ELMER H. EPPERSON. The present postmaster of Scott City, Elmer H. Epperson, has been a resident of Scott County since 1886, but has lived in the state for a much longer period, having come to Kansas in 1870, when he was a youth of sixteen years. Since that time he has assisted most materially in the development of the communities in which he has resided, particularly Scott City, toward the advancement of which he has labored unceasingly. After a number of years spent in farming and horse raising he turned his attention to the newspaper business, in which he is interested today as proprietor of the "News-Chronicle." He has also been prominent in public life, is an ex-member of the Kansas Legislature, and has been postmaster since January 1, 1914.
Mr. Epperson was born in Benton County, Iowa, November 11, 1853, and is a son of John S. and Nancy Ellen (Forsythe) Epperson. John S. Epperson was born near Richmond, Kentucky, June 27, 1827, and died at Wellington, Kansas, April 13, 1907, after a lifetime passed in agricultural pursuits. He was one of the substantial and influential men of his day and locality and served in Sumner County, Kansas, as a member of the board of county commissioners, this being his only office. In politics he was a republican, and his religious affiliation was with the Christian Church. Mr. Epperson was a Master Mason. He was reared to manhood in Boone County, Indiana, and was married in Benton County, Iowa, to Miss Nancy Ellen Forsythe, a native of Boone County, Indiana, and daughter of Hon. John S. Forsythe, the first judge of Benton County, Iowa, and his wife, who was a McCoy. Mrs. Epperson died May 22, 1902. To John S. and Nancy Ellen Epperson there were born the following children: Martha J., who married Granville Hollingsworth and died in Sumner County, Kansas; Elmer H., of this notice; Julius E., who died at Wellington, Kansas; Alma A., who married W. H. Bowers, of Wellington, Kansas; Mary L., who died as Mrs. Granville Hollingsworth; and Florence, who married Ed Gill and died near Caldwell, Kansas.
As before noted, Elmer H. Epperson came to Kansas in 1870, in which year he located in Montgomery County and there completed his education in the country school. He began his business experience as a clerk in the Brunson store at Independence, and assisted in digging the first cellar in that town. During the time he lived at Independence he saw the county seat grow to a population of 3,000 people. He was well acquainted with Senator A. M. York, who exposed the Pomerey boodling plot and knew the Yoes of The Tribune and Lyman U. Humphrey, afterward governor of Kansas. Mr. Epperson left Montgomery County in the fall of 1872 and settled in Sumner County, where his father homesteaded near Wellington, and where the elder man died. He and Elmer H. killed the last buffalo killed in that county, August 5, 1873, eight miles northeast of Wellington. Mr. Epperson continued farming in that community until 1886, when he came to Scott County, and entered a homestead near Grigsby and proved it up, living on it seventeen years. Mr. Epperson's first home was a shed, only a temporary thing, which lasted until he could build a sod house. When he arrived he was compelled to set his family out on the prairie in the midst of a rain and hail stern, while he took the wagon and drove to Pierceville, on the Santa Fe Railroad, to procure lumber. Hurrying back with this he hastily erected a temporary shed for his family, and then set about building a sod house, a structure 12 by 22 feet, covered with boards and tar paper and then sodded, with ample doors and windows. The house was floored and was plastered with native lime, and this continued to be the family home from 1886 until 1902, when Mr. Epperson erected his permanent frame house. His farming consisted of an effort to raise corn, which he soon abandoned, and from that time forward he devoted himself to the raising of wheat, oats and barley.
When he settled on his claim Mr. Epperson owned a span of mules and an extra horse, but was without a cow. His circumstances were such that he really needed more support than his farm at first provided, but his family of girls made it impossible for him to leave his home, and he was compelled to rely upon the farm, which he finally, through persistonce and good management, made a winner, and when he left it it comprised a half section in section 13, township 18, range 21. Mr. Epporson's activities as a stock raiser were confined chiefly to horses.
Mr. Epperson started his political career as a republican, cast his first presidential vote for Rutherford B. Hayes, in Sumner County, and subsequently, gave his ballots to Garfield and Blaine. In 1888 he voted for Streeter, the Union Labor candidate, in 1892 for Weaver, of the people's party, and in 1896 for Bryan, whom he supported in three elections. In 1904 he returned to the people's party and gave his vote to Tom Watson, and in 1912 was an original Wilson man. Mr. Epperson was first elected to office in 1896 as a populist, to the Kansas Legislature, and served a term therein. While in the body he did not make a great deal of noise, but supported faithfully all the measures of his party pledged to the people. He was defeated for a second term, but was elected again in 1898, and during the special session of the Legislature secured the passage of the law equalizing and distributing the county funds for school purposes to all the districts of the county, which law was repealed while Mr. Epperson was under quarantine in 1901, through the work of a lobbyist for the Missouri Pacific Railway, and, it is declared by some, through a misunderstanding of the real facts the legislators voted its repeal. Mr. Epperson was chairman of the committees on county lines and county seats, and was also a member of the committee on irrigation.
