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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Edward L. Skelton

EDWARD L. SKELTON, an extensive real estate owner of Parsons, Labette county, Kansas, established, built, and still owns the Parsons Foundry & Novelty Works, though he does not operate them, and is proprietor of a general repair shop for guns, bicycles, etc., on Forest avenue. Mr. Skelton was born at Lockport, Will county, Illinois, March 3, 1854, and is a son of George and Elizabeth (Pitch) Skelton, both of English nativity.

George Skelton was born in Lincolnshire, England, March 15, 1833. He came to America in 1852, sailing from Hull, having previously married the mother of Elizabeth Pitch, who was also born in Lincolnshire, April 9, 1833. Upon their arrival in the United States, they located in Lockport, Illinois, where they lived for about ten years. In 1862, they removed into another county, but still continued to reside in Illinois until 1869, when the father and Edward L. moved farther west, and located in Labette county, Kansas. October 30th of the same year, the elder Mr. Skelton purchased from Mr. Axton a claim in North township, in sections 26, 31 and 30, township 31, range 20. They brought with them six horses, and in the winter of 1869 and 1870 the son remained on the claim and "bached," while the father returned for the rest of the family. In the spring of 1870, the subject hereof met them at Fort Scott, Kansas, and they proceeded overland to their future home having traveled by rail as far as Girard, Kansas. George Skelton died in the fall of 1886, but his widow is still living. She resides in Newburg, Oregon, on a fruit farm. Six children are still living, namely: Edward L.; George P., now of Pendleton, Oregon, but formerly postmaster of Pilot Rock; Mary (Alexander), of Parsons; John, owner of a cattle ranch in Oregon; Anna (McIntosh), a resident of North township, whose daughter, Rose, is now deceased; and Charles, a farmer residing with his mother in Oregon.

In December, 1880, Mr. Skelton was united in marriage with Artie M. Story, a daughter of Joseph Story, one of the pioneer settlers of Kansas. Six children blessed this union, three of whom are deceased. Those still living are: Eva May, a graduate of the Parsons High School; and Nellie and Lena, both of whom are students.

Edward L. Skelton attended the common schools of Illinois, and of Labette county, Kansas. He was one of the first pupils to attend school in Franklin District, No, 55, North township, where his father helped to erect the first school building, which was made of black walnut boards. When Mr. Skelton reached his majority, he purchased land in sections 37, 21 and 20. He killed his first deer near Lenn Steele's sawmill on the forks of Labette creek. At that time Martin Davis was his nearest neighbor. Long before the town of Parsons was laid out, Mr. Skelton and Charles Anderson, with two mules, broke the first sod upon the site of that city, on the same ground where the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway shops are now located. Mr. Skelton also helped, rip-rap the pond back of the shops, then purchased his claim and paid for it in three years. Quite recently he exchanged this farm for city property. He was a member of the Settlers' Protective Association. Removing to Parsons in the early "seventies," he soon after commenced work for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway Company, and assisted in placing and installing machinery. Later, he did similar work in Denison, Texas, and spent one winter on the transfer gang.

Returning to Parsons he opened a gun shop over Lenn Steele's blacksmith shop, having learned the trade with a Mr. Platt. He subsequently returned for a brief time to service on the railroad. In 1879, he established and built the Parsons Foundry & Novelty Works, which be operated in a very successful manner for eleven years, using at first a threshing machine engine for motive power. This plant is located on the corner of Grand avenue and Twenty-first street, on lots 18 and 19, block 51. The main building is 30 by 60 feet, in dimensions, and is a two-story brick structure. The foundry proper, is a frame building, and has the same dimensions, while an additional shed has been erected, 30 by 60 feet in size. The blacksmith shop in the rear has dimensions of 14 by 60 feet. In this factory novelties and architectural work were manufactured from the founding of the plant. At a later period, more attention was given to the machine department and Mr. Skelton engaged to do the machine work for the Parsons & Pacific Railway at Parsons. Thus from a small beginning, the plant was gradually enlarged to its present dimensions, and from 12 to 14 experienced workmen are now required to fill all orders. Of late years, the plant has been leased to Mr. Edgar, as the business was too confining, and the health of Mr. Skelton was somewhat impaired.

After recuperating for about two years, Mr. Skelton engaged in real estate dealing, and has built up quite a little business in that line. While operating the foundry, his business had been so successful that he was enabled to build nine different houses. He was one of the men who believed in the advancement of Parsons, and at the present writing owns and rents a large number of houses in the city, having speculated in real estate quite advantageously.

Mr. Skelton was not satisfied, however, except when working at his chosen calling, and after dealing in real estate a couple of years, he opened a repair shop in 1899, for guns, bicycles, etc., at No. 1808 Forest avenue. This he conducts at the present time, employing two competent workmen as assistants. In his political views, Mr. Skelton has always been a Republican. He has served as councilman from the Third Ward, for four years. He affiliates with the I. 0. 0. F. and K. of P. lodges, - having filled all the chairs of both. He has attended the sessions of the grand lodge of the former on three different occasions. Mrs. Skelton is a member of the auxiliary lodges of both organizations. Mr. Skelton is also a member of the Modern Woodmen of America. He has been a member of the Parsons fire department for many years, and at the present time is assistant chief. The family favor the Christian church, and are among the most prosperous and prominent citizens of Parsons.