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.

Homer B. Niles

HOMER B. NILES. For over thirty years a resident of Kansas, and for over twenty of these a business man in Lane County, Homer B. Niles, manager of the Niles Mercantile Company at Dighton, has a wide and substantial commercial acquaintance and an enviable record for public service of an exacting character. Mr. Niles was born at Waucousta, a small town near Lansing, Michigan, December 8, 1874. His parents were Deloss and Lydia (Root) Niles.

Deloss Niles was born in Vermont and in his childhood his parents were pioneers in Michigan, and he resided in that state until he came to Kansas in 1885. He entered a homestead claim seven miles southeast of Dighton in Lane County. He was an industrious, well meaning man, but those were times of great hardship to men without capital and with a family to provide for. Like other settlers, he built a dugout, the typical sod-roofed home of the early Kansas settler, and he and family lived in its two small rooms for five years. Although each year brought a little produce from his farm, it was not sufficient, even with the milk from the few cows he owned, to care properly for his wife and children, and, like others, he sought outside work. He assisted in grading when the Nickle Plate Railroad was being constructed through the county, broke prairie for other settlers and freighted and teamed into other sections of the county, from Garden, Cimarron and Wakeeney. It was a hard and laborious life, with many discouragements, and after eighteen years of continuous effort Mr. Niles gave up farming and moved to Dighton. He resided in this city several years and then went to Hutchinson, and his death occurred there in 1912, at the age of seventy-nine years. He was a man of sterling character, possessing many of the solid virtues of his English ancestors and New England parents, and wherever he lived was thoroughly respected. He was a faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.

In Michigan Deloss Niles was married to Lydia Root, who was born in New York, and accompanied her parents to Michigan when young. Her death occurred at Hutchinson, Kansas, in July, 1915, at the age of seventy-nine years. They had five children: Clarence, who died in Montana, is survived by a daughter; James R., who is a resident of Hutchinson, Kansas; Joseph E., who is a traveling salesman, maintains his home at Hutchinson; Edith, who was Mrs. E. R. Lord, died at Hutchinson; and Homer B.

Homer B. Niles was eleven years old when his people came to Kansas, and he remembers many of the pioneer hardships endured, in spite of which he attended school more or less regularly, at one time in a "soddy" schoolhouse, later spent a year in the public schools at Dighton and a like period in a business college at Salina. He was thus much better prepared for business than many other youths of twenty years when he entered the printing office of the Hutchinson News, then conducted by Mr. Morgan. From Hutchinson he came then to Dighton and was attached to the force of the Dighton News, and continued for two years as an all-round newspaper man on both journals. In the meanwhile he had made arrangements to settle permanently at the county seat, and soon embarked in a coal and grain business here that he carried on with very satisfactory results for the following eight years, retiring from this business when appointed clerk of the District Court of Lane County by Judge Lobdell in 1907. He filled out the unexpired term of J. M. Fitch and subsequently was elected to the office and re-elected, retiring after six years of service, in 1913. In the meanwhile he had re-entered business as proprietor of an undertaking and furniture concern, which in 1913 was consolidated with the Whiting Mercantile Company, which interest he, in partnership with E. R. Lord, had purchased. The new organization became the Lord Mercantile Company, which is the leading house in its line at Dighton, and Mr. Niles continues its efficient manager.

Mr. Niles was married in Lane County, October 16, 1906, to Miss Neva A. Holton, who was born at Newton, Kansas, August 16, 1884. Her parents were C. E. and Harriet (Heath) Holton, and she has two brothers: Clarence, who is a resident of Independence, Kansas, and Floyd, who lives in Vermint. C. E. Holton was a native of Vermont and was an early settler in Lane County, Kansas, but now lives retired in his old Vermont home. For twenty years he was a merchant at Dighton, Kansas, and for many years longer was a highly respected citizen of the county.

Mr. and Mrs. Niles have four children: Homer Bernard, Gladys Genevieve, Judson Packer and Harriet Edith. In politics, like his father, Mr. Niles has always been a republican, casting his first presidential vote in 1896 for William McKinley. His first official service was as a deputy under H. T. Heineman and H. Tyner, who were busy farmers who left much of the work of the office to be done by the deputy. Mr. Niles has always been interested in public education and at present is serving on the school board of Dighton. Fraternally he is a Master Mason and a Modern Woodman. He has lived to see many changes in and around Dighton, some of these being brought about through his interested efforts, and takes justifiable pride in his long identification with a section of the great state of Kansas that has made such strides forward in comparatively a short period.