HON RANSOM ABNER VAN WINKLE
Without question, the gentleman whose name heads this record is one of the best known and most honored of the founders of Atchison county, Kansas. He is one of the sterling pioneers, his arrival here dating back to 1855, ever since which year he has been active in the promotion of everything of benefit to this region. His accounts of the early days here and the experiences of himself and old associates when Kansas lay on the western frontier line are replete with interest, and, could they be presented in detail, would command the attention of everyone who takes pride in the growth and progress of this state during the past half-century. The Van Winkle family is of Knickerbocker stock of New Jersey and New York, and for generations it has been noted for patriotism and every good quality found in loyal citizens. The father of our subject was Micajah Van Winkle, a native of North Carolina. He was a son of Abraham Van Winkle, who was a brother of John Van Winkle, who served in the war of the Revolution. Michael Van Winkle and his son John took an active part in the battle of King's Mountain, under the command of Colonel Shelby. Micajah Van Winkle married Mary Phillips, a native of Culpeper county, Virginia, and a daughter of Cornelius Phillips, whose father was a wealthy planter. Ten children were born to the worthy couple, namely: Ransom A., Alfred P., Thomas J., Elizabeth, Theresa, Jesse, Rhoda Anne, Ephraim L., John S. and Mattie D. Their father by occupation was a farmer. He died in Jasper county, Iowa, at the age of seventy-seven. His wife died in the same county, aged seventy-four, in the same year. They were both members of the Methodist church and were beloved by a large circle of life-long friends.
The birth of Ransom A. Van Winkle occurred on November 25, 1818, in Wayne county, Kentucky, and in that state he resided until eighteen years of age, at which age he received an appointment from President Jackson as cadet to West Point, where he remained two years. Becoming greatly afflicted with rheumatism, he resigned his position there and went to the state of Illinois, where he resided about five years. In 1843 Mr. Van Winkle married, in Morgan county, Illinois, Louisa, daughter of Newton Cloud, who was a native of North Carolina. Mrs. Van Winkle died four months after her marriage. Mr. Van Winkle returned to Kentucky and remained a widower four years, when he was married to Mary S. Cravens, of Russell county, Kentucky, on November 10, 1847. She was a daughter of Dr. and Virginia B. (Smith) Cravens. Three children, girls, were born to them, but none of them survived their birth twenty-four hours. They adopted two boys, whom they raised to maturity. John Fielder is a citizen of Indiana and Charles Castelline is a citizen of St. Joseph, Missouri.
In 1849 R. A. Van Winkle moved to St. Joseph, Buchanan county, Missouri, in which county he resided six years, then came to Kansas, in 1855, but did not bring his family until two years later, 1857, since which time Arrington, Atchison county, Kansas, has been their permanent home. He acted as commissioner of this county nine years, was justice of the peace sixteen years and postmaster for fourteen years. In 1861 Mr. Van Winkle was honored by his friends electing him to the Kansas legislature, and served to the full satisfaction of his constituency during the stormy days of the early years of the civil war, from 1861 to 1863. Politically he has been identified with the Republican Party since its organization until the last four years. Fraternally he has been a notable figure in the Masonic order for about fifty years. He has assisted in the organization of three lodges of that order one in Missouri and two in Kansas. He is at present identified with the Muscotah Lodge, No. 116, F. & A. M.