CHARLES MOSES LIGHT is a factor in one of the most widely extended business enterprises in Southwestern Kansas, reaching over into Oklahoma. His home and headquarters are at Liberal, and he has been identified with this section of country almost as a pioneer, having grown up here from the age of seven years.
He was born in Linn County, Missouri, January 1, 1878, son of George W. and Anna Rebecca (Trader) Light. His father is one of the venerable residents of Southwestern Kansas, and the particulars of his career and family history will he found on other pages. Charles Moses Light came with his parents in June, 1885, to Seward County, Kansas, and in this frontier district he spent his early youth and had only the advantages of the common schools. Altogether he attended public schools but twenty-two months, and later he invested some of his hard earnings to pay for a five months business course at Great Bend, Kansas, when Professor Stryker was at the head of the Central Normal College. Mr. Light has found business experience more valuable to him than schools as a course of real education.
When he was seventeen years old he left the family circle to work on ranches in Oklahoma and Texas. That was his employment three years. A part of the time he was with James Day and Charley Hitch, ranchers whose headquarters comprised the land on which the Town of Guymon, Oklahoma, now stands. At first he was paid $15 a month, and finally $18 a month, the highest wage he was ever paid as a cowboy. Even so, he appreciated the value of time and of money, and all that he could spare he invested in calves as the nucleus of a herd of his own.
Along about 1897 he and his brothers joined their father in a modest ranching enterprise, beginning with eighty head of common or grade cows. In 1898 the firm of Light & Sons mortgaged all they had and bought double the number of stock, kept the increase and by making the family living from outside sources they were able to concentrate everything upon the increase in stock and in a short time found themselves with 600 head of cattle. For their pasture they fenced in about 25,000 acres of the public domain. However, about 1900 people began returning to Western Kansas, land had a recognized value on the market, and the open range could no longer be depended upon. In order to protect themselves and assure their cattle a sufficient pasturage the Lights undertook the buying of land and in course of time the company had about 5,000 acres. All of this was under fence and was operated by the family partnership until 1907, when the firm dissolved.
After that Charles M. Light began doing business for himself, bought an adjoining ranch to add to his portion of the family estate and continued the cattle business actively for about seven years. His father about that time retired from active affairs and has assumed only a minimum of responsibilities in a business way since.
About 1912 Charles M. Light began selling off his stock and breaking up his land into farms and wheat fields. He still owns 3,100 acres and has enough cattle to graze off his pasture. Mr. Light has done much to set an example and educate the community to wheat raising in this part of the state, and his own efforts have demonstrated that the locality can be made to produce the greatest of all bread staples. He has also set a favorable example in promoting and fostering the dairy industry.
On leaving his ranch in 1912 Mr. Light engaged in the real estate business. He was a member of the firm of Light & Staufer, and continued as a dealer and broker for 2 1/2 years. In the meantime he accumulated considerable property of his own in Liberal and a tract of land adjoining that city, which he platted and handled as the Light Addition. From real estate he looked into the possibilities of a different vocation and one which would go handily with his general farming and his stock business. He found an opening in the grain business, and in June, 1915, organized the C. M. Light Grain Company. To furnish facilities for handling grain he built an elevator at Liberal, later one at Beaver, Oklahoma, another at Tucamcari, New Mexico, while in 1917 the firm bought the Bolin & Hall interests at Hooker and Tyrone, Oklahoma. Thus the company developed a chain of five elevator plants and subsequently built new plants along, the recently opened branch of the Santa Fe Railway at Perryman and Spearman, Texas. At these different points they do a general wholesale and retail business in grain, flour and feed.
In March, 1918, his firm began the erection of a flooring mill in Liberal, with a daily capacity of 300 barrels, and in April of that year they purchased the interests of the Patten Grain Company, which consisted of a 25,000 bushel-capacity elevator and 200 feet of warehouse.
Mr. Light is also one of the stockholders of the Paul Light Lumber Company of Liberal. He is a member of the Masonic order, and in 1900 began voting, casting a presidential ballot for Mr. McKinley and has since supported the republican ticket. However, he is without interest or desire for public office himself.
In Beaver County, Oklahoma, December 23, 1906, Mr. Light married Mrs. Melvina Haynes, one of a family of three daughters and two sons of Abraham H. and Mary Summerfield. Her father was born in West Virginia, was in the lumber business there in early life but came west from Tippecanoe County, Indiana, and in later years was a farmer in Beaver County, Oklahoma. Mr. and Mrs. Light have four children, Donnabell, Charles M., Jr., Grace and George A.
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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