JOSEPH E. HAMBY has lived in closer touch perhaps than most men with the people and affairs of Western Kansas since he went into that new and tindeveloped region nearly thirty-five years ago. His citizenship has been divided between Kingman and Stevens counties, and he is now a resident of Hugoton, and is a farmer and proprietor of the Hamby Hotel.
Mr. Hamby was a resident of Kansas for a brief period of his childhood, but lived chiefly in Missouri until he came to the state as a permanent fixture. His father, Isaac L. Hamby, was a native of Tennessee, where he grew up and married. He lived in Delaware County, Iowa, at the time his son Joseph E. was born on December 29. 1861.
On removing to Kansas Isaac L. Hamby settled with his family in Allen County. It is a distinctive tribute to his qualities of leadership and character that he had hardly acquired status as a legal resident when he was elected by the people of his county as their representative to the Legislature, the first or one of the first Legislatures after the admission of Kansas to the Union, and was elected as a republican. He was evidently quite useful in several ways to his state during the war period. An interesting document now in the possession of his son Joseph reads in substance as follows:
"Know ye that I, Thomas Carney, Governor of the state of Kansas, and commander-in-chief thereof, reposing special trust and confidence in the integrity, patriotism and abilities of I. L. Hamby of Allen County, on behalf and in the name of the state, do hereby appoint and commission him first lieutenant of Company N, 19th Regiment in the state militia, rank from date, and do authorize and empower him to discharge the duties of said office according to law. - In testimony whereof, I have hereunto subscribed my hand and caused to be affixed the great seal of the state. Done at Topeka this 18th day of October, 1864." The signatures are of Governor Carney, C. K. Holliday, adjutant general, and W. W. K. Lawrence , Secretary of state.
Isaac L. Hamby also lived for a short time in Jefferson County of this state, and about the close of the war went to Jasper County, Missouri, where he established his home on a farm, and lived there until his death in 1867, at the age of sixty-seven. His wife died near Tonganoxie, Kansas. Their children were: Nan, who married John Van Meter and died in Joplin, Missouri, in 1906; William M., who served as a Union soldier with the Tenth Kansas Regiment, and lived in New Mexico from the early '80s until his death at Frisco, his surviving children being in Pennsylvania; Mary, who married Jacob Hinkle and died in Jasper County, Missouri; Lydia, who married J. W. Edwards and resides near Jasper, Missouri; Julia, living in Jasper County, widow of Emil Zentner; Joseph E., who was next to the youngest, and Charles M., who lives at Granby, Missouri.
Joseph E. Hamby has very few recollections of that portion of his childhood spent in Kansas. He was twelve years old when his father died and after that he was dependent upon his oldest brother for a home until he was about fifteen, from which time forward he was strictly on his own resources. He received his education in Carthage, Missouri, and attended several winter terms in the intervals of farm hand work in the summer. From a farm he went into a harness shop at Oronogo, Missouri, and stayed there until he had become an expert harness maker. His skill as a workman opened for him a position in a wholesale house at St. Louis, but his relatives persuaded him not to go to the big city. Instead he had another experience as a farm worker, wages 50 cents a day or $13 a month, which would command the best sort of workman in those days.
Mr. Hamby finally converted his position as a farm hand into a share cropper, and continued raising grain and stock until he was in a fair way to real prosperity. From sharing the crops he took another step to renter of the entire farm, and about that time he assumed both a responsibility and constant source of inspiration when he got married. Some time later he bought some land four miles west of Carthage.
On leaving that locality to come to Western Kansas Mr. Hamby brought with him a wagon and team and a small amount of cash, so that he was fairly well equipped to meet the severe test imposed upon all his resources in the new and strange conditions. Coming to Kansas in 1884 he entered land in Kingman County north of Cunningham, and there he and his wife and child had their first Kansas home. The home was a small dugout, with a barn for the shelter of his team. At the end of three years the family enlarged the pioneer house, and later replaced it entirely with a good comfortable home. The first years in Kingman County were dry seasons, and it was impossible to grow enough on the Hamby farm to provide the necessities of existence. This gap was filled by teaming and freighting and also hiring his labor out to other farmers. The maneuvers resorted to by the Hambys were about the same as practiced by nearly all other early settlers, and it was largely a matter of patient waiting and labor until better times should arrive.
They were on the farm in Kingman County for nine years. In the meantime Mr. Hamby, who had been reared in a republican family and had cast his first vote for Benjamin Harrison in 1888, was influenced by his own experience, by his study of economic conditions and the rousing arguments then being sent broadcast over the land, to throw his strength to the rising tide of populism. In 1892 he was candidate on that ticket for county treasurer of Kingman County, was elected, entered upon his duties in 1893, and was re-elected on the same ticket, giving a most creditable administration of the public affairs entrusted to him.
After his official term he remained at Kingman as a merchant, and when he sold out he transferred his interests to Stevens County. At his new location he bought land and again became a farmer and stock raiser, but his home was at Hugoton, where he established a livery stable and opened the Hotel Hamby. This popular hostelry he built from the ground up, and has always managed it with the best interests of the community in view. On the advent of the railroad Mr. Hamby retired from the livery business. His management of the hotel has been continuous with the exception of one year when he concentrated all his time and energies upon the substantial development and improvement of his farm. This farm consists of section 8, township 33, range 37, and in point of general improvement it is rated among the best in the county. He also owns section 12 in township 34, range 37, used for pasture. His stock consists of graded cattle as well as thoroughbred Polled Hereford males for the improvement of his herd. Horses are a feature of his stock industry.
Mr. Hamby was one of the leaders in the movement to get the railroad constructed through Hugoton, was on the committee to secure right of way, and if the old subscription list for that road could be found the Hamby contribution would be seen to equal that of any other. In politics the collapse of the populist party threw him into the ranks of the democratic party, where he has been satisfied to remain. For several years he has been central committeeman for Stevens County, and has attended nearly all the senatorial, congressional and state conventions. By these associations a large acquaintance has come to him with party leaders and party candidates, and he manages to keep in touch with his many political friends through occasional meeting and correspondence. Fraternally Mr. Hamby is past venerable consul of the Modern Woodmen of America and a member of the Knights of Pythias and the Knights and Ladies of Security. He and his wife are identified with the Christian Church, in which he is an elder.
Mention has been made of the fact that Mr. Hamby took unto himself a wife while he was still a struggling renter in Southern Missouri. The marriage ceremony was performed in Jasper County in November, 1882, when Miss Sarah McMichael became his bride. She was born in Indiana May 27, 1862, youngest of the eight children of William M. and Artimeca (McManis) McMichael. Mr. McMichael was born in North Carolina, spent his life as a farmer, married in Indiana, and died about thirty years ago when seventy-six years of age, while his widow died in 1907. Their children were: Jacob, of Kingman, Kansas; Cynthia Ann, wife of John R. Hamman, of Kingman; Frank, of Coffey County, Kansas; Elizabeth, who married John Prigmore of Alva, Oklahoma; Mary, wife of John Wagner, of Diamond, Missouri; James, of Ford, Kansas; William F., of Cunningham, Kansas; and Mrs. Hamby. Mr. and Mrs. Hamby have two children, both sons, Mert M., now assistant cashier of the Hugoton State Bank, was educated in the Kingman public schools and in a Wichita business college, and was a farmer near Hugoton before he entered the bank. He married Mrs. May (Hodges) Blow, who has one daughter Inez Blow. The other son, Earl E., was also educated in the local schools and business college at Wichita, and is a Hugoton farmer. By his marriage to Miss May Willis he has two children, Clarence and Claude.
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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