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THE TILLER AND TOILER, 5 December 1929
Obituary of D. R. P. RODDY
Death of D. R. P. Roddy
The country’s Oldest Citizen, and
Pioneer, Died Sunday at the Age
Of Ninety Years

D. R. P. Roddy, 90 years old, the oldest resident of Pawnee county, and a pioneer of the county, died Sunday afternoon at 4 o’clock at the Larned hospital.

Several weeks ago Mr. Roddy suffered an attack of pneumonia, and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Mr. Roddy was able to survive the attack of pneumonia, but it left him in such a weakened condition at his advanced age that recovery was impossible.

Mr. Roddy was active until a few months ago, even transacting business affairs during last summer. Mr. Roddy had a long and versatile career in Kansas, as a farmer, railroad contractor and builder and land agent. He assisted in the construction of some of the railway lines by which the middle west is linked with the Rocky mountain and Pacific coast country.

As a Kansas homesteader he arrived in Pawnee county in March 1878. He had come with his wife and six children from Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pennsylvania. Some advertising matter which he had read on Western Kansas was one factor in making this move, and another influence was the intention of other Pennsylvanians to come west. Mr. Roddy made his first home on the west half of the northwest quarter of section 7, township 22, range 18, Pleasant Ridge township.

This was raw land, containing as its chief improvement a frame house of two rooms and a sod barn. For it he paid $8 an acre. The first year he planted a few acres to sod corn and harvested a fair corp. He continued farming the same ground, and after three years rented additional land.

Mr. Roddy had a ready resource at this hand when hard times came to the settlers of Western Kansas. While in Pennsylvania he had had some experience in railroad grading as foreman on the East Broadtop railroad. It was not difficult, therefore, for him to secure a position as general foreman of grading and construction on the Santa Fe, which then was in the course of construction. He became general foreman for the firm of F. A. Butler, and began work in Rice county, Kansas.

Later he was with the A. P. Railroad at Laguna, N. M., from which he rejoined the Santa Fe forces close to Ft. Cummings and from there to Deming, N. M., where he graded for side tracks and station. Following that he went to Olathe, Kansas, then between Las Vegas, N. M., at Raton, N. M., from Attica, Ks., to Kiowa, Ks., twenty-five miles of the line out of Kingman, and also some work at Saratoga.

He then became general foreman with J. B. Colt & Sons, contractors, and was engaged in construction work on the Missouri Pacific from McCracken to Pueblo. From railroad building he and his sons next turned to the construction of irrigation ditches and they contracted and built sixty miles of ditches at La Junta, Colo.

They built dikes along the Mississippi river in Arkansas and subsequently returned to railroading and did some work on the Orient railway in Kansas, and the line from Osage Junction, Kansas, to Cushing Okla. Mr. Roddy had many thrilling experiences with the tough and lawless element that infested Bad Man’s Land in Arkansas in the early days.

All the town and camps had their quota of horse thieves and gamblers, and honest men as well as rogues had to go about heavily armed. Mr. Roddy at times had the responsibility of superintending the work of 300 men and an equipment of sixty teams. With this long and varied experience as railroad builder, Mr. Roddy returned to Larned, where he engaged in the real estate business, handling western lands. He remained in this business to the end of his life.

Mr. Roddy was born at Shade Gap, Huntingdon county, Pa., February 27, 1839. His father was a railroad contractor before him and combined that business with farming. Mr. Roddy received a country school education.

While attending Millenwood Academy in Pennsylvania he first became acquainted with his wife. On leaving school he was a teacher in Pennsylvania until August 1862, when he enlisted at Harrisburg in Company I of the 149th Pennsylvania Infantry. This regiment was known as the Pennsylvania Bucktails, so called because each soldier wore a deer tail on his cap. After his enlistment Mr. Roddy did guard duty at Washington, D.C., and Belle Plains, Va., but on April 12, 1863, was discharged on account of disability due to illness.

His war service over he resumed teaching and also clerked in stores at Latrobe, Pa., and Hancock, Md., and from there returned to his native town of Shade Gap.

Mr. Roddy was married April 12, 1865, to Miss Martha E. Sipes. Politically Mr. Roddy was a Democrat, but never held or sought office. He and Mrs. Roddy, who died several years ago, were members of the Methodist church.

Of their children, Rachel died after her marriage to S. P. Kennison, of Larned, J. H. Roddy, the oldest son, died several years ago at Pueblo, Colo., where he was a member of the city detective force, William Roddy, of New York, is a theatrical advance man, and George S. Roddy, of Chicago, is associated with the outdoor Poster Advertising Co. Mrs. Steve Prather, a daughter, of Garfield, also survives him, as well as a sister, Mrs. Margaret Lynch, of Dodge City.

Mr. Roddy was a member of B. F. Larned Post No. 8, Grand Army of the Republic, and served as its chaplain for six years.

Funeral services were held yesterday afternoon at 2:30 o’clock at the Beckwith Mortuary, Rev. W. B. Summers, of Garfield, officiating. Interment was in the Larned cemetery.

Mr. Roddy is one of the last of the rugged pioneers who contributed so much to the development of Western Kansas. He was a man of many sterling qualities, a dependable friend, a good neighbor, and an exemplary citizen, and the work of his life is outstanding and permanent, in the winning of the west.

Transcribed and Contributed by Richard Schwartzkopf

Last Updated:  Thursday, November 24, 2005 20:37:14

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