The subject of this sketch is W.E. Oakes, who, until the fall of 1901, was for years a resident of Cloud county. He began a business career with seventy-five dollars in his pocket and if not mistaken the author believes Mr. Oakes reported having even borrowed that capital; but a more willing pair of hands and a more industrious nature to assist in the struggle for fortune and fame could not present themselves than in the person of Mr. Oakes. Mr. Oakes and his wife were much needed factors in the hotel at Glasco and their removal was severely felt by the residents of that little city. Under their control it was converted into one of the neatest and most desirable hotels in the county. When this property came into their hands it was badly in need of repairs and they remodeled, refurnished and transformed it into a hotel which received a patronage consistent with its management.
Shelby county, Missouri, is the birthplace of Mr. Oakes. He was born in 1869. His parents are Emery and Hester (Short) Oakes. His father was born in Vermont, but was reared in the states of Michigan and Iowa. His parents having died when he was a boy, he drifted about considerable. In 1879 he emigrated to Decatur county, Kansas, where he homesteaded land. In 1882 removed to Cloud county and bought land near Miltonvale. In 1893 became a resident of Oklahoma, where he now lives on a farm. Mr. Oakes' mother was of Kentucky parentage and German origin. Her father was a Methodist Episcopal minister, and two of her brothers were clergymen. One brother, John Short, is an ex-sheriff of Decatur county, Kansas. Hon. R.O. Elting, the representative of Ness county, is a brother-in-law. She was previously married to Aljournal Vaniver, a soldier of the Civil war, who was massacred by Quantrell's band at Centralia, Missouri, while the troops were en route home. There were two children by her first marriage, a son and daughter. The son, Marion McClelland, was deceased from lead poisoning in 1887, while working in the lead mines. Laura Virginia is the wife of Madison Warring, superintendent of a street railway at Seattle, Washington.
Mr. Oakes is the eldest child of his mother's second marriage. The other children are: George W., a miner of McAlester, Indian territory; Charles Oscar, a successful stockman and speculator of McLoud, Oklahoma; Mary Ellen, wife of Richard Lyon, an Englishman and wealthy farmer, owning land and stock in Kansas and Oklahoma; John Wesley, an extensive farmer near McLoud, Oklahoma; Alice Dora, a young woman at home, is a graduate from the Clay Center high school; the youngest child is a son, Alfred Emery. Mr. Oakes's father served "Uncle Sam" with the Third Missouri Cavalry, Company I, under General Steele. He was the regimental blacksmith and served three years and eight months.
Mr. Oakes received a good common education in the schools of Missouri and Kansas. He entered upon a career for himself at the age of ten, experiencing the seamy side of life for several years. His father after having lived in western Kansas was in limited circumstances, and he contributed a part of his earnings to the family. In 1889 he worked in the round house and Burlington & Missouri yards at Denver, and for a brief time was brakeman on the road,
In 1892 he returned to Kansas and the following April was married to Miss Lenora Moger, a daughter of John Moger, of Glasco (see sketch). This prosperous and happy couple embarked on the sea of matrimony with none of this world's goods, but their perseverance and good management have been rewarded by a handsome competency. They are both endowed with the qualities essential to success in life. The first year after their marriage Mr. Oakes rented two hundred acres of land and was thwarted in this undertaking by a failure of crops.
At the opening of the Strip in 1893 he went to Oklahoma, took up a claim and the following spring moved his family there, remaining until the autumn of 1896. With eighty-five dollars he came to Glasco and in partnership with his father-in-law established a livery stable, under the firm name of Moger & Oakes, which was the starting point of a turn in his fortunes. January 16, 1897, the firm leased the Spaulding House. One year later Mr. Moger withdrew and Mr. Oakes assumed full control. The hotel was scantily furnished but under his management was put in good and comfortable condition. During the summer of 1897 Mr. Oakes secured a position with the Deering Implement Company, working in Oklahoma and holding down his claim, proving up on it that autumn, and rented the land. His share of wheat the first year was twenty-three hundred bushels, which averaged seventy-five cents to the bushel. In 1894 this ground threshed out forty-two bushels to the acre and the following year he had a yield of from twenty-eight to thirty bushels per acre. He rented three years; each of them were fruitful seasons.
In 1899 he sold the livery business. The following year he sold his farm and purchased the hotel property, in the meantime continuing on the road selling machinery. Mrs. Oakes superintended the hotel operations, building up a substantial trade and making it a financial success. They made many improvements in the hotel, refurnishing, painting and papering the interior, and a large veranda, added greatly to the comfort of their guests. In April, 1901, they sold this valuable property to Nick Klein, of Beloit. Mr. Oakes bought the building for a consideration of one thousand dollars, expended about twelve hundred dollars in repairs and sold for forty-eight hundred dollars. The family then moved to Beloit with the intention of making that pretty little city their permanent home. But Mr. Oakes had opportunities presented whereby he would be remunerated for making a change, hence he sold his handsome home in Beloit and settled near Walter, Oklahoma, where he bought a claim and after he has secured a title will in all probability make a home in Walter or some nearby town.
The Oakes home is blessed with two interesting children, a son and a daughter: Lawrence LeRoy, a manly little. fellow, aged eight years, and Statia Pauline, a bright little girl, aged six. By the removal of Mr. and Mrs. Oakes, Glasco lost two of her most useful and highly esteemed citizens, who, by their enterprise and natural ability, had drawn around them a circle of warm friends. They had a hard struggle the first few years of their married life and fully deserve all the future promises them.
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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