George W. Akers

Additonal notes supplied by Claudia Glass:

Taken from the personal autobiography of George W. Akers, written by G.W. Akers, privately published by Earl Fickertt on the presses located at the Peabody Gazette about 1922-1924.

The known pastorate of Geo. W. Akers with the Methodist Episcopal Church in his work as circuit preacher did not include the town of Sylvia in his stated pastorate duties. To date, no record has been found to support the idea that he was ever at Sylvia. Further queries may be made at the Kansas West Conference Office of the United Methodist Church at Wichita, Kansas, if needed, but when I checked into his assigned circuit posts about 6 or 7 years ago, Sylvia was not among the towns named.

George W. Akers was my grandmother's grandfather. He was born in 1839. He came to Kansas in the winter of late 1862.

The family crossed the Missouri River on foot at Westport near Kansas City when the river was frozen solid. George carried their eldest son, L. Nean Akers (my great-grandfather), who was about 18 months old at the time. The family stayed at a hotel in the Olathe area, which was above a rambunctious saloon, before continuing on by stage to Paola, where George's brother Thomas was working as Miami County Clerk. George wrote that his wife, Maggie, was very disturbed by all the noise and hubbub in the Olathe establishment, and she barely slept at all.

George W. Akers was not a robust man. He was rejected for poor health and turned down twice for service in the Kansas Volunteers during the period of Quantill's Raids in the Miami county, Kansas area while he resided there between 1862 and 1876 (Paola, Edgerton, and Louisburg). There is a record of his brief service, of 1 month or so, in the Kansas Guard in the Kansas Historical Society archives.

About 1876, after suffering some business reverses in his enterprises as a pharmacist due to his partner absconding with the deposits, G. W. and his family moved to Gilbert, Illinois, near Alvin. G. W. Akers took the train each week into Indianapolis to attend the College of Physicians and Surgeons. During the time he spent in Indianapolis, he took Bible study classes with Benjamin Harrison at a local Presybterian church, and with his own strong Methodist affiliation, decided to take the "test for trial" to see if he could qualify as a Methodist minister. He might have remained in the Indiana - Illinois area if not for the fact that all of the pastorate assignments in that region went to younger men. There were, however, openings in Kansas.

About 1878, Dr. Geo. W. Akers, M.D. turned down an offer to remain at the Indianapolis College of Physicians and Surgeons as a professor in the field of diseases of children in favor of accepting a new challenge: that of Methodist circuit minister in rural Kansas. He had passed the age of 40 by the time he returned to Kansas about 1879 to 1880, and with his medical degree and his first church assignment in hand, took on the church leadership in the Little River / Windom / Stone Corral circuit. He was transferred to Burrton, Kansas about 1882 for two years where his eldest granddaughter (Stella I. Akers) was born prematurely in 1883, a 7-month infant who was kept alive by the skills of her physician grandfather and veterinarian father. She was kept in a cotton-lined shoebox in the warming oven of the cookstove, and fed with an eyedropper until she was large enough and strong enough to feed on her own.

Following the Burrton charge, Geo. W. Akers was assigned to the church at Douglass, Kansas for two years, and then was transferred to Sedgwick, Kansas, a place at which he apparently enjoyed himself immensely, but it was so large a responsibility that it led to the breaking of his health. He retired at that point and took his family to Stafford Kansas, where he served as supply minister to the Methodist Episcopalian church, and helped as physician to the town, tending many people during a typhoid epidemic.

G. W. Akers had strong Republican leanings, and because he was personally acquainted with Benjamin Harrison before Harrison entered the office of President, he was given the opportunity to act as the Stafford, Kansas postmaster. When the local newspaper became available, he bought controlling interest and changed its name to The Stafford Republican. His son Earl Akers ran the paper until he set his sights higher and ran for state office, and then G. W. became the newspaper's owner and sole managing editor for many years.

During the time G. W. lived at Stafford, he also entered into retail enterprise as co-owner of the Akers and Son mercantile store with his son, Art Akers. G. W. eventually went on to acquire full ownership of the newspaper and was the owner-editor at the time his grandson-in-law, Earl Fickertt, married Clare Akers, youngest daughter of L. Nean Akers.

Fickertt got his start in newspapering in Partridge and Nickerson Kansas and was a welcome addition to the operations at the Stafford Republican. Earl Fickertt later operated the Peabody Herald Gazette newspaper at Peabody, Kansas, and is remembered today in the State of Kansas Newspaper Hall of Fame.

Earl Akers and his wife lived in Topeka Kansas for a few years, during which their only child, Romaine Akers, attended Washburn University and took a law degree. This family moved to Long Beach California where they lived out the remainder of their lives. Romaine never married nor had any known children. They are buried in California.

Copies of the George W. Akers autobiography were provided during the 1990's to the United Methodist churches located at Little River, Burrton, Douglass, and Stafford, Kansas, and to the archivist at the Kansas West Conference Office of the United Methodist Church at Wichita, for their historical records.

Somewhere I have a photocopy of George W. Akers autobiography, which was published within the 2 years before his death in 1924. It has photographs of Akers and several members of his immediate family in it.

Claudia Glass

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