DeWITT C. BANE. Stevens County has been the center of Mr. Bane's laborious and not unfruitful efforts for nearly twenty years. His industry and good judgment have shaped matters so that he properly considers this region the source of his best success in life. His extensive farm and ranch interests are in Voorhees Township. Mr. Bane has been a resident of Kansas for over thirty years, and came to Stevens County from the central part of the state.
He is a native of what was at the time of his birth old Virginia, but is now the Pan Handle of West Virginia. He was born in the rugged district north of Wheeling, near the town of Wellsburg, October 19, 1859. His boyhood was spent on his parent's farm and he had only a common school education from that district.
In 1883, when he was twenty-four years old, the limited opportunities of his home country caused him to seek a fortune in the West, and traveling by railroad and shipping a car of goods he reached Salina, Kansas. He bought land in Saline County and was a farmer in Smoland Township until his migration to Stevens County. While in Saline County he lived largely in a community of Swedes. His equipment as a farmer there at the beginning consisted of a team, two cows and two dozen Plymouth Rock chickens. He bought eighty acres of land near Mentor. For a number of years he made a more or less meager living, and at the end of sixteen years was little better off, aside from the increase in the value of his land, than when he located. In the meantime he had taken special interest in the upbuilding of the schools of his neighborhood and was a director of the district schools, but otherwise took no active part in local politics.
Mr. Bane left Saline County in order to secure cheaper land, and his investigation led him to Stevens County in 1899. He brought with him four horses, two cows, two calves and two dozen of the Plymouth Rock strain of poultry which had stood him in such good stead back in Saline County. To use his own words, "He bought the buildings of a settler on the northwest quarter of section 9, township 35, range 36, and the owner gave him the land." The improvements comprised a three room house and a small barn, and here he took up the cattle business. The nucleus of his stock were the two cows and two calves brought with him, but he soon invested in a bunch of grade stock. For a number of years the grass was free and the range practically unlimited. After about eight years the settlers came in in considerable numbers, and this caused a curtailment of the stock range. However, in the meantime the cattle industry had proved profitable to him, and at the high tide of his operations he was handling about 200 head. Out of the proceeds of this business he bought other lands and finally secured seven quarter sections in a body, all fenced and about 720 acres in all under cultivation. Farming has proved most profitable with him in the growing of maize and wheat. The best yield of wheat in his experience was twenty-three bushels to the acre. Only in 1917 did he fail to have growing wheat and the promise of harvest.
Some years ago Mr. Bane undertook the raising of hogs on a considerable scale. He introduced twenty brood sows, and while they proved prolific he found at the end of three years that the absence of pasture and the expense of feeding them to maturity almost cost as much as the profit derived, and he gave up this branch of stock husbandry. His success as a farmer has enabled him to extend his business interests, and he was one of the original stockholders in the Tyrone State Bank and retained his interest when the bank was made a national bank. He also took stock in the People's State Bank of Liberal and in the Union Stock Yards at Hutchinson.
In a public way Mr. Bane has served as treasurer of school district No. 5 ever since he located in Voorhees Township. He cast his first presidential vote for General Hancock in 1880 and has always voted the party ticket, supporting Mr. Bryan three times. He was reared as a Presbyterian but now has no church affiliations, though he believes in the great good done through these institutions and is orthodox in his faith. Mrs. Bane is a member of the Christian Church.
A large proportion of the early settlers of Western Virginia were Scotch or Scotch-Irish, and it is of this stock that Mr. Bane is descended. His grandfather, Robert Bane, came from Scotland, settling in what is now West Virginia, and for many years was one of the active river men, taking part in the commerce of the Ohio River in flatboat days. He bought land in Brook County, West Virginia, at 19 cents an acre, and that land is still in the family name. He married Maria Trimble. Their children were: Mrs. Elizabeth Wilson, Mrs. Margaret Wilson, John and Mrs. Sully Wilson. The daughters all married brothers.
John Bane, father of DeWitt C., was a native of Brook County, Virginia, spent his life on a farm there, received a fair education from the rural schools and always kept in touch with the best interests of his community. He was a democrat and, like the family for generations, was a Presbyterian. He married Mertina Coleman, daughter of David Coleman. Their children were: Almyra Belle, who married Charles Busby, of Ohio County, West Virginia; Clayton, of Brook County, Virginia; Robert, of Brook County; DeWitt C.; Clementine, who married Dorsey Sawtell, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Mary Maria, who married Will McGee, of Brook County; and Frank Boyd, of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, who married Ethel Wilson.
After he had tried out Kansas soil and climate by three years in Saline County DeWitt C. Bane returned to his native state and in Brook County on February 26, 1886, married Louise Wells, daughter of Esbi and Agnes (McCoy) Wells, and granddaughter of Basil Wells. This is one of the earliest families in that section of West Virginia. Esbi Wells had several brothers who were Union soldiers. He was himself a farmer, a modest and retiring citizen and in politics a republican. The children of Esbi Wells and wife were: Miss Nannie; Mrs. Bane, who was born November 10, 1864; Micha, widow of Charles Scott, of Brook County; Margaret, who died as the wife of Will McCoy; Charles, of West Virginia; and Claude, of Brook County.
In their days of prosperity Mr. and Mrs. Bane now find themselves surrounded by both children and grandchildren. The names of their children in order of age are Eva, Rhoda, John E., Dessie L., George L., Margaret, Ralph R. and Agnes. Eva married Brice Crawford, of Hugoton, Kansas, and has a daughter, Margaret Louise. Rhoda is the wife of Robert Cunningham, of Liberal, and has a daughter named Louisa. The son John is now in the aviation corps of the army for the World war. Dessie L. married Bert Kimsey, of Hugoton. The son George is in the United States navy on the warship Dubuque. Margaret is a graduate of the Liberal High School and is a teacher in Seward County, and Ralph R. is also attending high school at Liberal.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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