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.

Joshua D. Wheatcroft

JOSHUA D. WHEATCROFT. More than thirty-six years have passed since Joshua D. Wheatcroft accompanied his parents to Kansas, and since the year 1880 his entire career has been passed in Lane County, where he is now owner of a handsome property in White Rock Township. Mr. Wheatcroft has witnessed the great development of this part of Kansas, since the days of his youth, when he lived in a "soddy," through the time of his independent career, when his home was a like structure, through the later years, when with development and progress came individual and community prosperity, to the present period, when he is one of the substantial agriculturists of Lane County and well known in business circles, being connected, among other enterprises, with the Utica Telephone Company, of which he is president.

Joshua D. Wheatcroft was born in Henry County, Iowa, December 10, 1867, and is a son of Joshua and Ansilla (Wyatt) Wheatcroft. His father was born in the locality of the City of Devonshire, England, in 1828, and in that community learned the trade of cabinet-maker. Mr. Wheatcroft was married in his native land and after the birth of two children immigrated to the United States his first place of residence being the City of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where for three years he worked at his trade. On leaving the Pennsylvania city, Mr. Wheatcroft brought his family to Iowa, and for a number of years was engaged in working at his trade in that city, but subsequently turned his attention to farming and felt himself on the high-road to success. He had a large measure of prosperity for a time and accumulated a good property and a comfortable home, but his ambitions and aspirations for his sons caused him to expand beyond his resources and to buy land on the credit plan, mortgaging his farm therefor, and a sudden and unlooked-for series of bad seasons caused him to lose everything that it had taken him so many years of hard work to gain. However, Mr. Wheatcroft did not allow himself to become entirely discouraged. He felt that the state in which he had worked and failed offered nothing for him in the future, and accordingly he turned his face toward the promised land of Kansas, bringing with him three teams. After he had filed upon his homestead he had but $60 in money left, but with this and his determination to succeed he cheerfully faced the years of work that lay in front of him. His pioneer house was the usual "soddy," consisting of a single room, 14 by 28 feet, and covered with sod, or "shingled" thus, as the early settlers whimsically put it, and in this little habitation his family of seven lived until the erection of his two-story stone house of six rooms six years later.

Mr. Wheatcroft recognized the fact that he must do something aside from work on the new claim, and he therefore took two teams to Colorado to work as a support for the family at home who were engaged in breaking the sod and preparing the ground for crops. Out in Colorado he followed the teaming business at Breckenridge, while his son herded sheep, and during that summer they made good wages and returned with a single team. They bought cattle with the proceeds of the sale of the other team and that started Mr. Wheatcroft into the cattle business in Lane County. While the father was never again compelled to go away to assist in filling the family larder, two of his sons, Lincoln and James, rode the range in Kansas for cattlemen along the Smoky River country. The crops on the home farm were in the main cane and kaffir corn, used as a means in the growing of his cattle, and not until about 1890 did Mr. Wheatcroft commence sowing wheat. While this grain proved a reliable crop, his greatest success was made with cattle. Out of his earnings in Kansas he began to expand his homestead with an addition of four quarters of land, which he devoted to pasture and farm land, and the old homestead is now owned by one of the sons, Dennis Wheatcroft.

Joshua Wheatcroft became one of the prominent and influential citizens of his community. He assisted in the organization of the County of Lane, as well as the school district in which he lived, No. 6. Here the first schoolhouse was a "soddy" and the first school teacher was Mrs. Cassie Anderson, who still resides in the county. Mr. Wheatcroft was an active and interested citizen in politics, was an adherent of republican principles and was justice of peace of his township for a number of years. He was also elected probate judge of the County of Lane, an office in which he served four years, the act of proving up homesteads being a large part of the work he had to do in office. He was the means, as a citizen, of settling many new comers on lands of his region and spent perhaps a year and a half at this work almost exclusively. Mr. Wheatcroft's parents were of the Quaker faith, but he was not a member of any church. His death occurred in November, 1905, when his community lost a good and exemplary citizen. Mr. Wheatcroft was married in England to Miss Ansilla Wyatt, who died in October, 1889, the mother of the following children: Thomas, of Oskaloosa, Iowa; Alice, who is the wife of William Pickett, of Hitchcock, Oklahoma; Dennis Wyatt, who resides on the old homestead in Lane County; Annie, who is the wife of Alvin Scott, of Dighton, Kansas; Lincoln, who died in Lane County, Kansas, in 1910, leaving a son; James, who died in Lane County, in 1896, leaving five children; Joshua D., of this notice; and Fanny Lou, who married Stephen Van Wey, of Lane County.

Joshua D. Wheatcroft had secured the greater part of his education in the public schools of Iowa, which state he left with his parents when he was about eleven years of age, and what little training he received after coming to Kansas was obtained in the home on the farm. He started in as a youth, with others, working "in the Pool," in the Smoky River country with cattle, and followed this vocation until 1886, his wages being $28 a month and board. Thrifty and industrious, he was able to save a large part of his wages, which he used to invest in cattle and to assist the family at home, and when he was twenty-one years of age he started life for himself as a farmer and stockman. Mr. Wheatcroft began on a timber claim in Lane County, in White Rock Township, a property which he proved up successfully, and after using it for several years sold it and bought the property where he now lives, in section 36, range 27, township 16. For this land he paid $3 an acre for forty acres, and $1.25 an acre for the remainder of the section. His first shelter here was a "soddy," in which he and his wife lived from 1895 until 1903, when his new frame house of nine rooms was built. He now has under plow here 220 acres of land and his main profit has come from his stock, as did his father's before him. For several seasons this region was very dry and no wheat was raised to any extent, and the cattle at that time were depended upon to support the family. Mr. Wheatcroft's ample barn was added to his farm improvements before his home, and his other buildings about the homestead make his property attractive and prosperous looking, reflecting much credit upon the good management and ability of its owner.

Mr. Wheatcroft, as before noted, is well known in business circles. He is a stockholder in the First National Bank of Dighton, is president of the Utica Telephone Company, of which he was one of the organizers, and a stockholder in the Tractor Sales Company of Salina, Kansas, and of the Central Indemnity Company of Hutchinson, Kansas. He began his voting as a republican, in 1888, when he gave his ballot to Benjamin Harrison, and has never missed an election and but one primary. In the distant past he attended county conventions, and more recently was appointed county commissioner to fill a vacancy, subsequently being elected as the successor of Boyd Davis, and has also served as treasurer of his school district for many years. His only fraternal connection is with the Modern Woodmen of America. Mr. Wheatcroft has never enrolled as a member of any church.

On March 11, 1890, Mr. Wheatcroft was married to Miss Minnie Garrigues, a sister of Samuel H. Garrigues, of Ness County. To this union there was born one son, Lester L., February 28, 1891. He is a graduate of the public schools of Lane County, spent two years at the Western State Normal School at Hays, Kansas, and graduated from the Kansas Wesleyan Business College at Salina. Following this he was employed for two years in stores at Pendennis and Dighton, and then resumed farming with his father. He married June 26, 1912, Miss May Holmes, daughter of Reid H. and Fanny (Lauffer) Holmes. Mr. Holmes was born in Iowa and became a homesteader of Gove County, where he now resides. Mrs. Wheatcroft is one of five children, and she and her husband are the parents of a son, Merrill Gordon.