JESSE P. CAUDILL. A community usually takes on the character and reflects the enterprise of its inhabitants. A town that grows, that gets new business, that extends its facilities of education and betters its living conditions, is always the home of a group of men who believes in and practice progress in their own affairs and in public spirited co-operation.
One of the men who has made Protection one of the best towns of Southwestern Kansas is Jesse P. Caudill, who for a number of years was a progressive real estate dealer there, equally prominent in the civic affairs, and is a practical farmer and still engaged in the real estate business.
Mr. Caudill came to Kansas as a permanent settler in 1900, and has been a resident of Comanche County since the 27th of September of that year. He is of an old Kentucky family, and was born near Whiteburg, not far from Cumberland Gap, in Letcher County of that state September 18, 1859. He grew up in Rowan County near Morehead, his boyhood being spent on a farm. He attended common schools at Elliottsville, and worked and was in the schoolroom off and on until he reached his majority. After that he lived with his widowed mother on the farm until 1885, when, unmarried and alone, he came out to Kansas, stopping at Holton. He was without capital, and as his experience was that of a farmer he found his first work as a farm hand at $18 a month. He worked on different farms in that part of the state for five years and then went back to Kentucky, where he married, and lived there five years more as a tenant farmer.
On coming to Kansas in 1900 Mr. Caudill drove through with a team and wagon to Barber County, and at Hazelton engaged in the hotel business. For six years he was the genial proprietor of the European Hotel, and he not only conducted a good place of public entertainment, but acquired a general knowledge of the country and the people. On selling the hotel he came to Protection May 6, 1906, and here entered the real estate field. At that time property values were beginning to increase, as a result of the new tide of home seekers. Mr. Caudill organized the Bluff Creek Valley Real Estate Company, and through the extension of the connections of this firm did much to promote emigration. Mr. Caudill gave all his time to the real estate business for nine years. One of his largest fields was the sale of the Turkey Track ranch of 9,150 acres for $10 an acre. Since then he has sold much of this ranch in smaller tracts for $30 an acre, and he personally owns a quarter section of that famous ranch.
Mr. Caudill is credited with planning and carrying out the movement which brought about the incorporation of the Town of Protection. It was a matter of importance to get the town into the rank of incorporated communities, and how it was done brings up a few items of real Kansas history. A special act of the Legislature had to be passed reducing the population requirements by fifty. Even then Protection could not muster enough inhabitants to fulfill the rule. Finally a Mennonite family of sixteen persons came to the county for the purpose of settling, and Mr. Caudill used his persuasion effectively to get them to move into a house on the townsite on Saturday evening. Early Monday morning he appeared before the Board of County Commissioners with proof showing that Protection had a few more than 200 inhabitants, and persistently waged the cause until the act of incorporation was applied to the community. After that Mr. Caudill was a member of the Town Council six years. This council busied itself with much progressive improvements, including the draining and grading of streets and building of sidewalks. Another act was the granting of a franchise by the council to C. C. Towner for a period of twenty years to install a light plant.
After much of the land around Protection was sold and occupied by homesteaders, Mr. Caudill gradually retired from the real estate business to the extent of taking up farming on his own account. In politics he was reared a democrat and cast his first presidential ballot for General Hancock. He has been an active leader of his party in Comanche County. In 1908 he was candidate for the Lower House of the Legislature, and was defeated by seven votes in a county normally republican by a majority of 450. In 1914 he was again his party's candidate, and defeated the republican incumbent by twenty-seven votes. During the next session he served under Speaker Robert Stone, and was made chairman of the committee on mileage and member of the committees of roads and highways, fish and game, and others. He contributed his efforts towards increasing the effectiveness of prohibition laws in Kansas, introducing a bill which would have made it compulsory for county clerks to publish the names of all persons receiving intoxicating liquors. This bill passed the House by eighty-seven votes, but was defeated in the committee room of the Senate. In 1916 Mr. Caudill was returned to the House by a majority of 796. Under Speaker Keene he was a member of the judiciary, claims and accounts, rules of the house committee and others, and supported the movement and measure to make Kansas a "bone dry state."
Mr. Caudill is affiliated with both branches of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, is a Scottish Rite Mason with membership in the Wichita Consistory, and is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. He and his family are Baptists.
The Caudill family is of Scotch-Irish stock and were pioneer settlers in North Carolina and also in pioneer times moved across the line into Eastern Kentucky. Mr. Caudill's grandfather, Samuel Caudill, spent all his life in Kentucky as a farmer. He furnished two sons for the Confederate service. Samuel Caudill married a Miss Maggard. He died in Rowan County, Kentucky, in 1884, at the age of eighty-five. He had a large number of children, and one of the oldest was Rev. Henry Caudill, father of Jesse P. Rev. Henry Caudill was born in Letcher County, Kentucky, and acquired a good education and spent his life as a minister of the Baptist Church. He was a southern man in sentiment but owned no slaves. He died in Rowan County February 7, 1882, at the age of fifty-two. He married Elizabeth Short, daughter of Charles and Ann (Mullins) Short. She survived him many years and passed away in 1912. Her large family of children consisted of the following: Sallie, who married Henry Gregory, of Moorehead, Kentucky; David, who died in Fleming County, Kentucky; John, of Antigo, Wisconsin; Rebecca, wife of W. W. Williams, of Elliottsville, Kentucky; Anna, who married B. F. Parker, of Preston, Kentucky; William B., of Portsmouth, Ohio; Jesse P.; Margaret, who married H. E. Porter and died at Elliottsville; Dan P., of Muses Mills, Kentucky; James W. who died in young manhood; Jane, who married John Pennington, of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Henry, of Kankakee, Illinois; Florence, who married Jack Stacey and died in Kentucky; Susie, who married William Porter, of New Mexico; and Sanford, who died in Kentucky, leaving a family.
After his return from Kansas as above noted Jesse P. Caudill married, August 31, 1891, Miss Lulu Goodan, daughter of William F. and Queen (Nickell) Goodan. Mrs. Caudill was one of two children, her sister being Mrs. Kate Pearsoll, wife of C. P. Pearsoll of Gage, Oklahoma. The only son of Mr. and Mrs. Caudill is Clyde, who is now serving his country and is stationed at Harvard University as radio operator and in training having finished his term at Dinwiddie Institute, Minneapolis, in sixty days, just half the time allotted by the Government.
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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