Page 645-647, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


R. J. Ratts, now deceased, was an early settler in Fairview township, and one of Butler county's honored citizens. He came to Kansas in the fall of 1876, and for a time worked rented land on section 12, Fairview township. In the spring of 1880, he and his family went to Barton county, where they homesteaded a claim of government land. They remained there three years. Their crops were repeatedly destroyed by drouths, hot winds, hail storms, and they finally concluded to return to Butler county. In 1883, they sold their claim for $400 and, later, disposed of a timber claim on Rattlesnake creek in that county, for practically nothing. Upon returning to Butler county, they bought the northeast quarter of section 14, Fairview township.


This place was practically unimproved, with the exception of a one-room shack, and a few acres of prairie had been broken. Mr. Ratts immediately began improving his place, and built a residence and other farm buildings, and among the first things he did was to set out a large apple orchard of about forty acres, and some peach trees. While the orchard was very productive under the capable and careful care of Mr. Ratts, it did not prove a very profitable proposition. It seems that apple buyers endeavor to take every advantage of the producer, and through a process of culling they swat the profits of the producer. During one season, several hundred bushels were culled from Mr. Ratts's apple production, and he found it more profitable to feed his apples to the hogs than to sell them. During the winter of 1901 and 1902, he wintered thirty head of hogs exclusively on apples, there being no other feed raised that season, on account of the drouth. Farming and stock raising were found to be profitable pursuits, and Mr. Ratts was very successful in his undertaking and made money in the stock business. In 1910, he bought an additional eighty acres, and at the time of his death owned 240 acres which is now owned by the family.

R. J. Ratts was born December 16, 1847, in Washington county, Indiana. His father, Thomas Ratts, was also a native of Indiana, and a son of Rinehart J. Ratts, who came to Indiana from Pennsylvania, and was of German descent. R. J. Ratts grew to manhood in Indiana, and when a young man, went to Edgar county, Illinois, where he had relatives. He was a vocal music teacher in early life. While in Illinois, he met and married Mary E. Coffman, a native of Edgar county, born December 9, 1847. She is a daughter of William and Lydia (Ecre) Coffman, natives of Virginia. The Coffman family came to Illinois shortly after the Black Hawk war, and the father took up government land there, in the heavily timbered country, and built a log house, which was later replaced by one of the fine residences of that county, and he and his wife spent their lives there. They were industrious and frugal people, and became well to do for their time. They were the parents of twelve children, of whom Mrs. Ratts was the eighth in order of birth.

Mr. and Mrs. R. J. Ratts began their married life in Edgar county, Illinois, where they bought a small farm, and in 1876, came to Kansas, as above stated. To Mr. and Mrs. Ratts were born the following children: Ada, married F. W. Gates, Los Angeles, Cal.; Shirley N., Reno county, Kansas; O. E., Fairview township; Flossie, married F. B. Lawhon, Arnett, Okla.

R. J. Ratts was a good citizen and a kind and devoted husband and father. He was deeply religious, and a faithful member of the Baptist church, and was a bible class teacher for a number of years. He was a prohibitionist in theory and practice, and an ardent supporter of the cause of prohibition. At one time he was a candidate for sheriff of Butler county on the prohibition ticket and received very satisfactory support. He died March 2, 1914, and his loss was not only felt in his own


home, but in the church, and in the community at large. Both he and his faithful wife are entitled to much credit for the part which they have taken in the development of this county. They came here and cast their lot with Butler county when, at times, the future looked unpromising, but they were of the type of people, who had a purpose and that was to make a home for themselves and future generations, and by persistence and enduring hardships, they finally won, and today Butler county is filled with prosperity and its future is not an etherial hope, but a substantial and well founded promise of plenty.

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