WILLIE EARL WRIGHT, farmer and rancher of Stanton County, member of the present Board of County Commissioners, is one of the younger citizens of this section of the state, and for a man of his years has achieved what his neighbors and associates regard as a very substantial success in the principal industry of Western Kansas.
Mr. Wright is a native of Kansas, born just north of Blue Mound in Linn County April 16, 1883. His father, Asel Wright, was born in New York State in 1835 and when a child moved with his parents to DeKalb County, Illinois. In 1875 he brought his family to Linn County, Kansas, and his active business career was spent as a farmer in those two states. He owned a farm in Linn County, where he died and where his widow is still living. Politically he gave his support in the main to the democratic party, but in Kansas was a people's party man and also voted as a fusionist. He never filled any public office.
Asel Wright married Sarah E. Shurtliff, daughter of an Illinois farmer. To their marriage were born the following children: Daniel Elihu, of Linn County; Abbie, wife of Noel Somers, of Emporia, Kansas; Byron D., of Logan County, Oklahoma; Willie E.; Irvin, who died in Linn County, leaving a wife and a son named Estel.
Willie E. Wright had the advantages of country schools only, and lived at home with his mother until past his majority. In 1905, at the age of twenty-two, he came from Linn County to Stanton County and homesteaded the northeast quarter of section 31, township 28, range 39. His brother Daniel was in company with him and also took up and improved a homestead here. Mr. Wright constructed a half dugout on his claim and that was his home shelter for six years. He then moved to his present location on the northwest quarter of section 34, township 28, range 39. This land is part of his holdings and it is all very substantially improved.
On coming to Stanton County Mr. Wright brought with him a wagon and three horses and just enough money to keep him above want until he could become self sustaining. The first season here he fenced his homestead and plowed up ninety acres. Crops were almost a total failure for several years, and had he relied entirely upon them he would have been routed out by starvation. To supplement the meager products of his farm he hauled sugar beets to Lakin, worked in the harvest fields of Edwards County and did some freighting and other jobs here and there, and by these means became ultimately a permanent and prospering fixture in the county.
For several years he and his brother were associated under the title Wright Brothers. Their first real start came with the purchase of sixty-one head of cattle at about $15 a head. The same animals at the present time would cost at least $50 a head. These cattle were turned loose on the open range, fed on the free grass, and by the introduction of blooded or high grade male stock the brothers multiplied and improved their herd and people began to speak of them as coming ranchers and cattle men. W. E. Wright has made cattle raising his chief vocation ever since. At the present time he has about 550 head upon his ranch, and they are almost entirely of the White Face stock, the cattle which have met all the tests of quality and condition both on the range and at the markets. Mr. Wright has frequently shipped his own stock, and is well known among the commission men of Kansas City. He has also bought and sold horses on a considerable scale since the outbreak of the European war. He is one of the stockholders of the Farmers Bank of Blue Mound.
In political affairs he began voting as a democrat and cast his first ballot for Mr. Bryan. Stanton County residents have always looked upon him as a man of substantial character, and in 1916 they paid a tribute to his citizenship by electing him as county commissioner to succeed Commissioner Figart. The present board consists of Mr. Wright, Grant Raney and Robert Friend. The board is doing considerable county and road work and they have also issued $85,000 of bonds to replace or refund older bond Issues.
At Syracuse in Hamilton County, Kansas, January 29, 1909, Mr. Wright married Miss Bessie Jinks. Mrs. Wright was born in Grant County, Kansas, May 27, 1892, the youngest child of C. N. Jinks, who came to Kansas from Vermillion County, Illinois, homesteaded in Stevens County, but is now a farmer in Stanton County. Mr. Jinks was born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1855. He married in Illinois Mary Ellen Strader, and their children were: John H.; Lewis; Mart; Effie, wife of Willie Ross: and Mrs. Wright. Mr. and Mrs. Wright have four children: Orville M., Raymond O., Melvin and Waldo Eldon.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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