JOHN S. STOUT. Not only is John S. Stout one of the leading men of Hugoton, Kansas, but one whose honorable identification with public affairs has brought him high esteem all over Stevens County and has led to a wide acquaintance over the state. Mr. Stout has been a resident of this county for twenty-four years, and has belonged to Kansas since he was a youth.
John S. Stout was born January 27, 1852, in Fremont County, Iowa. His parents were Solomon and Nancy (Scott) Stout. His father was born in North Carolina and from there went to Tennessee and after his marriage moved to southwestern Iowa and secured land warrants in both Fremont and Montgomery counties. By trade he was a blacksmith, but he was a man of great enterprise and saw and took advantage of numerous opportunities that a man of less ability might have passed by. From Iowa he moved to Cass County, Missouri, and then to Wilson County, Kansas, where he proved up a claim near Middletown. He was interested in farming and for a number of years after moving to Middletown, in 1871, where he was the first merchant, he hauled his goods from the railroad terminus at Humboldt. He was postmaster at Middletown and occasionally served in local offices. Later he moved to near Ardmore, Oklahoma, and there he died in 1899, when aged about eighty-five years. He was married in Tennessee to Nancy Scott, who was born near Princeton, Kentucky, and died in Morton County, Kansas, January 7, 1909. They had the following children: Mrs. Mary Ann Straight, of South Bend, Nebraska; Mrs. Jane Bolt, of Turon, Kansas; Frank D., who founded a family in Morton County and became a factor in the affairs of Rolla community and died there in 1916, leaving descendants; Mrs. Sarah Stout, who died in Montgomery County, Iowa; Mrs. Kate Kincheloe, of Oklahoma; John Solomon; and Henrietta, who is the wife of Joseph Sellers, of Wichita, Kansas.
John S. Stout has never laid claim to being a college-bred man, but for the time and opportunity he secured a fair common school training in Iowa, Missouri and Kansas, and has always been able to "hold his own" when associating in public life with other men of the state. For about eighteen months in Iowa he worked as a farm hand, but when he reached Wilson County, Kansas, being then nineteen years old, he rented land and began farming for himself and finally purchased eighty acres on the Verdigris bottom, north of Fredonia, and that was his first independent home in Kansas.
In April, 1887, Mr. Stout settled on his homestead, the northwest quarter of section 12, township 34, range 40, near where Rolla now is, in Morton County, having been preceded to this locality by Henry Carter, Elbert Hargrove, Thomas and James Hardeman, Ellis Lee, William and John Benson, James and John Miller and Miss Jane and Thomas Little. His equipment was a team of horses and several cows, with some cash which he found necessary to expend in improvements and to provide for his family. Mr. Stout tried to follow in Morton County the farm methods he had found successful back in Wilson County, but his corn and oats both failed for a few years and then he gave broom corn and forage crops more attention because they better resisted the drouth, and in broom corn found a profitable crop. In raising cattle Mr. Stout did exceedingly well notwithstanding some heavy losses incurred during very severe winters, and eventually he came to a point when he was able to ship his own stock. The contrast between prices then and now, however, is marked, for Mr. Stout has sold cows on the Kansas City market as low as $3.55 per hundred and steers at from $3.40 to $3.80. He proved up a tree claim also and acquired other lands later on. He parted with his homestead, without ever mortgaging it, at one dollar an acre, which was about the first land that brought so fair a price. The transaction was profitable, for he was able to buy land in Stevens County for a still lower price. For one quarter here he paid $40 and for another paid $100, and for his present home tract, improved as it now is, he paid one dollar an acre. He also acquired 100 lots in Hugoton at 25 cents each, and at that time for the same price he could have become the owner of the whole town. His was the first tax certificate issued on town lots. He left Morton County in 1894, in the fall of that year coming to Stevens County. For two years afterward he was engaged in the grocery business at Hugoton and then resumed farm and stock interests and continued active in those industries until the fall of 1916.
