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James M. Meek is one of the veteran stock farmers and dealers of Nemaha County, and is now living retired at Centralia. Mr. Meek is widely known over this section of Kansas, especially through his terms of service in the Legislature and the Senate, in which he proved a capable representative of his constituency and did much to promote the wholesome business and civic interests of his state.
Mr. Meek was born in Union County, Ohio, September 28, 1852, grew up in Northwest Missouri, and had been a resident of Kansas over thirty-five years. His ancestors were English people who came to this country, and the family were pioneers in Ohio. Grandfather Samuel Meek was an Ohio farmer and died in Richland County in that state before the birth of James M. Meek. Reason Meek, father of James M., was born in Richland County, Ohio, in 1822. He grew up there, was married in Union County, and in 1864 removed west to Black Hawk County, Iowa, and in the spring of 1866 settled in Nodaway, Missouri. He was one of the early settlers in that section of Northwest Missouri, and spent his active life as a farmer. He died in Nodaway County in 1891. Politically he was a democrat. The marden name of his wife was Matilda McIlroy, who was born in Ashland County, Ohio, in 1826 and died in Nodaway County, Missouri, in 1902. Their children were: Cassandra, who died in Nodaway County, Missouri, the wife of James McGinnis, who is still living in that county; James M.; John, a farmer in Nemaha County, Kansas; S. S. Meek, also a Nemaha County Farmer; J. Q. Meek, a farmer in Nodaway County, Missouri; and Nancy Elizabeth, wife of William Miller, a farmer in Pottawatomie County, Kansas.
Mr. James M. Meek grew up on his father’s farm in Nodaway County, Missouri, from the age of fourteen, attended the public schools there, and also an academy at Maryville, the county seat. Before taking up his real career he taught school four years in Nodaway County. Coming to Nemaha County, Kansas, in 1882, Mr. Meek located seven miles south of Centralia and began farming and dealing in cattle. He acquired connections in the latter industry which made him known all over this section of the state. His successful business operations enabled him to retire in 1915, and he had since lived in his home on Mulberry Street in Centralia. He is still owner of one of the fine farms of Nemaha County, comprising 240 acres and located seven miles south of Centralia.
His public career had been made largely as an active member of the democratic party. Mr. Meek served as justice of the peace in Neuchatel Township of Nemaha County, was elected township trustee there two terms, and them served one term of three years as county commissioner. Mr. Meek was elected and served as a member of the Lower House of the Legislature in the session of 1909 and by re-election was a member of the session of 1911. In 1912 he was chosen to the State Senate from the Eighteenth Senatorial District, comprising Nemaha and Pottawatomie counties. He served through the sessions of 1913-15. It is a political agreement that the senatorship shall alternate between Nemaha and Pottawatomie counties and therefore Mr. Meek was not a candidate for re-election. Throughout the entire term he was a member of the roads and highway committees, and served on the educational institution committee in the session of 1913, and was also chairman of the labor committee. As an old and experienced stock dealer and stockman, Mr. Meek was naturally interested in all legislation affecting that industry. He introduced and secured the passage of a bill compelling the railroads to furnish accommodations for stock men going and coming from market centers within the state. He also brought in a bill making it obligatory upon the railroads to erect sheds at stations where stock was shipped in order to protect the animals from the heat of the sun. The Senate rejected this bill.
Mr. Meek is a member and for many years was an elder in the Christian Church. He is affiliated with Centralia Lodge No. 69, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, with Centralia Lodge of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America and Topeka Council No. 2 of the Knights and Ladies of Security.
In 1879, three years before he came to Kansas, Mr. Meek married in Nodaway County, Missouri, Sarah A. Denny, daughter of William and Margaret (Storm) Denny. Both parents are now deceased, the father having been a farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Meek have six children; Leslie K., the oldest, is now cashier of the Oklahoma State Bank at Mulhall. Lois May is the wife of Z. E. Noland, a farmer in Pottawatomie County, Kansas. Reason A. is in the United States mail service with home at Kansas City, Kansas. Cassie married A. D. Labbe, proprietor of a garage at Vermillion, Kansas. Samuel is a farmer living at Corning, Kansas. Margaret Blanche had been a student in the Centralia High School and began teaching in the fall of 1917.