ISRAEL L. WATTS is a Kansas pioneer. He was the only one of a colony of five families that came from Greene County, Illinois, and had the courage to endure the vicissitudes of early pioneering and to remain with Kansas until the era of prosperity.
Mr. Watts on coming to Kansas first located in Sedgwick County in 1875. His place was twenty-three miles west of Wichita. Wichita then had scarcely 2,000 inhabitants. On the long road between his house and Wichita, a day's journey, there was only one other house.
In 1898 Mr. Watts sold his Sedgwick County quarter section, which he had pre-empted and proved up and bought an improved quarter section in Kingman County on Smoots Creek near Waterloo. He paid $2,000 for the land and had $500 left from the proceeds of the sale of his Sedgwick County property. In 1898 he bought another quarter in the same vicinity, pasture land, paying $750. Some years later he sold his possessions in Kingman County and in 1904 bought 385 acres of improved land in Pawnee County, in section 20, township 21, range 17, Pawnee Township. He paid $20 an acre for this property, which had few improvements at the time. He is still living there and has been engaged in general farming, with wheat as his principal crop. Some of his acreage has yielded thirty-five bushels to the acre and in 1914 he harvested 5,100 bushels. In his experience Mr. Watts has sold wheat all the way from 35 cents to $3.10 a bushel. At present he is developing the registered stock business, and has a good selection of Black Berkshire hogs, and Red Polled cattle.
While in Sedgwick County Mr. Watts organized and for several terms was a member of the school board. He has never taken much part in politics, though he was reared as a democrat and of late years has been voting the socialist ticket.
Israel L. Watts was born in Wells County, Indiana, near Fort Wayne, April 2, 1848. He was reared and educated in the common schools there and when about twenty years of age moved to Greene County, Illinois. His grandfather was Eli Watts, who was of Scotch descent and a pioneer farmer in Ohio. Samuel Watts, father of Israel L., was born and reared near Logan in Hocking County, Ohio. When a young man he went to Indiana and took a land warrant on eighty acres, where he resided until 1866 and then moved west to Scotland County, Missouri, and died in Carroll County in that state in February, 1888, at the age of sixty-three. He married Hester Confer, daughter of Andy Confer, who moved to Ohio from Pennsylvania, his forefathers coming from Germany. The other children of Andy Confer were: John, who lived and died in Wells County, Indiana; Solomon, of Wells County; Katie, who married John Prough, of Elkhart County, Indiana, where she died; Hannah, wife of Joe Kitchin, of Wells County; and Susan, wife of Henry Prough, also of Wells County. Mrs. Samuel Watts died near Trenton in Hitchcock County, Nebraska, in 1910, at the age of eighty-eight. Besides Israel her children were: Zelda, wife of James A. Mills, who is living in Wells County, Indiana, at the age of seventy-two, and has a son, Webster, a timber buyer at Hamilton, Ohio; Lucinda, wife of Marion Murray, of Randolph County, Missouri; Emily, deceased, who married Ed Crosley, of Carroll County, Missouri, and left children named Guy and Will; Susan, who lives at Mooresville, Missouri, is the wife of a telegraph operator and has two daughters; Clara, deceased, married a Mr. Jones of St. Paul, Nebraska, and has a daughter, Clara; Henry, deceased, was a farmer at Trenton, Nebraska, and had a daughter, Blanche; Andrew, deceased, lived in Carroll County, Missouri, and had two children, Wilbur and Elmer; Eli is a farmer in Schuyler County, Missouri, and has two children, Harry and Lulu. Elias is a farmer in Carroll County, Missouri, and has children named Howard, Lester and Harry.
Israel L. Watts was married November 12, 1884, to Ellen Davis, who was born November 24, 1855, a daughter of Anderson Davis, who came out of North Carolina and lives in Jersey County, Illinois. Anderson Davis married Juliet Richey, who was of Welsh ancestry. The other children of the Davis family were: James Allen, a painter at Larned, Kansas; William, who died in Jersey County, Illinois, leaving a son, William; Lucius, who also died in Jersey County; Milton, who lives in Wichita, Kansas, and has a daughter, Ruth; Anna, wife of C. L. Mott, a farmer at Burdett, Kansas.
The only child of Mr. Watts is his son Milton Watts, who was born August 18, 1886, in Jersey County, Illinois. He grew up and received a country school education in Kingmnn and Sedgwick counties, Kansas. He has never married, has lived with his parents, and is an active partner with his father in the management of the farm. Like his father he is a socialist in politics, and has aspired to no official position.
In 1910 Mr. Watts and his son improved their home to a ten-room, two-story house. In 1911 they built a splendid barn 50 by 52 feet, with 16-foot posts and a hip roof. This barn has a mow capacity for 100 tons. It is constructed of hard lumber which they had shipped from Indiana. There are few farms in Pawnee County that have a better and more substantial group of building improvements. There is a granary with a capacity of 10,000 bushels, quarters for a garage, and sheds and implement houses sufficient to hold all farm machinery, something unusual on most farms in Kansas. There is also shelter for all their stock, and an abundant supply of pure fresh water. They have a modern poultry house and a workshop where implements are repaired without resort to the machine shops in town. Mr. Watts' experience in Kansas has been both agreeable and profitable. It has been his principle to buy land when it was cheap, improve it and when the community became thickly settled to sell at his price and start all over again elsewhere. He has been the forerunner of advanced and progressive methods in several localities. All the earnings from his present farm have been reinvested in the way of improvements and he has been content with building up the fine farm and has not invested any of his funds in elevators or banks.
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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