A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by staff and students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas.

1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


In addition to the editor of the Press, already noticed at some length, there have been and still are men of influence in the party. One who has been with the party the longest and who is still recognized as a wheel horse is J. D. Barker, who has always "stood pat" on the Republican platform, and who has probably done as much towards giving the party prestige as any one man, although he has not been as noisy as some others. He was a captain in the Union army and this alone secures him a prominent place in the party, although they do not always give due honor to the soldiers, especially if they do not vote with the Republicans. Captain Barker has not squandered his means, but has enough to support him in his old age unless he changes his business ways, and as he is now approaching his three score and ten, it is hardly to be expected that he will make any radical change in this respect. He is still a stanch Republican, believing, as I suppose, that he is right, and that any change that he might make would be to change from good to bad.

Of the early workers in the Republican party the writer knows but little, but it is evident that there were some who understood their business when we consider that the party worked up from a minority, first to a parity, and then to a controlling majority, and this in a period of not to exceed nineteen years, when the party began again to decline. Within the knowledge of the present writer one of the most talented leaders was John Randolph, who, but for one failing, might today be a shining light in the political firmament, ever though he had to appear in a galaxy of brilliant orbs. Rising from an humble place as a country school teacher he ascended by slow but steady degrees to an eminence in his profession which secured to him the county superintendency, and gave him a prominent standing as an educator. He had good natural gifts as a speaker, and he embraced every opportunity to improve them, establishing for this purpose, and for the benefit of others, the Crawford County Oratorical Association, which lives to his credit after he is numbered with the dead. At first his aspirations seemed to lead entirely in an educational direction, but after entering the legal profession, it was not long till he entered also the political arena, where he soon rose in the estimation of his fellows, till but for the one fault he would have occupied a seat in Congress. Although of a different political faith, I admired the man, and none perhaps, except his immediate friends, more seriously lamented his untimely taking off. But such is the baleful effects of man's deadliest foe and the devil's most active, and successful agent. It first blotches, then blights and withers conciences, and utterly destroys the fairest and best of earth's sons and daughters, and leaves nothing to compensate for their loss save broken vows, broken hearts, disappointed hopes and sad memories. Will men ever be wise enough to let it alone, except to drive it from the earth?

Another man of ability who labored earnestly in behalf of his party was Ed Van Gundy, and he was the only man of any party, within the writer's knowledge, who honestly tried to enforce the prohibitory liquor law. While he was county attorney the liquor men had very little rest, and for this reason he was turned down at the next county convention, the liquor element, which was dominant in the party, going solidly against him. But he lived and died with the proud consciousness of having done his duty as an officer of the law—a consciousness which was worth more to an honest man than all the income of the office. But it is very difficult in these days of official corruption to make men see it.

In a former place I referred to a man who "would as soon think of leaving his wife as the Republican party." This was M. C. Kelly (if we have the initials right), who was rewarded by his party for his loyalty by sending him at one time to the state senate, and at another by being appointed oil inspector.

It is a pleasure to me to "give honor to whom honor is due," no matter to what party they belong. Among all the men prominent in Crawford county politics there lived not a more honorable and upright man than Chas. Slawson. Whether as private citizen or public officer I have yet the first word of aspersion against his character to hear. Honest in his dealings, upright in his official acts, mild and generous in his opposition to what he considered political error, he made his opponents feel that it was an honor and a pleasure to have such an antagonist. If all politicians were like him it would put an end to dirty politics and official corruption, and our government would become what its founders intended it to be, and what the apostle Paul said civil government should be, "a terror to evil doers, and a praise to them that do well." In his death the county lost one of its best citizens, and the Republican party one of its ablest and most honest defenders. He left a son, M. G. Slawson, who has already reached a point in the political world attained by but few men of his age, but I believe he has concluded to attend strictly to his own business and leave politics to others.

One of the earliest and ablest of Republicans in the county is W. B. Crawford, Esq. He is not one of the blatant kind, but a constant and untiring worker when work is to be done. As politics run he may be considerd an honest politician, never forgetting to take adantage of any incident or remark of the opposite side that may fall in his way. He has been a justice of the peace for a good many years, and still holds that office.

Another of the pioneers was William Merriweather, of whom we can say but little except that he was a stanch Republican, and a bitter partisan.

But there is one man of whom I wish to make honorable mention. Jesse R. Carpenter I regard as one among a hundred for fidelity to party and at the same time for candor and fairness to opponents. He was twice elected to the office of district clerk, and is now serving as register of deeds, and in all his official life no stain attaches to his character. He owns a farm in the eastern part of the county, and when not in office quietly cultivates his farm, working with his own hands for the support of himself and family.

Others there are, or have been, who have taken an active part in the politics of the county and state; but as they are gone from the political arena either by death or withdrawal, and as my limit will be reached without noticing them, I pass them by. But there are two exceptions, one on each side of P. M., to which we briefly call attention. These are L. D. Herlocker, who has always been an active worker on the Democrat side, and R. E. Carlton, on the Republican side. The former has filled several offices in the county and always with fidelity to his constituents, unless it was when he went back on his Alliance friends, by whose aid he was elected sheriff. When his term of office expired and he was not re-nominated, he came out as an independent Democrat, and drew off all the votes from the regular nominee that he could—enough to defeat him and elect the Republican candidate. This was not relished by those who had once elected him. Aside from this we believe his political record is without a stain according to modern ethics.

Mr. Carlton served two terms as clerk of the district court to the satisfaction of the people of the county, and since then has attended to his private business, but has always taken a lively interest in the affairs of the county, with special reference to the interests of his party. He is now a resident of Pittsburg, and in connection with Mr. Greef, carries on an extensive land, loan and insurance business.