Asahel Strawn

ASAHEL STRAWN. The year 1860 saw the arrival of the Strawn family in Kansas and their settlement in Crawford County. They had come a long distance, traveling from Illinois in a covered wagon and one can well believe that the new home, although a primitive one, presented a pleasant sight to the weary travelers. Asahel Strawn and his wife, Bridget (Murphey) Strawn, with their five children, George W., William A., Betsey Ann, Mahala and Julia, made up the party.

Asahel Strawn was born in Canada, a son of Joab Strawn, who was a descendant of William Penn and a Quaker. He went to Canada, perhaps from Pennsylvania, and there became the father of eight sons, each one of these being given a Biblical name and seven grew to maturity. In all probability it would have pleased him had his son Asahel selected a Quakeress for his bride, but it is not known that he objected to the admirable selection the son made. It was otherwise, however with Laurence and Elizabeth (Harley) Murphey, who, being devout Catholics, could not consent that their daughter Elizabeth should marry outside the church. Therefore the young people had no other recourse than to run away and marry and this union proved one of domestic happiness. The father of Mrs. strawn was from County Wexford, Ireland and was a soldier in the British army and fought at the battle of Waterloo. After he had passed the age for military duty he was given a money pension with which he came to Canada. The graves of Laurence Murphey and wife may be seen in the cemetery of a little village near Freeport, Illinois.

George H. Strawn, the oldest living son of Asahel Strawn, was born near Rockford, Illinois, May 14, 1840, and was twenty years old when the family came to Kansas. He had attended the district schools during the winter sessions until old enough to assist on the farm and help his father who went into the stock business, doing a large amount of traveling about in this connection. In 1865 Mr. Strawn bought his present place in Topeka Township, Shawnee County, consisting of 160 acres, but did not move here until 1876. He obtained the title to this property by trading a team and wagon to James Crawford, who later on sold the outfit for $400. The only improvements were those that were required by law in order to retain the title. Mr. Strawn soon began to break his land and add improvements and now he has a valuable property, worth many, many times its original cost. He has found stock buying and the raising of stock profitable in this section.

In 1863 Mr. Strawn was united in marriage with Miss Adelia Bennett. Eight children have been born to them: William; Lydia, who is teaching school in Idaho; Ada, who is a teacher at Portland, Oregon; Mollie, formerly a teacher, now the wife of John Carter; Anna, who is the wife of V. K. Worcester, of St. Joseph, Missouri; May, who is the wife of Orson Stiles, of Omaha; Minnie, who is the wife of Clyde Hempstead, of Topeka; and Nellie, who died in infancy. Mr. and Mrs. Strawn are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In politics he is a republican and while living in Illinois served as tax collector. The family was well known in Winnebago County, from which section of Illinois the parents of Mr Strawn came to Kansas. They lived for ten years in Crawford and Bourbon Counties and experienced much hardship during the border warfare troubles.

Mr. and Mrs. Strawn are generous, friendly, hospitable people. Mrs. Strawn accompanied her husband to almost every state and territory west of the Mississippi river while he was active in the stock industry, and to her assistance and good judgment, he attributes much of his success. They have a wide acquaintance over the country and many friends.


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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