JOHN T. SHULL. In the early and middle eighties many settlers came to Kansas and, as a class, they were fine people. Few perhaps were greatly endowed with worldly goods, but they had resolution and courage and the solid qualities and quiet virtues that make men homelovers and homebuilders. These broad prairies did not attract this class as objects of barter but as homes for themselves and as goodly heritages for their descendants. Coming in this spirit, it is not difficult to understand why advancement has been so rapid in Lane County, where settled some of the men who are now ranked with the wheat barons of the state and with the great stock industry that materially affects the markets of the country. One of these early settlers is found in John T. Shull, a highly respected citizen of Dighton.
John T. Shull was born October 27, 1853, in Watauga County, North Carolina. His parents were Joseph and Elizabeth (Mast) Shull. Joseph Shull was born in North Carolina in 1802. He was a son of Simon Shull, who was a son of Frederick Shull, who was a native of Germany and founded the family in North Carolina. Joseph Shull married Elizabeth Mast, who was fifteen years younger than himself. Her father, John Mast, came to North Carolina from Switzerland. The following children were born to Joseph Shull and wife: William, who died in Tennessee; Caroline, who, married William Horton, died in Tennessee; Noah, who lives near Maitland, Missouri; Philip, who lives also in Missouri; Benjamin, who lives at Myrtle Point, Oregon; John T., of Dighton; James M., who still lives in Watauga County, North Carolina; and Addis, who married John Taylor. They came to Missouri in 1885, and she died at Skidmore, in that state. Joseph Shull and wife saw four of their sons enter the Confederate army during the Civil war and lived to welcome them home again. Prior to the war Mr. Shull owned some land and also had two slaves. Both he and wife died at the age of eighty-five years.
When John T. Shull reached Lane County, Kansas, coming by rail as far as Cimarron, he selected a homestead and filed in September, 1885. The law gave six months as the allowance of time to settle and he returned to North Carolina for his family, early in 1886 becoming a permanent settler. He had but limited capital and depended upon securing work outside his claim to tide him over until he could make his homestead profitable, but first he provided a home for his family and a shelter for his team of horses. Although his dugout was of the usual type and its dimensions were only 10x12 feet, it was made somewhat more comfortable than many others as he had floored and plastered it before putting on the roofing and covered it with sod. A similar sod structure protected his horses.
About the first outside work Mr. Shull found was in freighting, and in this enterprise he and a brother-in-law went into a kind of partnership, each working alternately on the claim and in carrying goods from Grainfield, Wakeeney and Garden City into Dighton. They continued to haul goods until 1887, when the railroad came through and the business was no longer profitable. The two partners were ready to work for their neighbors at ploughing or well digging and thus eked out a living while gradually accumulating a few cattle and getting the farm into paying shape. Mr. Shull soon constructed a second residence, much after the manner of the first but larger and more comfortable, and that continued the family home for the next twelve years.
Mr. Shull's first wheat crop was thirty bushels, which he harvested in 1888, and as there were no threshing machines in Lane County at that time he utilized the old primitive method of Bible times and had the grain trampled by the horses. This provided him with plenty of seed for his fall sowing and in 1889 he harvested 625 bushels, and each succeeding year, with the exception of 1893, he has had larger and larger yields of the precious grain, and now has 800 acres of his homestead in Blaine Township under cultivation, devoting 600 to wheat and in 1903 harvested 10,000 bushels. During the twenty-four years that Mr. Shull remained in the country he added twelve quarter sections to his possessions. In 1910 he moved to Dighton, having shifted some of his responsibilities to his sons.
Mr. Shull has been successful as a cattle and stock raiser and in early days he added to his income by taking in cattle during the summer and ranging them at twenty-five cents a head. Later he went into horse and mule raising on an extensive scale, at one sale disposing of twenty-four head. His sons are yet giving this business some attention but their main interest lies in grain farming. Since 1892 Mr. Shull, with his sons, have been in the threshing business and during this time they have owned and operated four separators and three tractors.
Mr. Shull was married November 6, 1874, to Miss Chanie C. Hayes, who was born in April, 1856. Her parents were George and Pollie (Smith) Hayes, natives of North Carolina. Mrs. Shull has two sisters: Elizabeth, who, is the widow of Brazilla Green, who contracted tuberculosis in the army and died at home and she lives in Watauga County, North Carolina; and Margaret, who is the wife of Joseph McGuire, also lives in that county.
To Mr. and Mrs. Shull the following children were born: Nora, who married Robert Rayl, of Twin Falls, Idaho, and they have children bearing the names of Laura, Mary, Robert, Helen and Dorothy; Joseph, who is a farmer and operates an elevator at Amy, Kansas; Hattie, who married William P. Owen, of Dighton, and they have three sons; Thomas, who resides on the home ranch, married Edna Stone; Clarence, who is a farmer in Lane County, resides here with his family, married Anna Norman and has two children; John, who lives on the home ranch; William, who is a ranchman and also a teacher in the public schools; and George F., who resides on the home ranch.
While the early settlers in Lane County were justifiably concerned in advancing their material interests, a number of these, like Mr. Shull, soon became concerned in regard to church and school privileges, and he assisted in organizing what is now school district No. 26, on his farm. He helped to build the first schoolhouse, a frame structure 18 by 28, in which the first term of school was taught by a Miss Vestal. Mr. Shull was clerk of the school board from its organization until he moved out of the district. At one time Mr. Shull's children were the only ones in the district and Mr. Shull and an unmarried man the only available officeholders, and during one winter Mr. Shull taught the school in his own house, with his children as his pupils.
In church affairs Mr. Shull was equally forward and efficient. The first Methodist Episcopal Church was organized at Healy, Mr. Shull being one of the prime movers in the plan of erecting the church edifice there. The building was purchased in Dighton and torn down and the lumber used in the construction of the church building in Healy. The building in Dighton cost $100, the expense being defrayed by ten men, each one of whom had to borrow the money at that time. The church extension fund furnished $150 and when it was completed and dedicated it was entirely out of debt. Mr. Shull was one of the trustees of this church and for several years was superintendent of the Sunday school, in which he took a deep interest. He has been generous in his support of all Methodist churches and is well known in church bodies all over the county, having frequently been a delegate to the church conferences held at Winfield, Garden City and Wellington.
In politics Mr. Shull has always acted with the democratic party in Kansas, but from no personal motive, as his time and attention have been too continually occupied with business affairs to permit his accepting any office of heavy responsibility. He has been ever interested, however, as a citizen and his party loyalty has been shown by his consenting to serve on many occasions as a delegate to party conventions. Few men in Lane County are better or more favorably known.
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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