Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.] p. 634-637 transcribed by Dustin Mullins and Ryan Kemp, students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, on October 26, 2000


John P. J. Hovey

JOHN P. J. HOVEY is a man who honestly lives up to his own beliefs and is a prominent merchant in Wyandotte county. Most people are consumed with anxiety as to what others will think of their actions and they govern their actions and conduct according to other people's ideas. There is another class of men who are utterly regardless of what their neighbors think and in order to show their independence they go ahead and do exactly the opposite to the approved, generally accepted methods. There are a few men who take the pains to find out in their own minds what is the right course to pursue and they follow that course regardless of everything. It is through such men that reforms come and without them there would be no reforms. It is to this class that Mr. Hovey belongs, a man of fine personality.

Mr. Hovey was born in Wyandotte county, Kansas, September 24, 1872, the son of the late G. U. S. Hovey and his wife Ella J. (Hurst) Hovey. Of the former, who was a remarkable man, more extended mention will be made in succeeding paragraphs. Mr. and Mrs. Hovey were the parents of the following children: Ella Jane, the eldest, who is dead; John P. J., residing at White Church; Emeline, who died in infancy; Josephine B., who makes her home with her mother; George, deceased; Anna T., living with her mother; and Alfred C., a farmer in Lincoln county, Kansas.

John P. J., the second child of his parents, was educated in the public schools in Wyandotte county and when he was very young he helped his father in the store. He possessed unusual business ability which he manifested even in his earliest youth and he soon took full charge of the store. He now owns the business entirely and is very successful in managing it. In 1906, after the death of his father, Mr. Hovey was appointed notary public to succeed his father. The fact that he has held that position ever since that time is sufficient evidence that he has filled it in a satisfactory way. He is a young man and has a long life of usefulness before him, which, to judge by his past, will be one which will contribute materially to the well being of his fellow men.

It can not be otherwise than fitting that the life of a man such as George Underhill Stephenson Hovey should be given more than cursory notice in a work of this description and herewith is published an excellent appreciation which appeared in the Kansas City Sun and which gives an idea of his usefulness.

"Mr. Hovey was born in Ulster county, New York, July 19, 1842, and died at his home at White Church, Kansas, January 7, 1906, after a protracted illness with dropsy. He left a wife and four children. Mr. Hovey was the eldest of three children, born to Alfred and Elizabeth (Underhill) Hovey, natives of England and New York, respectively. Mrs. Hovey was a direct descendant of old Captain John Underhill, who made a record in the old country about the time of the Pilgrims. Mr. Hovey was educated in the schools of New York city, and at Elmville Seminary. In 1863 he went to California, taking a steamer to Nicarauga, crossing the Isthmus, then taking a steamer to San Francisco, and remained in California about seven years, engaging in business in Sonoma county. Returning to New York city, he married Miss Ella Jane Jones, native of that metropolis, the date of their union being February 10, 1870. Coming to Kansas the same year, he located at White Church, where he has made his home ever since, enduring many of the privations and hardships of frontier life.

"Mr. Hovey was prominent in the development of the county and held many positions of trust. He was postmaster of White Church for thirty-five years, except for an interim of four years. He was justice of the peace twelve years and county commissioner six, during five years of which he was chairman of the board. During that time the county made rapid and important strides. It was while he was commissioner that the fine brick building was erected on the poor farm; $500,000 in bonds were voted for the improvement of the roads of the county, and $270,000 for the building of bridges and culverts; the new jail was erected, bridges built across the Kansas river, and many other important improvements were made during his term of office. He assisted in negotiating the stock of the Kansas City Northwestern railroad; he always encouraged the erection and maintenance of good schools and was liberal in the support of the churches in his community.

"When the great educational movement swept over Kansas (perhaps the greatest educational movement that ever existed in any land - the Alliance movement - the good effect of which is being felt in all parts of the country even at this day) he was one of the most prominent factors in eastern Kansas, and was made treasurer of the County Alliance. He was initiated into the secrets of Masonry in Petalona Lodge, No. 77, of California, and was the first to join Delaware Lodge, No. 96, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons at White Church, after its organization. He was a consistent member of the Christian church; a member of the County Historical Society; the State Historical Society; and was made an honorary member of the Quivera Historical Society, on account of his extended research and large collection of archaeological specimens.

