Page 843-845, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


John Ellis, a prominent farmer and stock raiser of El Dorado, belongs to one of the real pioneer families of Butler county. The Ellis family was among the first who made a permanent settlement in this county. John Ellis was born in Waukegan, Lake county, Illinois, April 13, 1854, and is a son of Archibald and Ann (Tiernan) Ellis, both natives of Ireland, the former of Castlebar, County Mayo, and the latter of County Meade. They both came to America on the same sailing vessel and were married after reaching New York. They resided for a time in New Jersey and then came west, locating in Lake county, Illinois, and in 1859 came to Kansas. There were no railroads in Kansas at that time.

The Ellis family came from Illinois to Kansas by river route. Taking a boat at the Illinois river at LaSalle, Ill., they went down the Illinois and Mississippi rivers to the confluence of the Mississippi Missouri and then up the Missouri to Westport Landing, which is now Kansas City, Mo. They drove overland from there to Emporia and the


father and the oldest son, George, started out from that point to look for a location, leaving the mother and the younger children at Emporia. After finding a suitable location in Chelsea township, Butler county, on the Walnut river, they started back to Emporia for the other members of the family, and while crossing the Cottonwood river their team was drowned and they narrowly escaped the same fate themselves. They soon returned to Butler county and the father preempted the land which he had decided upon and that same quarter section is still owned by a member of the family.

The father engaged in the cattle business and was considered quite an extensive cattleman for those early days. He was successful in his business ventures, and at the time of his death owned about 1,600 acres of land. When a young man he was a candle and soap maker by trade but never worked at that after coming west. He was a man of an adventurous spirit, with unlimited courage and enterprise. In 1847, while his family remained in Illinois, he went to California, going by way of New York and the Isthmus of Panama. He returned to Illinois within two years and in 1849 made another trip to California. This was during the excitement following the discovery of gold there, and he remained about seven years that time, engaged in gold mining and met with some degree of success. Shortly after returning from the coast the second time, he came to Kansas with his family, as above stated.

When the Ellis family came to Butler county there was no town or settlement of any kind in the county. Leavenworth, about 200 miles distant, was the nearest trading point of any account and the father usually made about two trips a year there for supplies. Their nearest postoffice was Emporia, about eighty miles distant. Later Cottonwood Falls secured a postoffice, and finally one was established at Chelsea. For several years the nearest grist mill was at Emporia. Few of the early settlers now living in Butler county were here in time to see the buffalo roaming over the plains in this county, but Mr. Ellis, whose name introduces this sketch, has seen as many as 150 in a herd here, and deer were plentiful for several years after the buffalo disappeared.

Archibald Ellis, father of John Ellis, was not only successful in private life, but was prominent in the public affairs of the county during his life time. He was a Democrat and took an active part in politics. He served two terms as treasurer of Butler county and was a member of the board of county commissioners at the time of his death. He was a conspicuous figure in the early day county seat fight, as well as in other important matters of public interest. He died in 1879 and was survived by his wife for a number of years, who died in 1892. Archibald Ellis and wife were the parents of the following children: George, deceased; Mollie, married N. B. Coggshall, Chelsea township; Archie, deceased; John, the subject of this sketch; William, deceased; Lizzie, deceased; and Frank, deceased.

Although comparatively a young man, John Ellis remembers


having seen almost the beginning of Butler county. When he came here with his parents, there were few signs of civilization, no improvements and scarcely any inhabitants. One would get the impression from that statement that Butler county was new. It is new, but the astounding part of it is, that such marvellous development could take place within less than half a century; within the memory of a young man ,who is still active in the business affairs of the life of the county.

John Ellis attended one of the first schools in Butler county. It was a little log affair, located on George T. Donaldson's place in Chelsea township. The school house did double duty; something on the Gary plan that we hear of nowadays. In the summer time it was used for a school house and in the winter time, it posed as a corn crib. Mr. Ellis' first teacher was Margaret Vaught. Indians were plentiful but peaceful, usually going through on hunting trips; Indian scares were frequent but generally unfounded.

John Ellis engaged in farming for himself at the age of nineteen and he has increased his business gradually until he has become one of the extensive farmers and stock raisers of Butler county. His principal products are hay, cattle and horses. He operates about 1,750 acres of land in Chelsea and Sycamore townships, and for the last sixteen years has resided in El Dorado, where he has a modern home. He spends nearly every day on his farm, going to and from in his automobile. Mr. Ellis is interested in various commercial and industrial enterprises, in addition to his vast farming interests. He is vice president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank of El Dorado and vice president of the Telephone company. He has taken an active interest in political affairs and has served two terms as county commissioner of Butler county.

Mr. Ellis was united in marriage in September, 1886, with Miss Mary Hull, a native of Sangamon county, Illinois, and a daughter of John and Eliza (Blalock) Hull, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Illinois. The Hull family came to Kansas in 1869, settling in Wilson county, where the parents spent the remainder of their lives. Mr. and Mrs. Ellis have two children, Gladys, the wife of Homer Marshall, Chelsea township, and they have one child, Mary L.; and G. J. Ellis, attending the public schools at El Dorado.

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