JOHN L. BOLES. It is of a family of unusually gifted, strong, able men that John L. Boles, of Seward County, is a representative. The pioneer undertakings which broke the courage and strength of unnamed hundreds who were briefly a part of Western Kansas apparently only served to spur the people of this name to greater industry and endurance. They did not come to Kansas because they had been unsuccessful elsewhere, and here their endeavors have been evenly prospered and in some respects have set the pace for others to follow.
A finer figure there hardly lived than the late Thomas T. Boles. He was born in Washington County, Indiana, December 31, 1824, son of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Boles, natives of Ireland who spent their last days and were laid to rest at Trilla, Illinois. Among Thomas T. Boles' brothers and sisters were Mrs. Wiley Jones of Trilla, Illinois; Mrs. George Fickes, of Mattoon, Illinois; Mrs. Hannah Campbell, of Trilla; and Daniel and William. Considering the general absence of facilities for free public education during his youth, Thomas T. Boles acquired a good education, was always fond of reading, and absorbed information from people as well as the printed page. He was an excellent conversationalist, had a keen Irish wit, and was noted as a joker.
When the Civil war came on he was a volunteer in the One Hundred and Twenty-Third Illinois Infantry, and was mustered out as corporal of Company B. His regiment was part of General Wilder's brigade of mounted infantry. He was on the fighting front, passed through thirty battles without a scratch, and with all the rigors of this service and the work and exertion of later life he lived to be eighty-six.
After the war he was a farmer in Coles County, Illinois, and from there brought his family to Western Kansas in 1887. In Stevens County he entered three tracts of land, taking advantage of the homestead, pre-emption and tree-claim acts, and proved up and patented all of them. His first entry was in section 30, township 34, range 36. He continued a factor in the development of that locality until 1894, and for two years was county treasurer. The efforts that best rewarded him were as a stockman, and when he moved into Seward County he brought a herd of 101 cattle, and with these he continued to increase until he had 500 ranging his pasture and the public domain. He marketed his stock from off the range, and sent many carloads from Liberal to Kansas City. He also acquired land in Seward County, his home being in section 16, township 35, range 34. There he built a goad residence, stock shelter and had numerous water wells, and with abundance of prosperity around him he was called to his reward in 1910. He was among the local leaders of the republican party, but his only important office was as county treasurer. He was a sustaining member and officer of the Presbyterian Church at Liberal.
Thomas T. Boles married Harriet Treash, who was born in Portage County, Ohio, and died in Seward County, Kansas, in 1906. Their family were: Thomas Clay, a stockman and farmer, who died in Seward County leaving a family; Charles H., of Bexar County, Texas; William S., of Enid, Oklahoma; Mrs. A. C. Morroll, of Seward County; John L.; and Ed T., of Stevens County.
John L. Boles was born near Mattoon, Illinois, October 20, 1869, and was only eighteen when he accompanied the family to Stevens County. Here later he entered his homestead, and on that tract of land his home stands and there the years of his independent career have been spent. His early education at Mattoon, Illinois, was supplemented by two years in the Kansas State Normal at Emporia. Many people remember him as a teacher, a profession he followed many years in the country and finally in the Liberal schools. He was also an instructor in one Stevens County summer normal institute and two in Seward County.
From teaching he turned to farming and the stock business. His homestead was entered in section 3, township 35, range 34, and seven years of residence followed before he acquired title. A box house 16 by 18 served as shelter for the family four years, and it is still part of the cluster-home which accomodates the family and in which so much good cheer and so many of the good results of living in this country have been enjoyed.
His first venture in stock raising, made in 1900, was with a nucleus of five horses, two ponies, and some twenty-five head of grade cattle. Some time previously he had fenced a small field, but there was little else to count as improvements. His barn, 16 by 24, was for his horses. An interesting occupation, but one which went far toward supplying him with the necessities of existence the first years, was raising watermelons for seed. This seed he supplied successively to some of the great seed firms of the country,D. Landreth of Philadelphia, D. M. Ferry of Detroit, F. Barteldes & Company, the Kansas Seed Company of Lawrence. He continued seed growing five years, and followed that with wheat as a main crop, along with food for stock. He took up the culture of kaffir and maize soon after they were introduced, and no crops have so nearly proved the salvation of the Western Kansas farmers.
