JOHN H. LIGHT has been a factor during the past dozen years in the Seward County community around Kismet, and while a comparative new comer here he is a man of long and very interesting experience in Kansas, and has been identified as a pioneer with several counties. Mr. Light is the type of man whose years from early childhood brought him into close acquaintance with honest and self-supporting toil, and industry and honorable dealings have been his only sure and reliable source of reward and the only means by which he has sought favor from his fellow citizens.
He was born February 15, 1852, either in Lebanon or Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. His parents were Felix and Susanna (Peffer) Light, both natives of Pennsylvania, the latter orphaned in early childhood. Felix Light was of German parentage and spelled his name according to the German style "Licht." He was always a farmer, never reached a plane of affluence, and was content with the role of a private citizen. He voted as a republican, and was especially active in the work of the United Brethren Church. In 1853, when their son John was about a year old, the parents moved from Pennsylvania to Hancock County, Ohio. Felix Light died there when past sixty-five and his widow afterward passed away in Putnam County, Ohio, at the age of seventy-eight. Their children were: Amos, of Putnam County, Ohio; John H.; Katie, widow of Edward Reese, of Toledo, Ohio; Ezra, who died in Findlay, Ohio; Dr. J. W., of Kingman, Kansas; Adam F., of Harrison, Michigan; Ella, wife of George Clymer, of Emporia, Kansas; Mary, who died unmarried; and Malinda, who married Frank Smith, of Toledo.
John H. Light grew up in Northwestern Ohio, worked on his father's farm, and such time as he was permitted to attend common schools he learned reading, writing and ciphering. At the age of eighteen he started out to make his own way in the world and learned the carpenter's trade. In winter seasons he helped to get out timber for buildings, put them together in the spring and summer, and in the fall usually followed the threshing machine among the farmers. His knowledge of carpentering has been an important resource to him all his life, and he followed it even after coming to Kismet, where he helped construct some of the buildings of the town and community.
In 1891 Mr. Light came to Kansas, traveling by railroad from Wood County, Ohio, to Kingman. He had lived in Wood County, near Milton Center, on a farm for about seven years. In Kingman County, Kansas, he located southeast of Kingman, where he resumed farming, and as a result of bad years he practically lost everything he brought with him. As a renter he gradually rebuilt his modest fortune as the seasons seemed to become more favorable, and gradually gathered around him some property. He was a resident of Kingman County about ten years, and then moved into Barber County, locating near Sharon, where he bought a half section of land. This he developed into a real farm. He set out a fruit orchard, erected a barn 40 by 60 feet, did considerable fencing and devoted part of his land to the culture of alfalfa. While he was never an alfalfa grower on a large scale, it was a most reliable crop and the one which probably did more than anything else to put him on the highroad to success.
On coming to Seward County in 1906 Mr. Light acquired the southwest quarter of section 3, township 33, range 31, on which he placed a filing and which he proved up. The original claimant relinquished to him. The only improvements on the land consisted of a half dugout and a few acres broken by the plow. Into this dugout he moved his family, and they put up with its inconveniences until a better frame home could be constructed. This latter home has been developed by an additional basement and other rooms until it now comprises eight rooms of every essential comfort and convenience. The original barn was a hen house, later he used the old dugout for a stable, and today he has a modern barn 42 by 46 feet, with room in the mow for fifty tons of hay. Other permanent buildings that have followed from time to time comprise a milk house, an additional barn, 100 ton silo, and a full bearing orchard of peach, plum, cherry and other trees, producing fruit almost every year.
When Mr. Light came to this locality, he brought a team and wagon and buggy, and had a walking plow to break the prairie sod. Considering this modest equipment and the surroundings in which he lives today it will be seen that he has made remarkable progress in the past dozen years. As a farmer he began growing kaffir and corn, and followed that crop with wheat. His best yield of wheat in Seward County was eighteen bushels to the acre. As his fields began to yield him profit he began to enlarge Ins possessions. The farm he owned in Barber County he sold and invested the proceeds in land around Kismet, and he now has three quarter sections, all under fence and 260 acres plowed and in cultivation. While he has taken considerable time from his farm to follow his trade as carpenter he was also for about five years carrying a rural mail route out of Kismet.
To the extent of his abilities and his time he has endeavored to perform a modest part in community affairs. He has served as a member of the local school board, was a school trustee for a number of years in Barber County, and also for a time in Kingman County. He was assessor twice in Fargo Township, and filled a similar office in Kingman County one year. He regards it as a duty as well as a privilege to vote and has always supported republican candidates on national affairs, though locally he is independent. His first presidential vote was cast for Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876. He was brought up in sound doctrine as a church man in the United Brethren faith.
When Mr. Light came to Kansas he brought with him a wife and children. He was married in Hancock County, Ohio, February 22, 1875, to Miss Louisa Fellers, who was born near Findlay, Ohio, December 19, 1851, daughter of Andrew and Sallie (Bergman) Fellers. Both her parents were of German ancestry and usually spoke the language in their home. Mrs. Sallie Fellers died in 1858. Her children were: Sarah A., deceased, wife of Andrew Powell; Wesley, of Chester, Nebraska; Mrs. Light; Jeremiah, of Hays City, Kansas; Nancy J., who married Noah Walter and died near Portland, Indiana; David, of Yoder, Colorado; Jonathan, of Mullinville, Kansas. For his second wife Andrew Fellers married Elizabeth Yates, and the children of that marriage were: Marion, who died as a young man; Newton, of Bowling Green, Ohio; Joseph, who became a minister of the United Brethren Church and died at Port Clinton, Ohio; Clem, of Bowling Green, Ohio; Winfield, who died in Wood County, Ohio; Mrs. Rennie Wilford, who died at Bowling Green, Ohio; and Ida, wife of Eli Hackenberger, of Findlay, Ohio. Andrew Fellers, father of Mrs. Light, made a creditable record as a soldier during the Civil war. He first served under a draft, but upon the expiration of his term he enlisted. He was invalided home before the war ended. He lived past four score years and died within the present century. He was a republican after the war, and his last years were spent buoyed up by his faith in the United Brethren Church.
The children of Mr. and Mrs. Light are now established in homes of their own and the real young people of the family are their grandchildren. Their oldest child, Orvilla, is the wife of Harry Lepper, a farmer in Seward County. Mr. and Mrs. Light's grandchildren by this daughter are Thelma, Willard, Zella, Kenneth, Lavon and Marvin. The son Alba is a neighbor farmer to his parents, and by his marriage to Rosa Lathrop has two children, Beulah and Owen. The next son, George Lavurn, is one of the best known men in Western Kansas. After completing his education in the Kansas State Normal School he was elected and served two terms as clerk of the District Court of Seward County, read law while in office, was admitted to the bar before Judge Downer, and is making rapid progress toward a successful position in the Kansas bar, being already county attorney of Seward County. George L. Light married May Lathrop, and his children are Auburn, Eva, Leora and Harlan, but the last named died May 1, 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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