J. B. Sewell

J. B. SEWELL. Postmaster and for many years a merchant at Bolton, J. B. Sewell has lived in Montgomery County forty-five years, and is one of the men of sterling citizenship who have contributed on every hand to progress and prosperity in this section of the state.

He is descended from a family of Sewells that in colonial times located in Maine at the Town of Sewell. Later a branch moved south to North Carolina, and Mr. Sewell's grandfather, William D. Sewell, was born in that state in 1783. He afterwards moved over the mountains into Tennessee, located on a farm there, and was a local preacher of the Baptist denomination, and beginning at the age of twenty preached to a single congregation in Overton County for more than fifty years. He died in Tennessee in 1878, when near a hundred years of age. His wife Susan was born in North Carolina in 1788 and died in Overton County, Tennessee, in 1878. It was in Overton County, Tennessee, near Livingston that J. B. Sewell was born June 1l, 1854. His father, J. G. Sewell, was born in the same state December 6, 1829, grew up and married there and in 1871 set out with his family, crossed the country and on the 16th day of July arrived in Independence. About ten miles from that city but in Montgomery County he secured a claim of 160 acres, and that land, subsequently well improved, is part of his estate and is situated about a mile and a half south of Bolton. J. G. Sewell died in Montgomery County December 29, 1882. He was a democrat served on the school board, was a deacon in the Baptist Church, and for many years was a loyal Mason affiliating with Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons. He and five brothers participated in the Civil war on the Confederate side. Every one of them was wounded, but none killed. J. G. Sewell served three years under Captain McGinnis and Colonel Forrest, and was in many of the important engagements, including Shiloh and was wounded at Murfreesboro. J. G. Sewell married Catherine Ann Maybury, who was born in Tennessee June 22, 1834, and died in Montgomery County, Kansas November 29, 1915, when nearly eighty years of age. Her oldest child, Martha Jane, died at the age of sixteen. The second child and oldest son is J. B. Sewell. W. C. Sewell, a twin brother of J. B., in a retired farmer living in Independence A. C. Sewell is given more extended mention in later paragraphs.

J. B. Sewell grew up on his father's Tennessee farm, was seventeen when he came to Kansas, and remained with his father in Montgomery County until he was twenty-two. In the meantime he had married and on leaving the old home he took up farming for himself in Montgomery County. In March, 1888, having sold his farm, he opened a stock of general merchandise at Bolton, and for some years also conducted a grain and stock business. He now gives his attention entirely to merchandising, has a well stocked general store, and since the administration of President Taft has been postmaster of Bolton. He has been prospered as he deserves, and in one of the well-to-do and influential citizens of Montgomery County. His residence at Bolton is surrounded by four acres of ground, and he also has a third interest in his father's old homestead.

Politically he has kept an independent attitude. He was once a candidate for sheriff and once a candidate for representative on the populist ticket. His principal service has been rendered to his home county and community. He has served as a member of the township board of trustees and has frequently been elected to the school board. He is a member and elder of the Christian Church, and fraternally is a past noble grand of Lodge No. 69, Independent order of Odd Fellows, and a member of Camp No. 649, Modern Woodmen of America, and of the A. H. T. A.

When only nineteen years of age, in 1873 in Montgomery County, Mr. Sewell married Miss Mary M. James, a daughter of J. L. and Martha Ann James. Her mother is now deceased. The father lived with Mr. and Mrs. Walter Hudson during the latter part of his life. He was a farmer all his active career. Mr. and Mrs. Sewell have a fine family of ten children: Everett Wayman, who died at the age of three weeks; Henry Seymour, who is in the grocery business at Independence; Etta, who died in 1905 at Bolton, married W. B. Scott, who is an oil operator at Independence; Lloyd lives on the homestead farm; Mattie May is the wife of F. A. Lynch, living on a farm three miles northwest of Bolton; Minnie married Walter Bates, who in ~in the lumber business at Iola, Gertrude is the wife of George Mills, a stock buyer and farmer living at Independence; Gracie Ann married Earl Dematt, who works for the Prairie Oil & Gas Company, and lives in Independence, Kansas; Lillie married W. H. Adams, who works in the oil fields and lives at Independence; Ethel is now a senior in the Montgomery County High School.

Andrew Calvin Sewell, a younger brother of J. B. Sewell, was born in Overton County, Tennessee, May 30, 1856. He was fifteen when the family came across the country in a prairie schooner to Montgomery County, Kansas, and in the meantime had attended public schools in Tennessee. While living on the farm southwest of Independence he continued his education in the district schools and in the fall of 1876 became a teacher. Preparatory to beginning his work as a teacher he had attended a private school conducted by Professor Morrison of Radical City. In his home district, Harrisonville, he taught a term, then attended the Normal Institute at Independence, and in the fall of 1877 took up his work in the Peebler District. The following spring he returned to the Harrisonville District and taught a term of three months, and then for three years was principal of schools at Elk City. After that he was again in the Harrisonville District, afterwards was principal for a year at Elk City, and then entered the mercantile business at Elk City. In 1898 he moved to Joplin, Missouri, where he was connected with merchandising and also as a prospector and miner for about two years. In 1901, after coming back to Elk City, he secured leases for about 17,000 acres of land in behalf of the Elk City Gas and Oil Company. Beginning in 1903 he was again in the mercantile business in Elk City for five years, and in the fall of 1907 went to Kansas City, Missouri, and worked in a dry goods department store until failing health compelled him to return to Kansas. In February, 1908, he took up work with the Daily Evening Star, remaining with that journal for two years, and on March 16, 1910, entered the H. Baden Mercantile Company, where he has since remained. He now has charge of the wholesale furnishing goods line and also assists in the retail department. He owns a third interest in the old homestead, and has his home at 905 West Pine Street in Independence.

He has been active figure in democratic politics in Montgomery County for many years. In 1880 he was a candidate for county superintendent of schools, and succeeded in cutting down the normal republican majority of 700 to 146. Since the age of seventeen he has been a member of the Baptist Church.

In 1882 at Elk City he married Miss Etta Davis, whose father Lew Davis was a farmer. Mrs. Sewell died at Elk City in 1894, leaving five children: Bessie, who now lives on her Grandfather Davis' farm, Addie, who died at the age of 4 1/2 years; Thomas G., who is with the Prairie Oil & Gas Company at Independence; Ellene, wife of Turner Jones, who is cashier of a bank at Altoona, Kansas, and Gladys, who is a teacher in the public schools of Elk City. In 1905 Mr. A. C. Sewell was married at Independence to Miss Stella McVey, whose father was a Methodist Episcopal minister. By this marriage there were two children: Beatrice, who died at the age of six months; and Ruth, still at home.


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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