ORSON L. SIDEBOTTOM. The truly successful farmer can usually be identified by the general appearance of his farm and its equipment. Thus a stranger riding along one of the country roads of Ness County and noticing the farm and ranch of Orson L. Sidebottom would at once be impressed by its improvement, the well painted barns and outbuildings, the tight fences, the sleek appearance of the stock, and would judge rightly that Mr. Sidebottom is no ordinary farmer.
His success is mainly due to his energy and enterprise, but also to the fact that he has lived in Ness County for over thirty years, being practically a pioneer. He came to the county in September, 1885. He was born in Henry County, Illinois, July 12, 1862, and his earlier as well as his later years have been spent on farms. As a boy he attended the common country schools of Illinois and at the age of eleven he went with his family to Union County, Iowa, where he grow up and completed his education. He was a part of the family home until he was twenty-seven years of age.
Mr. Sidebottom came to Kansas with his father. They brought a carload of household goods, which was unloaded at Hays City, where the family did nearly all their trading for a time. His father had already prospected that section of Kansas included in Ness County, and following his direction they came to Ness County and Orson L. Sidebottom entered a homestead on the northeast quarter of section 10, township 16, range 22. His father proved up this tract, with Orson's assistance, and the latter subsequently bought the relinquishment on the southeast quarter of the same section. There he erected a frame house 16 by 24 feet, and a stable for his horses 14 by 32 feet. This land has been his home ever since, though his enterprise has greatly broadened his land holdings and the scope of his business.
Few men have raised more crops of wheat than Mr. Sidebottom in Kansas. He has sowed wheat every year since 1886, and only three years have been without harvest. At times his land yielded in wheat only a bushel to the acre, but the small yield was offset by years of big production, when he made more than thirty-one bushels to the acre. His recent crops have yielded twenty-nine bushels in 1914, sixteen bushels in 1915, and eleven bushels in 1916. In the meantime he has also carried on mixed farming, and has been a successful stock raiser. He has shipped his own stock and during the past thirty years has handled on his land large number of cattle, horses and hogs. Besides his original quarter section he added another 160, and he also owns a half section to the north of his farm, where his father put the improvements.
His father was the late William Sidebottom, who died in Ness County in 1902 at the age of eighty-four. William Sidebottom was descended from early colonial German stock, his great-grandfather having settled in Philadelphia after following the sea for a number of years. William Sidebottom had two brothers who grew up, Felix and Larkin, both of whom spent their lives in Kentucky, and he also had one sister in that state. William Sidebottom was born in Green County, Kentucky, had only an ordinary education, and spent his active career as a farmer. He was one of the early settlers in Henry County, Illinois, where he laid, a land warrant, paying 62 cents an acre for his land. That same land only recently sold for $200 an acre. In Kentucky William Sidebottom married Celia Reynolds, a daughter of Henry Reynolds, a Kentucky farmer. She died near the home of her son Orson, August 5, 1911. William and Celia Sidebottom had the following children: Sarah E., wife of John Pangburn, of Waldo, Kansas; Felix, of Stewart, Iowa; Edward, of Ransom, Kansas; Mary, wife of William Phelps, of Central City, Nebraska; William, who died unmarried in Ness County; Robert, a farmer in Ness County; and Orson L.
Mr. Orson L. Sidebottom has not allowed his farm and his personal interests to absorb all his time and energy. He has been an interesting student of public affairs and public questions. His political career began as a greenbacker. His first vote was cast for J. B. Weaver as president. Later he voted the democratic ticket, as did his father, then became affiliated with the populist, and finally returned to the democratic party. He has attended conventions of his party and in Waring Township served two terms as trustee. In 1894 he was elected county commissioner, succeeding M. G. Hamersly. The board of commissioners of which he was a member brought about a very marked improvement in the financial management of the county's affairs. They put a stop to the shrinkage of county funds which had prevailed through several previous administrations, and the board returned to the county treasury fees which had been overpaid to officials for the preceding five years. The chief constructive labors of the board during his membership was the building of county bridges. For many years Mr. Sidebottom has served as treasurer of his home School District No. 75.
In Ness County September 12, 1889, Mr. Sidebottom married Miss Cordie Snodgrass, daughter of Hugh and Lida (Gray) Snodgrass. Mr. Snodgrass, who served faithfully in the Union army during the Civil war, spent his active career as a farmer and came to Ness County from the vicinity of Madison, Indiana. He now lives in Brownell, Kansas. His wife's mother was a native of Ireland, and his own mother was a native of Scotland. His children were: Etta, who died unmarried; Irene, who died as Mrs. Robert Sutcliff; Mrs. Sidebottom; Euphemia, wife of Ted Ray; Pearl, who married Zed Barnett; and George, a farmer near Brownell.
Mr. and Mrs. Sidebottom have reared a number of children in their home, several of whom have already taken independent places in the world of affairs. Milo is a farmer on his father's place, and by his marriage to Cora Fear has two children, Clara and Cordie; Lida is the wife of Harley Rose, of Arlington, Colorado, and they have a son, Ronald. The other children, all at home, are Felix Ira, Loren, Inez and Ralph. Ira, as a boy of thirteen raised and sold $35 worth of mellons and $30 worth of squashes in 1918 and invested his earnings in War Stamps to "help whip the Germans."
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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