JAMES A. FULLER is one of the earliest settlers of Seward County. He went there when everything was bare prairie, more than thirty years ago, in 1885, and with the exception of 6 1/2 years that has been his home continuously. His experiences have an interest for others than himself and his immediate family, and are in fact a brief individual chapter in the history of the great commonwealth of Kansas.
Mr. Fuller was born in Lake County, Indiana, just east of Lowell, on November 5, 1861. He lived on his father's farm until past his majority. His common school education was acquired by attending short terms of winter country school. Mr. Fuller, like most boys, had a favorite teacher, and the one whom he studied with having most influence and doing most for him in the way of an education was H. H. Ragon, who stood high not only in the estimation of James Fuller, but was a teacher of enviable reputation throughout that section of northeastern Indiana.
Mr. Fuller was twenty-three years of age when he started for Kansas. He accompanied a cousin and had charge of the latter's emigrant car to Pratt, Kansas. They left the railroad at Kingman, and Mr. Fuller separated from his relatives at Pratt and proceeding to the vicinity of Plains in Meade County, entering a pre-emption on May 11, 1885. By the fifteenth of January following he had proved up this pre-emption. He had spent the few intervening months in his 10 by 12 box shanty, and on that claim he made his first crop in Kansas. Mr. Fuller had come to Kansas with a practical knowledge of farming and meat cutting, and the business by which he has made his chief success in the state has been farming and stock raising, and for more or less brief intervals the retail meat business at Liberal and at Pratt.
On leaving Meade County Mr. Fuller came to Seward County, and on May 28, 1886, filed on a tree claim. His claim in Meade County he subsequently lost to the mortgage company. In August, 1886, he made his homestead filing in Seward County, both the tree claim and homestead being in section 30 of township 33, range 34. At that time his nearest neighbor was at Fargo Springs, eighteen miles away. The man who located Mr. Fuller in this out of the way region was the noted pioneer plainsman and frontiersman, French, an old surveyor who was thoroughly familiar with this entire region and was one of the few men who could identify the "corners" of the government survey. In the month of November Mr. Fuller moved the lumber from his Plains Farm and built with it a half dugout 10 by 22 feet on his new homestead in Seward County. After living there constantly for seven years he acquired title to both claims at the same time, his witnesses being David H. Heath and Joseph Giertz, both early settlers in this part of Western Kansas.
Mr. Fuller recalls how he set in his first crop. He hired a team and harrowed in his millet with planks used as a drag. While the method was crude the crop was more than a ton to the acre. In the winter that followed he tramped out the seed, winded it and after much work he had his first threshing accomplished. Other early improvements were the planting of trees, the digging of a well 110 feet deep, and the construction of some protection for stock. Later, however, he pulled down most of these improvements and hauled them to Liberal to improve the property he owned where the Methodist Church now stands, and where he had his home while in the butcher business in town. For six years Mr. Fuller was away from his farm in the butcher business, partly at Liberal and partly at Pratt, and with the accumulations of this time he went back and resumed agriculture. He had kept the taxes paid on his land, and had zealously refrained from placing a mortgage upon it. He returned to the farm with an equipment of ten horses and seven cows, and he has always considered himself fortunate that he returned to the land when he did, otherwise it is possible that he would not have found even the bare soil. Of the thousands of trees he had left growing he found only the stumps, and nearly all the fencing had been taken away. As rapidly as possible he rehabilitated improvements and around his watering place he replanted a large number of trees. Mr. Fuller planted the first kaffir corn ever raised in that locality, and the next year he furnished seed to the whole neighborhood and also sent the very first kaffir seed to Pratt County, to his father-in-law. That introduced this crop in that section of the state and in a year or so practically every farmer there had a field of kaffir.
Mr. Fuller is one of the men in Western Kansas who has demonstrated the possibilities of mixed farming. He has never placed complete reliance either in stock or the products of the soil, and has divided his attention quite equally between both, so that hardly any one year could be called a total failure. Some time the profits have come slowly, but in the aggregate he has been able to accumulate some valuable property, including 880 acres, 600 acres in cultivation and with improvements of three quarter sections. Mr. Fuller is by no means an old man, yet has kept up a rapid pace and has carried some very heavy responsibilities, so that none could blame him for his determintion[sic] to relieve himself somewhat of the hardships of the farm. In January, 1918, he made a general sale and closed out his farming paraphernalia, and is now re-established at Liberal.
Mr. Fuller has been content to act and vote as a republican without in any way seeking or putting himself in the way of any office. However, he served as clerk of the school board, and did his part toward the establishment of school facilities by hauling the rock for the foundation of the first school house. This rock had to be hauled a distance of forty miles. He was also one of the men who launched a Sunday school in the community and was the first superintendent. He has given personal aid to various religious movements in the community and since young manhood has been a member of the Christian Church.
