Among the most prominent farmers and stockmen of Cloud county is J.M. Vernon, the subject of this sketch. A charming sense of rest pervades the atmosphere of the Vernon home, where the comforts of the family, unlike many, are regarded of greater importance than the care of stock, and in accordance he has built one of the best residences in the county. In architecture this house would grace a city avenue; in its appointments it as well furnished as many a fashionable home, and illustrates forcibly that culture, refinement and accomplishments need not be foreign to the sons and daughters of the farm. No higher tribute can be paid Mr. and Mrs. Vernon than a recognition of the fine instinct which distinguish their family. Though reared in the school of industry, their education and accomplishments have not been neglected and they are talented musicians.
Mr. Vernon is a native of Pennsylvania, born near the city of Brownville, on a farm in 1842. The Vernons were in old Dutch family, dating back to the early settlement of the state. He is a son of Joel Vernon, who was born and died in the historical county of Fayette, where the body of General Braddock lies buried. Joel Vernon died in 1867. Mrs. Vernon was Eliza Connell, of Virginian birth and Scotch origin. Her maternal ancestors were an old Pennsylvania family and descendants of the family are still there on the homesteads they "tomahawked." She came to Kansas with her son where she died at the age of ninety-one years in 1893.
Mr. Vernon is one of six children, five of whom are living, viz: William, a farmer of Mitchell county; George, a miller of Comanche, Texas; Rebecca, wife of J.C. Momyer, a retired minister of the Cumberland Presbyterian church, their residence is Petersburg, Illinois; Maggie E., widow of J.C. Ulery, of Pueblo, Colorado.
Mr. Vernon was educated in the common schools of his county and attended college for one year at Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. At the age of twenty years he entered upon a career for himself. In 1872, came west and took the homestead where he now lives and soon afterwards bought forty acres of the Teasley homestead. He now owns one thousand five hundred acres of land, three hundred and sixty in Wallace county, seven hundred and twenty in Mitchell county and four hundred and twenty in Cloud county. At the present writing has seven hundred and twenty acres of wheat on his land. In 1894, he had two hundred acres of wheat which yielded thirty-one bushels per acre.
Mr. Vernon was the promoter of alfalfa growing in his neighborhood now one of the best paying industries in Kansas. In 1897 he bought thirteen bushels of seed which sowed thirty-three acres of ground as a trial venture. The third year sold one hundred and sixty bushels of seed from the second crop which netted him $1,025. This was the introduction of alfalfa as a paying proposition.
Mr. Vernon and J.L. Hostetler were the first to bring sheep into the Solomon valley. As a beginning they started with sixty head each in 1873. Their herds increased to more than one thousand head and wool growing became one of the foremost industries of that valley. Mr. Vernon was one of the instigators of the organization known as the Solomon Valley Wool Growing Association, (an account of which is given elsewhere in this volume), and was its first secretary. He shipped the first fine stock into the county and got his best start in Kansas in the sheep raising business.
Mr. Vernon was married in 1874, to Sarah Darrow, who was born in the state of New York, and came to Kansas with her parents in 1870, and settled in Mitchell county where her father took up a homestead one mile from the Cloud county line. Mrs. Darrow died in 1887, and Mr. Darrow one year later. Mrs. Vernon is one of ten children, seven girls and three boys, seven of whom are living; two sisters in California, the others all in the vicinity of Cloud and Mitchell counties.
Mr. Vernon's family consists of a wife and seven children: Edgar, a farmer, living two and one-half miles of the old homestead, married Pearl Simpson, whose father the town of Simpson was named for. They are the parents of one child, a little daughter, Mabel. Annie, the eldest daughter Is a talented musician on the piano and violin, has taken a course at Lindsborg college and expects to return and complete her studies. George, associated with his father on the farm; Lizzie and Clara, also talented in music; John, a boy of thirteen, and Albert aged eleven. Jesse, who had been an invalid for a period of six years was deceased July 27, 1901, at the age of nineteen years.
Mr. Vernon has one of the best improved homesteads in the country; built a commodious house of eleven rooms in 1888, and built the first large barn in the Solomon valley.
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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