ALFRED R. ELLITHORP. Many opinions have been expressed that farming in Western Kansas is a very uncertain proposition. Considered from the standpoint of any individual year this is true. But taking a period of twenty-five years and considering the results, it is doubtful if any farming district has made better returns for the labor and money expended, considering all conditions, and it was the settlers who refused to become discouraged, who stuck to their posts in spite of several crop failures, and continued until they could realize the aggregate results rather than the returns from any one year, who have shared in and now enjoy the magnificent prosperity of that district.
Among the many who have had this pleasant experience none are better known in Lane County than Mr. and Mrs. Alfred R. Ellithorp of Healy. They have been Kansans for nearly half a century, have lived in Lane County thirty-one years, and their lives have run side by side as husband and wife for more than half a century. They went through the early trials and hardships, they have seen their children grow up, receive liberal advantages in schools, and establish themselves in their own homes, and Mr. and Mrs. Ellithorp now have leisure and ample means for the full enjoyment of life. In 1893 they made an extended visit to the Columbian Exposition at Chicago, and in 1915 they went west and attended the Panama-Pacific Exposition at San Diego and San Francisco, had an ocean voyage from San Francisco to Seattle, saw a great deal of the Northwest, and then returned by rail across the Rocky Mountains to their Kansas home.
Before taking up Mr. Ellithorp's career in Kansas, it will be well to go back and note his birth and his family relationship. He was born in Ottawa County, Ohio, not far from the shore of Lake Erie, on October 3, 1842. His paternal ancestors were of French origin, though for many generations residents in America. His mother was a Dyer, of the Mohawk Dutch-stock of New York, her mother being a Bouk. Asa Ellithorp, father of Alfred R., was born in New York, and on reaching his majority moved to Ohio, and was married in Ottawa County to Olive Dyer. He spent his career chiefly as a farmer, was a whig and later a republican in politics, and while living in New York he served as a member of the State Militia. In 1847 he moved with his family to a farm near Elburn, Illinois, where he died in 1880, at the age of sixty-four. His widow survived him and died in Miami County, Kansas, November 18, 1903, when past eighty-two years of age. Their children were: Owen, who died at Gainesville, Texas, leaving a family; Alfred R.; Alice, who married Oscar Gardner, of Miami County, Kansas; Orren, of Chicago; and Minta, who while a victim of dementia cremated herself with gasoline at Oakley, Kansas, and by her marriage to Denton Miller left four children.
Alfred R. Ellithorp was five years of age when his parents moved to Kane County, Illinois, and he grew up on a farm there and obtained a common school education. He was married in Kane County, Illinois, November 29, 1866, to Miss Louisa Pike. Mrs. Ellithorp was born June 23, 1841, a daughter of Adam and Amanda (Chase) Pike. Her father was born in Vermont of old English-Scotch stock and her mother was a native of New Hampshire of English parentage. Adam Pike and wife spent their lives in St. Lawrence County, New York, where they died. Their children who grew up were: Adam, who spent most of his life in New York but died in Texas; George, who lived in New York State; Mrs. Ellithorp; Solon and Sarah, twins, the former of whom died in St. Lawrence County, New York, and Sarah died unmarried; Amanda, who died at the age of fifteen.
Mrs. Ellithorp completed her education in the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary of St. Lawrence County, New York. She taught several schools in her native state, being paid wages of two dollars a week and boarding around among the pupils. In 1865 she went to Illinois, was hired as a teacher at Elburn in Kane County, and was given twenty-four dollars a month for her services. She was promised an increase if she would take the school again, but in the meantime she had met Mr. Ellithorp and they determined to get married, a decision which terminated her work as a school teacher.
Mr. and Mrs. Ellithorp had three children, Theron Solon, Viola Amanda and Walton Asa. Theron S. now conducts a garage at Everett, Washington, and by his marriage to Carrie Franklin, of Evanston, Illinois, has a daughter, Viola May. Viola Amanda graduated with the degree A. B. from the Salina Normal College, was a teacher in Lane County, and finally married William A. Connelly. She died at Kelley, New Mexico, in May, 1896. The son, Walton A., is connected with the Grand Union Tea Company at Mount Vernon, Washington, He married Emma Langley.
In 1869, a few years after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Ellithorp came out to Kansas and settled on a farm near Louisburg. They lived there enjoying moderate prosperity for nearly twenty years. In the meantime Mr. Ellithorp was looking out for a location in Western Kansas, and about 1886 entered land in Lane County, his homestead being at the east half of section 22, township 17, range 30. He brought his family to that locality in February, 1887, and that became his permanent home in the county.
His first house or shelter was a dugout of a single room. It was impossible to ventilate the dwelling, and the fleas were so numerous that the conditions kept Mrs. Ellithorp in a state of illness all the time they lived in the dugout. In the course of the same year they built a soddy of two rooms. This was plastered and floored, but the roof was also of sod, and it generally leaked for a day or two after a big rain. Notwithstanding that, it was a comfortable dwelling both winter and summer. In 1888 they built a frame house, though they were so much attached to the old sod residence that they did not abandon it for several years afterward.
When he came to Lane County Mr. Ellithorp's experience as a farmer had been chiefly identified with corn as a crop. He started planting corn but soon found it did not pay. He then turned his attention to wheat. Almost from the first he had a considerable stock of cattle and was one of the pioneer dairymen in Lane County. The milk from their cows was sold to the cheese factory at Dighton, where the cheese was made up for the Ellithorps and sold abroad through commission men. As a result of chicanery which too often has marked the dealings of the producer with commission men, Mr. Ellithorp usually failed to get his money and the cheese factory soon became bankrupt. From about 1891 the Ellithorps sowed wheat as a regular crop. The first harvest proved the worth of the soil as a grain producer. Occasionally they failed to get back their seed during the early nineties but in the years following they more than made up this loss. Thus with the general improvement of conditions in recent years the Ellithorps were on the ground, had the land, had the experience and were ready to share generously in the prosperity.
Besides his homestead Mr. Ellithorp took up a timber claim, and those two quarter sections composed the nucleus of his farming interests. With the proceeds of the property which he sold in Miami County and with the results of his homestead in Lane County he was able to buy other land. When he finally sold out his farming interests in 1905 he owned a section and a half. He had bought a few quarter sections at a very low cost, but for one improved quarter he paid $8,000. When he sold his land he moved to Healy, and while his means would enable him to live retired, he has shown no disposition to rest altogether and has occupied himself with various interests.
Mr. and Mrs. Ellithorp aided in the organization of school district No. 30, which is now consolidated with the Healy District. While it existed as an independent district Mr. Ellithorp was a member of the board and a part of the time his wife was also a director. Their pioneer school was held in Mr. Anderson's barn near the Ellithorp farm, and its teacher was Jennie Collier, who came from Kentucky. The Ellithorps helped build both the Christian and the Methodist churches near Healy, but have membership in neither denomination. As to his political experience Mr. Ellithorp is a republican, having cast his maiden vote for President Grant in 1868. Besides service on the board of Cheyenne Township he was county commissioner one term, succeeding Theodore Messick. The important work of this heard was the refunding of the railroad bonds. The board also did a good deal of opening and laying out of roads, and Mr. Ellithorp was so active in that work that he has often been referred to as the "road commissioner."
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
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