The Farmers Union of Kansas is a branch of the great national organization known as The Farmers Educational and Co-operative Union, with business headquarters at Atlanta, Georgia. C. S. Barrett is president of the national organization. This organization had a membership of 2,500,000, located in thirty-one different states. The head office of the Kansas organization is at Salina, and the president of The State Farmers Union is Maurice McAuliffe, while the manager, with headquarters at Kansas City, Kansas, is Mr. Charles S. Walker.
The Kansas Union had 50,000 members, and had undoubtedly been the greatest single factor in creating a stability of values, an equalization of opportunities, and a general strengthening of the agricultural interests in competition with so many other organizations which now dominate the field of industry and commerce. The Farmers Union of Kansas had its birth about 1907. Out of this had grown the Kansas Jobbing Association, organized about 1912. This association operates 200 elevators and had fifty-seven co-operative stores and about fifty produce stations, and through this association direct benefits of higher prices and better marketing conditions are brought to Kansas farmers, as similar organizations in the Far West have benefitted the orange growers and other producers. In 1916 the total volume of business transacted through the Jobbing Association amounted to a hundred million dollars. The organization is made up of progressive farmers and through its work the agricultural interests are rapidly learning the principle that in union there is strength.
Mr. Charles S. Walker, manager of the union, is himself a practical and successful Kansas farmer. He was born on a farm in Morris County, Kansas, September 12, 1875. He was one of nine children, five of whom are still living. His parents, Joseph and Emma (Peck) Walker, were natives, respectively, of England and New York State. Joseph Walker came from England in 1871 with a colony of English people to locate in Kansas. He was a son of Samuel and Mary Walker, who came at the same time. Joseph was the last survivor of their twelve children. Samuel Walker bought a farm in Morris County and was one of the early settlers, and before his death some seven or eight years later had eighty acres of his land broken up and in cultivation. Joseph Walker married Emma Peck in Kansas. She had come with her parents, and they all became farmers in Morris County. Joseph Walker was a republican and a quite active factor in his community, though never holding office. He did much to build up and support schools, churches and other enterprises, and he and his family were Methodists.
Charles S. Walker grew up on the farm, attended district schools and the schools at Parkersville, and later the Council Grove High School. He worked his way through high school, paying for his board by doing chores at morning and night. He also taught school for a time, but did not find this a very remunerative undertaking. He completed his education during the intervals of farm work continued for about seven years. It was his ambition to complete a course in the University of Kansas, but lack of finances compelled him to abandon this. For a time he rented a farm and gradually got ahead in the world and reached a point where he was able to buy 160 acres for himself. He did not stop there, and in time he had a complete section of land, but subsequently sold this.
In 1907 he became identified with The Farmers Union of Kansas at the time of its organization, and had been a prime mover in its work ever since. At the same time he continued his farming operations until 1912, when he left the farm to give all his time to the work of the organization. He had been a delegate to all the state conventions of The Farmers Union since it was organized and had held the offices in his home county of Morris and in the state organization. He served as state treasurer from 1909 to 1914, was state conductor in 1908, made his headquarters in Salina during 1913-14, and from 1907 to 1912 was state purchasing agent. In 1915 he came to Kansas City, Kansas, to open the eastern branch of the organization.
Mr. Walker is independent in politics and votes for the man rather than for the party. While living in Morris County he served nine years on the school board. He is a member of the Modern Woodmen of America, and his wife is active in the Christian Church. He was married October 25, 1899, to Miss Jennie Currie, who was born in Scotland, daughter of John Currie. Her father is a well-known farmer in Morris County. Mr. and Mrs. Walker have two children, Viola and John, both now in school in Kansas City.