HON JOHN B HAMNER
The Hon. John Benton Hamner is one of the best known citizens of Atchison county, where he has resided almost forty-five years. In his early manhood he passed through the hardships and untold privations of the frontiersman and fully realizes what it means to locate in a wild, undeveloped region, to contend with the obstacles placed in the way of success by nature, who yields her undisputed sway most grudgingly and smiles only upon those of the utmost hardihood and bravery of spirit.
Mr. Hamner was fortunately endowed with a liberal supply of pluck and enterprise, as well as with a strong, rugged constitution, well calculated to withstand trials which fall to the pioneer's lot. His grandfather, James Hamner, who was a native of Kentucky, was one of the early settlers of that state, and his father, John Hamner, was one of the forerunners of civilization in Missouri. The grandfather served as a soldier in the war of 1812. The father of our subject was born and reared in Kentucky, there marrying Matilda Sprowl, a native of Tennessee. They moved to Indiana, where they lived for some time, and in 1845 located in Buchanan county, Missouri. Five years later they purchased a farm in the same county, the site of the now thriving city of St. Joseph. Subsequently they crossed the Missouri river and thenceforward were identified with the development of Atchison county. The father died in 1861 at Mann's Grove, Kansas, and is survived by his wife, who is seventy-eight years of age. Politically he was a Democrat and religiously both were members of the Methodist Episcopal church, South.
The brothers and sisters of our subject were named as follows: Mrs. Margaret Jane Howard; Thomas Franklin; Mrs. Sarah E. White., whose home is near Fort Scott, Indian territory; William B., of California; Mrs. Julia Ann Peebles, of Jefferson county, Kansas; Mrs. Nancy Catherine Walters, of Kansas City; and A. Lincoln, who was born on the day that President Lincoln first took the oath as chief executive of the United States.
The birth of John Benton Hamner took place near Columbus, Bartholomew county, Indiana, July 5, 1842, and was reared as a farmer's boy, early learning the lessons of industry which have been of paramount importance in his mature years. He was thirteen years old when, on the 5th of June, 1855, he came to Atchison county, which he has since looked upon as his home. As may be expected, his educational opportunities at that day were extremely meager, though for some time he attended a district school in Missouri and also for a few months after coming to Kansas. As every student of history knows, eastern Kansas was a battlefield of contending factions prior to and during the Civil war, and Mr. Hanmer distinctly remembers numerous occurrences fraught with intense danger and interest to friends or acquaintances of his in that stormy period. He was a witness of the placing of the Rev. Pardee Butler, a noted anti-slavery agitator, upon a frail raft which was launched upon the torrents of the Missouri river by a mob of people at Atchison.
In his young manhood Mr. Hamner traveled extensively throughout the west and made three trips across the plains. He visited Salt Lake City, Virginia City, Denver and other points when they were tiny mining camps, and on one occasion, June 10, 1863, he was with a train which was intercepted by a band of Indians near Denver. After a brave resistance on the part of the white men the latter made their escape, glad to save their lives, and the redskins were the richer by some twenty head of horses, eighteen mules and property valued at about five thousand dollars.
More than a score of years ago Mr. Hamner purchased his present homestead, the land then being wild. He has since reduced it to cultivation, planting twenty acres of it with orchards, while the remainder, one hundred and forty acres, is kept for the raising of crops and for pasture hand. Good improvements and farm buildings make this one of the best farms in Kapioma township. Industry and well-applied business principles have wrought out success for the proprietor, who is deservedly popular with all who know him.
His marriage took place in the Centennial year, his bride being Sarah Ann Hale, a native of Louisiana, Lawrence county, Kentucky. Her parents, Ira and Rebecca (Goodwin) Hale, were both also of the Blue Grass state. They came to Atchison county in 1854, took up a claim here and were among the first settlers of this county. He built a saw-mill, where was cut the lumber used in the construction of the first house erected on the site of Atchison. Mr. Hale died in El Dorado, Butler county, Kansas, in 1886, having survived his wife about twenty years, as her death took place September 3, 1866. She left six children to mourn her loss and three of the number have joined her in the better land. James E. Hale now resides in Neosho, Wilson county, Kansas, and Londilla is the wife of J. A. Hubbard, of Arrington, Kansas.
Of the eight children born to Mr. and Mrs. Hamner, one died in infancy. Walter, now living in Pueblo, Colorado, lost his wife, and their two children, Arthur and Mildred, are with their grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Hamner. The younger children of this worthy couple are named Wayne, Florence, Wallace, Mark, Belle and George.
Our subject and wife are members of the Methodist church and are sincere friends to the causes of religion and education. In 1889 Mr. Hamner was chosen by his fellow citizens to represent Kapioma township as a trustee, and also in 1890, and well did he meet the obligation thus imposed. He has ever been faithful to the interests of the majority, as he believes, and the respect of even his political opponents.