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John M. Gilman, on account of his previous experience, is recognized as one of the ablest members of the present Legislature of Kansas. He is from Leavenworth County, and his career in all phases had been one of useful work and usefulness both to himself and to his community. He spent many years as an educator, is a practical and scientific farmer, and had done much for his part of the state as a scientific investigator and experimenter in agriculture.
His father, John Gilman, was a territorial pioneer of Kansas. He came from Canada to Kansas in 1857, taking up a homestead in Leavenworth County. Later he had to surrender his homestead because it was found to conflict with some Indian titles. John Gilman was born April 30, 1830, of English parentage, and was married in Canada to Esther Harvey. She had taught school in Canada before her marriage and afterwards followed the same vocation in Kansas as a means of support to her children. John Gilman was a truck gardener, and he also followed the trade of carpenter. His death occurred in 1870. He left his wife and seven children, and one child was born after his death. Altogether they were the parents of ten children. The death of the father left the mother to battle with poverty and the adversities of the times and she made a splendid fight to keep her household together and give her children the advantages of an education. She subsequently married L. A. Stone and is now living in Kansas City, Kansas.
The fourth of the ten children of his parents, and second oldest of those now living, John M. Gilman was born in Delaware Township of Leavenworth County on March 2, 1862. He was eight years old when his father died and almost from that time he bore responsibilities far in advance of his years. So far as possible he attended the local schools, and his ambition for an education led him to put forth strenuous efforts to support himself and attend school at the same time. He subsequently attended the old Normal School at Leavenworth and was also a student of Baker University. By hard work he fitted himself for the teacher’s profession, and altogether had taught nineteen terms in Kansas, all in Leavenworth County, except one year he spent as principal of the Baldwin City schools. While principal of Lansing schools, in 1902, Mr. Gilman was elected county superintendent of schools of Leavenworth County and re-elected in 1904. The schools were never in more capable administrative hands than the four years he was county superintendent.
While teaching Mr. Gilman became owner of some land in Leavenworth County, and now had a fine and highly developed farm of 156 acres in High Prairie Township. Mr. Gilman was for four years scientific assistant in corn investigation for the United States Department of Agriculture, resigning because the position kept him away from home too much of the time. In 1912 he was elected to represent Leavenworth County in the Kansas State Legislature and was re-elected in 1914 and again in 1916. After his election in 1916 he was a prominent candidate for the speakership of the next house. He had served as chairman of the committees on election and of revision of calendar during his second term. He also introduced a number of bills which became state laws. One of them is known as the Double Election Board, while another does away with nominating petitions. He was also author of the bill authorizing farm advisors, and Leavenworth County was the pioneer county of Kansas to organize for farm improvement along scientific lines. Mr. Gilman was president of the Farm Advisor Board a number of times. Perhaps his best work for Kansas had been his activities along the lines of scientific farming. On his home place he had carried on many interesting investigations as to cultivation, fertilizing, planting and handling the crops, and the fruits of his investigations have been widely published and have done much to increase the interest among farmers in the scientific application of modern principles to agriculture.
Mr. Gilman was married February 12, 1882, to Miss Eva Louisa Stone. They are the parents of ten children, several of whom have already attained places of responsibility and success in the world. Louis M., the oldest, is superintendent of a sheep ranch in Montana. The second child, a daughter, died unnamed in infancy. Ray Edwin is an instructor in Cornell University. John Leroy is deceased. Ralph Asa is superintendent of the electric light plant at Dillon, Montana. Paul Everett lives on the home farm and three times was winner of the boys’ corn contest for Kansas. The younger children are: Eva R., Myron, Ivan and Martha, the last being deceased.