THOMAS B. NOVINGER. In the annals of early settlement of Meade County one of the names which is first to be mentioned is that of Thomas B. Novinger. He made settlement here thirty years ago, and in all the subsequent years his name has been associated with solid work and an industry which brings credit to the possessor and has helped to create the resources and wealth of the community.
He was born February 8, 1864, in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, and it was by several successive stages that the family and his own destiny became linked with this point in the far West. He went with his parents to Coffey County, Kansas, and was there three years, the Novinger farm being situated southeast of Burlington. From that point Mr. Novinger started west on a tour of exploration and investigation, was over the Colorado country for several weeks, from there arrived by train at Cimarron, and one day in July, 1887, stepped off the stage coach at the little settlement of Plains in Meade County. He was then twenty-three years of age, unmarried, and had the best years of his life before him in which to give an account of his own capabilities and make good for himself and for others. A few settlers had preceded him from his old county of Coffey, Kansas, but of this early colony he is now the last survivor to remain in Meade County. He chose his location in Cimarron Township, seven miles southeast of Plains, and there homesteaded the southwest quarter of section 25, township 33, range 30. The home which he established there with such simplicity of surroundings and equipment thirty years ago has been the continuous environment for all his subsequent years, though he has altered that environment by many improvements.
Mr. Novinger brought with him sufficient cash with which to equip himself for the trials and vicissitudes of pioneer existence. He built a one-room sod house, and that sheltered him during the period of seven years while he was proving up. All that time he remained a bachelor, and he not only had experience as a farmer and horse raiser but as housekeeper also. It may have been due to his bachelor existence that he escaped the pinch which compelled many of his neighbors to borrow money on their claims. By the time he secured the patent on his land he had gathered around him a large number of good horses, owed only a few floating debts, and was well satisfied with the country. In the meantime he had witnessed the opening of the Cherokee Strip, which drained this part of Kansas of nearly all its population, and yet he had no thought of yielding to the temptation to move across the line and get one of the free homes in the Indian country. Mr. Novinger also proved up a pre-emption in section 35, township 33, range 30. He did some trading, and eventually acquired three quarter sections in section 26 and a quarter in section 25, township 33, range 30. This land was just as nature had made it, and from the different quarters he developed a productive farm and ranch. While the surest source of income for him for a number of years was horses, he abandoned that industry and took up cattle. When at his full stride as a cattle man he was running about a hundred head, and he has developed his grade stock into high class Durhams. While he has done something in dairying, his chief aim has been the production of beef. Mr. Novinger's experience would he helpful if followed in complete detail, since he has experimented with all varieties of seed and has followed different methods of treating the soil. Out of it all he has derived the lesson that seed planted after the soil is warm and upon summer-fallowed ground goes a long way toward assuring the farmer his fall crop.
Mr. Novinger's present surroundings distinguish him as one of the progressive and prosperous men of his county. His home of eight rooms was completed in 1916, and among other permanent improvements are barn, granary and sheds and a reliable water supply. He is a stockholder in the Farmers Elevator at Plains. He has recognized a direct obligation to do what he could to give his home community good schools, churches and other institutions. For two terms he was trustee of Plains Township and is now serving his second term as county commissioner. He has been a member of the board with A. B. Roberts and John Cordes. The chief matter handled by the board has been "roads, roads and roads." The board also has done considerable cement bridge building. Mr. Novinger began voting as a democrat and has been satisfied with that allegiance. He was reared in the faith of the Reformed church and has always encouraged church influences. Mrs. Novinger is a member of the Christian Church. She is affiliated with the Royal Neighbors and his fraternal affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Modern Woodmen of America.
Mr. Novinger's grandfather, Isaac Novinger, was a native of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, died and is buried there. He was a carpenter by trade. He married Hannah Hawk, of Holland Dutch ancestry. Their children were: Hiram, who was a soldier in the Mexican war and fills a soldier's grave in Old Mexico; Charles; Simon, who pioneered to Arizona, became a miner and died at Phoenix, where he entered a part of the townsite; Isaac, who had a farm near Leechburg, Pennsylvania; Thomas, who served as captain of a company in the Civil war and for many years was a hotel man at Painterville, Pennsylvania; James, a soldier of the Civil war for a brief period, and afterwards a farmer and teacher of Dauphin County, Pennsylvania; Mary, who married Henry Gilbert and lived in Dauphin County; and Susan, who was the wife of Henry Clauser of Dauphin County.
