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John B. Favor, present sheriff of Sumner County, has been a resident of Western Kansas for over forty-five years, and though he was a small boy when the family moved here he knows both by recollection and personal experience all the vicissitudes and trials that beset the early pioneers.
This story of a pioneer Kansas family begins with the removal of Gaines and Susan (Lavender) Favor from their native state of Tennessee to a farm near Cairo, Illinois, in 1855. On that farm in the southern part of Illinois was born on January 22, 1860, John B. Favor, first mentioned above. A little more than a year later Gaines Favor, who had got well started as a farmer in Southern Illinois and was recognized as a man of some prominence, was killed by the explosion of one of the old-fashioned threshing outfits known as “Groundhog” machines. This was, of course, a calamity in the family history. Besides his widow he was survived by an older son and two daughters in addition to John B. Favor. The work of the farm then fell upon the widowed mother and her children. To make their situation the harder the war broke out, and they were hard pressed to make a living during that period. Selling the Illinois farm and acting on the advice of some uncles and brothers-in-law who were living in Kansas, Mrs. Favor took her children to a claim of 160 acres on the raw prairie twenty miles southwest of Abilene, on the old Chisholm cattle trail from the south. It is important to remember some of the conditions of that year, 1870. Not a single railroad had penetrated Indian Territory to the Red River, Abilene was still in the high tide of its eminence as one of the main cattle shipping points and the terminus of the great Chisholm Trail over which thousands and thousands of cattle were driven every year from the plains and ranches of Texas. Thus the situation along the old cattle trail, while in some respects an advantage, was also exposed to some of the dangers incident to the wild and reckless life that characterized the old days of the range and trail.
Nothing daunted, however, Mrs. Favor established her home there, broke some land, and hers was the fourth family to locate in that section along Holland Creek. She and her children lived in a simple dugout home of that date. Three years later they moved to a more elaborate dwelling, but it was still a dugout. The early people along the frontier had too many things to think of to consider schools. Mrs. Favor, however, was very ambitious for her children, and in order to get them educated she deeded an acre from her land and by subscription a schoolhouse was erected, being used both for church and school purposes. In that old schoolhouse Mr. John B. Favor received many of the early lessions of his youth. After two years on the first farm Mrs. Favor moved to eighty acres at another location on Holland Creek, and there she remained for a number of years. While there the family engaged in the stock business and general farming, and in spite of the widespread sufferings caused by grasshopper years and the drouth, they managed to keep their cattle from starvation by grazing them on the foothills and in the draws. As there was no father or husband to look after the family it was characteristic of the generous and bighearted Texas cowboys and rangers that they offered their services in every way for the protection and safeguarding of this lonely woman and her children, and furnished some of the feed necessary to bring their cattle through the winter.
In 1880 the family removed to Abilene. Her older son subsequently married and removed to McDonald County, Missouri, where he is now a prominent fruit farmer and has seven children. The mother, desiring to be with this son, moved to Missouri, leaving John B. Favor in Abilens.
John B. Favor for several years conducted a transfer and teaming business in Abilene. On January 6, 1884, he married Miss Alice Looker in Abilene.
He has long been active in public affairs. In 1890 he was appointed city marshal of Abilene, and two years later was elected by the populist party and held that office continuously for fourteen years. He proved an efficient officer in the preservation of law and order, and had many interesting experiences, though of course Abilene had become a greatly changed town from the wild and riotious period when it was exclusively a cattle town. In 1904 Mr. Favor was elected on the republican ticket to the office of sheriff of Dickinson County, and in 1906 was elected for another term of two years.
On leaving the office of sheriff in Dickinson County, in 1908, he removed to Wellington, and there, associated with J. W. Julian, opened the Bungalow restaurant. He continued in this business for two years until after he began his duties as under sheriff with J. W. Lingenfelder. He was under sheriff four year, and in 1914 was elected to the office of sheriff of Sumner County, and was re-elected in 1916 for a term of two years on the same ticket.
Sheriff Favor has long been prominent in fraternal work. He has filled all the chairs in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in the Ancient Order of United Workmen and the Modern Woodmen of America, and is past master of the Blue Lodge of Masons at Abilene, and has held all the offices in the Royal Arch Chapter at Abilene and all the chairs except that of eminent commander in the Knights Templar Commandery. At three different times he has served as assistant state lecturer; and has been patron two times of the Eastern Star. Mrs. Favor is also prominent in the various auxiliaries connected with these orders, and is worthy matron of the Eastern Star and also belongs to the Women’s Christian Temperance Union. Mr. and Mrs. Favor are members of the Presbyterian Church, and in many ways have proved themselves valuable factors in the communities where they have lived.