JOHN EDWARD CARPENTER. Among the residents of Morton County who have made their home here for more than thirty years and who have continued to contribute to the growth and development of the section, one who is well known to his fellow citizens is John Edward Carpenter, a ranchman of Richfield Township. He has been variously identified with activities in the locality of his home, and at all times has shown himself to be a reliable and public-spirited citizen, whose support and cooperation in public movements are considered valuable.
Mr. Carpenter came to Kansas from his native place, having been born in Ohio County, Indiana, June 25, 1854. His father was Jonathan Carpenter, who was born in 1822, near Lebanon, Ohio, and a son of a Virginia man, George Carpenter, who went to Ohio as a youth of seventeen years, married there, and when his son was about seventeen years old, went to Ohio County, Indiana. There he died in 1848, after a career spent in agricultural pursuits, in which he was very successful, leaving a farm to each of his children. George Carpenter married Sussannah Cozart, and they had the following children: Mrs. Mary E. Groves, Mrs. Lydia Pate, Mrs. Eliza J. Rogers, of Rising Sun, Indiana; Jonathan, who was the eldest; Mrs. Nancy Terwilliger; and George C., of Wellington, Kansas.
Jonathan Carpenter married Lucy Harper, a daughter of William Harper, whom it is believed was born in Virginia, but who moved from Kentucky to Switzerland County, Indiana. They had children as follows: Mrs. Susan Walston, of Ohio County, Indiana; George, also a resident of that county; William H. H. ("Tad"), who died there; John Edward; Misses Harriet and Sarah, who reside in Ohio County; and Logan, also a resident of that county in Indiana.
The education of John Edward Carpenter was rather limited in his youth, for his school advantages were poor and the best part of his training came after he had left home, first going to school during the summer months while teaching in the winter terms, and later attending the normal schools of Valparaiso and Ladoga, Indiana, and the Holbrook Normal School at Lebanon, Ohio. His friendship for the Holbrook method and the Holbrook grammar is still marked in his reminiscences of his days under Professor Holbrook, the great and eminent Ohio educator.
It was in June, 1885, when Mr. Carpenter drove into Kansas, and at first stopped for a brief visit with some friends in Sumner and Clark counties, subsequently coming to Morton County with settlers from the latter county. He had $1,000 tucked snugly away under his left armpit and this served him in good stead while it lasted. He filed on the southeast quarter of section 15, township 33, range 42, in October, and the next week took possession. In the meantime he had gone back to Indiana, making preparations to become a permanent Kansan, and again came by rail to Dodge City, where he bought himself a team and drove on through to his destination. His first shelter was of the kind popular during those days, a "dugout" of a single room covered with tarpaper and dirt, and without a floor. For some three or four years he lived in this and it was here that he began housekeeping after his marriage. He built the "soddy" which forms a part of his present home to succeed the "dugout," and began his career here as a farmer. Mr. Carpenter's claim produced as much feed crop and roughness as he needed and would have produced more but there was no incentive for him to raise it because there was no market for it, save as he might exchange with a neighbor for beef. The stock men did not need it, and if they were to buy it it would encourage the settlers to come in and take and fence up the lands, something they did not want.
In the county seat contest Mr. Carpenter favored Frisco as against Richfield, and when the latter place won the people of that community would not even give him a pleasant look when he tried to get freighting from them to aid him over the "hard spots" of frontier life. He managed to get along some way, however, until 1889, when he began teaching school, and after four terms of teaching at Morton and Richfield he was elected country clerk and served one term. After a few years he was reelected to that office and served another two years, taking that position after he had resigned as county superintendent of schools. He was also chosen as a member of the board of county commissioners between the times he held the clerkships, and when he took office as commissioners introduced a resolution at once cutting down the salaries of the county officers, and it was so ordered. Mr. Carpenter opposed the offer of delinquent non-resident, taxpayers, to compromise their taxes and stood out for the full tax as levied and rendered, something that saved the county a large sum of money. He has also served in local township offices, having been trustee of Richfield Township, and for many years was a member of the board of his school district.
Mr. Carpenter took a quarter section, a timber claim, in the beginning, which he yet owns. After ten or more years he found himself in a position to acquire more land, and one of his first purchases was a half section which was delinquent and which was about to be sold for taxes. The party who owned this land offered to deed it to Mr. Carpenter if he would send enough money to pay for making out the deed, and when Mr. Carpenter sent $10 the party sent him deeds for three quarters, one of which was mortgaged. Mr. Carpenter, however, let the latter go for taxes and sold his equity to James McClain for $10. He bought lands along from $40 to $250 a quarter and stopped purchasing after he had acquired 16 1/2 quarters, almost all of the land being in a body here.
Mr. Carpenter entered the cattle business here with money which he had saved from his salary as a teacher and as county clerk, and has since made cattle a leading feature of his work. He started with Aberdeen-Angus, but has since changed to Shorthorns, his herd being of the high grades of that blood. His shipping has been of his own raising, and, except where he has sold at home, his sales have all been made at Kansas City, whence Mr. Carpenter accompanies his shipments.
In Ohio County, Indiana, February 21, 1886, Mr. Carpenter was united in marriage with Miss Agnes Elder, who was born in that county January 16, 1856, daughter of James and Rosanna (Poland) Elder. Mr. Elder and his wife both came from Ireland, the former from County Antrim and the latter from County Down. They brought their family to the United States in 1837, Mr. Elder being a farmer first in New Jersey and subsequently moving to Philadelphia and Cincinnati, and finally going to Ohio County, Indiana. There the parents died, their children being: Mrs. Isabella Ward, of Springfield, Missouri; James, of Ohio County, Indiana; Mrs. Alice Campbell, of Switzerland County, Indiana; Mrs. Carpenter; and John, of Rising Sun, Indiana, and present auditor of Ohio County. To Mr. and Mrs. Carpenter there have been born the following children: Nellie, who is the wife of Jacob Sullivan, of Morton County, has two children, Russell and Howard; Carrie, who married M. B. Brooks, of Morton County, has a son, Cleo; Miss Bertha, who is a clerk in the Morton County State Bank at Elkhart; and John Edward, Jr.
When Mr. Carpenter first became interested in politics he was a stanch and uncompromising republican, and on one occasion declined to vote for his prospective father-in-law, who was on the other big party ticket. Since coming to Kansas, however, he has relented to the extent that a competent democrat is preferable to an incompetent republican. He has been a delegate to a number of party conventions and in various ways has assisted in the success of republicanism here. His friendship for education has been marked and his belief in its benefits has been evidenced in the manner in which his own children have been educated, the older ones in the home schools and the two younger in Southwestern University at Winfield, Kansas. All the children with the exception of the youngest have had experiences as school teachers. Mrs. Carpenter is a member of the Baptist Church, and while Mr. Carpenter does not belong to any religious body, he is a believer in religion and charitable and humanitarian work and has always been a generous contributor to worthy movements.
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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