H. T. Laidlaw. One of the biggest crops of Kansas is the hay crop. The buying of hay from the individual producers and its marketing naturally forms a big business in itself. It is the distinction of H. T. Laidlaw, of Yates Center, that he is the premier hay merchant of Kansas. In certain years, if not as a regular thing, he had undoubtedly handled greater quantities of hay than any other individual dealer in the state. Mr. Laidlaw is a well known business man of Yates Center, and is one of the leading cattle men of that locality.
His ancestors came out of Scotland and were Colonial settlers in New York. His father, Thomas Laidlaw, was born in Delaware County, New York, in 1829. He grew up in his native county and as a young man removed to Canada, where he married Mrs. Catherine (Robinson) Laidlaw, wife of a distant relative. She was born in the Province of Ontario, Canada, in 1830, and died in Bourbon County, Kansas, in December, 1881. Thomas Laidlaw followed farming in the Province of Ontario, and at Sparta in that Province H. T. Laidlaw was born January 31, 1861.
When the latter was seven years of age the family came to Kansas in 1868, Thomas Laidlaw acquiring an undeveloped farm in Bourbon County. In May, 1884, he removed to Yates Center, and became associated with his two sons in the hay and cattle business. He continued more or less active in these lines until his death in February, 1906. He was an influential republican, served as township treasurer and for a number of years filled the office of alderman at Yates Center. He was also a liberal giver and worker in the Methodist Church, and served as deacon and trustee. He and his wife were the parents of the following children: Laura Belle, wife of W. C. Baker, a bookkeeper and stenographer living at San Francisco, California; John W., who for the past thirty years had been a farmer in Sedgwick County, Kansas; H. T. Laidlaw; and Charles B., who for many years was a partner of H. T. Laidlaw at Yates Center, still retains business interests there, but is making his home at Orange, California.
H. T. Laidlaw passed through the grade schools in Bourbon County, and his life was lived on his father’s farm until 1884. In that year he came to Yates Center and with his father and brother Charles engaged in the hay and cattle business. Since 1903 Mr. Laidlaw had handled this large business on his own responsibility. Mr. Laidlaw ships hay to nearly every state of the Union. He also does an extensive cattle business on his fine ranch of 1,920 acres situated 3½ miles south of Yates Center. That ranch is the home of about 200 head of high grade Hereford cattle.
Mr. Laidlaw had a fine home on South Main Street, having built his modern residence at a cost of $5,000 in 1907. He also had a half interest in a business block in Yates Center, and was formerly vice president of the Yates Center National Bank. For two terms he gave his home city a vigorous administration as mayor, and for a number of years filled a place in the council. In 1910-12 Mr. Laidlaw represented Woodson County in the State Legislature. During his term he was a member of the ways and means, telephone and telegraph, local judiciary and other important committees. A measure he introduced was one to compel railroads to furnish a physical valuation of their property. This bill passed the House but met defeat in the Senate. Mr. Laidlaw is a trustee of the Yates Center Episcopal Church.
In 1889, at Yates Center, he married Miss Annie Knight. Her mother, Mrs. Mary Knight, lives with Mr. and Mrs. Laidlaw. They have one child, Paul K., who married Pearl Cantrell, and they make their home on Mr. Laidlaw’s ranch.