WILLIAM PERKINS, a prosperous farmer and representative citizen of Shawnee township, owns a well improved farm in section 7, township 33, range 25. He was born in Daviess County, Indiana, February 9, 1866, and is a son of Elisha and Zerelda (Gates) Perkins.
The Perkins family is of English stock. The great-grandfather, Elisha Perkins, came from England in Colonial days and settled in Virginia, where his son, Elisha Perkins, was born. The latter moved to Ohio, thence to Kentucky, and located in Daviess County, Indiana, in 1815, before the admission of Indiana to statehood.
The third Elisha Perkins, the father of William, was born in Daviess County, Indiana, April 21, 1832, and until his marriage cultivated the homestead farm. Then he purchased a farm of 80 acres, and by a second purchase added 80 acres more. This farm continued to be his home until 1873, when he sold out and came to Cherokee County, Kansas, settling on a farm located two and a half miles north of Hallowell. He remained on this farm until 1876, and then moved to a point six miles west of Columbus, where he resided until 1882. Then he moved to Columbus, and lived retired until his death, on December 19, 1900.
Early in the Civil War, Mr. Perkins offered his services to his State, as captain of a company of Home Guards. Subsequently, when he was convinced that the struggle would be a prolonged one, he enlisted in Company E, 27th Reg., Indiana Vol. Inf. At the battle of Antietam he was seriously wounded in the head, the injury removing a part of his jaw-bone. Mr. Perkins never fully recovered from this wound. He was well and widely known, and was so noted for his generous hospitality that his home became "Hoosier's Headquarters," a name given it by those who found a welcome to his table, which sometimes accommodated as many as 30 passing guests, who received "God speed" as they went their several ways. For nine years he was weighmaster at Columbus, and was probably as successful as any farmer in his day in Cherokee County. Prior to the attack on Fort Sumter. Mr. Perkins was a Democrat in his political convictions, but that act made him the stanchest of stanch Repubicans until the time of his decease. He was a man of intelligence, enterprise and public spirit, and the interest he took in educational matters was shown by his 10 consecutive years of service on the School Board. Fraternally, he was a Mason.
Elisha Perkins married Zerelda Gates, a daughter of James Gates, of Clark County, Indiana. They had a family of 14 children, the 10 members who grew to maturity being as follows: Orlena, deceased, who was the wife of J. H. Kline; Hattie, wife of J. H. Perkins, of Columbus; Mark, of Pittsburg, Kansas; Ellen, manager of the Columbus House, at Columbus; Rachel, wife of W. B. Henderson, of Columbus; Mary, widow of Oliver Waters, of Columbus; William; Minnie, of Columbus; Louisa, wife of David Truxal, of Joplin, Missouri; and Sally, of Columbus. The family were reared in the Christian Church.
The subject of this sketch attended the schools of Columbus, and afterwards, the State Normal School. At the age of 16 years he entered upon railroad work, becoming agent for the "Frisco" system at Crestline. He was employed in this connection from October 3, 1893, until February 26, 1900, when he resigned in order to engage in farming. His 40 acres of good land in Shawnee township are devoted mainly to truck farming, a ready market being found at Columbus. He has been continuously engaged here, with the exception of the interval between July 1, 1901, and February 7, 1903, when he was again in the employ of the "Frisco" system, at Pittsburg, Kansas.
On August 20, 1890, Mr. Perkins was married to Minnie A. Varnum, who is a daughter of Albert Varnum, of Crestline, and they have had three children: William, deceased; Elisha Lee and Darrell. The family belong to the Christian Church.
Politically, Mr. Perkins is a Republican, but is not an office seeker. His fraternal associations include the Modern Woodmen of America, at Crestline, and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at the same place, and in this organization he has passed all the chairs, and has served as a delegate to the Grand Lodge. Mr. Perkins is a man with many friends, for he possesses those sterling qualities which command respect and win esteem.
History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from Baxter Springs, Kansas, 4/28/97.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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