Ralph Nathan Massey, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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Ralph Nathan Massey


Barber County Index, January 27, 1944.

Well Known Sun City Rancher Dies

Ralph Nathan Massey, 53, widely known Sun City rancher, died at the Ninnescah hospital in Pratt last Wednesday. He had been in ill health for the past two years.

Surviving Mr. Massey, besides Mrs. Massey are three sons, John R., in specialized army training at Kansas State college; Ralph Nathan Jr., Fort Ord, Calif., and David of the home; his mother, Mrs. Artha L. Surber, Sun City; two brothers, Joseph Massey of Sun City and Robert Massey of Chicago; and two sisters, Mrs. Ruth McLain of Wichita and Mrs. Thomas J. Murphy of Sun City.

Funeral services were conducted by Rev. B. F. Henry of Pratt on Friday, January 21 at the Sun City Baptist church. Interment was at Sun City. The funeral arrangements were in charge of the Forsyth Mortuary of Medicine Lodge.

Mr. Massey, who was born in Pawnee county, Kansas, on March 6, 1890, had lived all his life in this community. His extensive ranch interests lie northwest of Sun City and it was on his land that the discovery well of the Massey oil pool was found. He was well known as a cattleman.

Mr. Massey was a member of the Masonic Lodge of Lake City. He served for many years on the election board of Turkey Creek township and school board of Sun City.

He had a wide acquaintanceship throughout this section of the state and had the respect and esteem of all who knew him.


Ralph & Blanche Massey's gravestones.

Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Ralph & Blanche Massey's gravestones.
Sun City Cemetery, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Ralph & Blanche Massey & Family - sons are:  J.R., Nathan & the youngest, David.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Ralph & Blanche Massey & Family - sons are: J.R., Nathan & the youngest, David.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey & 2 of her sons, Ray (left) and Ralph (right).

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

CLICK HERE to view larger image.
Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey & 2 of her sons, Ray (left) and Ralph (right).
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
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Bernice Lott & Ralph Massey - 1st cousins - taken in Pratt, KS, 1914.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Bernice Lott & Ralph Massey - 1st cousins - taken in Pratt, KS, 1914.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Ralph Massey in hammock - on the porch of their home northwest of Sun City - This is a self portrait.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Ralph Massey in hammock - on the porch of their home northwest of Sun City - This is a self portrait.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Massey #1 Oil Well - mentioned in Ralph Massey's obituary.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

CLICK HERE to view larger image.
Massey #1 Oil Well - mentioned in Ralph Massey's obituary.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
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A photo I call 'Sun Boys'  - Ralph Massey is on the top left.

Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Top row, left to right: Ralph Massey, Bruce Adams.
Middle row: Ray Massey, Harold Urton.
Bottom row: Lyle Bullock, Van Lott. Center front: Wesley Urton.

Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.

Nate Massey's Memories re: Lyle Bullock

He could sure drop off into lala land in a hurry when playing cards. Lyle wasn't too fond of domestic household games.

He acquired his gimpy leg by breaking it roping goats at Belvedere with the Easlic boys, naturally on Sunday so our grandma's Ella B. (Ella Bird Van Horn Lott) and Artha L.(Artha Lee Van Horn Massey)said it served him right for roping on Sunday.

Dad (Ralph Massey) got Lyle in trouble one time though. About 3 or 4 people in Sun had 1928 Chevy cars of the same model and color, Dad and Lyle being two of them. Lyle was mail carrier and returned from his route about 4:00 p.m. everyday.

There was a family by the name of Williams that lived east of Hully Hosses, north of Gregories, whose matriarch was pretty well endowed with football playing capabilities both in the physical and mental attributes and the vocabulary of a mules skinner. She drove one of the old model cars that you couldn't see out the rear view mirror. Well on this particular day she was heading west on Main Street to the Ora Adams’ corner which was a pure 90 degree turn with the option of going on west into a wheat field up and over about a 3 foot rise. Ralph came up behind her and started pushing her at a rate where she couldn't make the corner and ended up out in Monty's (Monte Ward) wheat field pretty well mired down in the sandy soil.

