GEORGE B OKESON
George B. Okeson is the owner of one of the fine farms of Walnut township, Brown county, Kansas. He was born in Juniata county, Pennsylvania, April 6, 1835, and is a son of Samuel and Susanna (Black) Okeson, who also were natives of the Keystone state. The father was a son of Nicholas A. Okeson, who came with his family from Norway and settled in Pennsylvania at an early day. When the colonies attempted to throw off the yoke of British oppression and gain their independence, he joined the American army and with patriotic ardor aided in the prosecution of the Revolution until the desired end was attained. When the war was over he located in Pennsylvania, where he spent his remaining days, devoting his time and attention to agricultural pursuits. He conducted a country tavern for many years and was well known throughout that section of the state. He obtained his supplies from Baltimore, hauling everything by team, as there were no canals or railroads. Both he and his wife were members of the Presbyterian church. The lady bore the maiden name of Alberta Zone and was born in Amsterdam, Holland. Crossing the Atlantic to America, she here became acquainted with Nicholas Okeson, who sought her hand in marriage. She belonged to a very prominent family in Amsterdam, her people owning valuable real estate, much of which was included within the corporate limits of the city. Nicholas Okeson and his wife became the parents of six children, namely: William; John; Mary, the wife of G. Black; Margaret, the wife of S. Black; Mrs. Sarah Ard and Samuel.
The last named was the father of our subject. He spent his entire life in the county of his nativity and cared for his parents through their declining years. He was a plain, unassuming farmer of sterling worth and enjoyed the confidence and respect of all who knew him. He married Susanna Black, a lady of Scotch descent and a daughter of Anthony Black, who was a very prominent fruit raiser and also cultivated mulberry trees and raised silk worms, which he fed on the leaves of those trees. Mrs. Samuel Okeson was one of five children: George, John, Mrs. Nancy Roddy, Susanna and Samuel. By her marriage she became the mother of three children, -- George B., Nicholas A. and Samuel E.: the two last mentioned are deceased. After the death of his first wife the father married Margaret A. Muccannon, by whom he had three children, -- Mary, Elizabeth C. and Alexander C.
Mr. Okeson, of this review, spent the first eighteen years of his life in the state of his nativity and then removed to White county, Indiana, where he remained for three years. In 1854 he removed to the Hoosier state and in 1857 he went to Illinois, but afterward returned to Indiana, where he was married and taught school through the winter. In the spring, however, he again went to Illinois and purchased a tract of unimproved prairie land in Livingston county, where he made a farm. In connection with its cultivation he also engaged in teaching through the winter season, but ultimately he sold his farm there and bought and improved another farm. Later he engaged in merchandising in Kansas, and at length he sold out and purchased the farm, upon which he has since resided. His fields are now well tilled, and in connection with the raising of grains best suited to this climate he also deals in stock, and in that branch of his business has been quite successful. His farm comprises two hundred and forty acres of fine land, which is not only highly cultivated, but has also been adorned by the erection of a commodious two-story frame residence, which is surrounded by a beautiful grove, and in the rear stands large barns and outbuildings. There is also a comfortable tenement house on the place, and the tenant cultivates the land, while Mr. Okeson is his partner in the stock business, having retired from farm work. The home is pleasantly located two miles and a half east of Fairview, and there Mr. and Mrs. Okeson are enjoying the fruits of their well-spent lives.
The lady was in her maidenhood Miss Emma A. Johnson. She was born in West Virginia, February 8, 1837, and is a daughter of Epps and Ann (Durton) Johnson, the former a native of Norfolk city, Virginia, the latter of West Virginia. Her father was left an orphan at an early age and was bound out to learn the carpenter's trade in Norfolk. Removing to West Virginia he was married there and there his children were born. In 1855 he removed to Indiana and located upon land near Wolcott, where he improved an excellent farm, making his home there until his death. He also worked at his trade as long as he was able. His wife was a daughter of Peter Durton, who followed farming near Barboursville, West Virginia. There he died and his wife also spent her last days on the old homestead in that locality. Mr. and Mrs. Durton were the parents of the following children: Philip; William; John; Martha, who became Mrs. Dundas; Betsey, the wife of J. Furgueson, who was a senator of West Virginia for fifteen years; Polly, who became Mrs. Plymouth, and Mrs. Ann Johnson The family was divided in religious faith, some of the members being Methodists and some Baptists. Mrs. Okeson was one of a family of eight children, namely: Amos, Emma V., James, Joseph, Peter, Henry, Mrs. Elizabeth Goodrich and Charles. Of this number, James and Joseph served in the war of the Rebellion, the latter being superintending bridge builder. Both returned home. The parents were members of the Baptist church and were people of the highest respectability.
Unto Mr. and Mrs. Okeson have been born four children: Anna E., wife of James Stewart; Jennie V., who became the wife of J. H. Vandolson and died leaving four children; Samuel, a farmer and stock raiser, and George, who died at the age of two years.
Mr. and Mrs. Okeson were formerly connected with the Presbyterian church, but are now members of the Congregational church. He was reared in the faith of the Whig party and continued one of its supporters until its dissolution, when he joined the ranks of the new Republican party. He has always been earnest in the advocacy of its principles and has done all in his power to promote its growth and insure its success. While in Illinois he filled the office of county supervisor, but has been very modest in his demands for political reward, in fact has ever preferred to devote his time and attention to his business interests, in which he has met with signal success. His life has been a very busy and useful one and his labors have been crowned with prosperity. He is now enjoying the fruits of his former toil, being enabled to put aside many of the more arduous cares of active business life.