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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W. S. Hoke

W. S. HOKE, senior member of the firm of Hoke Brothers, a well known milling firm of Parsons, Kansas, is one of the most progressive business men and most extensive farmers in this section of the state. He moved to Labette county from Ohio as early as 1874, when he immediately engaged in milling. The business prospered and increased until 1882, when the firm of Hoke Brothers was formed, by M. Hoke and his two sons, W. S. and A. C. Hoke, who own and control a milling plant second to none in this section of Kansas.

M. Hoke is a native of Pennsylvania, and is now a retired resident of Parsons, still owning a small interest in the milling plant. He is a miller by trade, and has devoted the best efforts of his life to this vocation. His union with Katherine Culp, also a native of Pennsylvania, resulted in the birth of two sons and three daughters, namely: W. S., the subject, of this biography; A. C., the junior member of the firm; Anna (Wiggins), the widow of a railroad engineer, who has four children; Ella (Braunsdorf), wife of a commercial traveler; and Marian, who still resides at home, in the beautiful and substantial family residence in Parsons.

A. C. Hoke, the junior member of the firm, was born in 1866. He is married, and has built a handsome residence in Parsons. Like his brother, he learned the milling business from his father, and his assistance is invaluable in their numerous business enterprises.

W. S. Hoke was born in Franklin county, Pennsylvania, in October, 1857. He attended the common schools of his native state, and from early boyhood found employment in his father's mill. In time, under the supervision of his beloved parent, he became thoroughly familiar with every detail and branch of the milling business, to which his life has been devoted. He was united in marriage with Mollie E. Barnard, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. B. Barnard, of Illinois, both of whom are deceased. Mrs. Hoke has two brothers, C. B. Barnard, of Oklahoma; and W. N. Barnard, of Colorado, both successful business men. Mr. and Mrs. Hoke have a palatial residence in North Parsons, and are favorites in both social and religious circles. They are regular attendants at the Methodist Episcopal church. Fraternally, Mr. Hoke affiliates with the A. 0. U. W. organization, while Mrs. Hoke is an esteemed member of the Degree of Honor.

The firm of Hoke Brothers was formed in 1882, and has a capital stock of $30,000. Their large plant is located in the northern part of the city of Parsons, and covers about two acres of ground, - employing from ten to fifteen men. The present buildings were erected in 1873, and 1874. They consist of a flour mill, feed mill and warehouse and elevator, Later, the present fine office building was added. The plant is operated by steam, the power being furnished by a 60-horse-power engine and boiler. Soft-wheat flour in several grades is manufactured, - the finest being the Blue Ribbon, White Loaf, and Champion, - and a full line of feed stuffs is also turned out. The business has prospered and increased, until the local grain supply is inadequate for the present capacity of the mills, which have been proportionately enlarged, and a great amount of grain is purchased outside.

In addition to the workmen within the mills, a number of traveling salesmen are constantly employed, and the firm advertises largely. The products are sold all over Southern Kansas, besides a heavy local patronage. The firm of Hoke Brothers has extensive interests entirely separate from their milling business. They own large tracts of land in different parts of Labette county, - principally, in Liberty and Walton townships, - which they farm on a large scale. In addition to a large tract in North township, recently sold by them, they still own about 800 acres and lease about 1,000 acres, raising from ten to twenty thousand bushels of wheat annually. Several foremen and about 20 workmen perform all the manual labor required in raising this grain, which has netted the proprietors quite a neat sum during the past year, which has been an exceptionally good one for business. Stock is also raised extensively.

W. S. Hoke bears an excellent reputation for good, honest business methods, and prides himself on the general success which has attended his efforts. He entertains a pronounced belief in the principles of the Republican party, but has been kept too busy in attending to his milling business to accept any office.