John Webster, a pioneer stockman of Washington county, Kansas, now a resident of Oklahoma, was born in England and is of Scotch descent. He was reared a farmer and about 1857 came to Canada, locating near the city of Hamilton. He became a resident of Kansas in 1868, when he engaged in farming and stock raising near Troy, Doniphan county, on a rented farm. He was a lover of animals and his natural inclination was for stock raising. In order to secure free range for his cattle he removed, in 1870, to Washington county, at that time without a herd law, where grass was abundant and conditions most favorable for success in this line of endeavor. He located a homestead adjoining a section of school land and brought a large number of horses, cattle and hogs and soon had the largest stock enterprise in this section of the State. He broke a large acreage and placed it in cultivation, also fencing and cross-fencing his land. Shortly after he had things well under way a herd law was passed, which was not only a keen disappointment to him, but necessitated securing pasture for his stock. He purchased a half-section, adjoining his quarter, and proceeded to put this into profitable operation. He was the principal taxpayer in his school district, and as the country settled rapidly a school house was built and a school established, while the expense was to a great extent borne by him. He found farming in Kansas at this time was far from profitable and full of discouragements. Hogs sold at two dollars per hundred and the early settler had no market for his other products. Grasshoppers and droughts also came to discourage him and during the year 1871 he lost his wife. Notwithstanding these severe losses he continued to forge ahead and became a heavy breeder and shipper of stock. He had planted seven miles of Osage orange fence on his land, and about the time it got nicely grown barbed wire fence was first placed on the market, and his labor and expense were to a great extent thrown away. The crowning misfortune of his Kansas experience came in 1886, when he became involved in a bank failure, which left him a bankrupt with some unpaid debts. He remained in the State until 1905, when he removed to Livingstone, Mont., where he farmed until 1910, when he located near Perry, Okla. While he was unfortunate in his business career in Kansas, he was one of the most progressive men who settled in Washington county and was an active factor in its development, and one of Washington county's most valuable citizens.
Mr. Webster was twice married. His first wife was Miss Eliza Molyneaux, the daughter of a French Huguenot, who came to Canada, whom he married in 1862, and who died in 1871, leaving three children: Fannie M., William Henry, a sketch of whom follows this article, and Emma, the wife of Theodore B. Lamoreaux, of Greenleaf, Kan. In 1874 he married Ellen Molyneaux, a sister of his first wife, by whom he had two children: Eliza, who is deceased, and James, of the firm of Webster Brothers, stockmen of Rooks county, Kansas.Pages 554-555 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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