Pages 448-450, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




NELSON F. ACERS, whose gradual retirement from active affairs in Iola removes one of the original and conspicuous characters of Allen county and the state of Kansas from the ranks of busy men, is a Kansan of thirty-five years residence, and a citizen whose history embraces not only chapters devoted to his public acts in Allen county but un-recorded pages of history of his connection with public matters both state and national in their character. He is a man whom a great political party has been pleased to honor with leadership and with one of the important public trusts of the state. His connection with state politics dates back almost a score of years and in the battles won by his party during this period are to be seen unmistakable traces of his political counsel and generalship.

Mr. Acers came to Kansas from Geneva, Illinois, in 1865. He was born in the latter state March 4, 1839, and is a son of the venerable Roswell W. Acers, of Iola, whose ninety-third birthday will occur in August 1901. The Acers are among the early Colonial families, their most remote American ancestor having settled in one of the New England colonies, an emigrant from Erin's Isle. The "Akers, Acres and the Acers" all emigrated from the same source and their kinship is undoubted. Which is the correct and incorrupted spelling of the Celtic name is now indeterminable. John Acers, our subject's grandfather, was born in New Hampshire in 1771 whence he removed to New York, in Chautauqua, of which state Roswell W. Acers was born. John Acers married Malinda Spears and lived till 1864, dying in Kane county, Illinois, in his ninety-third year. Roswell W. Acers was his second child and was reared in his native county. He was a father's son, was schooled limitedly and became a farmer on beginning life independently. He was married to Juliette Spencer and left the Empire state about 1831. They settled in Kane county, Illinois, and were there residents upon the farm and in Geneva till 1867, when they followed their son, our subject, to Kansas.

Nelson F. Acers is the sole heir to his parents. His youth was passed upon his father's Kane county farm and the pioneer schools did the work of education for him in his boyhood. He studied law with Major J. H. Mayborne in Geneva, Ill., and graduated at the Albany (N. Y.) Law Depart-


went University. He was admitted to practice by the supreme court of the state of New York and when he was ready for business entered the office where he had first studied and took charge of his old preceptor's business, the latter entering the military service of the United States. This responsible professional and business arrangement was, most probably, what prevented his entering the army himself before the Civil war ended. He tried his first lawsuit in Geneva and practiced his profession there till late in 1865 when he set out for the west.

Just at the close of the war Mr. Acers set out for Kansas. He reached Weston, Missouri, (then the western terminus of railroads) by rail. From this latter point he walked in the direction of the capital of Kansas. When he arrived at his destination the state legislature was in session and, as clerical competents were needed to properly prepare the records of the proceedings of the Senate, he was appointed first assistant secretary of that body. "Jim" Legate was in the state Senate then; Colonel Anthony was in the House and so were Jacob Stotler and "Jim" Snoddy. The legislature was taken up chiefly, that session, with railroad land grants as a preliminary to the construction of the pioneer railroads of the state. Early in the spring of 1868 our subject came on down to Iola, a little hamlet of, perhaps, one hundred and fifty people. One of the first acts he did was to purchase four lots on the "Sleeper" corner where he erected a residence and made arrangements for the reception of his family. He formed a partnership with W. S. Newberry for the practice of law and took a leading place at the bar of eastern Kansas almost from the start. He was elected County Attorney in 1867 and, by re-election, served two terms. In 1874 he was named as the candidate of the "opposition" to the Republican ticket for Probate Judge and, contrary to his expectation and desires, he was elected. His first official act as judge of Probate was to grant a marriage license to E. A. Barber of Humboldt.

The discovery of mineral water at Iola by the Acers was responsible, largely, for Mr. Acers' separation from the law. He conceived the idea of establishing a sanitarium here and did so with considerable degree of success. For some years the Iola Mineral Well was widely advertised and many patients went away from here with the song of its praise upon their lips. But for lack of local interest the sanitarium proposition failed of its true purpose and object. Succeeding this venture Mr. Acers was more and more of an interested participant in politics. Formerly he was a Republican but in 1869 something happened in Allen county which caused him to change front and he ever afterward trained with the Democrats. In 1882 he was nominated by the minority party for Congress, in the second congressional district, but was defeated. In 1885 he was appointed by President Cleveland Internal Revenue Collector for the district embracing Kansas and the Indian Territory. In this capacity he served four years and when Mr. Harrison was elected his resignation was one of the first to reach the department, and he was the last to be relieved of duty.

Having an interest in some silver mining property in the west upon his release from official life Mr. Acers went thither to develop the same.


At the old price of silver bullion the property promised large returns and the placing of the wealth of its owners in the six figure column, but with the rapid decline of that commodity the value of the property decreased to a non-paying basis and its operation was abandoned to others. In 1896 Mr. Acers returned to Iola and took an active interest in the campaign of that year, in the hope that the "16 to 1" plan would triumph. Since then he has devoted his energies to the real estate and loan business, and to the improvement of the family properties. The erection of the Odd Fellows Block in 1898 was due largely to his foresight and progressive spirit and in other matters where his town might be benefitted has he shown his unselfish and disinterested hand.

September 23, 1863, Mr. Acers was married to Ellen A. Conant, a daughter of William Conant, of Geneva, Illinois. The Conants were Vermont people where, at Brandon, Mrs. Acers was born in 1840. Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Acers, viz: Miss Grace and Fred A., the latter being deceased.

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