Kansas, which was then a territory. On Oct. 31 of that year the family arrived at Kansas City (then Wyandotte), the latter part of their journey having been made on the river steamboat, "William Campbell." From Wyandotte to their claim, which the father had preëmpted in March, previous, was a distance of 110 miles, which distance the family covered in an ox wagon. Their cabin on the frontier was in the Neosho river woods two miles northeast of the new town of Emporia. Robert G. Gilmore died at Emporia on Feb. 11, 1874. He was a carpenter and joiner by trade and was a man of more than ordinary education and intelligence and a man of strong opinions. Until 1852 he espoused the cause of the Democratic party, but from 1854 forward he was a Republican. His widow survived him until Dec. 22, 1891, when she passed away at the home of her son in Fredonia. She was a devout member of the Presbyterian church and was a strong helpmeet to her husband, with whom she experienced all the hardships and privations of pioneer life in Kansas. To the union of these beloved parents were born six sons.
John S. Gilmore was a lad of but nine years at the time of the family's removal to Kansas. He remained at the parental home in Lyon county until July 20, 1865, when he entered the office of Jacob Stotler, editor of the "Emporia News," as a printer's apprentice. He was subsequently employed on the "Burlington Patriot," of which S. S. Prouty was editor; and later on the "Oswego Register," the "Leavenworth Daily Commercial," the "Osage Chronicle," then edited by M. M. Murdock, and the "Emporia Tribune." Before attaining to his majority Mr. Gilmore had, by industry and economy, saved from his wages as a typesetter and the profit derived from an investment in cattle a sum of over $600. With a keen desire to enter the newspaper business on his own account he used a portion of this sum in establishing a printing plant at Guilford, Wilson county. Journeying to the new location on a Kaw Indian pony in December, 1869, he there arranged for the project he had in mind and a few months later the paraphernalia for his printing office arrived. The press was a Washington hand press on which he had "rolled" as an apprentice in the office of the "Emporia News," and which had been taken to Emporia in 1857 by Preston B. Plumb when he established that paper. That, as well as the other equipment for his plant, Mr. Gilmore selected with his own hands. On April 20, 1870, was issued at Guilford the first number of the "Citizen," with John S. Gilmore as editor and owner. In that number the young editor announced that the paper was and would be a Republican paper. Being convinced after six months at Guilford that the town was not destined to become of any size, his paper was removed to Neodesha and became the "Neodesha Citizen," the first number of which was issued on Nov. 18, 1870. Two years later the paper was suspended. In May, 1873, he purchased the "Fredonia Journal" printing outfit from William A. Peffer, and there at the county seat established the "Wilson County Citizen," its first issue appearing on June 6. Mr. Gilmore has continued to be its owner from that time to the present, a period of nearly forty years, and has had absolute control in conducting and directing its affairs. Throughout all these years it has never swerved in its stanch and devoted allegiance to the Republican party. Neodesha was incorporated as a city of the third class in March, 1871, and in November following Mr. Gilmore was elected a member of the first city council when not yet twenty-three years of age. Later he was elected register of deeds of Wilson county, in which office he served two years, retiring without seeking reëlection. In 1876 and again in 1878 he was unanimously nominated by the Republican party as its candidate from the Fifty-fourth district to the state legislature, and in each instance he was elected. On Jan. 26, 1880, he was appointed postmaster at Fredonia, and held that office until Dec. 20, 1884. In February, 1891, without solicitation on the part of Mr. Gilmore, Gov. L. U. Humphrey appointed him a member of the board of directors of the state penitentiary to fill a two years' vacancy. In February, 1899, he received a similar appointment from Gov. W. E. Stanley and was chosen president of the board. He has been one of the most prominent and active workers in the Republican party in Kansas. In 1876, 1888 and 1898 he represented the Seventh judicial district in the Republican state central committee, and he has several times served as chairman of the Wilson county central committee. He has been a delegate to almost every Republican state convention since 1870. In business affairs he has prospered and owns 1,500 acres of fine land in Wilson county and is extensively engaged in stock raisins.
Mr. Gilmore has been twice married. His first wife was a Miss Viola Butin, of Fredonia, Kan., whom he wedded at Lancaster, Ohio, on May 31, 1882. She was born in Wapello county, Iowa, Oct. 13, 1860, and died at Washington, D. C., nine days after her marriage. On Feb. 27, 1890, in Newark township, Wilson county, Kansas, Miss Florence Barton became the second wife of Mr. Gilmore. She was born in Ironton, Ohio, May 14, 1862, a daughter of Capt. William and Mary J. Barton, and is a direct descendant of John Alden and Priscilla Mullens, voyagers on the Mayflower, whose romance Longfellow immortalized in his poem, "Courtship of Miles Standish." Her great-grandfather, Col. William Barton, was born in Bristol county, Rhode Island, in May, 1748, and died at Providence in 1831. He was a patriot of the Revolution and during that war became famous through his capture of the British general, Robert Prescott, which capture was effected through stratagem. For the act he was voted a medal and was brevetted colonel. After the war he became a member of the Rhode Island state convention that adopted the Federal constitution. By virtue of her descent from Col. William Barton, Mrs. Gilmore is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and holds her membership in the Topeka chapter. She was once a teacher in the Neodesha schools, and is a member and earnest worker in the Presbyterian church, which has been the faith of her ancestors for many generations. Two children have blessed the union of Mr. and Mrs. GilmoreJohn, born April 26, 1891, and Mary, born July 1, 1894.Pages 1584-1586 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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