Dr. John W. Lees, a pioneer physician and merchant of Marshall county, is a native of Ohio, born in Belmont county September 23, 1836. He is a son of Dr. John G. and Matilda (Lucas) Lees, the former a native of Philadelphia, Pa., and the latter of Baltimore, Md. The father was a practicing physician in Belmont county, coming here when a young man.
John W. Lees, the subject of this review, was reared in Ohio, attending the common schools of the times, and later was a student at the University of Ohio. He read medicine under the direction of his father. He also received instructions from other physicians, which was the custom at that time. Like thousands of other young men, when the great Civil war broke out, he turned from his books, in response to the President's call to arms, and in May, 1861, enlisted in Company I, Sixteenth Ohio infantry, for three months' service. In August, 1862, he reënlisted in Company D, Ninety-seventh Ohio infantry, for three years. He served under Gen. Lew Wallace at Covington and after a short time his regiment was transferred to Wagner's brigade, Crittenden's corps, Wood's division, serving under General Buell in the Army of the West. He participated in the battles of Perrysville, Stone River, Murfreesboro, Crabb Orchard, Nashville, Lookout Mountain, Missionary Ridge and Knoxville. In the latter part of 1863 he was sent to Chicago on detached service, where he remained until the close of the war. He was detailed postmaster of Camp Douglas and also had the news privileges there, which gave him an opportunity of making some money. After being mustered out of service he returned to his Ohio home, and in November, 1865, came to Kansas, locating at Valley Falls, known at that time as Grasshopper Falls. Here he engaged in the photograph business for a short time, and later taught school at Muddy Creek two terms. He then engaged in the drug business at Holton, and in the spring of 1867 came to Marshall county, locating at Irving, where he opened a drug store and also began the practice of medicine. At that time Irving consisted of a settlement of three families, with one store. His experiences as a pioneer physician were far different from those of the doctor of today. He frequently traveled twenty or thirty miles to make a call, usually on horseback, in all kinds of weather over all kinds of roads.
When Dr. Lees came to Kansas there was no railroad in the State and when he located at Irving the railroad extended only thirty-five miles west of Atchison, and all freight was hauled in wagons from that point to Irving. This means of transportation continued until late in the fall of 1868, when the Central Branch railroad was extended to Irving. He carried a small stock of merchandise in connection with his drug store until 1868, when he built a large store building and opened a general store, separate from the drug business, and his trade extended as far west as the Republican river. There was a postoffice at Clifton at that time, but no store, and mail was carried from Irving to Clifton by pony express. When he came to Marshall county buffaloes were plentiful along the Republican river and buffalo meat was about the only fresh meat to be had. Indians were numerous and Indian scares frequent. Dr. Lees was the second man to establish a business in the town. He remained here until 1890, having been prominent in the development of the town in every line, he, with S. H. Warren and W. J. Williams, having brought the first printing press to Irving and established the Irving "Recorder." In 1870 he disposed of his business in Irving and went to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he was engaged in the grocery business about a year, when he went to Nephi, Utah, and again engaged in the drug business, also practicing his profession. After two years here he went to Shasta county, California, and engaged in gold mining, where he now has large mining interests and also owns considerable real estate in San Francisco. He spends a part of his time in California looking after his varied interests, but has made his home in Irving since January, 1911, where his daughter owns the Commercial Hotel.
Dr. Lees was united in marriage, June 30, 1867, to Miss Mary E., daughter of Dr. John and Elenor (Bond) Hines, the former a native of Washington, D. C., and the latter of Pennsylvania. The father was a physician and came west at an early day, engaging in the practice of his profession in Missouri, where Mrs. Lees was born and reared. In 1864 the Hines family removed to Holton, Kan., where the father practiced until 1866, when they came to Marshall county. He bought a farm on the Blue river and after a few years sold it, purchasing another near Waterville, where he remained until his death in 1883 at the age of eighty-three. To Dr. and Mrs. Lees have been born two children: Eva L. married W. W. Armstrong, a banker, of Salt Lake City, Utah, and they have one son, Sherman, who is a Yale graduate and now a banker at Park City, Utah; and Georgia, the younger child of Dr. and Mrs. Lees, who resides at home.
Dr. Lees is a member of the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Grand Army of the Republic, and is a Republican. Mrs. Lees is a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security and belongs to the Christian church.Pages 487-489 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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