Robert Harmon Hazlett.Success in any occupation, in any avenue of business, is not a matter of spontaneity; but represents the result of the application of definite subjective forces and the controlling of objective agencies in such a way as to achieve desired ends. Mr. Hazlett has realized a large and substantial success, not only as a banker, farmer and breeder of cattle of pedigree, but as a lawyer; and his career has well exemplified the truth of the foregoing statements. He occupies a prominent place in the financial circles of Kansas, is the controlling force in one of the leading banks of Butler county, owns and operates one of the largest agricultural enterprises in the state, and is one of the most prominent breeders of Hereford cattle in America. Progressive and energetic in the management of these varied affairs, loyal and public-spirited as a citizen, he holds a secure position in the confidence and esteem of the community and is recognized as one of the first citizens of southern Kansas.
Robert Harmon Hazlett was born on his father's farm in Christian county, Illinois, July 6, 1847, his paternal ancestry dating from colonial times, with residence in North Carolina. His grandfather, Robert Hazlett, was a native of Virginia who came to Illinois, in 1828, and located near Springfield, where he was one of the pioneer settlers, followed farming as an occupation and became a prominent and influential citizen. The parents of Robert H. Hazlett were William Phe and Zerelda (Haggard) Hazlett, the father a native of Virginia and the mother of Kentucky. William Hazlett was a farmer. He was identified with the early development of Christian and Sangamon counties and realized a substantial success in his pursuits. He died at the advanced age of eighty-one.
Robert H. Hazlett was educated in the public schools of his native county, in the Springfield (Ill.) High School, and spent two years, 1868 and 1869, in the literary department of the University of Illinois, at Champaign. He then taught school two winters, in the meantime devoting his spare moments to the study of law and was graduated in the law department of the University of Michigan with the class of 1872. He was admitted to the bar at Springfield, Ill., in the same year, and practiced his profession in that city from 1874 to 1885, having previously served as deputy clerk of the supreme court of Illinois, in 1870-71. As a Democrat he was elected state's attorney of Sangamon county, Illinois, in 1876, and was reëlected in 1880. While an incumbent of this office he prosecuted some miscreants who had desecrated the grave of Abraham Lincoln. As a result of this incident he was instrumental in securing the passage of a law making grave robbing a felony instead of a misdemeanor. During the early '80s, Mr. Hazlett had purchased lands in Kansas and Nebraska, and when his second term as state's attorney expired, in January, 1885, he came west and located in Eldorado, where he engaged extensively in the real estate business, buying and selling lands, and also practiced law. In 1887 he associated himself with the Hon. C. L. Harris, under the firm name of Hazlett & Harris, a partnership which continued until 1889, when he removed to Leadville, Col., where he had, with R. D. Lawrence, of Springfield, Ill., important mining interests. He took active charge of these properties, developed them successfully, and in the fall of 1892 sold them for a highly satisfactory figure. The year of 1893 he spent in travel. He returned to Eldorado in January, 1894, and began investing the comfortable fortune he had acquired from his Colorado mining properties in adding to his previous holdings in Butler county lands, and also made his initial banking investment. He purchased a large interest in the Merchants' State Bank, was elected president, and shortly afterwards converted it into a national institution, under the name of the Farmers' and Merchants' National Bank of Eldorado. He was elected president of the new organization and remained at its head, except for one year, until June, 1909, when he disposed of his holdings. On July 1, 1909, he was elected president of the Eldorado National Bank, of which he had purchased nearly all the stock, and under his management, in the past two years, it has grown to be one of the strong financial institutions of southern Kansas. At this writing, July, 1911, it has a capital of $50,000, surplus and profits of $16,500, and deposits of $350,000, and it has paid satisfactory dividends to its owners. Mr. Hazlett is known to the banking world as an able and discriminating financier and has brought the administrative policy of his bank up to the point of highest efficiency. He was the organizer and for several years was president of the Towanda State Bank. In April, 1911, he organized the Rosalia State Bank and is president of the same. He was the organizer of the Farmers' Mutual Insurance Company of Eldorado, and has served as its president for many years. As an owner of farm lands Mr. Hazlett ranks first in Butler county and among the leaders in the state. His Butler county holdings brace over 10,000 acres, operated under his personal supervision, on them he has built twelve tenant houses, besides the necessary buildings for crop storage, stock and implements. About 4,000 acres are given over to general farming, 5,000 to hay, 1,000 to pasture, and 300 to alfalfa. "Hazford Place," the summer residence of the family, is situated two miles north of Eldorado, surrounded by the home farm of 1,120 acres; and here he maintains the large breeding establishment devoted to registered Hereford cattle. A private water system furnishes water for all purposes; electric current is obtained by a private wire from Eldorado and is used for light and power, the residence, tenant houses, and barns being equipped with this light, and even a portable sawmill is included in the farm equipment. The lands lie along the Walnut river, and the hill slopes contain an abundance oi limestone, which gives added strength to the natural grasses and fertile bottom lands. The silt from the hillsides is not surpassed elsewhere, and doubtless much of the success in the development of Herefords is due to the limestone grasses and the alfalfa. In 1898 Mr. Hazlett made his first purchase of pedigreed Herefords. A lover of fine stock, his purchase was from a desire to have, in a small way, a breeding establishment, where he could, during his spare hours, enjoy the pleasure of ownership and improve the strain of his herd. That he has succeeded beyond his expectation is in all probability true. Among those who should know he is credited with having the best herd of Hereford cattle in America. Beau Brummel 10th, No. 167719, is the sire of most of the females in the herd. Beau Beauty, No. 192235, and Caldo 2nd, No. 260440, have also added to the strain. The herd numbers some 200, only those animals being retained which show high class. Numerous championships and firsts have been awarded Mr. Hazlett at various shows. He is a strong advocate of and has endeavored to secure the enactment of a rule, by the various fair associations, prohibiting the showing of animals over thirty-six months of age. Breeders from Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Missouri, and Kansas have drawn upon the farm for animals, a recognition of the superiority of this herd. Mr. Hazlett is a director of the American Hereford Cattle Breeders' Association, a member of the executive committee, and he served as president of the association, in 1908-09. He is also a director of the American Royal Live Stock Show, and he has done as much, if not more, to draw attention to Kansas cattle than any other breeder in the state. Mr. Hazlett is a staunch supporter of the Democratic party, and while he has not been desirous of office, has been a strong political factor in Butler county and the State of Kansas. He has served as a member of the State Central Committee, was an alternate delegate to the national convention, in 1896, and delegate to the national convention, at Kansas City, in 1900.
On Jan. 7, 1884, Mr. Hazlett married Miss Isabella, daughter of Col. James Bradford, of Springfield, Ill., and a member of the Bradford family of Kentucky, members of which have been prominent in the commercial, political, social, and religious life of the state since its settlement. They have no children, but have reared a nephew of Mrs. HazlettRobert Hazlett Bradford (see sketch). Mrs. Hazlett is a lady of broad culture, is widely read, has traveled extensively, and is popular in the social circles of Butler county. The town house of the family is the most pretentious residence in the county. It was built of native limestone and is finished in hard woods, grown on the home farm, "Hazford Place."Pages 544-547 from volume III, part 1 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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