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.

Alexander McCoid

ALEXANDER McCOID. When the trials, sacrifices and hardships of the early settlers of Western Kansas are considered it seems like a supreme act of patriotism that some of them remained, buoyed up with courage and hopefulness for the future, and continued the experimental work which in course of time has made that one of the big producing regions of the United States for both cattle and grain, and thus in these modern days a source of supply, when supplies are so greatly needed by a world at war.

One of the men whose share in early times certainly deserves mention and the commendation and credit due to such pioneers is Mr. Alexander McCoid, a farmer of the community adjacent to Liberal, in which section he has lived since 1886.

Mr. McCoid is an eastern man by birth and early training and the only member of his family to come west. He was born at Providence, Rhode Island, February, 11, 1851, and his brothers and sisters still live in that eastern city. His parents, Charles and Mary (Jamison) McCoid, were born and married in Ireland and on coming to America located at Providence, where Charles McCoid was a florist. Both died in Providence, Charles McCoid at the age of sixty-five and his widow at ninety years. Their children were: Alexander, James, Mary, Thomas, Annie, wife of Louis P. Rittman, and Charles, all of Providence.

Alexander McCoid grew up in his native city and attended the common schools. When about thirteen years of age he followed the spirit of adventure which prompted him westward, and made progress stage by stage towards the west. For a time he mined coal in Pennsylvania, did steamboating from Pittsburg to New Orleans, and had various experiences until he arrived in Missouri. Going to that state in 1873, he located in Vernon County. He worked as a farm hand at monthly wages and that was his occupation in the main until his marriage.

On October 5, 1880, in Vernon County, Missouri, he married Allie Foster, who was born in Springfield, Illinois, February 20, 1865, daughter of Peyton and Martha (Dunn) Foster. Her father was a native of Sangamon County, Illinois, son of a farmer and a farmer himself. On August 1, 1864, he enlisted from Missouri in the Union army in Company A of the 39th Missouri Infantry, his immediate commander being Lieutenant Darrow. He was in service until granted his honorable discharge on July 19, 1865, at Benton Barracks, St. Louis. Peyton Poster had already moved to Vernon County, Missouri, prior to the war and married there. His wife died in that county in February, 1917. Mrs. McCoid has one brother, Oscar Foster, of Portland, Oregon.

After his marriage Mr. McCoid lived as a farmer some five or six years in Vernon County and then, about 1885, came west prospecting for a claim along the western border of Kansas. In March, 1886, he came out with his little family to occupy the claim, bringing along two teams of horses and a cow. On his claim he erected a sod house 10 by 12 feet. The status of his financial possessions can well be imagined from the fact that he had only fourteen dollars in cash when he arrived in Kansas and all of this he expended to put a roof on his sod shelter. His claim was the southeast quarter of section 18, township 32, range 33, a homestead. His closest neighbors were on the L-V Ranch on the river above him, while some miles below was the old Cross L ranch. Mr. McCoid soon had a chance to earn some money by moving a family to eastern Colorado at two dollars a day and expenses. While doing this he left his wife and two children an the claim alone. That was only the beginning of freighting which furnished him his livelihood for several years. He transported freight from Cimarron to Fargo Springs and old Springfield and for two or three years there was hardly any resource for cash money except by this business. The first year it was so dry that he was unable to break any of the sod. In fact fifteen or twenty years passed before he harvested any kind of a crop that would sustain stock and family.

In the community of his first location Mr. McCoid remained for thirteen years, proving up the preemption, a timber claim and also the homestead. The preemption he mortgaged and lost, while the homestead and tree claim he traded for three Mexican ponies and a calf. At the end of the thirteen years mentioned he had no property except some stock and was little if any better off than when he came. Before leaving Missouri some of his neighbors had told him that he was coming to Kansas twenty years too soon. So far as his individual fortunes were concerned he discovered that the advice was only too true. Twenty years after he came conditions were very different. There was some money in the country and those who came in to establish homes at that time were much better off financially and climate and other things favored their efforts.

On leaving his homestead Mr. McCoid bought a quarter section of land near Springfield. For this he paid two hundred dollars. The owner was an old settler who left here about that time to find a better location, and all but gave away his home and its improvements. It seems almost incredible that Mr. McCoid's two hundred dollars bought not only a quarter section of land but also a good house, windmill, granary and cattle sheds, fence and a small grove of trees. The first real crop he ever raised in Western Kansas came from this Springfield farm and he remained there two years. He then made a trade, exchanging the farm for a house in Liberal, and on moving to town took a contract for carrying the United States mail between Liberal and Hugoton. This put him in a fair way to prosperity and comfortable living and he remained on the mail route for nine years. While at Liberal he established a laundry, the first one in the place. He was not a practical laundryman himself and the business soon began running behind. He then resumed farming, buying the quarter section where he now lives and moving out to occupy it when his contract with the Government expired. This permanent home is the northwest quarter of section 27, township 34, range 33. He established himself on the land in December, 1907, and for the past ten years has been making more than an average success as a stock farmer. He has raised a large amount of feed for stock and has had more than ordinary success with wheat. The best wheat crop he has ever had was twenty-seven bushels to the acre. Since coming to Seward County Mr. McCoid sold wheat as low as thirty-five cents a bushel, getting that price after hauling the grain fifty-five miles to Garden City, a trip which required several days and the expense of which ate up a large part of the receipts for a load of grain. He had a similar experience with broom corn, which after hauling to Garden City sold for sixteen dollars a ton. Mr. McCoid had similar experiences of shortages of food for the family which others endured who remained in this region through good and bad fortune. Recent Government restrictions upon food seem a very simple proposition to Mr. McCoid. While he was always able to provide three meals a day for his family they were exceedingly common meals, and often consisted of kaffir corn ground in the coffee mill. For long periods at a time there was no meat in the household. The matter of dress was not a matter of much concern, and their wardrobe was refurnished occasionally by clothing sent from the east. In the enjoyment of his present prosperity no reasonable person could begrudge Mr. McCoid all that he has after staying with the country under such conditions as existed twenty-five or thirty years ago.

On going to his present home Mr. McCoid's first house was a box building 12 by 16 feet. He and his family lived there about two years, and it still stands as a monument to its early usefulness. It was succeeded by a comfortable cottage of six rooms. At his present location Mr. McCoid has 180 acres in cultivation and owns altogether five quarter sections.

His part as a citizen has always been rendered intelligently and with a due degree of public spirit. He served as one of his township board, being elected trustee, but was legislated out of that office by the populist legislature which combined the two townships. In earlier days he was also a school director of District No. 16. Mr. McCoid has always given allegiance to the democratic party. He is a stockholder of the Equity Union at Liberal and is a stockholder in the Hutchinson Stock Yards Company.

While all these varied experiences were being passed through in Western Kansas a family of children were growing up around him, and the record of children and grandchildren is briefly stated as follows: Ida married Lloyd B. Rease of Liberal, and has two sons, Fred and Ralph. Grace is the wife of Oliver Trout of Pueblo, Colorado. Jesse is a resident of Arkalon, Kansas. Alexander, Jr. living at Stonington, Colorado, married Mable Scott. Chester is a resident of Pueblo. Minnie married William Bangs of Liberal and has two children, Thelma and Leroy. Arthur lives at Pueblo, Colorado, Nellie and Walter, at Liberal and James, the youngest of the family, is carrying on his studies in the public schools of Liberal.