Harvey County Biographies

Ainsworth, Avery R. - (1874 Pioneer).  Avery R. Ainsworth, who is city marshal of Newton, Kansas, was born in Medina county, Ohio, on April 30, 1847, and he was a son of Richard W. and Harriet M. (Homan) Ainsworth, both of whom were natives of New York.  In 1855 the father of our subject moved to Bloomington, Illinois, where he was engaged in farming until the outbreak of the Civil war, when he established himself as a merchant-clothier in Bloomington and remained there until 1867, when he removed to Pleasant Hill, Missouri, and there became the cashier of a bank.  From there he came to Larned, Kansas, and resided with his daughter, Hattie, but later returned to Pleasant Hill, dying two months later, in 1895, at the age of seventy-eight years.  His widow still survives, at the age of eighty-seven years, residing at St. John, Kansas.  In early life both she and husband had become members of the Episcopal Church.  The three children which comprised the family of these parents are:  Avery R., who is our subject; James A., who lives in Pleasant Hill, Missouri; and Hattie, who is Mrs. Avery H. Ainsworth, of Larned, Kansas.  Mr. Ainsworth, of this sketch, was a student in the Wesleyan University near Bloomington, Illinois, when the call came for troops for the preservation of the Union.  Among those who loyally responded was Avery R. Ainsworth, although he was a member of the sophomore class in his college, with bright prospects before him, and in reality was but a lad of sixteen.  He was accepted as a private in Company C, Fifth Illinois Cavalry, and bore a gallant part in the siege of Vicksburg, the battles of Jackson, Mississippi, Corinth, Natchez, and many minor engagements.  At Jackson he was taken prisoner but managed to escape within two hours, made his way back to his regiment and again joined his comrades in the battle.  The regiment then was sent on a fifteen days detour to Meridian, then returned to Vicksburg, and later marched all over southwestern Arkansas and Mississippi, went up the Red river with General Banks, and in 1865 took its last march up the Red River, through Texas and Louisiana to Springfield, where it was discharged after two years and nine months of faithful service. After his return from the army, Mr. Ainsworth accepted a position as shipping clerk in a wholesale confectionery house in Bloomington, the firm name of which was J. L. Green & Company, and a year later became one of their traveling salesmen, which position he held for five years.  Then he continued in the same position for five years more, in the interests of Aldrich Brothers & Company, at Bloomington, and then spent another five years with Turner Wilson & Company, wholesale cigars.  Then Mr. Ainsworth came to Kansas City and became connected with the firm of Thurber & Company, this house being the largest wholesale grocery house in the United States, and for two years he was their representative.  The next eleven years were spent with the Symms Grocery Company, of Atchison, Kansas, making his headquarters in Newton in 1879.  Later he engaged as traveling salesman for the Wichita Soap Company, and continued in that capacity four years. Since that time Mr. Ainsworth has given his services to the city of Newton, and is now in his seventh year as marshal.  This continued service is testimony as to his efficiency.  It is a matter of congratulation to the quiet and law-abiding citizens of Newton that no city of its size in Kansas is freer from joints and places of resort for evildoers.  This is immediately attributable to the excellent management and vigilance of the marshal.  He has filled other positions of prominence in the city, having served as councilman, and has four terms been a member of the school board.  Mr. Ainsworth was married on September 14, 1870, to Miss Sarah J. Coney, who was born in New York, and who was a daughter of William Coney, being a resident of Bloomington at the time of her marriage.  The ceremony was performed at the home of her sister, Mrs. O. B. Stiles.  One child has been born of this union, - Clayton A., - a pupil in high school, who is looking forward to an education in the Santa Fe railroad shops, being a mechanical genius and anxious to be able to work out his ideas.  Both our subject and wife are members of the Episcopal Church. Marshal Ainsworth has been a life-long Republican and thoroughly believes in the principles of that party.  His leadership is acknowledged and his influence in political matters has been of value to his party.  Fraternally he is prominent in the order of Knights of Pythias, uniting with it in 1870, in Bloomington, where he was a charter member of the lodge.  Since that time he has been a delegate to the grand lodge three times, has been captain of the division in Newton for four years and he is also a charter member of Union Lodge, No. 223, of Newton. (Biographical History of Central Kansas: 1902, pp. 626-627).

