James W. Dobson, Barber County, Kansas Barber County, Kansas.  

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Barber County Index, February 17, 1909.

J. W. Dobson Dies Suddenly

The people of Barber county were intensely shocked on Monday to hear that J. W. Dobson, deputy warden of the Kansas State penitentiary, and at one time sheriff of Barber county, died very suddenly in Kansas City on Sunday. We clip the following account of his death from Monday's Topeka Capital:

James W. Dobson, deputy warden of the Kansas penitentiary, died suddenly of heart disease in a drug store at Thirty seventh street and Troost avenue, Kansas City, this afternoon. He was in Kansas City to consult a heart disease specialist, and visit ex-Warden Harry Landis, an old friend. While at the home of Mr. Landis he was taken ill, and after lying down a while concluded to try and get back to Lansing. Mr. Landis was accompanying him, and while waiting in the drug store for a car, he fell over and died.

Mr. Dobson was deputy warden of the Kansas penitentiary for the last eight years, and when the news of his death was telephoned, it caused a painful surprise among officials. Warden W. H. Haskell started for Kansas City to look after bringing the body home. Mrs. Dobson has been ill for more than two months, part of the time with pneumonia, and the news of her husband's death came near proving fatal to her. Mr. and Mrs. Dobson had one son, a fine lad of eighteen years, when they came to Lansing, and when he died of fever, four years ago, just after graduating as a physician, it was a blow from which they never fully recovered.

Mr. Dobson was one of the early settlers of western Kansas. He was sheriff of Barber county two terms, and once held a responsible position in the forestry division of the federal government. He was an able politician and helped Senator Chester I. Long manage his congressional canvas against Jerry Simpson, in the Seventh district.

Prison men who knew Mr. Dobson looked upon him as an able deputy warden. He was quiet and kindly, but firm in enforcing the discipline of the penitentiary.

The Kansas City Star says of Mr. Dobson, in part:

Since leaving Lansing yesterday morning Mr. Dobson had been complaining of pains in his heart. In the afternoon his condition became so serious that a doctor was summoned. After his visit the sick man said he felt much better and announced his intention of returning to Lansing. Mr. Landis insisted on accompanying him. Together they walked to the corner of Thirty-seventh street. Mr. Dobson still said that he felt better. Suddenly he brushed his hand across his eyes. "Harry," he said, "I'm getting dizzy."

The next instant the muscles of the stricken man relaxed and he sank into his friend's arms. He was carried into the South Side drug store, twenty feet away, and a doctor was called. He arrived in a few minutes, but too late to be of any assistance.

"In the eight years he was deputy warden at the Lansing prison there was never an attempt at mutiny among the convicts," Mr. Landis said. "They respected and almost loved him, and I guess that's about the highest compliment possible. He never had a chance to distinguish himself by quelling outbreaks, because he never let one begin."

Mr. Dobson was born in 1849. From 1884 to 1888 he was mayor of Kiowa, Kansas, then a wild and boisterous "cow town." At the expiration of his term as mayor he was sheriff of Barber county. Later he went into the forest service, where he rose to the position of inspector. In 1901 he became deputy warden at Lansing.

He leaves a widow in Lansing.

Mr. and Mrs. Dobson had one son when they came to Lansing and four years ago, just after he was graduated from the Kansas University as a physician, he died of fever. He was 22 years old. Neither Mr. and Mrs. Dobson ever fully recovered from the loss of their son.


"James Dobson was sheriff of Barber County and his brother kept a saloon in Kiowa, the first saloon I ever smashed." -- Carry A. Nation, from her book, The Use and Need of the Life of Carry A. Nation, Revised edition, 1905.


Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!

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