Page 566-568, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


John Houser, of El Dorado, came to this county in 1870 and conducted one of the first blacksmith shops in Butler county. He was born in Germany in 1849, a son of Jacob H. and Elizabeth Houser, who were the parents of five children, two of whom are living: John, the subject of this sketch, and Jacob, Ann Harbor,[sic] Mich. John Houser was three years of age when his parents immigrated to America and settled in Ann Arbor, Mich., where the father died in 1858, and the mother departed this life in 1871.

John Houser came to Butler county in 1870, and located in the old town of Chelsea, where he opened a blacksmith shop. When he came here, he was without funds, but he was a reliable young man, and won the confidence of some of the early settlers with whom he became ac-


quainted, and with their financial support, he was enabled to engage in business. John M. Rayburn furnished him with a shop, a Mr. McQuarter furnished him with an old set of blacksmith tools, J. B. Parsons loaned him $7 in cash, and Mr. Findley, a grocer, stood good for the supplies which he needed and which were purchased at Emporia, and Mr. Findley also went to Emporia and hauled the supplies from there to Chelsea, free of charge. Chelsea, at that time, was quite a little settlement of perhaps twelve or fifteen buildings. Rollin Lakin was the manager of James McQuarter's store. Mr. Beale ran a dry goods and clothing store, and A. M. Farnum conducted a shoe shop. J. B. Shough was the hotel keeper, and Dr. Zimmerman ran the drug store. There was no saloon at first, but later this ever-present frontier industry was represented by Frost and Smith. They also sold groceries and did some gambling as a side line. Mr. Houser tells a story, of a green gawky tenderfoot who rode into the frontier village on a mule one day, and stood around watching some of the local talent who were engaged in a game of poker, and finally asked if they wouldn't let him play. He looked as though he had more money than knowledge of gambling, and was promptly dealt a hand, and bid pretty strong the first time, and the local boys laid down, but the tenderfoot in reality held a poorer hand, but his bluff worked. The next hand, he bid high again, and the fellows didn't propose to be bluffed again, and they stayed. The boy wasn't bluffing that time, but held the cards, and raked in the money, went out and got on his mule, and neither the boy, the mule, nor the money has been seen since, so far as the Chelsea gamblers know. Before the fellow left he called the fellows he had fleeced to the bar and asked the barkeeper if he had any "soft drinks, lemonade, or pop," as he thought they couldn't stand anything stronger.

Chelsea was on the old stage route from Cottonwood Falls which was later extended from Emporia to Winfield, and the fare was ten cents a mile. In the spring of 1870, Mr. House[sic] and another man started to walk from Emporia to El Dorado, but upon reaching the Cottonwood river, that stream was so high that they were unable to cross. However, they found lodging with a Quaker who lived near the river, and the next day they got a ride with some movers who were on their way to Chelsea.

Mr. Houser was engaged in blacksmithing for twenty years, at Chelsea. He then bought forty acres of land which he later sold, and bought 320 acres two and a half miles east of Chelsea. He moved his shop to that place, and for thirteen years carried on farming in connection with blacksmithing. He then sold that place and bought 200 acres, a mile south of Chelsea, which he sold in 1909, and removed to El Dorado, where he bought eight and a half acres adjoining the city limits on the northwest, where he has a fancy fruit farm, with several apple trees, peaches, cherries, blackberries, and he is also quite an alfalfa raiser.

Mr. Houser was married in 1881, to Miss Kate Estes, a native of


Kentucky, born in 1851. She is a daughter of Lewis and Katie (Wisdom) Estes. Mr. and Mrs. Houser have no children of their own, but they have reared two, Alice Zuell, who was an orphan, and Nettie Rogalskey. The former married W. J. Case and lives in Chelsea township, and Nettie married Chester Moon, and lives in Oakwood, Okla. Mr. and Mrs. Houser have a cosy home on their place near El Dorado, and are well fixed to enjoy the comforts of life.

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