Jefferson L. Steele

JEFFERSON L. STEELE. For over thirty years Jefferson L. Steele, one of Minneapolis' most respected retired citizens, has from choice been a resident of Ottawa County, finding here when he came in 1884 elements that go far in working out the scheme of a satisfactory life, business opportunity and some of the finest people in the world with whom to be neighborly and to work with in promoting the best interests of the place. Mr. Steele has proved his appreciation of these advantages in many practical ways and today occupies a foremost position among the representative men of this county.

Jefferson L. Steele came from an old Kentucky family of Welsh extraction. He was born in Pike County, Illinois, February 13, 1847 His parents were Llewellyn J. and Caroline (Caylor) Steele, and his grandfather was Jesse Jones Steele, who was born and died in Kentucky, passing away before his grandson was born. Llewellyn J. Steele was born in Covington, Kentucky, in 1814, and died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1888. In early manhood he left his native state and went to Pike County, Illinois, and was married while living there. He was a skilled mechanic and worked in Pike County as such until 1859, when he removed to Adams County and there spent the rest of his life, a quiet, industrious, self-respecting man. In political opinion he was a republican. He was a member of the Christian Church. He became early impressed with the value of temperance and throughout life was an ardent advocate of the same and was a member of the order of Good Templars. He married Caroline Caylor, who was born in Ohio in 1819 and died in Adams County, Illinois, in 1890. They had the following children: William Henry Harrison, who is deceased; Isabella and George W., both deceased; Jesse J., who lives retired in Nebraska; John H, who is a retired farmer living at Camp Point, Illinois; Francis M., a blacksmith by trade, who also conducts an implement store at Burton in Adams County, Illinois; Jefferson L.; Lee, who is a blacksmith in business at Trenton, Missouri; Samuel A., who is deceased; Martha C., who resides at Beatrice, Nebraska, is the widow of Harry Walker, who was a railroad engineer; Charles, who is a newspaper man and editor and proprietor of the Chula News, at Chula, Missouri; and Millard F., who is a barber and resides at Trenton, Missouri.

Jefferson L. Steele attended the public schools both in Pike and Adams counties, Illinois, and had academic advantages for one year at Perry, Illinois, leaving school to join the army. In 1865, when but seventeen years old, he enlisted in the Union army, entering Company G, Seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and saw nine months of hard service, his regiment being in pursuit of General Johnston's forces in North Carolina, and when he was surrounded at Morrisville and surrendered, the regiment was called home. They participated in the grand review at Washington. After his honorable discharge and mustering out at Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. Steele returned to Adams County but shortly afterward went to Schuyler County, Missouri, and while there taught one term of school. He then moved into Grundy County, Missouri, and for the following sixteen years continued school teaching and spent twelve of these years in three districts only. When he wearied at last of the teacher's life he engaged in farming and carried it on in Grundy County until 1884, when he came to Ottawa County. Here he was an active and very successful general farmer for nineteen years and still owns 320 acres of fine land situated 2 1/2 miles east of Minneapolis, Kansas.

In 1901 Mr. Steele retired from the farm and moved to Minneapolis, where he conducted a real estate business until 1915. He then retired from active participation in every line of business and since then has taken life easily, owning a comfortable residence pleasantly situated on Rothsay Avenue, Minneapolis. He owns other property here, including two business houses on Second Street.

Mr Steele was married in December, 1871, at Trenton, Missouri, to Miss Sarah J. Ford, who is a daughter of B. M. and Eleanor (Thorpy) Ford. The father of Mrs. Steele is a retired farmer and is now in his ninety-first year, surviving his daughter, Mrs. Steele, who died in 1910. To Mr. and Mrs Steele the following children were born: Minnie, who died at the age of eleven months; Bertha A., who died in February, 1917, at the age of forty-one years, was the wife of Dr. B. W. Conrad, who is a veterinary surgeon at Sabetha, Kansas; Mary L., who died in her fourth year; Masie L., who resides at Oak Hill, Kansas, is manager of the Gafford Lumber Company, in which he is a stockholder, and Effie E., who remains at home with her father. She is a thoroughly capable housekeeper and a well educated lady, being a graduate of the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan. She has a wide and pleasant social circle.

In his political views Mr. Steele is a sound republican but has never been a seeker for office, his politics being with him a matter of principle. He is identified with several social and fraternal organizations, including the Sons and Daughters of Justice, the Knights and Ladies of Security and the Fraternal Aid Union. He is also a member of Kenesaw Post No. 47, Grand Army of the Republic. He is a man of religious convictions and for many years has been a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and in former years was a trustee. In his thirty-three years of life in Ottawa County Mr. Steele has seen many changes and one of these has been the increased interest in public education, a subject in which he has taken much interest all his life.


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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