ELMER A. MATHER has distinction among the Pawnee County farmers as one of the few who have profitably used irrigation for raising crops. His irrigated farm is in the Burdett community, and while his acreage is small compared to most of the farms in this section of Kansas, it is perhaps more profitable and affords a steadier and more reliable resource than vastly larger and more loosely handled possessions.
Mr. Mather has lived in this section of Kansas since 1877. He was born in Chautauqua County, New York, October 16, 1862, and was fifteen years of age when his father came to Western Kansas. He is of a very old and distinguished American family. His ancestry goes back to those New England Mathers of which the great divine Cotton Mather was a representative. The Mathers came from England to the colonies as early as 1635. Mr. Mather's grandfather was Francis Mather, who was born in Connecticut and moved to Chautauqua County, New York. He married Mary Tillotson, and they spent the rest of their days in Chautauqua County. Among their children were Charles L., George A. and Nathaniel O. Charles L. and George A. both live in Chautauqua County, New York.
Nathaniel O. Mather, father of Elmer A., was born in Chautauqua County, New York, grew up in the country and started life with a common school education. He brought his family to Western Kansas from Chautauqua County, and proved his industry and value as a citizen by thirty years of residence in Pawnee County. He died there in 1906, at the age of seventy-seven. He married Harriet Hunter, a daughter of James Hunter, whose family were early settlers of Chautauqua County and farmers in that section of New York. Mrs. Nathaniel Mather died in 1904. The children of these pioneer Pawnee County people were: Jeanette, who married John E. Bindley and died near Burdett; Annice, who married Seymour B. Webber and lives in Belpre, Kansas; Mary, wife of Thomas Bindley, of Burdett, Kansas; Mrs. Edith A. Seely of Larned; Edward, twin brother of Edith, was killed while a locomotive fireman in Oklahoma, and left a family: Elmer A.; Ella M., wife of C. N. Rucker, of Burdett; Charles L., a resident of Omaha, Nebraska; Grace, of Larned, Kansas; and Guy F., of Burdett.
Elmer A. Mather acquired some of his education in Chautauqua County, New York, and also attended the common schools of Pawnee County. He remained at home and did his share of duties on the pioneer farm until he reached his majority.
He then took as a homestead the southeast quarter of section 14, township 21, range 20. His first shelter there was a sod dugout. About four years later he was able to erect a better building of frame. After proving up he sold his claim, and then for several years operated as a renter. For five years Mr. Mather lived on his farm in Hodgeman County, and from there returned to Burdett and acquired the land where he has demonstrated in such conspicuous manner the value of irrigation as an adjunct to farming. His place comprises ninety-five acres adjoining Burdett. He has developed an irrigation plant, pumping the subterranean water supply, and his experience with the investment has been exceedingly favorable. Dry seasons have no terror for Mr. Mather. There is always scomething[sic] from his land to harvest and to sell. Another feature which deserves emphasis is that the porous subsoil of the Pawnee valley takes up the surplus water and does not tend to injure the soil as irrigation does in Colorado and other regions.
The Mather farm crops under the irrigation system are chiefly alfalfa, sugar beets and corn. There has never been a crop failure since his water plant was constructed. Of sugar beets he has raised as high as twenty-three tons to the acre, though the average is sixeen[sic] tons. Alfalfa has given him five cuttings a year and every acre averages six or more tons. The market is always firm and steady for alfalfa. Mr. Mather is a mixed farmer and features his hogs and his dairy. Among his cows are a number of Ayreshires, which he esteems for their milking qualities. Another notable feature of his farm is a battery of three under-ground silos, and these have proved economical and a valuable adjunct to the management of his farm.
Mr. Mather has devoted himself conscientiously and industriously to the main business of farming, though he has never lacked the essentials of good citizenship. He comes of a republican family, and began voting as a republican. His first presidential ballot was given to James G. Blaine. While he had some part in the Alliance movement, his connection therewith did not interfere with his political faith. He is now serving as clerk of the Burdett Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America and is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
Mr. Mather was married in Pawnee County January 1, 1888, to Maude L. Deaton. Her father, Abram B. Deaton was an Illinois man, was a pioneer in Nebraska, and from that state came to Kansas and homesteaded in Pawnee County as early as 1875. In 1889 he returned to Missouri and died in Pulaski County, that state. Abram Weaton[sic] married Lena McCarty. Their children were: Mrs. Mather, who was born in 1868; Ernest; Nellie E., who married George Koonce, of Pulaski County, Missouri; Fred, who died in Macksville, Kansas; and Robert, a resident of California. Mr. and Mrs Mather have seven children. Rex I. married Lela Moody and is now looking after his homestead in Bent County, Colorado; Leora is the wife of Vince J. Wernt, of Denver, Colorado; Lena H. married Lester Preston, of Bent County, Colorado; the four younger children, all at home, are: Max D., Ruth M., and Edward and Edith, twins.
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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