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.

John A. Gregory

JOHN A. GREGORY. The men who came to Stevens County, Kansas, from other parts of the country in the '80s had to be possessed of marked courage and perseverance, able to stand hardships and disappointments, and willing to turn their hand to various occupations. Few had experience in the kind of farming that conditions made necessary, and of the original settlers of those years only a small minority fought their way through to prosperity. Among these few is John A. Gregory, an early settler of West Center Township, who came here in September, 1886. He passed through the varying fortunes and misfortunes which the lean and more prosperous years of this country brought about, and today is one of the substantial men of the vicinity of Hugoton, and a participant in civic and business affairs.

Mr. Gregory was born in Franklin County, Missouri, March 19, 1862, a son of Alexander Gregory, who went to Missouri from Kentucky before the Civil war and settled in Franklin County, where he passed the remainder of his life. He kept the country store at Shotwell and secured the establishment of the Star Mail Route to that point, where he was the first postmaster. The office derived the name of Shotwell because Mr. Gregory had killed two deer one morning before breakfast right at that place, and the neighbors suggested the name because of his skilled marksmanship. Mr. Gregory was born in Bath County, Kentucky, a son of a Virginia man, James Gregory, who went to Kentucky, became a planter and slaveholder, and there died. Alexander Gregory married Mary J. McCallister in Franklin County, Missouri, where she was born. He died in 1882, but she still survives him at an advanced age, residing at Almon, Hickory County, Missouri. Their children were: Martha, the wife of Adam Byrd, of Iona, Missouri; Laura, who married James K. Parks, of Almon, Missouri; John A.; Levi, of Iona, Missouri; Sam P., a merchant at Cross Timbers, Missouri; Susan, the wife of John Maxwell, of Bolivar, Missouri; Julius E. and Julia, twins, the former of Fristo, Missouri, and the latter of whom married John Brooks, of Warsaw, Missouri; and Anna, who married Sam Graves, of Kansas City, Kansas.

In his native county John A. Gregory attended the country schools for four months each year during the winter terms until he was about twenty years of age, and was a factor of the parental home until he reached his majority. He was a farm hand in that neighborhood, working for $12.50 per month until he left the state, and when he left home his capital was $44. When he took the train out of Medicine Lodge, Kansas, he came into a region of strangers, alone, but his treatment from them was such as to give him encouragement. After entering the state he came into Stevens County by catching a ride with parties seeking the frontier homes, and rode from Ashland to Hugoton with one of these settlers. Mr. Gregory filed on the northwest quarter of section 6, township 33, range 38, a pre-emption which he commuted and subsequently let J. B. Watkins have under mortgage, as many other first settlers did their land. After paying his filing fees he had but $11 left, and had learned nothing but Missouri farming, but managed to subsist upon an occasional outside day's work. There were occasional primitive settlers' homes to be built, which provided some work, and later on he traded for a well auger and bored wells for two or three years, but made a bare living only at it. About this time he began raising a broom corn on his pre-emption and added to his possessions a broom corn seeder and hailer "on time." He found some profit in operating this, and when he lost his pre-emption he farmed on any land in the neighborhood which was handy. In December, 1899, he homesteaded the northwest quarter of section 18, township 33, range 38, where he has since maintained his home.

When he entered his present home Mr. Gregory had made some progress toward prosperity. He owned a few horses and some cash, and bought a three-room house, one and one-half stories in height, from south of Hugoton, and this, with a kitchen since added, has served him as a shelter and a home in which to rear his family. He continued the growing of broom corn on his homestead, and this was his principal enterprise until 1895, his product ranging from $40 to $60 per ton. In 1895 he bought a bunch of cows with money saved from his agricultural activities, paying $225 for seventeen head. In the year following he bought another bunch, paying $300 for twenty-five head, and these constituted the beginning of the hundreds of cattle which he has since owned. Many misfortunes have overtaken him in the loss of cattle, but he has persevered, and has sold them by the hundreds annually almost since the beginning. For many years he raised from 100 to 125 calves annually, and from his first investment in cattle he has been able to pay for seventeen quarter-sections of land. There was a time during the years in which he was gaining experience in Kansas that he would have left the country had he been able to get away, but necessity forced him to stay here, and it proved the mother of his fortune. Mr. Gregory has played only a modest, although honorable, part in community affairs. He has been a member of the school board of his district and has served his township as clerk, having been elected on the democratic ticket.

In 1896, in McPherson County, Kansas, Mr. Gregory was married to Miss Margaret H. Hoff, who was born February 25, 1875, in Norway, and came to America as a child with her parents. Andrew and Olivia Hoff. Mr. Hoff was a settler of Stevens County, where he proved up land, and here he passed his life. His four children were: Bessie, the wife of Frank Olson; Fred A.; Millie, who married John Selser; and Mrs. Gregory. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Gregory: Mildred H., who was the youngest member of her graduation class at the Liberal High School, taught in the country schools for several years, and is now a student at the Kansas State Normal School; John Howard; and Mary H.

Pages 2206-2207.