William H. Lasswell, a Kansas pioneer, who for over half a century has been a part of the life of Kansas, and shared the vicissitudes of early day life on the staked plains, is today a dominant factor of Jackson county. He was born in Rock Castle county, Kentucky, April 19, 1842, a son of Ransom and Nancy (Snodgrass) Lasswell, natives of Virginia. The father was a farmer in Kentucky, and died when William H. was about ten years old. In 1857 the mother, and the children went to Clinton county, Missouri, driving the entire distance from their Kentucky home, with a team and canvas covered wagon. Here they settled on a farm and remained until 1860. William H. was the only son and while he was a mere boy, the responsibility of maintaining the family fell, principally, upon him, and he set about to do the best he could, and finally won. He came to Kansas in 1860 and settled on a rented farm in Leavenworth county. He had only one horse and he met with crop failures, and in addition to working his little place, he frequently worked out for farmers, generally receiving about $13 per month. In 1863 he drove an ox team to Fort Laramie, Wyo., and the following year made a similar trip to Denver, Colo. on a freighting expedition. On the last trip, the train to which he was attached, was attacked by hostile Indiana on the plains, but at the time, they were escorted by government troops, and the Indians were driven off, without being able to carry out their plan of plunder and massacre. During this trip, Mr. Lasswell saw thousands of buffalo roaming over the plains,herds frequently extending for miles. During his early residence in Kansas and Missouri, the border warfare was raging in all its fury, and to add to his other troubles, being a Democrat by nature and principle, he was frequently a victim of abolition enthusiasm, and on one occasion, while calling on a young lady in Missouri, he was captured by Federal soldiers, but after satisfying them that he was not really a bad man, after all, he was released. He continued to work rented land about ten years, and in the early seventies, bought his first farm of forty acres in Leavenworth county, to which he added another forty, and in 1880 sold his Leavenworth county property and removed to Jackson county, settling in Washington township, which afterwards became Adrian township. He bought a farm of 80 acres, and immediately engaged in the cattle business quite extensively. There was considerable free range at that time, and he took advantage of the situation, investing heavily in cattle. His business increased from year to year, until finally he was marketing nearly a thousand head of cattle a year, and becaame[sic] one of the successful cattle men of that section. He shipped some of the finest cattle to reach the Chicago market, and his cattle frequently topped that market. As he succeeded in his business, he continued to buy land, until he became perhaps the largest land owner in Jackson county, now owning over 3,000 acres. He remained on the farm until 1901, when he removed to Holton and continued to direct his farming operations, and cattle business from his home in Holton. He hired a superintendent, and spent considerable time driving from his home to the farms and back, but this proved unsatisfactory, and after two or three years, he turned the management of his farm and stock business over to his two sons, H. A. and Otis, who are now successfully conducting the same. In order to have something to do, Mr. Lasswell then engaged in buying and shipping of horses and mules, which developed into an extensive business within two or three years, and when he found this was getting to a point where it required too much attention he retired. Mr. Lasswell has many other interests besides his vast acres in Jackson county. In 1900 he was one of the organizers of the Kansas State Bank of Holton, and was for one year president of that institution. He is now president of the First National Bank of Mayetta, Kans., an institution with $25,000.00 capital and undivided profits of $13,000. He is also president of the State Bank of Hoyt, and for several years has been interested in the Independent Telephone Company of which he is now a director. Mr. Lasswell was united in marriage, February 22, 1863, to Miss Sarah E. Ballinger, a native of Henry county, Indiana, born March 3, 1840. She is a daughter of Elwood and Hannah (Berkshire) Ballinger, the former a native of New Jersey, and the latter of Dayton, Ohio. The father was a carpenter, and also followed farming. They came from Ohio to Indiana at an early day, and in 1842 moved to Platt county, Missouri, which was early in the settlement of that section. In 1856, the Ballinger family removed to Jackson county, Kansas, and were among the very first settlers of that part of the State. To Mr. and Mrs. Lasswell were born seven children: Marion, deceased; H. A., a farmer and stockman of Jackson county, married Mary Graham, who is now deceased, and he married for his second wife, Alma Morrow; Jess R., maried[sic] Jennie Smith, and now resides in Portland, Ore.; Otis, married Peachy Bidwell and is a farmer in Jackson county; Maud S., married Arther Cosgrove and resides in Los Angeles, Calif.; E. Blanche and Alice, deceased. Mr. Lasswell is a staunch Democrat, and is active in the councils of his party in the State. He has served as chairman of the Democratic County Central Committee, has frequently been a delegate to county, congressional and State conventions, and on several occasions has attended National Democratic Conventions. He was a delegate at the Denver convention when Bryan was nominated for president. He is not a fair weather Democrat, but has fought the battles of democracy for democracy's sake. Personally he is one of the grand old men of Jackson county, who finds pleasure in doing good, and is best liked by those who know him best. He is a member of the Masonic lodge.Pages 131-133 from a supplemental volume 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 October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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