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.

Bruce D. Creek

BRUCE D. CREEK is one of the active business men and merchants of Liberal, and is one of the owners and is active manager of the Southwestern Hardware Company of this city. While he is by no means full of years, his recollections of Western Kansas go back to the pioneer period, his family having come here when he was a boy. He has lived in Kansas and in Oklahoma practically all his active life.

The pioneer of the family in Kansas is John H. Creek, his father, who brought his household from Illinois to Harper County, Kansas, in 1880, when Bruce was a boy of seven years. John H. Creek was born in Vanderberg County, Indiana, August 24, 1818. He grew up in a rather backwoods district of Indiana, and had very little education, merely enough to enable him to write his own name. When the Civil war broke out he enlisted in a regiment of Illinois Cavalry and served most of the time under General Sheridan. He was driver of an ammunition wagon through his service and was in the army to the end of the war. At the close of the rebellion he settled in Livingston County, Illinois, and a number of years later, in 1880, joined a party of Illinois men and their families who came out to Southern Kansas. He made the journey with wagon and team, brought some stock, and settling in Harper County pre-empted six miles from Harper. He established a home and lived there for upwards of twenty years, when he abandoned the state to move to the old Cherokee strip of Oklahoma. The pioneer home of the Creeks in Kansas was a sod house. For many years it was the only family shelter and was finally succeeded by a more comfortable frame building. It was a task of tremendous difficulty to make a living from the soil in the '80s and '90s, and as John H. Creek's efforts at agriculture were little more successful than most of his neighbors he supplemented the resources of the farm by joining the trading crews which hauled goods from Wichita to Harper and to Fort Supply. Under the stress of conditions which grew worse instead of better he had to mortgage his farm to meet his obligations and supply the necessities of life. The mortgage finally took the farm, and with this rather humiliating and bitter experience in Kansas he moved to Oklahoma and settled in Alfalfa County. He went to a homestead on the Medicine River, where his son Bruce had previously selected a location, and the quarter section on which John H. Creek now lives was acquired in exchange for a bird dog which cost his son Bruce only 15 cents. Since he moved to Oklahoma John H. Creek's fortunes as farmer have been on the up grade, and he is now spending his advanced years, under the shadow of fourscore, with a reasonable degree of comfort and independence. For many years he has been identified with the Grand Army of the Republic, is a democratic voter, has sought no participation in political affairs and is a member of the Baptist Church. John H. Creek married in Livingston County, Illinois, Miss Nancy E. Travis. She was born in Livingston County in 1850, and her people were early day settlers and farmers of that section. John H. Creek and wife had the following children: Bruce D., Jacob J., John M. and Richard D., all of whom are connected in some capacity with the oil fields around Augusta, Kansas; Sylvester S. lives in Canada; George G., of Oklahoma; Jennie May, wife of Cleon Traverse, of Alfalfa County, Oklahoma; Frank, of Wichita, Kansas; Martin, of Augusta, Kansas; Alice, wife of Orville Croxton, of Oklahoma.

Bruce D. Creek was born in Livingston County, Illinois, November 29, 1873, and had just arrived at the age when he was eligible to attend school when the family came to Kansas. He soon afterward began the daily routine of walking back and forth between the parental home in Harper County and the local district schools, and afterwards attended the Harper High School and finished the business course in the Harper Business College. Years of manhood had not yet settled their weight of responsibility upon him when he took his place as an active worker on the home farm, and it was largely through him that a means was discovered by which the family found better fortune than it had experienced for so long a time in Harper County. He made a hunting trip into Oklahoma, partly for game and partly to look out for land. His companion on that trip was a cousin. They visited the country along the Medicine River in Alfalfa County, and there discovered two ideal tracts of school land. These tracts they entered as homesteads and it was a little later that the cousin, becoming dissatisfied for some reason, disposed of his tract to Bruce Creek for the nominal consideration of a bird dog worth 15 cents. That gave Mr. Creek a full half section, and it is still owned in the family. He went there with his parents and did much to develop the original fertility of the land. For a brief period he was also a hardware merchant at Byron in that community.

In 1905 Mr. Creek returned to Kansas, and his relationship with the state has since been permanent. At Liberal he went to work as clerk for the firm A. E. Blake & Son, and soon acquired a material interest in that business. Later, when the Southwestern Hardware Company was organized, he was made assistant manager, and has gradually increased his holdings and his participation in the business until he is now manager. The firm, one of the largest in Seward County, is owned by Mr. Creek and R. A. Evans. Mr. Evans is president of the company, W. A. Naylor is vice president, Mrs. R. A. Evans is treasurer, and Mrs. Creek is secretary of the firm. It is both a retail and wholesale house and it does a jobbing business with a number of small stores both in Oklahoma and Kansas.

Mr. Creek is a republican in politics. He cast his first vote for McKinley in 1896, and has not deviated from the political choice thus made. His father, as has already been noted, was a democrat and is of that faith yet, and the reason why the son went to the opposite party was largely due to the conditions which brought about the loss of the parental home in Harper County during the last Cleveland administration. Fraternally Mr. Creek is a Mason and has held all the chairs in the Subordinate Lodge of Odd Fellows at Liberal and has attended Grand Lodge as a delegate. He and his wife are members of the Episcopal Church. In August, 1907, in Kansas City, Missouri, Mr. Creek married Miss Goldie M. Powers. Mrs. Creek was born in Vermont, and came to Kansas in 1904. Up to the time of her marriage she was bookkeeper for the hardware house of Blake & Sons at Liberal. Mr. and Mrs. Creek have two children, Milton and Jerome.

Pages 2249-2250.