Life Sketches of Comanche-co. Pioneers ** Some of Their Struggles and Early-Day Experiences.
At left: William V. Jackson
The state of Ohio furnished a large number of the early settlers in Kansas, and among them were people of the most sturdy type, and thoroughly imbued with pluck, perseverance and progressive ideas. Prominent among the number who were reared in the Buckeye state who found their was to Comanche-co., and who have stayed with the county through the nearly 40 years of its history is W. V. Jackson.
Very few men have had more to do with the county's development along all lines than has he, having had a part in the hardships of early day life when it required perseverance, faith in the county and the exercise of the strictest economy to keep the settlers from giving up their claims and returning, each to his former home, or seeking a home in some other new country.
Mr. Jackson has at different times, served his county in an official capacity, and always with credit to himself and in a manner highly satisfactory to his constituents. Hence, in many ways he has been a substantial town and county booster and a promoter of all that has been best in the history of Comanche-co.
Mr. Jackson was born in Dayton, Ohio, 61 years ago. His father, Samuel Jackson, was an attorney in that city when the Civil War broke out, but volunteered his services in the defense of the Union and became captain of Co. E., 24th Regiment, Ohio Infantry, serving with distinction during the term of the war.
Young William V. Jackson received his early education in the public schools of Ohio, and in Otterbein University, that state, thus laying the foundation for a good educational training which has been a help to him in many ways. He has always been a believer in good public schools and has been actively identified for many years with religious and social activities in his community. He is a Methodist, a Woodman, an Odd Fellow and a Mason.
Soon after arriving in Comanche-co. 39 years ago, Mr. Jackson settled on a claim in Shimer-tp., about 20 miles southeast of Coldwater, and there he began building up a farm and ranch, now known as the "Valley Farm," and which is one of the best improved farm and ranch properties in the county.
His farm home is large, well built and equipped with every modern convenience. His farm is well cared for, and on every hand are evidences of the industry and painstaking care of the owner. His practical ideas on farm and livestock matters are shown in everything about "Valley Farm." The raising of Hereford cattle, Doroc Jersey hogs and some attention to the raising of wheat, alfalfa and various feed crops, occupies his time and attention.
In November, 1893, Mr. Jackson was elected to the office of county treasurer of Comanche-co., defending R. A. Strain by a vote of 187 to 145. Two years later he was reelected to the same office, defeating Oscar Webb by a vote of 206 to 82, thus serving two terms, or four years in that office.
At the general election in 1908 he was elected to represent Comanche-co. in the state legislature. At that election he received 129 votes, while his opponent, J. P. Caudill, received 120. At the election in November, 1922, he was again elected as representative from this district in the state legislature, defeating A. L. Beeley by a vote of 982 to 738.
Mr. Jackson has always been a well informed man, a clear thinker and a forcible public speaker. For that reason he soon took high rank among the lawmakers of the state after he became a member of the state legislature. He was given a position on a number of important committees, and his opinion on all important measures was always sought. It is understood that Mr. Jackson will be the republican candidate for re-nomination to the office of representative at the primary election next August, and his many friends in this county hope to see him retained as Comanche-co's representative in the legislature.
When asked for some facts concerning his youthful days in Ohio and his early day experiences in Kansas, Mr. Jackson replied:
"I was less than five years old when my folks had to leave the home in Dayton, Ohio, on account of mother's failing health, so my recollections of that home are but slight. But the next three years, spent in the hills of eastern Missouri, are vivid and they were very happy. What more could a boy want - lots of wild fruit, berries, walnuts, hickory nuts, etc., besides the tame fruit - and not big enough to work?
"Then came the journey in a wagon clear across Missouri to the new home just west of where Howard, Kans., is now. There was but one little store there then. We camped with a neighbor till father could build a "lean-to" out of native lumber, then we moved in.
" Father took the team to Emporia, our nearest railroad station, 80 miles away, to get shingles, a plow and other needed articles. He had left plenty of wood to last till he expected to return, but it was then that the great blizzard of January, 1871, came. Mother and I managed to line our shack with he carpets that had been brought along, and we stayed with it for three days, when, since the wood supply was getting low, we went with a neighbor, who came for us, and stayed in their cabin something over two weeks till father managed to get home. He had unloaded that lumber a great many times in getting through the snow drift and draws. What that mother suffered all that time, not knowing whether he was dead or alive, can be imagined.
"Mother died in 1872 and father kept us three chaps together till his death in 1877. That must have been a pretty hard task. It was during those years that I learned to cook, bake "lightbread" and do most of the other stunts of housekeeping.