In order to satisfy his needs for more territory he acquired tax titles, either with quit-claims from the original owners or through court decrees to quiet adverse title. At his home ranch he has accumulated ten quarter sections, and has four quarters in Stevens County. About 600 acres are in cultivation.
His methods of farming deserve some special attention, he has always studied and observed closely, and has not been content with one method unless it clearly demonstrated results. He is satisfied that the summer fallowing plan has great merit in this country. The "Boles system" of farming has become widely advertised over that region. Its essential features are: An early listing of the land north and south, followed by dragging down the ridges, and then listing it east and west as he plants. The basic merit of the method is that it leaves a thoroughly stirred seed bed, kills all weeds, and conditions the soil for conserving moisture for continued growth of the crop. The methods are now being widely followed over this district.
The Boles farm stands out from the landscape and is easily identified by its great barn and the five big silos ranged around as the prime conservators of the richness of the field crops. The stock he handles are White Faces for beef, with registered males, Holsteins for his dairy, Percheron horses and mares, grades of Shropshire sheep and hogs.
Politically Mr. Boles gave his first presidential ballot to Benjamin Harrison in 1892, and has been a republican ever since. In former years he was almost always a delegate to county conventions and occasionally to state conventions. Office seeking is not in his line, though he has been a school official and was deputy county treasurer under his father. While deputy he was a witness to the shooting of Colonel Sam Wood, one of the tragedies of Western Kansas. He sow Colonel Wood, unarmed and running from Brennan, his assailant, and saw the latter fire the fatal shot and the colonel fall. He helped carry the latter's body into the church building which was then being used for county offices. Mr. Boles has been active as a member and official of the Presbyterian Church and has attended the Presbyteries. He is past chancellor and member of the Grand Lodge of the State, Knights of Pythias, and continuously for eighteen years has been secretary of its insurance department.
Mr. Boles became interested in the Farmers Equity Union early in the history of the organization in the United States, and was the prime mover in the establishment of the Liberal branch of the Union. Its local business activities began in July, 1912, and he has been president from that time. The Union handles coal, lumber, grain, flour and feed, and farm implements, direct between the producers and manufacturers and the consumers. Mr. Boles is one of the directors of the National Union, is a director of the Equity Coal Company of Denver, of the Kansas City Grain Company of the Equity, and is a director of the recently established Equity Creamery Company of Liberal. He is also a director of the Kansas Packing Company of Hutchinson and of the People's State Bank of Liberal.
December 27, 1898, in Stevens County, Mr. Boles married Miss Allie Hatch. She was born in McLean County, Illinois, July 22, 1874, daughter of Henry C. and Susan P. (Brown) Hatch. Her mother was a daughter of Demas and Mary Brown, related to the John Brown of Osawatomie family. Her father, a native of Medina County, Ohio, volunteered from there as a private in the One Hundred and Third Ohio Infantry, and was in General Sherman's army clear to Atlanta. He received an honorable discharge, and was never wounded or captured. After the war he settled in McLean County, Illinois, and came to Kansas in 1885. In 1887 he homesteaded in Stevens County, and there, as always, he was a farmer. He died in Stevens County in 1908, aged sixty-four, while his wife survived until 1915. At the time of his death he was county commissioner, and held that office several terms. He and his wife had two children, Arthur W., of Bronson, Michigan, and Mrs. Boles. Mr. and Mrs. Boles have five children: Ralph, born February 4, 1901, a student in the Liberal High School; Harriet, born February 27, 1903; Fern, born November 28, 1904; Raymond, born February 25, 1908; and Marion, born September 17, 1912.
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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