Transcribed from History of Labette County, Kansas and its Representative Citizens, ed. & comp. by Hon. Nelson Case. Pub. by Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago, Ill. 1901

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J. M. Birt

J. M. BIRT, a highly esteemed citizen of Parsons, Kansas, who is practically retired from his occupation of farming, and is now serving as city marshal, is living in his fine residence at 2204 Johnson avenue. He is one of the pioneer settlers of this part of Kansas, and was born at Xenia, Greene county, Ohio, December 19, 1844. He is the youngest of seven children born to John and Elizabeth (Lambert) Birt.

John Birt, who was an Ohioan by birth, moved to Illinois in the spring of 1857, and by successful farming and speculation accumulated a fortune of $40,000. While visiting his son, J. M., in New Orleans, he dropped dead from heart disease, on January 26, 1865, having reached the age of sixty-five years. His widow survived him for many years, and passed to her reward, April 26, 1876, at the age of sixty-nine years. Their mortal remains rest in the cemetery at Perry, Illinois. Their children were as follows: Minerva (Hoy), who died aged forty-two years; Martha (Hampton), who died at the early age of thirty-six years; L. H., who recently died in Missouri, at the age of seventy-three years; A. L., who is a Union veteran of the Civil War, is a farmer in Ohio, where he still resides, at the age of seventy-one years; J. C., fifty-one years old, who is a retired farmer, of Carthage, Missouri; Mrs. Mary A. Hurley, of Nortonville, Kansas; and J. M., the subject of this biography.

J. M. Birt had limited educational advantages, which were supplemented by a careful home training. He remained at home and was occupied in cultivating his father's farm until August 9, 1862, when he enlisted in Company B, 99th Reg., Ill. Vol. Inf., and served as a private in the Department of the West, under Gen. R. S. P. Canby. The duration of his service was three years, lacking ten days, and he was mustered out of service at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1865. Returning from the war, his marriage with Sarah M. Moore, a daughter of J. Moore, of Ohio, was consummated, and he continued to conduct the family farm for several years, thereby making a home also for his widowed mother.

In 1869 Mr. Birt left Illinois to seek a new location in the West. He went first to Richardson county, Nebraska, where he rented a farm for one year. He then went to Atchison, Kansas, where he was also dissatisfied. He spent some time in Neosho county, and then came to Labette county, where he located permanently. He purchased 160 acres of fine farming land in Walton township, six miles from Parsons, for $4,200. He Iived upon that farm and engaged in agricultural pursuits for many years. He finally sold to great advantage, and afterward purchased another fine farm, which he leased to his son. March 5, 1893, Mr. Birt removed to Parsons to spend his declining years in retirement, and the enjoyment of the fruits of his labor. He was, however, appointed by Mayor Busby, on May 6, 1901, to the office of chief city marshal, the duties of which he is now discharging.

Mrs. Birt was born in Ohio in 1844. She is one of a family of 10 children, the most of whom died while young. One sister, Mrs. M. Gregory, also resides in Parsons. Their father, J. Moore, was a successful and highly respected business man and pioneer of Parsons. He was a native of Ohio, and located in September, 1869, in Labette county, where he engaged in farming. After the town of Parsons was laid out, he erected one of the first buildings on Johnson avenue, and opened a furniture store, with a capital of only 200. Subsequently, a partnership was formed, and the business continued to prosper under the firm name of Moore & Gregory, until January, 1898. The death of Mr. Moore then occurred, and the firm became Gregory & Son, who still do business at the old stand.

Mr. and Mrs. Birt have reared a family of five children. The eldest, C. H. Birt, married a Miss Traux, and leases his father's farm in Labette county; he has three children, Roy, Norma and Harry. W. J. Birt, the second son, is a switch engineer at Parsons, and has followed railroading since 1885; he has one daughter, Marie. Cora Estelle (Richart), the third child and eldest daughter, is the wife of a brakeman in the employ of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company. Emma J. (Daniels), the youngest daughter, resides at Osage City, Kansas, and has two daughters, Bertha and Gertrude. George M. Birt, the youngest son, is still at home with his parents.

In politics, Mr. Birt is a stanch Republican, solely upon his convictions, and takes a great interest in the leading questions of the day. He served several terms as trustee of the Labette County High School, and one term as alderman in the city council of Parsons. He also ranks high in fraternal circles, affiliating with G. A. R. Post No. 81, of which he is past commander and in which he has filled all other chairs. He is also a member of Lodge No. 117, A. F. & A. M., having been made a Mason at Chambersburg, Illinois, in 1873, while on a visit to his mother. Having been reared in the Baptist faith, Mr. Birt and family worship at the First Baptist church, of Parsons, of which Rev. J. T. Crawford is pastor. Mr. Birt is popular among his associates, and richly deserves the success which has crowned his efforts, as he started at the foot of the ladder, without capital, but with a strong determination to succeed. His portrait accompanies this sketch.