John T. Fudge

JOHN T. FUDGE, senior member of the milling firm of Fudge & Thomas, of Columbus, Kansas, whose portrait is shown on the opposite page, may justly claim to be one of the pioneer settlers of this region, having first located here in 1870. Mr. Fudge was born March 30, 1837, near Abingdon, Virginia, and is a son of Jacob and Jane (See) Fudge.

Jacob Fudge and his wife were born in Washington County, Virginia. The father lived there until he reached the age of 40 years, when he moved to Iowa. He was engaged in farming throughout his active life, and died in Nebraska, aged 87 years. His wife died in Iowa aged 57 years. Of their five children, John T. is the eldest, the others being James, of Iowa; Elizabeth, deceased; Mrs. Eliza Stinson, of Montana; and Mrs. Ella Markey, of Iowa.

John T. Fudge was 10 years old when his parents moved to Jasper County, Iowa, and he first gazed on the beautiful rolling prairies of the West. He continued to assist on the home farm until he was 20 years of age, and then decided to learn the milling business. He remained four years with Miller Dix, and then determined to locate in Kansas. He conveyed his family and household possessions with a single team, a journey which probably none of the family will ever forget. He secured work with Macon, Krell & Crowell, at Columbus, where there were half a dozen houses, and continued as miller in that mill, under several managements, until 1875. He then purchased a sawmill three miles above Oswego. This he operated for two years, when he sold it and went to Carthage, Missouri, where he was engaged in milling for a year. After about four years, during which he worked for different parties, he went to Smithfield, Missouri, where conducted a mill two years for a Mr. Smith, and then removed to Columbus. After being in the employ of W. B. Eddy for a short time, he purchased a mill and operated it alone until he admitted his son-in-law, W. H. Thomas, into partnership; the firm name now is Fudge & Thomas. This firm now owns the largest and best equipped mill in the county, and the largest elevator. Its members have a fine outlook, and have been in the business so long that they have the full confidence of the public in the excellent quality of their output.

In 1857 Mr. Fudge was married, in Iowa, to Mary K. Henderson, who was born June 30, 1842, and is a daughter of William and Martha (Patterson) Henderson, who were born in Ohio. The only daughter of this marriage, Martha Jane, married W. H. Thomas, and they have three children,—Esther, Eugene and Robert. Mr. Fudge is a Presbyterian, and one of the trustees of the church at Columbus. Politically, he is an active member of the Democratic party, and still holds his position on the Democratic County Central Committee, as he has done for the past 10 years.

Mr. Fudge is a self-made man, and his success is but another example of the value of industry, sobriety and sterling honesty. His ample fortune has been made legitimately, but not easily, and it is very probable that the bit of advice he would give a seeker after his secret would be, "find out what you are best fitted for, and then keep right at it."


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Judy Hartman, staff from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, January 22, 1997.


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Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

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