JOHN J. CONARD. This name stands for one of the most substantial citizens of the city and the county, who has fairly earned all the prosperity and honor which have come to him. Intelligence, industry, forethought and all-around ability have brought their rewards in a country where such qualities are appreciated not only as of individual value, but as public possessions to be treasured and encouraged for the common good. So that public office has been given to Mr. Conard with the fortune which has come to him as an individual. At the present time he is not only one of the largest land holders of improved farming properties in the county, but is head of a substantial lumber business which he established when he became a resident of LaCrosse twenty-one years ago.
John J. Conard represents a well known Virginia family, and was himself born in Loudon County, that state, on December 2, 1849. His parents moved to Jackson County, Missouri, in 1853, and lived there until 1869, when they settled in Bates County. The son was therefore reared on the Jackson County farm, where he received the usual training in agricultural handiwork and the average education to be drawn from the country schools of the neighborhood. He also learned the drug business in Hardin, Missouri, and was engaged in it for several years. He then returned to Bates County and resumed farming, being thus occupied when he decided to adventure in Kansas.
In 1885 Mr. Conard arrived at the homestead property which he had entered, the northeast quarter of section 28, township 19, generally known as Banner Township. At that locality he erected for the accommodation of his wife and five children a stone and half dugout, 16 feet square. After he had homesteaded he possessed $5. A team of mares comprised his farming force, as the children were all small, and with this team he began at once to break the prairie sod and prepare for crops. From the first his farming venture seemed to succeed, for during all the years he has lived in the county only two total failures have come to embarrass him. The bad years were 1893 and 1913, a decade apart; otherwise, his crops and his live stock have brought him nothing but comfort and good fortune, but not without the application of unceasing assiduity and the broad skill and common sense without which the western farmer has never made a pronounced success of his calling. It is said that Mr. Conard got his first cow in the county by "working out" for others on the farm. He kept only as many cattle as the family wants required, and horses and mules were grown only as he needed them, as he depended primarily upon his crops. Out of the total proceeds of his hard labor and good management he added to his original homestead until he has become the owner of three quarters of a section of land, of which he has brought more than 400 acres under cultivation. In 1897 he harvested his largest wheat crop, 13,000 bushels. Soon afterward he moved to LaCrosse, where, with his sons, he established a lumber business, which still flourishes.
Mr. Conard has served as township trustee of Banner Township and county commissioner from LaCrosse Township, holding the latter office for four years. For years he was also a member of the school board of his country district, and he has served as mayor of LaCrosse for one term. In his political faith he has always been a democrat.
Mr. Conard's father, Abner A., was also a native of Loudon County, Virginia. As stated, he moved to Jackson County, Missouri, with his family in 1853, and resided therein as a farmer until 1869. During that period John J. saw something of border warfare, and in 1863, when fourteen years of age, was taken prisoner by Kansas Jayhawkers, but he was soon permitted to escape. The father was what may be described as a Union man with "southern leanings." At the behest of Gen. Tom Ewing he took the oath of allegiance, with others, at Lexington. Further he was physically unfit for military duty, and the physician's certificate to that effect, his oath of allegiance and his bond for loyalty are valued and historic papers still in the hands of John J. Conard.
Abner A. Conard was united in marriage to Ann S. Neer, a daughter of Jesse and Matilda (DeKalb) Neer. The Neers were farmers and slaveholders of Loudon County, Virginia, the father being of English and the mother of German blood. Mrs. Abner A. Conard died at Ness City in 1912, at the age of eighty-seven years, the mother of Ida, who died in Jackson County, Missouri, as Mrs. Greenville Hulse; John J., of this notice; Albert E., of Kearny County, Kansas; Frank A., of Rush County, that state; Luelle, who married John Bowman, of Adrian, Missouri; Ross, a resident of Bates County, that state; and Lillie, wife of Andrew Ehrhart, of Ness City, Kansas.
John J. Conard, of this sketch, married at Savannah, Missouri, February 29, 1872, Miss Clara E. Grove, a daughter of Thomas W. Grove and Nancy Durnell. While a resident of Ohio Mr. Grove was a merchant and a farmer, but engaged in the hotel business when he moved to Andrew County, Missouri. Mrs. Conard was born in Highland County, Ohio, March 11, 1852, and is the mother of the following: William B., now a photographer of Larned, Kansas, who married Pardette Kennedy and is the father of Carl; Jessie M., wife of Wyatt Holloway, of LaCrosse, and the mother of Muriel; Abner W., of LaCrosse, a photographer, who married Flossie Mounce, and has one child, Arden; Thomas M., associated with his father in the lumber business, who married Edith Elmore; Frank D., of Garden City, Kansas, another photographer, who married Mabel Smith and is the father of Herbert; Lena, who married Fred Ride, of LaCrosse, and has Reta, Rara and Randle; Ida, wife of Harry Cole, for some years an educator in Pullman, Washington, where he held the chair of chemistry, and was next instructor in aviation in the University of Colorado, and is now in the military service; Claud C., also associated in business with his father, who married Eva Switzer, and is the father of Greenwood; and Winnie, wife of J. H. Taylor, former secretary of the freight department of the Missouri Pacific Railroad at Topeka, Kansas, but now in Camp Funston, and she is the mother of Gondolyne.
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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