JAMES ISAAC STAMPER. The annals of Meade County from the period of earliest settlement to the present would lack one of its familiar and most conspicuous names with a failure to mention the Stampers. Several of the family still live at Meade, including Mr. James Isaac Stamper, who was a boy when brought to this western country and has long been prominent in local and public affairs and is one of the best known auctioneers in the Southwest.
His father was the revered and venerable retired Methodist minister, Rev. John Nelson Stamper, who died in May, 1918, in his eighty-ninth year. Rev. Mr. Stamper was born in Eastern Tennessee, four miles east of Cleveland in that state, October 11, 1828. His grandfather, Jonathan Stamper, came to America from Ireland, and it is believed that he also was a preacher. Rev. John N. Stamper has two sons, John W. and James I., but in all the other generations there has been some of the male members who have been actively identified with church work as preachers. Asa Stamper, father of Rev. John N., was a native of North Carolina and moved from there into Bradley County, Tennessee. He was one of the pioneer Methodist preachers and circuit riders, and did a great deal of good in the mountain districts of Eastern Tennessee. Rev. Asa Stamper married Sarah Fender, and their children include John N., Robert, James, Isaac, Joseph, Mrs. Newton McKinney and several other daughters. Most of these children migrated into western and northern regions and the family are now widely scattered. All the sons of Asa Stamper were Unionists in sentiment when the war came. Two of them volunteered in the Union army. Rev. John Nelson Stamper and another brother were conscripted into the Confederate service. Rev. Mr. Stamper served as a drummer in a Confederate command. After about a year and a half he managed to escape to the Union lines, and it has always been a matter of regret that he was forced to enter active military service against the flag of the Union and he always made special effort to redeem that part of his record with increased love and loyalty to a united country. He always voted the republican ticket. While a mild mannered man he manifested considerable enthusiasm at elections and never failed to vote. He had strong convictions on all public questions and supported them without fear or favor.
Rev. Mr. Stamper received a common school education in Bradley County, Tennessee. He brought his family from Tennessee to Kansas in wagons and arrived in Butler County in November, 1879. Locating for a time at Augusta, Rev. Mr. Stamper helped build the grade of the Frisco Railway from that place to Wichita. He soon had an appointment on the Augusta Circuit in Butler County, and as his ministerial labors were insufficient to support the family he rented laud in the White Water bottom where oil wells are now so numerous. He also stayed the allotted time as a minister at Leon, preaching to that congregation and doing some rural work besides. He brought with him to Kansas his wife and seven children, and their living and education had to come out of his earnings in the pulpit and on the farm. In the early days he was a typical circuit rider and missionary, and it was his duty to organize churches and Sabbath schools.
After five years in Butler County Rev. Mr. Stamper moved on to Meade County, where he arrived in 1885. At the old Town of Mertilla he drew the people together in a Methodist congregation, and it was his influence that caused the building of many church homes all over Meade County. His preaching was not the polished kind that fascinates and intoxicates the crowd but consisted of good old Bible doctrines, like the preaching of early day Methodists and followers of the Wesleys. Rev. Mr. Stamper touched nothing outside of the work in hand and always lived quietly and without ostentation. He felt the pinch of hard times in this western region, like other frontiersmen with little means. He was a typical Methodist preacher of the early day, poor and with a big family.
In Meade County where he settled, near Mertilla, before the county was organized, he filed on a homestead and tree claim, the east half of section 19, township 30, range 29. He proved up both claims, planted trees and developed shade for his house and stock, added buildings and agricultural conveniences and engaged in stock raising, but after ten years he moved closer to Meade and his last ten years on the farm were spent just southeast of the county seat. He gave up the active work of the pulpit on account of impaired health about 1890. Though superannuated he for several years preached the annual sermon of "Old Folk Day" in Meade, where he moved in 1900.
Rev. Mr. Stamper married Mary Agee, who was born near Bly's Ferry, Virginia, and died in 1912 at the age of eighty-two. Her parents were Asa and Mary (Bounds) Agee. Mrs. Mary Stamper was a small girl when her parents went down the Tennessee River in boats to Bradley County, Tennessee, and she did duty in steering one of those boats. The children of Rev. Mr. Stamper and wife were: Sarah E.; John W., of Portland, Oregon; Louise, wife of T. A. Fenton, of Wichita; Nannie, wife of Judge A. G. C. Bierer of Guthrie, Oklahoma; Mary C., wife of E. F. Tebbe, of Perry, Oklahoma; James I.; and Martha, a twin sister of James, who died at the age of fifteen and is buried at Garden City.