After several minutes she was able to get back on the street and promptly returned to the loafing benches in front of the old hardware where the usual spectators and loafers were sitting and walked straight up to dad and addressed him in a completely unladylike manner and threatened to stomp his rear quarters into the Sun City landscape. Well Ralph calmed her down and let her know he would never do a thing like that and she had mistaken his car for little short Lyle Bullock’s, who had just then pulled up and parked.

Mrs. Williams stomped over and caught Lyle just as he emerged out of his car and recited 4 verses of a Calvary SSgt. requiem to a team of mules and lifted him off the ground about 6 inches to her eye level and shook him like a rag doll until she got tired. Lyle had a natural stutter anyway and never got to prove his innocence. I don't think he ever knew who set him up. This was probably one of the least exciting of the Sun City recreation happenings.


Ralph Massey (at left) and a friend of his from Hutchinson.  He attended business college in Hutchinson.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
Ralph Massey (at left) and a friend of his from Hutchinson. He attended business college in Hutchinson.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

The Massey Ranch north of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.
The Massey Ranch north of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Photo from the collection of Brenda McLain, courtesy of Kim Fowles.

"I would guess the house was built in the late 1890's, it started out as a one room rock dwelling later incorporated into the main house as the southeast room of the house. We used the southeast room as the telephone room and mom's (Blanche) sewing room and dad (Ralph) kept the records, etc, there as it was all stone and fire proof. Grandad (Joseph Pierce Massey) was killed in 1908, Dad (Ralph Massey) was 18 years old at that time." -- Nate Massey, July 2005.

Anecdotes about Ralph Massey and Reverend Woods

"Dad was 26 and Mom was 23 when they were married by Rev. J.P. Woods in the Sun City Baptist Church. Dad was pretty ornery and one Sunday morning he had slipped a deck of cards into J.P.'s top coat pocket handkerchief. Usually about half way through his hell and damnation sermon he would whip out the handkee to wipe the sweat off his brow and when he did the cards come flying out all over the alter, and naturally cards were the handy work of the devil!!!!!! Woods calmly picked the cards and stated to the congregation that it was evident that Ralph Massey was present today. Old preach got even with Dad on the wedding day (1916) by jacking the rear wheels of Dad's and Mom's get away car up so that it wouldn't move and the crowd gave them a gala shower of all sorts of produce and other items I guess." -- Nate Massey, July 2005.


Ralph Massey's Car Trouble

Our dad, Ralph Massey, was a really fun guy who could take a joke as well as play them and someone was always trying to one up him. I was just barely 13 when he died so most of his antics I have heard rather than witnessed.

One of my favorites was told me by our neighbor, Frank Harrington.

The year was about 1932 or 1933, and Dad had come to Sun to do a little trading. He had all three of us boys with him. I was about 2 or 3 and the boys were about 7 and 9, maybe a little more. I don't know what kind of a car we had then, we had a 29 Chevy which is the first car I can remember, could have been it.

Anyway the old car apparently wasn't in tip-top shape. While we were all in the store dads friends (?) put one of those super car bombs on his old car. You know the kind: a real spark-plug buster, that howled, screamed, smoked and fimally exploded. Everyone in town was in on it and was waiting for the big moment.

Dad was a big strong guy so could really spin the crank. Starting the car was kind of a two person operation apparently, so he set the controls all up for one of the boys and he started to crank. The big old bomb done everything it was supposed to and took a long time doing it. Dad just stepped back and said "whoa", tipped his hat back, and never even opened the hood. Finally someone came out and said "Whats the matter with her, Ralph?"

Dad says "I don't know but I've been looking for that to happen for a long time. Come on boys, let's go get the team and drag her home."

Don't know what the rest of the story was but that was about as excited as he usually got and sounded about right.

-- David Massey, 6 August 2005.


Ralph N. Massy of Barber County, Kansas, fixing a flat tire.

