JEPTHA C. McCOY. Haskell County was organized in 1887, and nearly two years before that time, in the fall of 1885, Jeptha C. McCoy first established himself and undertook the task of making a living in this county. Mr. McCoy has witnessed practically every phase of the development and change in this part of Western Kansas, and his own experiences have been as varied as the vicissitudes of the soil and climate could make them.
Mr. McCoy represents old Virginia and Tennessee stock of Scotch-Irish ancestry. He was born in Hancock County, Tennessee, December 17, 1854. His great-grandfather was a Scotch-Irishman and came to America during colonial times, settling in Virginia. His son, David McCoy, grandfather of the subject of this article, was a native of Virginia and moved from there to Tennessee. He married Catherine Wolf, and their children were: William, Jacob, Wiles, Milton, Mrs. Mary Turnmire, Mrs. Elizabeth Dalton and Miss Eliza McCoy.
William McCoy, father of Jeptha C., was born in Hancock County, Tennessee, lived there until middle life and then removed to Missouri and died near Springfield in that state in 1876 at the age of forty-five. He was a man of Union sentiment and during the war served in the Home Guards. He was a democratic voter. He married Emeline Cantwell. Her father, Barnett Cantwell, married a Miss Mills. William McCoy and wife had the following children: Jeptha C.; Milton, of Saline County, Missouri; Mrs. Kate Slagle, of Springfield, Missouri; Mrs. Elizabeth Hatler, of Polk County, Missouri; Mrs. Alice Campbell, of Free Water, Oregon; Miss Mary, of Eidson, Tennessee; Thomas E., of Polk County, Missouri; Mrs. Lydia Brooks, of Eidson, Tennessee, and Mrs. Fannie Eidson, of the State of Virginia.
Jeptha C. McCoy grew up on his father's modest farm and acquired only a common school education. He lived at home until October, 1874, when, at the age of twenty, he married Miss Mary M. Chapman. After their marriage the young couple became tenant farmers. Mrs. McCoy is a daughter of Chittenden E. Chapman, a Tennessee farmer. She was one of a family of five sons and two daughters, namely: Gideon, Mrs. McCoy, Benjamin, James, Mrs. Ellen Wells, Van Buren and George.
When Mr. and Mrs. McCoy came to Kansas they brought with them two children. They combined with a neighbor in shipping their goods to Cimarron. Mr. McCoy owned a wagon and team and by the time he reached Cimarron he owed his neighbor for expenses incurred during the trip forty-five dollars, and had only twenty cents in cash to pay it. Under the spur of necessity to provide for his family he went to work at freighting from Cimarron to Santa Fe and old Springfield, also plowed land for absentee owners, planted trees on timber claims, and the first year here he lived entirely from the fruits of his labor.
Soon after his arrival he entered as a homestead the northeast quarter of section 7, township 30, range 32, seven miles south of Santa Fe, the county seat. For six years he lived there, proved up his land, and all the time he and his family had their home in a half dugout. The second year he obtained a little fodder from his farm, and the third year had a wheat crop. There was only one binder in the county, and he hired it to cut his crop. But the straw was too short for the binder to operate and he had to mow the grain, which so shattered it that a volunteer crop came up and the fourth year gave him his first considerable wheat yield. Even so, at the end of six years he was little better off than when he had settled on his claim. On getting title he at once mortgaged the land for $250 and in the end he turned the entire place over to wipe out the mortgage.
In 1893 Mr. McCoy moved to Santa Fe in order to give his children better school advantages. He still had to depend upon the toil of his hands to support the family, and went to Colorado as a place offering better advantages. He was there almost a year and then decided to remain in Kansas. He planted 400 acres of wheat on the shares, and while there was a fair crop he was $100 worse off when it was threshed than when he finished sowing. This was a year of wet, cold weather, and wheat was practically ruined by the black rust. The next year he again went to Colorado and began operating a threshing outfit for hulling alfalfa. His experiences in Colorado kept him there until June, 1900, when he returned to the harvest fields of Larned, Kansas, and since 1901 has been engaged in farming and stock raising near Santa Fe. Mr. McCoy owns the east half of section 25, township 28, range 33. The improvements on this land were placed there by Mr. Rosenthal, a former banker of Santa Fe.
Mr. McCoy has been quite active in local affairs, was for two years trustee of Loco Township and one of the early members of the School Board of district No. 45. In October, 1917, he retired after two years of service as county treasurer of Haskell County. He was elected to that office on the democratic ticket and has always supported that party in politics. The children of Mr. and Mrs. McCoy are Ella, Frank, Myrtle, and Miss Edna. Ella is the wife of F. E. Murphey, president of the Santa Fe State Bank at Sublette. Frank is a real estate man and abstracter of Sublette, married Etta Swartz and has a daughter, Ethel. Myrtle is the wife of E. H. Elliott, of Sublette, and has two children, Merton and Dorsey.
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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