From A Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 985
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902


   It is the enterprise and character of the citizens that ennobles and enriches the commonwealth.  From individual enterprise has sprung all the splendor and improvements of this great west.  The greatest business men have developed from the humblest origin, from clerkships have emerged those who have established extensive commercial concerns, and farm hands have become leading agriculturists of their communities.  America is a self-made country and those who have created it are self-made men.  It is certainly creditable that earnest and persistent effort, guided by sound judgment, can secure advancement, and it is this which draws to our shores so many representatives of foreign lands who have not the same opportunities in their own country.

   Mr Hunter is today one of the most prominent and representative agriculturists of Rice county, being proprietor of the Alfalfa stock farm.  He was born in Indiana county, Pennsylvania, August 6, 1856, and was reared in Jacksonville, that county, his parents being William R and Lydia (Lowrey) Hunter, both of whom were also natives of the Keystone state, where the father spent his entire life.  He was a son of Robert Hunter, an early settler of Pennsylvania and of English descent.  He followed the shoemaker’s trade in Jacksonville.  His children were John, James, William R, Robert, Mrs Betsey Ross, Martha, the wife of W Nesbit, Mrs Margaret Mitchell, Mrs Jeremiah Emerick and Mary, who died in 1900.  The parents were identified with the Methodist church.  William R Hunter, the father of our subject, was reared and spent his entire life in Jacksonville.  He followed shoemaking, that pursuit yielding him a living.  He was an active worker and served as an elder in the Presbyterian church, being highly respected by his fellow citizens.  His death occurred in March, 1858.  His widow then removed with her children to a farm, keeping the family together until her sons and daughters were grown.  When they left home she sold the farm and for a number of years resided in Jacksonville.  In 1880 she came to Kansas and found a good home with her son, William E, with whom she remained until her death, on the 6th of August, 1887.  She was a daughter of Daniel Lowrey, of Pennsylvania, who followed farming and was highly honored for his uprightness of character and his sterling worth.  His death occurred in Indiana county, of the Keystone state.  Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church and they reared a family of twelve children, namely:  Samuel, Robert, Hugh, Lewis, William, Jessie, Mary, Rachel, Lydia, Sarah, Nannie and Kizzie.  Unto Mr and Mrs Hunter were born four children:  Sylvester L, who for many years was a Methodist minister and belonged to the Northeastern Kansas Conference, but is now retired from preaching and resides on a farm; Nannie, the wife of D M McLester; Robert N, a resident farmer of Rice county; and William E.

   The last named was born in Jacksonville, Pennsylvania, and after the death of his father went with his mother to the farm, where he remained for a number of years.  Subsequently he accompanied her on her return to Jacksonville, and there he learned the shoemaker’s trade, which he followed at that place until nineteen years of age, when he came to the west, first locating in Lacon, Marshall county, Illinois.  There he was employed in a nursery for two years and in January, 1877, he came to Rice county, where he purchased a claim and registered a homestead.  He ultimately proved it and secured his title from the government, the deed being signed by Grover Cleveland, then president of the United States.  He yet resides upon this place, which he has transformed into a very valuable farm.  In 1880 he was married and began the struggle of life in earnest.  He paid a large interest upon his farm and some years had spare crops, yet by determined purpose, energy and perseverance he has been enabled to press steadily forward and his honest dealing and diligence have in the course of time brought to him a comfortable competence.  As his financial resources increased he added to his property and now owns two other farms in addition to the homeplace.  All of his land is improved and under a high state of cultivation.  He settled on an almost unbroken prairie when he came to the county, there being only a few families within five miles and three houses between him and Lyons.  He now has upon his place a commodious frame residence, large barns and outbuildings and a good orchard.  The home is pleasantly located six miles east of Lyons and supplies him with a comfortable living.  He carries on general farming and is engaged in the grading and raising of Short-horn cattle and Poland China hogs.  He finds for all his young steers a ready market owing to the excellent grade of stock which he produces.  His hogs are shipped as far as Oklahoma, and any stock which comes from the Alfalfa farm is sure to meet with ready disposal when placed upon sale.  He has exhibited hogs and cattle at the county fairs, where he has carried away many premiums.

   Mr Hunter has been twice married.  In 1880 he wedded Miss Effa McMurtrey, a native of Missouri, and a daughter of Rev William McMurtrey, a Baptist minister, who resided in Missouri during the war of the Rebellion and was in the service of both the Federal and Confederate soldiers by bearing information to them.  In 1879 he came to Rice county, where he purchased large tracts of land.  Later he sold these and removed to Barber county, where his death occurred, but his remains were interred in Rice county.  His children were:  Thomas; Wesley; Margaret, the wife of C Cain; Effa; Bernice, the wife of C Bissell; and Marvin, Harry and Frank, of Oklahoma.  By the first marriage of Mr Hunter he had three children, Homer, Pearl and Harry, all yet under the parental roof.  The wife and mother passed away August 13, 1886.  She was a devoted member of the Methodist church and her loss was mourned by all who knew her.  On the 26th of January, 1888, Mr Hunter was joined in wedlock to Miss Mary E Thompson, who was born in Pennsylvania, November 2, 1861, a daughter of William and Sarah (Hawk) Thompson, the former a native of Ireland and the latter of Pennsylvania.  Her father came to America when a lad and followed agricultural pursuits.  He died in the Keystone state.  This worthy couple were the parents of eight children, as follows:  Reid; Mary E, now Mrs Hunter; Jennie, the wife of W Watts; Maggie, who married L M Heny; James, who died at the age of twenty-four years; Edward; Frank; and Emma, the wife of L Hunter.  The parents hold membership in the United Presbyterian church.  The second marriage of Mr Hunter has been blessed with six children:  Lydia N, born December 1, 1888; Sarah I, born April 5, 1890; Reid T, born November 2, 1891; Hazel D, born August 5, 1893; Clark R, born November 13, 1896; and Ethel W, born November 28, 1898.

   Mr and Mrs Hunter hold membership in the Methodist church and take an active part in its work.  He has served as steward and as superintendent of the Sunday-school and is deeply interested in all that pertains to its progress and upbuilding.  As a citizen he is enterprising and public spirited, co-operating in every movement for the general good.  Politically he is a Republican Prohibitionist, voting independently at local elections supporting the men whom he thinks best calculated to fill the township and county offices.  For many years he has served on the township board, is now serving for the second term as township trustee, has been assessor for two years and was a member of the school board.  In all of these offices he has discharged his duties with marked promptness and fidelity.