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George Brinton Ross is chief grain inspector of Kansas. His residence is still at Sterling and in Rice County his activities as a farmer, business man and banker have been centered for over thirty years. Mr. Ross was instrumental in securing the passage of a bill by which the office of the state grain department was removed from Topeka to Kansas City, Kansas. This had proved a wise measure, since it had enabled the grain department to perform the business which this inspection service deserves. It had increased the volume of business performed by the department, since it places all the grain landed on Kansas City, Kansas, side readily accessible to the inspectors. There is no state in the Union that now contains a higher efficiency in its grain inspection than Kansas. Those competent to judge say that this improvement is principally due to George B. Ross and at least there can be no question that the department standards and service have improved 100 per cent since he came into office.
Mr. Ross came to Kansas a poor boy in the early ’80s and even he is willing to admit that he had made something more than a moderate amount of success in farming, stock raising and business affairs generally. George Brinton Ross was born on a farm in Whitley County, Indiana, August 12, 1864. He was one of three children, all of whom are in Kansas. His brother Frank W. is president of the Farmers State Bank of Sterling, while William Ross is a farmer in Rice County. The parents of these brothers were William and Catherine (Knop) Ross, the former a native of West Virginia and the latter of Pennsylvania. The Ross family came originally from Scotland and the first American members located in West Virginia. The vocation of the families on both sides have been largely agricultural. Some brothers of William Ross were soldiers in the Civil war. William Ross went to Indiana with his parents when a boy and spent the rest of his life in Whitley and Allen counties, Indiana. He died in Whitley County in 1875. Judged by the standards of the time he was a successful farmer and stock man. He had only a meager school education, but had rounded out his powers by a habit of observation and a constant effort to keep himself well informed on matters of current interest. He possessed that honesty and integrity that made him a man of mark in the community, and he was frequently addressed by his neighbors for advice. In matters of politics he was a democrat, but so far as known was never a candidate for any office. For many years he was an enthusiastic member of the Masonic Lodge and filled all the offices or chairs in the order. He was also active in the Baptist Church, while his wife was a member of the United Brethern denomination. William Ross by a first marriage had two children, one of whom is John Ross, a retired farmer of Rice County, Kansas.
George B. Ross spent the first eighteen years of his life in the country districts of Indiana. He attended public school there and also was a student in the graded school at the town of Churubusco. He was eleven years of age when his father died and that loss made him dependent on his own efforts earlier than might otherwise have occurred. As a boy he worked on farms at wages of $10 a month, attending school in winter time.
In 1882 Mr. Ross followed his half-brother to Rice County, Kansas. His mother had in the meantime married John S. Smith, who also came to Rice County. The family bought 160 acres of railway land, and G. B. Ross found opportunity to perform some of the back-breaking toil involved in the conversion of this raw prairie into a farm. Mr. Ross subsequently bought this farm himself.
On February 14, 1886, when he was twenty-two years of age, he established a home of his own by his marriage to Lydia L. Stout. Her father William Stout came from Kentucky and settled in Rice County in 1877. Mr. and Mrs. Ross had four children. Ursa is the wife of S. H. Vincent, living near Sterling in Rice County and they have three daughters. G. Murray is a graduate of the Hutchinson Business College and is half owner and active manager of the Grain Products Company of Wichita. He is married and had two children, one daughter and one son. Paul is a graduate of the University of Kansas and is now principal of the high school at Casselton, North Dakota. Carl is pursuing his studies in the second year of the State University.
Since coming to Kansas Mr. Ross had traveled a long road on the way to prosperity. He had enough ambition to keep him steadily plodding along and his indomitable will made him careless of obstacles and indifferent to discouraging circumstances. The foundation of his career had been farming. For many years he had been a breeder of thoroughbred Shorthorn cattle, Percheron horses, and Poland China hogs. He had also been something of a fancier in poultry. This industry he carried on chiefly at Alden, Kansas. He is now owner of more than five hundred acres of fine Central Kansas soil. He assisted in organizing and is director of the Farmers National Bank of Hutchinson, is stockholder and was interested in the organization of the Mid West National Bank of Kansas City, Missouri, was one of the organizers and a stockholder in the Alden State Bank and the Farmers State Bank of Sterling. He promoted the organization and assisted in the building of the first farmers elevator in Rice County in 1903 at Alden. Thus his name is closely linked with a number of enterprises in that section of the state.
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Politically Mr. Ross is a democrat. He represented his district in the State Senate in 1901, and was a member of the Lower House of the Legislature from Rice County in 1913-15. During 1913-14-15 Mr. Ross was president of the State Board of Agriculture, and had been a member of the board for a number of years. In the Legislature he was a member of the Ways and Means Committee and was also on the State School Book Committee. He actively supported and did much to bring about the policy of a state owned printing plant. Was a member of the State School Book Committee three years and was a member of the Building Committee and helped build and equip the State Printing Building.
Mr. Ross is president of the Horse Breeders Association, the Kansas Improved Stock Breeders Association and for a number of years was a director and in 1913 president of the State Fair at Hutchinson.
The office he now holds was awarded him by appointment from Governor Hodges on July 1, 1913. He was not a seeker for the honor and responsibilities, and it came absolutely without solicitation on his part. It is a noteworthy tribute to the efficiency with which he had developed and maintained this department that he was reappointed by a republican governor, Mr. Capper, in 1915. When he took charge of the affairs of the State Grain Department only sixteen persons were performing its limited duties. He realized at the beginning that a state inspection service worthy of the name required organization and scientific business management and a force of properly equipped men who could furnish service promptly and with such expertness as to give inspections proper prestige. At the present time Mr. Ross had about a hundred persons employed in the grain inspection service. Another fact is that when he took charge of the office its finances had regularly shown a deficit. The department is maintained on the fee system and the grain shippers act under no compulsion when they accept the inspection. Thus such a department must prove its value before it will become popular with the shippers, and the fact that the department now shows a surplus of more than $80,000 in its accounts is perhaps the most significant proof of its efficiency. It is also worthy of note that cars of grain from Oklahoma and many other western states passing through Kansas territory are stopped in this state to receive inspection. Thus the stamp and certificate of the State Grain Inspection Department of Kansas had come to mean something in the markets of the world. The department now maintains twelve stations, including Wichita, Salina, Leavenworth, Atchison, Topeka, Coffeyville, Hutchinson, Wellington, Lawrence and Winfield.
Mr. Ross had been a hard worker all his life. He had kept himself singularly free from the vices and practices of the average man, and does not chew, drink, smoke and had no acquaintance with cards. He is affiliated with Alden Blue Lodge of Masons in which he had filled the chairs; with Sterling Chapter Royal Arch Masons, and the Knights Templar Commandery, and also belongs to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the Modern Woodmen of America. Mrs. Ross is active in the Baptist Church, while the children are Methodists.