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The Western Star, May 5, 1922.

John A. Lightner

A Few Reminiscences of Pioneer Life in Comanche-Co.

Starting a Ranch in Comanche-co.

It was near Warm Springs, Bath-co., Va., that John A. Lightner was born a little over 74 years ago. He was reared on a farm, and all his life he mingled with the big out-of-doors, except for a few years when he was a store keeper and post-master at Mill Gap in that state.

While yet a young man he had much to do with nearly all kinds of livestock. He recalls that, while yet a young man, he helped to drive cattle to Baltimore, Md., which was then their nearest market and which was several hundred miles away. But the hills and timber of Virginia did not altogether suit young Lightner's fancy, so in the year 1884 he concluded to come west. He had some relatives in Texas, and that state was his objective point.

However, he struck into this part of Kansas and here found employment on a ranch. He worked faithfully and saved money. He naturally soon became imbued with a desire to own some cattle of his own, so he invested his surplus money in some cheap cattle and began to look around for a tract of ranch land. He finally decided upon a choice location on upper Kiowa creek. There was plenty of water and good range, and Mr. Lightner soon had a portion of that choice ranch land staked out.

He built a dugout, and later a good sod house, which served as a home for many years. His cattle and land investments proved profitable, and from year to year he was able to add to his holdings more land and more cattle. He made several trips into New Mexico and Arizona and there purchased and drove to this county some young cattle which were prepared for the market on his ranch. Most of the cattle were shipped to Dodge City and unloaded there and driven the remainder of the way.

Mr. Lightner states, however, that his real start in cattle raising was when he purchased two cows from Henry Allderice, who then lived not many miles away from the Lightner ranch. Mr. Lightner was always a good judge of cattle, and he so managed his ranch that he seldom lost on them, except, possibly, when a severe blizzard came along and caused the death of a good many head. At various times Mr. Lightner had as many as 2000 head of cattle on his ranch. Mr. Lightner never let the occasional reverses in the cattle business discourage him. He kept on, and like many others, finally won out.

A few years ago, on account his advancing years Mr. Lightner decided to dispose of his ranch interests, realizing therefore about $100,000. His ranch comprised 3120 acres and is now owned by C. McCulloch. He now makes his home in this city, but it is rather difficult to wean him away from the ranch.

The Western Star, June 19, 1925.

John A. Lightner, a Comanche-co. Pioneer, Passes Away

John A. Lightner, who was a pioneer settler in Comanche-co, and who for over 40 years had been one of the best-known citizens of the county, died at his home in this city at 12:20 a.m. on Tuesday of this week, June 16, 1925, aged 77 years, 5 months and 9 days. He had been in failing health for some time, his sickness having been caused by a complication of heart and kidney trouble. He had been kept quite closely confined to his home during the past few months. He occasionally mingled on the streets with his friends, and he found much pleasure in recounting with them the scenes of former days in the county.

A few months ago he spent several weeks in a sanitarium in Wichita, but the relief received there was only temporary. So, when it became known early Tuesday morning that "Uncle Johnny" Lightner was dead, there was heard many experiences, not of surprise, but of course regret, for all felt that they had lost a good friend and the community a good citizen.

Funeral services were conducted at 3 p.m. Wednesday from the Presbyterian church, the pastor, Rev. W. T. Walker, being in charge. A quartet consisting of Mrs. W. T. Walker, Mrs. Geo. Janson, O. J. Mark and K. G. Ehrich sang two numbers, "Jesus, Lover of My Soul," and "Abide with Me." The services were attended by many of the old time friends and acquaintances of the deceased, and were very impressive throughout. Burial was in Crown Hill cemetery.

Mr. Lightner was a native of Virginia, having been born near Mill Gap, Bath-co., that state, on January 7, 1818. His parents were among the sturdy pioneers of Virginia over 100 years ago. His father and mother were both native Virginia born. The mother died in 1878 and the father in 1906. John was the third child in a family of ten children - seven sons and three daughters.

Mr. Lightner's early life was spent on a farm, where he learned some of the lessons of persistent toil and rigid economy. He received a good common school education, and attended a private school, after which he taught several terms. Later he engaged in the mercantile business in Mill Gap, Va., and served for a few years as postmaster at that place.

As a young man, young Lightner showed special interest in livestock. On several occasions he helped to drive cattle to the Baltimore market, some distance away. It was his love for the open and his dying desire to find a place where he would have a better opportunity than was to be found in Virginia to engage in the livestock business that induced him in the year 1884 to come west.

He decided to locate in southwestern Kansas, believing that this was his ideal cattle country. He secured a small tract of land in Irwin-tp., this county, and there began to build up a fine ranch. The county had just been organized and Mr. Lightner practically had his choice of the many good ranches which were then available. He purchased a few head of cattle from J. H. Allderdice, who was then his neighbor, and began to build up a herd, each year adding several head, also gradually increasing each year the size of his land holdings. He was successful to a marked degree in all his ranch activities, and finally became the owner of a well stocked ranch of 3,120 acres on Kiowa Creek, in the northwestern part of this county. He was considered a good judge of cattle and always took much interest in his ranch. A few years ago, however, he gave up the active management of the ranch and moved to this city, where he continued to make his home.

On January 23, 1892, in McPherson, Kans., Mr. Lightner was united in marriage with Miss Myrtle Grumm. To this union, one child, Jean, was born. Both the wife and daughter survive. Mrs. Lightner has made her home in California for several years. Miss Jean had been with her father for nearly three years, and during his somewhat protracted sickness she administered in every way possible to his comfort and needs. She was the only relative present when her father passed away.

In the passing away of John Lightner, this county loses another pioneer settler and good citizen. He was one of the number who came early and stayed with the county when many of the new settlers moved away. It was Mr. Lightner's faith in the county and his perseverance that finally won for him success as a stock raiser and farmer.

Like every other settler, he had many reverses and hardships with which to contend, but he was not of the dissatisfied or complaining kind; he worked on in the belief that better years were ahead, and the outcome proved that he was right.

As a citizen, Mr. Lightner was true to every trust and always gave and experienced a square deal. He was known far and wide for his hospitality. Good cheer, faith in humanity and an unfailing devotion to his friends were among his characteristic. Mr. Lightner was raised a Presbyterian, and a few years ago he became a member of the Presbyterian church of this city.

He never sought public office, preferring to devote his entire time to his ranch interests. He was affable, kind hearted and law abiding. During his sickness he was remarkably patient and hopeful. His cheery greeting will be missed by a large circle of friends. And thus, one by one, the men and women who helped to build Comanche-co. are passing away. The memory of their worthy lives will long live with us.

Mr. Lightner is also survived by two brothers and two sisters, Robert and Brown Lightner and Mrs. Etta Gum and Mrs. Cena Cleek, all of whom live in Virginia. A cousin, Robert Warwick, and Mr. Warwick's daughter, Mrs. Wm. McGill, both of Alva, Okla., arrived here in time to attend the funeral.

Also see:

Prairie Fire
The Protection Post, August 14, 1913.

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

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