James Henry Powell. Chautauqua County had never had a more popular official than James H. Powell, who is now concluding his second term as sheriff. He had been a farmer, public official and prominent citizen of this section of Kansas for a quarter of a century. A noteworthy fact is that when he was re-elected in the fall of 1914 he was given the largest majority ever given a candidate for any office in Chautauqua County and carried every voting precinct.
One of the valleys of the State of Tennessee had for many years been known as Powell’s Valley. The Powell family were the earliest and most influential settlers there, hence the name. It was in that locality that Stephen Powell, father of James H., was born. He was in that section of Tennessee which furnished many soldiers to the Union army during the Civil war. He enlisted himself in the Union army, served until he was taken prisoner, and he endured captivity in the notorious Andersonville prison. He was a farmer by occupation, and after or during the war he had his family removed to Clay County, Kentucky, in order to escape the hostility of the Southern sympathizers in Tennessee. Stephen Powell died in Clay County, Kentucky, in 1867. He married Lavina Stanaford, who was born in Virginia in 1825 and was killed in a railway accident in the winter of 1885.
James Henry Powell was born in Clay County, Kentucky, March 8, 1867, the same year that his father died. He was the youngest of seven children. The other children were: John, a farmer at Elgin, Kansas; William, who was a farmer and died in Clay County, Kentucky, at the age of thirty-five; Naney, who was killed in an accident in October, 1916, was the wife of George Anderson, a farmer in Chautauqua County, Kansas; Mary, deceased, who was the wife of William Casteel, a farmer in Clay County, Kentucky; Sarah, wife of Henry Cornett, a farmer at Elgin, Kansas; Joseph, a farmer in Chautauqua County.
Mr. Powell due to the early death of his father had to become self supporting and at the age of thirteen left home and found employment with a farmer in Orange County, Indiana. He remained with that employer and had his home there for five years. In the meantime he attended school during the winter terms, and his education was completed at the age of eighteen. He had also attended school in Kentucky.
In 1885 he returned to Clay County, Kentucky, where he married in the following year, and was engaged in farming some Kentucky land until the spring of 1892. That was the date of his coming to Chautauqua County, Kansas. For three years. Mr. Powell drove a stage between Elgin, Kansas, and Pawhuska, Oklahoma, and that was an occupation that furnished many risks and incidents. On giving up that work he engaged in the drug business at Elgin from 1895 to 1908, then for two years was in the grocery and meat business, and he sold out his stock of merchandise when elected sheriff in the fall of 1912. His present term expires January 1, 1917. For eighteen years prior to his election as sheriff he was deputy sheriff of Chautauqua County, and also served as constable at Elgin a number of years.
Mr. Powell is a republican, is active in the Christian Church and is affiliated with Olive Lodge No. 350, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Elgin, Wichita Consistory No. 2 of the Scottish Rite, Elgin Lodge No. 414 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Elgin Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
Mr. Powell was married in Clay County, Kentucky, in 1886, to Miss Margaret Mayfield. Her mother, Mrs. Nancy Mayfield, is still living in Clay County. To their union have been born three children: W. D. Powell, who is a stockman and farmer at Elgin; Oscar, now under sheriff at Sedan; and Samuel, a farmer at Elgin.