MICHAEL THOMAS MORAN has been a resident of Kansas since early infancy, nearly forty years, and the greater part of his active life has been spent as a factor in commercial and financial affairs at Nekoma.
He is a son of James Moran, now a resident of Great Bend, Kansas, and conspicuous among the early settlers of Rush County, where he came in 1879. In some respects the annals of Western Kansas has no more interesting figure than James Moran. The early settlers who tried farming on these prairies met with all kinds of vicissitudes and made all kinds of mistakes, but their errors were usually charged to other reasons than a lack of practicality. Many "practical men" failed in Western Kansas, and in the face of such circumstances it would seem that the impractical man would have no place whatever here. But James Moran was truly impractical, though that fault was largely due to inexperience, and he did many strange and unusual things which have been subject of comment among his neighbors for many years. These neighbors took a rather pitying and compassionate view of him in the earlier days, but when in spite of it all he flourished and prospered they came to the conclusion that there were more ways than one to win success as a west Kansas farmer.
James Moran was born in County Mayo, Ireland, in about 1842. His father was Hugh Moran. As a boy James did chores for a titled citizen of Ireland, kept up the lawn and did other things about the premises. He secured a fair education, and in 1861 accompanied a cousin to America in order to secure the good wages paid in this country. Later his brother John followed him to Pennsylvania and still later his sister Mary came. This sister married Owen Cannon and later John Daugherty, and both she and her brother John died at Parsons, Pennsylvania.
James Moran while living in Pennsylvania was a coal miner. He worked in the mines of Schuylkill County, made good wages, showed a sense of responsibility, and for a time was foreman of a small gang of miners.
He finally determined to seek a newer and freer life on the open Kansas prairies. In 1879 he brought his family from Pennsylvania, and leaving the railroad at Hays City he homesteaded a place two miles north of Nekoma in Brookdale Township. He brought a family of five children with him, Michael Thomas being then the youngest. The relinquishment he secured had a small stone house. It was built in the style of a dugout, with a single room, with dirt floor and dirt roof. James Moran had a cash capital of perhaps $50 when he arrived in Rush County. He knew how to dig coal, but he had never raised so much as a garden back in Pennsylvania. However, he remembered how in Ireland the small farmers spaded up patches of ground and planted garden stuff, and he determined to try the same methods in Kansas. Nothing came of his efforts, and failing in that direction he next hired a man to break the sod. Even in that he was bent on having his own way. He commanded the plowman to follow him with the team and plow. He started off and soon began to circle, and after two days of such circle plowing the man rebelled and quit, saying he would not plow after that fashion notwithstanding he was being paid for it. About that time necessity compelled him to leave his agricultural experimenting, and he decided to resume his trade of coal miner. He first went to the coal fields of Colorado and also worked in the mines of Eastern Kansas, spending several winters in that way. About 1885 he was able to own his own team, and he also bought a few cattle. But it was a number of years before he had any success as an agriculturist. He was quite likely to do a conventional thing in some perverse manner. Thus he would sow fall wheat in the spring. In planting onions he made his sons plant them upside down, saying they would first grow down and come back up and make a longer onion. In one thing he made a conspicuous success. That was in the raising of chickens, and it was said he was able to get more eggs from his chickens than any one else in the county. This is accounted for by the reason that he gave them a meat diet of boiled jack rabbits. Though his chickens were mixed breeds they were a source of much profit and for a time were almost the chief standby of the family. In the course of some twenty years he seemed to have reformed and adapted his methods so as to get crops from his land and in time became a very successful wheat raiser. In 1903 he harvested a banner crop. Up to 1897 he had been content with a single quarter section, but in that year he bought 240 acres more, paying $700 for it. After the big wheat crop of 1903 he secured two more quarter sections, paying $750 for one and $1,600 for the other. That satisfied him as a land holder, and he now owns a section and an eighty.
On giving up the farm in 1912 James Moran removed to Great Bend, going there to retire. With all his impractical views he made a success of farming and his other efforts in the country. Some of his neighbors who prided themselves on their exceeding practicality rose early and worked hard were later bought out by James Moran or gave up the task and dropped entirely out of the community life. James Moran has never taken any part in politics beyond the voting, and though in early days a democrat he has in late years chiefly followed the fortunes of the republican party. He is a member of the Catholic church.
James Moran married at Silver Creek, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania, Miss Annie Delany. She was born in Queens County, Ireland, in 1845, a daughter of Martin Delany. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Moran have done them much credit. The oldest is Mary, now living in New Orleans. Hugh is a resident of Nekoma, Kansas. Martin, whose address is Kozebue on the Behring Sea, has spent a number of years above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, has served as United States commissioner, and was elected to the legislative body of Alaska from the district farthest north in that territory. John J. lives in Great Bend, Kansas. The next in age is Michael T. William P. is a grain buyer at Nekoma. Luke is a farmer on the old Moran estate.
Mr. Michael T. Moran was born in Pennsylvania August 18, 1878, and was not twelve months old when the family came out to Rush County. He attended his first school in a sod house near the old Moran homestead, and all his education was acquired in the rural districts. On reaching his majority he left the home farm and became a grain buyer at Nekoma in the employ of the Western Grain Company. He was also with the successor of that company and continued in the business until 1916. In 1900 Mr. Moran established a new store at Nekoma, introducing a general stock of merchandise in a building 24 by 32 feet. He was continuously in that business with increasing prosperity for sixteen years. Eventually he established a store 34 by 100 feet and handled a large trade in implements, furniture, hardware and other supplies. Mr. Moran has also kept up active connections with farming and owns a farm in Rush County. On September 18, 1916, the State Bank of Nekoma was opened for business, and Mr. Moran has been one of its board of directors from the start. The president of the bank is James Seaman, Aaron Young is vice president and John P. Moran is cashier. The directors are James Seaman, J. M. Mendenhall, Alva Johnson, M. T. Moran, G. M. Ryan, Thomas Ryan, E. S. Chenoweth, A. H. Young and A. U. Ream.
Mr. Moran has given his active life so far to business rather than to politics, is a member of no order and belongs to the Catholic faith. He was married in Ness County, Kansas, September 30, 1911, to Miss Mary Sweeney. She is a daughter of Hugh and Mary (Murphy) Sweeney. Her father was also an early settler in Ness County. He too had to sustain his family by outside work and did several periods of employment in the coal mines. He had learned coal mining in his native Ireland. In the Sweeney family were the following children: Edward, of McCracken, Kansas; Mrs. Moran, who was born in Scranton, Kansas, December 29, 1884; Rosa, wife of William Brenner, of Rush County; and Hugh, a farmer in Ness County. Mr. and Mrs. Moran have three children: Loretta, Martin and Francis.
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
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project