Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918
JOHN W. DEER. Sometime it may be conceded that calamities come as blessings in disguise, and a happy view of an accident that practically changed the whole current of his life, is that it led John W. Deer, now one of Neodesha's most substantial business men, to engage in a line for which Nature undoubtedly gave him special talent. Mr. Deer's unusual success in handling real estate from the time he embarked in the business until the present, justifies this interpretation, for he is the busiest and most extensive dealer in this city. One tract of land after the other has passed through his hands to emerge as a desirable and improved subdivision on one or the other sides of the city, all selling quickly, because of favorable conditions attached, and within the last very few years beautifully shaded streets, handsome private residences and happy and contented people are found where but great stretches of farm or prairie previously lay. Mr. Deer has not only possessed the energy to bring these changes about in the way of progress, but has had the shrewd business sense that has made the business profitable to all concerned.
John W. Deer was born May 22, 1876, in Jasper County, Missouri. His remote ancestors were English and they came to the American colonies very early, settling first in the Carolinas and subsequently drifting to Kentucky. His parents were W. V. and Easter Elizabeth (Argo) Deer. The father was born on February 14, 1832, in Champagne[sic] County, Illinois, and grew up there on a farm near Sydney. All his life he was a farmer and for fifteen years he also was a minister in the Church of God, preaching through Kansas and Missouri. In 1868 he removed from Illinois to Jasper County, Missouri, and to Wilson County, Kansas, in 1878. Here he purchased a farm located three miles northeast of Neodesha, on which he resided until 1902, when he retired and moved into the town and here his death occurred March 30, 1914. He was a most worthy man, honest, upright and conscientious and his life here and elsewhere ever commanded respect. He was never active in political life but his opinions on public questions made him a voter with the republican party.
In Champaign County, Illinois, W. V. Deer was married to Easter Elizabeth Argo, who was born in that state in 1835 and is a highly esteemed resident of Neodesha, Kansas. To them were born the following children: Miles, who is a mine operator, resides at Galena, Kansas; L. A., who is a butcher by trade, carries on a meat business at Nowata, Oklahoma; A. J., who is farmer and stockman, resides in Kit Carson County, Colorado; Elmer, who died at the age of twenty-three years, from the effects of a kick from a horse, on a ranch near Cheyenne, Wyoming; Moses, who was accidentally drowned, five miles north of Neodesha, when a boy of ten years; T. J., who is a farmer and stockman in Kit Carson County, Colorado; Sarah N. who resides with her mother in this city; and John W., the eighth and youngest of the family.
John W. Deer was reared on the home farm in the expectation of devoting his life to agricultural pursuits as his father set the excellent example, and when twenty-one years of age embarked in farming and stockraising on his own account. In 1902, when his father retired from active life, the latter's valuable farm of 160 acres came into his possession, and with great enthusiasm the youth entered into undertakings on the farm that were, perhaps, far beyond his strength. It was while engaged thus that in lifting a heavy stone he brought on injuries that for a long time afterward put him in the invalid class, and for five years, in spite of expert and expensive treatment in a number of well known health resorts, Mr. Deer was forced to make use of crutches to get about.
Discouraging as this was, Mr. Deer kept hopeful, as he gradually improved, and by 1913 he found himself by the power and goodness of God practically well. In the meanwhile, however, he had not been idle, for three years successfully conducting the business of a grocery store at Neodesha, and had given some attention to the handling of real estate. His early successes led to further ventures and he then opened a real estate office at No. 816 Main Street. He first completed the sale of several plats of town lots. In March, 1913, he opened the Bliss subdivision at the northeast edge of town, and later opened two other subdivisions adjoining, forty acres in all. This whole tract is now privately owned and is included in the city. In 1914 Mr. Deer opened the John W. Deer North Eighth Street subdivision and also the adjoining tract, twelve acres in all, and has sold them. Another sold tract now a part of the city, consisted of ten acres, which he opened in 1914-15 as the North Ninth Street subdivision.
In 1915 Mr. Deer bought eleven acres from Mrs. Hattie Stanfield, one of the heirs of the late Samuel Shutt, and platted this in city lots, giving it the name of John W. Deer's First Addition to Neodesha, Kansas, and there was no trouble for Mr. Deer in disposing of this valuable and desirable property. In 1915 he also opened a subdivision on North Eighth Street which is known as the J. H. Park's subdivision, and these twenty-seven lots have all been sold. A recent transaction was the purchase of a fraction of over thirty-six acres of J. M. Park, in partnership with his brother-in-law, J. H. Park. This property, adjoining the Bliss and Deer subdivisions on the north and east, has been platted into city lots and acre tracts which have been advantageously disposed of. Mr. Deer and Mr. Park have constructed a number of houses on these lots, which have all been sold. Mr. Deer confines his attention to a regular real estate business and his present offices are situated at No. 110 North Eighth Street. Much of the property that Mr. Deer has so admirably handled has been his own and he acquired various other tracts and numerous valuable bits of realty in the city. He owns his handsome residence, located on East Indiana Street; a farm of eighty acres, a part of the old home place, near Neodesha; also a well improved farm of forty acres, a part of the old home place; and in 1915 he made his sister Sarah N. Deer a deed to another forty acres which also was a part of the home place; a tract of fifty-one acres, an improved farm, located three miles east of Neodesha; a well improved 320 acre stock ranch, 2 miles east of Buxton, in Wilson County; a one-half interest in a farm of eighty acres and also one-half interest in a well improved 160 acres located two miles west and one-half mile north of Morehead; an improved farm of sixty acres, situated five miles southwest of Thayer, Kansas; and a well improved 160 acre alfalfa and prairie farm near V. V. U. brick plant, four miles south of Neodesha; some forty residences outside of the city limits, and the following excellent renting dwellings, located respectively at No. 816 Main Street, West Main on the corner of Tenth Street, the two corners of Lincoln and Eleventh streets, and one residence on East Church Street. Personally creditable as the management of these business enterprises have been, Mr. Deer looked upon the matter also with the eyes of an earnest and enterprising citizen and as such he is a highly valued member of the Commercial Club.
At Fredonia, Kansas, July 28, 1914, Mr. Deer was married to Miss Rose Park, who is a daughter of J. M. Park, old residents of Scottsville, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Deer have two children: John W., who was born in June, 1915, and Evelyn Elizabeth, who was born in August, 1916. By a previous marriage Mr. Deer has one daughter, Vivian E., who is a member of the junior class in the Neodesha High School. In politics Mr. Deer is a republican but not a seeker for office, and for a number of years he has been a member of the Baptist Church.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 2176-2177 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed October 1997 , modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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