Search billions of records on


Among those who came to Doniphan county at an early period in its development is Benjamin F. Heastan. now accounted one of the representative farmers of the community. During the civil War he loyally served his country with the boys in blue, and at all times has been equally faithful to his duties of citizenship, so that Doniphan county numbers him among its foremost men, and he is both prominent and popular in the community in which he resides.

His birth occurred in Harrison county, Ohio, October 8, 1841, and he belongs to one of the old pioneer families of that region. His grandfather, Joseph Heastan, emigrated from the Keystone state to Harrison county, where his death occurred in 1854, at the age of seventy-eight years. During the war of independence he joined the colonial troops and faithfully aided in the attempt to throw off the yoke of British tyranny until allegiance to the mother country was dissolved. Returning to civil life, he devoted his energies to farming.

The parents of our subject continued their residence in Harrison county, Ohio, until 1851, when they emigrated westward, taking up their residence in Holt county, Missouri. They visited Fort Leavenworth and the fort commandant, who was an old acquaintance, but continued to make their home in Holt county until 1857, when he came to Doniphan county. Here the father pre-empted the southwest quarter of section 15, Wolf River township, now owned by W. J. Ritenour, and at once began the improvement of his property, making his home thereon throughout his active business career. His last years, however, were spent in retirement in Leona, where be died in 1888, at the age of eighty-three years.

In the days of his early manhood he married Catherine Forney, a daughter of Peter Forney, who also was one of the Revolutionary heroes and served with a Pennsylvania regiment. Mrs. Heastan died July 11, 1865. By her marriage she became the mother of the following named: Mary, the wife of Emanuel Hurles, of Fairbury, Nebraska; Christine, the wife of John White, and a resident of King City, Missouri; John, who died in Richardson county, Nebraska; Elizabeth, the widow of John Miller, by whom she has two sons, Jacob and Peter, now living with our subject; Peter, who died in Holt county, Missouri, in 1855; Sallie, the wife of W. J. Ritenour; Jane, the wife of William Pry, of Severance; Benjamin F.; James, of Greenwood county, Kansas; Isaac, who died in Leona; and Jacob, of Fairbury, Nebraska.

Benjamin F. Heastan received but meager educational privileges, and the knowledge that he has acquired has been gained in the hard school of experience and through reading and observation. No state in the Union suffered more from the influence of slavery prior to the civil war than Kansas, and partisan feeling was very bitter. A man was either for or against the introduction of the institution in this state, and when the troubles precipitated the country into civil war Mr. Heastan responded to the call for troops and enlisted in Company A, Seventh Kansas Cavalry, under the command of Colonel Jamison. He was with the company when it took more than three times its number of bushwhackers near Little Blue and Kansas City, and captured their camp, coffee and flapjacks. He was with the foraging party of the regiment in the enemies' country when pursued by Confederate troops, and as capture meant sure death to any of the men of the Seventh Kansas Regiment every opportunity of escape was eagerly grasped by the men. On this occasion, while being chased by one of the men in gray, Mr. Heastan's horse fell over a log and the rider was bady injured, but in spite of this he regained the saddle and amid flying bullets made his escape without further wounds. The injury, however, unfitted him for further field duty, and before the expiration of his three-years term he was honorably discharged.

Upon returning to civil life the subject of this review located on Squaw creek, where he resumed his favorite occupation of farming. He now owns two hundred and nine acres of valuable land, constituting one of the most desirable farms in the locality. He also has a farm of a quarter-section in Thomas county, Kansas, where he resided for a short time in 1889.

On the 19th of May, 1863, Mr. Heastan wedded Sarah M., a daughter of Dr. George Archer, who came to Kansas at the outbreak of the civil war, driven hither from Texas county, Missouri, by the rebels. He was born in England, with his father crossed the Atlantic to Kentucky, and in his youth worked in the factories of Massachusetts. He afterward studied medicine in Jefferson county, Ohio, where be was married to a Miss Gardner. Their surviving children are Hester, now Mrs. Williams, of Doniphan county Mrs. Heastan; Samuel, a resident of Thomas county, Kansas; and John, of Sumner county, this state. By another marriage there were three children: Jane, now Mrs. Van Devener, of Syracuse, New York; Belle, the wife of George Kimbal, of Osawatomie, Kansas and Alice, now Mrs. Eylar, of New York city. The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Heastan has been blessed with the following children: Kate, the wife of Frank Craig; Mary, the wife of Wesley Dock; Annie, the wife of Henry Foust; Eliza, the wife of David Smith; Elizabeth, the wife of A. H. Laverentz, Jr.; and Sadie, the wife of Robert Denton.

The ancestors of our subject were Whigs in their political connection, and naturally Mr. Heastan became a Republican, which party he has always loyally supported. He was appointed by Governor Martin a member of the first board of county commissioners of Thomas county, Kansas, but political office has had little attraction for him and he prefers to devote his energies to his business affairs, in which he is meeting with creditable success. His rich land is divided into fields of convenient size, and these yield to him a golden tribute in return for the care and labor he bestows upon them. His work is therefore crowned with success, and he is accounted on of the leading and substantial agriculturists of his community.