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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


Martin Morehead

MARTIN MOREHEAD. Some of the best land of Lane County has been owned and some of the most productive ranching and farming activities have been carried on by the Morehead brothers. Martin and James Morehead have been partners in their various enterprises and experience for a great many years. Both were pioneer settlers. They arrived in Lane County about the time the Indian and the buffalo yielded place to the cowboy and the native cattle, and in thirty-nine years they have witnessed about every event and transformation that belongs to the history of this section of Kansas.

It was in the month of February, 1879, that Martin Morehead arrived in Lane County. He located on the Middle Branch of the Walnut River, homesteading the southeast quarter of section 1, township 15, range 27. His brother Richard W. followed him in June and homesteaded the northwest quarter of the same section. Ten years later James C. Morehead, a younger brother, arrived and pre-empted the northeast quarter of section 1, and later homesteaded the northwest quarter of section 12. The older brothers also pre-empted land. Martin's pre-emption was a strip a mile long in section 1, while Richard's was the south half of the northwest quarter and the south half of the northeast quarter of section 12. All these entries join and comprise a splendid body of land lying on both sides of the creek.

The original home of the brothers was a dugout on the bank of Walnut Creek. Martin constructed such a dugout with a single room. His section structure was a two room dugout, each room being about 12 by 12 feet. These abodes sheltered the brothers for about fifteen years. A sod house succeeded Martin's dugout and there he spent perhaps a dozen years. For a number of years he has enjoyed the comforts and conveniences of a frame house.

Martin Morehead, like most of the early settlers in Western Kansas, had very little capital except his native energy and the possibility of work with his hands. After entering his two claims and getting back to Hays City, where he filed on them, he had only $15 left. His brother Richard brought out a team and also a plow. This implement they used in breaking up the amount of land required by the law, ten acres on each quarter section. The first winter they worked at digging wells or laying sod houses at different points over the county, and what they were able to earn supplied them with necessary provisions during the cold months. From March to the first of June in 1880 they planted corn, cane, rice-corn, and kaffir corn. Their fields produced an abundance of feed that year, but they had nothing to feed it to except their team, and there was no market for the surplus. Thus they were again compelled to resort to outside work in order to buy a supply of provisions. While their crops were maturing they went to the harvest fields in the eastern counties and with the proceeds of two months spent in Osborne County they came back with sufficient cash to carry them over another unproductive period. During this migratory period of their lives they lived largely in a wagon.

This plan of working out for others and carrying on some improvements on their own land they continued until 1882. In the fall of that year they took 300 head of sheep on the shares, kept them several years, getting half the wool and half the increase. That was a profitable deal, and was their first really profitable enterprise in Western Kansas. After they disposed of the sheep they invested in cattle and used the native pasture to fit them for market. When Richard Morehead left the county James took his place as partner of Martin, and that partnership has continued ever since.

As soon as they engaged in the raising of cattle, it was necessary to fence the land. In a prairie district fencing meant the building of wire fences, and that was costly and it ate up the profits of their enterprise for several years. The Morehead brothers have always had feed for their stock except for one or two seasons, and they have also grown a large acreage in wheat. They have harvested a yield ranging between five bushels to thirty bushels to the acre. About fifteen years after Martin Morehead settled in Lane County the brothers started buying more land. Martin now owns 3 1/2 quarter sections, while his brother James has 400 acres. About 450 acres of all are under cultivation, and a part of it is in a fine stand of alfalfa.

Martin Morehead has never married. For a quarter of a century he has kept bachelor's hall alone but has always enjoyed the society of his brother's family. Having no family responsibilities, he declined to serve as an official of the local schools. The only office he ever held was as trustee of Alamota Township one term. He declares he would have paid a fine before he would have accepted another office. He began as a republican, casting his first presidential ballot for R. B. Hayes in 1876. No fraternity or church has interested him to the extent of becoming a member, though he has shown sympathy for church causes. He comes of a Methodist family and was brought up in that denomination.

Martin Morehead was born in Bedford County, Pennsylvania, June 26, 1853. His grandfather, John Morehead, was a son of German parents, spent his life as a comparatively poor man, and depended upon his own hands for the support of his family. He married a Miss Horn, and their children were: William, Henry, Andrew, Keziah, who married Edward Bedell, and Anna, who also married.

William Morehead, father of Martin and James C. Morehead, was also a native of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, and spent his life as a farmer. He married Mary Mauk, whose father, Jacob Mauk, was a German-American, a farmer, teamster and laborer. William Morehead took his family out to Cedar County, Iowa, in 1862, and he died there in 1896, at the age of eighty-two. His wife preceded him in death and was sixty-five when she passed away. Their children were: Mathew, of Cedar Rapids, Iowa; Catherine, who married William Gray, and died in Cedar County; Richard Watson, who now lives at Sweet Home, Oregon; Martin; Paul Emery, of Cedar County, Iowa; William and Fred, also of Cedar County, Iowa; James C., partner of Martin; and Lorenzo, of Blaine, Washington.

Martin Morehead grew up on an Iowa farm and had his education in the country schools during the winter terms. At the age of seventeen he started out to work at monthly wages as a farm hand, but all the money he earned above his clothing he turned back to his parents. He continued in that way for some years, and had got a little ahead of the world when he came out to Kansas at the age of twenty-six.

His brother James Morehead married in Lane County Miss Bessie Hatler. She died some years ago, and is survived by three children: Martha, Ward and Frances.


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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 4 - Table of Contents

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