Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Elmer Charles

ELMER CHARLES, of Kinsley, is one of those men who are possessed of the happy faculty of knowing when they have sufficient of prosperity for their needs and retire from the heavier burdens before they are worn out in usefulness. Mr. Charles has succeeded as a farmer and in other lines of work, has made himself a factor in community affairs, has reared a family of useful children, and is still able to enjoy life and work.

A native Kansan, he was born in Bourbon County February 26, 1865. His people were among the pioneers in the southeastern section of the state. His father, T. L. Charles, was born and reared in Coffee County, Tennessee. The grandfather, William Charles, was a North Carolina man and went with many other colonists from his state into Tennessee in pioneer times. T. L. Charles left Tennessee in the spring of 1856 and driving a team of oxen reached Kansas in the spring of the next year. He joined the pioneers in Bourbon County and homesteaded a tract of land near Xenia in that county. He lived the life of a practical farmer there until his death in November, 1887, at the age of fifty-eight. T. L. Charles married Mary Anderson. She was born and reared in Virginia, and died at Kinsley, Kansas, April 1, 1915, at the age of eighty-one. Her father, Charles Anderson, was of the Powells Valley country near Jonesboro, Virginia. From there he moved to Greene County, Missouri, and four years later, in 1856, became a territorial pioneer in Kansas. He homesteaded a mile west of Xenia in Bourbon County. T. L. Charles and wife had the following children: Lena, who is the wife, of Moses Whitcomb, of Bronson, Kansas, and has three children; Elmer; Louisa, wife of J. M. Mosier, of Ferndale, Washington, and the mother of ten children; Maude, who married Alfred S. Blake, of Santa Cruz, California; Minnie, wife of Thomas Walton Sanders, a soldier in the United States Army now stationed at Del Rea, Texas.

Mr. Elmer Charles grew up in Bourbon County, attended the public schools there, and on reaching his majority moved to Pawnee County, establishing a home at Larned, where he remained about ten years. Here he began work as a section laborer, and during the winter taught school. He was promoted to section foreman on the Santa Fe, and for four and a half years worked in that capacity in Barton County, was then extra foreman one season, and for about 4 1/2 years was foreman of the section at Kinsley. In October, 1901, Mr. Charles paid $1,800 for the north half of section 29, township 24, range 18 in Wayne Township. It was raw land, and after sinking a well and fencing the land in he used it for grazing some cattle. As a farmer he rented land, but kept his cattle on it and continued his business as section foreman at Kinsley. In 1905, having built a four room, one story frame house, stable and chicken house, he moved to his farm and became very successful in growing crops, especially corn. He was born and reared in a corn country, and his success was largely due to his advanced ideas. As a farmer he experienced none of the extreme hard times that many of Western Kansans did. Mr. Charles was an enthusiast for better seeds and introduced into this region yellow corn which he had previously grown in Bourbon County. After proving to his neighbors that it would produce ten bushels more to the acre than the kind they had been using, it was generally adopted as the seed corn throughout the district. In one season Mr. Charles sold 500 bushels of corn for seed. He has a 5,000 bushel granary on his farm. While he had an expert knowledge of corn he knew little of wheat, and his experiments in attempting to raise that crop did not prove so fortunate.

During their early married life Mr. and Mrs. Charles set as their ideal the gaining of enough to live comfortably on in their old age. Unlike many others, they proceeded to realize this ambition when the opportunity came, and not caring to continue the hard life of farming they sold off their stock in 1908 and all but the land itself, which they rented to a good tenant, and then moved to Lewis. About that time Mr. Charles was elected sheriff of Edwards County, and during his official term moved to Kinsley. He served one term as sheriff and was then elected county treasurer and served in that office the full term allowed by law, four years. Since retiring from office he has been employed as a common laborer by a contractor and builder. He is not satisfied with doing nothing, and finds work the means of contented mind and also a physical stimulant. He rejoices that he is still able to work, even though the economic necessity for it is no longer present.

On August 31, 1892, Mr. Charles married Mollie E. Blount. She was born April 29, 1866, a daughter of W. D. Blount and a granddaughter of Hezekiah Blount of Kentucky. Her father was a native of Bourbon County, Kentucky, and left that state in 1869, going to Coles County, Illinois, and in 1873 coming to Pawnee County, Kansas, establishing a home as a very early pioneer near Larned, a town which was then hardly in existence except as a fringe of settlement around old Fort Larned. W. D. Blount died in 1901, at the age of sixty-eight. He married Nancy Utterbach, who died in 1904, at the age of seventy-five. She was a daughter of Covington Utterbach of Kentucky. W. D. Blount and wife had the following children: Hezekiah, deceased; Reuben, of Larned; John, deceased; and Mrs. Charles.

Mr. Charles is a democrat, though formerly a populist. He served as state ordnance sergeant in 1894, under Governor Llewelling. While living on his farm he served as treasurer of school district No. 46 three years. He has always been active in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is a member of its board of trustees and the finance committee, and is superintendent of the Sunday school, while Mrs. Charles is president of the Ladies' Aid Society. Mr. Charles is a believer and practicer of the tything method of supporting a church, and one-tenth of all his income goes to that service. He is affiliated with the Masonic order, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows at Lewis, and the Modern Woodmen of America and the Knights of Pythias at Kinsley. He is a past noble grand of the Odd Fellows lodge. Both he and his wife are members of the Eastern Star at Kinsley, and Mrs. Charles is oracle of the Royal Neighbors of America.