JOHN THOMAS MOORHEAD. One of the original settlers of Stevens County and one of the active participants in its organization is found in John Thomas Moorhead, a leading merchant at the county seat and one of its most enterprising and useful citizens. Mr. Moorhead was born in April, 1864, in Pike County, Illinois. His parents were John and Nancy (Sanders) Moorhead.
John Moorhead was born in 1839, at Dayton, Ohio, the eldest son of William Moorhead, whose origin is unknown. William Moorhead was a farmer throughout life and died in Indiana, his burial being near Frankfort. No records have been preserved relating to his wife, but their children were: John; Elizabeth, who became the wife of David Gear and died in Clinton County, Indiana; Henry, who died in Kansas; Isaac, who was a Union soldier and died near Atchison, Kansas; Marion, who settled in Nebraska and died there; Richard, who was a soldier in the Civil war with his brother Isaac, and died at Champaign, Illinois; Emma, who married John Douglas and died in Indiana; Rachel, who married Jesse Lane and died near Frankfort, that state; and Mrs. Cynthia, who lives in Clinton County, Indiana.
John Moorhead, father of J. Thomas Moorhead, obtained a country school education and probably resided in Ohio until he accompanied his father to Indiana, moving later as a farmer to Pike County, Illinois. He married Nancy Sanders, who died in 1873 in Pike County, Missouri, and her burial was at Antioch, in that county. They were the parents of the following children: Melissa F., who is the wife of Clark Warren and lives at Frankfort, Indiana; William, who died in Pike County, Missouri; John Thomas; Marion; Levi, who lives at La Fayette, Indiana; and Alonzo.
John Thomas Moorhead was but a year old when his parents moved from Pike County, Illinois, across the Mississippi River and settled in Pike County, Missouri, which continued to be his boyhood home until his mother died, when his father took his children back to Indiana, and it was in the home of his paternal grandfather that John Thomas grew to manhood, in the meanwhile attending the country school near his grandfather's farm as opportunity offered. He was nineteen years old when he returned to Pike County, Missouri, and by that time was considered a competent farmer. When twenty-two years old, in May, 1886, with his father and brother, he set out from Pike County by wagon and drove into Stevens County, Kansas. The trio came to locate and to participate in the settlement of the region at old Niagara, where all entered pre-emptions, and these they commuted and proved up. John Thomas and his father entered homesteads in that same region, and the former commuted his homestead after about two years.
Mr. Moorhead's first Kansas home was a dugout on both his pre-emption and homestead. He brought no property with him but his father owned the team and in conjunction they worked at teaming, freighting and plowing timber claims as a means of sustaining themselves while they were proving up their land. John T. Moorhead sold his pre-emption and with the money bought a team for himself. His marriage took place about this time and he then began farming as well as freighting, the latter business being a very helpful feature in the struggle at that time, for there was almost always freight to be transported from Lakin or Hartland to Hugoton. So frequently the farm operations were disappointing that Mr. Moorhead decided it was not a reliable supporting proposition and in 1890 he abandoned it. During his four years in the early life of the county he and also his father, who died here in 1902, were active participants in its organization. Others still living in the county who were also active at that time are: J. A. Kelley, H. N. Smith, J. A. Firmin, James C. Gerrond, J. A. Christopher and J. A. Gregory.
When Mr. Moorhead left Kansas in 1890 he returned to Missouri, and spent six years in Jackson County and six more in Polk County, carrying on farming in both counties and in the latter being also in the meat business. He returned to Kansas in 1902, at this time having a family to support and a cash capital of $300. Having in the meanwhile lost his homestead through the well known mortgage route, he resumed farming as a renter and subsequently bought a tract of land near Hugoton. Although he found farming a much more reliable venture here than when he first essayed it, he finally concluded to change his vocation, and in 1906 established himself as a merchant in Hugoton. He has been an active citizen and has worked for civic progress and improvement along all lines. For six years he served Hugoton as a school director and was also constable of his township and during the administration of Sheriff John O'Dea served as his deputy for four years.
Mr. Moorhead was married in Stevens County, Kansas, in November, 1889, to Miss Lizzie Hamilton, who came to this region in 1887, from Anamesa, Iowa, with her parents, William and Lorain (Bissell) Hamilton. Her parents were born in Ohio and were married there, moved to Iowa and then to Stevens County. Their surviving children are: Mrs. George Brown, of Frankfort, Kansas; John, of Riverton, Wyoming; William and Jeanie, of Anamosa, Iowa; and Mrs. Moorhead, the youngest.
Mr. and Mrs. Moorhead have six children: Marion Clayton, who is nobly performing his duty as a soldier in the National army and is in France; Archie Cleveland, who is a resident of Hugoton, married Ethel Hentla, and they have one son, Richard D.; Nada Ione, who is an accomplished and speedy stenographer, engaged with the real estate firm of M. & H. at Hugoton; Fern, who is the wife of Hugh Dorman, resides at Las Animas, Colorado; and Carl and Victor.
Mr. Moorhead is a prominent Odd Fellow, has passed all the chairs in the local lodge and is a past grand, and assisted to organize the Rebekah Lodge at Hugoton. He is a democrat in his political opinions, as was his father. In his earlier years while working in the vicinity of Bowling Green, Missouri, he became well acquainted with the struggling young county attorney of Pike County who is now Hon. Champ Clark of national fame.
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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