"We had a little bunch of cattle and sometimes I had to herd them. It was when sitting around on the knolls that my boyhood day dreaming were woven. It usually was that when I got to be "a man" I would get a neighbor boy for a partner, a team and a mowing machine, a few cows, and go to the mountains, find a little valley where there was to be good grass for grazing and hay, and there we would grow a garden, take care of the cattle and be happy forevermore. I wonder sometimes if many boys have the luck to have their dreams come as near to coming true as mine have. I never got quite to the mountains, but we have over 6000 acres of pasture in "Valley Farm" and lots of cattle - but it has been a long time in coming.
"Among my early recollections of Comanche-co. is that of finding a man plowing on my claim one morning some weeks after I had located it. That punctured my bubble for me. My intention had been, in taking the claim, to prove it up, sell it and use the money to complete my course at Atterbein University that I had been compelled to quit for lack of money. The man filed a contest and it took three years to give him enough of it. The final decision of the Secretary of the Interior department settled it in my favor, but the job had taken every dollar I could earn and then the school "faded out."
"Wages were some less than now. My first job in this county was digging post holes along the strip line through Rumsey and Shimer townships, in July, at $15 per month, and I was mighty glad to get the job. Another case. I organized the first school in Fairview District 23. The first term, during the winter of 1886-1887, I drew $25 per month. I taught there five years, most of the time at $30 per month. I helped organize the first Sunday school there in 1887. It has been discontinued a few times, but always revived when there were people enough to hold one.
"How did I get a start in stock? I was teaching at Fairview when one of the neighbors decided to go back to his old home in Missouri. He had eight head of heifers which he wanted to sell me. When I said I had no money to buy, he said, "You are getting $30 a month. How much does it take for you and your wife to live on?" I said we live on $10. "Then you pay me the other $20 per month until paid for and you can have them and feed to winter them." That was the beginning of the 'Crossed -J' Herefords.
"After my father's death, and before coming to Comanche-co., we were taken to Ohio and I lived with an uncle and worked for my board and clothes for the privilege of going to school during the term. That lasted till I had completed the grade school, then I worked for wages on the farm to get to go to the University.
"But early days in Kansas had spoiled me for the East. It was altogether too aristocratic for me. I longed for the friendly, big-hearted people of the West, and came as soon as there was an opportunity. I have had to try my hand at a good many different jobs in this county. I helped build the grades for several of the railroads nearby, including our own 'sand burr limited.'
"In 1888 I decided to try growing flax. I sent to Ohio for seed. I sowed 30 acres and it did grow fine. I wanted to be sure of a crop before going in debt for a machine to harvest it so I waited till the crop was almost mature, then bought a 'combination mower and reaper.' The next day after getting it home there came a terrific hail storm that beat all the flax into the ground until there was not a pint left.
"Nor has stock raising always been all profit. The first five years we never got a single 'yearling' steer old enough to sell. They ALL died of "black leg."
"Some of my friends accused me of not having sense enough to know when I was beaten. Maybe not, but I have found that about the only way to win is to keep at it. Most every thing comes if we are willing to wait and work hard enough."
On April 18, 1889, in this city, Mr. Jackson was united in marriage with Miss Rose Robertson, and she has shared with him the adversities, as well as the successes of these 35 years. Four children have been born to this union - Daniel N., Ruth (now Mrs. Fred Beitler), Charles R. and Lucile (now Mrs. Wilford Betzer). Chas. H. Jackson, now county commissioner from the First district, is a brother of W. V. He too, is an early day settler in this county.
Mr. and Mrs. W. V. Jackson
W. V. Jackson was born in Dayton, Ohio, in 1863 and came to Comanche County in 1885 and settled on a claim in Shimer Township. Mrs. Jackson, nee Rose Robertson, was born at Spirit Lake, Iowa, in 1868. She came to Comanche County in 1884 with her mother, sister and brother and also settled on a claim in Shimer Township.
They were united in marriage in 1889 and to this union were born four children: Dan N., Ruth (Mrs. Fred Beitler), Charles R., and Lucille (Mrs. Wilford Betzer).
Mr. Jackson served two terms as Comanche County Treasurer and also served six terms in the Kansas House of Representatives. As pioneer settlers they had many trying experiences, but with unswerving faith and patience they built their home and resided at "Valley Farm" until their passing.
Photos and memorial from the Diamond Jubilee Historical Souvenir Program, Coldwater, KS: Western Star, 1959.
Rose Belle (Robertson) Jackson, wife of W.V. Jackson.
William V. Jackson: Little Tragedies of the Prairie
The Western Star, August 18, 1933.
Comanche-co's Eleven County Treasurers
The Western Star, February 4, 1927.
Comanche County in the State Legislature
A Few Facts About the Men Who Have Represented This County in Topeka
The Western Star, January 7, 1927.
James W. Dappert: Reminiscences of Early Days in Comanche-co.
The Western Star, January 15, 1926.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above "Pioneer" news article and image to this web site and to Bobbi Huck for the Diamond Jubilee photos and memorial.
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