JAMES MONROE WEESE, since retiring from his farm, has made his home in Wichita, though his landed interests are still in Edwards County, where he and the family were among the conspicuous pioneers.
The advent of the Weese family to Kansas was nearly forty years ago. The head of the family at that time was Daniel Weese, father of James Monroe. Daniel Weese filed on a tract of land in Edwards County in 1878, then went back to Iowa, and in March of the next year he and his wife and children landed at Kinsley and started in upon their Kansas experience. The homestead was in section 26, township 25, range 17, and he also took a tree claim in the same section. In coming to Kansas the Weese family brought a carload of goods. This contained six head of horses and colts, cow and calf, two pigs and a few chickens, a little feed and provisions and some household goods. After all expenses were met in transporting the family and goods and filing on the land there was no cash left. During the previous year James M. Weese, who was then in the first flush of youth, had worked for the railroad and had a little capital, from which he loaned his father $85. The pioneer home of the Weeses was a sod house with board roof but no floor except the bare ground. At this day it seems remarkable how much could be pressed in the way of goods and family activities within a single room. The parents and five children occupied that room. There were two bedsteads, a trundle bed for the children being kept during the daytime under the larger one. There were a cook stove, a bureau which had been made by Daniel Weese, and a table and some chairs. Very happily the family cow had become a milker on the way to Kansas and furnished butter and milk in abundance. The shelter for the team was the canopy of the heavens until winter came on.
After getting settled in this little home they went to work and plowed some land, planted corn, and this crop came up and made a vigorous growth until it was beginning to tassel, when the sun and wind dried it up, though it was hurriedly cut and shocked. The only money profit from the land that year was a little broom corn. Various members of the family participated in the common practice of that period of hauling bones. These bones were gathered at distances of fifty to seventy miles away. Wagons were sent as far as Mule Creek, fully seventy miles from their home. The mainstay in the way of fuel was the "chip yard," and occasionally a wagon went out to Medicine River in Comanche County and hauled some wood from that section.
Daniel Weese was a carpenter by trade. There was very little work in that line in Edwards County in the early days, when he was more frequently employed at common manual labor as a means of support for the family. In 1880 his son James M. found work as a section hand with the Santa Fe Railroad at Hartland. This was as lonely a spot as could be imagined. The only human habitation was the section house and the only human beings with whom he associated for months at a time were the section foreman and his gang. The nearest other quarter of human activities was a ranch on the Arkansas River, a number of miles away. James Weese worked there about four months, at wages of $1.60 a day.
For several years the one-room sod house protected the family. Then a box house was bought and added to it, and together they fulfilled the purposes of a house until the fall of 1885. That year a permanent home of six rooms was built, and that was the house in which Daniel Weese and wife spent the rest of their days, and it is still doing duty on the old homestead farm.
The many incidents of hardship and discouragement which are so frequently recounted by the old pioneers were largely shared in by Daniel Weese. He was forced to borrow money, some of which went into his house and some to pay interest and other obligations. While he had a bunch of cattle grazing on the buffalo grass it seemed impossible to lift the mortgage from the farm. Finally, in desperation, he sacrificed his stock, paid off his debts and breathed a sigh of relief. When he came to Kansas he set out some trees for fruit, but they did not thrive. On his tree claim he complied with the law and planted a number of trees and finally got a stand of cottonwood, many of which are still growing and mark the site of his labor and the scene of his last work. Daniel Weese assisted in organizing the first school in District No. 17 and was one of the directors. That old frame schoolhouse is now owned by Ollie Ray, who uses it as a barn. Daniel Weese was twice a trustee of Franklin Township and was the second man to hold that office, the first being Jake Welch. Daniel Weese never professed church connections. In politics he was a republican and was always ready to do his part in local affairs. He was a member of the Farmers' Alliance, went from that into the populist party, and later gave his support at different times to the democratic organization.
The father of Daniel Weese was James Weese, a farmer and a western pioneer. James Weese married Catherine Kirkendall, from North Carolina. The record of their children is: Daniel; Ephraim, who entered the Union army and was killed in the battle of Lone Jack; Elizabeth married Malachi Murphy and died in Clark County, Missouri; Sarah married John Wright, who was also killed as a Union soldier; Mrs. Mary Thompson spent her life chiefly at Eddyville, Iowa; John and George, twins, were both soldiers in the Civil war, and in 1870 went to Arkansas and died at Pochahontas in that state. Catherine married Charles Evans and spent her last years near the home of her twin brothers; Henry was a resident of Iowa; Maria married Fred Knoch of Fort Madison, Iowa.
