William L. Privett

WILLIAM L. PRIVETT has had much to do with the public life and affairs of Doniphan County, and is now in his third consecutive term as county clerk and county assessor, with official quarters in the courthouse at Troy.

Mr. Privitt represents probably the oldest of the pioneer names with a continuous connection with Doniphan County and one of the oldest families in the annals of settlement in the entire state. A number of generations back the Privetts had their home in Germany, and immigrating from there settled in Pennsylvania in colonial times. The founder of the family in Kansas was Mr. Privett's grandfather, William Privett, a native of Tennessee. It was in the year 1846, eight years before the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act precipitated the struggle between slavery and freedom in the western territory, that William Privett brought his family across the Missouri River and pre-empted the quarter section in what is now Doniphan County, a tract of land that has been continuously in the same ownership for over seventy years, and part of which is now owned by Mr. William L. Privett. William Privett made a farm out of this land which had never known cultivation in all the ages preceding, and he lived there and prospered until his death in 1875. When the Privett family located in Doniphan County there were only one or two shacks between their home and the river landing at St. Joseph, Missouri. William Privett married Mary Curtis, a native of Missouri. She died on the old farm at the early age of twenty-eight years. Her children were: William L., Sr., Willis, a retired farmer living at Salem, Oregon; and Burns, a retired farmer living in California and owner of considerable land in Rooks County, Kansas.

William L. Privett, Sr., who was born in Tennessee in 1837, was nine years of age when his parents came to Kansas. He grew up on the old homestead and spent all his active career as a farmer there. He died in 1899. During the war he had joined the Kansas State Militia and was in active service when Price invaded Kansas. In politics he was a loyal republican, was a member, steward and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, belonged to Troy Lodge No. 55, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and for a number of years held the office of road overseer in his district. William L. Privett, Sr., married Margaret Berry, who was born at Springfield, Missouri, in 1843, and is still living on the old homestead. They had four children: Charles, a carpenter by trade, and now serving as assessor of Center Township with home at Troy, Leonard, living on the home farm with his mother; William L.; and Ada, wife of G. C. Turpin, a farmer residing 2 1/2 miles southwest of Troy.

William Landren Privett was born February 1, 1873. His birthplace was the old farm 2 1/2 miles southwest of Troy and his residence is still on that quarter section where he was born. He grew up there, early became acquainted with the duties of a practical farmer, and acquired his education in district school No. 20. Aside from his active participation in official affairs in Doniphan County, he has worked the farm and owns and operates the west half of the original quarter section taken up by his grandfather more than seventy years ago.

For eight years Mr. Privett served as road overseer of Center Township, was township trustee six years, and in 1912 was elected for his first term as county clerk. He was re-elected in 1914 and in 1916. Along with the duties of county clerk he performs those of county assessor. Mr. Privett is a republican, and is a Scottish Rite Mason, having membership in Troy Lodge No. 55, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and also belongs to the Scottish Rite Consistory at Kansas City.

He married in December, 1905, at Troy, Mrs. Alice (Goss) Taylor, a daughter of Henry and Sarah (Dittemore) Goss. Mrs. Taylor died January 12, 1917. Her mother still lives at Troy and her father is deceased. He was the owner of a fine farm of 320 acres a mile and a half north of Troy.


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 1997.
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