Charles Novinger, father of Thomas B., was born in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in January, 1828. He was a blacksmith by trade, followed that occupation in Pennsylvania, and for a number of years was head blacksmith for the contractors who constructed the lines of the Pennsylvania Railway through Pennsylvania. After settling on a farm in Coffey County, Kansas, Charles Novinger had a small shop equipped with tools, did all his own blacksmithing, and occasionally proffered his services to his neighbors. In Pennsylvania he had also been interested in saw milling. As a citizen he was usually content to express his opinions and convictions and help fill local offices with capable men, though for himself he desired nothing in the way of political honors. He was a strong supporter of popular education, was a democrat and a member of the Reformed church. Charles Novinger died at his old home in Coffey County in September, 1907.
He married in 1855 Sarah Mehargue, a daughter of John and Margaret (Allen) Mehargue. The original name was McHargue, and is of Scotch-Irish origin. Mrs. Charles Novinger was born in December, 1828, and at the age of ninety is still living at her home in Coffey County, Kansas. Her children are named as follows: Mason D., of Phoenix, Arizona; Hannah, wife of Henry Miller, of Fisherville, Pennsylvania; Elizabeth, wife of William Davis, of Guymon, Oklahoma; Thomas B.; Newton, of Coffey County; Laura, wife of Edward Gentry, at Clemontsville, North Dakota; Mary, unmarried and living in Coffey County; and Patrick, of Coffey County.
Thomas B. Novinger married in Meade County, Kansas, April 5, 1896, Miss E. May Givler. She was born in Cass County, Missouri, May 6, 1877, during a temporary residence of her parents there, but she grew up in Meade County, Kansas, and her schooling, like that of Mr. Novinger, was acquired in the district schools. She was one of the three children of Samuel and Minnie (Morrison) Givler. Her sister, Mabel is the wife of Robert M. Cook, of Ashland, Kansas, and her brother, Linn L., is a resident of Rosebud, Montana. Samuel Givler, her father, was born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, February 5, 1854, and about 1858 accompanied his parents, Henry and Elizabeth (Goodheart) Givler, to Illinois, and ten years later the family came on to Kansas. Henry Givler died in Allen County, Kansas, in 1900. The children of Henry Givler and wife were: Isaac and William, both of whom were Union soldiers in the Civil war, Mrs. Anna Morrison and Mrs. Mary Faddis of Iola; David, who was a blacksmith and died at Iola; Samuel; and Lina, who married James Riley.
Samuel Givler was not only one of the early settlers of Allen County, Kansas, where he now resides, but was identified with the first opening of Meade County, being there before the county was organized. He went into that western region in 1884, and took claims sixteen miles southwest of Meade Center. He also homesteaded and was a resident and honored citizen of Meade County thirty-three years. His first habitation was like that of the other pioneers, a sod residence, and his industry was stock raising and later farming. He remained in the county until 1917, when he went back to his former residence in Allen County. He is well remembered in this section because of his official prominence. He was a deputy United States marshal and deputy sheriff, and for two terms was sheriff of Meade County.
Mr. and Mrs. Novinger have an interesting family of children. Their names are Charles D., Vance L., Nellie N., Glenn V., Howard A., Henry H., Thomas Mehargue and Mabel Elizabeth, better known as Ruth. The son Charles is one of the youthful soldiers of the National army, being a member of Company F in the Second Infantry, stationed at Fort Shaefter in the Hawaiian Islands.
Mrs. Novinger's mother Minnie Morrison, was a daughter of Robert and Eliza (Coles) Morrison, and was one of the heirs of Charles Coles, who was bequeathed a quarter section of land in East St. Louis by Daniel Boone. This land has long been the subject of a legal contest carried on by these heirs and claimants and the matter has never been settled.
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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