Daniel Weese was born in Allen County, Indiana, June 22, 1832. In 1837, when he was five years of age, his parents moved out to the territory of Iowa and settled among the Indians of Lee County. In that frontier community he was reared and had an education with little help from the schools. He declared that he was never inside a schoolhouse as a pupil until he was thirteen years old. Nevertheless he got a very good education by study at home. He was, in fact, a studious man and gave much time to both the medicine and law. In the early days he practiced before some of the local courts of Iowa. He married Margaret Huett, daughter of Noah and Hettie (Clapp) Huett. She was reared in the same environment as her husband and her death occurred May 17, 1907, just a year and a month and a day after Daniel Weese passed away. Their children were: James Monroe; Maria, wife of M. T. Ingraham of Edwards County; Thomas J., of Cochise County, Arizona; Daniel F., who was a resident of Edwards County, where he died, leaving a family; and George W., of Cochise, Arizona.
James Monroe Weese was born in Lee County, Iowa, April 1, 1859, and was nearly twenty years of age when he came with the family to Kansas. In the meantime he had attended the public schools of his native county and had proved his ability to make a living for himself before he came to Kansas. His experience as a Santa Fe Railway section hand has already been recounted. After that he lived at home until 1886. In the meantime he had entered land. His pre-emption was the southwest quarter of section 14, township 25, range 17, and his homestead the southeast quarter of the same section, while his tree claim was the southeast quarter of section 22. He proved up and patented all these and still owns them. President Cleveland signed the patents to two quarters and President Harrison the other. His pioneer shack was erected on his pre-emption and consisted of a mere frame box 12 by 14 feet. After proving up he moved that shanty to his homestead and it was the scene of his first housekeeping. Mr. and Mrs. Weese began housekeeping with a simplicity which would hardly prove attractive to modern brides and grooms. His first cook stove was bought at a sale for thirty cents. His second cook stove is still doing duty for his son at the old home. Other equipment were a cupboard, bedstead and table. As a fund with which to equip himself for marriage Mr. Weese borrowed $250.00. All that occurred more than thirty years ago, back in 1886. The year of his marriage he raised a little corn and feed, but his chief money crop was broom corn. He had saved enough money by working on the railroad and other labor to buy eight heifer calves, and this gave him his start as a stockman. His cattle interests grew until he had seventy head of cattle, and as a few of them went to market from time to time they furnished the money necessary for groceries. Thus he and his wife managed to live, but when the $250 note came due he was unable to pay it and had to mortgage his land to satisfy the debt. After five years of thrift and economy and hard work he cleared off this mortgage and his prosperity has been growing every year since then. Besides looking after his farm Mr. Weese assisted to promote the Farmers' Elevator at Lewis and also the local telephone line there.
In politics he has experienced all the changing fortunes of the party in Kansas. He began voting as a republican, then entered the Farmers' Alliance, worked with the populists for a season, and is now a democrat. He served as director of school district No. 40 and as trustee of Franklin Township, and was assessor of the township five different terms. In 1896 he and his wife became members of the Adventist Church and assisted in building a church of that faith on his old timber claim.
His marriage occurred April 8, 1886. His bride was Miss Mary McCarter, a daughter of Martin and Wilmorth (England) McCarter. Her father was born in Tennessee, moved from there to Missouri, and in 1884 came overland by wagon to Kansas. He homesteaded near the Weese family and is still living on his claim. Mrs. Weese, the oldest of his children, was born June 3, 1868. The next in age became the wife of Daniel F. Weese. Martha married Thomas J. Weese. John married Miss Zimmett. Cora is the wife of George Sultz. Ella is the wife of John L. McCarter. Jesse lives at home. James M. is in Morton, Kansas. Rose is the wife of Theodore Newland, and Myrtle is the wife of George McCarty, of Edwards County.
Mr. and Mrs. Weese are the parents of five children. The oldest, Miss Carrie, is living at Wichita. Walter J. is farming the old homestead in Edwards County. He married Mrs. Susie A. Glaze, daughter of George H. Gass. By her first marriage she has two sons, Earl and Seigel Glaze. By her marriage to Walter Weese there are two children, Mardell and James Hamilton Weese. The other three children are: Miss Maude, Esther and Harley Ray, all living at Wichita with their parents. Miss Maude and Miss Esther are both teachers in the schools of the Adventist Church.
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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