Pages 225-226, 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.




HARVEY OLMSTEAD.—There are no rules for building character; there is no rule for achieving success. The man who can rise to an enviable position in a community and in the business world is he who can see and utilize the opportunities that surround his path. The conditions of human life are ever the same, the surroundings of individuals differ but slightly, and when one man passes another on the highway and reaches the goal of prosperity before others who perhaps started out before him, it is because he has the power to use advantages which probably encompass the whole human race. There have been no exciting chapters in the career of Mr. Olmstead, but an untiring industry and a steadfastness of purpose have enabled him to work his way steadily upward and gain a position of affluence among the substantial agriculturists of Allen county.

He has the distinction of being the first white child born in Fairfield township, Bureau county, Illinois, the date of his birth being the 1st of May, 1842. His father, Elijah Olmstead, was a native of Canada and married Electa Hall, a native of Ohio. In 1842 they removed to Illinois, locating in Fairfield township, Bureau county, among the first settlers there. The father was not permitted long to enjoy his new home, for death claimed him in 1846, when he was forty-eight years of age, and his wife survived only until 1848. They had two children, Harvey and J. E. Olmstead.

The subject of this review remained in Illinois until eleven years of


age. His parents having died, he went to live with his grandparents and they removed to Hamilton county, Iowa, where he acquired his education in the common schools. In the fall of 1856 he became a resident of Indiana, where he was employed as a farm hand until 1861. In that year the troubles between the north and the south culminated in civil war and his sympathy with the Union cause prompted his enlistment as a member of Company A., Twenty-first Indiana Infantry, with which he served until the fall of 1862, when he received an honorable discharge. The following year he re-enlisted and became first sergeant in Company C, of the Twelfth Indiana Cavalry. He was then at the front until after the star-spangled banner had been planted in the capital of the southern confederacy. Returning to his Indiana home he there remained until the month of December, when he went to Illinois and secured work as a farm hand, being employed in that capacity for two years. He was then married and began farming on his own account, upon rented land, remaining in Illinois until 1882, when he came to Kansas, taking up his abode in Osage township. He first purchased eighty acres and subsequently added to it another tract of eighty acres, so that to-day he owns a valuable quarter section.

On the 6th of October, 1867, occurred the marriage of Mr. Olmstead and Miss Mary Oviatte, a native of Summit county, Ohio. Unto them were born four children: Frank H., a book-keeper in Hot Springs, Arkansas; Hattie A., Fred E. and Vera. The elder daughter was born in Summit county, Ohio, and accompanied her parents to Iowa, there residing until twelve years of age when she came to Kansas. She acquired the greater part of her education here and spent one year as a student in Stanberry College, Stanberry, Missouri. At the age of eighteen she began teaching school and for twelve years she followed that profession in Kansas while for two years she was principal of the Withington schools at Hot Springs, Arkansas. She is also numbered among the popular teachers of Allen county. In June, 1900, she received the nomination on the fusion ticket for the office of county superintendent of schools and was elected by a majority of two hundred and eighty-two votes. The election was certainly a triumph for she overcame the usual Republican majority of six hundred and fifty. The Olmstead family is one of prominence in Allen county, its members enjoying the high regard of many friends. The career of our subject has been both commendable and gratifying, for along legitimate lines of business he has won success and at the same time has retained the confidence and good will of his fellow men by reason of his honorable methods.

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