CHARLES H. LONGSTRETH. Widely known as a prosperous agriculturist of Lakin, Charles H. Longstreth is numbered among the Kearny County citizens of good repute and high standing, being recognized as a man of excellent business capacity, much intelligence and sound judgment. A son of Richard Longstreth, he was born March 30, 1842, in Monmouth County, New Jersey, Freehold having been his birthplace.
A native of New York State, Richard Longstreth spent the larger part of his four score and four years in New Jersey, chiefly in Gloucester County, where his death occurred in 1895. He married Mary Johnson, a native of Monmouth County, New Jersey, and they became the parents of six children, namely: Charles H., the subject of this sketch; Samuel, who served in the Union Army, and died soon after receiving his discharge; Mary, wife of Charles Stanton, resides in New Jersey; George, of Philadelphia, is in the employ of the Pennsylvania Railway Company; Will died in Merchantville, New Jersey, and Mrs. Anna Denston, a widow, residing in New Jersey.
Brought up on a farm, Charles H. Longstreth was educated in the district schools, and early in life was initiated into the mysteries of agriculture. In 1861 he enlisted in Company F, Seventh New Jersey Volunteer Infantry, in which he served under Captains Johnson and Simpson, and Colonels Revere and Price. With his regiment he served in the Army of the Potomac, and took part in the engagements at Williamsburg, Mechanicsville, Fair Oaks, Charles City Cross Roads, Malvern Hill, and at Harrison's Landing, where he received his discharge, it having been the result of an order to discharge all regimental bands and enlist brigade bands, he having enlisted as a musician. In February, 1865, Mr. Longstreth again enlisted, becoming a member of Company F, Sixth Pennsylvania Cavalry, commanded by Captain Riley, and continued in service until the end of the war, being chiefly engaged in guerrilla warfare in the Shenandoah Valley, under command of gallant "Phil" Sheridan. He was in the vicinity of Petersburg when Lee surrendered, and near Appomattox when the surrender actually came. He was not wounded while in the army, but after the battle at Fair Oaks, while on the battle ground caring for the fallen soldiers, he was captured and taken to Libby prison. The situation being explained to the Confederate commanders he was soon liberated.
At the close of the war Mr. Longstreth returned to New Jersey, but a short time later went to Maryland and Virginia, where some of his friends, who had started in the fruit business, wished for his aid. At the end of a year he again returned to New Jersey, but finding there few opportunities for a poor man to improve his financial condition he decided to try life in the West. Therefore, in March, 1869, he came to Kansas, locating in Williamsburg, where he worked as a farm hand for a year. Then, through Professor Kelsey, he got in touch with the Santa Fe Railroad people, who made a proposition to give him a section of land every ten miles of the road from Hutchinson west if he would agree to plant one quarter section of each in trees. Accepting the offer, he demonstrated to the satisfaction of the company that their idea was practical, and the fine groves along the Arkansas all the way to the Colorado line are the outgrowth of this first development work.
Becoming a locating agent for the Santa Fe Company in 1880, Mr. Longstreth settled in Kearny County in 1884, where he had charge of all its railroad lands. A part of his work was the managing of small experimental stations, trying to determine how trees would grow, how alfalfa would thrive, and how climate and soil would affect the growth of rye and wheat, this experimental work really beginning in 1873. Sowing in 1874 a small piece of wheat and rye at the Pierceville station, he secured a fine crop of each. His success advertised this region widely, and the samples having been exhibited at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition caused an influx of people into this region, many of whom bought land, but failed as farmers. Mr. Longstreth disposed of 11,000 acres of bottom lands south of Lakin. Later, as agent for the company, he began talking irrigation as a means of producing a profitable farming country, but was called to Topeka by Colonel Johnson, the railroad land commissioner, who requested him not to further agitate the irrigation project, as he was afraid the people in the East would get the impression that nothing would grow here without it, and that no land would be sold. In less than five years, however, the colonel became converted to the irrigation movement and gave it his active support.
About ten years after coming to Kearny County Mr. Longstreth filed on the southeast quarter of section 4, township 25, range 36, and having erected a few buildings assumed its possession with his family, in 1884. He was one of the first in this locality to set out an orchard, and the fruit that it produced was a surprise to all fruit growers of the state; his apples, peaches and other fruits having been prize winners at horticultural shows in Boston, Denver and other cities. He has likewise been successful in the growing of shade and ornamental trees, his home environment being conspicuous for the beautiful trees surrounding it. He has been successful in the growing of alfalfa and grain, and as a cattle raiser, but he has made a specialty of fruit.
Mr. Longstreth married in 1866 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Alice M. Hand, who was born at Malaga, New Jersey, in May, 1842, a daughter of John Hand, a carpenter and builder of Clayton, New Jersey. Mr. and Mrs. Longstreth have three children, namely: Eva, living with her parents; Walter, a graduate of the Iowa State Agricultural College, and now in the Government irrigation service at Yuma, Arizona, married Mabel Purcell, and Daisy, wife of John Sinclair, has a daughter, Esther, and is living near the Longstreth homestead.
Politically Mr. Longstreth, though reared in a democratic fold, has always been a republican, and has served as a delegate to congressional and state conventions. Going to his early home in Gloucester County, New Jersey, from Philadelphia, where he was employed, to vote in the fall of 1864, he attempted to cast his ballot for Abraham Lincoln, but his father challenged his vote on the grounds of nonresidence. After some discussion among the judges and citizens, he was allowed to vote, and Lincoln received one more vote.
Between the terms of his employment by the Santa Fe Company, he was elected city marshal of Hutchinson, Kansas, by the voters favoring a dry town, and he served as such one year, and then took the land agency of the Santa Fe Company.
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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