David O. Orr

DAVID O. ORR. Though for a number of years resident of Topeka, David O. Orr is most widely known in Kansas as a successful stock farmer. He first came to the West more than forty years ago, and his early experiences were largely those of the stock ranch when by far the greater part of the western country was an unlimited and unfenced range.

He was born in Wayne County, Ohio, March 26, 1853. His parents were Smith and Elizabeth (Anderson) Orr. Reared in Ohio, his early environment was a farm, and his education came from district schools. He started out on his own responsibility at the age of twenty-one as a renter.

Early in 1875 he started West for the purpose of seeking a suitable location as a future home. He went through Nebraska on the Union Pacific Railway as far as Wyoming, then to Denver and Pueblo, Colorado, to the mountains of that state, and for the better part of a year was employed on a cattle ranch. About that time the Santa Fe Railway extended its first lines into Colorado. Pueblo was then little more than a frontier village. It was over the Santa Fe route and through the State of Kansas that he returned to his Ohio home.

In Ohio he married Nancy Walter. After his marriage he spent two years on an Ohio farm. His previous trip to the West, together with a natural inclination for the free and untrammeled life of that country, finally brought him beyond the Mississippi and he has never had any inclination to return to the Middle West where he was born. In 1879 Mr. Orr arrived in Kansas with his wife and baby. He came by rail, but had shipped a wagon to Osage City. This wagon he covered after the manner of the old prairie schooner, and hitching a team of horses to it traveled around from county to county eventually reaching a stock ranch in Colorado, where he lived about two years. Returning to Kansas he located near Riley Center, now Riley, and there engaged in farming and stock raising.

It had early been the plan of Mr. and Mrs. Orr to locate in or around Topeka in order that their children might have suitable educational advantages. They carried out this resolution in 1900, removing to a farm a short distance south of Topeka. That was their home for seven years, and Mr. Orr still owns the place, which is known as the Clover Hill farm and comprises 160 acres. In 1908 the family removed to Topeka and has since had their home there.

Mr. Orr has become widely known as a stockman. When he came to Kansas he brought with him thirty head of horses and began the breeding of blooded horses and cattle. His farm produced a number of standard bred horses that brought large prices. He also developed two herds of Holstein cattle. However, for the most part he handled the mixed grades of livestock. Owing to the petty stealing of stock going on in the country, which gradually became more prevalent, he and others organized a lodge of the Kansas division of the Anti-Horse Thief Association. Of this lodge Mr. Orr is still president. He is also deputy state organizer for similar lodges in Kansas.

Politically he is a republican, and is a member of the Grange and the Knights and Ladies of Security. He and his wife were the parents of four children: Harry D., Bessie E., Burton S. and Howard W.


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; transcribed October, 1997.
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