Robert Harmon Hazlett. Kansas is rapidly becoming a creditor state. It produces more than it consumes. It is flourishing, opulent and as progressive in material interests as in the field of legislation, social ideas and politics. Kansas farmers, Kansas business men, Kansas bankers are getting as securely established as factors in national affairs as Kansas politicians and social and civic leaders did in earlier years.
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One of these successful men whose achievements in some fields at least are well known beyond the borders of the state is Robert H. Hazlett, lawyer, banker, Hereford cattle breeder, and business man of El Dorado. A resident of Kansas over thirty years, he had gained a large and substantial success. He occupies a prominent place in financial circles, is a controlling force in one of the leading banks of Butler County, and owned and directs one of the largest agricultural enterprises in the state. He is easily one of the foremost breeders of Hereford cattle in America.
He was born in Christian County, Illinois. His ancestors came out of Ireland and settled in Maryland in Colonial times. His grandfather, Robert Hazlett, was a native of Virginia, and came to Illinois in 1828, locating near Springfield among the pioneers.
William Phe Hazlett, father of the El Dorado banker, was born near Wheeling, not far from the Ohio River, in that portion of Virginia which is now West Virginia. He grew up in Sangamon County, Illinois, was married there, and soon after his marriage moved to Christian County in that state. He was one of the early farmers in that section of Illinois, and finally bought his father’s old homestead and spent a portion of his later years in Springfield, where he died. In politics he was a democrat and was a member of the Baptist Church. His wife was Zerelda Haggard, a native of Christian County, Kentucky. She died near Springfield, Illinois.
Robert H. Hazlett gained his early education in the public schools of Christian and Sangamon Counties, Illinois. He attended the high school at Springfield, the Industrial University at Urbana, Illinois, and in 1872 graduated LL. B. from the law department of the University of Michigan. His career as a lawyer covers nearly forty-five years. In 1872 he located at Springfield, Illinois, where he became a deputy in the office of the clerk of the supreme court. After a year he opened his private law office and practiced in that city steadily until 1885. In 1876 Mr. Hazlett was elected state’s attorney of Sangamon County and was re-elected in 1880. He served a little more than the full term of four years after his second election, and left office early in 1885.
After this experience as a lawyer and public official in Illinois Mr. Hazlett came to El Dorado, Kansas, in April, 1885. He began the practice of law in partnership with C. L. Harris, the firm name being Hazlett & Harris, and also engaged in buying and selling real estate. While still keeping his law office at El Dorado, he spent much of his time from 1889 to 1892 at Leadville, Colorado, where he owned and managed some extensive mining interests. That was a very profitable enterprise. He sold his interests in Colorado in 1892.
In that year Mr. Hazlett became president of the Merchants Bank of El Dorado. This bank soon bought the old Exchange National Bank, including its building, and there the banks were reorganized as the Farmers and Merchants National Bank, with Mr. Hazlett as president, an office he held until June, 1909. He then secured the controlling interest in the El Dorado National Bank, of which he had since served as president. This bank was established in 1902 under a national charter, had a capital of $50,000, surplus and profits of $35,000. The bank’s home is at the northeast corner of Main Street and Central Avenue. The officers are: Robert H. Hazlett, president; J. E. Dunn, vice president, who was one of the original organizers and is a resident of Winfield, Kansas; Robert Hazlett Bradford, cashier; and S. R. Clifford, assistant cashier.
Like many men whose interests and activities have kept them largely in cities and in offices, Mr. Hazlett had cherished a special enthusiasm for the country and its life. As an outlet for this enthusiasm he had for many years owned farming lands in Butler County, and these holdings now embrace over 10,000 acres. An extensive ranch is operated under his personal supervision. It is known as “Hazford Place,” and is the summer residence of the family. It is situated two miles north of El Dorado, and on it Mr. Hazlett maintains his quarters for the breeding and raising of registered Hereford cattle. This farm had a complete private water system, furnishing water for all purposes, while electric current is obtained by private wire from El Dorado and furnishes light and power to the residence, tenant houses and barns. The lands were chosen with excellent judgment. They lie along the Walnut River, the hill slopes containing an abundance of limestone, and as is well known this limestone soil is unsurpassed for the raising of grass crops. The silt from the hill side contains perhaps as fine a balance of soil elements as can be found anywhere. Much of the success of Mr. Hazlett’s farming enterprise had been due to this choice of location, with its value for the growing of grasses and alfalfa. In 1898 Mr. Hazlett made his first purchase of pedigreed Herefords. A lover of fine stock, his purchase was made from a desire to have in a small way a breeding establishment where during spare hours he could enjoy the pleasure of ownership and at the same time improve his herd. His success had been beyond the ordinary, and among those competent to judge he is credited with having the finest herd of Hereford cattle in America. Beau Brummel, 10th, No. 167719, is the sire of most of the females in the herd. Beau Beauty, No. 192235, and Caldo, 2nd, No. 260440, have also strengthened the blood of the herd. At the present time the Hazlett Hereford herd numbers about 250. Only those animals have been retained which show the highest qualities of their pedigree. It is a noted herd and stock from it is eagerly sought by the Hereford cattlemen all over the country.
Mr. Hazlett is a member of the board of directors and treasurer of the American Hereford Cattle Breeders’ Association, and in 1908-09 served as president of the association. He is also president of the American Royal Live Stock Show, and it is said that he had done as much if not more to draw attention to Kansas cattle than any other breeder in the state.
Mr. Hazlett is president of the Farmers Mutual Insurance Company of Butler County, which he assisted in organizing many years ago and had been president from its organization, a period of twenty-six years with the exception of one year. In politics he is a democrat. The Hazlett winter home is on Washington Street in El Dorado. He built this residence in 1914. It is of native stone and is the largest and best home in the city, is surrounded by large and well kept grounds, and it is also notable because the hard woods used in the interior finish were all produced on the “Hazford place.”
Mr. Hazlett was married in January, 1885, at Springfield, Illinois, to Miss Isabella Bradford.