George W. Canfield

GEORGE W. CANFIELD. The name which we are here permitted to present will probably be recognized by more people in Cherokee County than most others mentioned in this volume, owing to the fact that Mr. Canfield has been a resident of the county continuously since the year 1866. In that year he located on 160 acres in section 8, township 33, range 22, in Lola township, which now comprises a part of the splendid farm which he has developed from the wild prairie. Mr. Canfield is a New Yorker, having been born at Willetstown (now Willet), Cortland County, December 8, 1842.

Mr. Canfield's parents removed to French Creek, Chautauqua County, New York, when he was two years of age, and there he passed the time until he attained his majority. At the age of 23 years he left home, and after spending the winter of 1865 in Winnebago County, Illinois, came to Cherokee County, Kansas. He arrived in the county before the ratification of the treaty with the Indians and, of course, before there was any county organization. It is not easy at this date to realize the wild state of the County at that time, with Kansas City the nearest railroad point, and Fort Scott the nearest trading center. Wild game was abundant, Indians were all about, and the country was full of vicious white men, who had been members of guerrilla bands during the war.

Mr. Canfield had come to stay, however, and although without means he started to build himself a home. He purchased a log cabin built by the Osage Indians, and moved it onto his claim, and that was his home until he built a better one. A team, a few household goods, $5 in money and a good wife at this time constituted his possessions. With the aid of his team, he got a start by hauling goods from Kansas City to Fort Scott during the summer, receiving $10 for each load. He also brought cattle from Missouri, being paid for his time at the rate of $1 per day. In the meanwhile, at odd times he broke several acres of his land, an area not much larger than a good-sized garden spot, but enough to raise a few necessaries, and these., together with wild game, and the few groceries he secured by hauling, carried the family through the first winter. Fortune began to shine on him, however, and it was not many years until he was looked upon as one of the solid men of the county. In time he added another 80 acres to his farm, and he now has 240 acres in sections 7 and 8 under cultivation and well fenced. There is a fine orchard of 10 acres, and there are many fine shade trees on the farm, all of his planting. An addition was made to the old Indian cabin, which was finally replaced by a large farm house. Mr. Canfield is well equipped for general farming, having one of the largest barns in the county, and every necessary piece of machinery.

George W. Canfield is a son of Lewis D. and Harriet (Huling) Canfield. The father was a native of Otsego County, New York, and was born in 1812. He was a farmer and miller, and spent his life in his native State, engaged in these occupations. He was successful in business and was prominent and influential in the affairs of his day. He was a Whig in politics, and an Abolitionist, on the slavery question. His religious views were those of the Free Will Baptist Church. He spent a long and useful life, dying at the age of 72 years. The Canfields are of English descent. George W. Canfield's grandfather, Abraham Canfield, removed from New England, and settled on a farm of 640 acres in Willet, where he reared a family of three sons and as many daughters. He was a Universalist in religion, and a Whig in politics.

Lewis D. Canfield's wife was born in New York in 1816, and was a daughter of Rev. Daniel Huling, who was for 35 years a minister of the Free Will Baptist Church in Western New York. The latter part of his ministry was in Chautauqua County. His wife, Elizabeth, survived him a long time, dying at the remarkable age of 110 years.

To Lewis D. Canfield and wife four children were born, namely: Mrs. Lydia Peet, who died when 36 years of age; Julia, who died at the age of 20 years; George W.; and Harris A., who become a physician, and is residing in Bradford, Pennsylvania. There was one child by a second marriage of the father, namely: William, a lecturer by occupation, who lives in Oil City, Pennsylvania.

The wife of George W. Canfield's youth, whom he married in Illinois, was Theresa Huling. She died in Cherokee County, at the age of 30 years, leaving two children,—Lewis D. and Harris. Lewis D., born August 31, 1866, is a farmer if Lola township and has two children.—Theressa and Margaret. Harris resides with his father. Their mother was a daughter of Rev. Louis and Olive Huling, the former an early pioneer. It is said that Rev. Mr. Huling preached one of the first sermons in the county, at River Bottom, in the spring of 1866. Mr. Canfield's present wife was Amanda A. Bowman. She is a native of Indiana, born in 1857, and is a daughter of Henry and Elizabeth Bowman. All of her nine children are living at home. They are as follows: Madella, Mamie, George, Jay, Clair, Edward, Edna, Alba and Marvin.

As before stated, Mr. Canfield has always been prominent in the affairs of Cherokee County. He was active in the organization of the county and township, and served in different minor offices. He was for 17 years a justice of the peace in Lola township. Formerly a Republican, he cast his last vote in that party for James G. Blaine. In the breaking up of party lines which followed this contest, Mr. Canfield espoused the Populist cause, and has since been prominently identified with its history. He was a delegate to the recent national convention at Cincinnati, and to the Topeka convention. He is a member of, and helped to organize, the A. H. T. A. In educational matters he has ever been helpful, aiding in the building of the first school house in the county.

The foregoing sketch will serve to acquaint the reader with the salient facts in the career of one of Cherokee County's best citizens, a gentleman whose life has been wholly honorable, and whom all hold in the highest esteem.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 2-28-97.


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