James Isaac Stamper was born in Monroe County, Tennessee, December 22, 1869, and was not yet ten years of age when his family moved from McMinn County, that state, to Kansas. He had some of his early experience as a farmer in hoeing corn on his father's rented lands in White Water Bottom of Butler County. Later he was with his father on the old homestead in Meade County and while there he entered a quarter in section 20. He received much of his education in the Garden City schools and while attending school he paid his way by working in the stores and also had a job in a livery stable at $5 a week, boarding himself. While the family was at Leon he gained his first clerical experience, working in a store owned by a Jew. He also helped stockmen drive cattle out of the flint hills. These early labors were part of his contribution to the family support.
He did farming for some years in Meade County and has always been something of a trader. The Stamper family suffered many of the hardships and lived close to the border line of real poverty until 1892, when the first big wheat crop came and removed the scarecrow of hunger. After the family moved to the farm near Meade, James I. worked in town. He has proved a ready adaptability to various trades and occupations and at different times has been employed as carpenter, mason and plasterer. He also helped move houses all over this section of the country.
In 1900 he married and bought his father's interest in their common holdings and after that for some years he was a regular farmer, stock raiser and also operated a water well drilling outfit. With his machine he put down about 100 wells in this region. His landed possessions grew and on pastures he ranged a good bunch of "black cattle" which he finally sold at an average of about $14 apiece. On leaving the farm Mr. Stamper moved to Meade, where for a time he was engaged in carpenter work, later was a furniture dealer, and continued merchandising until 1910. At that date he was appointed postmaster of Meade, and was incumbent of that office from April, 1910, to September 30, 1913, when he resigned and was succeeded by Miss Mildred Johnston, his assistant.
Many men possess latent talents which are discovered only by accident. It was an incident if not an accident which brought Mr. Stamper into the auctioneering profession, While he was a furniture merchant at Meade the townspeople were holding a bazaar. The proceeds of that sale of miscellaneous articles were to be applied for the purpose of a waterworks plant. All the articles had been sold except a few odds and ends, and when some one of the managers proposed "Jim, you get up here and sell the rest of this stuff," Mr. Stamper responded and disposed of it evidently to the satisfaction of many. A few days later a local tradeswoman in the millinery and dry goods business asked him to sell out her stock. He cautioned her that he was not an auctioneer, but she replied, "You are a good enough auctioneer for me." He went ahead issuing the bills, the sale was held on schedule, and that was his first real effort as an auctioneer. Calls came to him from every direction to cry sales and he found himself in a new profession or business. It was a service to which he was not averse, and in order to perfect himself the better for its pursuit he accepted every opportunity to improve his knowledge and ability, reading up all the auction works and joining the State Auctioneers Association. On leaving the postoffice Mr. Stamper found his time practically all taken up with his new profession. From July, 1915, to July, 1916, he was in the automobile business, handling the Overland car. His work as an auctioneer has been done all the way from Hutchinson to Delhart, Texas, and all over this southwest region his salesmanship, his ready wit and resourcefulness in every emergency are well known and appreciated. For several years he has averaged sixty sales annually and some years ago he was elected president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association and with the exception of 1914 has been continued in office ever since. For four years he also acted as court cryer for Deaver County, Oklahoma. Mr. Stamper has some very substantial interests; is a stockholder in the Meade Water Works, the Fair Association, the Electric Light Plant and the Farmers Equity Union. He cast his first presidential vote for Major McKinley, and has always been a republican, so that he did not have to "come back into the party." He is county chairman at present and has been since the reorganization of the local party. Mr. Stamper is president of the Commercial Club of Meade, is vice chairman of the County Council of Defense and on the executive committee of the Red Cross for the county and is a first lieutenant in the State Guards, is vice president of the International Auctioneer Association, and is an entered apprentice in Masonry. He and Mrs. Stamper are active members of the Episcopal Church. Mrs. Stamper is chairman of the Woman's Auxiliary of the County Council of Defense, and was also of the food conservation and the third liberty loan drive. She is also active in Red Cross work here.
December 25, 1900, in Mende County. Mr. Stamper married Miss Lottie W. Snyder. Mrs. Stamper was born in Chase County, Kansas, and finished her education in the County Normal schools after attending grade schools in Lewis County, New York. She did her first work in teaching in that state and was a teacher in Western Kansas until her marriage. Her father, Henry Edward Snyder, was born in New York State, but came as a pioneer to Chase County, Kansas, where he was a farmer and stock raiser. Mr. Snyder was a real pioneer of Kansas, having come to the state before the Civil war. During that struggle he was a lieutenant in the state militia. He was a man of good education, took considerable interest in democratic politics, and at one time was his party nominee in Kansas for Congress. From Kansas he finally returned to New York State, and was in the saw mill business at Bear Creek, where he died in 1890. He married Alice J. Allen, who died in Chase County, Kansas. She was a daughter of Cyrus G. Allen. Henry E. Snyder and wife had five children, three dying in infancy, Henry Edward, of Englewood, Kansas, and Mrs. Stamper, who was born March 20, 1870. Mr. and Mrs. Stamper have one child, Jamie Katherine.
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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