BASIL M. McCUE. A country may be ever so rich in natural resources and yet furnish little or nothing to the supply of those necessities upon which mankind depends for its very existence. Practically every form of wealth must pass through the medium of human labor and enterprise to become useful and available. Few states are more opulent in their resources than Kansas, but the real credit for the splendid showing made by the state today belongs to the thousands of earnest and hard working men and women who are transmitting the productiveness of the soil into the food that goes to supply millions.
The individual average share in this great work is of course small. Every industrial organization, like an army, has its chief and commanders to direct operations involving the work of hundreds and a tremendous amount of capital. One of these captains in Western Kansas is Basil M. McCue.
Mr. McCue has been a resident of the Arkansas Valley for about fourteen years. He arrived here from Nebraska in March, 1904, for the purpose of engaging in farming and ranching. He bought a large tract of land near Garden City in February of that year. Water rights were applicable to some of the land and he bought others and proceeded to finish a system of ditches sufficient to provide water for all the cultivation he could handle. This land was north of Garden City four miles, and while he owned it he developed a farm complete, with residence and other buildings, fences, and sowed a large portion of the acreage to alfalfa.
It did not take long for Mr. McCue to get established in the country, and his enterprise began attracting attention. About the third year some of his old friends in Nebraska, having heard of his success, came to Kansas in search of farms. A company was formed called the Bell Land and Loan Company, with Mr. McCue as president. This company bought and sold real estate in Finney and adjoining counties. During the first year land to the value of $1,394,000 passed through the company's hands to other parties. This record far surpassed the expectations of the company members and was probably unequalled by any other management wholly without experience in the real estate field. The company continued business for two years. Mr. McCue then bought the interests of the Garden City Land and Immigration Company, and consolidated the two under the latter name. He is still president of the Garden City Land and Immigration Company, through which some of the biggest developments in Western Kansas have been forwarded.
It was as a result of his individual success with irrigation that Mr. McCue was persuaded to become a land salesman. He was not a land dealer of the ordinary type. The variety of crops he grew, wheat, feed, potatoes and vegetables, served him as samples of incontestable proof of every assertion he made as to the value of the soil when combined with irrigration. Any number of seasons Mr. McCue's farm has produced a potato crop at a yield of a thousand bushels to the acre and many of the tubers have ranged in size to a pound and a quarter apiece.
Mr. McCue was not only a producer but also a thorough business man and some years age he conceived the idea of building a railroad to furnish more adequate transportation facilities. This was the Garden City Gulf & Northern. He organized a company for the construction of the road in 1909 under the name the Kansas Construction & Irrigation Company. The line was completed and equipped as far as Scott City and Mr. McCue had its operation under his own supervision two years. During 1910-11 he was still engaged in the land business under the name of the new company, and used the same construction company to build fifty-three miles of extension to the railroad, starting at Scott City and passing through Scott and Logan to Winona, Kansas. This line was also equipped and put in operation. The first railroad constructed by Mr. McCue and company is now a branch of the Santa Fe system, while the second line is owned and operated by the Colorado, Kansas & Oklahoma Company. Plans now indicate an extension south to connect with the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway from Wichita Falls, Texas.
After leaving the railroad business Mr. McCue continued ranching and farming and general dealing in real estate. In 1916 the Garden City Land & Immigration Company closed a deal with the Garden City Sugar & Land Company for 22,800 acres of land. This body was acquired by the Clarke-Dutton Syndicate of Hastings, Nebraska. In the deal 5,200 acres of land in Kearny County passed from the Sugar and Land Company to the McCue interests from A. L. Clarke. This is known as the South Side land, situated south of the Arkansas River and southwest of Deerfield and south and east of Lakin. Of this property about 2,500 acres is in alfalfa. The yield of alfalfa in 1917 was valued at close to $100,000. Mr. McCue is grazing several hundred head of hogs and many horses and cattle on the ranch. At the present time more extensive features are being planned for his farm enterprise. One in particular is the manufacture of feed and meals out of corn, alfalfa and other crops, and a mill has been erected for that purpose.
Mr. McCue was known as a successful farmer and stock man before he came to Kansas. His career has been one of unusual experience and achievement. He represents that hardy and splendid type of people known as the mountaineers, one of the purest of American stocks and with a record unexcelled in those fundamental virtues that constitute the best ideals of American citizenship. Mr. McCue was born in the western part of Virginia, in Nelson County, March 15, 1863. While his forefathers have lived for generations in Virginia, it is probably true of them that they are of the old Scotch-Irish stock that constitute so large a bulk of the mountain people of Virginia and the Carolinas. The father, Cyrus McCue, was born near Afton, at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Blue Ridge Tunnel, and lived in the same county all his life. He died in 1883, at the age of seventy-six. He married Fannie Glenn, daughter of Thomas Glenn, an Englishman. Their children were: Charles T.; Cyrus; Marshall; David; Mary, wife of Jacob Hildebrand; Basil M.; Samuel; Martha, Mrs. Lew Jeeter, of Hoopeston, Illinois; Sallie, wife of Ed Tallyn, of Benson, Illinois; and Permelia, who married Bert Peterson, of Benson, Illinois.
Basil M. McCue lived in his native county until May 16, 1884. He grew up in the mountain country and had little opportunity to attend school. Altogether his schooling was limited to three five month terms. He never learned to write in school, and acquired that art and many other elements of education through his outside experience. On leaving Virginia he settled in Woodford County, Illinois, and worked as a poor farm hand. The second year there he became foreman of a farm and continued that work until he married and moved out to Nebraska.
November 16, 1887, Mr. McCue married Miss Mary Kindig, who was born in Woodford County, Illinois, May 4, 1863. Her father, Rev. Jacob J. Kindig, came from Virginia and was an early settler and farmer and also a minister of the German Baptist or Brethren Church. Rev. Mr. Kindig married Phoebe Dirkle. Mrs. McCue was third in a family of four children, her three brothers being John, Charles and Philip.
From Illinois Mr. and Mrs. McCue set out to establish a new home in Nebraska. They acquired a quarter section of land in Western Kansas and with their limited resources began the heavy task of making a home and farm. When Mr. McCue left there his farm had the biggest barn and the biggest farm residence in Adams County. These were the results of nineteen years of consecutive work as a farmer and stock man. Mr. McCue left Hastings, Nebraska, to invest his capital and enterprise in Western Kansas, with what results as has already been detailed.
Mr. McCue grew up in the atmosphere of democratic politics and has usually voted that ticket. His family were Presbyterians but he and his wife are now German Baptists. They are the parents of eight children. Elbert R. is on his father's ranch and is married to Alice Keys, and has two children, Elbert M. and Ethan Roy. Leeta F., the second child, married Herbert Orr, of Okmulgee, Oklahoma, and has a son, Earl Glenn. Phebe married Dr. James Bryant, of Clayton, Illinois, and has a son, James Henry. Mary is the wife of John Thompson, of Detroit, Michigan. Kinus J. is still at home, and the three younger children, Basil C., Eva and Glenn, are all in the Garden City schools.
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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