Barber County, Kansas.  

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BARBER COUNTY, KANSAS: HISTORY & GENEALOGY
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The Chosen Land: History of Barber County, Kansas, page 268.

Russell Lake & Sarah (Roark) Lake

by Robert G. Lake

Russell and Sarah were born and lived all their lives in Lake City. Russell, born in 1896, was the oldest son of Riley and Pearl Lake and Sarah was the only daughter of Marlin and Jane Roark. They were childhood sweethearts from their grade school days, and were married in 1917.

Russell got his high school and college education in Manhattan at what is now Kansas State University. Since there was no high school in Lake City, the whole Lake family, with the exception of Riley, spent the school year in Manhattan. Sarah went to Medicine Lodge High School, boarding in town during the week, and coming home for weekends.

Except for the first 1 1/2 years of their marriage, they lived in the brick house one-half mile east of Lake City on a hill overlooking Sand Creek and the town.

Russell started working for his father after he married, and by the mid-Twenties had assumed full responsibility for the farming and ranching operations. He operated the farm and ranch until he died in 1974 at age 78.

Russell was fascinated with applying machinery to farming, and was always in the forefront in the Lake City area. He set up a comprehensive shop in the old Community Building in the center of Lake City for machinery overhaul, major modification, and sometimes construction from scratch.

He also started irrigation in the area, with the first well in 1938. He was deeply interested in conservation and the preservation of land. The tree belts to the north, south, and east of Lake City were his work. His terracing work east of town was also a pioneering effort. He was a leading participant in the Barber County Soil Conservation District.

In his later years he became quite interested in the early history of Lake City and its pioneering families, and had accumulated extensive notes on it by the time of his death.

Sarah was very active in the Methodist Church during her early years, and was for many years the producer of the children's programs at Christmas, etc. She was an avid gardener, both flower and vegetable, with a special interest in roses, peonies, and lialcs, and contributed many bouquets to the community. Most of her life she had 400-500 laying hens and provided many eggs locally. She was characterized by an unbending sense of right and wrong based on strong fundamental religious convictions and by a great generosity.

Their oldest son, Robert, migrated to the East as a Design Engineer. The younger son, Russell Jr., farmed with his father until his early death. His wife, Ella, raised their five children in Lake City. Their oldest son, Rusty, still farms on the original place. Sarah and Russell also raised their niece, Betty Jo Roark, after the death of Betty's mother.


Entries from the
Journals of Russell Lake

  • Riley Lake born Reuben Irrelius Lake. Born July 20, 1862; Died May 17, 1934.

  • Alex Foster was of the original party of 11 who came to Barbour in spring of 1873. He was not married however his sister "Liz" was in the party. She, afterward, took poison and was the first interrment in the Lake City Cemetery, being buried just north of the Reuben Lake lot (with a cement block as a marker put there in late years). Alex Foster was killed by Indians near Dodge City and buried there? (sic) Later information that he was killed in Phillips county by Indian raiders on way to Dakotas from Okla. reservation. (Russell notes this information was given to him by Irene Gordon.)

  • Henry Nathaniel Lester, called Judge H.N. Lester, born Syracuse NY Oct 1, 1938. First married Francis Gertrude Austin, died 1887 in Syracuse Kansas. They had 5 children. One of the children was Elizabeth Matilda Lester, who married E.K. Davis and her 2nd marriage was to John Durfee. Elizabeth Matilda Lester Davis Durfee was the mother of Murry Austin Davis, b. June 8, 1877 Syracuse KS, died Sept 2, 1954 Lake City, Kansas. The children of her 2nd marriage were: Gertrude Agnes, Henry, Fred B, Edna and Mildred. Gertrude Agnes married Frank Cooke.

  • Frank Cooke and Gertrude Agnes Durfee were married at Lake City in 1904. They raised 8 children. Lillian (wife of Dan Lake), Guy, Alice (Vanderplas), Pattie, Fred, Keith, Phil & Rex. "They lived in a house on the "Carter" place formerly homesteaded by A. Carl. Section 13-31-14. Frank's father, Harry Cooke, was farming this place at that time. In the spring of 1906 this place was rented to M.J. Roark who moved into the house in January of that year when both families occupied it until grass came in the spring so that cattle being fed by Frank could be moved.

  • John Durfee born in Iowa February 13, 1850. Died Dec. 17, 1941. Went to California. Came to Colorado and Western Kansas. Married. Emigrated to Oklahoma 189__ where he ran stage from Guthrie to _____________ after which he came to Barber County living on the Patterson place of the Riley Lake Ranch in 1895 (March). In Colorado was foreman for ___________ one of the larger cattle outfits of the early days of free range.

  • Frank L. Gordon - excerpts from newspaper article in Medford Patriot - Oklahoma July 31, 1924. Mr. Gordon comes of good stock and the name itself is one to conjure by. He is the second son of Judge W.F. Gordon who, for a period of 35 years, has held the position of president of the Liberty (Missouri) Savings Association and is one of the most highly honored and respected citizens of the state today. Young Gordon was educated in the common schools of Missouri and the Wm. Jewell College. Later, with the intention of assuming a position in his father's bank, he completed a course of study in Spaulding's Commercial College. But there is a "time and time in the affairs of men" that changes the whole course of their lives. ... when in the early eighties ... came to Kansas...he decided to settle in Barber county and go into the cattle business. To that end he secured the ranch property he now owns and occupies one mile northeast of Lake City and stocked it with 350 head of the best Missouri native cows. At the present time, he has 3,300 acres of deeded land in the locality where he originally settled near Lake City on which he maintains two camps. In addition he has purchased 2,320 acres of the best watered of the old Comanche Pool grazing lands and is still buying in the vicinity of Coldwater and Evansville; he also holds control of 31,000 acre of leased lands in the same location known as the Hartwell pasture.

  • During the late 1880s Mr. and Mrs. Arch Feltner operated a small hotel in the middle of Block 14 on north side of block directly across the street from "Aunt Mary's" This building was moved to Strip after 1893. Was on the Yellowstone River a little east of Aetna and south about 6 miles.

  • In 1903 Daniel Pierce and wife Sarah and Jane Daughtery sold their farm, north of Sun City on Turkey Creek (owned by Chester Freeman in 1972) and moved to Lake City.

  • Lake City was established by Reuben Lake on April 6, 1873. Reuben and "party of 11" came from Osage Mission, now St. Paul, Kansas where he had operated a saw mill and a livery stable. He with his brothers, Frederick and Pelig and his sister Lydia and her husband Joe Cummings had originally emigrated to Neosho County in 1865, being the first settlers in Centerville Township, when Neosho County was organized in 1867. Reuben and his party settled on adjacent corners of Sections 10-11-14-15; Township 31 South; West of the 14th Principal Meridian. Reuben was in the N.E. Corner of 15; Byron P. Ayers on the SE of 10; James P. Massey corner of 11 and James Hale in 14.


    Reuben Lake, grandfather of Russell Lake.

    Riley Lake, father of Russell Lake.

    Nevada Jane (Pierce) Lake, first wife of Riley Lake.

    Lake City Plot Map, Barber County, Kansas
    From Standard Atlas of Barber County, Kansas, 1905.

    Lake City Cemetery, Lake City, Kansas.

    Lake City, Kansas


    Thanks to Kim Fowles for transcribing and contributing the above journal entries to this web site!

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