ELIJAH T. WEST, one of the successful farmers of Cherokee County, lives on a farm of 80 acres in section 1, township 32, range 21, in Sheridan township, and also owns 80 acres in Labette County. He is a native of Lewis County, Kentucky, and was born in August, 1844. His parents were James M. and Sarah (Mark) West, both natives of the "Blue Grass State," where they grew to maturity and were married.
James M. West was a farmer and preacher. His special work was that of preaching for the American Missionary Association; aside from his mission work and the care of the farm, he found time to preach the Word through his native county. An abolitionist, he engendered the most bitter hatred from the slave-holders, and they tried to drive him out. So in 1855 he removed to Pope County, Illinois, where he followed the occupation of farming during the week and preached on Sunday. The following year, in 1856, he was one of four men in that county who voted for Gen. John C. Fremont for president. After remaining in Pope County for five years, he moved to Richville, Illinois, where he died in 1868.
His wife married again, this time to G. W. Camack of Kentucky, and moved to Washington, Illinois, where they both died. The family consisted of nine children, as follows: William P., a farmer living in Minnesota, who was in the war five years as a member of Company B, 62nd Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf.; Elijah T.; Mary, wife of Newberry Smith, who lives in Ashley, Illinois; Lizzie, living in Ashley, Illinois, who is the widow of J. M. Stevenson; Laura, wife of Adolph Camack, of Ashley, Illinois; Lucinda, wife of Floyd W. Brooks, of Sheridan township; Emma, wife of John Bledsoe, of Ashley, Illinois; Gregg, a carpenter and farmer living in St. Louis, Missouri; and Lydia, whose home is in Centralia, Illinois.
Elijah T. West had only limited opportunities for acquiring an education. The old log school house of the country district and the so-called "academy" of the country town were but poor prototypes of the schools of later years. His earlier years were spent with his parents at home until the opening of the Civil War, when, at the age of 18, he enlisted in Company B, 136th Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf., as a corporal. His first enlistment was on January 1, 1864, for three months. At the end of that time, he reenlisted in Company B, 62nd Reg., Illinois Vol. Inf., and served until 1866. He did garrison duty most of the time during his service, and participated in the battle of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and was also at Port Gibson.
In 1866, soon after leaving the service. Mr. West took up his residence in Cherokee County, Kansas, locating on 160 acres of "treaty right" land, in section 1, township 32, range 21. He lived alone at first in an old log cabin.
After five years of lonely life on the place, he married Emma Camack, a native of Chester County, Kentucky, and a daughter of G. W. and Martha (Baker) Camack. Mr. Camack's first wife, Mrs. West's mother, died in 1848, and he married, as his second wife, Amanda Fortner, of Tennessee, whose death occurred soon after. He married, as his third wife, the mother of our subject, who was a widow at that time. Mr. and Mrs. Elijah T. West have three children living, one sonGeorge Leonhaving died January 6, 1904. He was a well known carpenter and fine finisher of wood. Socially, he was a prominent member of the I. O. O. F. lodge at McCune, and left many friends to mourn his loss. The other children are: James Scott, a blacksmith of Sherman City, Kansas, who married Queen B. Anthony; Flora, wife of G. W. Hayden, of Sheridan township; and Thomas H., who lives at home managing the work on the farm.
The married life of Mr. and Mrs. West has been spent on the farm purchased by him on his first visit to Kansas. They have made all the improvements, erected good farm buildings, and brought the farm to a state of cultivation which produces all of the small grains of the average farm of this section. Besides general farming, many horses, cattle and hogs are raised each year.
Mr. West is what may be called a successful, self-made man. He is well known in the county, and has hosts of friends. He has always evinced a deep interest in the welfare of the community, and has several times been honored with office, serving as a township trustee and also as treasurer of the School Board. In religious faith he and his family are Christians and have been earnest and valued workers in that denomination.
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, 3/11/97.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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