CHARLES WILLIAM BEELER. Western Kansas is still to some extent a cattleman's paradise. Among the big men in the industry, those whose names have more than local significance and standing, Charles William Beeler of Kinsley, is one of the first not only in extent of experience and the scope of his operations, but also in the quality of his enterprise. Mr. Beeler has long had his home at Kinsley, though his field of operations has not been confined to Edwards County. He has been a resident of Kansas for a third of a century, having come to the state in February, 1885.
Mr. Beeler came to Kansas with the purpose of engaging in the cattle industry, and has kept along that one line, though he has also been a practical farmer and is a prominent banker of the state. He launched his pioneer stock industry in Kansas by shipping a bunch of cattle from Ohio to Coffeyville. The cattle were wintered in that vicinity and were then driven to Kinsley in 1886. His plan of operations has been little changed since he first came to Kansas, to buy up and graze young steers and later sell them to feeders and small cattle dealers in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Illinois and Colorado.
It was about the time Mr. Beeler came to Kansas that the wire fence came into vogue in the west. He early adopted the practice of fencing off the range. His first and rather historic pasture was along the south side of the Arkansas River, adjacent to Kinsley. At one time it contained 18,000 acres and his cattle grazed on this rich and broad domain for a number of years, but eventually he was compelled to move by the encroachment of settlers seeking homes. Although he had other pastures, about twelve years ago he acquired his big western pasture in Hamilton County, where land could be purchased at from $2.50 to $3.50 an acre. He bought six miles square of that class of land and everywhere out here it is known as "The Beeler Pasture."
This big pasture is in extent an entire government township. To fence it seems even to the ordinary layman an immense undertaking. The material for the fencing required a carload of wire, costing at that time $2.18 a bale. Two carloads of locust posts were brought from Arkansas, costing 13 cents apiece. In the present era of high prices for steel and wood materials the wire would cost $5.50 a bale and the posts fully twice what he paid. Around the entire area he constructed a three-wire fence, with posts two rods apart, and a stay between, regarded as the best fence in all that section of Kansas. Five wells with windmills supply his stock with fine quality of sheet water, found at varying depths from 115 to 150 feet. Besides the big pasture Mr. Beeler has adjoining it a smaller ranch, consisting of three sections. This in turn is divided into three pastures, each comprising a section, and these are his "sorting" or "classifying pastures."
In his early years of experience as a Kansas cattleman Mr. Beeler handled stock vastly inferior to what now graze on his range. They were then the old-fashioned Texas Longhorn or his cross of that stock with some of the scrub animals that came from Alabama and other southern localities where cattle raisers took little pride in animal improvement. But for the past fifteen years Mr. Beeler has been handling White Faces bred in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona, equal in color and equal or better in class than similar cattle bred in Kansas of the same strain. An average steer of this class when fed out for the market weighs from 1,350 to 1,400 pounds, whereas one of a similar age of the old stock weighed from 700 to 900 pounds. His practice for years has been to build up a clientele of small cattlemen who seek his pastures yearly for what they need, and good cattle paper is accepted in exchange for the stock.
Five miles southwest of Kinsley Mr. Beeler conducted a ranch for raising horses of the Percheron strain. This is another of his profitable ventures. Some of the horses from his ranch have gone to the front for war purposes in Europe. For a number of years he has been a farmer near Kinsley. His fields produce feed for such stock as he has on hand in the fall and he has also tried his fortunes in the wheat game.
In 1901 Mr. Beeler engaged in banking at Kinsley, organizing the National Bank of Kinsley. The bank is capitalized at $25,000 and he has been its president from the start. In this venture he was associated with Major Calvin Hood of Emporia, who was the first vice president. J. E. Stowell is cashier and G. E. Wilson is assistant cashier. The members of the official board are C. W. and H. B. Beeler, G. E. Wilson, J. E. Stowell and H. E. Hoffman. At one time Mr. Beeler was a stockholder in the Drovers National Bank of Kansas City and the National Reserve Bank of that city. He is a stockholder now in the First National Bank at Somerton, Ohio, his old home locality.
