Page 460-461, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


Harley I. French, the popular county superintendent of public instruction of Butler county, is one of the successful educators of the State. Mr. French was born in Franklin county, Ohio, January 19, 1874, and is a son of George D. and Melissa (Rickets) French, natives of Ohio, the former of Franklin county and the latter of Fairfield.

The French family was founded in America by Captain French, a native of France, who was a sea captain and settled in Virginia at an early date. He was the great-grandfather of Harley I. French and his son, Harley French's grandfather, migrated from Virginia to Ohio and was a pioneer of that State. Melissa Rickets, Mr. French's mother, was a granddaughter of Col. John C. Rickets, who was a colonel in the War of 1812. He was a civil engineer by profession and did considerable work for the Government. He surveyed across the continent. His son, Ira Rickets, the father of Melissa Rickets, was a civil engineer and also a lawyer, being a member of the bar of Fairfield county, Ohio.

Harley I. French was the only child born to his parents. He came to Butler county with his parents in 1891 and the father engaged in farming and stock raising in Hickory township where he died June 21, 1908. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal church and an exemplary citizen. His widow now resides in El Dorado.

Harley I. French attended the public schools in Madison township, Franklin county, Ohio, and later took a course in Reynoldsburg Union Academy, and was graduated from that institution in the class of 1890. He then entered the Ohio State University at Columbus, Ohio, remaining until his junior year, when he came west with his parents and reached El Dorado July 9, 1891. He attended the Normal Institute here that year and after receiving a teacher's certificate, taught for two years in the southeastern part of the county, at Plainview District No. 144. He then taught two years at District No. 130 and two years at Beaumont. He was then principal of the Latham schools for three years and held a similiar position at Severy for three years. He then served as principal of the Douglass schools for two years, when he accepted the principalship of the Howard schools at Howard, Kans., and after holding this position for six years he resigned to accept the principalship of the Leon schools. From Leon he went to Rosehill as principal of the schools, serving one year. He was then elected superintendent of public instruction. This was in 1912. In 1914 he was re-elected to succeed himself, and at that time received a majority of nearly 4,000 votes, which was the highest majority ever given a candidate in Butler county.

Mr. French is a progressive educator, and his methods and influence


are clearly apparent in Butler county by the progress which the schools have made under his administration. He is capable of devising and encouraging methods of maintaing[sic] interest in educational work. He possesses the rare capability of keeping both the teachers and pupils interested in their work. He has inaugurated the spelling contests in Butler county and has organized community welfare clubs. He keeps in close touch with the progress of the students of the public schools, and if a student fails, Mr. French investigates the cause and frequently is able to find an effectual remedy, and altogether, is one of the thoroughly capable and conscientious educators of the State.

Mr. French was united in marriage August 24, 1904, with Miss Cora Fuller, a native of Afton, Iowa, and a daughter of Henry Woodruff and Sarah Ann (Grandfield) Fuller, the former a native of Birkshire, Delaware county, Ohio, and the latter a native of Bristol, England. The Fuller family came to Kansas in 1877 and located in Reno county, and in 1879 removed to Greenwood county and now reside at Eureka. Mrs. French was educated in the rural schools of Greenwood county and graduated from the Southern Kansas Academy at Eureka in the class of 1894; and when a girl taught district school in the flint hills of Greenwood county for one term, and the following year entered Kansas University and was graduated in the class of 1899 with a degree of Bachelor of Arts. She then taught in the Eureka schools and after that, taught the sciences in the Parsons High School for three years prior to her marriage. To Mr. and Mrs. French have been born three children: Zelia J., Harriet M., and Lephia M.

Mrs. French is a member of the Women's Mutual Benefit Club of El Dorado and the W. C. T. U. and is assistant superintendent of schools of Butler county. Mr. and Mrs. French are members of the Methodist Episcopal church. Mr. French is prominent in organized educational work, and has been president of the Southern Kansas Teachers' Association. He is a capable man in the great field of educational work which he has chosen, and it can be truthfully said of him that he gives his work the best that is in him.

Previous | Main Page | Biography Index | Next

Pages 460-461,