"A short time previous to his death the following article appeared in the Leavenworth Post:

"'Word was received in the city today of the critical illness of Hon. George U. S. Hovey, the postmaster and merchant at the village of White Church, south of here. He has been afflicted with dropsy for some time. Mr. Hovey came to this locality in 1870. He is well known throughout this section. He is an archaeological explorer of considerable prominence and has gathered in this region one of the most extensive collections of prehistoric Indian relics in Kansas. He is an authority on ethnology and early western history, a member of many scientific and historic societies and a correspondent of the Smithsonian Institute, Peabody Museum, and the scientific institutions in Europe.

"'Mr. Hovey has a covered wagon, made to order, which he has christened the Yacht Gipsy, and in which he has traveled all over this region on his exploring expeditions. He is a life member of the Quivera Historical Society and has done some exploring in the old province of Quivera, visited by Coronado in 1541.'

"In his Yacht Gypsy, (which was elegantly finished inside) accompanied by his wife and daughter, he made two extended trips; one south through western Missouri into the Ozark Mountains, and then with a lighter vehicle, extended his trip into Arkansas. The other trip through the interior of Kansas, covering a part of the territory traversed by Coronado and his one thousand, one hundred soldiers, in 1541, was in search of the two towns of Quivera and Harahey, but they found only two poor villages.

"Mr. Hovey spent much time in his researches and his collection of prehistoric specimens, such as stone implements, some of which were used by these people many centuries ago in preparing their food and tanning the hides of animals. The idea that the early inhabitants of this locality, used these stone implements for tanning purposes, originated with Mr. Hovey but he presented his points so forcibly and exhibited so many of these implements from localities where communities had been located, the same being distant from the quarries, where such stones could be secured, that most of the archaeological students finally conceded the correctness of his position. Most of these specimens were found in Wyandotte county, where there exists many evidences of there having been a town of considerable proportions. He believed that this locality, at the edge of the great prairies and convenient to water and timber, was the natural place for a town - a manufacturing town. Here doubtless the hides secured in the great buffalo hunts were tanned, the rough flint stones manufactured into arrow points and implements, as evidenced by large quantities of 'chips', or spaul - small pieces of flint, rock, etc. Here he secured thousands of specimens of flint arrow points, stone axes, tanning knives and other primitive implements. And as no stone of this kind exists within hundreds of miles of this locality he concluded that there must have been some kind of a commerce between these different points. He left probably five thousand specimens, estimated to be worth thousands of dollars.

"Mr. Hovey was passionately fond of nature; of the natural growth of the forest. He admired the large oaks, deplored the destruction of the forests and always delighted to converse with any one who had collected prehistoric relics. Many an odd shaped stone, passed over by others, he discovered to have been an implement used by some unknown people who inhabited the country, centuries before Coronado's fruitless expedition. He had extensive correspondence with Professor Ritchie and Captain E. A. K. Killain, of Alma, Kansas, and the late Captain Robert Henderson, of Junction City, who was interested in erecting several costly monuments in memory of Coronado's expedition to the interior of Kansas in 1541. One of these, (a costly granite monument) was erected in Logan Grove, two miles south of Junction City, by Captain Henderson, on his farm.

"Mr. Hovey also had considerable correspondence with J. V. Brower, the Minnesota archaeologist, whose researches in 1896, and a few years later, developed much of interest concerning Coronado's march to the junction of the Republican and Smoky Hill rivers in search of Quivera, and not only was he in touch with that gentleman but with the following noted institutions of learning: the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D. C.; Cornell University, Utica, New York; Phillipsburg Academy, Andover, Massachusetts; Peabody Museum, of Harvard; Imperial Academy, St. Pettersburg, Russia; Leland Stanford University, Stockton, California; and University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

"While Mr. Hovey had a general store at White Church, he also gave much attention to farming and fruit growing. That he was honored and respected by his neighbors and acquaintances was amply attested by the large attendance from all parts of the county at his funeral. He was laid to rest with Masonic honors, in the old Indian cemetery near his late residence. The funeral was conducted by Rev. George Gale, of Maywood and Rev. Mr. Litchfield, of Rosedale.

"Thus ended his career of usefulness on earth, and while he may have made a few mistakes in life, he was a man of high ideals and as a former neighbor, Mr. Litchfield said, 'Mr. Hovey never harbored an ill feeling toward any one, and no one in the community ever suffered for anything if Hovey knew it.' His name will be spoken, and his work referred to by historians long after many men of his time, who piled up millions of dollars shall have been forgotten."

His large collection of relics can now be seen in the Kansas University, of Lawrence.



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