ABE KEPNER STOUFER is the present county clerk of Seward County. This is by no means his first participation in public affairs in this part of Western Kansas. He is of the pioneer element of the county and for over thirty-two years his activities and influence have left their mark upon both business and public affairs. He has helped make history in the county and also wealth for it. A review of his life here shows that his car has been at the "receiver" and his hand close to the lever that has operated the machinery of local government.
He was born at Newburg, Pennsylvania, September 21, 1858, and grew up in a home of devout parents. He is a son of Rev. John M. and Margaret (Kepner) Stoufer, the former born on a farm in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, in 1818 and the latter in Perry County, Pennsylvania, in 1829. The grandparents on both sides were Germans and early day farmers in Pennsylvania. The name of the paternal grandfather was John H. Stoufer. Rev. John M. Stoufer nearly always lived in a farm environment but as a young man studied for the ministry and at the age of twenty-five was ordained and thereafter was a regular pastor of the Church of God. His power and effectiveness in church work covered a period of forty years. He died at Newburg in January, 1893, having survived his wife seven years. Their children were: William S., of Marion, Iowa; Ellen Jane, who married Joseph Watson; Samuel S., of Columbus Grove, Ohio; Katherine E., who married Will Baker and is now deceased; Abe K.; Annie E., wife of D. T. Pisle; John H., deceased; Doyle, wife of John Murphy; and Carrie, wife of Isaac Byers; and Frank E. and Blanchard A.
Abe K. Stoufer was educated in the public schools of his native county and at the age of seventeen was made responsible for the conduct of the home farm. In 1878 at the age of twenty he and his brother William came West, first stopping at Lathrop, Missouri, where he worked a season on a farm while his brother was employed as a printer in a local newspaper office. The same office subsequently became the apprentice ground for Abe Stoufer and he worked a year and a half at the printing trade there and a similar period in a printing office at Liberty, Missouri. In 1881 he became foreman of the first newspaper published at Excelsior Springs. In 1883 he helped found a paper at Richmond, Missouri, and in May of that year bought the Lathrop Monitor, with which he had learned his trade.
Selling his Missouri newspaper interests in 1886 Mr. Stoufer came out to Kansas and to Seward County. In the previous year he had filed on a claim near Liberal. His purpose in coming to Kansas, however, was to conduct a newspaper and not to farm. On April 22, 1886, he founded The Fargo Springs News. He was its owner and publisher until January, 1900, but in that time had twice moved his plant in order to keep up with the county seat. Necessarily both he and his newspaper were active participants in the contentions over the location of the county seat, but in all that time his paper never missed an issue. With the final establishment of the county records at Liberal the paper was moved there and the name changed to the Liberal News.
In the meantime Mr. Stoufer was investing all the funds he could command in Seward County land, and between 1896 and 1905 developed by purchase a ranch of 6,000 acres, stocking it with cattle. In 1905 the ranch was abandoned, was divided into small farm tracts and sold. On giving up ranching Mr. Stoufer engaged in the lumber and mercantile business at Liberal and soon built up a large and profitable enterprise. His lumber yard was sold in 1908, but he continued the store and made it one of the largest in the city until 1913. He was a stockholder in the organization of the Citizens State Bank of Liberal. Besides the newspaper experience already outlined he was owner and editor of the Liberal Independent for three years.
His public record began with his election in 1894 as county clerk, and he filled the office for two years. From 1888 to 1992 he was postmaster of Arkalon, then a town recognized as a metropolis in this part of the Cimarron Valley. In 1896 he was appointed postmaster of Liberal and filled that office until April, 1901, when he resigned in order to give his undivided attention to his business interests. One of the best homes in Liberal was built by him and there he and his wife dispense unstinted hospitality to their friends.
Mr. Stoufer cast his first presidential ballot for General Garfield. He was a delegate and an influential worker in many conventions and had a large part in molding sentiment in his part of the state. In 1912 he joined the progressive faction of the party, and in 1914 was elected county clerk as the successor of E. D. Cooper. Mr. Stoufer is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and is a member of Father Upchurch Lodge, Ancient Order of United Workmen.
December 5, 1889, several years after coming to Kansas, Mr. Stoufer married Hattie M. Martin of Garden City. She was born at Monmouth, Illinois, November 5, 1872, daughter of Solomon M. and Amelia (Frazelle) Martin. Her mother died at Garden City November 5, 1912, and her father on August 1, 1917. The four Martin children are: Mrs. James Hutchinson, of Ponca City, Oklahoma; David, of Hutchinson, Kansas; Edward G., of Garden City; and Mrs. Stoufer.
Mr. and Mrs. Stoufer have three children: Paul Martin, Eugene Edwin and Margaret Amelia. Only the daughter now remains in the home circle. Paul M., who was educated in the Liberal High School, took a course in journalism in the Kansas Agricultural College, was formerly manager of the Liberal Democrat and is now connected with Libby, McNeill & Libby, the great fruit products concern at Chicago. In October, 1917, Paul married Luvern Catlin, of Chicago. The other son, Eugene E. joined the United States Navy April 9, 1917, and is now a member of a gun crew on a transport, with headquarters at Brooklyn, New York.
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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