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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Americus Vespucius Angell

AMERICUS VESPUCIUS ANGELL. After thirty years of laborious life in Western Kansas, marked by many trying experiences, Mr. Angell retired from the active responsibilities of the farm and ranch in 1916 and has since been a resident of Plains, where he and his wife enjoy the comforts of one of the modern bungalows of the town, its seven rooms affording a vivid contrast in point of commodiousness and comfort to the limited sod house in which they and their children had their first dwelling in Western Kansas.

A brief story of the life and record of the Angell family furnishes a modest chapter in the history of the Sunflower State. Mr. Angell is one of the comparatively few men in Western Kansas who came from North Carolina. His birth occurred in Yadkin County of that state October 18, 1852. His father, John J. Angell, was born in North Carolina in 1812, spent his life as a farmer and accumulated a good estate in the Yadkin Valley, and in spite of his age entered the army of the Confederacy and was in service more than two years. He went through various battles and campaigns without injury. He was always a democrat. He died when about eighty-five years old. His wife was Kizziah Davis, also of an old North Carolina family. She was born in 1818 and died at the age of eighty-six. A brief record of their children is as follows: Mary, who died unmarried; William, who died while a Confederate soldier at Richmond, Virginia; James and Greenberry, who were also in the Southern army and died in North Carolina; Elvira, who married Alexander Steelman and lives in North Carolina; Daniel, in North Carolina; Jones, who was a Baptist minister and died in his native state; Americus V.; America, who married James Davis, of North Carolina; Dr. Jefferson L. and Madison M., twins, the former a resident of Jackson County, Missouri, and the latter still in North Carolina; and Veronica, who married Isaac Disk and lives in North Carolina.

Americus V. Angell spent his early life on his father's grain farm in North Carolina. His education was acquired in such schools as existed in the neighborhood in that day, and as he came to manhood with farming experience he has always remained an agriculturist and has lived close to the soil and depended upon its fruits for his prosperity.

Before leaving his native state he married in Iredell County February 10, 1881, Miss Jane Whitlock. Her father, Roland Whitlock, was a native of North Carolina and died while in the Confederate army. He married Ann Buchanan. Both the Buchanons and Whitlocks were pioneers of the Tarheel State. Mrs. Angell was born October 29, 1858, and the other children of her father were: Charles F., a Baptist minister at Neosho, Missouri; and Hillery, of Jerome, Idaho. Her mother married for her second husband William Messick, and she died in 1902, at Puyallup, Washington. The children of this second marriage and the half brothers and sisters of Mrs. Angell are: Winfield, of Kingsville, Missouri; Ada, who married William Wagoner, of Miami, Oklahoma; Docia, who married Joseph May, of Jerome, Idaho; Bettie, wife of Doctor Phillips, of Oak Grove, Missouri; Lillie, wife of Marion Whaley, of Jerome, Idaho.

Mr. Angell had been married two or three years when he and his wife started westward on their long migration. Their first pause was made in Jackson County, Missouri, where they remained eighteen months and then resumed their westward march. They were at that time a typical group of "movers" or home seeking emigrants. A wagon was the conveyance which carried them out into Western Kansas, and that wagon contained practically all the property they possessed, the most valuable part of it being the family of wife and two children.

It was on April 8, 1886, that Mr. Angell thus humbly arrived in the region where his most important achievements and experiences have since centered. He at once entered a pre-emption, the southeast quarter of section 20, township 32, range 29, and on that built his first Kansas home, a sod structure 12 by 14 feet, into which he had no difficulty in crowding his small stock of furniture. The family lived there about eighteen months, abandoning it to settle upon his homestead, which was the southeast quarter of section 31, township 32, range 29. There another soddy of two rooms appeared, and it was the home around which revolved most of the early associations of the family in Kansas. This old sod house has disappeared completely and all other evidences of the pioneer habitation, but three children were born under its humble roof and came to mature years. This sod house was finally supplemented by a frame building, which was moved out from Plains.

By the time Mr. Angell had paid for his government filings and had put up his sod house he did not have a dollar of capital left. He hired out for such work as could be obtained in the community in order to buy groceries and other supplies. Occasionally he found employment in putting up a sod house for a newcomer or in breaking sod for the settlers or hauling freight from the Cimarron. Like most of the pioneers he depended for fuel upon the "chips" of the prairie, and all the fires were fed with this fuel until his son Charles attained the dignity of sixteen years and flatly refused to pick any more chips. After that the family depended upon other fuel, and that bit of rebellion on the part of the son has been a fact from which to date other items of history in the family career.

Looking back over thirty years in the progress of this family there are seen numerous halting periods and even setbacks. These were due sometimes to hail storms, which destroyed the crops, but more frequently to continued dry weather. Productive farming was never reliable in the early years. Mr. Angell, like others, pinned his faith to corn, cane and millet, but after much experiment made wheat his principal crop and from that has reaped his chief reward as a farmer. He was also in the live stock business, and that year in and year out was perhaps the chief source of profit. Cattle required less trouble also than grain crops. Mr. Angell was in this region of unlimited free range for a number of years before it occurred to him to buy more land. The land buying era in his history dates from about the time when his son "rebelled against picking chips." The lowest price he paid for a quarter section was $150 and the highest price $2,400. In successive years Mr. Angell acquired seven quarter sections, and at the present time 920 acres are susceptible of crop growing. He and his family developed four sets of improvements on the land, all good substantial homes, equipped with ample barns. On two of the farms are modern homes of the bungalow patterns, occupied by two of the Angell boys.

Mention should now be made of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Angell. Charles, the oldest, is a farmer in the Plains locality, and by his marriage to Mamie Davis has two children, Christie and Francis. Eddie, a farmer in the old home locality, married Minnie Davis and has four children, Agnes, Carl, Ailing and Lloyd. Rosa married John Jones, living near Plains, and has a son, Lewis. Maybelle is the wife of John Lawson, of the same community, and her children are Beatrice, Vernon, Alberta and Clive. The next child, Goldie, died in promising young womanhood at the age of eighteen. The younger children are Frank, Minnie and Ernest.

Mr. Angell helped organize the pioneer school district near his home, and the first schoolhouse was built on his land. It was also constructed of sod, and some of his own children learned their first lessons there. He was a member of the board practically all the time he lived in the district. That was the extent to which he indulged in politics, though politics is not supposed to enter into school management. In national affairs he is a democrat and cast his first presidential vote for Samuel J. Tilden while living in North Carolina. He has never interested himself in fraternal orders, and he and his wife are members of the Missionary Baptist Church. Mr. Angell is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator at Plains.


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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

Tom & Carolyn Ward
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