ELLIOTT THOMPSON FOX. Some of the experiences and methods of Mr. Fox, of Edwards County, as a Western Kansas farmer have interesting value and furnish practical material for a complete history of the state.
Mr. Fox came to Kansas from Fulton County, Pennsylvania, in April, 1885. His life since then has been lived in Edwards County. He homesteaded a quarter section four miles northwest of Lewis. This land had been previously homesteaded but its occupant had abandoned it and never reappeared to contest or otherwise cause any trouble to Mr. Fox. The cash capital brought to Kansas by Mr. Fox was about $700. He had to haul stone a distance of twelve miles to build the walls of his basement. He also constructed a frame house 12 by 14 feet, and erected a sod stable. Other money was required for the purchase of a team and a breaking plow and wagon. After these investments were made he had very little surplus left.
The following year he went to Ohio to claim his bride. When they returned to Kansas they found that one of the wind storms so frequent in the state had moved the house from the foundation and considerable work had to be done before the home was ready for the bride. The first year Mr. Fox broke up about fifty acres, and from that ground raised enough corn to feed his team and one cow. This homestead he sold in 1903 for $1,400. In the meantime he had fenced forty acres and had the rest of the quarter section under cultivation, and had also set out an orchard of an acre and a half.
After leaving the homestead he paid $3,500 for the north half of section 35, township 24, range 18 in Wayne Township. Two hundred acres of this land had been broken. There he erected a five-room house and a circular barn sixty feet in diameter. It was one of the few barns of that shape in the state. In the loft there was capacity for eighty tons of hay, and also room below for forty head of stock, and a granary of 4,000 bushels capacity. Mr. Fox put up other buildings, including wagon sheds, garage, blacksmith shop, poultry houses and quarters for his hogs. He has used a great deal of cement in his farm building construction, especially for floors.
Crop rotation has always been a practical principle in Mr. Fox's farming. The field that grows corn one year is put in wheat the next. So far he has found no need for fertilizing or for growing crops that are chiefly of value as fertilizer. The best yield of wheat he ever secured was forty bushels to the acre from a field of forty acres. This ground had been plowed very early and there followed heavy rains which packed the soil so that a disking was necessary. This was all the cultivation the crop received, and the harvest set almost a high record for wheat production in Edwards County.
When Mr. Fox bought this farm he paid the highest price that had been paid up to that time in the county as far as his knowledge goes. While his farm is not offered for sale he estimates its value at $30,000, and that modest fortune is an approximation of what he has made in addition to providing for his home and family during his thirty-one years In Edwards County.
Many practical farmers in Western Kansas believe that corn is not suited to the soil or climate. Mr. Fox contends otherwise. In his own experience he has raised as high as forty bushels to the acre. It is his belief, based on his individual experience, that if corn received the proper attention all through the season there need seldom be any complaint as to the yield. The trouble is that the corn fields are generally neglected during the wheat harvest time, just when the growing cereal chiefly needs cultivation.
The Fox farm is in many ways a model institution. He has invested in a private irrigation plant for his garden and orchard. The water comes from a well dug thirty-two feet into the quicksand, furnishing an unfailing source of supply. The water is raised to the surface and distributed by a centrifugal pump, which throws 470 gallons to the minute. Mr. Fox lived convenient to the electric current in its main line from Kinsley to Lewis and has tapped it to furnish electric light for his house and barn. Fruit growing is another adjunct of Mr. Fox's agricultural prosperity and he has been quite successful in raising apples and other tree fruits. Here, too, he practices cultivation and every season sprays his orchard at least twice.
His banner wheat crop came in 1902, when he raised 5,000 bushels on 300 acres. The interesting part of this is not so much the total yield as the fact that he and one team did practically all the work, with the exception of three days of plowing which he hired. Mr. Fox is one of the stockholders in the Farmers Elevator at Lewis and also the Mutual Telephone Company there.
Mr. Fox was born in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, November 28, 1858. His father, John R. Fox, was born and reared in that county and is still living there at the age of eighty-nine. The grandfather was John Fox, and his ancestors came from Germany. John R. Fox fought as a Union soldier during the Civil war. He married Sarah Divilbliss, a daughter of John Divilbliss who came from Germany. She died in 1913, at the age of seventy-six. Their children were: Elliott T. Fox; Lizzie; William, who is an operator for the Prairie Oil and Gas Company living at Greeley, Kansas; Anna; Emma; George, and Ada.
Elliott T. Fox grew up and received a common school education in his native state. He went to Ohio and was married February 23, 1886, to Miss Emma Wolfe. Mrs. Fox was born April 24, 1861, and was reared in Sandusky County, Ohio, a daughter of Levi and Matilda Wolfe. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Fox are: Corinne, who married Zephie Ray and has a son, Harold; George, still at home, married Emma Nitschkey and has one child, Shirlett; and Miss Mary, unmarried and still at home. Mr. Fox is a republican in politics, a member of the German Reformed Church, is affiliated with the Masonic Lodge and is a past grand of Lewis Lodge No. 504 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
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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