RUSSEL B. HAGEMAN. Some interesting and valuable notes on the history of Ford County can be gleaned from the experience of one of its oldest and most successful citizens, Russel B. Hageman, now living retired at the Town of Ford.
Mr. Hageman came to Ford County in September, 1885, from Logan County, Illinois, where he was born September 1, 1846, and where he grew up and received a common school education. He had been a farmer in Illinois, but tiring of conditions there he finally sold out and came into Western Kansas.
Here he paid $1,000 for a relinquishment on 160 acres about three miles west of Ford City. Having made the purchase he went back to Illinois and brought his family, teams, some hogs, household possessions, corn planters and other farm implements, enough to make a carload, which was unloaded at Dodge City, the nearest railroad point. The only improvements on the land were a sod shanty and some twenty or thirty acres that had been plowed. The price he paid was due to the inflation in values following a rapid influx of settlers about that time. A few years later Mr. Hageman could have bought plenty of good land for $200 per quarter section. When the occasion required it he took leases on several sections of land, paying merely the taxes for the use. These taxes were in some cases as low as $14 per quarter section. The leased land was fenced with a three wire fence, and used for grazing purposes until a new tide of settlers came in and the pastures were broken up. About the time the Oklahoma and Cherokee strips were open for settlement all this part of Kansas was nearly depopulated. The Town of Ford, which before the opening had claimed 500 inhabitants, decreased at one time to about fifty persons, and only one small store remained.
In order to establish his family in comfortable quarters Mr. Hageman hauled lumber from Dodge City and built a three room house, 14 by 28 feet. This was the first all-frame house built in that community. He soon plowed up twenty acres, which he planted to sod corn, and on the land that was already broken sowed oats. The corn yielded twenty bushels and the oats about thirty bushels to the acre. The oats he harvested with an old fashioned cradle. In a few years he was able to raise plenty of garden truck and immense quantities of water melons, which has always been a promising crop in the Arkansas River Valley. These water melons he sold and the crop proved of great value in supplying the family larder. There were three complete failures of crops during the late '80s, and at that crisis Mr. Hageman was compelled to seek work for himself and teams on the grading gang on the Rock Island Railroad then building from Bucklin to Dodge City. He resorted to this employment only one season of three months. Some of his friends in Illinois sent him seed; and thus he was able to get along and was not obliged to leave the country, as so many of his neighbors were. Since that time of emergency Mr. Hageman has never found it necessary to leave his own farm and ranch in order to make a living.
His real start on the road to prosperity was made as a feed raiser for the cattlemen. The cattlemen would drive in large herds of cattle from the ranges and apportion them out among the farmers for winter feeding. Each farmer would take as many as he could furnish feed for, chiefly in the form of cane and kaffir. By feeding for others Mr. Hageman gradually got into the cattle and stock business for himself on a moderate scale.
For this purpose he began leasing lands, as already noted, and invested the returns in livestock, a large number of cattle grazing on the range. After the country became better settled he partially abandoned this business and undertook the raising of wheat. For many years he has been one of the leading wheat growers of Ford County. He plants corn only occasionally, chiefly for the purpose of resting the land. Many times he has had as many as 500 acres in wheat. His average crop has yielded from twelve to twenty-six bushels to the acre. In 1910 he harvested 10,000 bushels. When Mr. Hageman came to Kansas he says he had the same ideas which inspirted so many other eastern farmers, that corn could be made to grow here as in districts where rainfall was more aboundant and where hot winds were almost unknown. The mistake he and his neighbors made was largely due to shallow plowing and planting the grain practically on top of the ground. When corn was put in this way it would come up quickly and would grow rapidly until about tasseling time, when the hot winds would come and would sear the entire field in a few short hours. Partly by experience and partly by teaching the farmers finally learned the principle of listing the grain deep, and thus the corn would become firmly and deeply rooted by the time the hot winds came and could stand the test much better. It is Mr. Hageman's opinion based on long and thorough experience that when fall rains are abundant and there is considerable snow during the winter, the crop is practically assured the following spring. Without these preliminary conditions spring crops are usually a failure. Mr. Hageman states that the year 1917 furnished the most complete failure in fourteen years.
