Ed C. Varner

ED. C. VARNER. A substantial Kansas farmer who is making a good living and proving himself a factor in the citizenship of Butler County, Ed C. Varner has in the course of two years become one of the well known oil men of the entire country. Fortune sometimes plays strange freaks and showers its benefits upon those apparently undeserving. However, as a rule the rewards of fortune are wisely bestowed. Ed C. Varner did much to merit all the prosperity that has come to him in the rich oil districts of Augusta.

It was largely his foresight and wisdom that brought about the thorough development of this field. He and his brother Frank insisted from the first that deep tests should be made in this district. The operators at first were inclined to make tests for gas only, but Ed and Frank Varner insisted firmly for borings that would leave no doubt as to the existence of oil or gas. They inserted clauses in their leases which provided for such deep tests and the result was that some of the richest oil strata in the mid-continent field were uncovered in Butler County.

Mr. Ed Varner owns 285 acres in the oil belt. The first gas well was brought in on his place on April 28, 1914. Within a year five producing wells were on his land. The first oil well was struck July 12, 1915. Less than a year later. on May 24, 1916, the tenth well was brought in. There are now thirty-six wells and some are among the largest producers in Southern Kansas. The big well known as Number 6 excelled all others, and started out with an average production of 8,500 barrels per day and at the age of a year was flowing 2,500 barrels a day, one of the most, if not the most, remarkable in the State of Kansas.

Frank Varner also owns large amounts of land in the Augusta oil and gas district, and on his 277 acres there were ten oil wells producing in 1916.

Ed C. Varner has lived in Butler County since early boyhood, and it has been a matter of satisfaction that part of the prosperity due to the exploitation of the oil and gas resources should fall on one of the older settlers. Mr. Varner was born in Jackson County, Illinois, in 1867, a son of Jesse V. and Olive (Orr) Varner. The paternal grandparents were Joseph and Martha (Drumm) Varner. Jesse Varner was born in Washington County, Ohio, in 1828 and died in 1904. His wife was born in Mahoning County, Ohio, in 1837, a daughter of Russell and Eleanor (Winans) Orr. Mrs. Jesse Varner is one of Butler County's pioneer women and now lives at Augusta.

When the Varner family came to Kansas Ed was eleven years of age. He had acquired part of his education in Illinois and he also attended the schools in Butler County. He was reared on a farm and naturally chose that vocation when he started out to make his own way in the world. In 1891 he became an independent farmer and in 1894 bought the farm home which he occupied until he removed to Augusta. He now has one of the excellent homes in that town, located on Osage Street. Besides his first farm he acquired in the fall of 1902 the northeast quarter of section 17 in Walnut Township. He paid Merl Carnahan twenty-six hundred dollars for this 160 acres and he made it thereafter the principal scene of his operations as a farmer and stock raiser. Before the oil and gas era struck Butler County Mr. Varner was considered one of its most substantial business men and successful citizens. He was one of the organizers and is now vice president of the American National Bank of Augusta.

He is head of a fine family and is liberally bestowing upon them the advantages of education and culture and what he can do for them is the best satisfaction derived from his material prosperity. Mr. Varner married at Augusta, September 23, 1894, Miss Ona Carr, a native of Tennessee. Her parents, D. M. and Nancy (Dobbins) Carr, located at Augusta in 1882 and both are now deceased. The family of Mr. and Mrs. Varner comprises five children Ethel, Ralph Chester, Cecil and Velma Ethel was graduated from the Augusta High School in 1916, Ralph is a graduate of the class of 1917 in the high school, and Chester is in the third year of high school. Cecil is still in the grammar school.


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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