N.M. French is one of the early settlers of Grant township, emigrating to Cloud county in 1873. The name French of English origin, the great-grandfather and his six brothers having come to America from England and serving as soldiers in the Revolutionary war. All the Frenches of this country so far as have been found are descendants of these ancestors. They settled in Vermont, where the father of our subject was born and lived until twenty years of age, when the family removed to a point near Buffalo, New York, and one year later to Canada, where he was united in marriage to Sarah Taylor and reared a family of five sons and two daughters, viz: Nicholas M., Benjamin D., William J., Daniel E., Walter S. and Bradford C. The daughters are Martha, wife of David McCullough, of Grant township, and Mrs. Rosetta Jones, now of Illinois, but formerly of Cloud county. At one time and for several years the entire family were residents of Grant and Buffalo townships. David E. returned to Canada and Walter S. and Bradford C. are in Oklahoma, the former, however, claiming a residence in Buffalo township. In 1868 the French family removed from Canada to Illinois and in September, 1871, emigrated to Kansas, where the father died in 1901 at the ripe age of eighty-seven years. The wife and mother survives him at the advanced age of eighty-two years.
N.M. French located in Livingston county. Illinois, in 1864. He tried the possibilities of California for two or three years and various other places. Returning to Illinois he was married to Caroline Markel, formerly of Ohio, her native state. She was a daughter of John Markel, who died when she was but eleven years of age. The Markels were of Pennsylvania Dutch origin, their ancestors being among the William Penn colonists. Her mother was Jane J. Johnstone, of Ohio, and she died when Mrs. French was seventeen years of age, leaving four other children, two sons and two daughters.
Mr. and Mrs. French emigrated to Kansas in 1873. The first four years their residence consisted of a frame house 12x22 feet in dimensions. At the end of that period they erected a granary with a basement underneath. This building was 20x3O, divided into three rooms, where they passed seven years very comfortably. In 1885 Mr. French erected a handsome and commodious residence, consisting of fifteen rooms, three halls and two cellars. It is a modern building with up-to-date conveniences and beautiful surroundings. The lawn is wide and seeded to blue grass, beautiful flowers bordering the broad walks.
"Whence comes the beauteous progeny of spring.
They hear a still small voice 'awake,'
And while the lark is on the wing, from dust and darkness break,
Flowers of all hues laugh in the gale."
Mr. and Mrs. French are the parents of five children, who are being reared in the useful school of industry and integrity that will mark their career through life. There are no drones in this busy hive. The eldest son, A. Markel, is married and resides on one of his father's farms, three miles south of the old homestead. His wife, before her marriage, was Mary Daniel a daughter of Isaac Daniel, of Grant township. The second son, Fred D.L., lives one mile south and one mile east. He is married to Etta, a daughter of Alexander McMillan. The death of their third son just before attaining his majority was a sad blow to Mr. and Mrs. French. He died in February, 1889. Fay S., the fourth son, assists in the duties of the farm. Dencie E., the eldest daughter, is an intelligent and prepossessing, young woman. Osey Gail, a bright little daughter, aged eleven years. This family of children have all received their education in the home school district No. 65. with one exception. The eldest son took a law course in the Lawrence University and was admitted to the bar in Douglas county, Kansas. His preference for agriculture and an out door life prompted him to practically give up his profession.
Mr. French owns seven hundred and nineteen acres of fine land situated in Grant township. It would seem he must have brought with him to Kansas one of Aladdin's lamps or a fairy wand, as his financial circumstances were limited to a stock of ambition and an energetic wife who stood at the helm with her husband through all his undertakings, and to her wise counsels he owes not a little of his success. Years ago when Mr. French planted the little slips of cottonwood, box-elders, walnuts and ash, that have since grown to luxurious proportions, his wife sadly, almost tearfully, said, "I am so homesick to see a bird or a tree." Her husband cheerfully replied, "These trees will soon he large enough to climb," but the sad protest came, "I never expect to stay in Kansas to see those trees large enough for that."
The large grove that is the envy of many passersby is the result of this planting and evidences the prophetic vision of Mr. French. Mr. French is one of the most extensive wheat growers in the county and the highly cultivated farm and fine improvements demonstrate that the wave of prosperity has rolled his way. He was one of the first to sow a large acreage and now raises from two to three hundred acres annually. He does not claim as heavy yields per acre as many wheat growers and remarked to the writer, "When my wheat reaches seventeen bushels per acre on an average I consider it good, When it reaches twenty-five bushels exceedingly good, and when, it gets up to twenty-eight bushels it is a record breaker." In the year 1897 he threshed between sixty-eight and sixty-nine hundred bushels, the following year, sixty-five hundred bushels. This was of an excellent quality, which he marketed at the goodly price of one dollar per bushel. In 1900 his yield amounted to but forty-five hundred bushels; the present season (1902) he threshed about seventeen hundred bushels, the smallest yield excepting the total failure of 1895, when he did not cut a bundle. Corn has been a second consideration, as 1897 was the last planted by him to any extent. He has forty-five acres of alfalfa, which has yielded heavily and brought good returns.
Mr. French is not a partisan politician, though he voted the Democratic ticket several years. He is independent in his views and votes for the best man. He has held various local township offices and is a member of the school board. He is a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen of Jamestown. Mr. and Mrs. French will in all probability spend the remainder of their days calmly and contentedly under their own "vine and fig tree," enjoying their beautiful home and its environments.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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