Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1574
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
As an early settler and prominent citizen of Rice county, and as a representative farmer and stock-grower of this section, Mr Flora is properly accorded recognition in this work, which has to do with those who have been the founders and builders of this favored section of the Sunflower state. He was born in Monroe county, Indiana, on the 17th of June, 1853, being a son of George and Mary (Butcher) Flora, the former of whom was born in Kentucky and the latter in Tennessee, while their marriage was solemnized in the state of Indiana. The paternal grandfather of our subject was Matthew Flora, who was numbered among the successful farmers of Kentucky, whither he emigrated from Germany, his native land, and became one of the early settlers of Kentucky, as did later his son Matthew, of Indiana, to which state he removed from Kentucky, in 1824. There he entered land and improved a farm in the midst of the virgin forest, and upon this farm he continued to reside until his death, in 1862, at the venerable age of eighty years. Matthew Flora was a plain, honest farmer, having no aspiration for public notoriety or official position. He and his estimable wife were both devoted members of the Baptist church and were known for their sterling worth of character. Of their four children we record that George was the father of the subject of this sketch; William died in Indiana; Minda became the wife of William Smith; and Nancy, who never married, is also deceased.
George Flora, the father of our subject, was born in Kentucky and thence removed with his parents to Indiana, in 1824, being a lad of twelve years at the time. In the old Hoosier state he grew to manhood, aiding his father in clearing and improving the pioneer homestead and placing it under cultivation, and he remained at the parental home until he had attained the age of twenty-two years, when he married and forthwith inaugurated his independent career, giving his attention to farming and to work at the carpenter’s trade. He was of a somewhat roving disposition, and made many changes in location, in Indiana, Iowa and Missouri. He was very energetic, however, and wherever he chanced to establish a home he was soon able to make a good living for his family, but soon he would become dissatisfied and forthwith would pull up stakes and move on to some other point. Finally the family took up their abode in Nodaway county, Missouri, and there our subject began to take charge of the family affairs. They effected the purchase of a small farm, but a series of floods destroyed the crops and so disheartened the young man that he decided to cast in his fortunes with the state of Kansas, whither he came in 1878, settling in Rice county, in company with his parents and the other children, and here the father died in 1887, being survived by his devoted wife, who passed away in 1895, at a venerable age. He held membership in the Baptist church, while his wife held the faith of the United Brethern. Of their fifteen children all but one lived to attain years of maturity and nine survive at the present time. Of the children we enter the following brief data: Catherine married William Marr; Lydia became the wife of E Thacker; Daniel served through the war of the Rebellion, made the famous march to the sea with Sherman, and his death occurred in the state of Iowa; Mary became the wife of George Fivecoats; Ella married Mercer Murber; Sarah became the wife of a Mr Linebaugh; John died in 1877, leaving a wife and one child; Levi is the immediate subject of this sketch; Martha and Etta were twins, the former becoming the wife of S Day and the latter marrying J Mainard; Parlina is the wife of W Drake; Asbury and Martha are twins, the former being a farmer of Rice county, and the latter being the wife of Rufus Ellsworth; Matilda A is the wife of Joel Hayes; and Susan, who was the fourth in order of birth, died at the age of sixteen years, the first death in the family. Levi Flora, to whom this sketch is dedicated, accompanied his parents on their removal from one state to another and in their frequent changes of location, and as he was thus for so brief an interval in any one place his early educational training was very much interrupted and neglected, but he made the best possible use of the opportunities afforded him, acquiring a good practical education and soon demonstrating the fact that he was capable to taking care of himself, and it is a matter of exceeding gratification to him that he was also enabled to provide a good home for his parents in their declining years. When he inaugurated his independent business career he rented a small farm in Rice county, Kansas, and after buying a team and wagon and paying all incidental bills he found himself ten cents in debt and had nothing with which to buy supplies for his family or food for his horses, but by careful management, industry and economy they managed to get through the winter, and in the following year he and one of his brothers bought of a squatter his claim to a tract of school land, erecting a cheap house and making other improvements on the place, and in 1885 they purchased the land from the state. The tract had an area of one hundred and sixty acres, and they continued the improvement and cultivation of the farm with such success that they were soon able to purchase an additional tract, making the aggregate area of their place two hundred and eighty acres. Later our subject erected a commodious two-story frame house, with all modern conveniences, and also equipped the farm with a fine barn, large granaries, tool-house and other requisite outbuildings. He has now a fine orchard of more than one thousand fruit trees and also a beautiful grove of shade trees upon the place. The fields are under a high state of cultivation and he has ample pasture lands for his livestock, and his farm is now recognized as one of the finest and best improved in the western part of Rice county. The property is clear of all encumbrance, and all this has been accomplished within twenty-five years through his application of energy, thrift and enterprise and through honest and honorable effort. Mr Flora carries on general agriculture and stock-growing, receiving a good revenue each year from his fields, orchard and stock, and he is considered one of the solid men of the county.
