H W HART
Few are the pioneer settlers of northeastern Kansas who are also numbered among the native sons of the state, yet Mr. Hart is one who may thus be classified. He is now successfully and extensively engaged in agricultural pursuits near Reserve, Brown county, and is a representative of one of the honored pioneer families of this locality. His birth occurred in the township which is still his home, on March 8, 1858. His parents were Thomas and Nancy J. (Gillespie) Hart. The former was born in Richland county, Ohio, February 24, 1823, and with his parents, William and Priscilla Hart, removed to Missouri, when eleven years of age. He became a prominent farmer and slave owner in Missouri. He was a tanner by trade and had followed that pursuit in Ohio. but after his removal to the west he carried on agricultural pursuits, raising the various cereals adapted to this climate, together with tobacco and stock. He was well and favorably known in Missouri and spent his last days in Andrew county, that state, where both he and his wife died. They were consistent members of the Missionary Baptist church. In their family were ten children: Lyman, who went to California at an early day and died on the Pacific coast; Harrison, a farmer; Eliza J., now Mrs. Vail Buskirk; Thomas, the father of our subject; John, an extensive farmer and stock-raiser of Missouri; Abner, who was accidentally killed in that state; Jackson, who was married in Missouri, but has reared his family in California, where he has become a wealthy man; William, who died in Oregon; Mrs. Margaret A. Wells; and Benjamin, a wealthy resident of Montana.
Thomas Hart accompanied his parents to Missouri when only eleven years of age and was reared to manhood in that state, remaining under the parental roof until his marriage. He then began farming on his own account and, in 1850, he crossed the plains to California, where he engaged in mining. He had been in that state but a short time, when he contracted mountain fever and was obliged to leave the mines. The following season he started home by way of the Isthmus route, landing at New Orleans, whence he made his way up the Mississippi river and across the country to his Missouri home. There he joined his family and resumed farming. In 1856 he came to Kansas and pre-empted one hundred and sixty acres of land in Brown county, where he began the struggle to establish a home and secure a competence in this new Eldorado. After a successful career of nearly forty years, he was called to his final rest, dying December 13, 1895. Like most of the pioneers, he came to Kansas empty-handed, but by determined purpose and unflagging industry and with the assistance of his good wife, he steadily worked his way upward to affluence. Acquiring a handsome property, he was enabled to leave homes for all his children. His pioneer cabin was visited by all the wayfarers who came to this section of the county. His wife was always equal to the occasion and often entertained over night from eight to twelve travelers in their little house of one room. At the time of their arrival in Brown county, there were but few permanent settlers and those lived along the creeks, the high prairies being yet unclaimed. Ten miles to the eastward of the little home there was not a single house and mail and supplies were obtained at Iowa Point, to which Mr. Hart would make trips with his ox team. The neighbors would take turns in doing the marketing for all those who lived in their vicinity, each one making the purchases for all the others. The reservation of the Sac and Fox Indians was not far distant and many of the red men visited the pioneer homes, but manifested a friendly manner. As the years passel Mr. Hart placed more and more of his land under cultivation and became quite well known as an extensive stock-raiser, his business interests along that line being very large. As opportunities offered, he made judicious investments in property and at one time owned one thousand acres included within his homestead and adjacent farms. He also had a half-section of land in Nemaha county. He placed his home farm under a high state of cultivation and made it one of the best country seats in the neighborhood. A broad-minded and intelligent man, he was recognized as one of the leaders among the pioneer settlers and his advice was often sought, his opinion being regarded as final. His honor and integrity were above reproach and he commanded universal respect. Both he and his wife were members of the Christian church and he was a member of the Masonic fraternity, while in politics he was identified with the Democratic party.
