Wallace E. Topping

WALLACE E. TOPPING, a prosperous farmer residing in section 3, township 34, range 22, in Neosho township, Cherokee County, is a man of considerable prominence in the community, and has frequently been called upon to serve in an official capacity. He was born in Barry County, Michigan, May 30, 1861, and is a son of Washington and Emily (Sanders) Topping, and a grandson of Robert Topping.

Robert Topping was born in Pennsylvania, and died in Cherokee County, Kansas, in 1884, aged 78 years. He was a farmer by occupation, and operated two sawmills when a resident of Ohio. He later owned 400 acres of land in Michigan, where he lived many years. He was a captain in the State militia of Huron County, Ohio. He married Elizabeth McNutt, who was also born in Pensylvania,[sic] and died in Cherokee Conuty,[sic] Kansas, at the age of 70 years. They were the parents of seven children, as follows: Jane (Rork), Alexander and Frank Moore, deceased; Robert J., of Joplin, Missouri; Washington; and two who died in infancy.

Washington Topping was born in Huron County, Ohio, August 5, 1837, and was 17 years of age when he moved with his parents to Barry County, Michigan. He lived there until he enlisted, in 1863, in Company C, 1st Reg., Michigan Mechanics and Engineers, under Captain Robinson and Colonel Yates. They built a bridge across the Tennessee River at Chattanooga during Sherman's "March to the Sea," and there, with 65 foragers for the regiment, boarded a ship for Richmond. Mr. Topping was present in the Grand Review at Washington, at the close of the war. He then went to Nashville, Tennessee, built barracks and worked on the fort for a number of months, and was discharged at Jackson, Michigan, in the fall of 1865. He had learned the trade of a carpenter in Michigan, and followed it three years. On September 10, 1866, with his family. including his father and mother-in-law, he left Michigan for Kansas, driving through in company with many others, there being 36 teams, in all. He located upon his present farm in the northeast quarter of section 18, Lola township, having originally 160 acres. Of this the Indians "head righted" 40 acres, and he has since disposed of 40 acres, leaving him 80 acres at the present time. He had but little money when he came, and a part of this was expended in the purchase of a 5-acre tract of timber, from which he cut the logs with which to build a cabin. It was the first cabin in the county with roof and floor, and also had one door and a window. It was a very fair house, and 15 years elapsed before he replaced it with a good, substantial home. It took four or five years before the sod was broken all over this tract, and the sod crops for some years were poor. At the present time Mr. Topping has about 17 head of stock, and a fine orchard of 400 apple trees. The first orchard set out by him was totally destroyed by fire. He is a member of McGibben Post, G. A. R., and the Settlers' League. He was a Republican in politics for some years, but is now a Populist. Religiously, he is a member of the Christian Church. His first marriage was with Emily Sanders, who was born in Ohio, and died at the age of 59 years. The following children were born to them: Wallace E., Catherine E. (McKinsey), deceased; Charles H., of Hollowell, Cherokee County; and Nettie (Curtis), of Lincoln County, Kansas. Mr. Topping was married a second time, in 1902, wedding Mrs. Martha E. Merryfield, who was born August 4, 1836, and is a daughter of Lorenzo and Eleanor (Rork) Cooley. They were acquainted in their early life and were childhood sweethearts. They drifted apart, and did not meet again until recent years at Abilene, Kansas. This unexpected meeting and renewal of old acquaintance resulted in their union.

Wallace E. Topping was five years of age when he accompanied his parents to Cherokee County, Kansas, and here he received his early mental training. He first attended the old log schoolhouse where they used slab benches, and continued there until the county was districted. He then attended District No. 1 until he was ready to enter high school, which he attended one year, after which the school was organized as the Oswego High School, in which he was a member of the first junior class. Afterwards, he attended the Fort Scott Normal School. At the age of 19 years he began teaching school and continued that for 10 years, his last school being at Sherman City. In politics, he was a Republican until 1890, when he joined the Farmers' Alliance, all of that party's candidates being elected that fall. He was appointed deputy clerk of the District Court under C. R. Bernard, and served two years. Afterwards, he was for two years land clerk in the State Auditor's office under Van B. Prather. He was appointed chief clerk under W. H. Morris, of Crawford County, and served two years. During the time he was at Topeka, he owned 80 acres of land; upon his return to Cherokee County, he sold out and purchased his present farm of a little over 160 acres in Neosho township. He conducts a stock farm, and has about 30 head of white-faced cattle.

In 1891, Mr. Topping was joined in marriage with Bird Goodner, born in Sheridan township, September 22, 1871, and a daughter of James J. and Elizabeth Goodner, who came to Kansas in 1864 from Illinois, and located in Cherokee Conuty[sic] in 1865. Mr. Goodner was county treasurer of Cherokee County, and afterwards served as county coroner. This union has been blessed by the birth of one daughter,—Crete, aged 12 years. Fraternally, the subject of this sketch is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and has been representative to the Grand Lodge. He is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, in which he has passed through the chairs, and of the A. H. T. A.


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, 1/8/97.


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