NATHAN F. WEEKS has a place among the very early residents of Finney County, where he located March 3, 1878. He attempted to develop a homestead and farm it, and went through the ordeals and trials of the pioneer agriculturists of this section. Afterward he took up a trade, and for many years has been identified with building and contracting not only in ordinary building construction but in the handling and supervision of important engineering projects. His material achievements class him as a successful man, and in the expression of a sincere public spirit he has long been recognized as one of the most substantial citizens.
While Mr. Weeks was a pioneer in Western Kansas, his father before him was a pioneer in the State of Iowa, and through the different generations of the family it has been their tendency to follow close upon the frontier line of advancing civilization. His ancestry goes back into the colonial days of Massachusetts. His grandfather, Joseph Weeks, was a North Carolina man, but subsequently brought his family into Orange County, Indiana, where he followed the business of manufacturing whetstones and grindstones, and also with his son was engaged in the milling business.
Nathan F. Weeks, Sr., father of the Garden City business man, was probably born in North Carolina, but early in life went with the family to Orange County, Indiana. There he was associated with his father in the milling business and the making of grindstones. The Weeks family while in Indiana owned the "French Lick Springs," now well known as a health resort and property of the great politician Tom Taggert. From Orange County, Indiana, Nathan F. Weeks, Sr., moved out to Iowa in pioneer times and homesteaded land near the old Quaker town of Salem in Henry County. Salem was prominent as a station of the underground railway prior to the Civil war. The senior Mr. Weeks enlisted in the Seventh Iowa Cavalry for service in the war, but after two years was discharged on account of disability. His son Tom was wounded in the Price raid at Olathe, Kansas, and an older son, Joseph, was wounded in the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas. Throughout his active career in Iowa Nathan Weeks, Sr., followed farming. He died in 1912, at the advanced age of ninety-six. He married Priscilla Jane Giles, a daughter of one of the North Carolina emigrants to Indiana along with the Weeks family. Nathan Weeks, Sr., had seven children, and three of them are still living, Nathan F., Jr., William, of Salem, Iowa, and Mrs. Emma Foss, of Salem.
Nathan F. Weeks, Jr., was born in Lee County, Iowa, March 18, 1856, but grew up in Henry County, near the Town of Salem, where he was educated in the common schools and in the John G. Whittier School at Salem. As a youth he took up the trade of carpenter, and that with its development into contracting has occupied him chiefly throughout his life. His first experience in farming was when he came to Western Kansas and located in Finney County.
Here he located his homestead as the northwest quarter of section 2, township 24, range 33. This was entered in 1879. In the preceding month he and his brother had employed themselves in picking up buffalo bones and catching a few wild horses. His brother, J. W. Weeks, who was his companion in this early Kansas experience, hnd[sic] served in the Civil war, as has been noted above, and by profession was a surveyor and civil engineer. He spent his last years in Finney County.
On occupying his homestead Nathan F. Weeks built a dugout and frame building of a single room, and then took his plow and broke up some of the sod lands. His efforts at farming had very meager returns for several years. He knew nothing of the principles of dry farming, but in that respect was not more ignorant than his neighbors. The first water ditch for irrigation was built in 1879, but it was not accessible to his claim. Mr. Weeks stuck to his homestead for five years and until he had proved up, but being unable to make a living secured work as a teamster in ditching and at other common labor. The second ditch constructed through this county was convenient to his claim, and he dug laterals and with the aid of water and thorough cultivation grew some successful crops. In the end he had his quarter section thoroughly improved, and he kept his home there for the greater part of the time until 1895, when he abandoned it.
In the meantime he had been in the mining districts of Colorado, and after leaving his claim he went to Cripple Creek and worked as a tool maker and dresser in the mines there and at Leadville and Aspen.
After this experience Mr. Weeks returned to Garden City and resumed his work as a carpenter and general contractor. He built or supervised the building of many residences in the town, superintended the construction of the North School, and built Judge Stocks' residence and the Dickinson business house. His work has also extended to heavy construction upon irrigation projects. He supervised the construction of a portion of the dam for the Amity community and erected a number of the wooden dams across the Arkansas. His business as a contractor still continues.
That community also esteems him for the serviceable part he has played in connection with public affairs. For several years he was a member of the board of education and gave eight years to the city council. He was on the council at the construction and building of the municipal light plant, an institution which he ardently advocated. He has always worked for the success of his party in politics, but has not been ambitious for public office himself. He and his wife are members of the Congregational Church. Mr. Weeks is the only living charter member of the Garden City Lodge of Odd Fellows, though he is not now affiliated with that order.
A special paragraph is due to one of Mr. Weeks' interests which he has cultivated partly as a recreation but it is without doubt a source of lasting value to the county and the state. This is his deep interest in the preservation of historic persons, places and things. At his own expense he collected numerous pictures of "first things" and also of "first persons" born in Finney County and of other matters of general interest. Through this work Finney County will not suffer the loss of many of those good and rare old things which all people appreciate though they can seldom be brought to a point where sufficient effort is set forth to perform the work of preservation. Mr. Weeks had slides made of many of his pictures and occasionally entertains his neighbors with exhibitions. In his own memory he has preserved the location of old marks along the original Santa Fe trail, and has acquired such information regarding that highway that he is regarded as one of the most reliable and trustworthy authorities on its location and early history. A large quantity of the results of his research have been gathered about him in his home, so that it has come to be recognized as an arcanum of things historical in this section. He has also become widely known among persons interested in such matters, and is sought out by them whenever communion with the custodians of the book of sealed facts about this locality are desired.
In 1882 Mr. Weeks went back to Iowa and married Miss Emma J. Knight, who was born in the old community of Salem. Her parents were William and Jane (Carlisle) Knight, the former a native of Canada and the latter of Ohio. The Knight family were Iowa farmers. Mrs. Weeks had one brother, Frank Knight, of Salem, Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Weeks have two children, William R., now in Camp Funston, and Emma J. K., who is the wife of Earnest White and has a daughter, Joan Marie. The son is a pharmacist, and was connected with the Sidenlinger Drug Company of Hutchinson until his call to the army. The daughter was for many years a popular teacher in Finney County and was a member of the faculty of the Garden City schools until she married Mr. White, who is serving with the United States troops in France.
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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