THOMAS A. TEGARDEN, whose varied interests, financial and otherwise, at Liberal and throughout that section of Western Kansas would require almost a paragraph to describe, came to this region about a quarter of a century ago with a lone "nickel" to represent his cash resources.
He was about twenty years of age when he came to Kansas, and the background of his early experience and his family connections are briefly described. He was born in Orange County, Indiana, May 11, 1872, son of Spencer and Sarah (Hays) Tegarden. Both parents were also natives of Orange County, Indiana. His father was a farmer and died in 1879, at the age of forty-five, while the mother passed away in 1875. They had three daughters, all of whom are now deceased, and none left children, and two sons, Thomas A. and Frank. Frank Tegarden also lives in Seward County, Kansas.
Thomas A. Tegarden grew up on a farm near Campbellsburg, Indiana, and the education of his youth was that derived from more or loss regular attendance at the common schools. In August, 1892, he arrived in Western Kansas, and began his career near Plains in Seward County as a farmer. At times he assumed the regular and conventional role of a cowboy and did various other lines of work as a monthly wage earner. The meager surplus of his earnings he invested in a few cattle and used these as the nucleus of getting started in the cattle business for himself. His grazing grounds were on the Cimarron in the Arkalon region, where for some five or six years he operated upon leased lands.
Going back to the actual time of his advent to Kansas, with the slender capital already noted, it was obviously a matter of immediate necessity that Mr. Tegarden procure employment in order to exist, even among the hospitable people of the western border. This opportunity to earn the wherewithal for a living was furnished him in a hay harvest at wages of a dollar a day, which seemed a very liberal proposition, even counting the fact that he had to make two trips a day to the meadow and back, four miles away.
During all those early years when he was working so hard to get a start, Mr. Tegarden was growing in popular esteem of his neighbors and friends, and his fellow citizens of Fargo Township elected him trustee three terms, and his strength in that particular part of the country was the chief source of his election as county treasurer. He was elected on the republican ticket, having won the nomination with little effort. He served two terms as county treasurer, going into office as successor of W. H. Feather and being succeeded in turn by George A. Smith. After this public office experience Mr. Tegarden established a farm loan agency at Liberal, under the title of Tegarden, Loans and Insurance. But the people of Seward County had not yet satisfied themselves with the service he had rendered and two years later he was again returned to the county treasurer's office winning the nomination against a strong opponent. He gave his personal attention to the office for 2 1/2 years, and then went into the People's State Bank as cashier, his county office being conducted with efficiency by his deputy. His final successor as county treasurer was Thomas Locke.
Mr. Tegarden was one of the organizers of the People's State Bank of Liberal, his associates being A. E. Blake, Paul W. Light, J. N. Evans, Frank G. Boles, Ezra Shorb and others. Since coming into the bank as cashier he has been very active in its management. The bank was established in 1914, with a capital stock of $25,000, and A. E. Blake is its president. Mr. Tegarden had still earlier been a stockholder and director in the Citizens State Bank of Liberal, which was established in 1907.
In all the years Mr. Tegarden has continued his interest in agriculture, and the longer the time the more extensive such interests have become. His first independent and actual farming was done near Plains, but subsequently, in the neighborhood of Hayne, he acquired bodies of land which under his management have set the pace and example for development in that rural locality. He has kept teams and men busy breaking, improving and cultivating the soil, and has done well both with winter wheat and the usual spring crops and food crops. He survived and even managed to get some profits from the era of low prices, when wheat sold at a ridiculously low figure and when not more than 75 cents was paid him for 100 lbs. of maize and kaffir. At the present time Mr. Tegarden owns 1,000 acres under cultivation, and these extensive farms furnish labor and means of livelihood to five different families. In 1917 Mr. Tegarden erected one of the most modern homes of Liberal, a residence of ten rooms. He also owns one of the business houses of the town. He has served as secretary of the Liberal Masonic Lodge for three years, and his family are identified with the Christian Church.
In Washington County, Indiana, November 11, 1906, Mr. Tegarden married Miss Goldie Sappenfield, who was born in Harrison County, Indiana, January 1, 1885, was educated in the common schools and is one of the twelve children of Emanuel and Annie Sappenfield. Her father represented one of the old families of that section of Indiana and was a merchant in his active career. Mr. and Mrs. Tegarden have two sons, Victor and Merle.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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