DANIEL M. ALDRICH, now living retired at Larned, has been a resident of Pawnee County since the month of September, 1886. While some others have lived in the county longer than he, it is doubtful if any has tasted more of the real experiences of pioneering and has more thoroughly deserved his present success and prosperity.
Mr. Aldrich was an Ohio man and brought with him to Western Kansas the ideas and ideals of the better class of citizens of his native state. He is of New England ancestry. His grandfather, Thomas Aldrich, was born in Massachusetts, and during his active career was employed in factories. He died in Rhode Island. Thomas Aldrich married a Miss Madison, and their children were named Madison, Daniel, William and Thomas.
Madison Aldrich, father of Daniel M., was a native of Rhode Island and from that state went west to Ohio about 1832, locating near Fremont in Sandusky County. His remaining years were spent there as a farmer. He was a pioneer in Northwest Ohio, cleared a farm from the midst of the heavy timber, and thus was as much of a pioneer in his generation as Daniel M. has been in his awn time. Madison Aldrich took an interest in local matters, but otherwise lived his life as a private citizen. He was a very active Methodist and a democrat in politics. He died in 1874, at the age of sixty-nine. His wife, whose maiden name was Ruth Wheeler, came out to Kansas with her son Daniel and died on the latter's farm in Pawnee County in 1895, at the age of eighty-two. Her children were: Allen, who died in Michigan, leaving a family; Hiram, who died in Ohio and also had a family of children; Daniel M.; and Julia, who married William Donnell and at her death in Ohio left children.
Daniel M. Aldrich was born in Sandusky County, Ohio, June 28, 1847. He was reared on a farm, attended the country schools, and he early felt a call into that great struggle which during his early youth was engaging the best resources of the entire nation. He was fourteen when the war broke out, and in 1863 he attempted to get into the army and in 1864 succeeded in enlisting, though his parents took him out of the ranks before he was mustered in. He had two brothers in the Third Ohio Cavalry.
The young men of modern times who have an ambition to attain a reasonable degree of prosperity might learn much from Mr. Aldrich's career. His prosperity came only at the end of many years of hard struggle. The first money he ever earned was a shilling paid to him for a day's work in dropping corn. He worked as a farmer in Ohio, and when he was about twenty-one he determined to get married and assume the responsibilities of a family. On December 25th, Christmas Day of 1868, he married Miss Annie D. Hineline. Her father was John B. Hineline. Mrs. Aldrich lived only seven years after her marriage and died in 1875.
After his marriage Mr. Aldrich kept a hotel in Fremont, Ohio, and he gave up that business when he started west for the prairies of Kansas. In the meantime he had married again, Miss Martha Stottsberry having become his wife in March, 1877. Her father was John Stottsberry, of a pioneer family of farmers in Ohio. When Mr. Aldrich came out to Kansas he was the father of several children by his first wife, namely: William W., now a farmer in Pawnee County, who married Louisa Koonsman; Laverna, deceased, married William Slingerland, and had children named Lindon, Harold, Gertrude and Florence; Julia E., who died in Comanche County, Kansas, leaving by her marriage to William Billings children named Ruth, Sarah, Caroline, Mary, Margaret and Wayne. By his present wife Mr. Aldrich has one daughter, Miss Vera Aldrich.
On coming to Kansas Mr. Aldrich brought his wife and children and shipped a carload of goods from Fremont, Ohio. He arrived in Pawnee County during the high tide of the early boom times, when values were exceedingly high, in fact were inflated, and only in very recent years have they been equally as high. He moved into Garfield Township of Pawnee County and paid $2,000 for a quarter section, comprising a deeded farm. In subsequent years he bought three more quarter sections and for them all did not pay as much as he did for his first quarter. The farm had a small two-room frame house, but otherwise the improvements were by no means in keeping with what he had been accustomed to in the agricultural districts of Northern Ohio. Two crops had been produced from the soil, and altogether the farm measured up to the general average of that section. In 1887, the first productive year after he came, he had no crop at all, although he had planted and labored many days in the fields. His first wheat crop was grown in the summer of 1890. During those years of drought he managed to make a living and keep his family together, but for the life of him he cannot explain how he did it as he looks back from the modern viewpoint. He had but a single cow, and when it died the family was deprived of an important source of its food supply. At one time he worked on a dairy farm at wages of fifteen dollars a month. Possessing some skill as a carpenter, he was very glad to accept any work in that line which offered, and when that failed he was not averse to any kind of hard manual labor, providing it would give him the means to buy provisions and such other supplies as would keep his family out of dire need. When he came to Kansas his surplus cash capital amounted to only $20, and it was consumed almost at once. He could not escape that inevitable fate of most Western Kansas farmers, a mortgage, and times were so tight and money so scarce that he occasionally failed to meet the interest on the mortgage, and foreclosure proceedings were instituted against his farm. For the first ten years his progress was chiefly backward, though perhaps his experience was of greater value to him than he really appreciated at the time. What started him up the hill again was the fine wheat crop of 1897. That year his fields produced twenty-five bushels to the acre and wheat was worth about seventy-five cents a bushel at threshing time. From 1897 a paying crop was harvested every year until 1913, and even in that season of comparative failure he harvested eight bushels to the acre. Every Kansas farmer looks back to the golden year of 1914, when the Kansas wheat crop was beyond all precedence. There was a fair crop for Mr. Aldrich in 1915, and the year 1916 put the finishing touch to the wheat raiser when a generous crop was followed by fabulous prices.
During the first ten years Mr. Aldrich lived in Kansas he had hardly a thought of buying more land. When prosperity began with him he bought a quarter section, a deeded quarter, for $200, paid $750 for another quarter, while his third quarter section cost about $1,250. He now owns four quarter sections and a half in Pawnee County and a quarter section in Comanche County. Practically all this represents the fruit of his toils and what he has won from the soil of Kansas in thirty years. The improvements he made for the convenience and comfort of his family on the farm have come about from time to time, and have kept pace with the rising standards of house and home conveniences in that section of the state. Since coming to Larned Mr. Aldrich has improved a substantial home in that city.
He continued living on the farm until elected sheriff of the county. While a country resident he enjoyed the privilege of a community which emphasized good schools and he was a resident in district No. 37. He served as clerk of the school board for a number of years. When he came out to Kansas he was a democratic voter, and continued a partisan of that type until the fusion of parties, when he acted with the people's organization. He was elected sheriff on the fusion ticket, succeeding Sheriff C. R. Case. The first two years of his administration the chief business of the office was foreclosures. He served from 1898 to 1903, getting an extra year in the office on account of a change in the election laws. During his second term little court business of importance was done since, as Mr. Aldrich puts it, he worked in a livery stable throughout 1900 in order to make a living for his family.
Since retiring from office Mr. Aldrich has given all his time to the oversight of his farming interests. Nothing could persuade him to accept the responsibilities of a city office. He is a member of the subordinate lodge of Odd Fellows, is past noble grand and has served as a delegate in Grand Lodge and on its finance committee. Since his marriage he has been a Methodist and has done a good deal to keep up church and Sunday school interests in the country districts.
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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