Page 612-613, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


D. M. Elder, a prominent citizen of El Dorado and Civil war veteran, who settled in Butler county at an early date, is a native of Indiana. He was born in Green county, that State, May 9, 1844, and is a son of James and Elizabeth (McCurdy) Elder, natives of Ohio. Elizabeth McCurdy belonged to a prominent Ohio family, and was a daughter of Daniel McCurdy who was of Scotch-Irish descent. James Elder, the father of D. M., was born near Coshocton, Ohio, when that place was a mere Indian village. He was a son of John Elder, a native of County Antrim, Ireland, who settled in Ohio prior to the War of 1812, and during that war hauled supplies for the United States army to Upper Sandusky. In 1854, James Elder migrated from Indiana to Monroe county, Iowa, driving across the plains with horse teams and oxen and a prairie schooner. He took up government land in Iowa, and later became an extensive land owner and a very wealthy man for those times. He spent the remainder of his life in Iowa.

D. M. Elder was about ten years old when he went to Iowa with his parents and was one of a family of fifteen children. He grew to manhood in Iowa and during the Civil war enlisted in Company H, first Iowa cavalry in August, 1862. This regiment operated chiefly in Missouri and Arkansas, and fought guerillas and bushwhackers, frequently coming in contact with the notorious Bill Anderson, James and Younger brothers, and William Quantrill's gang. The style of fighting in that section was not governed by any humane military code, and frequently no quarter was shown. Later they participated in the Red River expedition and afterwards were transferred to the command of General Thomas and were given about the same kind of service in Mississippi and Tennessee as they had in Missouri—fighting bushwhackers. After the close of the Civil war, Mr. Elder went with his regiment to Mexico on account of the impending trouble with France in that country. He served under Generals Sheridan and Custer there and after that affair had been disposed of, he was discharged at Davenport, Iowa, having been mustered out of service at Austin, Tex.

After receiving his discharge, Mr. Elder returned to his Iowa home and attended a private school for a time, and later attended an academy at West Bedford, Ohio. He then entered Monmouth College, at Monmouth, Ill., where he took a two-year course and after taking a special course in science, he came to Kansas in 1870, and filed on a quarter section of land in Clifford township, Butler county. He bought and sold land extensively, after coming here, and at times owned over 3,000 acres of Butler county land. He was active in the early affairs of the county and interested in a number of industries. He operated a sawmill for a time and also manufactured extra good sorghum, and at the same time was interested in farming and the cattle business. He operated a stone quarry east of El Dorado, and this industry, alone, gave employment to from 50 to 100 men. In addition to his vast and varied private enterprises, Mr. Elder has taken an active interest in public affairs. In 1888,


he was elected to the Kansas legislature and was instrumental in getting many important bills through that body; among the more important ones might be mentioned the bill reducing the salaries of county officials, a bill providing for oil inspection, a bill establishing a home for army nurses and soldiers' widows, and above all, while a member of the legislature, he built up a reputation for honest legislation and clean politics. He served on a number of the important committees, and could always be relied upon to champion the cause of the people.

Mr. Elder was first married in 1874 to Miss Frances Josephine Wallace, a native of Indiana and a daughter of Thomas Wallace, a former merchant of Lawrenceburg, Ind. Two children were born to this marriage: Edith, married Bert Gorman and they now reside in California; and Alice, deceased. The wife and mother died in 1882, and in 1889 Mr. Elder married Sadie Josephine McFarland, a daughter of Andy McFarland, a Butler county pioneer. The following children have been born to this union; Ralph, a government forester in Oregon; Don, El Dorado, Kans.; Fay, a teacher at Mound Ridge, Kans.; Herbert M., a graduate of the El Dorado High School, El Dorado; and Atta Ray, a teacher in Hodgeman and Butler counties, Kansas.

Mr. Elder is a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security, the Grand Army of the Republic and the Methodist Episcopal church. He is a Republican, and since coming to Butler county has been prominent in the local councils of his party and has assisted with his influence, many successful candidates to county office. Mr. Elder has seen many changes in the settlement and development of southern Kansas since coming to Butler county. In 1870, he picketed a wild pony on what was then unbroken prairie, but that spot is now on one of the principal business streets of Wichita. He has always taken a keen interest and an active part in the welfare of his county and State, and supported every movement, the object of which has been for the upbuilding or betterment of the community.

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