John F. Overfield

JOHN F. OVERFIELD. During his service in the Kansas Legislature as a senator from Montgomery County it has been the enviable distinction of John F. Overfield to have become one of the leading members in influence and activity of the State Senate. It is said that he has never introduced a bill in behalf of his constituents that has not secured the approval of both houses and become a law.

Politically Senator Overfield is a republican of the old school, and is by no means ashamed of the description stand-pat republican. He was elected to the State Senate in 1908, and has served through the sessions of 1909, 1911, 1913 and 1915. During his first term he was chairman of the oil and gas committee, and was a member of the committees on mines and mining, cities of second and third class, railroad corporations, telegraph and telephones, federal and state affairs, irrigation and drainage. During the sessions of 1913-15 he was again chairman of the oil and gas committees and a member of the committees on assessments and taxation, cities of second class, mines and mining, municipal corporations.

A native of Kansas and a son of a territorial settler, Senator Overfield has spent his active career in Montgomery County, and during the last twenty years has become one of the leading oil and gas operators in the state. He was born at Lawrence, Kansas. His father, Thomas Overfield, was born in Birmingham, England, in 1825, came to this country at the age of twenty-five, and for a time was in the patent leather business at Salem, Massachusetts. In 1852 he went out to Lawrence, Kansas. That was then on the frontier, and he was associated with all the prominent pioneers who helped to make Kansas during the exciting and bloody ten years that followed. He was a farmer, and did not give up active work until the age of seventy-five, when he retired to Independence and died there December 8, 1909. He was a republican and active in the Presbyterian Church and as a member of the Masonic fraternity. Thomas Overfield married Margaret Ferguson. She was born April 3, 1831, in Edinburg, Scotland, came to this country at the age of twenty-two, and lived at Salem, Massachusetts, prior to her marriage. Now at the venerable age of eighty-five she is passing her last years in comfort and abundance at Independence. There were seven children: William H., a farmer four miles east of Independence; Charles E., who resides eight miles north of Independence on his farm; Agnes, wife of Charles Yoe, of the Tribune Printing Company of Independence; John F.; George T., in the oil business at Bartlesville, Oklahoma; N. F. Overfield, who has a general store at Pawhuska, Oklahoma; and Frank, who is connected with the Kansas Natural Gas Company at Chanute

John F. Overfield had his early education in the public schools of Lawrence, but when he was still a boy his parents moved to Montgomery County and established a home on a farm four miles east of Independence. They secured there a homestead claim, The Osage Indians were still encamped on adjoining land along Drum Creek, where they ratified the treaty with the Government by which they ceded this part of Southern Kansas and soon afterwards moved to the Osage Nation in Indian Territory. In that wild and somewhat primitive district Senator Overfield spent the years verging toward maturity, and continued his education in the local public schools and also at Independence, finishing with a business course and with a course in the State Agricultural College at Manhattan. After he left college he became clerk in a grocery store at Independence. A year later, in 1887, he went into the grocery and queensware business, and that was his regular line until 1892. Meantime, in 1888, he left his local business in charge of others and began traveling for the Missouri Glass Company, of St. Louis, and later for the T. M. James & Sons, chinaware merchants of Kansas City. He was with the latter firm until 1896.

Leaving his position on the road, Mr. Overfield, whose abilities had already attracted favorable attention, became associated with Michael Cudahy and others in the Mid-Continent oil field. Since then he has been actively associated with that group of capitalists in developing one of the greatest oil districts in the world. Senator Overfield is secretary of the Consolidated Oil, Gas and Manufacturing Company, which is one of the principal corporations operating in Southern Kansas and Northern Oklahoma. Its offices are at 225 East Main Street in Independence. This one company has 150 oil wells and twenty gas wells, and all are under Senator Overfield's personal supervision. He is also president of the following companies: Dover Oil Company, Hazel Oil Company, David Oil Company, Montgomery County Oil Company, Sullivan Oil and Gas Company, and Creta Oil Company. These are all successful concerns.

Senator Overfield has extensive holdings in various city properties in Independence, including his beautiful residence at 415 South Penn Avenue. His enterprise has also led into a somewhat strikingly different business, that of alfalfa milling in Colorado. In that state he is interested in five mills, with a daily capacity of 100 tons each. He is also interested in the Wilson-Wetterholdt Grinding Machine Company, with headquarters at Wichita. This company installs a type of very efficient grinding machine for individual farmers.

Among other public service which Senator Overfield has rendered was membership in the city council of Independence. He is affiliated with the Masons, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the United Commercial Travelers, and belongs to the Commercial and Country clubs.

On December, 1, 1887, at Independence he married Miss Clara J. Rhodes. Her mother, Mrs. Sarah A. Rhodes, died in 1914. Senator Overfield has five sons and daughters. Gilbert, who graduated from the local high school and finished his education in the Wentworth Military Academy at Lexington, Missouri, is now actively associated with his father in the oil business. Earl R. followed a similar course of schooling, including the University Military Academy, Columbia, Missouri, and is also rapidly acquiring proficiency in the handling of the oil business under his father. Marjorie is the wife of James E. McClellan, auditor for the Prairie Oil and Gas Company at Independence. Clara J., still at home, is a graduate of Crescent College of Eureka Springs, Arkansas. Kathryn B. is a student in the sixth grade of the public schools.


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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