George Eli Whitcraft, superintendent of the city schools of Oskaloosa, had been active in educational work in Kansas for over twenty years, being well known as a teacher, superintendent and school executive throughout Northeastern Kansas.
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He was born in Jackson County, Kansas, June 28, 1872. His people have been in the state almost as long as Kansas had been a state. His grandfather, George Whiteraft, was born in Ireland in 1798, and came to America when a boy. After a brief residence in Pennsylvania he went to Ohio and was a farmer in that state for many years. He served as a soldicr in the Mexican war and during the ’60s he came to Kansas and was a pioneer in Jackson County. His death occurred st Holton in 1871.
John L. Whiteraft, father of Professor Whiteraft, was born in Ohio in 1837, was reared and married in Hocking County, and following his father came to Kansas in 1870. Locating in Jackson County, he acquired a farm but in 1874 returned to Ohio. He lived there until the death of his wife in 1880, then returned to Kansas and finally retired into Holton, where he died December 6, 1913, In 1864, when a young man, he enlisted in Ohio in Company B of the Fifty-fifth Ohio Infantry, and was in active service as a Union soldier until the close of the war. He was in the great campaign which Sherman made after the fall of Atlanta and in the march to the sea. In the battle of Frazier’s Farm he suffered a wound, He was always a steadfast republican, and while in Jackson County served as township trustee two terms and deputy sheriff two terms. His church home was the Methodist Eniscopal. John L. Whiteraft married Sarah Elina Williman, who was born in Hocking County, Ohio, in 1841 and died in that state in 1880. Their children were: W. E. Whiteraft, a farmer in Jackson County; Alice, unmarried and living in Kansas City, Kansas; T. T. Whitcraft, a Jackson County farmer; Mary, who lives at Kansas City, Kansas, widow of Fred Bell, who died while on duty as a motorman on the Leavenworth car line; Clara, wife of G. M. Ross, a farmer in Jackson County; George E.; Elizabeth, wife of J. N. Mangold, a farmer in Johnson County, Kansas; John H., in the lumber business at Seattle, Washington; and Addie, wife of Wesley G. Cornelius, manager of a fire station at Holton, Kansas.
George Eli Whiteraft as a boy attended the rural schools in Jackson County, Kansas, and his higher education was acquired at intervals in Campbell University and Campbell College at Holton, from which he received the degree A. B. in 1915. He also attended the State Normal School at Emporia, and was graduated with a state teacher’s life certificate in 1913.
Mr. Whiteraft began teaching in 1894 and for thirteen years was identified with the Jackson County schools. During 1901-05 he served as county superintendent of schools in Jackson County. In 1907 he became principal of schools at Baneroft in Nemaha County, was two years there, and for two years was superintendent of the Centralia, Kansas, schools, Mr. Whiteraft came to his present work as superintendent of schools at Oskaloosa in 1911. He had under his supervision a staff of eight teachers and an enrollment of 300 scholars.
He is an active member of the Jefferson County and Kansas State Teachers Association, and while education is his chosen life work he also owned a farm of 160 acres in Jackson County. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, of Holton Camp, Modern Woodmen of America, Holton Lodge No. 111, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and in politics is a republican.
Mr. Whiteraft married in 1897, at Holton, Kansas, Miss Mary Oldweiler, daughter of C. O. and Mary (Brenenen) Oldweiler. Her mother now lives at Birmingham in Jackson County. Her father, deceased, was a farmor and came to Jackson County in 1872. Mr. and Mrs. Whitcraft have two children: Elizabeth, born May 18, 1900, now a junior in the Oskaloosa High School; and John E., born February 29, 1904, a student in the eighth grade of the public schools.