Brown, G. W. - (1880 Pioneer).  Among the prominent retired farmers who form a large proportion of the substantial citizens of Newton, Kansas, is G.W. Brown, who located in Harvey County, Kansas, in 1880.  He was born in Meade county, Kentucky, on June 2, 1834, and he was a son of W.K. and Mary (Nafus) Brown, both of whom were natives of Kentucky.  The father of our subject followed a farming life and raised much stock, and became well known and esteemed.  His whole life was passed in Kentucky, where he died at the age of sixty-six.  Both he and wife were consistent members of the Baptist Church.  None children were born to these parents, the five survivors of the family being:  Sarah A. Smith, the wife of John Smith, a farmer residing in Newton; Adaline, the widow of Frank Shain, a resident of Nebraska; and the others, with the except of our subject, reside in Kentucky.  G.W. Brown, the subject of this sketch, was educated in the common schools of Kentucky, but in the spring of 1865 he moved to Henderson county, Illinois, where he bought a small farm.  In the spring of 1880 he disposed of this farm and came to Harvey County, Kansas, settling on a farm in Darlington township, bought a tract of one hundred and sixty acres, which he later sold and then bought in Newton township another quarter section.  This property Mr. Brown retains and raises upon it large crops of grain.  Eighteen acres of his land he has devoted to fruit and makes a specialty of winter apples, the yield being enormous.  Since his retirement from activity, Mr. Brown has rented his farm, and now resides in Newton.  On April 30, 1856, Mr. Brown was married to Miss Jane Hickerson, who was born in Kentucky, and she was a daughter of Rev. E.T. and Ellen (Sims) Hickerson.  The former was a Baptist minister of prominence, who was born in 1807, and while living on his farm and managing it, attended also to his clerical duties, preaching every Sabbath.  He baptized many converts, often going with them down into the waters of the Ohio river, married the sons and daughters through his locality and was the friend and preacher when the necessity came for burial.  His work still lives in the influence he left behind.  His faithful wife was born on September 27, 1813, and died in November, 1893.  She was a model woman and her life was filled with good works.  From girlhood she had been a devoted member of the Baptist Church, but her kindness extended to all who came into her acquaintance.  Thirteen children were born to these worthy parents, and Mrs. Brown was the second in the family.  Seven still survive, all of them living in homes of their own, in Kentucky, except Mrs. Brown, a brother named Loveless, who lives near McClain, Kansas, and a sister, Martha Brown, who lives in Wichita.  The children born to Mr. and Mrs. G.W. Brown are:  Julian H., who resides on the farm, married Anna Black, and their five children are Maud, Alva, Charles, May, and Glenn; William E., who resides on the farm in Harvey County, married Anna Logan, and has one child, who married Anna Nicholson, of Newton, and they have one child, which is the only great-grandchild of our subject; Mollie, who married George Harvey, resides in Sterling, Kansas, and they have five children, Ina E., Roy C., Ethel N., Mary J., deceased, and Ollie A.; Susan, who is Mrs. J.W. Phillips, resides in Harvey county and has six children, Rose E., Leslie C., Wilbur P., Joseph T., Anna J., and Mary E.; Walter, who is a resident of this county, married Ida E. Coble and they have five children, Leo H., Dora M., Verne C., Lesta F., and Vera M.; Waller S., a twin brother of Walter, died at the age of seventeen years; Minnie I.; and Jemima J., who married Franklin J. Francis, and resides on a farm in Sedgwick County.  Since early youth Mrs. Brown has been a faithful member of the Baptist Church and is well known for her many traits of Christian character.  Mr. Brown is noted in his locality for strict integrity and both have a wide circle of sincere friends.  (Biographical History of Central Kansas: 1902, pp. 615-616).

Chambers, Robert Ralson. - (1874 Pioneer).  Robert Ralston Chambers and Elizabeth D. Henry were married in 1847, in Pennsylvania, where both were born, and they have reared eight of their nine children.  Samuel Henry was born June 11, 1848, and died in Iowa, unmarried, at the age of twenty-two years.  Martha H., who married Robert Johnson Elwood, was born July 11, 1850.  Benjamin F., born December 23, 1852, in Pocahontas county, Iowa, has been twice married and has two children.  Martha J., born March 25, 1855, married G.W. Tuttle, and died at Eldorado Springs, Missouri, in 1901.  Nancy E. married Harlan Sage and died in Newton, Kansas, January 25, 1895, leaving five children, John W., born January 4, 1860, died unmarried, in Macon township, March 1, 1889.  Isabella, who was born February 11, 1862, is the widow of M.D. Reeves, late of Macon township, and has six children.  Sarah Margaret, born October 5, 1864, married Leslie Brown and lives near Neosho Falls, Kansas.  Nellie Louisa, born January 29, 1870, died in infancy.  Mr. Chambers emigrated from Pennsylvania to Grinnell, Iowa, in the fall of 1854 and removed thence a few years later to Tama county, and thence in 1874 to central Kansas, making the journey with teams, his daugher and her husband, R. J. Elwood, having preceded him in the spring of 1873, where Mr. Elwood had homesteaded eighty acres of land.  Mr. Chambers bought of a Mr. Hardenbrook one hundred and sixty acres of land in Macon township, on section 24, for one thousand dollars.  A little of the land had been broken and some hedge had been set upon it, and there was a small frame house ready for occupancy, which in the course of events was replaced by the more modern structure which is now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Chambers and Mr. and Mrs. Elwood and their family.  Mr. Chambers relates some disastrous experiences with grasshoppers during the first few years of his residence in Kansas, and tells interestingly how a cyclone swept away his first barn which stood on the site of the present roomy red barn of the Chambers farm.  Mr. and Mrs. Chambers have had a happy wedded life extending over a period of about fifty-five years, and though they are now well advanced in years they are cheerful, contented people, well preserved mentally, whom it is pleasant to meet and talk with.  Mr. Chambers has been a man of iron constitution, but is now in failing health because of a diseased limb, which was broken some years ago.  Until that calamity overtook him he was a model farmer, but his disability since then has been so great that his farm has become somewhat run down.  Mr. Elwood purchased it with a view to making the life of Mr. and Mrs. Chambers easy during their declining years, and expects soon to restore it to the order and productiveness that characterized it in former years, for he is a thorough farmer and an up-to-date, progressive man.  It may be said of him that he is a genial, broad-minded gentleman, the number of whose friends is restricted only, by the extent of his acquaintance. ((Biographical History of Central Kansas: 1902, pp. 626-627).

