The subject of this sketch, Anthony Loftus, is one of the oldest settlers of the Jamestown vicinity. His farm consists of a half section of land west of Jamestown, the eastern line adjoining the corporation.
Mr. Loftus visited Cloud county in the autumn of 1870, and purchased the quarter section where he established a home and still lives. He homesteaded one hundred and sixty acres of government land, one quarter of a mile to the south; making altogether a half section. The home place is nearly all bottom land lying on either side of Cheyenne creek; the homestead is second bottom.
Mr. Loftus is of Celtic origin, having been born in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1832. He is one of seven brothers, and two sisters. Both of the latter are living, but our subject, is the only surviving brother. When nine years of age Mr. Loftus emigrated to America with his parents, and settled in Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. When seventeen years of age, Mr. Loftus joined a paternal uncle who lived near the Canadian line, where for three years he followed steamboating. He began as a deck hand, but shortly afterward was promoted to watchman, as a reward for bravery during a perilous storm. When the gale struck the steamer there was but one jib up, and Mr. Loftus was the only man among a crew of twelve who would ascend and reef the sails. This courage and daring upon his part gained him promotion. Though he experienced many storms and narrow escapes, he liked life on the water, but laughingly remarked, "He could not swim, and thought dry land a safer proposition." After Mr. Loftus left the lakes he engaged in railroad construction and later became a section boss, holding that position twenty-one years. He has also railroaded some in Kansas, and was more successful financially in that line than in farming. Through a communication received from Robert Stevens, general superintendent of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas railroad, asking him to come west, Mr. Loftus owes his advent into the state.
Our subject was not without means, however, for he had a fair sized "nestegg" in the shape of four thousand dollars saved from his earnings. In 1872, Mr. Loftus erected the most commodious house in the vicinity at that time, hauling every board from Junction City. The flooring cost eighty-five dollars per thousand and the shingles six dollars per thousand, not including the time and expense of hauling, but they have survived thirty years of weather, wear and tear. This is one of the most historical houses in the locality of Jamestown. During the early settlement of that part of the county it was headquarters - a sort of "town hall" - for the whole community, not only as a pleasure ground, but here Father Mollier said mass for seven years, and even political gatherings held forth there; and also, the first school in the township was taught in this residence with Miss Clara McBride, who had scarcely reached her teens, installed as teacher. It was also a sort of inn, for many people traveling through the country would stop with them, and none were turned away, for Mr. Loftus and his family were generous and sympathetic, receiving with hospitality all who sought shelter under their roof.
Mr. Loftus was married in 1860, in Elmira, New York, to Miss Ann McQuire. After emigrating to the west, Mrs. Loftus insisted that she was tired of railroading, and persuaded her husband to buy a farm, which he concedes to be the best act of his life.
Mrs. Loftus, who was a good and noble woman, died in October, 1890. She did much for the sick and needy, and the poor never left her door unfed. To the unfortunate, she lent a helping hand; to the sick, her ministrations were given without price; to the erring, she was merciful; the good samaritan of the neighborhood, a true friend, a devoted wife and mother. She left two sons. A daughter, seventeen years of age preceded her demise. The oldest son, Thomas Edward, like his father, is a railroad man. He is in the train service with headquarters at Kansas City.
Michael, the second son, operates the farm and is a genuine and practical farmer. He has grown to manhood on the homestead, and like all the old settlers, has witnessed the growth and development of the country from a wild waste of land into a prosperous and flourishing commonwealth. He herded cattle for five years, collecting stock from all over the country. He received fifteen cents a head per month and often grazed his herd over the present site of Jamestown. Michael Loftus was married in 1890 to Johanna Downey, a daughter of John Downey, an old resident of Cloud county who now lives in the Solomon valley, near Glasco. Mr. and Mrs. Loftus are the parents of seven children, namely: William A., Honora, John, Thomas Edward, Michael Francis, Anna and Richard James.
Anthony Loftus is a warm friend of Kansas and says "All things considered, none compare with the Sunflower state." Politically he is a Democrat. During the years that Populism invaded and captured the state he affiliated with that party; but after one or two votes, returned to the old ranks with renewed confidence in its superiority.
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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