Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1456
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902
From pioneer days in the development of Rice county, Hezekiah Orndorff has followed farming in this portion of the state. His birth occurred in Shenandoah, Virginia, February 11, 1827, and he represents one of the highly respected families of that state. His father, Philip Orndorff, was a native of Frederick county, Pennsylvania, and the grandfather was a native of Holland. On coming to America Philip Orndorff, Sr, took up his abode in Pennsylvania, and in 1801 removed to Frederick county, Virginia, locating on Cedar creek. He married Miss Siabert, a lady of German lineage, and both died in Van Buren, Shenandoah county, in the Old Dominion. Philip Orndorff, Jr, was born in 1795 and was a soldier in the war of 1812, being stationed for a time in the garrison at Norfolk. He made for himself a good record and after the war he was united in marriage to Christina Peer, a native of Shenandoah county and a daughter of John Peer, also a native of the Old Dominion. He had a sister who lived to the very advanced age of one hundred and thirteen years. Mr Peer was the owner of Sugar Hill farm, and throughout his life was identified with agricultural pursuits. When the country endeavored to sever allegiance to the English crown he became a member of the American army and aided in the establishment of the republic. He married a Miss Stevens, who was likewise born in Virginia. The marriage of Philip and Christina (Peer) Orndorff was blessed with the following children: Anna, now deceased; Hezekiah, Uriah and John Sampson, who have also passed away; Delilah; Lorenzo, who has departed this life; and Perry W, who made an excellent record as a soldier in the Civil war and who was the youngest of the family. The father died at the old Sugar Farm in Virginia, at the age of seventy-six years, and his wife survived him for some time, passing away at the venerable age of ninety-two years. She was a member of the Evangelical church.
Upon the old homestead Hezekiah Orndorff spent the days of his boyhood and youth and acquired a fair education. When a young man he went to Ohio, and in Mansfield, that state, was married to Miss Anna R Ricksecker, a cultured lady of good family. She was reared and educated in Masillon, Ohio, attended the high school there and was afterward a student in the Mansfield Ladies’ Seminary, where she was a schoolmate of Mrs John Sherman. She afterward became a successful and popular teacher of Ohio. She was born in Washington, DC, a daughter of John and Eliza (Geiger) Ricksecker, both of whom were of German descent, and the former was a native of Hagerstown, Maryland. They had ten children, namely: Mrs Orndorff; William K; Hilda B; Isabella; John H, who was a gallant colonel of the Civil war and afterward for a number of years a prominent farmer of Rice county, a land agent and hotel proprietor at Sterling, but is now a resident of Kansas City, Missouri; Frank; Prudence, who has passed away; Stella; Addie; and Mary. The father died at Mansfield, Ohio, at the age of ninety-five years. He learned the trade of cabinet-maker at Georgetown, in the District of Columbia, and afterward carried on business along that line in order to provide for his family. He voted with the Republican party and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, taking a very prominent and active part in its work. His wife was also a consistent Christian, holding membership in the same church, and her death occurred when she was eighty-four years of age.
After his marriage, Mr Orndorff located in Virginia, and about the time of the Civil war he was forced to flee to the mountains of that state on account of the hostility which his support of the Union cause aroused. He voted for Lincoln and fearlessly announced his allegiance to the Union party. His life was then threatened by the Confederate sympathizers and he went to the mountains, where he was captured, but after a time he secured his release. He then went to Aurora, Portage county, Ohio, where he was employed in a cheese factory until 1864, when he offered his services to the government, enlisting in the Sixth Ohio Cavalry, under command of Colonel H Garrett. For a time he was stationed at Cleveland, Ohio. His brother Perry came to visit him and was taken ill with smallpox. This was the occasion of Mr Orndorff’s having to remain at Crestline for some time. There he was taken ill and confined in a hospital for a number of weeks, after which he was honorably discharged from the service on account of disability, at Cleveland, Ohio. At a later date he went to Marion county, Missouri, and for a time resided near Hannibal, but the Rebel element in that locality was so strong that he returned east and took up his abode in Xenia, Ohio, where he remained until 1866. In that year he went to Jackson county, Missouri, but after a few months he left for the east, going down the river to St Louis, where he narrowly escaped being killed and robbed, for it was known that he had money. Proceeding on his way to Cairo, Illinois, he thence went to Bellaire, Ohio, and on the Harper’s Ferry, where he was stationed at the time John Brown was taken prisoner. He afterward proceeded to Van Buren, Shenandoah county, Virginia. For nine years he successfully engaged in business at that point, making considerable money. On the expiration of that period he came to Sterling, Rice county, Kansas, where his brother-in-law, Colonel John H Ricksecker, was doing a good business. Mr Orndorff took up his abode in Wilson township and purchased two good farms of one hundred and sixty acres each. He has here three thousand acres, and in his farming operations he has met with prosperity. In an early day his house was set fire to and he was mobbed and wounded by a lot of drunken men, his injuries being inflicted with a hatchet. In 1882 he became proprietor of a hotel in Lyons and conducted that enterprise for four years, after which he returned to the farm and in 1898 he again took up his abode in Lyons.
Unto Mr and Mrs Orndorff have been born two children. The Rev R C Orndorff, the elder, is a prominent and able minister of the Methodist Episcopal conference, located at Tarlton, Ohio. He was formerly a well known attorney in Rice county. The younger son, Fred Orndorff, resides upon one of his father’s farms in Wilson township. Throughout a varied, long, useful and honorable career Mr Orndorff has steadily progressed in the path of prosperity and today he is one of the substantial citizens of his adopted county, where he is now living a retired life. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which his wife also belongs, and in this community they have the respect and warm regard of all who know them.