John L. Troutman

JOHN L. TROUTMAN. With the exception of one year, when he was traveling in California, the entire career of John L. Troutman, since he was thirteen years of age, has been passed in Kansas and in agricultural pursuits. He has resided and carried on operations in various parts of the Sunflower State, making a success of his enterprises in each locality, and at the present time is the owner of a valuable alfalfa farm at Twenty-first Street and California Avenue, Topeka.

Mr. Troutman comes of a farming family and has ingrained in his make-up the inclination for the soil that caused his forbears for generations to wield the implements of the husbandman. He was born in the rich agricultural country of Fulton County, Indiana, where his father owned a farm, September 22, 1853, and is a son of William H. and Nancy (Smith) Troutman. His grandfather, William T. Troutman, was an early settler of Cass County, Indiana, where he located some seventy-five or eighty years ago, taking up raw land in the vicinity of Logansport, from whence the family subsequently removed north to Fulton County. William H. Troutman was born in Indiana, and on reaching man's estate adopted the family avocation. He was successful as an agriculturist, being a man of industry, intelligence and marked business ability, and developed a good farming property. When the issues came on that eventuated in the Civil war, William H. Troutman took a firm stand. Ever a man who had the courage of his convictions, he left no one in doubt as to his attitude on the question of slavery. He was not only an ardent abolitionist, maintaining his principles by force when necessary, but established an underground railroad station on his Łarm, and became one of the most active conductors on that line. In a community in which the farmers favoring slavery were in the majority, the Troutman family was known far and wide for their friendship for the negro. John L. Troutman still remembers seeing the blacks about the place, to the lad a strange and curious race, with their dark skins, their flat noses and their thick lips. Many a poor colored person, fleeing from the wrongs and cruelties of slavery found refuse and assistance at the Troutman home, in his race for the Canadian line and safety. On numerous occasions mobs were organized to attack Mr. Troutman, but he maintained a bold front, and through his courage came through many trying situations.

Mr. Troutman continued to be engaged in farming in Fulton County, Indiana, until the Year 1865, when he came to Kansas as a result of the reports which had reached him of the wonderful opportunities awaiting the man of action and intelligence. He took up his residence three miles east of Topeka, in the Kaw Valley, and continued to reside in Shawnee County until his death, which occurred in 1911. That he was a farmer of ability was known all over the community, and this is established by the fact that even when the land was new he was able to raise from seventy-five to eighty bushels of corn to an acre. In his business dealings with his fellow men he was straightforward and honorable, and no man enjoyed a higher reputation in commercial circles, where his name was veritably as good as his bond. He delighted to be well informed on subjects of interest and importance, and one of his favorite occupations was the study of history. He was an admirer of the fine public school system in Kansas, and did his best as a citizen to maintain high standards in educational lines in this state. Among his children he was patient and affectionate, yet he commanded his household with strict discipline. Mr. Troutman married Miss Nancy Smith, who was a woman of sweet and charitable character, and they became the parents of five daughters and two sons, as follows: John Leach, Martha Jane, Cecelia Josephine, Susan, Janie, Triphona and James. The last named became one of the well known men in public life in Kansas.

John Leach Troutman was given his educational training in the public schools of Fulton County, Indiana, which he attended until he reached the age of thirteen years, at which time he accompanied his parents to Kansas. He also secured additional instruction under his father, who was well qualified to be a teacher, and remained under the parental roof until he was twenty-two years of age. During this time he assisted his father in the cultivation of the home fields, and was trained in the numerous duties that go to make up the life of the successful agriculturist. In 1875, however, Mr. Troutman turned his attention to the stone and brick mason's trade, an occupation which he followed during twelve years. In that time he also engaged in farming to some extent, and finally the call of the soil became too strong to be resisted and he again took up agriculture as his regular business. For five years he was located in the vicinity of Rossville, in the northwestern part of Shawnee County, and following this was the owner of a property on Big Soldier Creek, which he cultivated for three years, and of which he made a success. Next he was located north of North Topeka for four years, still continuing farming, and at the end of that period bought a farm at Berryton, on the southeastern part of the county, which he owned and cultivated for three years. Mr Troutman then took a trip to California and spent a year in traveling for both health and pleasure, after which he returned and purchased his present farm, where he has since been successfully engaged in raising alfalfa. Like his father, he is a good man of business, a skilled farmer and a public-spirited citizen.

Mr. Troutman married Miss Marguerite Jackson, of Shawnee County, and formerly of the Dominion of Canada, and they are the parents of four daughters and one son: Gertrude, William, Edith, Ethel and Viola. The members of this family are all popular in social circles of their community.


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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