Before leaving Morton County Mr. Stout had fixed his standing and citizenship and had served in township offices. His first vote was with the democratic party, but during the period when the people's party movement was a live issue he became associated with that organization. In 1898 he was elected county clerk of Stevens County, succeeding Herman Cann, and served two full terms and the "holdover" year. In 1904 he was elected to the State Legislature, a representative of Morton and Stevens counties, and he was assigned to committees on penal institutions, live stock and other interests. In this session he introduced a bill for the relief from state taxes of Stevens County for the sum of $6,000, for which the county was delinquent because of the action of the Board of County Commissioners in making compromises with landowners in the matter of their taxes, and he succeeded in getting his bill passed. During this session Mr. Stubbs was speaker of the House. In 1908 Mr. Stout was again elected to the Legislature and was seated only after a contest before the House, and under Speaker Dolly he was assigned to committees on penal institutions, live stock, irrigation and cities of the third class. His vote was given to the democratic candidate for the United States Senate. After serving one term Mr. Stout was out of the House until 1914, when he was returned to that body as the successor of James Phillips. He served under Speaker Robert Stone, and his committee appointments were the same as during his previous legislative service. He came to the front in this session because of his active participation in important matters, such as discussions concerning the woman suffrage amendment and the redistricting of the state for representatives. After being returned to the House in 1916 Mr. Stout assumed leadership in many important measures. He served under Speaker Keene, and his committee relations were in connection with live stock, penal institutions, cities of the third class, public utilities and federal relations. His voice was often heard during this session in support of good roads legislation, the "bone dry" law, the automobile tax bill, the movement to suppress cigarette smoking by minors and the sale of cigarettes in Kansas. He also secured the passage of a bill for the vacation of the town site of Zimo, and of another bill giving the commissioners control over the free range, permitting them to suspend the operation of the herd law by petition of the citizens. He was by no means a silent statesman, and his good judgment, liberality of view and public spirit during his years of public service have not been forgotten by his fellow citizens.
John S. Stout was first married in Wilson County, Kansas, March 22, 1876, to Miss Martha J. Ridlon, who died January 20, 1910. She was one of four children born to Alexander and Ann Ridlon, the former of whom was a native of Maine and the latter of New York. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Stout, namely: Blanche Edith, who is the wife of Tris W. Hubbard, of Liberal, Kansas, and they have three children, Dale, Irene and Virginia; Lulu Gertrude, who married William Thornburg, of Liberal, and they have two children, Edith and Loraine; Myrtle, who is in the employ of the Rock Island Railroad Company at Liberal, Kansas; Robert, who is a resident of Liberal; and Eva, who is the wife of Rollin Elliot, of Haviland, Kansas, and they have one daughter, Agnes Lucile.
In Stevens County, Kansas, on March 18, 1911, Mr. Stout was married to Mrs. Clara E. Hargrove, a lady who has long been known, admired and esteemed in Morton and Stevens counties. Mrs. Stout was born near Cairo, Illinois, May 16, 1865, but was reared in Graves County, Kentucky. Her parents were Thomas and Martha (Watson) Farless. The father of Mrs. Stout was a farmer, and during the Civil war served in the Union army. He lost his first wife, the mother of Mrs. Stout, in 1866, who left three children: Clara E.; James Henry, who died in Kentucky, and Mrs. Viola Clark, who lives in Arkansas. He was married twice afterward and still remained in Graves County and died there when about seventy-five years of age. Mrs. Stout's first marriage took place in Graves County, Kentucky, October 19, 1882, to Henry Hargrove, who subsequently became well known in the Rolla settlement, Morton County, to which they came in April, 1886. For a time the Hargroves had to be satisfied with a sod house 12 by 14 feet in dimensions, with earth floor. Mr. Hargrove dug the first well in that section, going down 112 feet, and settlers came from a radius of ten miles round to fill their barrels and casks with the lifegiving nectar. At that time the well was more valuable in this section than would have been a gold mine.
The Hargroves, Henry, Elbert and Carter, were all men of character. Henry Hargrove was survived by the following children: Myrta, who is the wife of Clarence A. Thompson, principal of the Hugoton High School, and they have three children, Olive, Helen and Esther; Ethel, who formerly taught school in Stevens County, was married to Ross G. Martin and died in August, 1914, at which time she was serving in the office of county superintendent of schools, being a woman of brilliant intellect; Freddie, who died in childhood; and Malcolm Farless, who is serving as a member of the Rainbow Division of an ammunition train, United States army, "somewhere in France."
Mrs. Stout came by railroad from Kentucky to Medicine Lodge, Barber County, Kansas, reaching that place on the first train that entered the town. The Santa Fe Company had just finished its line to that point and she witnessed the cowboy and other demonstrations which took place on that memorable occasion in the way of celebration. When the Hargroves and Stouts first settled in Morton County a common sight was herds of wild horses roaming about, and the range cattle were still in control and the settlers had to guard their crops in order to preserve them. Mrs. Stout and Mrs. Elbert Hargrove were the only women in the neighborhood where she spent her first year. They entered Hugoton behind an ox-team and for five years they did their pleasure driving as well as their farming with oxen, using them to go to church, to make distant visits to neighbors, to go to market and to haul crops and bring back supplies. Mr. and Mrs. Stout have witnessed wonderful changes in this section of the state. They have a splendid residence at Hugoton and are now surrounded with everything to make life comfortable, and not the least of these is the general esteem in which they are held.
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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