JUESTION EDWIN MANN. There is a good deal of sound human nature and reason in the practice of many readers of fiction in turning ever to the last page to see how the story turns out. If it ends in happiness it is worth enduring the anxiety and mental torture involved in reading several hundred pages of tragedy, disappointment, trial and heart-ache. In real life it is the success and happiness at the end which drive men and women and hold up their courage through years of back-breaking and never-ending toil and hardship. The following paragraphs are a brief individual story of a retired farmer and rancher of Stevens County, now living at Liberal, whose middle years were struggle and whose present is peace and prosperity.
Mr. Mann was born at Decatur, county seat of Adams County, Indiana, on August 5, 1857. His father, Juestion Mann, Sr., was a wealthy and influential resident and one of the old-timers of that section of northeastern Indiana, where in the days before railroads and coming from Lorain, Ohio, he purchased railroad land not far from the Indian tepees south of Fort Wayne. He brought with him a large equipment for pioneer agriculture and in subsequent years brought a large area under cultivation for the first time. Whatever he did he seemed to do well, was prospered, and left a valuable estate when he died in 1883, at the age of seventy-six. The interests of his community he also made his own, and many times lent himself to the support of some public enterprise like a new railroad, a new school, a new church. He voted as a democrat. The maiden name of his wife was Rachel Ball, daughter of Vachel and Sarah Ball. Vachel came from Maryland and entered the woods of northeastern Indiana in 1813, while the Americans were fighting hard to retain that section of the northwest from the Indians and British. Rachel Ball first married a Mr. Reynolds, and her children of that union were: William; Elisha, who was a Union soldier; Sarah, who died as Mrs. Evans in Terre Haute; Lee, a veteran Union soldier, now living in Nebraska; Jack, who had ninety days of musket-bearing in the early days of the rebellion, and is living in Decatur, Indiana; Minerva, who married Joseph Johnson and lives in Decatur. Mrs. Rachel Mann survived her second husband, and died when about eighty years old. By her marriage to Juestion Mann, Sr., she had children as follows: Mrs. Jennie Knoff, of Chicago; Mrs. Mollie Woodard, of Logansport, Indiana; Vachel Fayette, who died at thirty-six, leaving a family in Decatur, Indiana; Cornelia, who married Marion S. Elzey and died in Chicago; Joseph K., of Liberal, Kansas; Juestion E.; Ida M., who married Joseph Holman, of Columbus, Ohio; Dr. Jesse E., who died while in charge of the Southwestern Hahnemann College at Louisville, Kentucky.
Mr. J. E. Mann as member of one of the oldest and most substantial families had opportunities to attend the public schools of Decatur regularly and also took a normal course in the Valparaiso College. When this was finished he contracted to teach a country school, but a few days before it opened he secured a release from the trustee in order to accept a more congenial employment in the drug business. He was in the drug business at Pemberville, Ohio, three years, was head prescription clerk in a store at Upper Sandusky two years, and then returned to Indiana and entered the silversmith business, at which he had served an apprenticeship about the time he left school. As a jeweler he conducted a store at his home town as member of the firm Mann & Elzey.
This is a brief outline of his experience up to the spring of 1885, when he dissolved the partnership at Decatur and came to Kansas. He had education, business training, a knowledge of men, but of farming, and especially farming according to the conditions imposed in Western Kansas, no one could have been more lacking in practical knowledge. His first move here was to file en a pre-emption in Meade County. The next six months of proving up gave him a fairly complete experience of frontier farming. He came prepared for a bachelor's existence on the pre-emption, bringing a chef to handle the management of the kitchen while he worked outdoors as lord of the manor. He had never done any real "roughing it" before, yet the experience of six months was sufficiently fruitful to determine him to stay on and grew up with the country.
That fall he entered a tree claim in Stevens County, and a little later took a homestead in the Lone Star locality, being the southwest quarter of section 18, township 33, range 35. This has become his permanent Kansas home, and he never left it as long as he was an active farmer. After getting his first papers for the homestead he went to work and put up a box house 12 by 20 feet. That house is new part of the cow barn on the farm.
Having made these preparations, Mr. Mann returned to his Indiana home at Decatur, where in December, 1885, he married Miss Samantha J. McConnehey. She was a daughter of David and Sarah (Fisher) McConnehey. Her father was a pioneer Methodist circuit rider, and afterwards lived retired in Decatur until his death. His wife had first married a Mr. Young, by whom she had three children, and by her second marriage she was the mother of Mrs. Mann, born August 16, 1860; Rev. John, who lives in North Dakota; and Mrs. Melissa Moore, of Detroit, Michigan. Mrs. Mann was educated thoroughly at Decatur, and for several years was a teacher in the public schools of Adams County.
The little box house out on the prairie was the home to which Mr. Mann brought his bride in the spring of 1886. He brought a good team, some hogs and chickens. The next day a prairie fire came raging and destroying the landscape, and burned up most of the chickens and also some fence posts he had hauled all the way from Dodge City. By strenuous effort his household goods and his other live-stock were saved. It was not a very auspicious beginning.
