The biographical annals and the history of Atchison County, Kansas, record three distinct periods of settlement in Kansas and Atchison County. The first was the real pioneer era, when an influx of settlers came, who were the first to break the prairie and lay the foundation for future development. The second was directly after the Civil War, when many people came from all parts of the East and European countries. The later period was in the eighties, when there came from Ohio and Pennsylvania many excellent American families who have prospered and taken leading paces in the civic and agricultural development of the county. The Hawk family of old Pennsylvania German stock, came to this county in the latter era. Lafayette T. Hawk, among this number, who can be reckoned among the latter-day old settlers of the county and who has resided here for over thirty-fur years and has worked his way upward from the station of comparatively a poor man to a position of affluence in the county.
L.T. Hawk was born July 22, 1849 in Coshocton county, Ohio a son of Jonathan and Margaret (Neede) Hawk, both of whom were born and reared in the Buckeye State. Jonathan Hawk was born in Coshocton County, Ohio in 1822 and was a son of Leonard Hawk, born in Pennsylvania of German parents. Leonard Hawk was an early immigrant in Coshocton County, Ohio and settled in that county when the whole region was a wilderness and carved a farm from the dense woods which covered that part of the Buckeye State in the early part of the nineteenth century. He first came to Ohio in 1814. Jonathan Hawk came into possession of the old home place of his parents' in Coshocton County, but sold out in 1883, and came to Kansas, to join his son, Lafayette T., who has preceded him to Atchison County by one year. during the first year of his residence here, he made his home on his son's farm, and then purchased the Shell property in Effingham, where he made his home until his demise in December, 1889. He was the owner of eighty acres of land which he farmed. Jonathan Hawk was the father of eight children, namely: Sarah, died in Ohio; Lafayette T., of whom this review is written; Mary Jane Roll, widow of Samuel Roll and residing in Effingham; Samuel, living in Oklahoma; Mrs. Margaret Denbow of Great Bend, Kan.; George Leonard of Oklahoma; Edith Elzina, died at the age of four years; John, deceased. The mother died in January, 1891 at the age of sixty-six.
Lafayette T. was reared on the ancestral farm in Coshocton County, Ohio, and received his education in the district schools of his neighborhood. He learned in his youth to do the hardest kind of farm work and was taught by his parents the best methods of tilling the soul. When a young man he became imbued with the desire to locate in the west where opportunities seemed to be greater than in his home state and he saved his earnings toward this purpose. Not long after his marriage he came to Kansas in 1882 and located in Benton township, Atchison County. His cash capital being limited to the sum of $300, he deemed it advisable to rent land for the first year, then bought his first farm of 160 acres at the purchase price of $25 per acre. This farm was necessarily bought on time, but with good management and industry. Mr. Hawk was enabled to pay out and add considerably to the improvements of his place, which is one of the most attractive in the county and one of the most fertile and productive. Mr. Hawk also added ninety acres to his land holdings in later years and invested his surplus in western land which he traded for the Effingham Hotel property which he now owns. He is a stockholder and director of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Effingham, he is also a stockholder in the Midnight Oil Company, a producing concern with headquarters at Morris, Okla.
Mr. Hawk was married March 21, 1874, to Miss Harriet Pitt, of Coshocton County, Ohio and who was born in Kentucky. To this union have been born the following children: Charles, who served in the Twenty-second regiment, United States infantry, during the Spanish-American War and is at present chief of police at Shawnee, Okla.; John D., a prosperous and progressive farmer in Benton township; Margaret, wife of Clem Higley, a farmer living in Center Township, near Pardee; Homer, who was killed in a railway accident in October, 1913; Fred, died in April, 1913 and who had held the position of cashier of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of Effingham prior to his death; Wilbur C. Hawk, business manager of the Atchison Daily Champion and former deputy warden of the Federal penitentiary, Atlanta, Ga.; Clifford, a farmer and auctioneer in Benton township; and Vera, at home with her parents. The mother of these children was born November 8, 1851 in Kentucky, a daughter of William and Frances (Phillips) Pitt, the former a native of New Jersey and the latter of Vermont. In 1853 Mrs. Pitt and their children removed to Coshocton County, Ohio, Mr. Pitt having died when Mrs. Hawk was an infant. Two of the three children were reared: Mrs. Hawk and Mrs. Lenore (Miller), who died in September 1915 at Carlton, Ohio. Mrs. Pitt's second marriage was with Dr. Ephraim P. Stewart, of Coshocton County, Ohio, where he practiced after moving from Carroll County, Ohio, his birthplace.
With the exception of a few years spent in Atlanta, Ga., with his son, Wilbur C., when on duty as deputy warden of the Federal Penitentiary, Mr. Hawk has lived continuously in Atchison County, since 1882, and has taken an active and influential part in the affairs of the county. He is a staunch Republican in his political affiliations, but has never sought political preferment. He and the members of his family are affiliated religiously with the Lutheran denomination, which was the faith of his father. He is prominent in Lodge circles and is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Knights and Ladies of Security. He is one if the original Central Protective Association members and is a charger member of Sunny Hill Lodge, No. 158 of Effingham and is prominently connected in Central Protective Association circles throughout the State of Kansas, having organized seven lodges in this State.
Taken from "History of Atchison County, Kansas" by Sheffield Ingalls. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kansas, 1916
Transcribed by Clemi Higley Blackburn