Charles L. Ong

CHARLES L. ONG and his family bore an important part in the pioneer commercial and civic life of several communities in Western Kansas and he spent his last years at Salina. Mr. Ong brought his family to Kansas in 1883. Though the name has the flavor of foreign origin, it is in fact one of the oldest in America. The forebears of the late Charles L. Ong came out of England, crossing the ocean on the ship Lyon, and reaching the American colonies on February 5, 1631. Dr. A. R. Ong, A. M., M. D., now deceased, a brother of the late Charles L. Ong, was author of an elaborate history of the Ong family. This book was published in 1906 and followed the course of the family lineage through all its important branchings and ramifications during its American residence of nearly 300 years. The great-grandfather of Mr. Ong, the Rev. Jacob Ong, was one of the earliest Quaker preachers in Eastern Ohio. He served in the American Revolution, but owing to his faith would not apply for a pension, and destroyed the papers so, as he said, they would do neither himself or his descendants any harm.

Charles L. Ong was born on a farm in Jefferson County, Ohio, December 21, 1842, a son of Moses Harland and Mary (Cain) Ong. His father was also born in Jefferson County, Ohio, December 15, 1810, spent his active career as a farmer and miller in that city, was a member of the Quaker Church, and died at Smithfield, Ohio, May 22, 1890. His death was due to an accident. He was married August 20, 1833, to Mary Cain a daughter of Walter and Anna Naylor Cain. To their marriage were born fourteen children, ten sons and four daughters. The seven now living are: Judge Walter C., a prominent lawyer of Cleveland, Ohio; Shepard, of Portland, Oregon; Harland H., of Smithfield, Ohio; Emma, widow of Charles Smith, and living in Los Angeles; Mary E., wife of DeWitt Haines, and living at Union Bridge, Maryland. Iola C., who is unmarried and resides at Pasadena, California; Rev. Osborne B., an evangelist of the Friends Church, whose home is at Pasadena. The deceased children were: Lewis; Mifflin; Samuel Naylor; Finley, who was killed during the Civil war in the battle of the wilderness; Anna Medill; Dr. Albert R.; and Charles L.

The early education of Charles L. Ong was acquired in the public schools of Jefferson County, Ohio. He grew up on the farm and was a farmer there and in Iowa until he removed to Kansas.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Ong came to Kansas in September, 1883. The reason of their removal to the Sunflower State was to benefit Mrs. Ong's health. Their first location, where they spent only two weeks, was at Spearville. Moving to Kinsley and later to a ranch in that vicinity, the summer of 1885 found them at Cimarron, where Mr. Ong built a feed and flour store and a feed barn and camp house. While there he went to Kinsley to look after his cattle and was caught in a blizzard. The storm was so severe that the trains could not get through the snow drift for an entire week. The train on which he was traveling finally reached Dodge City and from there Mr. Ong walked to Cimarron, a distance of nineteen miles. In the meantime Mrs. Ong had looked after the store. In the summer of 1886 they removed to Syracuse, Kansas, and he again established himself in the feed and flour business. At that time Syracuse was one of the newest towns in Kansas. There was neither church nor school building and the first settlers were building their rough houses on the neighboring homesteads. The family spent over six years in Syracuse, their business prospered, the store was enlarged, and stocks of groceries, boots and shoes and a small meat market were included. Mr. Ong also remodeled an old hotel into an elevator, and he had the distinction of buying the first wheat ever raised in Hamilton, Stanton and Morton counties. While at Syracuse Mr. Ong served two terms on the city council. Mrs. Ong also found a place of usefulness in the new community and was especially active in the founding and upbuilding of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. Ong's health became too much impaired to continue his large business affairs at Syracuse, and in 1894 the family removed to Salina. At Salina Mr. Ong was in the grocery business a year, in partnership with C. H. York. He also had some cattle interests and looked after them until a few years before his death.

Mr. Charles L. Ong died at Salina February 6, 1914. His wife was a charter member of the Fortnightly Section of the Twentieth Century Club of Salina, was very active in the First Methodist Episcopal Church and in the Woman's Foreign Missionary Society. The death of this good woman occurred July 23, 1912. Mr. Ong was one of the organizers of the Occidental Mutual Benefit Association of Salina, and was affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Knights and the Ladies of Security.

On October 7, 1873, at Smithfield, Ohio, Charles L. Ong married Miss Lidie Scott. She was born October 12, 1850, at New Rumley, Ohio, a daughter of Samuel and Eliza (Wheeler) Scott. Her father was born in Pennsylvania in 1811 and died in Ohio in 1893, having devoted his active years to farming and stock raising. Her mother was born in Smithfield, Ohio, in 1813 and died October 11, 1850. Mr. and Mrs. Scott had four children: Mary J.; Amanda; Ragan and Lidie.

Mr. and Mrs. Charles L. Ong left only one child, Zella Dell, who was born at Smithfield, Ohio. She still resides at Salina, and bears an important part in church and social circles. She is active in the affairs of the Methodist Church. She is a graduate with the degree Bachelor of Elocution from the old Salina Normal and also had some of her education at the Kansas Wesleyan University of Salina.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Stephanie M., student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 21, 1999.

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