Francis O. Pargen

FRANCIS O. PARGEN, a leading citizen and prominent farmer of Lola township, has been connected with affairs in Cherokee County since his early childhood, his parents having moved here about 26 years ago. He was born in Livingston County, Missouri, June 16, 1864, and now resides on a farm of 320 acres in section 32, township 33, range 22, in Lola township, and section 5, township 34, range 22, in Neosho township.

Owen Pargen, father of the subject of this sketch, was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, December 23, 1843. He came to the United States as an orphan boy and settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he remained until after his marriage, when he removed to Livingston County, Missouri. Here he became connected with the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad system as section foreman, being one of the first on the system. In 1871 he moved into the Indian Territory, about the same time making a purchase of 280 acres of "Joy land" in Cherokee County, this being a part of the farm which the subject of this sketch now owns. After eight years' residence in the Indian Territory, he moved with his family to his land in Cherokee County and continued its cultivation until his death, which occurred in Chetopa in 1896. Mr. Pargen was an industrious, hardworking man, and left a considerable estate as the result of his good management. He was a devout Catholic, as are also the family which he reared. As before stated, he was married in Cleveland, being wedded to Bridget O'Dowd, also a native of County Roscommon, her birth having occurred December 28, 1831. After the terrible famine which afflicted Ireland in the early "fifties" she and her only brother came to America and located in Cleveland. The brother, John O'Dowd, now resides in Missouri, at the age of 80 years. The subject of this sketch was the eldest of the five sons born to these parents, the others being as follows: Thomas 0., yard foreman for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, at Cleburne, Texas; John, a railroad conductor living at Osawatomie, Kansas; George P., also a conductor and a resident of the same place; and James S., a twin brother of George P., who is a railroad brakeman residing, at San Miguel, New Mexico. The mother of this family died in Cherokee County, Kansas, on her 72d birthday. She was a woman of many superior qualities, and a devout communicant of the Catholic Church.

Francis 0. Pargen is the only member of the family who is not in the railroad business. On the death of his father, he came into the management of the home farm, and later into possession of it, by satisfying the claims of the other, heirs. It consists of the original purchase of 280 acres, and a later one of 40 acres made by his mother. Of the 320 acres, 120 are in section 32, township 33, range 22, in Lola township, and the remainder in section 5, township 34, range 22, in Neosho township. Upon settling on the place, 26 years ago, the father built a large two-story frame house,. 26 by 26 feet in dimensions, bringing the lumber from the Indian Territory. For years this was one of the largest farm houses in the county. It was burned to the ground in April, 1896, after which Mr. Pargen erected the present fine residence. The farm itself is one of the best in the county. All of the land but 60 acres is under cultivation, there is a good orchard on it, and it is all well fenced. A large barn, together with other necessary buildings for stock, puts on the finishing touch to a splendid farm property.

Mr. Pargen's family consists of four children,—Owen, Leo, John and James. His wife died September 23, 19O1. Her maiden name was Ellen Johnson. She was a daughter of Michael and Katherine Johnson, and was born May 10, 1866, in County Roscommon, Ireland.

Mr. Pargen is well thought of in his community and throughout Cherokee County. He has always interested himself in the welfare of his neighborhood, and has served at different times in the unsalaried offices. He has been a member of the School Board for the past 15 years, and has served as justice of the peace two terms. He is a Republican, with a strong leaning towards the union labor idea, having been that party's candidate for county recorder in its first fight in the county. His standing is unquestioned, and he deserves the large measure of respect accorded him.


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, 3/16/97.


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