LEWIS P. ABER. One of the earliest settlers of Barton County, Lewis P. Aber, of Great Bend, has been one of the best known and most useful citizens, largely on account of his long and able public record.
He was born in Lake County, Illinois, February 25, 1851. His father, Pierson Aber, a native of New York State, spent his active life as a farmer, he married in New York Olive Briggs, whose father was a native of New York State and a Methodist minister. Pierson Aber died at Great Bend, Kansas, in August, 1901, at the age of seventy-eight, and his widow is still living and is perhaps the oldest person living in Topeka, Kansas. Their children were: Flora, wife of Myron Gilmore, ex-sheriff of Barton County and now living in Topeka; Lewis P.; Carrie, who married Frank Maxon and died in Salt Lake, Utah; and Fred, who died and was buried at Great Bend, leaving no children.
Lewis P. Abner[sic] grew up on a farm near Waukegan, Illinois. He had only a common school education during his youth, but his long official service has enabled him to acquire an equipment and training equal to all his needs and has given him a wide knowledge of many practical affairs. On leaving home at the age of twenty-one he began farming, and followed that vocation four years in his native county and also in Page County, Iowa. From Iowa he came to Kansas, making the journey overland and accompanied by his mother. Both his parents became settlers in this state, entering land in what is now Stafford County. They subsequently relinquished their claim and moved to Great Bend.
Lewis P. Aber entered both a homestead and a timber claim, the latter being in Ness County. He spent the first three years working his homestead in Barton County, but his experiences were so disastrous that he sold his right and his humble pioneer improvements for $50. A timber claim, entered in 1878, received some improvement from him, but he finally abandoned it on account of his disappointment with the region from an agricultural standpoint.
Mr. Aber's first official service was as deputy sheriff of Barton County. He was appointed by Sheriff Gilmore, one of the first sheriffs of the county. He held the office ten years and then in 1896 was elected sheriff, succeeding George Spencer. The four years of his term covered a period of good order and peace. Later Mr. Aber was elected mayor of Great Bend, and at the beginning of his administration there were seventeen liquor joints in the town. At that time local sentiment was strongly against the enforcement of the liquor law. As a consequence liquor selling without a license was continued, but the owners of the places were fined every month and the proceeds went into the city treasury. That was the practice during the two years of Mr. Aber's term, and the city hall of today was built from money thus collected. Mr. Aber handled the situation so strictly that when he left the mayor's chair there were only six saloons instead of seventeen.
For two years he had been a member of the city council before his election as sheriff, and he held that office one year after his mayor's term. Upon the change of city government to the commission plan he was elected to head the department of improvement, and is now completing his sixth year, and his twenty-fourth year as a public official in Great Bend. As city commissioner he has been associated with his colleagues in extending the sewer system and in carrying on some street paving.
Mr. Aber began voting as a republican, his father having espoused the same faith, and has never found a valid reason for changing his party politics. He first cast a presidential vote for General Grant in 1872, and has never missed a presidential election or in rendering support to the presidential candidate. In those days he carried some of the burdens of convention work, always attended the county convention, and his comparison of the merits of the old convention system with the primary law of today leads him to the conclusion that a modification of the old way is the better plan. Mr. Aber is a member of the Congregational Church and his wife of the Episcopal.
In Barton County Mr. Aber married for his first wife Mrs. Katie McClimans. She was born in Illinois, daughter of Dr. Van Pelt. She died at Needles, California, November 23, 1904. By her first husband she had two children, one of whom is still living, Wilmot McClimans, of San Diego, California. Mr. and Mrs. Aber had two children: Wilber and Robert. Wilber served as a member of the famous Twentieth Kansas Regiment during the Spanish-American war and is now connected with the Simmons Hardware Company at Wichita. He and his wife, Diana, have one daughter, Catherine. Robert enlisted in the regular army at the Spanish war period, and served in the Hawaiian Islands until his regiment was ordered to Fort St. Michaels, where he remained three years. After seven years of service he was discharged at San Francisco and died at San Diego the week following his discharge, on December 28, 1912, at the age of twenty-six, unmarried.
At San Diego, California, January 27, 1910, Mr. Aber married Miss Emma Mellefont. She was born and reared in New York. Her father, Robert Mellefont married a Miss Emma Humphrey, and they have three daughters and a son, Miss Mary, of East Orange, New Jersey; Mrs. Aber; Hattie, who is Mrs. J. B. Shields, of East Orange; and Charles, of San Diego, California. Mrs. Abner[sic] received a thorough commercial training and for a number of years was a bookkeeper and accountant with factories and stores at Yonkers and Tarrytown. At the time of her marriage she was connected with the Consolidated Water Company of Tarrytown. Since coming to Great Bend she has been active in church and social movements, being a member of the Progress Club and was a constant worker with her needle in behalf of the Red Cross and joined with her husband in a generous support of other auxiliary war measures.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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