Otis L. Thisler.Kansas owes her position as one of the most prosperous commonwealths of the Union to the high state of productiveness to which her agricultural resources have been developed; a development in which scientific farming has produced the maximum in quantity and quality. To have attained recognition as one of the most successful and progressive of those of her citizens concerned in this growth and development, to have been a leader and a teacher among his fellow agriculturists, should give precedence and reputation to any man. It is in connection with this field of activity that the man whose name heads this article has become well and favorably known, not only in Dickinson county, his home for forty-five years, but in many sections of the State. He is the owner of one of the large and highly productive farming enterprises of Kansas, on which are improvements that have made it the show place of the Smoky Hill valley. He is also a breeder of horses, of pedigree, one of the pioneer importers of the Percheron, and is also a breeder of cattle and swine on an extensive scale.
Otis L. Thisler was born at St. Joseph, Mich., October 8, 1848, a son of George and Cordelia (Dimick) Thisler. His ancestors, both paternal and maternal, were among those who took part in the early colonization of America, the French and Indian wars and later in the War of the Revolution, and who have filled positions of usefulness in the town, county and State. His father, George Thisler, was a native of Pennsylvania, born February 22, 1814. He married, while a young man, Cordelia Dimick, resided for a time in Michigan, and came to Kansas in 1872, locating in Dickinson county, where he purchased a section of land and engaged in farming. His death occurred on November 19, 1899, and that of Mrs. Thisler in 1850. They are survived by the following children: Moors D., Edward J., Mary E., and Otis L., the subject of this article.
Otis L. Thisler acquired his education in the public schools, and in Grand Prairie Seminary, at Onarga, Ill. He was reared a farmer and on the removal of his father to Kansas, in 1872, he accompanied him, and for the succeeding three years assisted in getting his father's farm under cultivation. In 1875 he started in for himself, buying land in the Smoky Hill valley, ten miles east of Abilene. In the management of this property, which, with additional acreage purchased later in life, now totals 640 acres, he has given the close attention to detail, broad progressiveness and untiring energy, which makes for success whatever the field of endeavor. In the matter of improvements, it is probable that there is not another farm in the State which excels it. There are three sets of barns, one for alfalfa of 200 tons capacity; one for corn with 4,000 bushels capacity, one for carriages and wagons, one for horses, one for cattle, one for swine, and one for machinery. In the spring of 1913 Mr. Thisler initiated his entrance in the field of dairying. One of his barns was remodeled on the latest approved lines and the best modern equipment for taking care of dairy cattle installed. He purchased a herd of twenty-five registered Guernsey cows, and it is his intention to increase this number in the near future. He has one of the model dairy barns of the State, and his cows are the best that money can buy. A silo of 160 tons capacity, constructed of cement, is also one of the modern improvements, and of this aid to the stock raiser, Mr. Thisler is a warm advocate. The land is practically all river bottom, subdivided and well fenced, and 160 acres are in alfalfa, and a like number in native pasture. The crowning feature in the way of improvements is the residence, which is one of the best examples of modern residence architecture. It is built of brick and stone, has fourteen rooms, bath room on each floor, its own lighting plant, and represents an investment in excess of $10,000. Employment is given to five to fifteen hands, and they are cared for in a comfortable boarding house, also a part of the farm's equipment.
In 1885 Mr. Thisler initiated his breeding of horses of pedigree, making his first purchase of imported Percheron animals, one of the first to bring this strain into Kansas. In this department of activity he has won wide recognition and animals from his breeding establishment have had a ready sale and at satisfactory prices. He is also a breeder of blooded cattle and Poland China swine, his herd of the latter being one of the best in the State, and kept around 500 in number. He is regarded by those in a position to know as one of the best posted men on scientific farming in the State, and his success in his chosen field of endeavor substantiates that opinion. Ever since he came to Kansas, he has taken a deep interest in public affairs, and has been a consistent advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party. He was honored by his party with election to the lower house of the legislature in 1894, serving in the session of 1895. He was a member of several important committees, was the author of a bill affecting the banking laws of the State, which he succeeded in having passed, and was considered by his colleagues as one of the active and energetic leaders of his party therein. He had previously received the nomination from his district for the State senate, in 1892, but was defeated by the Fusion candidate. Aside from his farm interests he has other valuable holdings. He is vice-president and treasurer of the Chapman Mill and Elevator Company, and served for twelve years as a director in the First National Bank of Abilene. His fraternal affiliations are with the Masonic order.
Mr. Thisler has been twice married. On January 1, 1876, he married Miss Flora E. Jackson, who died October 29, 1894. Four children of this union: George Roy, Otis L., Jr., Ruby and May, the daughters being deceased. On December 28, 1898, he married Miss Frances McClure, who is the mother of one son, William Ellwood Thisler, born October 23, 1903. The family have long been prominent in the social circles of their home county, in which Mrs. Thisler, a woman of many graces of character, is a leader.
Mr. Thisler is a high type of the unassuming American, possessing the esteem of his fellow citizens and known for his high ideals, strict integrity and broad charity. He has been a useful citizen, is deserving of his popularity and success, which is well earned, and merits distinctive recognition in this publication.Pages 382-384 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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