WELTON MODESITT KUYKENDALL. The name Kuykendall has been identified with the rural enterprise and community upbuilding of Edwards County for more than thirty years. The large and now handsomely improved Kuykendall farm is located in Franklin Township, not far from the Town of Centerview.
It was in 1884 that a party of two families, one of them headed by Welton M. Kuykendall and the other by his father-in-law, Milton H. Smith, left Vigo County, Indiana, and traveled westward until they came to a halt twelve miles south of Kinsley. Here the heads of the families took up Indian trust land, Mr. Kuykendall the southwest quarter of section 27, township 26, range 18, and Mr. Smith the southeast quarter of the same section.
Mr. Kuykendall was born in Vigo County, Indiana, June 5, 1855. His grandfather, John Kuykendall, came from Holland, and the great-grandfather of Milton H. Smith was of the same ancestry and origin. George W. Kuykendall, son of John, was a native of Kentucky and married Nancy Art, a native of the same state. Her father, Thomas Art, was a native of South Carolina and was of Scotch-Irish stock. George W. Kuykendall was an ardent republican and a strong Union man, and two of his sons were soldiers in the Union army. He was an active member of the Congregational Church. He was born October 16, 1811, and died November 9, 1864. His wife, Nancy Forsithe Art, was born January 1, 1818, and died December 19, 1891. Their children were as follows: John T., who was born September 18, 1841, was a Federal soldier three years in the 85th Indiana Infantry and died October 1, 1892, in Vigo County; Mary J., born April 22, 1843, married H. B. Smith and lives in Vigo County; William E., born September 18, 1844, was a soldier in the 11th Illinois Cavalry and now lives at Kansas, Illinois; James McE., born April 4, 1847, died in Vigo County January 20, 1899; Nancy E., born August 9, 1849, married George W. Smith and died in Vigo County; Malinda died in infancy; Marion W., born February 27, 1853, died in infancy; Welton M., born June 5, 1855; Alfred Crusan, born October 26, 1857, died in Vigo County March 26, 1914; and Henry Dean, born January 5, 1860, died in the same year.
Welton M. Kuykendall grew up on a farm near Sanford, seven miles west of Terre Haute and near the Illinois state line. He came of a long line of farming ancestry and he lived practically all his life in a rural environment. He found his wife practically in the same community where he grew up, though his marriage was celebrated across the state line in Edgar County, Illinois. He was married December 28, 1882, to Miss Clara Olive Smith, daughter of Milton H. and Sarah A. (Crowther) Smith.
As one of the early settlers of Edwards County some special mention should be made of Milton H. Smith. He was born in Vigo County, Indiana, March 10, 1837. He had country school advantages and spent his life largely as a farmer. In 1862, at Terre Haute, he enlisted in Company 13 of the 71st Indiana Infantry, but after a year of service he was transferred to the 6th Indiana Cavalry. Much of his army service was in Kentucky and Tennessee and he was present during the siege of Knoxville, and was still in uniform when the war ended. After coming to Kansas he joined Kinsley Post of the Grand Army of the Republic. While not a politician he was a vigorous supporter of republican principles, and also a prohibitionist. Much of his time outside of farming was given to his church work. He was an exhorter of the Methodist Church and frequently filled the pulpit as a supply. He was class leader many years, did much to organize and keep up Sabbath schools and was a generous contributor to the Kinsley and Lewis Methodist Episcopal churches. He died July 18, 1915.
Milton H. Smith was married March 15, 1860, to Sarah H. Crowther, who was born in Leeds, Yorkshire, England, March 9, 1842, a daughter of Edward and Elizabeth (Hanson) Crowther. The Crowther family came to the United States in 1851, locating at Terre Haute, but their home when Mr. Smith became acquainted with the family was on a farm a few miles west of that city. Milton H. Smith and his wife had three children. Of these, Mrs. Kuykendall was born December 11, 1862. Harry Edward, who was born March 20, 1872, now lives on the old Smith farm in Edwards County. He married Etta Luella Miller, and their children are Irwin E., Marion R., Olive G., Roy, Charles William and Etta May. For his second wife Harry Edward Smith married Lavinia Berry, and by that union had children named Leo James and Dale.
It was only a year or so after their marriage that Mr. and Mrs. Kuykendall and her parents came west to Kansas. On his homestead Mr. Kuykendall built a sod house 11 by 13, and Mr. Smith put up a soddy 12 by 12. For roof they covered these humble abodes with boards and sod. The Smith family subsequently moved eleven miles east to another quarter section, where they erected a frame building 16 by 20 feet, and there made a second beginning in Kansas.
For nine years the original sod house served the Kuykendalls as a dwelling. It was plastered with mud and the walls covered over with newspapers, and on the inside was very cosy and comfortable, though lacking the conveniences and comforts to which the family is now accustomed. It seems wonderful how much a little house like this could accommodate when emergency required. In a space hardly equal to a single room in the present Kuykendall residence an entire family of five slept, ate and had all their indoor activities and there was even room for friends who occasionally came in. The furniture in that pioneer house consisted of a stove, table, bed, safe, a clothes press made of a dry goods box, and a sewing machine.
After nine years in that locality Mr. Kuykendall exchanged farms with Mr. Smith and thus secured his present home, the northwest quarter of section 19, township 26, range 17. He moved his family from the old sod house into the two-room frame house which had been erected by Mr. Smith. As a farmer Mr. Kuykendall found his most reliable source of income in wheat raising. Occasionally his efforts have repaid him to the extent of thirty-one bushels of wheat to the acre. His locality is especially well fitted for corn and sometimes his land has yielded forty bushels to the acre. As a stock raiser he confined his attention chiefly to handling a few cows, which provided milk and butter. Mr. Kuykendall had practically no resources when he came to Kansas, and the modest fortune he has since built up is to be credited to his own efforts taken in combination with Kansas soil and climate. For some years he did considerable truck farming, raising potatoes, melons and other crops, selling one year $43 worth of melons in Kinsley. For many recent years wheat and corn and small grain were his staple crops.
In the pioneer house erected by Mr. Smith Mr. Kuykendall lived about twenty years. That house was succeeded by the present home, two story and basement, eight rooms and with modern comforts and facilities. His barn is 32 by 46 feet and he has a granary of 2,000 bushels capacity, garage, machine and wagon shed. His building improvements in themselves represent a large investment. About 1900 he saw his way clear to secure more land. He then bought the southwest quarter of section 19 and later bought an eighty in section 12. This gave him 400 acres practically in a body. Mr. Kuykendall never resorted to a mortgage, though he borrowed a little money from eastern friends when forced to do so. It was his aim always to get along without incurring obligations, except as a last resort.
The progress and welfare of the community found in him a stanch friend always. For about ten years he was clerk of the school board in district No. 41. He always voted as a republican in national matters and was a strong advocate of bone dry prohibition measures. He and his family were active in church work, first as Methodists and more recently as members of the United Brethren Church.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Kuykendall are: Bessie Estella, born November 30, 1883; Lora Alice, born October 7, 1890; Sadie Olive, born March 22, 1893; and Dean William, born March 21, 1896. Bessie E. married Roland Ogden of Edwards County and has two children, Mahlon and Pearl. Lora Alice is the wife of Earl Parker of Edwards County and has a daughter, Evelyn. Sadie Olive is the wife of Russell Parker, of Edwards County and has a daughter, Emily. Dean William married March 18, 1918, Nora Blank. Mr. Kuykendall died July 20, 1918.
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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