John Wesley Skinner, postmaster at Winfield, Kan., is one of the best known and most popular men in Cowley county. He was born in Galesburg, Ill., March 4, 1859, a son of James E. and Jane (Mink) Skinner, the former of whom was a native of Pennsylvania and the latter of Ohio. His parents, shortly after their marriage, removed to Moline, Ill., where they were early settlers and where the father worked at his trade as a wagon maker. From there they removed to Kansas, in 1867, and settled in Neosho county, where they remained until 1872, when they removed to Cowley county and resided there until their respective deaths, the father's having occurred in 1897. James E. Skinner, who was a veteran of the Civil war and took part in many of the hard fought battles of that struggle, was with Sherman in his famous march from Atlanta to the sea and northward through the Carolinas and, after Lee's surrender at Appomattox, he marched with Sherman's army to Washington and there participated in the grand review. In the latter part of 1865 he was mustered out of service, received his honorable discharge and returned to his home, where he resumed his trade. He was an ardent supporter of the principles and policies of the Republican party and always took an active part in furthering the interests of his party. He was the son of Courtland Skinner, a native of Pennsylvania, who was for a time a resident of Illinois, but spent the latter years of his life in Missouri, where he died. John Mink, the maternal grandfather of our subject, was a native of Ohio, but removed to Galva, Ill., in which state he passed the remainder of his life.
Mr. Skinner, of this review, was one of seven children and received a common school education in Neosho county, Kansas. At the age of thirteen he secured a position as cattle herder and for the following fourteen years, or until twenty-seven years of age, it might be said that he lived in the saddle. In 1872, he and his elder brother, James E., in making a visit to their parents, who had removed to Cowley county that spring, traveled 140 miles on foot through an Indian country, and after a month's visit, returned to their work the same way. In 1891 he married, rented a farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits in Neosho county until his removal to Cowley county. There he purchased a good farm, which he still owns and to which he has added considerably by additional purchases, now owning 400 acres in Sheridan township, Cowley county, which is operated under his supervision. He engaged in farming and stock raising until the fall of 1893, when he was elected sheriff of Cowley county, to which office he was reëlected in 1895. He won the reputation of being the bravest and best sheriff that county ever had and at the end of his first term was presented with a gold medal by the citizens of the county as an expression of their appreciation of his valuable services in that office. At the end of his second term he again received a token of their appreciation in the form of a gold watch, which was presented with encomiums of praise for his services as the chief peace officer of the county. At the close of his official duties he engaged quite extensively in the stock business, buying and selling cattle by the carload and also raising fine blooded stock. In 1906 President Roosevelt appointed him postmaster at Winfield, to which office he was reappointed in 1911 by President Taft, having given the same efficient service as postmaster that has ever characterized his official life. In politics he gives unswerving allegiance to the Republican party and is recognized as one of the strongest and most influential workers for that party in the state. He has never missed an election since he arrived at the voting age and has been a delegate at different political conventions. He served as sergeant-at-arms at the Republican national convention at St. Louis, in 1896, which nominated McKinley for the presidency.
In 1891 occurred the marriage of Mr. Skinner and Miss Elizabeth Campbell, the daughter of Alexander Campbell, a native of Nova Scotia. Mr. Campbell came to the United States and located in Pettis county, Missouri, where he resided until his death. He was a tailor by trade and also engaged in the hotel business. Mr. and Mrs. Skinner have four daughters, viz: Stella, a high school graduate; Myrtle, an assistant postmaster at Winfield at the present time; Grace, also a high school graduate; and Pansie, a high school graduate and an employee of the postoffice. Foster Skinner, the only son, born in 1896, died when twenty-two months of age. Mr. Skinner is a prominent figure in fraternal circles, being a Knight Templar and a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Modern Woodmen of America, and the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He and his family are all members of the Methodist Episcopal church.Pages 1367-1369 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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