JAMES W. KING has been an active business man of Garden City since 1909. He is an old-timer of Kansas, having homesteaded a claim at Plains in Meade County in 1892.
Mr. King is one of the few men still living who had an active connection with the old-time cattle trails through Kansas and in fact all over the western states and territories. His career has been one of extensive experience and has brought him in contact with all the changing developments of the great West.
He was born in Audrain County, Missouri, July 1, 1863. A little later the family moved to Kansas and from there in 1866 settled near Lockhart, Texas. His father, Hayden F. King, a native of Illinois, went to Missouri as a young man, and married in that state Julina Bruce, of an old Missouri family of farmers. Hayden F. King spent the rest of his life near Lockhart, Texas, where he died in 1886, at the age of seventy. He and his wife had fourteen children, eleven of whom grew up. Those now living are Mrs. S. A. Stewart, of Dallas, Texas; Edgar D., George and John, of San Antonio, Texas; Mrs. H. C. Smith, of Denver, Colorado, James W.; Sam T., Bruce F., Alfred and Bland, all of whom live at Atchison. Kansas, and have extensive stock interests at Elkhart, Kansas.
James W. King was one of the first students of the free school in his home district near Lockhart. When this school was established the people felt they had accomplished almost a revolution, apparently feeling that they did not have to pay for the schooling of their children. The part of his education that really counted Mr. King earned by money derived from his own labors.
When about nineteen he commenced to do for himself, his first work being as a farmer and stockman with his father. He then went on the trail, making trips from Frio County, Texas, into Wyoming through Kansas and Nebraska. At that time he was employed by the firm of Shriner & Lytle, and during one of these trips he passed the spot of the Custer massacre and saw the monument that marks that place of slaughter of 1876. For several years he was employed by a large ranchman on the Pecos River in New Mexico and in 1884 he made a trip to Dodge City with 3,700 head of cattle, finishing it near Sheridan, Wyoming.
While following the old Kansas trails with cattle from Pearsol, Texas, he several times passed over Kansas lands and formed a good opinion of the state then. Perhaps it was this opinion that led eventually to his settlement here. In the early days he was what he describes a "common cow puncher." One of his employers was the well known ranchman B. L. Crouch of Pearsol, Texas.
Mr. King came through Kansas as a horse salesman, driving a large drove from Southern Texas and selling them through Meade and other southern counties. The year he settled in Kansas he and his brother drove a bunch of horses from Nevada and scattered them through Morton, Stevens, Haskell, Grant and Meade counties. This drove of horses was brought a distance of 1,600 miles, and was gathered up from various ranches in Nevada. On disposing of the stock Mr. King entered a claim of land near Plains in Meade County, although he hardly entertained any serious purpose at the time of remaining. He held a number of claims against people for horses and had to remain in the country to collect. While here he took the decision to make his home, and in line with that purpose he began proving up his claim. After seven years he secured his patent and he used his homestead as a farm until 1907, though all the time operating as a cattle man.
The first house which he lived in in Kansas was one which he moved from the old Town of Springfield. He also bought the waterworks of that town and moved one of the tanks to his farm.
While in Meade County Mr. King served as one of the county commissioners four years. This board of commissioners did much to put the finances of the county on a stable basis. Among other things they called in $150,000 of bonds drawing 7 per cent interest and sold them to the state school board thereby effecting a saving of 2 per cent. The county was also granted a long extension of time for the payment of the debt. For one term Mr. King was chairman of the Board of Commissioners. Another thing they did was to lease out the county poor farm. The board had no use for this farm since there were no paupers in the county.
On selling his interests in Meade County Mr. King bought the remaining shares of the Garden City Ice Company. He had taken stock in that enterprise when the plant was built. He is now president and manager of this company and owns all its stock. The ice plant has a daily capacity of fifteen tons, and the surplus product is shipped to many nearby towns in Kansas. Mr. King has never given up his interests as a livestock man and handles horses and cattle in a limited way.
He was reared as a democrat and was elected on that ticket county commissioner of Meade County against a strong republican majority. The board was democratic and all the members were elected from republican districts. While at Meade Mr. King became a Mason and is now affiliated with the Lodge and Chapter.
At Hugoton, Kansas, February 21, 1894, Mr. King married Miss Loa Nash, daughter of Thomas B. and Mary (Fry) Nash. Her father came from Indiana and first settled in Labette County, Kansas, moving from there to Stevens County when it began to settle up. In Stevens County he served as probate judge. He and his brother later settled at Nash, Oklahoma, and he is still living there. Besides Mrs. King the other children are Mrs. Lottie Blackledge, Bert and Homer Nash.
Mr. and Mrs. King have four children, Clifford, Howard, William and Roy. Clifford is now in Camp Doniphan in the Remount service.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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