John F. Overfield.While at the present time Mr. Overfield is best known as the president of the Denver Alfalfa Milling & Products Company and as state senator from the Independence district, as well as one of the strong financial men and pioneer oil producers of Kansas and Oklahoma, yet, he has won success in other fields of activity and has had a business and political career filled with years and honor. Mr. Overfield was born at Lawrence, Kan., Feb. 19, 1862, son of Thomas and Margaret (Ferguson) Overfield. His father was a native of Birmingham, England, and resided in his native country until his twenty-fifth year, when he came to the New World to seek his fortune. He first located in Massachusetts, where he met and married Margaret Ferguson, who was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, and remained there until her twenty-fifth year, when she emigrated from the old country. She settled at Salem, Mass., and there married Thomas Overfield. They came west and located at Lawrence, Kan., in 1854, being members of those brave free-state colonists who left their homes in the East to assist in the admission of Kansas to statehood free from the stain of slavery. Mr. Overfield took up a farm near Lawrence, and as the territory was inhabited chiefly by Indians he began to trade with the Cheyenne and Arapahoe tribes for furs, which he shipped east. This industry grew to a considerable business before the Territory became well populated, and Mr. Overfield was regarded as one of the prosperous pioneers. He was thoroughly imbued with anti-slavery ideas and was ever ready to help advance the cause of freedom and free government. He lived to the hale old age of eighty-four years before passing to his last rest, in 1909. Mrs. Overfield still lives at the age of eighty. She reared a family of seven childrensix sons and one daughterall of whom are living. John F. Overfield was the fourth child and third son, and his boyhood days were spent near Lawrence, until his eighth year, 1870, when his parents removed to Montgomery county, where Mr. Overfield had taken up a homestead, which is still in possession of the family. The lad grew up healthy, strong, and resourceful, as are all boys who had to endure the hardships and privations incident to frontier life in Kansas, and secured an education in the log cabin schools of the early days. After finishing the elementary schools at Independence he was sent by his father to the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan for two years, and then to a commercial college in Independence for a business course. Soon after leaving school he engaged in the mercantile business in Independence, but gave it up to accept a better opportunity as traveling salesman on the road, which occupation he followed ten years. He had natural business ability and desired to engage in some enterprise where he would be able to invest capital in a business of his own. With this end in view he left the road, in 1896, and invested in oil properties in Oklahoma, being one of the pioneers in that field, as he drilled the first well in that state. He soon made a name for himself, and was engaged by Michael Cudahy, of Chicago, to look after the Cudahy interests in Oklahoma, and he has held the position ever since, still having control of the Chicago packer's many oil wells. Besides being owner of several oil wells, he is the president and general manager of the Denver Alfalfa Milling & Products Company, with three big mills located respectively at Hartman, Bristol and Wiley, Col., all in the Arkansas valley irrigated district, each mill having a daily capacity of from eighty to 100 tons of alfalfa meal. Mr. Overfield is a stanch supporter of the Republican party, having from the first been a loyal upholder of its principles, with an unwavering faith in the ability of its leaders in state and nation. He has always taken an active part in local politics, served in the city council of Independence and in 1908 was elected state senator from the Twelfth district of Kansas for a term of four years, a position which he is filling with dignity and to the entire satisfaction of his constituents.
On Dec. 1, 1887, Mr. Overfield was united in marriage with Clara J., daughter of William H. Rhodes, of Freeport, Ill., and they have five childrenGilbert H., Earl R., Majory, Clara, and Katherine. Mr. Overfield is a Mason, a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, the United Commercial Travelers, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, No. 780. He is a lifelong Kansan, being the first white child born in Wakarusa township, Douglas county, and by reason of his own efforts, industry, integrity, and capability has forged his way to the front rank in the business world.Pages 300-302 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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