CHARLES W. ASKEW. More than thirty-four years have passed since Charles W. Askew first came to Ness County, and here he has been a constant contributor to the development of one of the prosperous farming counties of the Sunflower State. He was born October 4, 1858, at Lockport, New York, but came to Ness County from Clayton County, Iowa, in 1884.
Frederick Askew, the father of Charles W., was a farmer, born in Effingham, England, December 21, 1831. He came to the United States in 1849 with his parents, John and Liddy (Thoda) Askew, the former born in England in 1800. The children of Mr. and Mrs. John Askew were as follows: Frederick; Libbie, the wife of Charles F. Stearns, a pioneer of Elkader, Iowa, who later went to Sac City in the same state; Benjamin, who died at Waterloo, Iowa; and James, who died at Versailles, Missouri. Frederick Askew died at Lewiston, Idaho. He married Jane Chappell, a daughter of Mark Chappell, born on the Isle of Wight, and who still survives her husband. They were the parents of Charles W. and Nellie J., the latter of whom is the wife of Edward Rawson, of Portland, Oregon.
Charles W. Askew grew up in Clayton County, Iowa, and acquired his education in the country schools and at the Upper Iowa University of Fayette. A farmer's son, he learned farming and the features of farm and stock work, but began life as a thresher, owning and operating a machine with a partner. Following this he drifted into the wagon and carriage making business, doing custom and repair work at Fayette, but after three years of only moderate success in this enterprise gave it up and decided to come to Kansas.
Mr. Askew came to the Sunflower State with other settlers, friends, who stopped in Osborne County, while Mr. Askew came direct to Ness County, where he had a friend and old neighbor. He came by rail as far as Atchison and drove his team on to this locality. His team, a few implements, and perhaps $400 in money comprised his property at that time. Mr. Askew selected the quarter section where he now lives, the northeast quarter of section 30, township 16, range 26, and filed on it, and his first work in the new country was breaking the sod to build him a house. His "soddy" was 16x16 feet, covered with sod, and, while it had two windows and a door, could boast of no floor, but in this respect was no different from many others of the early settlers' homes. It was dug down into the ground about two feet, and with its plastered walls and rude conveniences proved quite a comfortable place of abode. Subsequently Mr. Askew erected another "soddy," the next year, this being 16x2O feet, with cellar, having two rooms in the second story and being plastered with native lime. He was still a bachelor at this time and lived so until the spring of 1887, when his real housekeeping began in this house. He added to its rooms from time to time and his children were all born there except three.
Beginning his farming, Mr. Askew broke ground and planted sorghum and feed crops and his very first crop was sold, a part of it, to provide the farm needs. In 1886 he harvested a crop of wheat, oats and rye, but could not get it threshed, so he fenced the stacks and let his hogs eat the stacks down. He secured a profit out of hogs, having bought his stock in Rush County. His experience in being not able to thresh his wheat that year caused him not to grow any of that grain for two years, at which time machines had become more plentiful and he was able to get his crop threshed. Thereafter he continued to sow wheat and started upon his career as a large wheat farmer. While he has followed diversified farming, his grains of all kinds have proved a conspicuous feature of his work. His experience with Sudan Grass has been favorable, and he reports that it has done exceptionally well. As a rule his feed crops have rarely missed a crop. He has grown into the Shorthorn cattle, Duroc Jersey hogs and Percheron horses, mules have given him success, and poultry has proven profitable, as has dairying, he having disposed of his cream since creameries have been established.
Out of the profits of his farm efforts Mr. Askew has added a quarter-section of land occasionally, and is now the owner of 1,280 acres of land, all fenced, about a section of it under cultivation, and the remainder in pasture, with three sets of improvements. His present home, a three-story stone structure, was built in 1906, and has twelve rooms, with hot and cold water attachments and electric lighting. His barns are numerous, well equipped, modern and commodious, and are capable of housing nearly all his stock.
