From A Biographical History of Central Kansas, Vol. II, p. 1333
published by The Lewis Publishing Co, Chicago & New York, 1902


   In pioneer days in the history of Rice county William H Rife became a resident of central Kansas, and his interests have since been identified with this portion of the state and he labored earnestly in promoting public progress along substantial lines of improvement.  He was born in Ohio, August 1, 1849, and was reared on a farm, acquiring a limited common-school education.  His parents were Joseph H and Elizabeth (Mott) Rife, who were born, reared and married in Ohio, whence they came to Iowa in 1851.  The paternal grandparents, however, were of German descent.  The father of our subject became a pioneer in Clarke county, Iowa, where he entered land and improved a farm, remaining there until 1862, when he enlisted in the Sixth Iowa Infantry as a defender of the Union.  The regiment was assigned to the Army of the Tennessee, with General Sherman in command.  Owing to the exposure and hardships of war Mr Rife contracted a fever, and was placed in a hospital at Lagrange, Tennessee, where he died and his remains were there interred.  He was a plain, honest farmer, never aspiring to public office or notoriety, yet living a life in harmony with the principles and teachings of the Christian church, of which he was a worthy member.  He gave his life upon the altar of his country and left to his family the record of brave military service and of an untarnished career.  His widow afterward married William Mouck, a retired farmer, who has put aside the active cares of business life and now resides in Fairfield, Iowa, where he and his wife are enjoying the fruits of well spent lives.  Her grandfather Mott was a Revolutionary soldier, who served throughout the war that brought independence to the nation.  He was twice married and reared a family of twenty-nine children, and lived to the age of one hundred and four years.  Unto Mr and Mrs Joseph H Rife were born eight children:  James C, who served by his fatherís side in the war of the Rebellion, and at its close returned safely to his home, being now a resident of Wisconsin; William H, of this review; Jane, the wife of L Decker; George W, who is living in Nebraska; Frank, who makes his home in Iowa; Joseph H, also a resident of Nebraska; Mrs Calista Pritchett, of Iowa; and J W of Nebraska.  The mother has long been a devoted member of the Christian church, and upon the minds of her children she early impressed the lessons of industry and honesty, thus fitting them for the practical duties of life.

   The subject of this review was less than two years of age when he came with his parents to Iowa, where he was reared to manhood.  During the war of the Rebellion he was his motherís main assistant in carrying on the farm.  At the age of seventeen he began earning his own livelihood, being employed as a farm hand in Iowa, and when nineteen years of age he went to Missouri, where he worked in that capacity for one year.  During the second year he cultivated a rented farm, and in 1870 he came to Kansas, locating in Rice county, where he filed a claim to a quarter-section of land southwest of Lyons.  Mr Rife owned that property until 1873, and upon built a sod house and stable and broke and cultivated some of the prairie.  He then sold the farm and removed to Mitchell township, where he secured a homestead claim, upon which he has made excellent improvements, and it is still his place of residence.  He hauled the lumber from Sterling in order to erect his first frame residence.  With characteristic energy he began improving his farm which  has become a valuable property, equipped with all the modern accessories and conveniences.  He lived in the county at an early day when the hunters had ample opportunity to indulge his love for the sport for many kinds of game could be secured in central Kansas.  Mr Rife at one time killed two buffaloes at a single shot, - a remarkable occurrence, such a feat being accomplished by but few men.  Some stray bands of Indians roamed over the country on hunting expeditions.  They were mostly of the Kaw tribe and always manifested a friendly spirit toward the white settlers.  As the years passed, however, the incoming tide of civilization changed all these conditions and the land has now been divided into farms which are highly cultivated and yield a good return to the individual owners.  In addition of the cultivation of the fields, Mr Rife has engaged in the raising of stock, thus following diversified farming.  He has won success by hard work and honorable dealing, and has added to his property until he now owns eight hundred acres of fine land all under a good state of cultivation.  His home farm is well improved with a two-story frame residence, large barn and outbuildings and many other modern conveniences, together with a good orchard and fine grove.  All this renders his place very attractive and has largely increased its value.  The Rife home is pleasantly situated one mile east of Mitchell and thus the advantages of town life are easily secured.

   In 1872 Mr Rife was joined in wedlock to Miss Matilda J Connor, who was born in Iowa, February 26, 1850, and is a lady of culture and intelligence.  Her father was Judge W B Connor, a distinguished citizen of Rice county.  Their union has been blessed with eleven children, namely:  Berton L, born August 17, 1873; Denva A, born August 5, 1874; Asby, who was born January 7, 1876, and is the wife of P P Martina; Mary G, born April 10, 1879; Ruth, born May 10, 1880; Lydia, born February 17, 1882; Carl P, born April 8, 1883; Martha A, born April 2, 1885; William M, born July 24, 1888; Joseph B, born September 24, 1891; and Harvey H, whose birth occurred March 15, 1894.  All of the children are yet living, - a remarkable record.  The parents are devoted members of the Methodist church, at Mitchell, and Mr Rife has served as trustee, steward and treasurer of the church.  He is now a member of the board of trustees, is superintendent of the Sunday-school and is a leading and influential member of the organization.  He also belongs to the Alliance Aid Society.  In manner he is pleasant and genial and is popular with a large circle of friends.  He belongs to the Reform party politically, and has been called upon to serve in several local offices.  Although he has undergone the hardships and trials of pioneer life here, he is now in comfortable circumstances, having won a competence through honest and indefatigable purpose.