THOMAS LITTLE. Few more interesting stories connected with the early settlement of Morton County are found than that which concerns the persevering efforts of Thomas Little, who is now one of the prominent men and substantial farmers and horse breeders near Rolla, Morton County.
Thomas Little was born in County Tyrone, Ireland, February 1, 1869. His parents were William O. and Elizabeth M. (Blakeley) Little. His father, who was a tenant farmer, died when the son was young and he was reared by his aunt, Jane Little, than whom today no one is better known or more highly esteemed in and about Rolla. The mother of Thomas Little remained with her other children in County Tyrone, William B. Little and Maggie J., who is the wife of John Martin.
Thomas Little lived on a farm near Fivemiletown in Tyrone and had some school advantages, but from the time the family obtained literature concerning Western Kansas that had been sent across the sea by some settlement company he was anxious to emigrate. Aunt Jane led the way on the long journey. It was, indeed, a great undertaking, but she and her nephew finally reached Ford County, Kansas, in September, 1886, and there joined a small colony of settlers and came from there to Morton County in November of that year. As soon as possible, Aunt Jane pre-empted the southwest quarter of section 8, township 35, range 39, and later entered the northeast quarter of section 18, township 35, range 39, and her nephew, Thomas, entered the southwest quarter of section 1, township 35, range 40, On Aunt Jane's claim was a well that had been dug by a previous settler at great expense, it having taken six weeks to get a satisfactory flow, and during all that time all the water the people had far drinking purposes had to be hauled twenty-five miles. This tract of land with its precious well finally came into the possession of Thomas Little and is now a part of his estate.
When Mr. Little and his aunt came to Morton they had a little cash capital of $300 and this they carefully safeguarded for time of actual need. Befare long Aunt Jane found a position with a Mrs. Fitzgerald, as a housekeeper, but Thomas found it more difficult to get work for which he would be paid in money, for that was a scarce commodity in those times. For several years he worked along the Beaver River in No Man's Land, assisting the farmers through the hay harvest, and in this and other ways was able to provide for his own wants, but this experience was not very different from that of many of the other settlers on claims, almost all having to supplement with outside earnings the produce of their farms for some years.
When Mr. Little entered his homestead he lived in a two-room frame cottage, 12 by 24 feet in dimensions, and was the third land owner to occupy it. It still stands and is in service as a store room. He secured his first team of horses from Mr. Leads, who was the patient digger of the deep well above referred to. Mr. Leads had borrowed the $300 above mentioned, and in settlement of the debt turned over the team among other properties and also moved a house from Bucklin, Kansas, to this region, this house being a part of Mr. Little's farm home at the present time.
Getting into the cattle business was the first of Mr. Little's successful efforts on the way to independence. After living here some time he and his aunt purchased three head of cows. In the following summer two of the cows were killed by a stroke of lightning, but Mrs. Fitzgerald, a friendly and estimable woman, presented them with a heifer, and the cow and this heifer, with their subsequent calves, formed the nucleus of a herd. From this start a healthy increase went on until Mr. Little had a herd of 109 cattle. At that time there was a plentiful supply of free grass but conditions changed as the neighborhood became more closely settled and now he keeps not more than twenty-four cattle in his herd, but has recently entered the Poll Durham cattle business.
Although he had his homestead, it was fifteen years after settlement before Mr. Little felt justified in purchasing more land, since which time out of his profits he has bought and added six quarters to his original homestead and has brought 260 acres under cultivation. His stock business now is mainly confined to horses, owning fifty head of mixed breed, with one fullblood mustang at the head. This animal is one of the few wild horses yet in existence and was captured within two miles of the Wild Horse Lake haystacks, a point made memorable because there Sheriff Cross and his party were murdered years ago.
Mr. Little was married in Morton County, Kansas, July 17, 1907, to Miss Rose Hindman, who was born in McPherson County, Kansas, January 8, 1885. Her parents were Francis Marion and Lovisa (Wood) Hindman, the latter of whom died in Morton County, survived by the following children: Mrs. Little; Mrs. Mamie Butler, who lives at Richfield, Kansas; Mrs. Ethel Hough, who lives at Ora, Missouri; John, who is a resident of Lampert, Colorado; Albert, who has answered the call of his country and is a member of the National Army and deserving of all honor; and Katie, who is a popular teacher in the Morton County public schools. Judge Hindman, father of Mrs. Little, is serving his second term as probate judge. He was born in Randolph County, Illinois, came from there to McPherson County, Kansas, and in 1887 to Morton County, where he has long been distinguished, serving long in township offices and also as justice of the peace, as county surveyor, county superintendent of schools and then was elected to the Probate bench. It is recalled of Judge Hindman that as one of the early school teachers in this county he had unique experiences, one of these being when for a salary of $25 per month he not only furnished the school building and the coal to heat it, but also all the pupils. In politics Judge Hindman is a republican and is one of the liberal supporters of the Episcopal Church. His daughter, Mrs. Little, prior to her marriage was an acceptable school teacher in the county. She proved up a homestead, the southeast quarter of section 32, township 32, range 41, Morton County. Mr. and Mrs. Little have five children: William Francis, Lucinda Margaret, Elizabeth Martha, Thomas Frederick and Esther May.
When he reached his majority and became an American citizen, Mr. Little after acquainting himself with the principles of the dominant political parties united with the republicans and has supported republican measures and candidates ever since. He has been trustee of his township and before the establishing of the rural mail routes was postmaster of Cess, the office being in his residence. For twenty years he has been clerk of his school district and is one of the few clerks who has been commended by the county superintendent because of the correctness of his reports. Personally Mr. Little is friendly and sociable, and after a visit with him and a conversation concerning the Morton County of forty years ago, a better realization comes of the drawbacks the early settlers faced here and of the steady resolution it took to successfully overcome them.
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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