EDWARD J. WALTERS. The fortunes and experiences of the Walters family reflect nearly all the important history of that section of Ness County known as the Francis neighborhood in High Point Township. Edward J. Walters has long been a prominent and succesful[sic] farmer and rancher there, and has lived in that community since November, 1878, when he arrived with his parents at the age of fourteen years.
The head of the family when they came to Kansas was his father, Clark Walters. Clark Walters homesteaded the northeast quarter of section 8, township 20, range 22. His old home was near Goshen, Indiana, and there he had been a renter for several years and on account of ill health he brought his family to Kansas. He came with very little capital, and his means were reduced to almost nothing after he had paid for the transportation of his family by covered wagon and single team, and had erected his modest sod house. Accompanying him to Kansas were his wife and three children.
The Kansas home of the Walters family was forty-five miles distant from Larned, the nearest railroad point. Then and for several years nearly every claim had as its principal improvement a sod house or a dugout. The year 1879 was one of poor crops and only a little forage was raised on the Walters place. As a result the sons had to find work that would pay sufficient money to keep the family in supplies until the next season. They, like many others, went into Rice and McPherson counties, and from there sent their wages back home. Clark Walters was always afflicted with ill health after coming to Kansas, and died after a residence in this state of about twelve years.
Several years passed before the Walters claim was brought to a point where its products could support the family. Clark Walters also took a timber claim, later sold it, and with the proceeds invested in a few cows. Then as quickly as possible the family entered the cattle business. Eventually it was found that wheat was the most reliable money crop in Ness County, and it has always been an annual crop on the Walters farm, though Mr. Walters finds that his main success has come from other sources.
Clark Walters arrived in Western Kansas in time to participate in the organization of School District No. 18. When the postoffice at Francis was established he became postmaster, and for eighteen years the office was kept in the Walters home. Clark Walters was a republican voter and an active Methodist. The early meetings of that church were held at Riverside.
Clark Walters was born at Goshen, Indiana, January 2, 1844, and grew up on a farm and had only a common school education. His father, George Walters, was born in Pennsylvania, and before going to Indiana lived for a number of years at Fremont, Ohio, where he became acquainted with and was a personal friend of Rutherford B. Hayes, a distinguished character of Northwestern Ohio and later president of the United States. The ancestors of the Walters family were German people. George Walters died and was buried at Goshen, Indiana, where he had followed farming since pioneer days. By his marriage to Mary Fuller he had the following children: Elizabeth, who died unmarried; Lucenah, who married Amasa Fuller and spent her life in Indiana; John, who was a Union soldier during the Civil war and lived in Elkhart County, Indiana; Henry, also a Union soldier and who spent the rest of his career as an Indiana farmer; Mary, who married Milan England; Maggie, who married John McCoy, an old soldier, and died in Indiana; George, who died unmarried in Indiana; Clark; Jane, who married Mitchell McCrory, an old soldier who is now buried at Larned, Kansas; Rufus, who spent his life in Indiana; and Frank Asbury, who also died in Indiana.
Clark Walters was married at Goshen, Indiana, October 29, 1863, to Miss Elizabeth Rexrode. She was born in Rockingham County, Virginia, April 11, 1847, a daughter of Henry E. and Mary (Burkholder) Rexrode. Her father was a native of Virginia, was a tanner there, and after moving to the vicinity of Goshen, Indiana, took up farming. The Rexrode children were: Elizabeth Walters; Susanna, who married James Nicholson and died near Crawfordsville, Indiana; Simon Peter, who died in infancy; Mollie, who died at Marshfield, Missouri, wife of G. W. Orton; David, of Eldorado, Oklahoma; Martin B., of Caddo Mills, Texas; John, who died at McKinney, Texas; and Minnie, of Los Angeles, California.
Edward J. Walters was the oldest of his parents children, having been born July 19, 1864, at Goshen, Indiana. A brief record of the others is as follows: Delbert J. Walters, born at Goshen, Indiana, August 7, 1866, died at Clarendon, Texas, December 14, 1911; William L. Walters, born at Long Lane, Missouri, October 25, 1870, died at Goshen, Indiana, April 18, 1875; the fourth in age was a daughter born October 28, 1876, and died the same date; Mary Lelia Walters, born November 16, 1878, was married April 11, 1897, to Walter S. Buff, of Hodgeman, Kansas; Charles Walters, born July 1, 1881, died at Moline, Kansas, October 18, 1881; Carrie Walters was born in Ness County, Kansas, November 15, 1882, and died there September 16, 1883; Eva Pearl Walters, born July 19, 1884, was married on December 26, 1906, to Edward H. Reinert, and died May 22, 1916; Fred Earl Walters, born August 20, 1887, lived for ten years at San Francisco, California, but is now a resident of Kansas City, Missouri.
Edward J. Walters had to participate actively in the work required for making a home and supporting the family after he came to Kansas. All his education had been acquired in Indiana and he has been making more than his own way since he was fourteen years of age. In order to earn something for the family after the barren year of 1879 he went to Collin County in Northern Texas, and was employed once at picking cotton for $10 a month. He did other farm work there and in the counties of Central Kansas, and always sent his wages home. There was no special change in his condition when he reached the age of manhood, since he remained at home. In 1885 he took up a homestead, the northwest quarter of section 8, township 20, range 22, and he proved it up and still owns it, that being the nucleus of his prosperous condition as a farmer. In the early years he gave most of his time to cattle, and he also battled constantly with the ill assorted conditions of climate and soil in order to wrest a living from agriculture. While he has seen many of the vicissitudes that beset the Western Kansas farmer, he has, on the whole prospered, and has added five quarter sections to the old homestead and is now cultivating about 200 acres in the staple crops of Ness County.
He cast his first vote in Ness County for Benjamin Harrison in 1888. He has been a factor in community growth and improvement. For about thirty years he has served as a member of his school board, and five years of that time he was clerk of the school board at Ness City. When the old time political conventions were in vogue he usually attended those held in the county, and at different times was a member of congressional and state conventions. Mr. Walters is widely known over Ness County because of his former service in the office of register of deeds, to which he was elected in November, 1897, and again in 1899. He served an extra year when the new biennial election law went into effect. His predecessor in office was J. C. Lohnes and his successor, H. I. Floyd. With the exception of this period given to the county government he has constantly lived on his farm, and is first and last a farmer and stockman. One of his business connections is as director of the Citizens National Bank of Ness City. Fraternally he is a Master Mason, Odd Fellow and a Knight of Pythias.
In Ness County September 21, 1887, Mr. Walters married Miss Anna Eyer, who was born November 18, 1866, a daughter of Conrad and Sarah (Winters) Eyer. Her father came from Alsace, Germany, and her mother was a native of Baden. The Eyer family arrived in Kansas in November, 1884, homesteading land in Ness County. Mr. Eyer died at Great Bend, where his widow now resides. They were the parents of ten children, five of whom are now living, as follows: Mrs. Margaret Rowe, of Great Bend; Charles of Great Bend: Mrs. Walters; and Jacob and Martin, both of Great Bend. Mrs. Walters is an active Methodist. They have no children.
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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