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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


David Luther Heath

DAVID LUTHER HEATH. In Edwards County one of the oldest living pioneers is David Luther Heath of Kinsley. Forty years covers the period of his residence there. Forty years ago Edwards County was practically the domain of the range live stock man. The permanent farmer settler had begun his occupation only here and there on the prairies. It was in April, 1877, that Mr. Heath arrived in the county.

His homestead was in Brown Township, in the northeast quarter of section 2, township 25, range 19. A former entryman had built a sod shanty, and this was the Heath home while he was acquiring his title. The land was also the scene of many trials and hard times. He brought with him to Kansas no surplus money, and for years his farm failed to produce enough to sustain the family. One winter Mr. Heath went to New Mexico and put in many days of strenuous labor chopping ties for the railroad. That winter his wife and child spent alone in the sod house out on the prairie. Other work that would supply the money for groceries and clothing was always acceptable to Mr. Heath. Many times he left home and worked as a hand in the grain and hay harvests.

With the exception of a small patch of land which he plowed and cultivated for garden crop, he let his claim grow in grass to support a few cows. It was by a sort of Providence that he acquired his first cow in Kansas. A band of stockmen traveling through the country had their stock stampeded near the Heath home. Mr. Heath assisted in bringing the runaways together, and for his services a cow and a calf were given him. This became the nucleus around which he gradually built up a herd of cattle. He used them chiefly for milk production, and he carried his milk to Kinsley every day. The revenue from this source was the chief item in holding up the family expenses, and for five years Mr. Heath was a practical dairyman. In those days the range was open. In fact a number of years passed before fences restricted his pasture to any extent.

While Mr. Heath never engaged in trapping or hunting as a means of livelihood, he did in the early days pick up bones of the buffalo from the prairies. These bones sometimes commanded a price as high as $7 a ton.

Mr. Heath continued to occupy his claim until 1892, when he left the farm and moved to Kinsley to take up his duties as sheriff of the county. He was born in Broome County, New York, March 22, 1847. He lived in his native district until he was thirty years of age, and he had his education in the common schools. He grew up on a farm, and as a young man went to the lumber woods and acquired considerable practical experience as a saw mill man. He abandoned that occupation to become a tenant farmer, and then he changed the settled conditions of New York State for the new and untried prairies of Kansas. In coming to Kinsley he traveled by railway. The railway company would not sell an excursion ticket to his destination, though the road was built and operating beyond that point. Several months after he arrived he worked busily preparing for the advent of his family, who joined him the next fall.

Mr. Heath is a son of Reverend Isaac and a grandson of Isaac Heath, who was of Welsh stock and a native of Massachusetts. It is believed that Isaac Heath, Sr., was a Revolutionary soldier. He married Roxanna Heath, of a different family. Rev. Isaac Heath was one of eleven children. He was born in Broome County, New York, February 27, 1815, and after he was forty-five years of age he became an active Methodist minister and was one of the local leaders of the church. He lived a long and useful career and died in Broome County at the age of ninety-seven. He married Hannah Ainsworth, of a New England family. She lived to be eighty-five. Their children were: Saloma, who married A. M. Burdick and lives in Broome County, New York; Anna, wife of Sidney Humiston, of Broome County; Betsy D., who married Charles Davenport and lives in Broome County; Julia, who married Elbert Edson, and both are now deceased; Daniel, who died in New York; David L.; Isaac W., of Los Angeles, California; Orrin M., of Broome County; and Ida, who married Henry English, both now deceased.

It was in his native state that David L. Heath married Nellie Knox. She is a daughter of Ira B. and Jane (Alden) Knox, her mother a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden. Mrs. Heath had one sister and two brothers: Edgar C., of Pennsylvania; Ruth M., wife of D. M. Morse, of Kinsley, Kansas; and Henry, who died young. Mr. and Mrs. Heath have two daughters. Brittie is the wife of U. G. Leslie of Ashland, Kansas, whose children are Naomi, Guilford, Gail, Bernice, Dorris and Eula. The second daughter, Vide, is the wife of Sam Somerville of Kinsley.

Having thus noted his family record, it will be proper to return to Mr. Heath, whose experiences were traced up to the time he became sheriff of Edwards County. He had served four years as deputy sheriff under Sheriff John Foran. He was then elected to the office himself as the result of his candidacy on a fusion ticket. He succeeded Robert Roberts in office. The law made the limit of his office four years, and he filled the full two terms. It was during his term as sheriff that Mayor Marsh of Kinsley was murdered. Mr. Heath was hot on the trail of the assassins when they were captured at Russell Springs, Kansas. He brought them back to Kinsley, and later took them to Leavenworth, where they were confined until released under the Kansas law. The murderer of Mr. Baughman, who was killed on the streets of Kinsley, was also apprehended by Mr. Heath, and he was confined in the jail until Mr. Heath left office.

With the close of his official term he and his family returned from Kinsley to the farm; though he gave for two years his chief attention to the business of the lumber yard of R. D. Heath & Sons at Kinsley. For the next two years he served as city marshal of Kinsley. This was during a peaceful and orderly period. Since that time Mr. Heath has been local agent for the Kansas Grain Company. He finally sold off all his land and became a permanent resident of Kinsley.

In politics he has always been a democrat in state and national affairs and independent in local affairs. Fraternally he is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, is a past chancellor of the Knights of Pythias, and wears the twenty-five year "veteran jewel" of the order. He served several times as a delegate to the Grand Lodge. Though reared a Methodist he and his wife are members of the Congregational Church.


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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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