Willard Alpha Gage

WILLARD ALPHA GAGE, now in his second term as probate judge of Anderson County, has for many years been identified with this community as a practical business man and stock farmer, and it was his exceptional qualifications, his cool and collected judgment and impartial wisdom that commended him to the favor of the people of this county in the matter of the office he now holds. Judge Gage has had a career that has not been unassociated with trial and adversity and he has worked himself up from humble beginnings. He was born on a farm in Washington County, Ohio, June 13, 1850, a son of Alpha Shaw and Nancy (Gilmore) Gage. He comes of pioneer New England ancestry and his father was a native of New Hampshire. Alpha S. Gage moved to Ohio with his parents when a child, his father, Daniel Shaw Gage, being a miller. Alpha S. learned the same trade, and continued it actively until his death in 1850. In 1842 Alpha S. Gage married Nancy Gilmore, who was born in 1822, daughter of George Gilmore, a pioneer of Washington County, Ohio. She died at Ottumwa, Iowa, in 1898. Her three children, two sons and one daughter, were: Catherine Ann, who was born in 1846, in 1900 became the wife of Ellis Huffman and now resides at Ottumwa, Iowa. Daniel Shaw, born in 1848, died in 1860; and Willard A.

Willard A. Gage grew up on his father's farm in Washington County, Ohio, and acquired a public school training. At the age of sixteen, leaving home, he went to Macon, Illinois, and worked in a general store there for eight years, being paid $15 a month and his board. In 1873 he went to Colorado and spent a year as a gold prospector, but in the fall of 1874 came to Anderson County, Kansas. In this county he worked two years as a cattle herder, being paid $25 a month and board and lodging. It was by the rigid practice of thrift and economy that Judge Gage secured his first capital and started farming for himself. For two years he rented land and fed cattle, and in 1881 he left Kansas and spent two years as a farmer in Hancock County, Illinois. Returning to Anderson County, he bought 200 acres of raw land ten miles southwest of Garnett, and he still owns that fine place. Under his management it has undergone a great change, and now contains modern improvements in the way of buildings and equipment and for years has been the scene of Judge Gage's efforts as a feeder and shipper of cattle and hogs.

Judge Gage has never allowed his private business to absorb all his time and interests. For several years he was justice of the peace in Westphalia Township, and in 1914 the people of Anderson County conferred upon him an honor the more prized because absolutely unsolicited on his part. That year he was elected for his first term as probate judge on the republican ticket and in 1916 was re-elected. Judge Gage has been an active member of the Methodist Episcopal Church for thirty years.

He has been twice married. In 1875 Margery E. Chapin became his wife. She was born in Ohio in 1860 and died in 1893, leaving two children: Charles Alpha, born in 1879, now a merchant at Wellington, Kansas; and Ray Willard, born in 1883, now in the United States mail service at Kansas City, Kansas. On May 18, 1904, Judge Gage married at Liberty, Missouri, Miss Ida M. Robinson. She was born in Keokuk County, Iowa, and for twenty-nine years was a successful teacher in Missouri and Kansas.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Reed Spence, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, January 26, 2000.

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