Page 654-656, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


J. V. Leydig, a Butler county pioneer and prominent citizen of Clifford township, was born in Muskingum county, Ohio, October 24, 1859, and is a son of Joseph A. and Winnie A. (Shirer) Leydig. Joseph A. Leydig was born in Somerset county, Pennsylvania, January 25, 1834, and was a son of Jacob Leydig, also a native of that county, and of German descent. Jacob Leydig spent his life in Pennsylvania and was the father of ten children, of whom Joseph A. was the fifth in order of birth. Joseph A. Leydig grew to manhood in his native State, and learned the carpenter's trade. In 1858 he was married to Winnie A. Shirer and removed from Pennsylvania to Muskingum county, Ohio, where two children were born to them: J. V. Leydig and B. R. Leydig, of sketch of whom appears in this volume. When the Civil war broke out. Joseph A. Leydig, the father of these two boys, enlisted in July, 1862, in Company E, Ninety-seventh regiment, Ohio infantry, and served with his regiment, participating in a number of important battles and many engagements, and on November 30, 1864, he was killed in action at the battle of Franklin, Tenn.

On December 22, 1869, his widow married William M. Leydig, a cousin of her former husband, who was also a Civil war veteran, having


served in the Civil war in Company F, One Hundred and Forty-second regiment, Pennsylvania infantry, and was wounded at the battle of Missionary Ridge, and carried the bullet the remainder of his days, which eventually caused his death. He saw much hard service during the war. Winnie A. Shirer, the mother of J. V. Leydig, was a native of Ohio, and a daughter of Valentine and Ester (Gaumer) Shirer, natives of Pennsylvania. The Shirers are of Swiss descent, and the Gaumers came from Germany. The Shirers were prominent in the early day colonization of this country, and one of them had a grant from the English crown to establish a colony in Maryland, and later had a grant to found a colony in Pennsylvania.

In 1871, J. V. Leydig and his brother, B. R., came to Kansas with their step-father and mother. The family came by train as far as Topeka, where the father bought a team and a covered wagon and started in a southwesterly direction, finally locating on a claim which was the northeast quarter of section 18, in what is now Clifford township. Here the family began life in the wilds of Butler county. They first built a little, log cabin, 12x12 feet, about a quarter of a mile from the Whitewater river. Their nearest neighbor was H. H. Wilcox, who lived a mile north. Here Mrs. Leydig and her husband spent the remainder of their days.

When J. V. Leydig was a boy about fourteen years old he began to hustle for himself, and became a cowboy in the employ of H. H. Wilcox, who was an extensive cattleman, usually keeping a herd of from 1,000 to 1,500 head of cattle on the free range of the early days. Young Leydig received $15 per month. It was the custom to drive the cattle about 100 miles south into the Indian Territory during the grazing season. Indians were plentiful in that section of the country, and trouble with them eventually forced Wilcox to withdraw his cattle from the territory. Young Wilcox shot and killed two Osage Indians whom he caught stealing beef, which was a foolish act, as it was a matter of course that it was the nature of an Indian to steal anything that he needed, and this event proved quite a loss to Wilcox, as he had to move his cattle out of the country, as above stated. Mr. Leydig lived in the saddle as a cowboy about ten years, and has experienced all the various phases of the life of the early day cowboy on the plains.

In 1885 Mr. Leydig went to Scott county, Kansas, where he took a homestead, and after proving up on it, returned to Butler county in 1887. His step-father died July 9, 1886, and when Mr. Leydig returned to Butler county the following year he took charge of the home place, which he later bought of his mother, who made her home with him until her death, May 9, 1907. Since that time he has been engaged in farming and the stock business on the old home place, and has met with very satisfactory success. He bought a quarter section of land adjoining the old homestead, and now owns 320 acres of well improved and valuable land.


When the "Strip" was opened for settlement in Oklahoma, Mr. Leydig made the race for a homestead over the old stamping ground, where he had herded cattle in the early days, and was familiar with almost every foot of it, but when he got to the claim which he had picked he found a "sooner" who had been hiding in the brush for days, holding down the claim. In recent years Mr. Leydig has devoted himself to stock raising and feeding, which he has found to be very profitable.

Mr. Leydig was married in 1897 to Miss Grace Guinty, a daughter of Michael and Saphrona Guinty. See sketch of M. Guinty in this volume. To Mr. and Mrs. Leydig have been born two children: Lula and James Franklin.

Mr. Leydig is a Republican and for years has taken an active part in local politics. He has served as trustee of Clifford township for eight years, and has been a member of the school board continuously for the last thirty-four years. He is a substantial Butler county citizen, and belongs to one of the honored pioneer families of Clifford township.

Previous | Main Page | Biography Index | Next

Pages 654-656,