JOHN W. BATMAN, one of the early settlers of Pawnee County in River Township, has had a number of experiences that are not only of interest as part of his individual record but serve to illustrate the conditions under which the pioneers lived and the battles they fought in gaining homes and prosperity on this western frontier.
It was in November, 1879, that he came to the West, a young married man, and drove overland all the distance from Crawford County, Indiana. Near Pilot Knob in that county he was born September 1, 1855. His grandfather, Henry Batman, served as a soldier in the War of 1812 and participated in that early campaign against the Indians under General Harrison which culminated in the battle of Tippecanoe, in which this Kentucky volunter[sic] lost an arm. It is believed that Henry Batman was a native of Virginia. Among his children were John, Jackson, James, Hiram, Cynthia, wife of Michael Dillman, and Rebecca, wife of James Hubbard.
John W. Batman was only an infant when his father, John Batman, died. John Batman was born near Lexington, Kentucky, and spent his brief career as a farmer. He died just before the outbreak of the Civil war. His wife's maiden name was Eliza McCartney. Her father, Duke McCartney, was a native of Virginia. John Batman and wife had the following children: Lafayette, a farmer of Ringwood, Oklahoma; Marian, living near Holden, Missouri; John W.; Charles A., of Belpre, Kansas; and Ellen, wife of Charles Bowman, of Belpre, Kansas.
Mrs. John Batman several years after the death of her first husband married Thomas Ryan, and after his death she married Thomas Myler. She had no children by either of these husbands. Her death occurred near Seward in Stafford County, Kansas, in 1891, when she was seventy-one years old. She had exchanged her Indiana farm for lands near Pawnee Rock and had come to Kansas with her son John W. Subsequently she moved to the vicinity of Seward and spent her last years there on a farm.
John W. Batman had a bringing up on the farm, acquired his education in the district schools and a brief time at a select school, and lived in the homes of his two step-fathers. When he came to Kansas he brought two teams, a few household goods and a small amount of money. He soon located on the quarter section where he still lives in River Township. It was his intention and his first practice was directed along that line to make a farm. When the drought came he was forced by a succession of dry years to seek labor elsewhere. He then moved to Pawnee Rock and went to work as a section hand. His boss was a noted pioneer of that vicinity, Michael Sweeny. His work on the railway section continued only for a few months at a time, while during the open season he was busy with his farm. While working on the railroad he helped to lay the steel on the Santa Fe line from Dundee to Garfield.
Since 1882 Mr. Batman has been steadily getting the better of circumstances in his gallant fight for prosperity as a farmer. With all the hard times he has passed through there was never a day when there was not a square meal in the house for his family, although some anxiety was inevitable on his part as to how he could manage to keep up that satisfactory condition. He had a long and hard struggle before he could lift the mortgage from his farm, though it was paid off during some of the hard years. Several years later he started to buy more land, an eighty acre tract which cost him $500. This debt was soon paid. In 1901 he bought a quarter of section 7, at a price of $1,700 and had this paid for by 1903.
Mr. Batman's pioneer home in Kansas was a box house 12 by 16 feet. It was the humble abode in which his daughter was born. He later bought the old school house and added it to the shanty and with these more commodious quarters the family was content until 1901, when he erected his present nine room house, a large part of which is modern. His pioneer barn was a straw stable, so familiar in pioneer days, and his present barn is 36 by 46 feet with room for forty-five tons of hay. Mr. Batman has practiced diversified principles of farming, has kept cattle and milk cows, and the milk has often sufficed to supply the family groceries. The best yield of wheat he ever had was thirty bushels to the acre in 1914. A number of years ago he sold some wheat as low as 26 cents a bushel. In his individual experience his record high price was $1.86. He is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator at Pawnee Rock, and also owns stock in the Farmers State Bank at. Larned.
Several times he has filled township offices, having been three times trustee, a number of years clerk and also a member of the school board of district No. 9. Politically his affiliations have been steadily democratic. While not a church member, his purse has been open according to its possibilities for church and benevolent purposes. The only order to which he has attached himself is the Patrons of Husbandry or the Grange.
For over thirty years Mr. Batman enjoyed a happy home life with his good wife. He was married September 23, 1879, only a few weeks before he came out to Kansas, to Miss Mary E. Carr, daughter of William and Eliza (Levell) Carr. Her father was a Kentuckian and on coming to Indiana followed the business of milling and lumbering in Scott and Crawford counties. His home was near English in Crawford County and he was quite a factor in local affairs. His children were: James; Mrs. Batman, who was born October 17, 1855; Annie, wife of B. Y. Davis; Edwin and Elwin, twins; and Tilden H. Mrs. Batman, who died in 1911, was a member of the Christian Church. She had been educated, like her husband, in the common schools. Of the children born to them only two grew up, Will A. and Edna M., both of whom are with their father at the old homestead.
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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