Pages 109-110, 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.


Fred J. Horton


FRED. J. HORTON, Allen county's famous gas driller, has been the direct cause of more supreme happiness on the part of Iola's "original set" than any other person, living or dead. A few references, only, will establish this claim beyond the pale of successful contradiction. He is all but the discoverer of gas at Iola. It was he who opened the first great well at the "Northrup ford" and, for a few years, it was his drill, only, whose regular "thump" announced to the populace of Elm Creek valley the continued development of their gas field. At an hundred different points, in Allen and adjoining counties, has he penetrated the "sand" and more than sixty times has he brought to the surface that precious article, the greatest of Allen county's resources. In the discovery of the Ohlfest well the citizens of LaHarpe were wont to believe their locality the center of the gas deposit in the valley and when the Remsberg "invincible," south of the city of Gas, burst forth both LaHarpe and Iola felt a jealous pang and vied with each other in their claims to its jurisdiction.

Fred Horton is a new-comer among the citizens of Allen county. He came to our state in the interest of the Palmer Oil and Gas Company and, for a time, was regarded among our temporary sojourners, only. His continued success in the determination of the extent of Allen county's gas territory led to his decision to take up his residence in Iola, where he is regarded among the permanent and substantial citizens.

Our subject was born in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, October 31, 1864. His father, Hector Horton, was a successful farmer. He was born in the town of Hector, New York, in 1819 and died in Tioga, county, Pa., in July, 1807.[sic] In early life he moved down into Tioga county, Pennsylvania, and was there married. He was one of the prominent men of his community, lived an honorable life and left an estate at his death. He was married to Permelia Emmick, a daughter of William Emmick, whose early home was near the site of Morris, Pennsylvania. Seven children were born to this union, viz: Charles A., of Butler county, Pennsylvania; Frank, of Freeport, Ohio; Anna M., wife of A. C. English, of Iola, Kansas; George E., of Freeport, Ohio; Fred J., our subject; Mary J., deceased, and Bert L. Horton, who maintains the old home in Pennsylvania.

The Hortons offer no apology for their Americanism. They were of the first families who left England for the Colonies and their descendants have filled our states and territories with some of the best blood of the


ages. Thos. Horton, grandfather of Fred J. Horton, spent his life around Seneca Lake, in New York. He was first a boatman on that lake and afterward a distiller, with his factory at the head of the lake. He married Miss Anna Cully and died in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, leaving sons and daughters, viz: Elizabeth, of Jackson county, Mich., is the wife of John Kimball; Hiram, who died in Tioga county, Pa.; Susanna, of the same county, is Mrs. Jerre Houghton; Thomas, of same county; Hector; Sallie A., who married P. G. Walker and resides in Tioga county, Pa.; Semantha, wife of E. H. Hastings, of Wellsboro, Pa., and Ezra Horton, who died in Clearfield county, Pennsylvania.

Fred J. Horton was reared chiefly on the farm. Before he reached his majority he had some experience in the lumber woods of his native state. The schools of the country district and those of the little clean county seat of Wellsboro gave him his educational equipment. He went into the Ohio oil field about 1885 and remained there eight years, as employe two years and as prospector and driller and in the business of development six years. At times he was associated with a brother or brothers and his efforts were productive of varying degrees of success. His operations were in Wood county and around Lima, Ohio, and it was in that country that he came into contact with the Palmer Oil and Gas Company. The latter firm arranged with him to come into Kansas and develop their field and he reached Allen county in the fall of 1894. On October 1st of that year he began erecting the first rig at the "Northrup ford" and at the end of a fortnight he had uncovered a flow of gas that fairly startled our people.

Mr. Horton is not only a developer of our gas resources but an aid in the promotion of other enterprises as well. He owns an interest in the Brooklyn Park addition to Iola and put in, and is the owner of, the gas plant, or system, in both Highland Place and Brooklyn Park. He is one of the directors of the Kansas Brick Company, with plant at Chanute, Kansas. In 1898 he erected a commodious residence in Iola and the same year made substantial improvements upon his farm in Elm township, Allen county.

March 16, 1889, Mr. Horton was married in Monroe, Michigan, to Minnie E., daughter of James Carroll, of Waterville, Ohio. Their children are Ethel F. and Ruth Horton.

The Hortons are Republicans in politics. Hector Horton, father of our subject, became a Republican early in the history of that party and his sons found it to their financial well-being to support the principles of the same party. The Knights of Pythias, the Elks and the Masons have each a claim upon the social tendencies of our subject.

Previous | Home | Next