Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Charles A. Kelson

HON. CHARLES A. KELSON, of Scott City, assistant cashier of the First National Bank and the county's representative in the Kansas Legislature, is all but a native Kansan. He was four years of age when his parents came to this state from Butler County, Iowa, where he was born October 7, 1872, his parents being Albert M. and Amelia P. (Cole) Kelson.

Louis Kelson, the grandfather of Charles A. Kelson, came to the United States from Norway, where he had been a military man and one of the King's bodyguard, made up of exceptionally tall and strong men, requirements up to which Mr. Kelson measured capably. He settled first in Wisconsin, from whence he moved to Illinois, and in 1855 went from the latter state to Iowa, where he died in Butler County at the age of eighty-four years. He was a very well read man and possessed a genius for working on sea instruments, and was a fine worker in brass during his younger days. After coming to the United States he gave his attention to farming, a vocation in which he acquired independence and gathered together one of the attractive properties of his county. His first wife's Christian name was Inga, and she died when her son Albert M., was a child, leaving three children: Anna, who died at Clipper Gap, California, as the wife of Cyrus Woodworth; Albert M., and Martha Ann, who married John Wilkes, who moved to South Dakota and became a senator, Mrs. Wilkes dying at Kimball in that state. Louis Kelson's second wife's Christian name was Carrie, and they had the following children: Frank S., who is on the old homestead farm in Butler County, Iowa; George, who is a railroad telegraph operator at Saticoy, California; Charles, of Butler County, Iowa; Alice, who is the wife of James Thompson, of Norfolk, Nebraska; and Walter, deceased, who left a family in Butler County, Kansas.

Albert M. Kelson was one of the pioneers of Ness County of the year 1877 and came from Butler County, Iowa. He was born at Woodstock, Illinois, August 29, 1841, and there received enough of a public school education to allow him to teach school, a vocation in which he was engaged when the Civil war came on. In 1864 he enlisted in Company I, Second Iowa Cavalry, Colonel Thomas, and during his service, which lasted until the close of the war, he fought in eleven battles in addition to numerous smaller engagements and skirmishes, the more important including those at Nashville and Franklin. At the close of the war he received his honorable discharge and was mustered out of the service, having escaped wounds or capture and having missed only one week's service. He declined a pension until after his age limit of sixty-two years had been reached. He spent his active life as a farmer, and on coming to Kansas in 1877 took up a homestead near Bazine, which he proved up and on which he made substantial improvements, and resided thereon until 1911, when he moved to Garden City. There his death occurred January 24, 1913. He belonged to no church, although he had been reared as a Presbyterian. In politics he was first a republican and later a populist, and by the latter party in 1896 was elected to the Kansas Legislature as representative of Ness County, as he was also in the special session of that year. He was a Blue Lodge Mason. When he was united with Miss Amelia P. Cole Mr. Kelson married into one of the old families of Iowa, which went there from Michigan, but came originally from Ohio. Mrs. Kelson was born in the latter state, Huron County, May 3, 1841, her father being William T. Cole and her mother Anna Blackman. Mrs. Cole was a native of Ohio, but Mr. Cole was born in Niagara County, New York. Mr. Cole was a farmer, an Ohio militiaman during the old training days, a democrat in politics, and a Universalist. He died in Butler County, Iowa, while Mrs. Cole passed away in McPherson County, Kansas. Their children were as follows: Maria, who married Abel W. Scranton and died at Wichita, Kansas; Mrs. Kelson; Charles, who died at Wichita, Kansas; Horace, who died as a single man; Andrew, who lives at Palmer, South Dakota; Ella, who married J. E. Waters and died at Seattle, Washington; Frank, who died in South Dakota; Willie, a resident of Preston, that state; and Ida, who married Charles Bottsford and died in South Dakota. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Kelson were as follows: Mattie, who is the wife of P. A. Rogers, a ranchman and farmer of Ness County, Kansas; Edward, of Garden City, Kansas, married Anna Biggs; Charles A.; Carrie, who is the wife of A. L. Maust of Garden City.

Charles A. Kelson secured his educational training in the district school near Bazine, where his father's homestead was located, and this completed his education save for six weeks of tuition secured in the Central Normal College of Great Bend, Kansas. He remained at the home of his parents until he was married and was essentially and actually a farmer until he was twenty-five years of age. Mr. Kelson entered the volunteer army for service in the Spanish-American war, enlisting in Company B, Twentieth Regiment, Kansas Volunteer Infantry, Capt. Fred Buchan, Col. Fred Funston. The regiment rendezvoused at Topeka and at the Presidio, San Francisco, for eight months and then went to Manila, Philippine Islands, his immediate command crossing over on the transport "Newport." Mr. Kelson took part in the fight of Caloocan, where he was wounded and disabled when a Mauser bullet hit his gunstock, entered his right hand, passed up his arm and came out above the elbow, this resulting in a crooked arm. He was thus incapacitated for any more soldiering and was accordingly sent home on the "Morgan City," arriving at San Francisco July 30, and receiving his honorable discharge September 6, 1898.

Returning to civil life, Mr. Kelson was elected sheriff of Ness County in November, 1899, and served in that capacity two years. He then moved to Scott City and engaged in the mercantile business, the firm being Livinggood & Masst, with which he spent five years. On November 9, 1906, he was elected sheriff of Scott County, Kansas, and was re-elected November 6, 1908. He succeeded Sheriff T. E. Riely, and his administration was marked by the usual order and quiet which characterizes the county. In politics Mr. Kelson is a democrat, and on that ticket was elected township clerk November 8, 1912, and served two years in the Township of Scott. He was elected mayor of Scott City in 1913, and November 6, 1914, was elected representative to the State Legislature of Kansas. In April, 1915, he was re-elected mayor of Scott City, and was nominated at the primary of 1916 to succeed himself in the Lower House of the General Assembly. As a legislator Mr. Kelson was chairman of the committee on private corporations, and was assigned to membership on the committees on railroads, fees and salaries, private corporations and irrigation. During his term as mayor and while he was a director of the school board an $8,000 schoolhouse was erected, and while he was mayor an electric light plant and water plant were installed, both of which belong to the city.

Mr. Kelson became connected with banking in July, 1910, in a clerical capacity with the First National Bank of Scott City. He was still sheriff of the county, and when his term of office expired he became assistant cashier in January, 1911. He has handled stock and been a farmer ever since he has been in Scott County, has contributed to substantial farm improvements and developments of the rural locality, and the C. K. & O. Railway crosses one of his farms and has located a station upon it.

Mr. Kelson was married in Crawford County, Kansas, September 29, 1890, to Miss Mary Ater, a daughter of George and - (Chenoweth) Ater. Mr. Ater who came to Kansas from Illinois, was a farmer by vocation and lived in Bourbon County, where he carried on successful operations. He was a Union veteran of the Civil war, in which he fought as an Illinois volunteer. Mrs. Kelson is one of seven children in her father's family to grow up and is the oldest daughter. She is the mother of three children: Esther, Paul A. and Owen. In addition to his own residence Mr. Kelson has contributed to the upbuilding of the city by the erection of several business houses, including that occupied by the Kelson Drug Company, of which he was the founder and establisher, and the Hollister-Kelson Block.