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James L. Fitzmorris is a native of Kansas, was a soldier in the famous Twentieth Kansas Infantry during the Philippine war, had gained more than a local reputation as a blooded cattle raiser and extensive rancher, and had also played a worthy part as a citizen of Fall River, where he is now serving as mayor.
Mr. Fitzmorris was born in Elk County, Kansas, July 25, 1875. His father, Morris Fitzmorris, who was a very early settler in Kansas, was born in Ireland in 1843, a son of Thomas and Margaret (Carney) Fitzmorris. Thomas Fitzmorris in old age came to America, after having been an Irish farmer, and he died in Greenwood County, Kansas. Morris came to this country in 1853, when a small boy, and for several years earned his living by varied employment in New York City. During a part of the Civil war he was in the Government service, was also employed by the Government after the war, and for a time was a member of a Kansas regiment. About 1868 he located near Pickaway, Kansas, homesteading a claim there, but in 1872 removed to Elk county and homesteaded another quarter section. That farm was his home and the scene of his industrious activities until he retired to Fall River, and his death occurred at Wichita, Kansas, in 1900. He was a democrat in politics, filled several township offices, and was a member of the Catholic Church. He married Anna McKale, who was born in Virginia in 1854, and died in Elk County, Kansas, January 3, 1880. There were three children: Maggie, who is the wife of J. C. Burns, a farmer living at Fall River; James L.; and Ellen, who died when nine years of age.
The public schools of Elk County gave James L. Fitzmorris his early training, but he also attended Catholic schools, first at Osage Mission, now St. Paul, the St. Francis Academy and also the academy at St. Marys, Kansas. On leaving school at the age of sixteen he returned to his father’s farm, which was his home until he was twenty. The following three years he was employed in a retail store at Fredonia.
Early in 1898 Mr. Fitzmorris enlisted in the Twentieth Kansas Infantry. This noted regiment, commanded by Col. Fred Funston, was soon afterward sent to the Philippines, and Mr. Fitzmorris was in the far East until mustered out on November 1, 1899. During the Aguinaldo insurrection in the Philippines he participated in eighteen skirmishes.
On returning to this country, Mr. Fitzmorris began farming on the home place, and farming and stock raising had since constituted his major activities. At the present time he owned an extensive property of 1,400 acres in Elk and Greenwood counties, and employs this land for diversifled farming. His chief reputation is based upon his success in the raising and handling of blooded white faced cattle. Mr. Fitzmorris resided in Fall River, his home being on lots 13 and 14 in block 17 of that city.
In November, 1916, he was a successful candidate on the democratic ticket for the office of clerk of Salt Springs Township. In April, 1915, he was elected mayor of Fall River, and his term of office expires in April, 1917. During his administration as mayor he had carefully looked after the welfare of his fellow citizens and the general improvement of the town so far as finances warranted, Much permanent street improvement had been done during his two years as mayor.
Mr. Fitzmorris is past master of Greenwood Lodge No. 163, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Fall River, is a member of Fredonia Chapter, Royal Arch Masons, of Ab Del Kader Commandery, Knights Templar, and of Wiehita Consistory No. 2 of the Scottish Rite. Among other business interests Mr. Fitzmorris is vice president of the Fall River Telephone Company.
In 1900, at Fredonia, Kansas, he married Miss Mildred Paulen, daughter of J. W. and Lucy (Johnson) Paulen. Mr. and Mrs. Fitzmorris have had two children: Morris, born January 29, 1902, and Jack L., who was born August 4, 1904, and died April 11, 1914.