MAJOR GILLESPIE HAM
This well-known resident of Hiawatha, Kansas, was born in Fleming county, Kentucky, near the town of Flemingsburg, October 16, 1848, and on the paternal side is of Scotch-Irish and German lineage. His parents were Malcom and Nancy A. (Conrad) Ham, both natives of Kentucky, the former born in 1821 and the latter in 1820. The grandfather, John Ham, was a native of Greenbrier county, Virginia, and married a Miss Woods, whose father attained the very advanced age of one hundred and four years. Malcom Ham served in Company D, Thirtieth Kansas Infantry, during the war 1861-5.
Major Gillespie Ham was, for the first eighteen months of his life, in the county of his nativity, and then was taken by his parents on their removal to Indiana, where they remained until 1856, at which time they took up their abode in Missouri. In March, 1857, they came to Atchison county, Kansas, the father pre-empting one hundred and sixty acres of land on Brush creek. The tract was wild and unimproved, not a furrow having been turned or a rod of fence built; but, with characteristic energy, he began the cultivation of his fields, and in the course of time developed an excellent farm, upon which he continued to make his home until 1883, when he sold the property and removed to Smith county, Kansas. In 1885 he came to Hiawatha, where he spent the last years of his life, his death occurring in February, 1889. His wife died on the old farm on Brush creek in 1858. In their family were five children, namely: Major G.; James H., who is living in Saguache, Colorado; William R., a resident of Oklahoma, and one sister and an infant brother, who are now deceased. His second marriage was to Eliza A. Hartly, who now resides at Saguache, Colorado. Of this marriage there were these children: Mary M., Odell G., William H., Joseph H., Elsie E. and Annie.
Mr. Ham, whose name introduces this review, attended the district schools of Atchison county, and was reared amid the wild scenes of frontier life. After mastering the rudimentary branches of learning, he became a student in the State Normal, at Emporia, Kansas, and when he had acquired a comprehensive knowledge of those branches of learning which are taught in our higher educational institutions he began teaching in Atchison county. In 1882 he moved to Brown county, Kansas, and continued that work until 1885, when he was elected registrar of deeds, in which office he served four years, having been re-elected on the Republican ticket. On the expiration of his term he was appointed to take the census and ascertain the mortgage indebtedness on homes and farms, his territory covering the seven counties of Brown, Jefferson, Doniphan, Nemaha, Jackson, Wyandotte and Johnson.
When that task was completed he began dealing in real estate, handling farm and city property, and in 1895 he extended the field of his operations by becoming the possessor of a set of abstract records. He is also title and loan agent, and occupies the position of notary public. It would be difficult to find in Brown county a man who is better informed concerning real estate values and ownerships than is Mr. Ham, who is now controlling an extensive business in his line and meeting with the success which he well deserves.
In 1875 Mr. Ham was united in marriage to Miss Mary C. Kessler, of Atchison county, Kansas, a daughter of David and Nancy J. (Wyley) Kessler. Their union has been blessed with four children: Nancy A.; William Burton, who is a pressman in the World office; Harry, who is engaged in blacksmithing, and Edmond Norman, who is yet in school. The family have a very pleasant home in Hiawatha, and the members of the household occupy enviable positions in social circles. Mr. Ham has always given his political support to the Republican party, and in addition to the offices already mentioned he has twice served as a member of the city council -- in 1889-90 and in 1898-9. He exercises his official prerogative in support of all measures which he believes will prove a public benefit, and he is classed among the representative and public-spirited men of the community, whose efforts have been potent elements in advancing its welfare. He served in Company K, of the Second Colorado Cavalry, during the war of the Rebellion.