Mr. Fuller comes of a very remarkable family of Northwestern Indiana. All the old histories of Lake County in that state give most creditable mention to James Fuller and his many sons and grandchildren who still constitute one of the largest individual families of that county. James Fuller was the grandfather of James A. Fuller of Kansas. The Fullers go back to the colonial settlers of New England, and a remote ancestor is said to have been a brother of one of the kings of England. The first Americans of the name were three brothers who were part of the Pilgrim Colony at Plymouth Rock. Grandfather James Fuller went to Northwestern Indiana from Viaton, Ohio, and located there about 1839, when that was a region of swamps and uncut timber, with Indians almost as numerous as whites. James Fuller, according to an old account furnished by a local historian, brought rather more means than the average pioneer and he used this money to purchase thirty-eight forty-acre tracts in the vicinity of Lowell. He was one of the men of note in that community and owned the most part of Fuller Island, named in his honor. He was a plain and substantial farmer, and died in 1863. He was the father of nine sons and one daughter, and a number of worthy people of the name are still living in Lake County. James Fuller's oldest son's child was the first white child born in Lake County. James Fuller married for his first wife Lydia Dodd. Their children were: Oliver, Samantha, Aaron, Franklin, Archibald, Benjamin, Richard, Woodberry, and John M. Archibald and Benjamin were both Union soldiers during the Civil war, as was also Woodberry, who was killed at the battle of Stone River. The only daughter, Samantha, married Horatio Nichols.
John M. Fuller, father of James A. Fuller, was only four years of age when the family located in Lake County, Indiana. He grew up in that community when schools were limited in number and exceedingly meager in equipment and possibilities of instruction. It is said that John M. Fuller perfected his knowledge of reading and writing after his marriage, with his wife as his teacher. He was an excellent business man, and for a number of years was a butcher. He spent the vigor of his life as a farmer and died at his country home in Lake County. His was one of the most substantial homes in that locality, and a number of children were reared there and shared in the benefits of the estate. John M. Fuller married Maria Darst, daughter of Abram and Nancy (Reed) Darst, the former of Scotch and the latter of Scotch and German ancestry. Nancy Reed after the death of Abram Darst married James Fuller, the grandfather of James A. Fuller. The children of Abram Darst and wife were: Thomas; Stewart; Mary J., wife of J. Marshall, of Nebraska; Sarah A., wife of Francis Andrews; Maria Louisa, wife of John M. Fuller; Franklin, who was a Union soldier during the war and is now living at Yates Center in Kansas; Elizabeth, who married William Buckley; Hiram J., who also served as a soldier of the rebellion; Addie, who married John Dumond and died at Spearville, Kansas; and Joseph, of Rose, Kansas.
John M. Fuller was a republican in politics. Throughout his entire career he was afflicted with deafness, and this, while in no wise interfering with his business success, made him rather diffident and retiring in social and political matters, and he alwas[sic] lived very much to himself and in his family. He died in 1904 and his wife on July 1, 1897. Their children were Jennie, who married Warren Dickinson, of Lake County, Indiana; James A.; Alvaretta, wife of C. E. McNay, of Lake County; Emily, who died unmarried; Henry Alonzo, who died in young manhood; Edward, of Hammond, Indiana; Walter, who died at Shelby, Indiana; Frank G., a resident of Chicago.
Mr. James A. Fuller was a bachelor the first five or six years he lived in Kansas. In Pratt County, this state, May 6, 1891, he married Miss Mary A. Moore, who was born at Newburg, West Virginia, June 18, 1871. She was one of two children, and her sister is Hattie, wife of Hiram Sheets, of Newburg, West Virginia. Mrs. Fuller is a foster child of William Clawson Moore, who had no children of his own. Mr. Moore came to Pratt County, Kansas, in 1884 from Indiana. He and his brother were influenced to move into Pratt County from McPherson, and both located near Coats. Mr. Moore spent the rest of his life there. He married Clarinda Boyd, whose father settled in Pratt County and was a native of West Virginia.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller are John W., Clyde Walter, Earl Franklin, Gladys May, Mildred Marie, Marion and Mary, twins, the latter of whom died in infancy, Opal Pearl and Ethel Irene. John W., the oldest, is now farming the old homestead and married Lucy Hopewell; Clyde Walter lives at Hutchinson, Kansas, and Earl Franklin is a volunteer for the National army in the great war in Europe, as a member of the Seventh Company, Quartermaster Corps of P S, Fort Warden, Washington State.
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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