Thomas Hart married Miss Nancy J. Gillespie, an intelligent lady who was born in Kentucky, October 2, 1827, and represented one of the honored early families of that state. Her parents, William and Mary (Gentry) Gillespie, were both natives of Virginia and became pioneer farmers of Kentucky, where the father conducted a farm and hotel, three miles from Richmond. He operated his land with the aid of negro slaves and was a prominent and influential planter of his community. He and his wife were consistent members of the Presbyterian church and in that faith he died in 1837. His brothers and sisters were Susan; Mary; Lewis, who was an extensive farmer and slave owner of Kentucky; and Washington, who located in Illinois. After the death of the father, the mother married Robert Boggs and removed to Missouri, where they both died. They had one son, Robert, who was born in Kentucky. The children of Wilson and Mary (Gentry) Gillespie were James; Elizabeth, wife of E. R. Cornelison; Nancy J., mother of our subject; Sally A., who became Mrs. Coffman; Henry; Jefferson; and Mary, wife of J. McKinney. The children of the Hart family are William, a prominent farmer of Brown county; Thomas J., a miller and stockdealer; Mary J., wife of R. Stewart; Jackson, of Brown county; Harvey, a farmer; Sarah E., wife of J. Davis; and Perry, who is a liveryman and farmer of Reserve.
H. W. Hart was one of the first children of his family born in Kansas and here he has since remained, his present home being near his birthplace. He was reared to farm pursuits and in the common schools obtained his preliminary education, which was supplemented by a course in the commercial college at St. Joseph, Missouri. He assisted his father in the care of the home farm and the stock until twenty-seven years of age, when he was married and took up his abode upon the farm where he yet resides. He had purchased here one hundred and twenty acres of land and upon the farm he has since made substantial improvements, while the boundaries of his place he has extended by additional purchases until he now owns four hundred acres, all under a high state of cultivation. He has erected thereon a commodious, two-story frame residence, supplied with all modern conveniences. There is a good orchard, a large barn and outbuildings and all modern accessories. He carries on general farming and stock-raising, buying, feeding and shipping cattle and hogs. He has been very successful in carrying forward the work inaugurated by his father and is to-day numbered among the prosperous residents of his community.
In 1884 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Hart and Miss Martha E. Copeland, who was born in Buchanan county, Missouri, July 24, 1863. Her father, M. Copeland, removed from North Carolina to Missouri at an early day and there married Susan, a daughter of M. Miller, of Missouri. He carried on farming in that state until 1869, when he came to Kansas, locating in Irving township, Brown county, where he purchased a tract of raw land, on which not a furrow had been turned or an improvement made. With characteristic energy, he began its development and also began feeding stock, meeting with a fair degree of success in his undertakings. He was a leading member of the Methodist Episcopal church, one of its leading workers and was instrumental in organizing the Methodist church at Mount Pleasant, where he served as class leader for many years. He did all in his power to promote the growth and influence of the church and is a broad-minded man of many virtues, having great charity for all of God's creatures. His standard of morality and integrity is very high. In 1893 he retired from the farm and removed to Hiawatha, where he is now enjoying the fruits of a well-spent life. His first wife died in Missouri in 1869, and soon afterward he married again, his second wife being still his companion in life's journey. The children of the first marriage are Mrs. Eliza Howard; David, who engaged in the commission business in Kansas City, but returned to his home, where he died soon afterward; Mrs. Celia Mathers; Mrs. Callie Burlin; Eli, a farmer; Edward, who is engaged in the commission business in Kansas City; Mrs. Hart; Mrs. Elizabeth Lewis; and Mrs. Lou Cassell. The parents were both members of the Methodist church. By the second marriage there were four children: Joseph, who is operating the homestead farm; Mrs. Nellie Parker; Leonard, a farmer; and Edna, at home.
Two children grace the union of our subject and his wife, Lucretia W., born August 24, 1885, and Regina E., born January 24, 1893. The parents are devoted members of the Christian church. Mr. Hart belongs to the Masonic lodge of Hiawatha and the Modern Woodmen camp of Reserve. He is a stockholder and director in the Fair Association of Brown county. In politics he is a Democrat and has filled the office of township clerk for two terms, but neither seeks nor desires political preferment. In his church he has served as deacon for fifteen years and, as indicated in the foregoing record of his life, he takes a deep interest in everything calculated to benefit the community along social, moral, material and intellectual lines.