ABRAM S. PEARCE. A long life, prosperity, a good nameall these have been the worthy achievements of Abram S. Pearce of Beeler, Ness County. Mr. Pearce is a veteran of the Union army, has reached his eightieth milestone of life's journey, and for more than thirty years has been a resident of Western Kansas.
He was one of the earliest settlers in his section of Ness County. In 1885 he entered the homestead where he now lives, and has therefore spent thirty-three years in practically one spot. He came out to Kansas from Northwestern Missouri. Along in the early '70s he had gained some knowledge of the Kansas counties along the northern line of the state as a grazier of cattle, but was of the opinion that conditions were unfavorable for agriculture, and consequently had returned to Holt County, Missouri, where more favorable farming conditions prevailed.
Mr. Pearce is of Welsh ancestry. His grandfather, Thomas Pearce, came to the United States from Wales and settled in Maryland. William Pearce, father of Abram S., was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, and spent his life as a farmer. From Maryland he moved to Ohio, lived about four years in Butler County of that state, and about 1855 continued his journey westward to Holt County, Missouri. He was one of the pioneers there, and did his part as a good citizen and also in bringing into cultivation some of the rich and fertile lands of that county. William Pearce married Elizabeth Hartman who died at Monroe, Louisiana, at the home of a daughter. They were the parents of eight sons and one daughter: David, Nathan, Nicholas, Peter, Arthur, Abram S., Franklin, Isaac and Mary, who married Thomas H. Davis.
Abram S. Pearce was born in Baltimore County, Maryland, May 10, 1838, and lived there until he was fourteen years of age, when his family started westward. His youth was spent in a period when there were practically no public schools in any of the state, and in the communities where he lived his opportunities were even more limited. He grew up on a farm, and as a young man learned the trade of carpenter, which he followed until the Civil war.
Mr. Pearce was a member of an Illinois organization in the war. He enlisted in March, 1862, in Company H of the Second Illinois Light Artillery, Captain Steinbeck and Colonel Ransom. His enlistment was at McComb, Illinois. He joined his company at Columbus, Kentucky, and much of his service was under General Thomas. He participated in the second battle at Fort Donelson and also in a minor engagement at Riggins Hill. After that he was with his regiment in Kentucky and Tennessee, but was in no other pitched battle. At Clarksville, Tennessee, in 1864 he was mustered out, and had spent his three years without wounds or noteworthy adventures.
After the war he went back to Holt County, Missouri, and for two years taught school, and then began farming, his place being only a few miles from Oregon, the county seat. He became owner of a tract of land there, improved it, and it was his home until he removed to Kansas.
Accompanying him to Kansas in 1885 were his wife and nine children. Four of the children subsequently entered land here. The pioneer home of the Pearce family was a sod house with a single room. Another room was added later and still later a kitchen, but the "soddy" was not abandoned until after a lapse of twenty-eight years, when Mr. Pearce erected his present substantial farm home, which has all the comforts and conveniences and stands as a progressive improvement in that part of Ness County.
The experiences of Mr. Pearce as a farmer in Ness County are interesting. From the first he tried to cultivate the soil and grow crops, but had many setbacks and failures. His first attempt was as a corn grower. That had been a favorite crop in Missouri, but after two or three plantings in Ness County he gave it up as impossible. He had better success with wheat, and has been one of the wheat growers of Ness County for a great many years. During the early '90s he raised some excellent crops, although with only a small acreage. In his entire experience he has recorded only two complete failures. His best yield of wheat was about twenty-five bushels to the acre.
His substantial prosperity is the result of his activity as a stock raiser. That has always yielded him a steadfast income, and his handling of stock has enabled him to acquire ownership of four quarter sections and bring his land up to the best standard of improvement. His family home is in section 28, township 18, range 26. Mention has already been made of the substantial residence he erected there, and in addition he has put up good barns, granaries and other improvements.
His arrival in Kansas brought a progressive and public spirited citizen to Ness County. He has always taken an interest in local politics, and has filled the office of township trustee. An active republican, he was defeated during the populist era for the office of county treasurer. He has never joined a church nor any fraternal order.
In May, 1865, more than half a century ago, Mr. Pearce was married in Holt County, Missouri, to Miss Julia A. Kunkel. They traveled life's highway together until seven years ago, when Mrs. Pearce passed away, September 23, 1911. Her parents were Henry and Barbara (Acton) Kunkel. Her father was a Pennsylvania German, and a farmer, carpenter and cabinet-maker. Mr. Pearce has in his home an example of Mr. Kunkel's workmanship in the form of a bookcase, which is one of the prized pieces of furniture.
A brief record of the children of Mr. and Mrs. Pearce is as follows: Willie D., who lives in Eugene, Oregon, married Mabel White and has five children, named Luther, Ruth, Pauline, Eunice and Milton. Schuyler, of Ness City, Kansas, has a daughter, Melba, by his wife, Cora Moore. Myrtle married Guy Reeves, of Beeler, and their children are Hobart, Ted, Guy and Merton. Miss Retta, the next in order of birth, lives at home with her father. Della married John McKelvy, of Beeler, and has a daughter, Rowena. Abram S., Jr., whose home is in Hutchinson, Kansas, married Ada Grice and has Dale and Dean. Pearl, wife of Simon Hayes, of Beeler, died June 27, 1918, the mother of Keith, Estel, Melville and Iris. Homer is a farmer in Ness County, and by his marriage to Bertha Donovan has two children, Vera and Fern. Beulah married Venus Hart, of Dickens, Nebraska, and has one child, Maryland. Mabel is the wife of Arthur West, of Hutchinson, Kansas, and has Melba and Carolyn. Raymond K. is a volunteer in the Aviation Corps of the United States army in a training camp. Kenneth H. married Fay Stewart, and they live near Beeler, and have three children, Dana, Marvin and an infant.
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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