GEORGE W. LIGHT. One does not explore very far into the early history and early settlers of Seward County before coming upon the activities of the Light family, the head of which was George W. Light, who now that he has wrestled with fate and destiny somewhat successfully for a long period of years is enjoying a well earned rest.
Mr. Light was a man of mature years and had a family growing up when he arrived in Kansas, and so of course it is necessary to go back considerably in order to get the story in proper order. His birth occurred in a picturesque and interesting section of New York State, Dutchess County, where he was born October 10, 1841. His father, Nathaniel Light, also a native of Eastern New York and representative of the mountaineer people of that state, was a mechanic, an artificer in brass and copper, was employed in mills and did repair work in cotton factories, in foundries, etc. He lived to be eighty years old, and is buried at Ansonia, Connecticut. He married Ann Van Kleeck, whose ancestors were a persecuted sect in Holland and for that reason sought refuge among the Dutch of New York. Her grandfather was born about 1776, and was orphaned during the Revolutionary war when his father enlisted as a patriot soldier and never returned. Ann Van Kleeck's father, Levi, spent his life in Dutchess County as a farmer and died in 1862. Mr. Light's mother died in 1849, at the age of twenty-six. Of her children only two grew up, George W. and Charles V., the latter dying near New Orleans while a soldier.
In 1850, when George W. Light was nine years old, his parents moved into Connecticut, and at Ansonia in New Haven County he came to manhood with such education as the common schools afforded, and from there he responded to the call of patriotism almost before the echoes of Fort Sumter had died away. It was in fact seven days after that tragic event in the nation's history when he enlisted in Company B of the Tenth Connecticut Heavy Artillery. His captain, Kellogg, was promoted to colonel and was killed at Cold Harbor, while the first colonel was Robert O. Tyler. Mr. Light was mustered in in May, was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, and was at Williamsport, Maryland, when the first battle of Bull Run was fought. In the winter of 1861-62 his command helped build defenses around Washington, and in the spring of 1862 took part in the Virginia Peninsula campaign under McClellan. Its first engagement was Gaines Mill, and was afterward in the seven days' fighting ending with Malvern Hill, followed by the bloody battle of Fredericksburg. The regiment was started to Chancellorsville, but did not get into the action, and a similar fortune befell them as regards the fighting at Gettysburg, orders directing them to that field and later orders sending them on to Westminster, Maryland. They were subsequently directed to Rappahannock River and finally to Bermuda Hundred under General Butler. There those who had first enlisted completed their three years' term and left the service, and with them went George W. Light, who had thus bountifully earned the gratitude of a nation's memory. He got through the three years without wounds, and his only misfortune was a siege of typhoid in the Chickahominy region of Virginia.
The summer months of 1864, after leaving the army, were spent by the youthful veteran in the hay fields of New York and Connecticut. Then in September he answered the call to the West, getting as far as Illinois. At Pana in that state he was salesman of tinware for a few months. Still looking for a place to locate, he spent the winter at Manchester, Iowa. In March, 1865, he journeyed down into Linn County, Missouri, where he contracted to buy a tract of land. The war was not quite ended, and before peace was actually restored he was doing duty with the Missouri militia along the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad at LaClede and Linneus. The summer he again spent in Iowa, earning money in the harvest fields to enable him to open his farm, and in 1866 he began his steady career as a farmer in Linn county which continued until he came out to Kansas.
In the spring of 1885 Mr. Light and family, with wagons, four horses, four mules and other livestock, goods and chattels, set out from Northeastern Missouri, telling their old neighbors they were bound for Arizona. That was in fact their destination, but somehow when they reached what is now the Liberal community, though there was then not a single house anywhere in this locality, they were sidetracked, and the halt which they called on the 7th of June proved as nearly a permanent sojourn as is ever permitted to restless mankind. In some respects Mr. Light was not an average Kansas homeseeker. For one thing, he brought along as a result of his Missouri experience several thousand dollars in cash. This was a generous capital, but it proved barely adequate when the years of famine followed one another relentlessly through the land. Having been a farmer back in Missouri, he tried to repeat the experience on the western prairies, but corn blighted in the silk, wheat failed to head, and he soon found he was playing a losing game with nature. Misfortune turned him to the one reliable resource of the western country, livestock. He contracted to handle a few cattle on the shares or at so much per head with the X-I ranch, and when his sons joined him the enterprise was kept growing and prosperity has on the whole been favorable to him.
On coming to this country George W. Light exercised all his government rights by taking pre-emption, homestead and tree claim, his homestead being the southeast quarter of section 9, township 35, range 33. This he still occupies today. He is a stockholder in the Peoples State Bank of Liberal. In politics for the last fifteen years he has acted independently. He was formerly republican, but supported both Bryan and Roosevelt, and his ideal has always been Lincoln, for whom he was old enough to vote when he came out of the army. He was reared under church influences and his household is now of the Christian Science faith.
On December 27, 1874, in Linn County, Missouri, Mr. Light married Miss Rebecca Ann Trader, who was born in that county, August 24, 1849. Her father, Moses Trader, ran away when a boy from his home in England, went to Ohio, was a merchant at Xenia, where he married, and afterward was a farmer and Methodist minister in Missouri. He was three times married, having three children by his first wife. His second wife was Rebecca Wells, who was the mother of the following children: John W., who was a surgeon in the Union army; Charles, who joined the ministry of the Methodist Church; and Elizabeth, who married John Klepper and died at Mirabile, Missouri. The third wife was Martha Gilmore, daughter of William G. Gilmore of Lebanon, Virginia, and she died at Liberal, Kansas, in 1887, at the advanced age of eighty-seven. Her children were: William, of Canton, California; Samuel P., of Kansas City, Missouri; Susanna, wife of W. T. Kimber, of Brookfield, Missouri; and Mrs. Light. Mrs. Light finished her education at Macon City, Missouri, and for ten years was a country school teacher in Linn County. During the war she cut the wood and fed the stock at home, the men folks being away. Her people were Union in sentiment and practice, living in a Confederate community. Many a time she went to mill on a load of grain with some Union man hidden under the sacks out of sight of the prowling bushwhackers, and at the mill he would crawl from his refuge and unload the grain.
George W. Light and wife are the parents of children as follows: Harry Nathaniel, of Wonder, Nevada; Charles M., of Liberal; Paul W.; Mrs. Kate Harris, who died March 21, 1918, at Liberal; and George Edmond, a farmer near Liberal.
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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