When the Missouri Pacific Railway was building through this section Mr. Askew ran a butcher shop and flour and feed store at Utica for one winter. He has various interests aside from his farm, and is at this time vice president of the Citizens State Bank of Utica for one winter. He has various interests aside from his farm, and is at this time vice president of the Citizens State Bank of Utica and one of its directors. For several years Mr. Askew has been the authorized agent for the Kansas State Agricultural College and of the federal arm of agriculture, also, in reporting crop conditions, experiments and observations. His farm was designated a few years ago as an experimental agricultural station on a small scale. Fifty acres were set aside and divided into five-acre tracts for testing the soil by crop rotation in the interests of wheat, wheat following wheat under different soil treatment and one of the sorghums alternating with wheat to determine the best way to prepare for a wheat crop. Mr. Askew has also been testing crops of kaffir, mile maize and feterita to determine the best variety of stuff for this semi-arid region for ensilage, stover and grain. In these tests the white and yellow mile maize have shown the best results with two varieties of kaffir corn as second. Mr. Askew made an experiment with the Russian thistle for its value as ensilage, putting thirteen loads of it into a silo and awaiting results. When he began feeding it he found it still so hot that it would burn his hand when thrust into it. It was well cooked and as tender as a cabbage leaf and his stock devoured it greedily and did well on it. The bottom of the silo was mouldy and he thought best not to feed that to his cattle, but scattered it out as manure along the edge of the young wheat that he was pasturing. But when he turned his cattle on the wheat the next time they ate up the ensilage before they grazed on the green and tender wheat.
Mr. Askew is a prohibitionist. He was elected treasurer of the first school district in the township, which included Ohio Township, and the school was held in a sod residence, the first teacher being Will Taylor, and the first permanent house being at Utica. When the first district was built a sod schoolhouse was built for Mr. Askew's district, and a frame house was subsequently erected on the same site, but this was destroyed by fire and the site was then changed to 1 1/2 miles north of Mr. Askew's house and one-half mile east. He has educated all his children here and his son, who was engaged for some time in teaching, was prepared for his vocation here.
The first pioneer church services for this locality were held in a sod schoolhouse in Lane County, the United Brethren denomination. Later a Methodist organization was formed at Utica, and Mr. and Mrs. Askew took their membership from the United Brethren to the Utica Methodist Episcopal Church, in which Mr. Askew has been either a steward or a trustee ever since, in addition to which he has served as superintendent of the Sunday school.
On March 13, 1887, Mr. Askew was married in Ness County, Kansas, to Miss Lourena Shank, a daughter of Levi M. Shank, an early-day settler of Ness County and who conducted the first store at Utica as a clerk for Martin Peters. Mr. Shank came to Ness County in the spring of 1886 from Sedgwick County, Kansas, but originally came from Champaign County, Illinois, where Mrs. Askew was born June 12, 1869. Mr. Shank was born in Orange County, Indiana, November 5, 1843, and was reared on the farm of his father, Daniel Shank. He married Mary M. Hicks, who died in Ness County, in March, 1915, while her husband died October 19, 1916. They were the parents of the following children: Sarah E., who is the wife of Marsh Nester, of Kingman County, Kansas; Elda, the wife of Grant Walters, of Ness County; Lourena, now Mrs. Askew; Harry, a resident of Helena, Oklahoma; George E., of Argonia, Kansas; and Charles, of Plains, Kansas.
To Mr. and Mrs. Askew there have been born the following children: Frederick Lester, born August 4, 1888, a farmer of Sheridan Lake, Colorado, married Ada Jennison and has two children, Wavel and Callie; Elda Matilda, born August 12, 1889, married Charles Jennison, of Healy, Kansas, and has two children, Vera and Lourena; Edward George born October 18, 1890, a resident of Rogerson, Idaho, married Lillie Young, and has two children, Zella and Garold; Nellie J., born February 12, 1892, is a homesteader of Sheridan Lake, Colorado; Harry Levi, born June 25, 1893, a resident of Sheridan Lake, married Edna Bower, and has two children, Lila and Lola; Albert F., born November 24, 1895, is residing on his farm in Colorado; Minnie M., born February 1, 1897, married Clarence Young, of Ness County, and has two children, Wilda and Elmer, and the family is now living at Twin Falls, Idaho; Lorin Luther, born May 1, 1898, in Iowa, in which state the family sojourned two years, was a high school student at Utica and married Ada Orr and is now living on their farm in Colorado; Jennie V., born January 27, 1901, is a high school student at Utica; Raymond M., born May 17, 1902; Myron E., born May 17, 1904; Charles T., born November 7, 1905; James W., born January 18, 1908; and Otis E., born August 19, 1910.
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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