GEORGE F. SOUNDER, a farmer residing in section 6, in Salamanca township, is one of the very oldest settlers of Cherokee County, and a gentleman whose influence has been powerful in molding her institutions. Mr. Souder is a "Buckeye" by birth, having been born in Fairfield County, Ohio, on March 14, 1839.
It was on May 10, 1869, when Mr. Souder, accompanied by a Mr. Tice and another gentleman, drove up to the town-site of Columbus, having made the trip from Tipton, Missouri. They were in search of a place to locate, and after some figuring with Hannibal Scovel, one of the two merchants then at that point, Mr. Souder purchased his stock, together with the northeast quarter of the section upon which the town-site was located,the geographical center of the county being the southwest corner of this quarter. The purchase price of the goods and land was about $1,500. The location of the building was about the center of the west side of the square. A Mr. Lewis conducted a store on the northeast corner of the square, and these two establishments did the business of the whole section at that time.
Mr. Souder conducted the store for a time, and then sold out. The land he cultivated for about six years, building a house and improving it otherwise. In 1875 he traded the farm for the one he now owns. When this came into his possession, it had a small house of four rooms and a bit of orchard, and but four acres of it were broken out. This was little better than virgin prairie, so that the splendid farm he now owns is the product of his labor and intelligent management. Besides the quarter section, he has an 80-acre tract adjoining, and in Ross township he also owns a tract of 225 acres. About four years ago, Mr. Souder built the large and modernly appointed house in which the family now resides, the whole constituting one of the best farm properties of the county.
Frederick and Agatha (Kirns) Souder were the parents of the subject of this sketch. Both were natives of Germany and both had been previously wedded. They remained in the "Fatherland" until 1838, when they crossed the ocean in a sailing vessel. Landing at New York, they immediately removed to Fairfield County, Ohio, where they settled on a farm near Lancaster. When Mr. Souder was a lad of seven years, the family moved to Fort Ball, Seneca County, Ohio. Several years later, they moved to a farm in the western part of the same county, where they resided the reaminder[sic] of their lives. Mr. Souder had six half-brothers and three half-sisters. A full-brother, Adam Souder, now resides at Fostoria, Ohio.
The subject of this sketch was reared for the most part in Fort Ball, now known as Tiffin, Ohio. He received a common school education, and remained at home until his marriage, in Tiffin, to the lady who has been his faithful companion and helpmeet,Sybilla Fruth. Mrs. Souder is a native of Seneca County, Ohio, and is a daughter of George and Margaret (Shubach) Fruth, natives of Germany. Soon after their marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Fruth removed to Seneca County; they are now deceased; a daughter is still living at the old homestead. Mr. Souder followed farming in Ohio with good success, owning at different times several farms, all of which were improved and sold to advantage. He served the government for a time during the war, in the barracks at Lima, Ohio, but was not in service in the field. Since coming to Kansas, he has devoted himself exclusively to farming. He is not one of those that fear the recurrence of drought, holding that wet weather has done Kansas more damage than the lack of moisture.
Mr. and Mrs. Souder have reared seven childern, as follows: Lucy M., wife of E. C. Hicks; William, who died in Ohio when three years old; Adam, who died in Cherokee County at the age of 14 years; George, who died in Cherokee County at the age of nine years; W. H., operating and residing on the home farm, who married Anna Bergman, and has six childern,Gladys, George, John, Anna, Albert and Ralph; Charles A., a farmer of Ross township, Cherokee County, who married Birdie Reesman, and has three children,Henry, Lyle and Cleda; and Anna, who died on the home farm when a child of six years.
E. C. Hicks, son-in-law of Mr. Souder, owns a 120-acre farm in section 6, Salamanca township, and 80-acres in section 1, Lola township. He was born at Tremont, Illinois, in 1859. He is a son of Elah Hicks, now of Coal Center, Pennsylvania. Mr. Hicks came to Cherokee County with his parents. He learned telegraphy at Columbus, and spent about 20 years in the service of railroad companies, being with the Missouri Pacific for years at different points. He is independent, in politics, and is a member of the Masons (Blue Lodge and Chapter), and of the A. O. U. W., I. O. O. F., and the O. R. T. Mr. and Mrs. Hicks have had four children,Edna; Gladys; Archie; and Lee, who is now deceased.
The above constitutes a brief review of one of Cherokee County's best families. Mr. Souder takes little part in politics; he is a Populist, in principle, but reserves the right tovote independently. He belongs to the German Evangelical Church. The esteem in which he and his family are held throughout the county is universal.
History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Erin Randall, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, November 21, 1996.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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