James Medill

JAMES MEDILL. The late James Medill was one oŁ the men who came to Kansas during its territorial period, and while he was but one of scores of similar pioneers, he bore his part worthily, although inconspicuously, in the upbuilding of the common wealth. Mr. Medill was born on a farm in Jefferson County, Ohio, near Steubenville, May 21, 1824, a son of Joseph Medill, who was of the same family that produced the Medills who made the Chicago Tribune famous.

James Medill was reared to manhood in his native county, where he acquired a good, practical education. As a young man he flat-boated up and down the lower Mississippi River and also was engaged in merchandising. His mind was early fired by the stories of Kansas, and in April, 1857, voyaged here by river and landed at Leavenworth, at that time away out on the frontier. For a few years he boarded with "Uncle" George Reller, who kept a boarding house at Leavenworth, and oftentimes was compelled to sleep on the floor, owing to the flood of emigrants passing through to the communities farther west. Eventually he began buying land, and at one time owned large tracts, in one body having thirteen quarter-sections near Effingham. He never engaged in farming to any great extent himself, and not at all until after his marriage, which occurred June 3, 1863, to Lydia A. Redburn, a native of Pennsylvania. When Mr. Medill first came to Leavenworth, he taught a term of school, but this was only at the urgent request of the settlers who wanted their children to secure an education. He came from a locality where there was considerable money and his friends in the East entrusted a large amount of money to him to invest and in this way he carried on a number of transactions. Passing time increased the value of his holdings in realty and he became well to do. He was a stanch republican in politics and a Protestant in religious belief. He was elected and served two terms as a member of the Kansas Legislature and was also Kansas railroad assessor for two years. Mr. Medill was one of those who helped organize the Kansas State Agricultural Society, in March, 1862, and was a member of the committee which drafted its constitution. His death occurred July 3, 1894. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Medill: May, who married William Hollingsworth, had one daughter, and died in 1891; Sherman; and Nannie, who died in young womanhood.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed by Bryan Rector, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, Nov. 6,1998.

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