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Fred H. Rhodes is one of the prominent lumber dealers of Southeastern Kansas, and is now mayor of Humboldt. Three generations of the Rhodes family have been represented in Kansas, and the family had lived here upwards of half a century. It had furnished capable business men, farmers, and public officials to several counties in the state.
The family was established in America by one of those self-denying and fearless missionaries of the Moravian faith, who came out of Germany during the eighteenth century. This ancestor, the great-great-grandfather of Fred H. Rhodes, spelled his name John Rothe. He was a missionary among the Indians in Pennsylvania.
The first of the family to come to Kansas was Mr. Rhodes’s grandfather, Jacob Rhodes, who was born in New Jersey in 1811. He moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts, afterwards to Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, and in 1869 came as a pioneer to Mound City, Kansas. He followed farming and took an active part in local affairs, serving as a member of the county board of commissioners of Linn County, and was a member of the State Board of Charity. He died at Mound City, Kansas, in 1891. He married Pauline Blinn, a native of Massachusetts, who also died in Mound City.
Fred H. Rhodes, who was born at Tunkhannock in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, May 25, 1868, is a son of J. B. Rhodes. His father was born at Weststock Bridge, Massachusetts, in 1839, but when a boy was taken to Wyoming County, Pennslylvania, where he grew up and married. While living in Pennsylvania, he served as county superintendent of schools. He was also admitted to the bar, and practiced law in Pennsylvania. Coming to Southeastern Kansas in 1870 he located on a farm near Colony at old Elizabethtown. There he bought a soldier’s right, consisting of 160 acres. He spent a number of years in improving and cultivating this land, but in 1879 removed to Colony and became a general merchant. In 1892 he and his son Fred entered the lumber business under the name J. B. Rhodes & Son. Their first yard was in Colony and Fred H. Rhodes is now proprietor of that establishment. The father also owned a half interest in a yard at Council Grove, Kansas, conducted under the name J. B. Rhodes Lumber Company. J. J. Rhodes, a son, now handles that business. J. B. Rhodes became a prominent man in his section of the state, served as county treasurer of Anderson County, and in 1909 was a member of the Legislature from the same county. He was a republican and belonged to the Masonic fraternity. His death occurred at Colony, Kansas, September 4, 1914. He married Miss Melinda Reeve, who was born in Wyoming County, Pennsylvania, in 1841, and still occupies the old home at Colony. Of their four children Fred H. is the oldest. His brother, J. J. Rhodes, now living at Council Grove, Kansas, and the manager of the Council Grove and White City Lumber yards, had served as chairman of the Morris County Republican Central Committee, and was a republican elector for Hughes in 1916. The third child, Earl R., died in infancy in 1879. Harry R. is a successful farmer and stock raiser, living on the old homestead in Anderson County.
Fred H. Rhodes was two years of age when brought to Kansas. He grew up largely on the farm in Anderson County, attended the public schools, and in 1884-85 was a student in the preparatory department of the University of Kansas. On leaving college he became deputy to his father, who for four years held the office of county treasurer. From this official experience he entered the lumber business as manager of the S. A. Brown Lumber Company at Colony and continued with that until 1891. For nine years he was in the People’s Bank at Colony and at the same time was associated with his father in the lumber business.
In 1904 Mr. Rhodes was elected register of deeds of Anderson County, and filled that office with characteristic capability for four years, two terms. In 1910 he bought the lumber yard at Humboldt, and soon afterwards moved his residence to that town. He is manager of that yard and also the one at Colony, and is president of the J. J. Rhodes Lumber Company of Council Grove. He is secretary of the Southeast Kansas Retail Lumbermen’s Association, and among other interests owned a farm containing three-quarters of a section in the State of Oklahoma. His home is at the corner of Ninth and New York streets in Humboldt.
Mr. Rhodes was elected mayor of Humboldt in April, 1915. His had been a progressive administration. One of its principal achievements had been the perfection of the city water plant. The water supply for Humboldt is taken from the Neosho River. Mayor Rhodes had secured the construction of a settling basin and a gravity filter by which the water supply is thoroughly purified, and in purity it is now second to that used in no other city in the state.
Mr. Rhodes is a republican, is affiliated with Pacific Lodge No. 29, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Humboldt, and is past master of the lodge at Colony, serving five years in that office. In 1896 at Greeley, Kansas, he married Miss Nellie Gear, daughter of Major W. A. F. and Diana (Walker) Gear, both now deceased. Her father served with the rank of major in the One Hundred and Ninety-ninth Pennsylvania Infantry during the Civil war and for many years was a farmer near Greeley, Kansas, finally retiring into that town. Mr. and Mrs. Rhodes have one child, Fred H., Jr., who was born September 12, 1901, and is now a member of the sophomore class of the Humboldt High School.