HARRY SCOTT CONNER now resides at Dighton, is the genial landlord of the principal hotel there, and took up that business chiefly as a change from his long and strenuous life as a farmer in Lane County and for the purpose of keeping his children convenient to a good school.
More than thirty years have come and gone since the Conner family became identified with Lane County. They have known conditions here at their best and at their worst. They know what crop failure means, what living in a sod house is, and the hard work and hardship required for wringing a bare sustenance from the soil.
The founder of the family here was his father, Robert Conner, who arrived in 1885 and spent the rest of his days in this section of Kansas, passing away in September, 1901, at the age of seventy-five. Robert Conner was born in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, grew up on a farm there, and in his early years followed boating on the Allegheny, Ohio and Mississippi rivers. He was reared as a farmer and was first acquainted with the methods of farming most adaptable to the rugged region of Pennsylvania. He first came to Eastern Kansas, where he joined his friend, John Crofton, and together they drove across the prairies to their future home in Lane County. Robert Conner homesteaded the southwest quarter of section 10, township 19, range 30, and built the usual sod house. His family came out and joined him in November, 1886. For ten years they sheltered themselves in the sod house, limited themselves to the bare necessities of existence, and only after the most strenuous exertions were they able to look to the enjoyment of larger comforts and prosperity. Robert Conner was pretty close to the basis of self-respecting poverty when he arrived in Kansas. He had a team, a very little money, and possessed only a frail constitution for combating with the hardships of pioneering. Most of the early settlers in Western Kansas proceeded to put into practice the farm methods which they had used with satisfactory success in the older eastern states. it was assumed that the methods which would produce a crop of corn for instance in Ohio or Pennsylvania would have similar results on the prairies of Western Kansas. They did not take into account the newness of the land, the difference in climate and other circumstances. Thus Robert Conner applied the same system to the cultivation of his crops as he had used in Pennsylvania, and altogether they were much less effective than the new or Western Kansas system which his sons later followed. Thus the farm for several years proved unavailing as a support for the family. Robert Conner therefore did work away from home, grading railroads, teaming and freighting before the railroads came, and so long as he was physically competent he contributed from his labor to his family's support. The Conners as well as other early settlers had very short crops until 1890, when the first wheat crop of consequence was grown. While the early crops were very unsatisfactory, cattle and other live stock proved a valuable aid to the family and one important resource was the chickens. In course of time the old sod house disappeared, and the land it once occupied became a wheat field, growing as high as forty bushels to the acre.
Robert Conner was interested in politics only to the extent of casting his vote according to the dictates of his judgment. He was a republican with prohibition leanings. He belonged to the Baptist Church. His wife was Margaret Campbell, a daughter of Samuel Campbell, of Scotch-Irish stock. The Campbells were Pennsylvania farmers, and in the early part of the century crossed the Alleghenys on horseback to the western counties. Mrs. Robert Conner died in 1908, at the age of seventy-eight. Their children were: Stinson W., of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania; Smith, who lives in the State of Washington; Evelyn, of Chicago; Park, of Savannah Illinois; Frank, of St. Augustine, Florida; Anna, who married Dr. C. L. Williams, of Topeka, Kansas; Harry S.; and Carl, of Harriman, Washington.
Robert Conner had three brothers: William P., who died in Salt Lake City, Utah; John and Matthew, who died as farmers in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania.
Harry Scott Conner was born near Ford City in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, February 1, 1872, and was fourteen years of age when the family came out to Lane County. He had attended school back in Pennsylvania, and after coming to Lane County his few remaining school days were spent in a sod schoolhouse. He grew up at home, helped with the work necessary for the development and cultivation of the farm and eventually the situation was reversed, his parents taking up their home with him. He continued to farm the old homestead along with other lands until 1915. Out of the fruits of the soil and his toil he added five quarter sections to the estate. For many years Mr. Conner has been a successful wheat raiser in Lane County. Among the many crops he has planted he counts but three total failures, and he has harvested from nothing to forty bushels per acre. His best yield was in 1903. He also kept stock almost from the first and gradually made stock raising the chief and most profitable branch of his industry. With substantial success to his credit, with a large bulk of farm property and with many improvements, Mr. Conner was well justified in leaving the farm to the care of others and in coming to Dighton on February 1, 1915, taking the control of the Commercial Hotel, to which he now gives his active attention.
Mr. Conner inherited his politics from his father and cast his first presidential vote in 1896 for McKinley. In recent years he has become more imbued with democratic principles and gives his chief support to those candidates. He was on the school board of district No. 27 for a number of years while he lived in the country, has served as a trustee of Blaine Township, and has shown a public spirited interest in the various community affairs.
On July 1, 1896, at Dighton, Mr. Conner married Miss Waneta Crofton. The Crofton and Conner families located in the same community. John Crofton first came to Kansas in 1871, locating in Washington County. He was born near Dublin, Ireland, and was brought to the United States when a boy of twelve years by his father, George Crofton, who died in Illinois. John Crofton, who was one of five children, finally moved from Lee County, Illinois, to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he spent four years before going to Northern Kansas. His active life was spent as a farmer. In 1885 he had homesteaded in Lane County, and in 1886 brought his family there to live. He died in 1895, at the age of sixty-two. John Crofton was married in Illinois to Emeline Richardson, who died in Lane County in 1908, at the age of seventy-one. Her father, Martin Richardson, was from Kentucky, was a farmer and died in Illinois. The children in the Crofton family were: George, of Scott County, Kansas; Thomas, of Idaho City, Idaho; Arthur, of Lane County; Mary, wife of John Cox, of Caldwell, Idaho; John, of Lane County; Lucy, wife of William Moomaw, of Lane County; and Mrs. Conner, who was born in Washington County, Kansas, May 10, 1872.
Mr. and Mrs. Conner are the parents of three bright and interesting daughters, all of them attending school. Gladys Emeline was born September 30, 1897. Alice May was born April 14, 1900. Iona Caroline was born October 16, 1904.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project