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.

Wallace Shill

WALLACE SHILL. Some of the most prosperous farmers in the entire State of Kansas are today found in Pawnee County, where only twenty or twenty-five years ago a handful of settlers were struggling for the bare necessities of life. One of these prosperous citizens with his farm in Ash Valley Township is Wallace Shill. Mr. Shill was more of a witness than an active participant in the very early pioneer struggles in Pawnee County, since he was only seven years of age when his parents came to this region in 1878.

The brunt of responsibilities at that time was borne by his father, William H. Shill. The latter was born in New York State, where he grow up and married, and subsequently moved to Northwestern Illinois, in Jo Daviess County. He followed farming there and in 1878 he brought his family to Kansas by wagon. He owned a single team, and his vehicle was part of a caravan bound for Kansas and composed of Fred and Thomas Keast and their respective families, who are still living, among the first settlers of the county. William H. Shill entered as his homestead the southwest quarter of section 18, township 20, range 17, where his son Wallace is still living. There he built the typical sod house of that time. This abode contained two rooms, shingled and floored, and it served as the family domicile for about a quarter of a century. William H. Shill had similar protection for his stock. His livestock for several years consisted only of the team he brought from Illinois. He came into this state with a very modest amount of capital, and it was used up before he had been here long. He had a few cows, and they saved the day for the family, since the soil refused to produce crops and the cows alone may be said to have kept them from starvation. For a few years William H. Shill raised broom corn. That was a favorite crop among the early settlers, and for a time was quite profitable. After the broom corn era William H. Shill became a wheat raiser, and taking the average of many seasons made it a paying crop. The failures that came to others also came to him, but he was never discouraged in the matter of wheat growing and his financial independence was largely secured from that source. William H. Shill proved up a preemption in the same section with his homestead and that gave him the 320 acres which he owned at the time of his death. As a stockman he acquired a considerable local reputation and in fact was one of the leading cattlemen of this region. His time and energies were wholly devoted to his farm and he never became interested in politics except as a voter and once held a township office. He was a stanch republican, but belonged to no church.

William H. Shill died in Pawnee County in 1888, at the age of sixty-six. He married Mary Zimmerman, who was born in New York State and died about 1898, aged sixty-nine. Their children were: Martha, wife of Eugene Teal, of Decatur County, Iowa; Marinda, who died in Leadville, Colorado, wife of Robert Newton; Rosetta, who died in Illinois, the wife of John Potter; Nettie, who married Fred Keast and died in Pawnee County; Ruth, wife of Thomas Keast of Larned; Etta, wife of Henry Hugg of Larned; Hattie, wife of Jerome Hearn, and she died in Oklahoma; Luther, who died in Pawnee County unmarried; and Wallace, who was the youngest of the family.

Wallace Shill was born in Jo Daviess County, Illinois, November 17, 1871, but nearly all his education was acquired in Pawnee County and it was limited in amount and quality. He was a pupil of the old Antone School, one of the pioneer schoolhouses of the county. He continued to live at home with his parents, was seventeen when his father died, and the old homestead has always kept its hold upon his affections. As a farmer he has followed in the footsteps of his father in the matter of wheat and stock raising, but quite early in his career took up the breeding of Shire horses and has done a good deal for the locality in raising the grade of horses. For a time he was associated in the business of stock raising and farming with his brother. They placed many new improvements upon the farm, including the cottage residence of four rooms now occupied by Mr. Wallace Shill and family, a barn 40x56 feet, a granary with 4,000-bushels capacity and a number of other structures as needed. Mr. Wallace Shill has added a quarter section to the old farm, and now has 480 acres with about 380 acres under the plow. He estimates that the best acre of wheat he ever had yielded twenty-five bushels, and the best seasonal average per acre was about the same amount. He has had a quiet but effective career, and has participated in politics only to the extent of casting his ballot. He has always believed in the principle of protection for American industries, but in 1916 he supported Mr. Wilson for president.

On June 6, 1906, Mr. Shill married Miss Margaret Dugan. Her father, Michael Dugan, who was born and married in Ireland, came from New Hampshire to Kansas, arriving in this state January 1, 1877. His homestead in Ash Valley Township was in section 4, township 20, range 17. He died soon after coming to Kansas. The maiden name of his wife was Margaret Daley and she also died in Pawnee County. Their children were: Minnie, wife of Barney Leffert, of Argus, Indiana; Mary, wife of Lloyd McNamee, of Fort Worth, Texas; John, of Pawnee County; Thomas, of Illinois; Hugh, who lives at Hutchinson, Kansas; Michael, of Kinsley, Kansas, and Mrs. Shill, who was born August 10, 1879, in Pawnee County, and has thus spent practically all her life there. Mr. and Mrs. Shill have three children, Dallas, Margaret and Phyllis.