Mr. Beeler was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, November 23, 1856. He spent his childhood in a home of very modest comforts. His father, William Beeler, was a tinner by trade and died at Webster, Pennsylvania. He had formerly lived in Indiana and went from there to Pennsylvania, where he married Harriet Thomas, who is also deceased. The parents reared ten children, and those still living are: Mrs. Leightty Steen and Mrs. Leonard Nahar, of Belle Vernon, Pennsylvania; Wesley, of that place; Charles W.; Miss Hattie, of West Newton, Pennsylvania; Mrs. C. R. Reynolds, and Miss Minnie, of West Newton, Pennsylvania, and Harry B., of Kinsley, Kansas.
Charles W. Beeler attended the public schools of Pennsylvania and laid the foundation for an education there. He grew up on a farm and learned farming as a wage worker at $8 a month. He made his own way in the world from the time he was fifteen and at the age of nineteen he left Pennsylvania and went to Ohio. There he found employment as clerk at Batesville, and after several years bought a stock of goods on time and was a merchant five years. While merchandising he experimented with livestock on a small scale, and that was the origin of his successful enterprise in the West. He sold out his mercantile business in Ohio and shipped the bunch of cattle to Coffeyville, from which point his career has been followed, although when he left Ohio it was his plan to locate at Coldwater, Kansas. On arriving at Kinsley he stayed a day, then a week, and finally decided to locate here. His family followed him after a time, and thus their home became permanent in Kinsley.
Mr. Beeler has probably been too busy a man to concern himself with politics, at any rate he has contented himself with merely casting an intelligent ballot. He grew up in the faith of the republican party, casting his first presidential vote for General Garfield in 1880. He has no fraternal connections. He was reared as a Methodist and has steadily adhered to that church. He is one of the oldest members of the Kinsley congregation and the new church in that town was built at his suggestion and as a result of his offer to duplicate the building fund raised by the rest of the congregation. He is a member of the Men's Bible Class.
Mr. Beeler's first wife was Mary P. Ball, daughter of Pardon Ball of Somerton, Ohio. She was born in Belmont County, Ohio, and her family had lived there from pioneer times. Mrs. Beeler died in 1899. Blanche, the oldest of their children, is the wife of John P. O'Bear, of Kansas City, Missouri, and their children are Charles Beeler and Mary Virginia. Gertrude, the second daughter, is the wife of O. V. Dodge, Jr., of Great Bend, Kansas, and they have a daughter, Mary Jane. Harriet married Harry E. Briggs, of Kansas City, Missouri, and has a daughter, Mary Ellen. Miss Catherine Virginia, the youngest child, has just finished her studies in Miss Bennett's School at Milbrook, New York.
In Los Angeles, California, March 25, 1914, Mr. Beeler married Mrs. Mabelle (Wood) Robertson. Mrs. Beeler is a native Kansan, born in Arkansas City, daughter of L. Clark and Martha (Herron) Wood, both of whom were natives of New York State, her father's birth occurring at Plattsburg. Mr. Wood is a resident of Wichita, Kansas, and Mrs. Beeler is one of his five children. Her oldest brother, Frank C., is a member of the Jett-Wood Wholesale Grocery Company. A sister, Mrs. S. T. Endicott, lives at Long Beach, California, another sister is Mrs. Wallace Felton of Plattsburg, New York, and the other is Mrs. E. H. Stevens of LaGrange, Illinois. Mrs. Beeler was educated in Wichita and early manifested high-class talent in music, especially as a vocalist. Her vocal training was carried on for a number of years under the instruction of the renowned James Corbin Cooper of Chicago. She was a concert singer for a number of years and before her marriage taught vocal music in Chicago, Kansas City and Wichita. She is known to musicians all over Central Kansas. Since her marriage she has done much to foster and encourage the musical spirit in her home community. Her ladies chorus at Kinsley has earned enviable laurels and adds credit to her talent as a leader and director. Mrs. Beeler has had charge of the choir in her favorite church, and wherever her voice has been heard in concert it has brought forth flattering notices from the local press as well as from individuals. She has justly earned a place among Kansas musicians of this generation. She is chairman of the Council of National Defense of Edwards County and also was chairman of the Woman's Committee of the Third Liberty Loan here.
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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