The efforts of his previous year in Meade County had brought forth a fine crop, and he endeavored to repeat on his Stevens County claim. But for six weeks or so hot winds arose and spent their fury every day, changing fields of green to sere. In 1887 the same thing was true, and to only a less extent in 1888. Farming as a general proposition was unprofitable in those years, and the only crops from the land were rough feeds. He had to buy grain for several seasons, and in order to get through the pinching times he used his wagon and team to haul many loads of freight from Hartland and later from Liberal after the Rock Island line was constructed.
In the meantime his interests were becoming fortified through ranching and cattle raising. In Meade County he had paid $65 for a few cattle, and these he transferred to his claim in Stevens County and kept increasing until with a herd of fifty-eight he felt justified in going into the stock business as a regular thing. There was an opportunity open to get a bunch of cattle at Garden City on time, and it illustrates the slender resources of Mr. Mann and of many other Kansans of this period when it is stated that he had to borrow money to pay his expenses to and from Garden City. This money was supplied by a good friend and neighbor, J. L. Pettyjohn. He brought home about a hundred head of stock, and these were put on the range with those he already owned. The only serious losses he sustained as a cattleman were due to Texas itch, and this he cured by applying a lotion of boiled axle grease and kerosene. When the stock came to market condition he first sold to local drovers from Garden City, and later he shipped from Tyrone to Kansas City as an individual consigner. He continued shipping until he abandoned the farm in 1911, and in the meantime had substituted registered White Face for the common grades he had first run.
The old homestead has witnessed many changes and improvements from that eventful day in 1886 when he and his young wife came to it as a home. After a year or so many discouraged settlers began moving out, and from one of these abandoned claims Mr. Mann secured and moved the box shanty joining it to his own original house. This was repeated subsequently, and gradually his home came to consist of a cluster of houses, which have done excellent service through the year and are still occupied by the tenant on the farm. His increasing business enabled him to build one of the good barns of the county, 40 by 60 feet on the ground, and 18 feet to the eaves. A hundred tons of hay and other feed can be stowed away in the mow. There are several granaries and other buildings around the farm. Mr. Mann started a peach orchard, and for several years the trees produced abundantly, the surplus at times being sold as low as 25 cents a bushel. But the trees are all gone now. He also has a large fishpond on the farm, stocked with carp, and many of them weighed twenty-two pounds when taken out.
Out of his efforts as a Kansas farmer and stockman Mr. Mann found the money required for building up his rather extensive land holdings. There was a time when his ownership extended to twenty-four quarter sections, thirteen of which he still owns. He has eleven quarters under cultivation, and there are three complete sets of improvement.
Mr. Mann promoted the first rural telephone line in his locality of Stevens County, sold much of the stock, and was president of the company several years. His was the first school district organized in the county, and he was a member of the board year after year. He believed in good secular schools and also Sunday schools. There was a time when his and the Traver family constituted all who were present at Sabbath school. Mr. Mann while strongly supporting religious movements and institutions has never himself joined a church. In a public way no persuasion was ever sufficient to get him to accept an office. His reason was that he could use his time and energies more profitably for himself and the community on his farm than in office. He has been quite regular in his allegiance to the democratic party on national issues, but in county and other local movements has not considered party ties above the best man. He is identified with the Knights of Pythias.
After he had established himself as a merchant in Indiana Mr. Mann was in the habit of taking a few weeks each year for travel. One of these trips brought him his first knowledge of Kansas. It was in 1882. One of the sights he witnessed at Topeka was the closing of the saloons and the first real enforcement of the state prohibitory law. He saw barrels of beer and other liquors streaming into the gutters, and since then John Barleycorn has never had anything but an illicit residence in the state. He also saw many auction sales under chattel mortgages, household effects of farmers who could not pay the interest, to say nothing of the principal, on the mortgage, and only hoped for enough cash from their equity to get them out of Kansas. These things profoundly impressed Mr. Mann with what he supposed was a lasting disgust of the Sunflower commonwealth, and, in his own words, he "would not have stayed in the state had it been presented him as a gift." But his later experience of thirty-three years has convinced him that there is no better place to live, no purer and more sober place to raise a family, and no easier place to succeed than Kansas.
Since moving to Liberal he has built one of the good homes of the town. He was one of the organizers of the county fair. Having no regular business cares, he has the leisure to take the lead in carrying out plans of his fellow townsmen in the promoting of enterprises and movements for insuring the general welfare.
Mr. and Mrs. Mann have had the following children: Jesse, who died in young manhood, after teaching school for a time; Marion C., who is a Liberal business man, and by his marriage to Carrie Sessler has one child Laymon; Burton D., manager and bookkeeper of the Equity Union at Forgan, Oklahoma; Ida, wife of Ralph Sessler, of Stevens County, and mother of Lee and Pearl, Mr. Sessler being now in the United States army; Gladys, a graduate of the Liberal High School and a teacher in Seward County; and Frank, a junior in the Liberal High School.
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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