HENRY J. GYLES, now living retired at Dodge City, has been a resident of Southwestern Kansas nearly forty years. He contended with many obstacles and adversities during his early years in this state, but out of them all has won a prosperity that gives him sufficient for all his needs, and with all his many varied experiences in life he bears the weight of his eighty-four years very gracefully.
Mr. Gyles came to Ford County, Kansas, in 1878 from Chicago. He took up a homestead of a quarter section seven miles west of Dodge City an the south side of the Arkansas River. While he was by no means a wealthy man, he brought perhaps more equipment and capital than many of the early comers. His equipment included a team of horses, wagon, mowing machine and other farm implements. The first work he did was to build a story and a half frame house 18 by 30 feet. The lumber to build it was shipped here from Chicago. That house, standing today, has endured nearly forty years of Kansas wind, sun and storm and is good yet. He also erected a frame stable.
To make a living in such a country Mr. Gyles found to be the hardest problem he had ever tackled. The land was dry and burnt and agriculture in the real sense of the word was impossible. Even garden truck could not be raised except by diligent irrigation. In the following year, 1879, he was joined by his wife and six children and his wife's father. With nine mouths to feed and potatoes costing $3 a bushel, flour $4.50 a hundred and bacon 20 cents a pound, the purchasing power of a $10 bill was very limited. The family sustained itself largely through milk, butter and eggs raised on the home place.
Even during those years of early trial Mr. Gyles did not resort to outside work, as did many others, and by careful economy he was able to remain on the farm and his early persistence had its reward, as many of his early neighbors long since departed for other scenes. Mr. Gyles realized from the start that stock raising afforded the surest returns in this country and he made a success of the business from the first, although he suffered several times through infection of his stock with Texas fever. This fever was introduced by the great herds of Texas cattle, sometimes 300,000 in number, that came up over the trails from the south to the railroad at Dodge City. The cause of Texas fever was unknown in those days, and it was usual for the Kansas stock raisers to protect their cattle by driving them to the north side of the river into what was known as the Sawlog country, or neighborhood, and keep them there during the summer months while the Texas cattle were passing on the south side of the Arkansas.
From the fruits of many years of continued industry, Mr. Gyles improved his farm, built a large barn, cattle corrals, wind mills and other improvements. Whenever he sold cattle he bought other land and eventually accumulated 2,000 acres. His active supervision of his increased holdings continued for thirty years and he then retired to Dodge City, now occupying a modest home at the corner of Avenue B and Chestnut Street. He has sold his farms and all his interests are confined to the town.
Mr. Gyles is an Englishman by birth, having been born in Yorkshire March 2, 1834. His father, Thomas Gyles, spent his life in Yorkshire, was a boot and shoemaker, and died there in 1875, at the age of seventy-six. He married Rosemary Debnam, daughter of an English soldier. Mrs. Gyles was born at the great fortress of Gibraltar and died soon after her husband and when about the same age. Henry J. Gyles had eight brothers and sisters, and only one of them ever came to America. His brother William and wife were living in New Orleans when Ben Butler captured that city early in the Civil war. They and five others persuaded the captain of an English merchantman loaded with cotton to carry them across the ocean and they were satisfied to spend the rest of their days in England.
Henry J. Gyles while a youth served a time in the English army. He also learned the trade of butcher, and when he came to the United States in 1857 he secured work in the largest beef and pork packing house in Chicago. He remained with that firm until his earnings and savings gave him enough to go into business for himself, and he sold out his store finally and invested his capital in Southwest Kansas. Mr. Gyles has always acted independently in matters of politics. He is a member of the Masonic Lodge at Dodge City.
At Peoria, Illinois, December 31, 1859, he married Catherine Sauer. She was born in Germany, daughter of Antone Sauer. Mr. and Mrs. Gyles traveled life's highway together for over half a century until her death at Dodge City in 1913, at the age of seventy-seven. They were the parents of six children: Henry J., Anna, Rosemary, Lillie, John, and Agnes. Henry J., Jr., married Catherine Potter and died, leaving three children, who live in Chicago. Anna is the wife of George W. Reichard, of Dodge City, and has three children, George W., Jr., Mrs. Deatt Stewart and Dorothy. Rosemary is a resident of Chicago and unmarried. Lillie is the wife of Charles Halley at Eagle Pass, Texas, and has a son, Thomas. Agnes is the wife of Albert Moore of Dodge City.
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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