CLARK M KENYON
The sturdy pioneers who brought from the east something of its civilization, transplanted it to the plains of Kansas and stayed by it and nurtured it and brought it into fructification, made for themselves a place of honor in the history of the west. Clark M. Kenyon came from a part of the country then but just advanced beyond the pioneer stage. He made his way to Kansas by methods most primitive and he took up there the pioneer life, under somewhat different circumstances, in the same spirit in which his grandfather had entered upon it amid the hills and forests of southwestern New York. Some account of his experiences and achievements is necessary to the completeness of this work.
Clark M. Kenyon was born July 5, 1828, in Allegany county, New York, a grandson of Augustus Kenyon who was born in Rhode Island, about 1770, and died in Allegany county, New York, about 1858. He was a man six feet and four inches in height, hardy and active to the end of his life, always industrious and thrifty and was prominent in the communities in which he lived. He was descended from English stock and some of the Kenyons, given to genealogical research, have established to their satisfaction that the head of their family was the celebrated Lord Kenyon, of England.
The children of Augustus Kenyon were: Benjamin; Lewis, a prominent lawyer of Dwight, Illinois; Mary; the father of Clark M. Kenyon; William; and Alanson. His sons all became useful men and exerted a good influence upon all communities with which they identified themselves. The father of the immediate subject of this sketch began life poor and without facilities for learning. He was crippled, having cut the muscles of both hands by an unfortunate fall on a scythe when a youth. He was largely self-educated by contact with the world and by judicious reading. He possessed a mind at once retentive and judicial and was recognized as a well-informed man of good judgment in the practical affairs of life. He succeeded well as a farmer and amassed a large fortune, considering his time and opportunities. He was regarded as one of the leading men of Allegany county, New York, and for many years was a member of the grand jury, which at that time was regarded as an honor. He married Lavina Maxon, a daughter of George Maxon, a Rhode Island man, and she bore him children named as follows in order of their nativity: Mrs. Hannah Satterly, a widow, of Richburg, Allegany county, New York; Eleanor, who married J. B. Koon, and is now deceased; Clark M.; John J., of Millport, Pennsylvania; Joanna, who married Schuyler Maxon, and is dead; Elvira, for thirty years a teacher in the Female Seminary of Plainfield, New Jersey; Lewis H., of Allegany county, New York; Oscar, who died from the effects of service in the army of the United States during the civil war; and Rosalia, wife of Charles Mix, who is prominent in connection with oil interests in Indiana.
Clark M. Kenyon gained a primary education in the common schools and attended Alfred Academy, at Alfred, Allegany county, New York, during one term. Thus equipped educationally for the battle for bread, he began active life for himself at twenty, at which age his father gave all his sons their time, working out by the month. Two years later he bought a farm, which he cultivated in season, devoting his winters to lumbering until 1868, when he decided to seek a home in the west.
Mr. Kenyon's journey from his native place in southwestern New York to Kansas was a memorable one and an event which affords an insight into his determined character. He made his way to the Ohio river by means of a flatboat, went by way of the Ohio and Mississippi to St. Louis, Missouri. From St. Louis he went by rail to Laclede, Missouri, and thence, with his baggage on his shoulder, he walked across the country in search of a satisfactory location and promising opportunities. His original intention was to stop in Missouri, but not finding such environments as he sought, he kept on westward through Fort Scott, lola, Wichita and into Marion county Kansas, where he "homesteaded" a place near Peabody and remained upon it until he acquired a title to it.
This place Mr. Kenyon thought was a little further west than he cared to remain, and he traded it in part payment for some Atchison county property, which was the nucleus of his present holdings there. His beginning as a farmer was very modest and not without its disadvantages. The grasshopper period worked havoc to him as well as to others, but rather than accept charity sent out from the east and distributed from Atchison he bought an army musket and killed and sold enough prairie chickens to support his household until he could do better.
Mr. Kenyon's growth toward financial independence was so steady and sure that the close of each year found him somewhat better off than he had been twelve months before. Before his retirement he controlled five hundred acres of land, and he possessed the energy and business capacity to handle it successfully. He is regarded as highly as any man in Center township and is one of the substantial farmers of the county. His political history does not call for many words in the telling nor for much time in the reading. He is a Republican in all that the name implies and it is a matter of interest that the Republican party was born in the old court house at Angelica, the seat of Justice of his native county. He favored the freedom of slaves, the reconstruction of the south, the payment of the national debt and the protection of home interests by an adequate tariff, and now advocates national expansion. He has often represented his fellow citizens as a delegate to party conventions, but has never wanted or accepted public office. He is a leading member of the Seventh-day Baptist church.
Mr. Kenyon married Martha A. Lamphear, a daughter of the late Dr. Ira Lamphear, formerly a prominent physician of Rensselaer county, New York, whose wife was a Miss Sanders. They have two sons, Frank W. and C. Grant Kenyon, prominent farmers of Center township, Atchison county.