Among the old residents of Cloud county, none bear a more honorable record than L.O. Fuller, who has faithfully discharged every trust reposed in him and is ranked on the list of Shirley township's foremost citiens.[sic] In 1870, his vehicle made one of the first wagon tracks south of where the little station of Ames now stands. His existence in the new settlement was fraught with many reverses, but his years of toll have brought happy returns and he is now one of the well-to-do farmers of that locality who are enjoying the fruits of their successful undertakings. Mr. Fuller is a thoroughly up-to-date agriculturist and his farm is one of the best improved places between Clyde and Minneapolis. The handsome residence, substantial and freshly, painted barns are pleasing features of this old homestead where Mr. Fuller has spent the better part of his years obtaining these gratifying results and where surrounded by the environments that materially contribute to make life worth living, he with his amiable and most estimable wife, will undoubtedly spend the remainder of their lives.
Mr. Fuller came to Kansas with a capital of seventeen hundred dollars, including his teams, but spent more than that amount the first two years. He hauled the material for their first dwelling from Junction City, a distance of sixty miles, and while this was under course of construction, camped on the prairie in a tent for two months. Their first house was razed to the ground but a few days ago. These old landmarks that sheltered the brave pioneers will soon all have disappeared and while supplanted by the more pretentious homes, there is a pathos lingering around the ruins of the little box house or dugout that gave protection and kindly shelter to the homestead settler. About the time Mr. Fuller filed on his land, other home seekers came into the township and soon afterward school district No. 29 was organized. The district at that time contained less than twenty families. The first officers of the district were L.P. Fuller, director; Edward Cummings, clerk; Dennis Cummings, treasurer. The first teacher was Annie McCray, now a resident of California. Among the first settlers in the township were James and William Hays, father and son, respectively, a daughter, Mrs. Woodward, Dennis and David Cummings, brothers. Of these first settlers, Mr. Fuller is the only one remaining in the township.
The birthplace of Mr. Fuller is the town of Weatherfield, Wyoming county, New York, born in 1832. His father, Orren Fuller, was an active and consistent member of the "Free-Will" Baptist church, and was known over a greater part of the state of Wisconsin, as Deacon Fuller. He was a poor man and reared a family of nine children on the proceeds of fifty-seven acres of land; so small a domain in the state of Kansas would scarcely be designated or dignified by the name of farm. On this tract of land his father lived for a quarter of a century and after all those years, sold it for a consideration of seven hundred dollars, and in May, 1846, emigrated to Wisconsin, where he deeded one hundred and sixty acres of government land, bought two yoke of oxen, a breaking plow, a cow and a calf and left the two older sons to break the prairie, build a home and prepare for the family.
He returned for his wife and the remainder of the family full of hope for the future, but in the meantime fell in and did not return for a year. During this interim, the youngest of the two sons was stricken with remittent fever and died in the thinly settled district of that then new country among strangers. From that time the father was an invalid and our subject being the only son remaining at home, the management and responsibility of the farm and support of the family devolved upon him. When he should have been in school, circumstances compelled him to work instead, and consequently he received but a limited education. Deacon Fuller died July 17, 1877, followed by the wife and mother one year and three months later. Mr. Fuller's mother was of New York birth, born near the village of Rome. She died October 16, 1878. Mr. Fuller is the sixth of nine children, but three of whom are living, himself and two sisters; Mrs. Susan A. Page of Wisconsin, and Mrs. Mary M. Bush of Warrensburg, Johnson county, Missouri.
On the 4th day of July, 1852, Mr. Fuller was united in marriage to Miss Permelia Winchell, of Wisconsin. Mrs. Fuller's parents were Jesse H. and Leah (Lynn) Winchell. Her father was born in the state of New York, but was a pioneer of Indiana, removing there with his father's family when a small boy. He served seventeen days in the Black Hawk war and was among the few surviving veterans of that uprising at the time of his death, which occurred September 11, 1895. He died in the home of his daughter, where he had lived fourteen years. Her mother died when Mrs. Fuller was but little over two years old, leaving two children, herself and a baby sister. By a second marriage there were nine children. After living in Indiana until he reached the age of maturity, her father removed to Michigan, where he married and returned to a point in Indiana, about seventy miles distant. He located and deeded two hundred and eighty acres of land in Green Lake county (then Marquette), Wisconsin, and moved to that state in 1846. He subsequently removed to Minnesota, where the angel of death visited his home the second time, claiming the wife and mother. He then broke up housekeeping and lived with his children. Mr. Winchell was a pioneer of four states, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Kansas. His sons, Mrs. Fuller's half-brothers, with the exception of one were all patriots; one was killed in battle and another died in the hospital.
