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Biography of William Q. Elliott
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William Q. Elliott, who joined the pioneers of Rice County in the early ’70s, had been one of the conspicuous men in that section of the state for many years. His sturdy energy as a farmer brought him liberal rewards, and he had used his means and influence to do good in many directions. He sent a large family of children into the honorable walks of life, had stanchly upheld the forces of religion and morality in his home community and state, and at the age of fourscore his usefulness still continues, especially manifesting itself in his official work with the Friends University at Wichita.
He comes of substantial American ancestry and the family for generations have been stanch Quakers. Mr. Elliott was born in a stronghold of the Quaker Church in Wayne County, Indiana, February 19, 1837. Wayne County, Indiana, was largely settled in early days by Quakers from the Carolinas. His grandfather, Exum Elliott, came out of North Carolina in 1815 and was one of the pioneers whose physical strength cleared away the forests and established civilization in that then wilderness section of Eastern Indiana. The wife of Exum Elliott was Catherine Lamb, of Guilford County, North Carolina. They had eight children, six sons and two daughters, all of whom reached mature years, married and with the exception of one daughter had children of their own. Exum Elliott died at the age of eighty-six and was laid to rest in the Friends Cemetery at West Grove, Indiana.
Mark Elliott, father of William Q., was born in North Carolina December 28, 1813, and was two years of age when his parents came north. On August 27, 1835, in Union County, Indiana, he married Mary Haworth. Both were members of the Society of Friends and they were married by the Quaker ceremony. Her birthplace was her father’s farm of 200 acres, comprising an island in the Holsten River in the State of Tennessee. Her father, Joel Haworth, moved from Tennessee to Union County, Indiana, and bought a large tract of government land at $1.25 per acre in gold. His daughter, Mary, was the oldest in a large family of children. Mark Elliott lived on a farm in Wayne County, Indiana, where he died in 1858 and was laid to rest in the same cemetery where his father’s and mother’s remains repose. He left his widow with seven children, four sons and three daughters. Mrs. Mark Elliott afterwards came to Kansas and died at Sterling February 23, 1902, at the age of eighty-eight years, two months and twenty-one days.
Of the children of Mark Elliott and wife, William Q. was the oldest. Hannah, the second, married Isaiah Sleeper and both died at Baldwin, Kansas, where Mr. Sleeper owned a farm. The son, Joel H., was, curiously enough, a “fighting Quaker,” and made a brilliant record as a soldier. He served throughout the Civil war, being captain of Company M of the Seventh Indiana Cavalry. Through the influence of Governor Morton, the Indiana war governor, he was raised to the rank of major in the Seventh United States Cavalry. That was perhaps the only case up to that time where a volunteer officer was promoted to a higher position in the regular service than he had held in the volunteer forces. In the regular army he served under the command of the brilliant General Custer, and took part in that memorable fight against the Cheyenne and Arapahoe Indians on the Washita River in what is now the State of Oklahoma in 1868. He and sixteen men were ambushed in that engagement and all of them were butchered by the savage Indians under the Chief Black Kettle. His body was left uncared for on the battleground for two weeks, but was finally laid to rest in a national cemetery in Oklahoma.
The fourth child of Mark Elliott and wife was Permelia, who lived at Richmond in Wayne County, Indiana, widow of Oliver Miller, who died on his farm in that county. She died in September, 1917. Elton B. is a lumber merchant at Indianapolis, Indiana. Sarah Elizabeth, who died at Sterling, Kansas, in 1916, married M. J. Barr, a retired resident of Sterling, Kansas. The seventh and youngest child, Lewis D., died of diphtheria in Indiana at the age of seven years.
William Q. Elliott spent his boyhood in Wayne County, Indiana, during the ’40s and ’50s. That was a period when public schools had not yet come into established vogue in Indiana, but he received a good training in the Friends Monthly Meeting School at West Grove, where his teacher for seven years was Jeremiah Griffin. Besides his experience on the farm he taught school five winters, the first term before he was seventeen years of age. While his father was a large muscular man six feet two inches high, he suffered during his last years with sciatica, and William during that period remained at home and looked after the farm and in other ways cared for his invalid parent.