In the year 1881 Mr Flora was united in marriage to Miss Elma Dexter, a lady of culture and refinement. She was born in Warren county, Pennsylvania, on the 7th of May, 1857, being a daughter of Oscar and Celesta (Peck) Dexter. Her paternal grandfather, John Dexter, was a farmer by vocation, and he removed from Vermont to Pennsylvania, where he passed the remainder of his life. His children were seven in number, namely: George Henry; Newton; Oscar, the father of Mrs Flora; Merrill, who is a clergyman of the Baptist church; Andrew; Mary, who is now the wife of N Bates; and James. The maternal grandfather of Mrs Flora was Joseph Peck, of New York state, whence he removed to Pennsylvania and there spent the residue of his days, having been a shoemaker by trade, but having devoted many years of his life to agricultural pursuits. His children were as follows: Louisa, who married Dr G M Alsdurff; Jane, who became the wife of Fred Wise; Emily, who became the wife of H Scovten; Lovilla, who married Osten Aikens; Celesta, the mother of Mrs Flora; and Morgan and Edward. Mrs Flora’s father, Oscar Dexter, was a native of Vermont, and his marriage to Miss Peck was solemnized in Pennsylvania. He enlisted as a Union soldier and was in active and arduous service during two years of the war of the Rebellion, receiving his honorable discharge at the expiration of this period, by reason of disability resulting from wounds received in battle. He then returned to Pennsylvania, but in 1865 he disposed of his farm in that state and removed to Michigan, where he bought a farm and remained upon the same for one year, after which he went again to Pennsylvania. Later he returned to Michigan and thence removed to Missouri, where he bought a farm, disposing of this property in 1868 and coming to Kansas in that year. He here located on a farm in Crawford county, where he maintained his home for four years, and thereafter he spent eight months in Arkansas, when he returned to Kansas and located in Wichita, while in 1874 he came to Rice county and located a homestead in Pioneer township, making the best of improvements as time passed and there developing a valuable farm, which he still owns, though at the present time he and his wife are with one of their sons who is improving a farm in Oklahoma. The home of Mr and Mrs Oscar Dexter was blessed with five children, namely: Elma, the wife of our subject; Edwin, of Oklahoma; Ethel, who died at the age of eleven years; Elroy, of Oklahoma; and Edith, the wife of J Kimble, who has charge of the homestead farm of his wife’s father.
Mr and Mrs Flora are the parents of four children: Elton, born February 27, 1887; Ora, born December 14, 1891; Vernon, born November 30, 1895; and Ervin, born February 9, 1900. Mr Flora is a man of fine physique, being above the average weight, and he is a man of strong character and distinct individuality, taking an active interest in everything that pertains to the welfare of the community. Politically he was originally a Republican, later joined the Reform party and in 1900 he gave his support to the late William McKinley for the presidency. He reserves the right to vote for the man of his choice, regardless of party affiliations. He is a man of high integrity and honor, commanding the respect of his fellow citizens. His wife is a woman of gracious and kindly nature and she shared with him cheerfully all the hardships and trials of their early married life, while she now presides over their delightful home with such gracious hospitality that the same is a favorite resort of their host of friends, who esteem them for their sterling worth and many excellencies of heart and mind.