FRED ROTH, Ness County, Kansas, was organized in 1880. The first movement of settlers into that western section of the state came about two years earlier. With that movement Fred Roth of Ness City was identified, having come with a colony of Missouri people.
His record as a business man and citizen during the forty years he has lived in Ness County is not only highly creditable to him personally but in many important degrees is a reflection of local history. He helped organize Ness County, and was on the board of elections. He was himself honored in that election by being chosen trustee of Johnson Township. He filled that office about five years. For many years he was on the district school board, and worked then and always in behalf of good schools and the raising of standards of morality and honesty in his community.
When Mr. Roth came to Ness County the nearest trading paint was Larned, sixty miles away. Such products as could he marketed from his farm were carried to that point. The most reliable crops in Mr. Roth's experience in the early days were wheat, livestock and broom corn. He and his neighbors usually combined on these marketing trips and made up a long caravan of wagons. This promoted congenial company and was also a means of assisting any one of the party who might get into difficulties on the road. In making such trips they would usually camp by the roadside both going and coming.
Arriving in this section of Western Kansas in October, 1878, Mr. Roth on the 16th day of that month filed on his homestead. His claim was the northwest quarter of section 30, township 20, range 25, Johnson Township. His pioneer home was a sod house. Later he constructed a stone house, and in the meantime proved up his homestead and developed it as a good farm. With the increase of his interests as a farmer and stock raiser he acquired other lands either from the public range or by buying them outright. When he sold his ranch it contained 1,440 acres, all under fence, with 1,000 acres cultivated and constituting chiefly a wheat field. When Mr. Roth came to the county and for several years afterwards he found wheat growing on a small scale fairly profitable. His later experience in growing this crop on a large acreage was not so successful. A number of years ago he left the farm to become a merchant in Ness City, but after a few years gave up the business and returned to the country. After three years there be sold out his ranch.
Mr. Roth was a republican, a faith he probably acquired during the Civil war, when he was a soldier in Missouri. He did not give up his republican allegiance until the more progressive ideas of the Farmers Alliance and the populist party were introduced into Kansas. He became an active factor in the Farmers Alliance and later in the people's party. As a Farmers Alliance man he served as a delegate from Ness County to the state, and from there was sent to the national assembly at Springfield, Illinois. There he was appointed and served on the committee which had to do with the mercantile end of the Alliance. He continued to be a loyal people's party man as long as that organization was in existence. He was nominated and twice elected as a populist to the office of county treasurer. He handled the affairs of the county treasuryship in the interests of economy and efficiency, and retired from the office with the continued esteem of his fellow citizens. Since populism died in Kansas Mr. Roth has not identified himself regularly with any party and has cast rather an independent ballot.
He has been a resident of Ness City since 1898. Since leaving the office of county treasurer he engaged in the hardware business for three years, and has since followed fire insurance. He is one of the directors of the McPherson Hail Insurance Company and is its district manager over thirteen counties. In Ness City he served as a member of the city council four years. He is a past grand of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has represented his lodge in the Grand Lodge and is a past commander of Sherman Post No. 30, Grand Army of the Republic.
Fred Roth was born in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, September 10, 1840, and has already seen three quarters of a century pass before his eyes. His parents, John and Elizabeth (Speicher) Roth, were Swiss people, and in 1833 they emigrated from the Canton of Berne and settled in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. In 1849 they moved out to Northwestern Missouri, locating near St. Joseph, where they farmed for ten years, and then moved to Chariton County, where John Roth died. He was a stanch Union man and two of his sons were soldiers. There were three sons in the family: John was murdered by the guerrillas in the early months of the Civil war; Christopher became a Union soldier and died at the age of sixty-five in Chariton County, Missouri; and the youngest is Fred.
Fred Roth grew up in Northwest Missouri when public schools were not in vogue, and his education came from schools conducted on the subscription plan. He had just reached his majority when the war broke out, and he enlisted and served in Company H of the Second Missouri Cavalry State Troops. All his service was within the state, and he took part in some of the skirmishes with bushwhackers and with the guerrilla bands of Poindexter and Porter. Though this was very dangerous service he escaped without wounds. Before the war was ended he left the army and became a fireman on the old Hannibal and St. Joseph Railway. He was running on that line when Mr. Lincoln was assassinated. He soon afterwards gave up his position as a railroad man and resumed the work to which he had been trained as a boy, farming. He farmed his father's old place where the Town of Rothville is now located. His father owned the land from which the townsite was taken, and the town was started by Fred Roth and his brother. With these various activities just described Mr. Roth had a busy and versatile career until he came out to Kansas in 1878 with a Missouri colony that located in the southwest part of Ness County.
March 30, 1870, he married Buenavista Ebbert. Her parents, Joseph and Margaret (Myers) Ebbert, came from Pennsylvania, and their children were: George; Mrs. Roth, who was born in March, 1852; and Malinda, who married Isaac Bond.
Oliver N. Roth, the oldest child of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Roth, is pastor of the South Lawrence Christian Church in Wichita, and married Ethel M. Harris and has a son, Oliver J. Roy J., the second of the children, is a successful farmer in Johnson Township of Ness County, and by his marriage to May Bartels has two children, Myra and Hugh. Ivy, a native of Ness County, is the wife of J. A. Knotts, of Omaha, Nebraska, and has a son, James, Jr.
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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