ABIJAH PICKERING. Among the pioneers of the county, none can relate more varied experiences of earlier days, of the wild, unbroken prairies, of failure of crops, and of many other hardships experienced by the first settlers of what is now the most progressive of all the great states found on the Western plains, than Abijah Pickering, pastor of the Friends' Church, whose home is located in section 29, township 32, range 22, in Sheridan township. He came to Kansas from Iowa, but was a native of Tennessee, where he was born in November, 1844.
His parents, John and Miriam (Beals) Pickering, were born, grew to maturity and were married in that State. In 1855 they moved to Jasper County, Iowa, where for 11 years John Pickering followed his chosen occupation of farming. In the fall of 1866, he came to Cherokee County, Kansas, having previously in the spring of that year, located a claim. He brought his family with him on his second trip to his farm. The journey was made in a wagon and lasted six weeks. They took with them two ox teams and one mule team, four milch cows, two heifers and a drove of 30 sheep. The land on which they located in section 29, township 32, range 22, was wild, unbroken prairie, and he at once proceeded to put up a house and stable and began to make for himself and children a home; the rest of his life was spent on this place, his death occurring here in January, 1895, and that of his wife in November, 1882.
John Pickering was not very active in politics, but always voted the Republican ticket in his early years, but later became a Prohibitionist. He was the father of the Friendship Friends' Church, built in 1872, on the property he entered in Sheridan township, of which church he was for many years pastor.
The family numbered 10 children, as follows: Mrs. Rachel Jones, living in Jefferson County, Tennessee; Abijah; Susanna E., who married Seth Janeway, and lives in San Diego County, California; William R., who resides in McCune, Kansas; Margaret A., the widow of E. A. Garrison, whose home adjoins the old place in Sheridan township; Riley D., a farmer of Sheridan township; Rebecca, who died in 1873; Joseph, who died in April, 1902; Mrs. Hannah Gordon, now deceased; and Luther J., principal of the Galena High School, of Galena, Kansas.
Abijah Pickering, the subject of this sketch, had few opportunities of acquiring an education, as the schools of the early day were limited in number and not of a very high grade. He lived at home until the age of 28, when he branched out for himself.
On March 1, 1874, Mr. Pickering was married to Vandela Wells, of North Carolina, a daughter of Solomon and Elizabeth Wells, who came to Cherokee County in 1868, and settled in Sheridan township. The father was a blacksmith by trade, which occupation he followed until within two years of his death. Our subject and his wife have two children, as follows: Rhoda L., the wife of Rank Waugh, living on the old Waugh place; and Arthur T., who is single and lives at home.
After their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Pickering located on their present farm in Sheridan township. The land cost $8 an acre, and was unimproved. It is now improved and all of the small grains are produced and horses and cattle are raised.
Our subject is a stanch Prohibitionist, and stands for all that is best in politics. As a pastor of the Friends' Church since 1895, he has been the means of bringing into the community higher ideals of Christian life and a consecration to Christian work, seldom equaled in a country district. The church has a membership of about 140, all of whom are consistent Christians. Mr. Pickering's influence is not confined to his township but reaches even beyond the limits of the county, and he is held in the highest esteem by all who know him.
History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 4/30/97.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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