JOHN S. BIRD helped train and educate many of the teachers who went out of the Fort Hays Normal School, but two years ago retired from educational work to enter the newspaper business. He is now proprietor and editor of the Ellis County News.
Mr. Bird is a native Kansan and was probably one of the first white children born in Rawlins County. His birth occurred at Atwood, county seat of Rawlins County, November 3, 1879. Atwood was founded the year of his birth two years before Rawlins County was organized.
Mr. Bird is of Irish family. His great-grandfather, Owen Bird, was born in County Mayo in 1799 and in early life established his home in Canada. He was a carpenter and shipbuilder and finally died at Marcus, Iowa, in 1876.
John Bird, grandfather of the Ellis County News proprietor, was born in Montreal, Canada, in 1830, grew up there and shortly after his marriage settled in Eastern Iowa, where he was a farmer. He was also one of the early settlers in Minnesota, but in 1874 returned to Iowa and lived at Marcus until his death in 1886. He was a democrat and a member of the Catholic Church. John Bird married Ann Rooney, born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1826 and died at Marcus, Iowa, in 1908. They had a large family of children, and those still living are as follows: John, a retired resident of Saskatchewan, Canada; Ellen, wife of James Quigley, a business man of Northport, Washington; Mary Ann, wife of John Colhan, a retired farmer at Brookins, South Dakota; Alexander D., mentioned below; William, a farmer at Brookins, South Dakota; Peter, a farmer at Marcus, Iowa; Michael, a farmer at Marcus, Iowa; Rose, wife of James Ryan, also a farmer at Marcus; Charles, cashier of the First National Bank at Ellsworth, Minnesota; and Thomas, a retired farmer and farm owner at Watertown, South Dakota.
Alexander D. Bird, who is still living at Atwood in Rawlins County, was born in Clayton County, Iowa, in 1855. He spent most of his youth in Minnesota, where he married, and after marriage came to Kansas in 1879 and located nine miles southwest of Atwood. As one of the pioneers in Northwestern Kansas he homesteaded 160 acres, and he still owns that quarter section, and has acquired many other holdings to indicate the success that has followed his efforts. He owns 640 acres on Beaver Creek, and employs it for diversified farming and stock raising. He has 150 acres of fine alfalfa land. Alexander D. Bird is a democrat, served several terms as trustee of Logan Township in Rawlins County, and was elected to that office in a strongly republican district. He is a member of the Catholic Church. He married in Minnesota Margaret McGuire. Mrs. Bird was born in Central Illinois in 1854, and John Sterling Bird is the oldest of their children. Michael Harry is a farmer at Atwood. Mary A. lives at Hays, widow of J. H. Simminger, an attorney who died in 1918. Charles O. lives at Atwood and runs the homestead farm.
John Sterling Bird received his early education in the rural schools of Rawlins County. In 1905 he completed the Latin course in the Kansas State Normal School, and in 1912 received his A. B. degree from the same institution. He also did post-graduate work in the University of Chicago one year. From 1905 to 1916 he was continuously identified with the staff of instruction in the State Normal School, spending one year at Emporia, and from 1906 to 1916 was a member of the faculty of the Fort Hays Normal School. In 1916 he bought the Ellis County News.
The Ellis County News is the official paper of Ellis County and of Hays City. It is a continuation of the Ellis Independent founded in 1897, the name being changed to the Ellis County News in 1899. It has also acquired one or two of its competitors at Hays. It is a weekly paper, democratic in politics, has a circulation of 1,800 in Ellis and surrounding counties, and is published in an up-to-date plant and offices on Second and Chestnut streets. Mr. Bird has been very successful in his new fields as a newspaper man, and his other interests and activities make him one of the prominent men of Hays. He is a director of the Hays Chamber of Commerce, member of the Ellis County Fair Association and the Farmers Union, and has some important farming interests, represented by the ownership of 1,400 acres of land in Ellis, Logan and Thomas counties. He is a democrat, is a Catholic, past grand knight of St. Joseph Council No. 1325, Knights of Columbus at Hays, and is affiliated with Hays Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
In 1903, at Atwood, he married Miss Martha L. Henderson, who was born in Seward, Nebraska. Mr. and Mrs. Bird have four children: Mary Catherine, born December 9, 1907; John A., born February 13, 1910; Robert Charles, born May 28, 1912; and Michael Tobias, born May 1, 1917.
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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