JOHN C BATSELL, M D
No one is more genuinely deserving of credit than is the pioneer physician, and none of the inhabitants of Atchison county more thoroughly know, from actual experience, what it meant to cast in one's fortunes with this section of Kansas two-score or more years ago. In ante bellum days, when Kansas was the great bone of contention between the north and south, this northeastern county was a favorite battle ground for the contending factions, and besides many outrages were committed by border ruffians in the name of the abolitionists or by the slavery element. Dr. Batsell, whose services were in demand far and near, risked his life upon many an occasion, but "fortune favors the brave" and he passed through those stormy years unharmed. Well do the pioneers remember the innumerable kindnesses and cordial hospitality which they enjoyed under the shelter of his roof, and all agree that the annals of Atchison county could not be accurately written if his history and connection with its development should be omitted.
The paternal grandfather of the Doctor, John Batsell, was a native of Nelson county, Kentucky, though the greater part of his life was spent in Virginia. He had a daughter and four sons, one of the latter being Thomas, the father of our subject. His birthplace was in the neighborhood of the famous Culpeper Court House, Virginia. For a wife he chose Keziah Noll. a lady of German extraction, and together they resided in Marion county, Kentucky, until death separated them. The father departed this life when he was sixty years of age and the mother reached three-score and ten years. They were highly respected citizens and devout members of the Baptist church. They were the parents of ten children, namely: Eliza, Nancy, Susan, Catherine, Keziah, Matilda, Felix, James, of Grayson county, Texas, Thomas, deceased, and John Cotton.
The birth of the last mentioned took place on the old homestead in Marion county, Kentucky, March 16, 1818. As a child he had but limited educational advantages, but he was naturally studious and many a night, after the hard work of the day was completed, he spent hours by the dim candle light endeavoring to fathom the mysteries of knowledge. Talent asserting itself he left home at fifteen years of age to make his own way in the world, and at last he reached the goal of his youthful ambition, -- an opportunity to study medicine. His preceptor was Dr. John L. Fleece, of Bradfordville, Kentucky, a physician of high standing and a graduate of Lexington College, Kentucky. In 1848 he went to Valeene, Indiana, where he practiced until the fall of 1855.
In 1855 Dr. Batsell set out for the west, where he believed that he might find his medical services in requisition. For a few months he remained in DeKalb, Missouri, whence, by crossing the river, he came to Atchison county and located a claim, on which he built a log house and made other improvements. The date of his settlement in Benton township is April, 1856, and for some time afterward his house was the only one in this township on the line of the old Atchison road. Years elapsed ere good roads were instituted and his long rides throughout this region, to the distant homes of suffering and in the most inclement weather, were borne with heroic patience. Not the least of his troubles, at intervals, was the difficulty in procuring the drugs and medicines which he required in his practice. The nearest point at which these supplies could be procured was St. Joseph, Missouri -- a long distance, over rough and sometimes almost impassable trails. He had many strange and unpleasant experiences with the border ruffians and outlaws during the several years immediately preceding and including the war and reconstruction, but his sincerity and the nobleness of his vocation made even the most degraded respect him The manly dignity which he always manifested and the real interest which he felt toward every one in sickness won for him the love and admiration of the entire community.
Leaving his home, family and practice Dr. Batsell enlisted to fight for the stars and stripes during the war and served as a member of Company D, Thirteenth Regiment of Kansas Volunteers. He was sworn in as first lieutenant of his company and four months later was relieved on account of bad health and was honorably discharged on account of physical disability. He is a charter member of Effingham Post, G. A. R., and always has been an active worker in that organization. Since the founding of the Republican party he has been one of its most enthusiastic advocates and in the winter of 1863-4 he had the honor of being a delegate of this district to the "war" legislature of the state. Thus, in numerous ways, the Doctor has come before the public and few residents of this county are more generally known or honored.
In his noble pioneer work and efforts to alleviate the sufferings of humanity the Doctor found an able and loving assistant in his wife, who cheered and inspired him. It was on the 22d of October, 1840, that the marriage of our subject and Ann Hazlewood was solemnized in Campbellsville, Kentucky. Her father, Reuben Hazlewood, was of English descent and was a soldier in the war of 1812. He wedded Miss Jane Ray, a native of Virginia, and of their six children five lived to maturity, namely: Gates and Lee, both now deceased; John R., a physician at Grayson, Texas; Mrs. Jeter and Mrs. Batsell.
Dr. and Mrs. Batsell have had nine children, four of the number surviving at the present time, and besides they are the proud grandparents of seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. Missouri is the wife of T. C. Bennie, of Lancaster township, Atchison county; Josephine is the wife of William Taylor, who is engaged in the cattle business in Wyoming; Cora is Mrs. John Pratley, of Wyoming; Lee is employed by the wholesale house of Tootle, Wheeler & Matter, of St. Joseph, Missouri; Thomas; Ann, the wife of A. Meider, died in Butler county, Kansas; Mrs. Kate Taylor died in Wyoming; and three children died in infancy.
Great changes have taken place here within the recollection of Dr. Batsell and as he has transformed his tract of prairie into the fertile homestead of to-day, with its one hundred and eighty acres, so others have reclaimed the country, developing it even beyond their sanguine expectations. In January, 1900, the residence on his farm burned and since then he has resided in the town of Effingham.