WILLIAM ORVILLE DUBBS. Hardly a more substantial business man could be named in Ness County than William Orville Dubbs. He is a man of many and varied interests. He was an active merchant at Ransom until recently, and now gives all his time and attention to farming and the cattle business.
By his arrival in Ness County in 1879 he became one of the pioneers of this section. He was still a single man when he reached Kansas, and was in company with his parents, the family coming from Pennsylvania. They made the journey by railroad as far as Wakeeney, and soon afterward William O. Dubbs entered the northeast quarter of section 21, township 16, range 24, in Ness County. For all his later day prosperity he paid the price in the hard work, the adverse conditions and the difficulties of living in this western country during early years. The first improvement he put on his claim was a sod house. He then dug a well and began breaking the land. The five years he spent on that claim produced little profit for his purely agricultural activities. Later he pre-empted the west half of the southwest quarter of section 14 and the east half of the southeast quarter of section 13, and paid out on that land, secured a patent, and again built a sod house. He fenced the land and broke up many acres, and was a resident there until 1888, when he came to Ransom. There were years when it seemed impossible to make a living from his land, and to supplement his income he worked on the Santa Fe Railway as a section foreman in Colorado.
When the Missouri Pacific Railway was built through Ransom Mr. Dubbs engaged in merchandising there, and was a member of the firm of Shellinberger & Dubbs, which subsequently was known as the S-D Mercantile Company. He continued merchandising and also operating the elevator and lumber department of the firm for a number of years, and in 1914 finally sold out all his mercantile interests.
In recent years Mr. Dubbs has given his time and attention to farming and cattle raising. Many years ago he began buying land, paying from $225 to $4,000 per quarter section. Nine quarter sections of his land lie close to Ransom. On this he has four complete sets of improvements and nearly a thousand acres are under cultivation. He has long been recognized as a premier wheat raiser, and from that crop has derived more profits than from any other one product of his fields. He is prominently known over this part of the state as a stock man, and until recently he handled exclusively graded stock, but has now introduced the Shorthorn as his main variety.
Mr. Dubbs was one of the organizers of the bank at Arnold and is a stockholder in the bank at Ransom. He has served as school director, and a few years ago was candidate for representative to the Legislature on the prohibition ticket, and made an excellent showing for his party in that campaign.
He comes of an old Pennsylvania German family. His grandfather, Frederick Dubbs, emigrated from Germany and homesteaded land in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, about the time the Town of Burnt Cabin got its name. The incident which furnished the name was the burning of a few cabins in that locality by Indians. Frederick Dubbs from young manhood until his death followed his business as a tanner and farmer in that section of Pennsylvania, and for some years he also kept a tavern along one of the wagon roads leading from Pittsburgh over the mountains to the east. His wife was a Miss Snyder, who was reared in Fulton County and of German family. Their children were John, William, Henry, Moses, Isaac, Frederick, Samuel, Elias, Lewis, Rosann, Belle and at least one other daughter.
Lewis Dubbs father of William O., was born in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, and as a young boy he worked around his father's tanyard and learned the trade of tanner. When his father died he was willed the yard and was given the management of the tannery and the farm. Later he abandoned tanning and continued as a farmer, also conducted the old tavern and ran a saw mill. He was a successful business man in that locality of Pennsylvania until he came out to Kansas in February, 1879.
On coming to Kansas Lewis Dubbs entered the northeast quarter of section 27, township 16, range 24. He patented and improved that land, and built a sod house for the reception of his family. That was the only house he ever had in Ness County. He lived there twenty-two years, and did much for the upbuilding and progress of the community. While on a visit to Pennsylvania his wife died, and after that he lived among his children. He was born August 29, 1818, and died August 21, 1903, when nearly eighty-five years of age. He married Agnes Azilla Walker, who was born in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, August 24, 1823, and died in March, 1891. Their children were: Howard J., who served as a teamster in the Union army during the Civil war, came out to Kansas and took up a claim in Ness County, and later became a blacksmith at Ransom; Albert Moses, who was a youthful soldier in the Union army, also entered land in Ness County and has spent his active career as a farmer; Isaac, who died in young manhood in Pennsylvania; Emma V., who also died young; Louisa, widow of Jonathan Kelley, of Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania; William O.; Almina A., wife of L. C. Kelley, of Kansas City; Nora, who died unmarried; Samuel, a farmer in Ness County, where he entered land many years ago; and Lillie A., wife of P. F. Traver, and they live in Pasadena, California.
William Orville Dubbs was born in Burnt Cabin, Fulton County, Pennsylvania, August 28, 1854, and was twenty-five years old when he came with his parents to Western Kansas. His early education came from the public schools, and he learned more of the duties of farming, running a saw mill, and other occupations than of the formal lessons of books and literature. As a boy he was the member of the family upon whom devolved the chief responsibility for getting out the logs during the winter season to supply the saw mill run by his father. He continued to make his home with his parents until about three years before 1879, when he worked as a farm hand in Knox County, Illinois, two years, then returning to Pennsylvania. The main points of his active career since coming to Kansas have already been noted, and his has been a most worthy and honorable success.
In Ness County June 28, 1892, Mr. Dubbs married Miss Florence Laplante, daughter of Philip and Josephine (Langellier) Laplante. Her parents were Canadian French, came to the United States when children, were married in Kankakee, Illinois, and in 1881 arrived in Ness County, Kansas, where her father became a farmer. Mr. Laplante died in March, 1916, and his widow now lives in Ransom. Mrs. Dubbs was born May 13, 1868, and other members of her parents' family were: Irena, wife of W. C. Parker, of Oskaloosa, Kansas; Lionel C., of Chillicothe, Illinois; and Isaac, a farmer at Ransom, Kansas.
As the items above sketched would indicate, Mr. Dubbs has always been a lover of hard work, and has needed no artificial stimulus to make the most of his time and opportunities. However, he has been ambitions for the sake of his children, and both he and his wife have given the young folks in their home every encouragement to make the best of their lives. Their oldest child is Lewis Albert, now a senior in the State Agricultural College at Manhattan. Agnes is a graduate of the Kansas State Normal School and is now teaching in the high school at Wakomis, Oklahoma. Minnie J., is a member of the sophomore class in the Manhattan Agricultural College. Margaret is a junior in the Ransom High School, while Myrtle is in the sophomore class. The two younger children are Rebecca and Wendell Philip.
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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