Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm. Scanned from a copy held by the State Library of Kansas.
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John O. Strain, the subject of this sketch, is a son of the late Judge Strain, who was one of the best known and most efficient jurists of Cloud county. Mr. Strain is the youngest of four brothers and was born in Monmonth, Illinois, in 1865. He came with his parents to Cloud county in 1871, and located in Concordia, where they lived until the death of his father, in January, 1880. His mother before her marriage, was Miss Nancy Y. Brown. After Judge Strain's demise she made her home with her son, the subject of this sketch, until her death, in February, 1896.

The eldest son, M.M., occupies a position in the hardware store of his brother, John O. George is a salesman for the Monarch Manufacturing Company, and resides in Chester, Nebraska. J.A., who bears his father's name, has made a clerical record of considerable prominence. He was one of the charter members of the Presbyterian church of Concordia, and until recently was engaged in missionary work in Ecuador, South America. On account of failing health and a desire to educate his children, he recently returned to the United States and accepted a position as bookkeeper with the A.J. Harni Hardware Company of Atchison.

Interior of John O. Strain's hardware store.

J.O. Strain was educated in the Concordia high school and lived on his father's farm near that city, until coming to Jamestown in 1884. March 1, 1888, he established a hardware and implement business in the latter named place, on a capital of one thousand five hundred dollars, and during the panic of 1893, practically lost everything he invested. About this time the strip was opened in the Indian Territory and many who owed him removed to that quarter and left their bills unsettled. He suffered financial losses but the business never completely collapsed; he managed to keep his head above the tide of misfortune and in 1896, began to prosper, increase and strengthen until he gained a solid footing once more.

In March of 1902, he formed a partnership with J.D. Hills, who, with his family, came from Carthage, Illinois, and became citizens of Jamestown. In February, 1903, the partnership was dissolved, Mr. Strain again assuming full control. His stock consists of shelf and heavy hardware, farm implements, wagons, buggies, pumps and machine oils. He operates a tin shop in connection, employing a competent workman and manufactures steel tanks. He is agent for the Acme, Champion and McCormick harvesting machinery; the Canton line of agricultural implements; the Mitchell, Bain, and Fish wagons; Canton, Rhodes and Carmine buggies; Fairbanks, Dandy and Woodmanse windmills. Their trade in the latter line averages from two to three car loads annually. In 1901, they sold fifty-five harvesting machines; their sales amounting to $60,000, and exceeded that number in 1902. Mr. Strain has been very successful in his sales of buggies the past year (1903), having sold about seventy-five vehicles.

In 1902 he bought the building and machinery of the Fitzgerald implement house, who retired from that business. He established a branch store in Norway, Republic county, and since opening a business there, the first of the present year (1903) his trade has fully justified the movement. Mr. Art Ledbetter, formerly with him in Jamestown, has the management of the Norway store.

The late W.S. Tipton worked for Mr. Strain in the capacity of tinner for fourteen years, dating back to the opening of his hardware house in Jamestown. Mr. Tipton was an old resident of Cloud county. He died in December 1902, and was buried in the cemetery of Highland church, Summit township, on Christmas day. The present tinner, Ed. Flannery, formerly of Beloit, was connected with the hardware house of W.T. Branch, of that city.

Mr. Strain was married April 8, 1891, to Miss Anna M. Wherry, of Smith Center, a daughter of D.G. Wherry, a Smith county farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Strain are the parents of three children: Elsie May, aged nine years; Helen, who was named for Helen Kellar, the blind girl, is aged seven, and John A., a bright and interesting boy, aged three. Mrs. Strain served as mayor one term, as mentioned elsewhere in the history pertaining to Jamestown. She taught school successfully for several years; one year in Republic county and was a member of the faculty of the Jamestown schools in 1890.

Mr. Strain is a Republican and takes an interest in political affairs. He has been a member of the council, of the school board and has held various township offices for several years. They are members, regular attendants and among the most active workers of the Presbyterian church. The Strains are all men of high moral standing, industrious, enterprising and contribute to every movement instigated for the best interests of their town or county. Mr. Strain and his family occupy a pleasant home and are among the best citizens of Jamestown.