Undated photo courtesy of Lee (Massey) Ives, daughter of Ray Massey, grand-daughter of J.P. Massey.
"Dam That Tire"
Ralph N. Massy of Barber County, Kansas, fixing a flat tire.

Undated photo courtesy of Lee (Massey) Ives,
daughter of Ray Massey, grand-daughter of J.P. Massey.


Ralph Massey's Baseball Career

Grandad (J.P. Massey) was a strong advocate on continuing education and saw to it that on finishing high school the children were directed into advanced schooling, Dad (Ralph), being the oldest, was sent to Salt City Business College at Hutchinson.

Dad was an outstanding baseball pitcher, being 6 ft. 5 in. tall and very strong physically, and attracted the attention of the minor leagues and eventually the majors. In fact there was a contract from the Philadelphia White Sox signed by Connie Mack along with a picture of them in the old upstairs chest for a number of years.

Grandad was sending expense money to Dad monthly and when the checks weren't being cashed and they were not able to contact Dad, Grandad went to call on his oldest son to find out what the problem was and found out Ralph N. was playing baseball with some semipro team, before going pro.

Grandad promptly demoted him back to the ranch and furthered his education personally until the accident.

Dad played baseball locally for several years but injured his arm playing ball. Another interesting aspect was that Carl Reipe was Dad's catcher as well as one of his high school teachers and related to us boys Dad's pitching abilities.

Dad always encouraged us boys in sports, and J.R. played on the baseball team at K state, I played a little basketball up there and Dave played football and wrestled for the Cats.

Uncle Ray was sent to a mechanical training school in Kansas City, Missouri, after he graduated; Aunt Ruby to a business college and Uncle Rob to University of Illinois in Chicago. I think Aunt Ruth was married after school and didn't have the opportunity to proceed, she was an accomplished piano player receiving lessons from I.O.Sherrod.

-- by Nate Massey, 10 August 2005.


Sun City Basketball

Dad saved clippings from the Pratt Daily Tribune of my basketball games when I was a junior. Dad was very ill at this time and missed a lot of my games, he was really a driving inspiration to all of us boys and some times it was rather difficult playing without him being present to encourage us. Dad never criticized our performances and when we didn't do too well he would point out the positive things, not the negatives. Dad was only 54 when he passed away and had been very ill for about 4 years.

-- by Nate Massey, August 2005.

INFANT SON of R.N. & A.B. MASSEY, DIED APRIL 14, 1921.

He is buried in the Lake City cemtery near his paternal grandparents, Artha & J.P. Massey.
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles.
INFANT SON of R.N. & A.B. MASSEY, DIED APRIL 14, 1921.
He is buried in the Lake City cemtery near Artha & J.P. Massey.
Photo courtesy of Kim Fowles

WWI Draft Registration card for Ralph Nathan Massey of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.
Draft Registration card: Ralph Nathan Massey of Sun City, Barber County, Kansas.

United States, Selective Service System. World War I Selective Service System Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration. M1509, 4,582 rolls.


Also see:

Joseph P. Massey, father of Ralph Nathan Massey.

Artha Lee (Van Horn) Massey Surber, mother of Ralph Nathan Massey.

Practical Jokes & Backfired Actions:
A few stories from Barber County, Kansas

John Robert Massey, D.D.S., son of Ralph N. Massey.

Ralph Nathan Massey, Jr., son of Ralph N. Massey.

Mike Massey, son of Nate Massey, grandson of Raph Nathan Massey.

David Massey, son of Ralph N. Massey.

Joseph Raymond "Ray" Massey, brother of Ralph N. Massey.

Ruth (Massey) McLain, sister of Ralph N. Massey.

Massey Farm Machinery on the Massey Ranch near Sun City, Kansas. The page features photos of Ray and Ralph Massey.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site, to Nate Massey for his comments and anecdotes, and to Kimberly (Hoagland) Fowles for the photos on this page!

Kim noted: "I have these photos of the Massey family as they were first cousins to my great grandmother, Bernice Lott Hoagland. All these photos, except for the "Sun Boys", came from Brenda McLain"

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