ARTHUR RIPLEY LASLEY has had a residence in Scott County longer than any other person now living there. He arrived June 10, 1885, bringing his wife and child from the State of Ohio. Scott County was then on the raw frontier. In the thirty years that have passed Mr. Lasley has witnessed the transformation of the virgin prairies into hundreds of fat and fertile farms, and his own enterprise has been an important contribution to that development.
He was in the years of vigorous young manhood when he came to Kansas. His birth occurred in Meigs County, Ohio, October 12, 1852. He grew up in a country district, attended district schools, and finished his education in a high school or select school conducted on the old subscription plan. Mr. Lasley has a grateful remembrance of that school for its influences, and pays his own modest tribute to its teacher, Miss Phebe Titus. It is said that every person comes to years of maturity with certain inherited traits or characteristics oftentimes sufficient to make or mar the subsequent years. The most noticeable trait in Mr. Lasley's early years was his taste or genius for trading. Even before he finished school he began trading in stock. He did that so far as his circumstances permitted while living at the old home in Ohio. After his marriage he started out as a stockman and farmer.
He was thirty-two years of age when he came west. He came out to Kansas through the inducements and persuasion of his uncle, Judge Lasley of Ohio. The judge told him to come to the frontier of Kansas, select the best spot of ground he could find, settle and stay and grow up with the country. This was good and wholesome advice. It was acted upon by Mr. Lasley, and thus it was he arrived with a cousin at Dodge City, and from there started out with a wagon looking over the country for a proper location. Mr. Lasley pre-empted and tree claimed some land in Scott County and finally homesteaded in Keystone Township. He proved up both his pre-emption and his homestead, and lived there and farmed until 1909. In that time he had accumulated a ranch of 3,200 acres, half of which was under the plow.
On coming to Scott County Mr. Lasley brought sufficient cash to maintain himself for a time, but contrary to the practice of other early settlers he did not draw on this fund, but began making money at once. He found a source of revenue in locating other settlers. He was paid a fee of $10 for each such location, and as he worked hard and long he was soon on the road to affluence. He continued locating other settlers until the county was fairly well settled, and he then turned his attention to the improvement of his claims and the accumulation of some stock for a cattle business.
Mr. Lasley recalls that when he came to Scott County he brought a little roan cow, the chief use of this animal being to furnish milk for his young baby. Later he paid $8 each for four cows, and those five proved the nucleus of a herd of cattle which finally reached 110 head. Mr. Lasley early showed his good judgment in doing the things which other people were not doing. Thus everybody in the early days was concentrating energy and capital upon the raising of cattle. To raise horses in those days for the market was looked upon as sure means to financial suicide. But Mr. LasIey began cutting down his cattle herd and building up his stock of horses. He introduced some of the Shire breeds and raised about 200 head of about as fine horses as were then found in this part of Kansas. There was a good market for them right at hand before they were ready for sale, and his success with the horse business exceeded his fondest hopes.
Mr. Lasley never could he induced to put all his money and efforts to one line of farming or stock enterprise. He used his land for the production of various crops and has raised many acres of wheat. He and Mr. C. W. Dickhut hauled and shipped the first carload of wheat ever sent out of the county. Some of the wheat raised on the Lasley ranch brought as low as 32 cents a bushel. He has seen eggs and butter sell in Scott City at 5 cents a dozen and 5 cents a pound respectively.
With the death of his wife in 1909 Mr. Lasley determined to give up his ranch, and in that year he moved to Scott City. Here he has found a vocation chiefly as a real estate dealer. He was already well versed in that line through the experience he had acquired as agent of the First National Bank of Garden City. That was before Scott City had a bank. As agent for the First National he was employed to loan money over Scott, a part of Wichita, part of Logan and portions of Lane and Gove counties. Through him as a medium as high as $70,000 was loaned out to individual farmers chiefly with cattle as security. He continued in this work for about five years or until the Scott City banks began lending their funds. Mr. Lasley also made real estate loans for James W. Green of Gloversville, New York.
For many years Mr. Lasley has been one of the wheel horses in Scott County politics. While he has played the game of politics vigorously, he has been none the less a continuous good influence for the promotion of every enterprise and institution that would increase the general standing of the community. He has been a tireless worker for good schools, and while living on his farm was almost continuously a member of the local school board. He has advocated such educational institutions and opportunities for training in the county as would provide adequately for the needs of the boys and girls without going to a distance, and he gave a great deal of individual help to the establishment of the county high school.
While living in Ohio he inherited the germ of his political faith and started out as a republican. He has entertained the most positive convictions in a political way and is known as one of the most radical standpatters of Kansas. His first presidential ballot was cast for Hayes, and he has never missed a vote for president. He has attended every kind of political convention in his party, and has helped nominate and elect several governors. He has been his county member of the congressional committee, has served as county chairman, and his office in Scott City is looked upon as the permanent republican headquarters. The progressive movement left him absolutely unshaken in his republicanism. Mr. Lasley served one term as county treasurer of Scott County.
His name is also associated with the financial history of the county. He was one of the prominent stockholders of the Scott County Bank, one of the first banks established, and was president, but soon sold his interests. He was also one of the original movers for the construction of the Garden City, Gulf & Northern Railway, and served as one of the directors of the local company. Since he was a boy of seventeen Mr. Lasley has been an active Methodist. He stands high in Masonry, having taken all the degrees in the York Rite and is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine.
In conclusion something should be said as to his family. His grandfather was John Lasley, who was of Scotch stock, and originally a Pennsylvanian John Lasley married Mary Hickle, who came from Virginia. They were the parents of eleven children, six sons and five daughters. The sons were named Mathew, Barlow, Abraham J., John, William and David H. David H. attained fame as a general on the staff of General Sherman during the march to the sea. The five daughters were: Betsy, who married William McMasters; Celeste, who died unmarried; Esther, who married Joseph Aikens; Sarah, who became the wife of William Lasher; and Amanda, who married Alonzo Cabell.
The father of Mr. Lasley of Scott City was Abraham J. Lasley, who was born on an Ohio farm containing two sections of land. He married Mary Ripley. Her father, John Ripley, was a Maine Yankee and of English stock. Abraham Lasley died in 1896, at the age of seventy-seven, while his wife passed away in 1869, aged fifty-two. He was a man of fair education, had been affiliated with the old whig party and later became a republican. By his first marriage he had one son, Jonathan B., who now lives in West Virginia. The children by his second wife were: Arthur R.; Aason S., of Kansas City; and Mary C., who married James J. Weakley and lives in Johnson County, Kansas.
Mr. A. R. Lasley was married in Ohio January 5, 1878, to Miss Livonia E. Darst. She was a daughter of Lewis L. and Mary L. (Barton) Darst. Mrs. Lasley, as already noted, died in 1909. Her only surviving child is Glen D. Lasley, who is connected with the McDaniel Garage in Scott City. On August 21, 1911, at Colorado Springs, Mr. Lasley married Mrs. Mary Ola Godfrey, a daughter of Thomas K. and Lucy A. (Clark) Givens. Her father was born in Missouri but of the old Givens family who lived near Louisville, Kentucky. Mrs. Lasley was born in Chariton County, Missouri, January 6, 1870, and was brought to Kansas when a child, her father taking up a claim in Kingman County. Her father died in Wichita and her mother now lives at Arlington, Colorado. Mrs. Lasley had a sister and two brothers: Mrs. Florence Butner, deceased; Thomas W., of Scott City; and John J., of Arlington, Colorado. By her first marriage Mrs. Lasley has a son, Howard Godfrey.
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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