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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Richard W. Elias

RICHARD W. ELIAS. Having lived in Western Kansas since early boyhood Richard W. Elias thoroughly appreciates the splendid history of the past, the many hardships through which the pioneers passed, and all the many factors that have entered into the life of this country. In the varied development of the past forty years he himself has found a niche of usefulness, has been a hard and intelligent worker in different lines, and for a number of years active in the railroad service. He is now agent of the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company at LaCrosse, and has made that position a medium of splendid service to the people of the community and has been responsible for the cordial relations which exist between the shippers and business men and the transportation corporation.

Mr. Elias was born at Hagerstown, Maryland, July 23, 1867, and has lived in Kansas since he was eleven years of age. His father, Henry Elias, moved from Maryland to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and from there in June, 1878, brought his family to Kansas. He entered a homestead three miles northwest of McCracken in Ness County, and continued to occupy it and conduct it as a farm until 1903. The first home of the Elias family in Ness County was a mere shanty. It was built of lumber, but the boards were set up vertical, with very little to stop the wind's progress, and the ground dimensions of the house were only 10 by 16 feet. It served the purpose of a summer house, and while living in it Henry Elias prepared a winter shelter by digging back into the banks and quarrying the magnesia stone, which furnished a warmer and more comfortable dwelling. The period of pioneer hardship and privation continued for about seven years. In the meantime Henry Elias proved up his claim, but in order to support his family he had to go beyond his own land, which produced very short crops, and for a number of months was employed on the construction of the Denver & Rio Grande extension in Colorado. His earnings as a railway hand not only furnished necessary supplies for the household but also enabled him to buy some stock and make a start in the cattle business. After patient endurance of the hard conditions of early years he reached a point where farming became profitable and he was able to raise crops of wheat and feed. Out of his prosperity he not only secured his homestead and timber claim but also bought an additional quarter section. These holdings and their improvements represented his accumulation of twenty years of hard work, and when age began creeping upon him he sold out his farm and retired to Brownell, where he died in 1912, at the age of seventy-three. Henry Elias was a native of Prussia, Germany. He married his first wife in Germany, and left that country and came to America in order to avoid compulsory military service. While his entire career in Kansas was spent as a farmer, he had worked in Pennsylvania as a pattern maker and in an iron foundry. His frail physique made it obligatory to seek a more healthful employment, and it was the chief reason which brought him out to the frontier, where he could secure cheap lands. The wife whom he married in Prussia was Anna Schreiber. Their children were: Charles, a farmer in Ness County; Lena, wife of John Barnett, of Brownell, Kansas; Lucetta, who died in young womanhood; and Richard W. The second wife was Anna Miller, and there were four children of this union: Emma, wife of A. E. Start, of Rush County; Minnie, wife of Joseph Wagner, of Riverside, California; Oscar, of Rush County; and Earl, who lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

His friends and acquaintances speak of Richard W. Elias as a man of thorough business ability and of sound information. This is due to self training and self education rather than advantages of his boyhood. It should be remembered that he was eleven years of age when he came to Kansas, and practically all his schooling was gained in the older states of the East prior to that time. The early settlers in Western Kansas had all they could do to provide the necessities of existence, and schools and school houses had to wait upon more immediate needs. With growing strength he took more and more of the responsibilities connected with the making of a home in Western Kansas, and was a factor on the farm until he reached his majority. His preference being for commercial pursuits, on leaving the farm he began work for the old Alliance store at Holbrook Siding. In the meantime he had acquired a small tract of laud, and he later traded it for a stock of goods at Brownell. He was a merchant there two years and subsequently worked for wages in lumber and grain yards in Brownell. Mr. Elias took up railroad work in 1897. He had learned telegraphy and was proficient at the key when he was appointed agent at Eads, Colorado. From Eads he was sent to Selkirk, later to Scott City and to Brownell, and in April, 1906, was moved to his present post at LaCrosse.

Considering LaCrosse his permanent home, Mr. Elias has built a residence there, owns considerable real estate and at all times has endeavored to perform his duties as a good citizen. However, he has felt that his duties at the railway station were the best medium of individual service to the public and has therefore refused public positions. In 1916 both political parties in the county offered him the nomination for county treasurer, but for those reasons he declined. He and his family adopted the republican political faith many years ago. Mr. Elias cast his first ballot as a republican and in 1888 voted for Benjamin Harrison. During the populist movement he was aligned with that party, but since then has been republican in national and state affairs. He is a member of the United Brethren Church at LaCrosse, but has no affiliation with secret orders.

In Ness County December 10, 1890, he married Miss Minnie Edwards. Her father was John Edwards of McCracken. he[sic] is a sister of Mr. Frank Edwards of Brownell. Mr. and Mrs. Elias have brought children into their home and have carefully reared and trained them for lives of usefulness. The oldest is Maude, wife of L. C. Young, of Utica, Montana. Clarence is with the train department of the Great Northern Railway at Judith Gap, Montana. Clifford is telegraph operator employed by the Missouri Pacific at Hoisington. He married Florence Edwards. Ralph is now taking advanced studies in the Colorado State University. Clara is a post-graduate student in the LaCrosse High School. Robert died when twelve years of age.


Pages 2366-2367.


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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 5 - Table of Contents

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