GEORGE LEE CALVERT. To give proper emphasis to the career of George Lee Culvert as a citizen of Sherman County it is appropriate to refer to the date of organization of the county and the establishment of Goodland. The county's organization occurred in 1886 and the county seat was established the following year. George L. Culvert was already on the ground, a pioneer, and an interested participant in the starting of both the county and the county town. It is safe to say that no other citizen has assumed a larger degree of responsibility in connection with public life in that community than he. In private affairs he is a widely known and successful attorney, but he has used his knowledge of law chiefly in connection with real estate and land law and as a help to his highly specialized business in that field.
Mr. Calvert was born on the Calvert plantation near Winchester in Frederick County, Virginia, October 26, 1863. It is perhaps needless to refer to the many honorable associations of the Calvert name in the history of the commonwealths of Maryland and Virginia. His great-grandfather, Jesse Jay Calvert, was a pioneer planter and land owner in Frederick County, and a keen and a liberal supporter of the cause of independence during the Revolution. One of his eleven children was Jesse Jay Calvert, Jr., a native of Frederick County, and both a planter and an inventor, whose descendants long cherished a fanning mill built by him entirely of wood. The junior Calvert had eleven children, the oldest being Israel Calvert, who at the age of seventeen, because of the death of his father, became the head of the family. Israel Calvert distinguished himself as a man of great enterprise. He built the first macadam road across the Allegheny Mountains and carried out many other successful contracts. He was extensively engaged in the cattle industry, buying stock in Ohio and driving to the Baltimore markets. He died at his old home in Frederick County in 1907, at the age of seventy-seven. He seldom resorted to bookkeeping for the record of his financial and business transactions. He was an expert in mental arithmetic and his memory enabled him to carry the details of transactions with seldom a slip or blunder. He was a stanch democrat.
Israel Calvert married Maria Kackley, who died in 1908. They were the parents of eleven children: Lafayette, a farmer in West Virginia; London D., who farms the old homestead in Frederick County; John L., an Oklahoma lawyer; Fannie, wife of Pierce A. Farrabee; Emma, who married Thomas Pugh; Media, who married Frank Blakeslee; Mattie, wife of Arthur D. Kackley; Mary, wife of Zeb Scott; George Lee; Adelaide, who married William Boggs and died in Kansas in 1910; and Lorena, who died in 1912, the wife of Riley Orendorff.
George Lee Calvert was educated in the public schools of Frederick County, Virginia, and lived on his father's plantation to the age of twenty-one. He came west in the fall of 1885 and first located at Oberlin, Kansas, and on December 6th of that year he entered a homestead in Sherman County. Eighteen months later he commuted his claim by paying $1.25 an acre, and thus acquired title without the long and lonesome process of further residence. His claim was four miles northwest of the present City of Goodland. There were still many antelopes on the prairies and even a few buffalo, and Mr. Calvert is one of those to whom stories of the old frontier recall a vivid picture that can no longer be seen. He did the routine work required on his homestead and at the same time used every opportunity to read law. He helped locate settlers, made out timber cultures, pre-emption and homestead entries, and rapidly gained a knowledge of land title law which has served him well in later years. He was appointed local emigration agent for the Rock Island Railway in 1892, and through this connection and his private initiative he is reputed to have brought to Sherman County more permanent settlers than any other man. His law studies with John E. Bagley at Eustace brought him admission to the bar in November, 1889, after examination before Judge Charles W. Smith. In 1908 he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Kansas. Mr. Calvert first opened an office as a lawyer at Goodland in 1889, though for several years previously, as above noted, he had been in the land and emigration business. His specialty in practice is in land titles, and many involved cases have been forwarded to a just settlement by his experience and knowledge. His firm is now the Calvert Realty Company, bonded abstractors and real estate, and more land transfers are effected through this organization than by any other firm or individual in Sherman County.
Mr. Calvert helped organize the Town of Goodland in 1887 and has never neglected an opportunity to make his influence count for the general good of this section of the state. He has been personally interested in farming, and owns 2,500 acres in Sherman County, though his holdings are constantly fluctuating, as he is buying and selling all the time. Among other properties is a splendid modern home which he erected in 1910, and which has adjoining grounds of eighteen lots adjacent to the courthouse. In 1905 he undertook the breeding of pedigreed Hambletonian horses, and made his stables at Goodland famous for some of the best examples of that stock.
In politics Mr. Calvert is a stanch democrat, and has frequently attended county, state and congressional conventions and was assistant sergeant at arms in the Baltimore National Convention in 1912, when Woodrow Wilson was first nominated for President. From the time the county was organized until 1902 he served as police judge and justice of the peace. In the fall of 1902 he was elected probate judge, and by re-election served four years. In the fall of 1904 he was elected county attorney of Sherman County, and was re-elected for a second two-year term. In 1908 he was also elected city attorney of Goodland, and served four years in that office and as a member of the City Council. Upon the organization of the Goodland Commercial Club in 1907 he was unanimously elected its president, and filled that office until 1914. In 1912 he was again elected county attorney and re-elected in 1914, thus giving another four years to public service.
He is a member of the Hoxie Bar Association and is a prominent fraternity man, being affiliated with the Masons, the Royal Arch Chapter, the Knight Templar Commandery and the Modern Woodmen of America, all at Hoxie. He also belongs to Concordia Lodge No. 587 of the Elks.
In November, 1892, in Sherman County, Mr. Calvert married Miss Etta Allen. Her father, Rhodes Allen, lives at Denver, Colorado. Mr. and Mrs. Calvert have three children. Opal Virginia, born August 9, 1895, is a graduate of the Sherman County High School, has a life teacher's certificate from the Fort Hays Normal School, taught in Sherman County but is now serving as court reporter and stenographer and is secretary of the Calvert Realty Company. Leonard B., born July 31, 1901, is a sophomore in the Sherman County High School. Allen G., bore March 9, 1908, is in the grammar school at Goodland.
From 1907 to 1914 Mr. Calvert was associated in business with Judge Charles I. Sparks, judge of the Thirty-fourth Judicial District. He has done everything in his power to keep Sherman County in the forefront of Kansas counties and districts in the various war activities. The dominant fact of his personality is his public spirit and his willingness to do whatever is required to advertise and improve his home district. He has written many pamphlets that have served to make the advantages and resources of the golden belt better known to people in other states and abroad. The history of Goodland as a progressive community must always be regarded in the nature of a personal tribute to Mr. Calvert. He is a man of broad judgment, of fine culture and literary tastes, and has one of the best libraries in Western Kansas, containing both law and standard works of literature.
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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