WILLIAM H. VICKERS, a prominent business man of Liberal, has been a permanent resident of that locality since 1908, but altogether has spent over thirty-five years in Kansas, and was identified with the western part of the state by an early claim taking experience when all this section was new and occupied chiefly as a cattle pasture.
Mr. Vickers was born at or near Akron, Ohio, October 13, 1864. His father, John N. Vickers, was born in The same section of Ohio, was a potter by trade, and followed that occupation during most of his life. He married Mary Lathrop, who was born in Canada, and whose parents were early settlers around Akron, Ohio. She died when her children were young, leaving sons and daughters named Jacob I., of Glencoe, Oklahoma; Mrs. Ella Bruner, of Tulsa, Oklahoma; William H.; and Arkless, of Turlork, California. Later John M. Vickers married for his second wife Mrs. Mary Murray, but there were no children by that marriage.
John N. Vickers with his sons William H., Jacob and "Ark" came to Kansas in 1880, locating in Cherokee County. Up to that time the family had lived in Rock Island County, Illinois, where William H. Vickers grew up from early infancy and where his mother died. In Cherokee County John N. Vickers followed his trade as a potter, making crockery ware which his son William hauled to Arkansas, Missouri and Kansas in search of available markets. Lack of potter's clay of such quality as to compete with the good ware from the East caused an abandonment of this industry in Cherokee County and from it John N. Vickers turned to farming. He was a lover of fast horses and Jersey cows. Altogether his life was passed quietly and unobtrusively and with an intense desire to be of benefit to others besides himself. He always voted as a republican, and was as loyal in his allegiance to the Methodist Church as he was to his political party. He died at Lowell, Kansas, in July, 1911, at the age of seventy-eight.
William H. Vickers had the privilege of attending the common schools of Illinois before his mother died, and after that his advantages were extremely limited. He was fifteen years of age when his father moved to Cherokee County, Kansas, and about 1886, soon after reaching his twenty-first birthday, he left Cherokee County and accompanied by a neighbor, Tom Lowdermilk, who subsequently located in Hamilton County, came out into Western Kansas and entered a pre-emption on the Cimarron River near Point of Rocks. He came out here for the express purpose of filing on a claim close to the location of his brother Jacob, who had already homesteaded near Point of Rocks. William H. Vickers had intended to become a fixture in this region, but as it turned out he remained here about 2 1/2 years, proving up his land in Morton County. This was his maiden trip into the West. He came here with an experience more than his years would lead one to suppose. He had taken care of himself since he was fourteen years of age. He brought with him a horse and a few dollars, and his first job of work was plowing tree claims for non-residents. The tree claims were plowed by the acre and the price ranged from $3 to $6 an acre, depending upon how far it was necessary to haul water for team and man. Out of that occupation Mr. Vickers made enough to maintain himself.
After about three years along the Kansas-Colorado line Mr. Vickers returned east, and in Cherokee County, Kansas, April 4, 1899, married Miss Belle Foster. Mrs. Vickers was born May 22, 1867, daughter of James and Mattie Foster, old settlers of Crawford County, Kansas. Mrs. Vickers' mother died at Jeplin, Missouri. Mrs. Vickers has an older sister, Lillie, living at Helena, Montana, and a younger sister, Nora, married and living at Pawnee, Oklahoma. Mrs. Vickers finished her education in the old Fort Scott Normal School in Kansas, and was a talented and successful teacher in common schools for ten years. She taught at Baxter Springs, Galena and Lowell, and did her final work in the Liberal schools. Had she been willing to accept it she might easily have been elected county superintendent of schools of Seward County. She died March 20, 1918.
Some of the expressions of friends touching briefly upon the life of Mrs. Vickers show the love and esteem in which she was universally held, in all that went for the good of Liberal and humanity she was an energetic and central figure, always ready and never tiring. The Women's Christian Temperance Union and the Ladies' Temperance League and the churches in particular miss an ever-willing worker and the community is poorer today while heaven is richer by her passing away. Because of her great faith her "zeal no languor knew." Because of her Christ-like love her Christian work come first, all ether interests second. When her country called she was loyal and patriotic. She loved Liberal and was an active worker in all that went to make it a better place to live. However, it was in the home that she was at her best. Adored by her husband and children, she showered upon them all the affection of her sympathetic nature and was not only a wife and mother but a most congenial companion. Her work on the "south side" among the Mexicans was earnest and effective, the little "Mexican Mission" lying close to her heart and the spiritual welfare of those people her much concern. As a teacher in the schools and an educator she was ever popular and successful and hundreds of children who passed through her grades in the county schools expressed genuine sorrow at her passing away. Her last rites were attended upon by almost the city's population, and the funeral train which accompanied her remains to their last resting place was the longest known in the history of her town.
After his marriage Mr. Vickers did general farming for two years, and then gradually worked into the industry of market gardening along Spring River at Lowell, Kansas. Gardening, raising of truck and selling it over the zinc mining region of Southeastern Kansas and Southwestern Missouri was his principal business for about fourteen years. It was from this that he made the capital which finally enabled him to return to Western Kansas and establish himself permanently.
On his return in 1908 he bought the relinquishment on the southwest quarter of section 3, township 34, range 33. He took his family into a little 12 by 14 frame house, supplemented by a tent, and there did his first farm work in Seward County. He was financially so situated as to be able to build himself a good farm home, fenced his land, break out an ample area for cultivation and handle the proposition in such a way that all his resources were not embarked upon one line, the failure of which would seriously cripple him. He raised considerable feed as a farmer, and for a time tried hog raising. but the price was too low to make the business profitable. Finally leaving the farm he moved to Liberal, and went to work with Eidson Brothers, candy makers. He hired out to them for $35 a month, boarding himself. He applied for this job and after being accepted asked the proprietors to show him the work. Beyond that he asked no other questions concerning hours, wages or working conditions, and in fact he frequently put in eighteen hours a day. By the following spring he was a partner in the firm, in the bottling and creamery business, and remained a factor in that local business until September 1, 1913. He then bought a feed store, conducted it a year, built the Vickers Elevator, subsequently bought it, and in recent years his interests have been growing in the field of the feed business. As an elevator man he handles grain, feed and seed and ships widely all over Western Kansas. In 1917 he erected the Vickers Building, which is now his business place for his retail store.
Mr. Vickers has always entered actively and public spiritedly into the affairs of the locality where he lived. At Lowell, Kansas, he was a member of the township board, and at Liberal he was recently elected an alderman from the Second Ward. He has seen Liberal grow from a village of less than 1,000 to a prosperous, metropolitan trading point of 4,000 people. His business house and residence are his contribution to the city's growth. While Mr. Vickers' early education was somewhat neglected he has more real literary ability than many men of far superior schooling. He has exhibited considerable talent as a rhyme maker and some of his verse has enjoyed many favorable comments when it appeared in local papers.
Mr. and Mrs. Vickers became the parents of two children: The daughter Irene is a graduate of the Academy of Lowell, Kansas, the Cherokee County High School, was a successful teacher at Liberal and in some of the country districts nearby, attended the California State Normal School at San Diego in 1917 and holds a life certificate as a teacher. She is now in the schools of Helena, Montana. The son, John Aldwrid, after leaving school became a traveling salesman for a grain company of Kansas City, and is now a resident of Wichita and one of the leading oil operators and prospectors in the famous Butler County field. He has promoted a refinery in that oil district of Kansas. John A. Vickers married Nellie Brown, of Chicago.
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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