Elwood, Robert Johnson - (1871 Pioneer).  This popular and prosperous citizen of Harvey County, Kansas, whose homestead is in section 24, Macon township, and whose post-office is at Newton, was born at Pine Flats, Indiana county, Pennsylvania, January 29, 1846.  James T. Elwood, his father, who has attained the advanced age of eighty-one years, was born in Westmoreland county, that state, April 17, 1821.  James Elwood, the father of the James Elwood just mentioned and grandfather of Robert Johnson Elwood, was a blacksmith, who moved from Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, to Indiana county, that state, about 1840.  He married Margaret Sherridan, also of Pennsylvanian birth, and they had three sons and two daughters, all of whom married and had families.  John Elwood, an uncle of the subject of this sketch, lives on part of the old Elwood homestead on the site of grandfather Elwood's first abode there, which was a bark-covered log shanty.  That pioneer not only improved a large farm but cleared an extreme tract of timber land on which his three sons settled.  Sarah Johnson, who married James T. Elwood, and became the mother of Robert Johnson Elwood, was born in Pennsylvania in 1822.  She married Mr. Elwood about 1845, and died February 7, 1846, when Robert Johnson, her only child, was nine days old.  The boy was cared for until he was ten years old by grandmother Elwood, of whom he always speaks as having been his best friend on earth.  Meanwhile his father married Mary Johnson, his first wife's sister, and Robert returned to the parental roof.  By his second marriage Mr. Elwood had two children, - Sarah Elizabeth and John S.  Sarah Elizabeth, who is not married, lives at the old Elwood home.  John S. lives in Harvey county, Kansas, on an eighty-acre farm which was homsteaded by Robert J., April 30, 1871, when there was not a building on the present site of Newton.  The land office was yet located at Emporia and the lumber for the first building at Newton was on the ground, having been drawn seventy-five miles, from Emporia.  Robert Johnson Elwood and three of his cousins met at Paola in eastern Kansas, April 1, 1871, and started thence for central Kansas with a four-ox team.  Camping out by the way, they arrived at their destination the last of April, and three of them homesteaded eighty acres each, the other one hundred and sixty acres in section 24, range 1 east, five miles northeast of Newton.  During the first year of their residence there, the four kept house together in a ten-by-twelve foot sod house on J.M. Johnson's claim, each improving his land by breaking ten acres and fencing it into forty-acre lots with Osage hedge, of which they set out seven and a quarter miles, which is still growing and from which Mr. Elwood has secured many fence posts.  All but one of the four men lived there until the spring of 1901 when Mr. Elwood exchanged his eighty acres there in part payment for the purchase of one hundred and sixty acres in Macon township, which he bought of Robert R. Chambers, his father-in-law, and to which he moved in order that he and his wife might care for Mrs. Elwood's parents in their declining years.  As a pioneer Mr. Elwood had many interesting experiences, and he remembers that he and J.C. Johnson made the coffin in which was buried the first white woman who died in Highland township.  Her death occurred in the fall of 1871; an ordinary lumber wagon did duty as a hearse, and she was drawn to the grave in it by a yoke of oxen, - one of the two yoke that Mr. Elwood and his cousins had brought with them to central Kansas; and only her husband, Mr. Elwood, Mr. Johnson and a colored woman, followed her to her lonely resting place. In the fall of 1869, while Mr. Elwood was journeying to the west, he met Miss Martha H. Chambers, of Tama county, Iowa, whom he married February 6, 1873.  Mrs. Elwood was born July 11, 1850.  They left Tama county March 10, 1873, with a covered wagon drawn by a span of horses and drove through to Mr. Elwood's home in central Kansas, where it may be truly said that they have grown up with the country and prospered.  Their daughter Laura, who was graduated from the State Normal School at Emporia in 1899, is a teacher in the primary department of the public school at Newton.  Their son Leroy was graduated at the Wichita Business College and was for four years a stenographer in the offices of the Santa Fe Railroad Company in Newton, and is now in the mercantile business at Valley Falls, Kansas.  He is a Master Mason.  Politically Mr. Elwood was formerly a Democrat, but during recent years he has been active Populist.  He assisted to organize Highland township for school purposes and was long a member of the school board there, and has been chairman of the Populist county central committee of Harvey County since the organization of that body, and was a delegate to the Populist National convention at St. Louis.  Mr. and Mrs. Elwood are Presbyterians and each was reared in that faith by devoted Christian parents.  Mr. Elwood is a public spirited, progressive man, who is looked upon as a leader in all good movements by his appreciative fellow townsmen.  (Biographical History of Central Kansas: 1902, pp. 618-620).