D. BARCLAY WELCH. The victories of peace receive little attention from historians compared with the victories of war. The conquest of Western Kansas was of infinitely greater importance than the bloodiest battle ever fought on American soil. One of the individual fighters in that army of peaceful conquerors who went out during the decade of the '70s was D. Barclay Welch, a resident of Pawnee County since April, 1877. Taking the army as a whole, it was ill supplied and ill equipped for its purpose. It was not so much lack of money as lack of determination and resourcefulness in emergencies which defeated the campaign as a whole. Those who remained at their post through good and evil had to suffer a tremendous amount of the evil in the early days but have been proportionately rewarded with the good in later times. That at least has been the experience of Mr. Welch.
When he came into the county forty-one years ago he was unmarried and twenty-four years of age. He came out alone for the purpose of making a home. He brought along a grip filled with a suit of extra clothing, and on reaching Larned had $75 in cash. He knew farming as it was practiced in states farther east and in two weeks time he had filed on a quarter section of land fifteen miles southwest of Larned. On the 15th of May he went out to his claim with a yoke of oxen and really began his Kansas career.
His first shanty, 12 by 14 feet, was built of boards. He broke prairie during the summer, and slept on the dirt floor of his shack. He had a good yield from his first crop of sod corn and sold it for $5 an acre. That was the first money he made as a Western Kansas farmer. His claim was a pre-emption, and he was unable to commute it under the law owing to stringent times that followed. But taking advantage of the benefits of the new act of Congress passed by Senator Plumb he homesteaded his pre-emption under the same right as soldiers took their claims within the railroad limits. The law permitted him to leave the claim for a number of months at a time in order to gain a living. His outside work consisted chiefly in trailing sheep into the country. In 1881 he brought in 20,000 head from Colorado and New Mexico. In the spring he would join the sheep shearing band, and beginning work in April never slept in the house until July. That work he followed more or less actively for five or six years. At the same time he lived on his claim and looked after his farming interests during the summer.
Mr. Welch's homestead and one other in that neighborhood never had a mortgage on it or a debt against it. He still owns the homestead. He lived there and farmed actively until 1888 and in the meantime had prospered so as to increase his holdings until his ownership comprised 480 acres. It made a large wheat and stock farm with 200 acres under cultivation.
In 1888 Mr. Welch moved to his present location, three miles northeast of Garfield in Pleasant Ridge Township. His first home there consisted of a house of three rooms. During the first winter the kitchen was used as a place to store his corn. His team was ponies, costing less than $100, and he also had a "rattletrap" wagon.
At his new location Mr. Welch began mixed farming. Every year he sowed wheat. For two consecutive seasons he harvested, during one not a single kernel of grain and the other his entire crop amounted to only fifty bushels. He continued to pin his faith in wheat crops, together with a few cattle. Contrary to the advice of his wife he once borrowed money to buy seed wheat and the crop the following year fully justified his confidence. He has raised as high as thirty-five bushels to the acre, and has never plowed a furrow of the land, drilling his sod among the weeds. The seed he bought with borrowed money he used to plant 400 acres, and that year threshed 8,000 bushels. With the profits of the crop he paid every dollar of his debt. At different times he harvested three such crops as that, and the extra profits he invested in other lands. He owns 320 acres in a body at his home place, and his improvements are as fine as can be found in Pawnee County. His residence is a large and commodious place, with comforts and conveniences such as he would not have dreamed of thirty or forty years ago. His barn in the main part is 36 by 60 feet. There is an "L" 24 by 40 feet and a shed addition 17 by 56 feet, making an immense roomy place for stock and crops.
Mr. Welch was the first man to build a silo in Pawnee County. That indicates the progressive nature of his farming enterprise and suggests a potent reason for his success. He now has two large silos and his seven years experience with them convinces him that stock cannot be handled in this region with the greatest profit except through silage feeding. Seven years ago Mr. Welch began handling common grade cattle and has been crossing them with Galloway males. Since then he has built up his herd until it is almost thoroughbred and as fine as registered stock. Poultry has been a feature of his farm and buttermaking has added materially to the family welfare.
Mr. Welch estimates that he has not bought more than $5 worth of pork since he married. Some of those rules which have been constantly preached by the agricultural experts have been regularly practiced by Mr. Welch for years. He covers his machinery as well as his stock, and never allows wagons or other implements to stand out in the weather. For the past seventeen years he has owned and operated a "header" in his grain fields. Besides his extensive and model farming properties Mr. Welch is a stockholder in the Moffet Brothers National Bank of Larned and in the Garfield State Bank.
Those works which are accomplished through community co-operation have not been neglected by Mr. Welch. He has frequently served as a director of the local schools and also as treasurer of the township. He was reared in a democratic household, and has regularly cast his ballot for democratic candidates. Politically he has accepted the designation of "mossback," and is for the "under dog" always. Fraternally Mr. Welch is an Odd Fellow, having joined the Odd Fellows Lodge December 21, 1869. He is a past noble grand.
An Ohio man by birth, Mr. Welch lived in Illinois until he came out to Kansas. He was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, April 14, 1853, and the same year his parents moved to Illinois and located in Douglas County, sixty miles west of Terre Haute, Indiana. The Welches are of Scotch ancestry. The great-grandfather of Mr. Welch came out of Scotland and settled in Harrison County, Ohio. Grandfather Daniel Welch was reared near Cadiz in Harrison County and was a farmer there. He was twice married, had two sons by his first wife, and by his marriage to Miss Gray, his second wife, had three sons and a daughter. Elias B. Welch, father of D. Barclay, was born in Harrison County, Ohio, and died in Douglas County, Illinois, in 1896, at the age of seventy-six. In Illinois he was a farmer and a sheep raiser. He married Elizabeth Chandler, who was reared east of Zanesville, Ohio. She died two years later than her husband. Their children were, Reason C., who died in Pawnee County, Kansas, in 1916; D. Barclay; and John C., living with his brother Barclay.
Barclay Welch was married November 9, 1888, the same year he moved from his homestead to his present place near Garfield to Mary E. Hursh. Mrs. Welch was reared three miles from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and came to Kansas with her parents in 1879. She is a daughter of J. F. and Sarah (Atticks) Hursh. Mrs. Welch was born July 25, 1864, and has only one living brother, Russell Harsh, an implement dealer at Macksville, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Welch have two sturdy sons, Lawrence H. and John F., both of whom completed their education in the local schools and are now proving themselves practical farmers. Lawrence H. married January 1, 1918, Miss Fay Pruitt, and John F. is yet at the old home.
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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