In 1900 Mr. Epperson engaged in the newspaper business on his farm, starting The Chronicle, which he conducted at his country home until July 1. During his first month in the paper business he rode the header thirty days in succession, and in the meantime, put out a weekly issue of his paper. He remained on the farm as an editor until 1902, when he was awarded the county printing and moved his plant to Scott City, and, as he had to leave either the farm or the printing business, he chose to give up the farm. Mr. Epperson has since conducted the paper as a business, and in 1909, after absorbing the Scott County News, the oldest newspaper in the county, changed the name of his publication to the News-Chronicle. It is a democratic paper, conducted by his sons under the firm style of E. H. Epperson & Son, and has grown from its original five-column size on the farm to a seven-column quarto in Scott City, its equipment, which includes a linotyping machine, being one of the best of the country offices in the Short Grass country. Through his paper Mr. Epperson has contributed most effectively to the advancement of Scott City. When he moved to the county seat there were perhaps 250 people residing here, and not a new house had been built in a decade. He has seen it come back to life and become a prosperous town of more than 1,000 population. He built the second new residence here that was erected after the collapse of the first boom. He continued actively in the newspaper business until his appointment as postmaster of Scott City in October, 1913, to succeed James Morris, and assumed the duties of that office January 1, 1914, since which time he has been rendering the city excellent service in the handling the mails. Mr. Epperson is identified with the Christian Church and the Modern Woodmen of America, being a layman in both.
Mr. Epperson was married in Sumner County, Kansas, to Miss Susie Nottingham, a daughter of Morgan Nottingham, of Benton County, Iowa, who married Caroline Underwood. The children in the Nottingham family were as follows: William H., who passed away in Oklahoma; Ella H., who married T. A. Hollingsworth, of Supply, Oklahoma; L. G., of Ceiling, Oklahoma; Susie, who is now Mrs. Epperson, born May 29, 1862; Anna, who married Frank Martin, of Enid, Oklahoma; and James, of Plainview, Texas.
Mr. and Mrs. Epperson are the parents of the following children: Anna M., who is the wife of T. W. Givins, of Scott City; Lena D., who married M. R. Potter, also of this city; Lora B., who is the wife of S. W. Filson, of this city; Caroline, who is a teacher in the public schools of Scott City; Elmer L., who is a partner with his father in the newspaper business, married Anna Brock; Gertrude, who is the wife of H. T. Clark, and her father's assistant; Albert R., who married Edna Clark and is now in the United States Army; and Florence Merle, who is now a high school student.
Being an early settler in Kansas Elmer H. Epperson has always taken an especial pride in the growth and development of the state, which is reflected in the following editorial published in his paper, the News-Chronicle, on the fiftieth anniversary of Kansas:
This year marks the fiftieth anniversary of our beloved Kansas, as one of the greatest states in the union. This year marks one of the greatest epochs in history-making of our nation, and we might truly say of the world, "In no age of the world has the inventions in mechanical arts and development in power and uses of electricity and other forces of nature made such a marvelous growth as during this fifty years in which Kansas has been a state."
As a sixteen year old boy the writer crossed the state line at Fort Scott, in the spring of 1870, traveling overland from Benton County, Iowa, to the then infant city of Independence, Kansas.
Forty years seems a long time in the span of life. The startling changes that recollections bring to the mind would seem absolutely impossible if attempted to be measured by am imaginative mind, gazing into the future. Forty years ago at the very eastern border of our state the traveler would only gaze upon a vast expanse of vacant, uninhabited, treeless prairie, save a squatter's cabin here and there, where today these same prairies are covered with delightfully cooling grasses, palatial farm residences and metropolitan cities. Where the Indian and buffalo roamed at will now grow the products that feed, clothe, educate and make happy millions of civilized and well educated human beings.
Yes, it seems like a long span to measure, with both pleasant and sad recollections intruding here and there along the many changing incidents that check the career of man during such a period. Nearly all the older associates of this early period have gone to reap the reward of the true and faithful.
During this time we have participated in the growth and development of three frontier Kansas counties, namely, Montgomery, Sumner and Scott. We assisted in killing the last buffalo ever killed in Sumner County, on August 5, 1873. It is no small matter to witness the growth and development of such a magnificent county as this from the range of the buffalo to such a municipal and productive empire as it is today, yet this is the half-century history of Kansas, our Kansas, because we helped to make it.
May the same loyal spirit, the same zeal, and the same inspiring ambition actuate the future generation, who must assume the burdens, that the second half century of our beloved and heroic Kansas may be even more brilliant, if possible, than the first.
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