Life Sketches of Comanche-co. Pioneers * Some of Their Struggles and Early-Day Experiences.
At left: James Hadley
Among the early settlers of Comanche-co., few if any, have a greater influence for good, or helped more to shape the moral, religious and educational interests of the county than has James Hadley. While helping to develop the county in a material way, he has always been active in helping to bring about and maintain high standards in business, social and industrial circles. This he has done in a quiet, unassuming way, combining active work on the farm with busy, efficient and uneasy work as a leader in Sunday school, church and educational activities. For over 35 years Mr. Hadley was an active worker for those things which are highest and best in life - character, good, citizenship and educational growth.
A study of Mr. Hadley's life and career reveals the fact that he like many others, has known what it means to start out in this world with few resources except self-reliance, perseverance and an ambition to accomplish something worth while. The reward which inevitably comes to anyone whose life is dominated by those qualities and animated by such a purpose is also well illustrated in his career. He knew the hardships incident to pioneer life, both in his native state -Indiana - and in southwestern Kansas. Some of the facts connected with his early life can best be understood when told in Mr. Hadley's own language. To a Western Star reporter he recently made this statement:
"I was born near Sylvania, Ind., on February 14, 1859. I was the third in a family of fourteen children, and, at an early age, took up my share of the work in providing for the needs of the family. All of the knitting for the family was then done by hand, and a large part of the yarn for that purpose was made from wool taken from the backs of a small flock of sheep which were kept on the farm. I learned to card wool and make rolls for spinning into yarn, also "bats" for making bed comforts. Later I learned the art of knitting, and for a few years knit my own socks.
"My education was obtained principally at our church school, which was two miles from our home. I usually attended school about four months each year, and sometimes not that long, if the weather was favorable for opening the sugar camp before the first of March. My "gymnasium" in the winter season was the forest on my father's farm, where I pulled off the following 'stunts,' each in its season: Chopping wood for a three foot fireplace, a heater and a cook stove, mauling rails, and helping to attend to the above mentioned sugar camp. Our church school was later turned over to the township, and was then supported by public funds. I attended this public school for two or three short winter terms, after which I taught a subscription school for two months, receiving $1.50 per day. I then attended the Central Normal College, a private normal, in Danville, Ind., for a part of two years - about 12 months in all, where I took a selected teachers' course.
"I was married to Mary Anna Lindley on November 15, 1883, near Sylvania, Ind. We taught in a graded school in our home neighborhood during the winters of '83-'84 and '84-'85. My wife taught in the primary grade and I in the intermediate grade. We each received $45 per month. Soon after our last term closed we started for Comanche-co., Kans., where we arrived on March 21, 1885.
"On account of the short crops from 1885 to 1891, we did all kinds of work so as to earn enough with which to buy groceries. We gathered bones from the prairies and sold them and hauled freight occasionally. We hauled wood from the Indian Territory and also gathered 'surface coal' with which to keep warm. Our first house was a "dugout sod,' with a dirt floor, and that floor was all right during the memorable blizzard of January, 1886, as I could then take my wood in the house to chop it, and run no risk of splintering the boars. All of our farm buildings during those early days were dugouts and sod."
In the fall of 1894 Mr. Hadley was elected to the office of county superintendent of Comanche-co., and served one term. In that capacity he proved to be very capable, giving the duties of the office his time and best talents. For 20 years Mr. Hadley was county president of the Comanche-co. Sunday School Association, and to that work he gave unstintingly of his time and thought. There never was a more conscientious or more efficient Sunday school officer or worker in the county than was Mr. Hadley during those years. He was a prominent factor in the organization and building up of the Prairie Vale Friends church in his neighborhood, six miles northwest of this city, and while he lived here he was always active in community affairs and all movements having for their purpose the advancement of the interests of the general public.
In August, 1921, Mr. Hadley moved to Wichita to be with some of his children, who were attending Friends University. He still makes that city his home. Mrs. Hadley died in this county on October 23, 1918. Mr. Hadley is the father of seven children, five sons and two daughters. Six of the children are still living, as follows: Lawrence, Gurney, Lena, Wilbur, Mary and Paul.
Sad Death of Earl Hadley -- The Western Star, November 5, 1920.
Elma (Hadley) Maris, wife of John T. Maris, sister of James Hadley.
County Superintendents of Comanche-co.
The Western Star, January 21, 1927.
Thanks to Shirley Brier for finding, transcribing and contributing the above news article to this web site!
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