Mr. and Mrs. Fuller have reared a family of eight children, all of whom are living but one, Judith R., deceased wife of David Cummings, who died November 28, 1893, at the age of thirty-eight years, leaving a husband and eight children. Their sons are all prosperous and successful farmers. John R. is one of the prominent residents of Shirley township. Orren is a farmer of Cloud county. Truman is a resident of Iowa, where he is engaged in farming. Hattie B. is the wife of W.C. Marshall. Frank J. is a farmer of Shirley township and also a successful teacher. Elmer O., the youngest son, superintends and manages the farm and stock raising. He with his estimable wife live in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Fuller. Mary E., the youngest daughter, is a prepossessing young woman. With the exception of Frank who attended school in Concordia and Topeka for a short time, the children have all received their education in the home district.
Mr. Fuller owes his prosperity to diversified farming, stock raising and within his means. In 1892 he erected their present dwelling, a seven-room residence. One of his barns is 36 by 66 feet with 12 foot to the eaves, and the other 40 by 56 feet in dimensions. They are both built for hay overhead and stock underneath. Mr. Fuller, with his son, has a herd of about fifty head of graded cattle, but finds there is more money in raising hogs and keeps from forty to seventy-five head. Several years ago he decided there could be a fortune obtained in threshing and invested in a machine, selling some young cattle to help pay seven hundred dollars, the cost of the thresher. The transaction almost "broke him up in business," and was an experience dearly purchased. His farm lies on the upland and the wells of this place cost Mr. Fuller three hundred dollars. He dug one seventy-eight feet and discarded the effort; at the suggestion of the water-witch, he sunk another well seventy-five feet distant from the first, where he found sixteen feet of water, an inexhaustible supply. Notwithstanding the craft of the water-witch, had he gone down a few feet further he would have been rewarded the first time.
When Mr. Fuller selected a home back on the rolling prairie, he was asked by James Clithero, now of Concordia, "how on earth he could expect to make a livelihood on the bluffs" and further asserted they would starve to death. But our subject has made a home seven thousand dollars would not buy. It is a well known fact that fully as large a number of farmers on the upland have as good homes and surroundings as those on the bottom lands. Mr. Fuller is fond of reciting incidents of the early settlement and in recalling the royal good times they had. Their first residence though but 16x20 feet in dimensions, was extended to the "society" of the neighborhood and entertained a dancing party that numbered forty guests. The hardships were made lighter by these assemblies so common at that time and to which all the old settlers refer with pleasant recollections. During the first months of the Fuller's arrival in Kansas they were constantly on the alert for Indians and while camped in their tents near their present home, observed a light which moved at about the same speed a man would while walking. They watched, wondered, conjectured and finally concluded it was savages and prepared for defense, but as time passed and no imminent danger or scalping knife seemed hovering over them they retired for the night. Being anxious to know the cause for alarm they investigated matters the next morning and found the supposed red skins were only James Hay who by the friendly glimmer of a lantern was carrying goods from a wagon to his camp.
Mr. Fuller cast his first vote for John C. Freemont, and remained the Republican ranks until the organization of the People's party, believing in their principles he transferred his faith and affiliated with the Populists. He has held township offices at different periods and has been a member of the school board almost continuously for eighteen years. In the latter capacity he is succeeded by his son Elmer, who is now treasurer of the board. In sentiment Mr. and Mrs. Fuller are Baptists, but as they are not conveniently near a congregation of that faith they are not members of any church at present. Mr. Fuller is one of the solid men of his township, and any plan for the benefit of the community receives his staunch support.
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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