HARRY D. PHELPS. The ideal of contentment and happiness in the estimation of the Old Testament writer was attained by the man who could "rest under his own vine and fig tree." In modern times and in the temperate zones other fruits must be substituted for the grape and the fig, but now, as for thousands of years, most men cherish somewhere in their hearts and beings the same ambition which was so beautifully and fitly symbolized by the biblical poet.
Since civilized men first began occupying Western Kansas the familiar landscape has been waving grain fields and vast undulating pastures. But for years men have tried to grow trees, and in many cases have succeeded, so that the landscape is gradually being broken by tree vistas. During his early boyhood Harry D. Phelps, of Garfield, was accustomed to the treeless prairies. For many years after leaving his old home he was immersed in the turmoil and stress of the great commercial centers of American life, but latterly has returned to the scenes of his boyhood and has taken upon himself the mission of not only cultivating his own modest fruit ranch but of extending the gospel of horticulture and the beauties and benefits thereof all over Pawnee County and beyond. Mr. Phelps and his wife are enthusiastic horticulturists. They are proprietors of Phelps' Snug Arbours at Garfield, the largest orchard in Pawnee County of the great trade mark varieties of Stark Brothers Nurseries.
Pawnee County people speak well of the Phelps family. Harry's father, Clinton H. Phelps, became identified with pioneer Pawnee County as early as March, 1874, when there was hardly 100 acres of cultivated land in the entire county. He became the first postmaster of Garfield, and also conducted a general merchandise store. He took up one of the first homesteads in the county. His claim was the northeast quarter of section 30, township 22, range 17. He did not live to prove up this claim, since his death occurred in June, 1876, at the age of forty-two.
Clinton H. Phelps was an Ohio man. Before coming to Kansas he had rendered his country valiant service as a soldier. He was a non-commissioned officer of Company C, One Hundred and Twenty-Fifth Ohio Volunteer Infantry. The four years he spent with the army were years of faithfulness to duty and almost constant campaigning. He was several times wounded, fought in many of the greatest battles of the war, and continued with his regiment until several months had passed following Lee's surrender at Appomattox. He was discharged in Texas. The Phelps family came out to Kansas as passengers on one of the earliest of the Santa Fe trains. The terminus of the road then was at Dodge City. Mr. Phelps brought with him sufficient means to set up a good store at Garfield, and he was in a fair way to prosperity when he died. In 1880 Mrs. Phelps married George W. Stone, and resided in the vicinity of Garfield until her death which occurred in September, 1914, at the age of seventy-six. In the family of Clinton H. Phelps and wife were the following children; Harry D.; Mary, wife of Rivus R. Moore; and Gertrude E., who married Robert Carden and died in Kentucky in 1910.
Harry D. Phelps was born in Ashtabula County, Ohio, January 15, 1870, and was four years of age when he came to Kansas. His education began at the early Garfield public schools and he afterwards attended Baker University at Baldwin, Kansas. A great fund of natural energy, an early environment which made him dependent upon his own exertions, and a steady ambition placed him in the army of the world's workers at an early age, and while he won many promotions he is not yet ready to resign his commission and retire.
He early learned stenography and became an expert. It is the same profession which has opened the door of opportunity to many successful business men. He was employed in offices and also in railroad work and for a time was connected with the treasury department at Washington. Later he was in the Government Land Office at New Orleans.
Mr. Phelps has had something to do with politics. During the campaign years 1904, 1908 and 1912 he was connected with the auditing department of the National Democratic Committee. While an assistant to the treasurer of the National Committee during these campaigns he was close to the directing heads of the campaigns both in and out of Washington. It was his good fortune to meet and know the leaders of national fame in politics and execute orders for them. He also received and disbursed large funds under the direction of the committee.
Mr. Phelps for a number of years traveled extensively both as a regular commercial man and on various missions. He has had a thorough newspaper experience. He was for five years connected with the editorial department of the New York Journal. That connection in particular put him into contact with the offices and the personalities of many of New York's big business men, and with a number he established a friendly and somewhat confidential intercourse.
For about twenty years Mr. Phelps had his home in New Orleans. While in the South he met his wife, an Alabama lady, formerly Miss Lillian LaPraize. She is of Spanish origin. For a number of years before her marriage she was connected with metropolitan hospitals. They were married in November, 1915. After his marriage Mr. Phelps felt it incumbent upon him to establish a home of his own. He therefore returned to the scenes of his childhood and to his estate at Garfield, abandoning the gleam and glamour of metropolitan existence and withdrawing from the turmoil and confusion of a score of years spent at high tension. Among his holdings is the original Phelps homestead, and he is one of the modest wheat growers in that region. During recent years he has represented the Stark Brothers Nursery. He has long been an enthusiast at tree culture, has made a profound study of it, and it is his special business to educate his community to the necessity of more trees and more orchards and better trees and better care of them. He has conducted experimental and demonstrating orchards on a large scale, and his work has been enjoyed by farmers and fruit growers.
In his new field Mr. Phelps is earnestly supported by his wife, whose interest in fruit and trees is manifest in the orchard and arbors about their home. They have endeavored and have already succeeded to a large degree in making the "Snug Arbours" an object lesson and an advertisement of the effective work being done by the Stark Nurseries in localities where trees will grow. Thus Mr. and Mrs. Phelps are finding their highest happiness among people who produce and preserve life and are themselves a positive element of good in a district that is characteristically and typically agricultural.
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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