In 1907 Mr. Hageman improved his home by the erection of a two-story, eight-room frame house, in which he installed a running water system and a carbide lighting system. He also built a horse barn 24 by 60 feet and a cow barn 24 by 40 feet, and has ample storage room for hay and granary of 2,400 bushel capacity. He owns an entire section of land and has it fenced and cross fenced. On this section are three wells, each one with a windmill, and abundance of clear water is obtained at a depth of from 30 to 45 foot. He also has a four-room tenement house and barn. In 1911 Mr. Hageman retired to Ford, where he bought a modern six-room cottage at a cost of $2,400, and owns considerable other town property which he rents to advantage. Mr. Hageman is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator at Ford and also in the packing house at Hutchinson, Kansas. In politics he has concerned himself chiefly with casting his vote according to his host judgment. He is a democrat, and first supported Tilden for president. For twenty years he has been a member of the township board. He is a member, deacon and trustee of the Congregational Church and Mrs. Hageman is a teacher in the Sunday school.
Mr. Hageman's father, Andrew B. Hageman, was born in Somerset County, New Jersey. His father, Isaac Hageman, was descended from ancestors who came from Holland and Germany. Isaac died in Somerset County, New Jersey, in 1849, at the age of ninety-three. Andrew B. Hageman when a boy was apprenticed to a carpenter in New York State, learned the trade thoroughly, and finally went out to Illinois with his father and three brothers and worked steadily at his trade until the close of the war, when he took up farming. His death occurred in Logan County, Illinois, in 1895, at the age of seventy-nine. Andrew Hageman married Sarah Ross, who was born in Ohio and died in Logan County, Illinois, in 1907, at the age of eighty years. Her father, T. J. Ross, was a pioneer of Marietta, Ohio, but after the war went to Texas, where he died. Andrew and Sarah Hageman had the following children: Russel; Anna, who died in Champaign, Illinois; Van, deceased; A. J., a farmer at Grand Junction, Colorado; Elizabeth, who is unmarried and lived near Ford, Kansas; Albert G., a dairyman at Moroa, Minnesota; Emma, wife of C. J. Rose, a farmer in Logan County, Illinois; Sherman, a fruit farmer at Round Oaks, Michigan; and Phoebe, wife of August Lippen, a farmer in North Central, Missouri.
Mr. Russel Hageman married for his first wife Jane Fulton, of Rockport, Illinois. She left one son, Rolland, who lives at Ford. Rolland married Florence Iden and has both children and grandchildren, so that Mr. Russel Hageman is a great-grandfather. The children of Rolland are Zona, Irene, Cleo, Dorothy and Maude. Zona is the wife of George Gove, of Colorado, and their children are Beryl, Glen and Florence. Irene is the wife of Henry Hoffman, of Dodge City, and has a son, Albert. Thus there are four great-grandchildren of Mr. Hageman.
For his second wife Mr. Hageman married Fannie E. Rathbun, of Summer Hill, Illinois. She died in Kansas, leaving the following children: Louella, who is the wife of W. W. Winders, of Ford, and has children named Harold, Erma, Lucile and Cleo; Andrew, of Beaver County, Oklahoma, married Neoda McCafferty and has two children, Russel and Fern; Melissa is the wife of Ross Bently, of Ford, and has children named Ruth, Edith and Jay; Edna married J. W. Rinehart, of Ford County, and their children are Francis, Esther, Grace, Russel, Merl, Walter and Willis.
For his present wife Mr. Hageman married Anna Price, who was born at Sandy Creek, New York, May 1, 1864, a daughter of Jasper and Sarah Wilder. Jasper Wilder was a son of Nixon Wilder and a grandson of Joshua Wilder, who married in Massachusetts in 1754 Lois Hawes. Mrs. Hageman's first husband was J. W. Price, now deceased. Of that union there are the following children: Raymond Price, who lives at Ford, Kansas, and married Helen Bray; and Edith, still at home with Mr. and Mrs. Hageman, a student in the Ford High School.
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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