James Lamaster

JAMES W. LAMASTER. The name of Lamaster has long been an honored one in Lola township, four members of this family having been among the early settlers. The gentleman mentioned above was the first to come to the county, making the trip from Knox County, Missouri, in May, 1870. He located on the farm in section 27, township 33, range 22, which now constitutes his home,—being part of what were called the "Joy lands." Mr. Lamaster was born in Garrard County, Kentucky, November 6, 1844.

The father of the subject of this sketch was Alexander W. Lamaster, a native of Kentucky, who lived out his 60 years of life there and in Missouri, dying in Knox County, Missouri, in 1865. He was a cooper by trade and also followed farming. He married Nancy Lear, also of the "Blue Grass State," who died in Knox County in 1860 at the age of 48 years. She was the mother of the following children: Mrs. Elizabeth Haden, who came with her husband to Cherokee County and is now deceased; Mrs. Sallie Starks, of Montana; James W., the subject of this review; Mrs. Zarelda Lewis, of Pony, Montana; Mrs. Edna Earl, of Lola township; William A., elsewhere mentioned in this volume; Mrs. Katherine Lightfoot, of Deer Lodge, Montana; Mrs. Nancy Bradshaw, of LaBelle, Missouri; and Joel Garwood, of Butte City, Montana.

James W. Lamaster was 13 years old when his parents removed from the "Blue Grass State" to Knox County, Missouri. He received a fair common-school education, and learned lessons in thrift and economy in the rigorous farm life of his early manhood. His youth was passed amid the exciting events of the Civil War, but he was too young to enter the service. He remained at home until 1869, and then resolved to take advantage of the cheap lands then obtainable in Southeastern Kansas. Arriving in Cherokee County in May, he soon found a suitable location, as noted above, and began the arduous task of building a home in a new country. His first entry was a quarter section of the "Joy lands," to which he later added 150 acres of "treaty-right" land in section 29, 40 acres in section 21 and 40 acres in section 27, adjoining his home place, making in all 390 acres, all in township 33, range 22.

As he looks out upon his broad acres at the present time, his mind reverts to the period when the surrounding country was nothing but unimproved prairie, with neighbors many miles away, the nearest trading points being Columbus, Chetopa and Oswego,—the first named place having at that time only a few small houses or huts. But strong in the faith that out of these seemingly desert lands would come fertile and productive farms (for it was at one time thought that the Western prairies were barren), he worked away, breaking land for his neighbors as well as for himself, planting fruit and shade trees and adding one improvement after another as he had the means, and finding himself a little in advance every year. When he came to the county he had only a team and about $200. His first habitation was a frame box-house one story high, and 12 by 14 feet in size, with two doors and one window. This continued to be his home until 19 years ago, when he built his present commodious and substantial frame dwelling. For a good many years Mr. Lamaster kept bachelor's hall in the primitive house mentioned. For six years he ran a prairie team, making trips to and from Columbus with oxen. At first he had very poor crops, the failures being caused by severe droughts and grasshopper raids. Probably the most discouraging year was when myriads of grasshoppers attacked his 40-acre wheat field, and destroyed every blade, as well as nearly everything green on the farm.

Mr. Lamaster married rather late in life, waiting until he had accumulated considerable property and was well established in business. In 1881 he was united in marriage with Elzada Thompson, who was born near Indianapolis, Indiana, September 18, 1859, and is a daughter of Adam and Zella Agnes (Bursott) Thompson, natives of Kentucky and Indiana, respectively. One daughter, Zella May, was born to this marrige, December 28, 1882. Mr. Lamaster has been a great worker in the Christian Church, and a fast friend of education. He has at various times served on the School Board. He votes with the Populist party, although he cares little for politics. Mr. Lamaster has been a member of the A. H. T. A. and the Land League of the settlers. He is a gentleman whom all unite in greeting with warm expressions of esteem.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Josh McAfee, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 1/14/97.


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