JOHN ALBERT CHRISTOPHER. Among those who have made their homes and centered their activities in Stevens County for more than thirty years, one who has directed his energies to such good effect that he is now accounted one of the substantial and prominent ranchmen and farmers of the locality is John Albert Christopher, of West Center Township. Mr. Christopher reached this community and filed on his land August 27, 1886, occupied his homestead with his family in the following February, and since that time has continued an active factor as a developer of this region's interest.
Mr. Christopher is a native of Jersey County, Illinois, born August 10, 1861, and grew up on the farm of his parents, his education being acquired in the rural schools. His father was James W. Christopher, who was a native of Ohio and an early settler of Illinois, and spent his life as a farmer, although he did not live to acquire prosperity, dying when forty-five years old, during the '70s. His parents were John and Margaret (Whitfield) Christopher, who are buried at Jerseyville, Illinois, and whose children were: Henry, James W., Joseph, John, Mrs. Libbie Hedrick, Mrs. Jane Herdman, Mrs. Mollie Lawson and Mrs. Nettie Frost.
James W. Christopher married Candace Caroline Kuhn, who was born in Ohio of German parents and still survives her husband. They became the parents of the following children: John Albert; Carrie, who married E. A. Dodson, of Bloomington, Illinois; Fannie, the wife of Maynard M. Neatyard, of the same place; and James O., of Shipman, Illinois.
When he came to Kansas John Albert Christopher brought with him, in addition to his farming experience secured in Illinois, a mule team, wagon and harness, and after he had filed on his claims his surplus cash amounted to perhaps $100. He built a single room frame house, which is still a part of his home, and a half dugout stable was made as a shelter for his stock. He had driven through from Wichita, Kansas, here, and it was not until a year after his arrival that he owned a cow. For his first effort at a crop, he raised some feed known as "roughness" and endeavored to farm as he had in Illinois, but as conditions were entirely different he was able to produce but little and had to supplement his crop with outside work. Accordingly he freighted for a long period from Hartland, making 52 trips in all over the road to Hugoton, in addition to which he broke sod on tree claims for absent settlers and planted trees and cultivated them as a means of livelihood. He tried well digging, but after one day of this kind of labor gave it up. It was not until four or five years after his arrival that Mr. Christopher got a semblance of a good crop and that was broom corn. It was decidedly difficult to determine what to plant in this country with a prospect of success, and broom corn was one of the earliest plants he found that would return a profit. Maize and Kaffir corn came along next, and the three solved the farmers' problem in this country. There were different times when Mr. Christopher did not have the money with which to buy postage to write hack home, and if postage had not been sent here Mrs. Christopher could not have written to her mother. However, various other settlers were experiencing the same hardships and difficulties, and the Christophers bore their burdens patiently, with a faith in the future for ultimate prosperity.
Mr. Christopher secured his first cow by hauling freight from Hartland, and that cow and its increase formed the start for his original bunch of cattle. The cattle then were grade Shorthorns, which he kept on hand and improved and with which he has continued to the present. He gradually developed into a dealer and shipper, and for the past ten years has been going to Kansas City market with his own cattle. In his prime as a cattleman he has run from 250 to 300 head, while his horses have been a feature of his stock enterprises, coming into the Percheron, which he has developed near to full bloods.
Mr. Christopher took a timber claim at the same time that he entered his homestead, these comprising the south half of section 11, township 33, range 39, and after he had been here for fifteen years he began to acquire more land. He liked the country from the start, although conditions were such at first that he would have abandoned it if he could have disposed of his property. He purchased some of his lands very cheaply, paying $6 for one quarter, for three others $25, and from that the prices ranged upward to $4,500 for a half section, and he now owns nineteen and one-half quarters in a solid body. He is cultivating about 400 acres of this to feed and broom corn, and has also experimented with wheat with some success, having had a great crop in this grain in 1914, when he threshed 2,430 bushels from seventy-six acres. His fruitraising experience has shown that the region is adapted to fruit, especially apples and peaches, but his orchard has been expensive to keep up.
Mr. Christopher has held various positions in public life. He has been trustee of Center Township, was treasurer of school district No. 21 for many years, and for a time was county commissioner from the Second District. In politics he began voting as a democrat and supported Grover Cleveland in 1884, and continued to support the party ever since. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. While he is not a member of any religious denomination he is a supporter of all worthy movements, moral, religious or civic.
On September 3, 1884, Mr. Christopher married Miss Caroline Smith Craig, who was born October 27, 1859, a daughter of Archibald and Catherine Elizabeth (Hankinson) Craig. Mr. Craig was born near Princeton, New Jersey, where he was reared, and as a young man went to Illinois, where he was married in Jersey County, his wife being a native of Ohio. Mr. Craig died in 1898, when eighty-four years of age, while Mrs. Craig passed away in November, 1897, aged seventy-four years. Their children were: William A., who died in Stevens County, where he had entered a homestead; Archibald, of Wichita, Kansas; Elizabeth, the widow of Charley Beeby, of Macoupin County, Illinois; Tunis H., on the old Craig homestead in Jersey County, Illinois; Mrs. Christopher, born in Jersey County; Henry M., of St. Louis, Missouri; and Garrett S., of Jersey County, Illinois.
Mr. and Mrs. Christopher are the parents of the following children: Austin Leland, a farmer of Stevens County, married Bessie Newman and has five children, Hazel Frances, Leo Austin, Ralph Albert, Harold James and Norma Caroline; Annie Eldora, who married Edward Flummerfelt, of Stevens County, and has five living children, Lucile Caroline, Ross Edward, Irene Erma, Anna Mae and Albert Andrew; Ella B., one of the oldest native-born residents of Stevens County; Catherine Candace, who married Albert Spangler and has two children, Everett Wilson and Royce Delmer; Fannie Ellen, who married Charles B. Ipson, of Morton County, and has four children, Leone Marguerite, Eunice, Opal May and Fairy Alice; and Carrie Elizabeth and Archibald James are the other children. All the children were educated in the public schools and all are now identified with farming.
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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