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JESSE FLETCHER JPG

The president of the Powhattan Bank, Mr. Fletcher is now prominently identified with financial interests in his section of Brown county, and for many years has been an active factor in agricultural circles. Faithfulness to duty and strict adherence to a fixed purpose in life will do more to advance a man's interests than wealth or adventitious circumstances. The successful men of the day are they who have planned their own advancement and have accomplished it in spite of many obstacles and with a certainty that could have been attained only through their own efforts. This class of men has a worthy representative in Mr. Fletcher, who began life and unfavoring circumstances on a Virginia farm but has attained a position of distinction in connection with the business affairs of northeastern Kansas. He was born in Lee county, Virginia, December 28, 1835, his parents being John G. and Mary (Randolph) Fletcher, both of whom were also natives of the Old Dominion, in which state they were married. At an early day, about 1830, the Fletcher and Randolph families removed to Illinois, locating near Springfield, where the Randolphs remained, but the Fletchers afterward returned to Virginia. But little is known concerning the history of the Randolph family, other than the Illinois branch. Mrs. Fletcher had two sisters who remained in Virginia, Mrs. Lovey Muncey and Mrs. Sarah Fitts.

The Fletchers were of Scotch-Irish descent. John G. Fletcher was a carpenter and stone mason and possessed much natural mechanical ability, but chose to make farming his life work. He did not favor slavery, but through kindness he purchased and cared for one slave. He carried on general farming and stock raising and also did some work along mechanical lines. In politics he was a stanch Democrat and his religious connection was with the Missionary Baptist church, of which he was a heading member and deacon, He enjoyed the unqualified confidence and respect of his fellow men, his life being ever upright and honorable. He died about 1878, at the age of eighty-four years, and his wife, after remaining upon the old homestead for several years thereafter, went to make her home with a daughter. There she died about 1891, at a very advanced age.

The children of John G. and Mary (Randolph) Fletcher are:Mrs. Betsey Wolfenbarger; David, a resident of Kentucky; George, of Texas; Patsey, wife of J. Welch; Mrs. Lovey Herald; Frankie, wife of S. Welch; John, of Virginia; Susie, wife of D. King; Jane, wife of J. Bartley; Willoughby, of Texas; Jesse; Van Buren, deceased; Sally; Ellen; James B., of Texas; and Valentine, who died at the age of eight years. Jesse, Willoughby, Bishop and John all served for over three years in the Confederate army. John was the only one who sustained an injury, being slightly wounded in one engagement. The parents were both members of the Baptist church and reared a numerous family, of which they have every reason to be proud.

Mr. Fletcher, whose name forms the caption of this article, remained under the parental roof until nineteen years of age, when he started out in life for himself, following farming -- the occupation to which he bad been reared. Later he bought a farm and when twenty-one years of age was married. He then carried on agricultural pursuits until April, 1862, when, true to his loved Southland, he entered the Confederate service as a member of the Fiftieth Virginia Volunteer Infantry, which joined the Army of the Potomac. He served on detached and guard duty for some time and the first regular battle in which he participated was at Chancellorsville, where the Confederate troops were victorious. His brigade remained there to bury the dead and attend to other such duties as follow a battle. There Mr. Fletcher was taken ill and sent to the hospital, where he remained for about three months. When again able for duty he joined the First Tennessee Cavalry, did some service between the armies and from there went to North Carolina on recruiting service. After returning to the Shenandoah valley he participated in the battle of Piedmont, and then remained in the valley until October, 1864, when he went to east Tennessee, where he found his original company and colonel. Permission was given him to join that command, with which he remained until the close of hostilities. He participated in many skirmishes, but no pitched battles. He was in southwestern Virginia at the time of Lee's surrender, and went with his regiment to Cumberland Gap, where they surrendered, giving up all their equipments and horses.

Mr. Fletcher was then only twenty miles from home. He at once returned to his family and resumed the work of the farm. His wife had one horse, and his farm implements were few. Soon he sold his little farm in eastern Tennessee and returned to Virginia, where he carried on agricultural pursuits until the spring of 1868, when he emigrated westward, traveling by team to Louisville and then by boat to St. Joseph, Missouri, whence he made his way to Doniphan county, Kansas. When he reached St. Joseph he had one hundred and forty dollars in money and his team and wagon, together with some household goods. He rented a house and land near Troy and that year raised some produce. The following year he operated a rented farm and then purchased eighty acres of railroad land, on which he had to pay twelve per cent. interest, one year's interest in adyance. The condition of the purchase was that he should pay for the property in ten years. In 1870 he took up his abode thereon. Soon a year's interest -- sixty-four dollars -- was due, but he only had thirty-five dollars. However, he borrowed the remainder, and built a small house, 14x16 feet. He broke sixteen acres of the land, and also engaged in raising cattle and hogs. With determined purpose he began the work of improving his property and his indomitable industry has enabled him to overcome all obstacles. He was successful in his stock-raising ventures, as well as in farming, and after a time he added to his farm another eighty-acre tract. He has also aided his sons in securing homes. His own farm he has placed under a very high state of cultivation, making very superior improvements upon it. For some years he has loaned money and in 1897 he aided in organizing the bank in Powhattan, in which he has since held stock. The bank was first capitalized for six thousand dollars, but in January, 1899, this amount was increased to ten thousand. On the organization of the bank Mr. Fletcher was chosen its president and has since held that position, S. M. Adams being vice-president and Fred E. Graham, cashier. Under the capable management of the president and the other officers this has become one of the solid financial institutions of the county. Mr. Fletcher is a very capable financier, of keen discernment and sound judgment, and in financial circles he sustains an unassailable reputation.

Mr. Fletcher was united in marriage to Miss Ellen Bartly. a lady of intelligence, who had gained many friends in the community. She was born in Lee county, Virginia, June 18, 1833, and to her husband she has proven a faithful wife and helpmeet. Her parents were James and Sarah (Speak) Bartly, the former a native of Greene county, Tennessee, and the latter of Washington county, Virginia. Their respective parents were early settlers of Lee county. James Bartly was a farmer by occupation and though a resident of the south never owned slaves. In politics he was a Whig until the dissolution of that party, when he joined the ranks of the Republican party. During the war he was a strong advocate of the Union cause. He suffered heavy losses from the bushwhackers and the foraging parties of the armies, who carried off his farm produce and his stock. He resided upon the old Virginia home-stead for fifty-one years, and after his children were grown and married he came to Kansas, arriving in 1883. He built a house on his son's hand and there resided until the death of his wife, and then resided with his children until his death, in 1893. Both he and his wife were members of the Methodist church. This worthy couple reared a family of ten children : Eliza, Who became the wife of Jonathan Haines, who died in Virginia ; Nicholas S., a farmer of Kansas; Ellen, wife of our subject; John, now of Tennessee; Francis and William R., who are living in this state; Nancy, wife of J. C. Thomas; Emeline, wife of A. H. Thomas; Fanny, wife of George Bales; and S. P., a resident farmer of Brown county.

The marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Fletcher was blessed with nine children, but six died in early childhood. Those still living are: Gelanah, wife of E. A. Bender, a farmer of Jackson county, Kansas ; Thomas J.; who follows farming near the old homestead ; and Willoughby R., also an agriculturist of the same township. The Fletcher family is one of prominence in the community. Its members are widely and favorably known and enjoy the friendship and regard of all with whom they come in contact. In his fraternal relations Mr. Fletcher is a Mason and in politics a Democrat, having supported the principles of that party since attaining his majority. A life characterized by indomitable energy and industry and by unswerving fidelity to honor in business affairs as well as in private life, he certainly deserves mention among the leading residents of Brown county.