February 4, 1858, Mr. Elliott married Rebecca Jane Jackson. She was born in Wayne County in January, 1838. Her father, Joseph W. Jackson, was rated as the wealthiest farmer of that community, and when he died at the age of sixty his estate was valued at $250,000, acquired through his extensive operations as a farmer and pork packer. Her mother died in Wayne County six years before her father. Rebecca Jackson was the oldest of thirteen children, eight sons and five daughters.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Elliott went to Vermilion County, Illinois, where they rented a farm. They lived there for seven years, and then returned to the old homestead, Mr. Elliott taking charge as manager after the death of his father. In the meantime his attention had been attracted to the free and new lands of Kansas, and in the fall of 1873 he came to the state and filed a homestead claim on eighty acres in what was then Reno but is now Rice County. That original homestead is now owned by his son, Sylvester J. In March, 1874, Mr. Elliott and his family located at what was then known as the Village of Peace, now Sterling, and they remained there until July 1, 1875, when they went out to the homestead and occupied the house and barn which had been erected preparatory to this removal.
Mr. Elliott was not only a good practical farmer but a thorough business man, and with unlimited confidence in the future of Kansas he invested heavily in lands, buying from the railroad companies, school lands and also developed a timber claim, until he was owner of 3,300 acres. Nearly all of this he had since sold. The development of the land for farming purposes and the beautifying of the landscape occupied his time and energies for many years. Mr. Elliott did much as a practical forester and also as a horticulturist. Beginning in 1876, he planted large numbers of black walnut, catalpa and cottonwood trees, and those grew until they constituted large groves on his farm. In 1878 he set out an apple orchard of twenty acres and in 1882 he sold a thousand dollars worth of peaches from five acres of seedling trees. When in his prime as an agriculturist he bred and raised horses, mules and hogs and was one of the leading stock ranchers. In 1880 Mr. Elliott established the Rice County Bank at Sterling and conducted it for seven years.
Mr. Elliott’s first wife died in September, 1913, and since her death he had moved to the Town of Sterling and is now living retired. He is a large stockholder in the Farmer’s State Bank of Sterling.
Mr. Elliott was the father of fifteen children, and including those living and his grandchildren and great-grandchildren he now enumerates 101 descendants, a record comparable to that of the patriarchs of old. For the purposes of this history a brief reference should be made to each of the children. The oldest, Mark, born October 29, 1858, in Vermilion County, Illinois, is now a farmer in Reno County, Kansas. Mary Elizabeth, who was born January 30, 1860, in Vermilion County, died in infancy. Joseph W. Jackson, born in Vermilion County February 20, 1861, is now in the farm implement business at Haviland, Kansas. Cassius Clay, born in Vermilion County July 19, 1862, is a stockman and rancher in Idaho. Eupha Jane, born in Vermilion County September 12, 1863, died in infancy. Selena Margery, who was born after her parents moved back to Wayne County, Indiana, on March 29, 1865, is the wife of Albert Snook, and they live on a farm a mile east of Sterling. Lincoln L., born in Wayne County, Indiana, February 17, 1867, is a painter and decorator by trade, but owned 800 acres of farm and ranch land and lives at Haviland. Sylvester J., born in Wayne County July 6, 1868, is one of the leading farm owners and business men of Sterling. William Q., Jr., born in Wayne County February 17, 1870, is a farmer near Sterling. Charles Sumner was born in Wayne County March 25, 1872, and died at Sterling, Kansas, in 1874. Clarkson Taber was born August 22, 1874, his being the first recorded birth of a white child on the townsite of Sterling. He is now a farmer in Reno County, Kansas. Caleb B., born at the old homestead in what was then Reno County July 11, 1879, is a merchant and also owned eight ranches at Delta, Colorado. Laban Moody, born in Reno County July 11, 1879, is a farmer in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Stanley P., born at the old homestead December 5, 1880, is also a farmer in Ellis County, Oklahoma. Chester Garfield, the youngest, born in Reno County, Kansas, October 11, 1883, occupies the old home farm.
On November 6, 1914, Mr. Elliott married, near Hoyt, Kansas, Mrs. Irene B. (Brooks) Dale, who was born back in Wayne County, Indiana. Mrs. Elliott is a sister of Mrs. Jonathan Thomas, a resident of Topeka, noted for her wealth and generosity.
Reference had already been made to Mr. Elliott’s connection with the Friends University at Wichita. He is vice president and a director of that institution, and chairman of the board. He is also chairman of the building committee that now had in charge the erection of a gymnasium to cost $40,000. He had been entrusted with the handling of a large part of the endowment fund in loaning this money on real estate. Mr. Elliott is a member of the Kansas State Historical Society, and had been a lifelong republican. He took an enthusiastic part as a boy in the first republican presidential campaign in 1856, when General Fremont was a candidate. He cast his first presidential vote in 1860 for Lincoln.
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