Charles Edward Dodge
Descendent of Richard Dodge
|The honors and
responsibilities and some of the substantial rewards of pioneering in
Western Kansas all belong by right and merit to the Dodge family, who
have been represented in and around Great Bend for forty-eight years.
Charles Edward Dodge, long active in public and business affairs in Barton County, arrived here about a year after his father's family. He settled along the Arkansas River in Barton County when all nature was undisturbed, when the buffalo roamed the prairie in uncounted thousands, when the Indian was in possession of the Plains country and when rail communication across Kansas was confined to the old Kansas Pacific and when the terminus of the Santa Fe was at Larned. He rode out to Great Bend on a construction train piled high with material and tools used in road building. The caboose was filled with track men and others engaged in the work of extension across the plains. Great Bend was then only a station on the great national trail leading toward the Rocky Mountains. The one or two stores catered to the trade of cowmen and hunters and the very few settlers who had had the courage to enter this almost forbidden region.
The pioneer spirit of enterprise has apparently been a vital force in the Dodge family for several generations. Mr. Dodge's grandfather, John Dodge, was born in Tyringham, Berkshire County, Massachusetts, October 3, 1783, the same day that peace was signed between the American colonies and Great Britain. John Dodge married Sarah Bullene, an aunt of the great Kansas City merchant, the late T. B. Bullene. John Dodge moved out to Southern Wisconsin when that was still a territory in the middle '40s, and died at Port Washington in that state February 9, 1868. His wife died at Kenosha, Wisconsin, June 3, 1861. Among their children were two sons, Leander Whitcomb and Lyman p., who went south and became slaveholders at New Orleans.
The late Edward Judson Dodge, father of Charles E., had the distinction of entering the second claim in his township of Barton County. He was born in Oswego County, New York, November 25, 1822, and moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin, in 1846. At Kenosha December 31, 1846, he married Elizabeth Possen, daughter of Henry and Nancy (Butler) Possen, the former a native of the Mohawk Valley of New York and of Dutch descent, while the latter came from Connecticut. Edward J. Dodge learned the blacksmith's trade in Kenosha from his brother-in-law and followed that occupation for a dozen years or more, until he became fairly independent financially. He then engaged in the insurance business and for a time was identified with one of Wisconsin's most important early industries, hop raising. After he came to Kansas he resumed farming and blacksmithing. He reached Barton County in May, 1871, and lived in that county the rest of his life. He died October 19, 1910.
His location was the southwest quarter of section 10, township 19, range 13. He proved up his claim, developed it as a farm, and for a number of years kept his blacksmith shop. He was one of the best known and most influential of the pioneers. During the grasshopper year of 1874 he was sent to Iowa to make a personal appeal for aid for the stricken Kansans. He brought a large supply of provisions and other needed supplies to sustain them in their fight with adversity. He was justice of the peace of his township a number of years, and always took pride in the fact that none of his decisions were reversed in the district court. He was a man of great native intelligence and of more than ordinary faculties. He had a fair school education, was a good penman, and had mach ability as draftsman and brush artist, being able to represent his ideas on paper. He could paint a bunch of flowers all exactly alike, or he could reproduce the dial of a clock after having smoothed off the surface of the old one. He had a real genius for mechanics. He had little to say about religious matters, and was not concerned with orthodox religion, though he quoted the scripture well and readily, and frequently attended church with regularity and even sang in the choir, but never held a membership and would as suddenly stop his attendance as he took it up. He was gifted with much conversational ability, was a good descriptive writer, and was a favorite entertainer in any crowd. In politics he was a strong republican. At the first election of "old Abe," as he called Mr. Lincoln, he gathered his small sons around him and invited them to join them in "three cheers and a tiger." He was a man of strong constitution and great vitality, and he worked in his blacksmith shop until after he was eighty-four years old. He survived his first wife twenty-one years. For his second wife he married Mrs. Elizabeth J. Wells. His children, all by his first marriage, were: Charles Edward; Wallace H. and Don Duane, of Great Bend; Jeanie M., wife of Elbert J. Ingersoll, of Claflin, Kansas: Lizzie L., wife of George J. Spencer, of Great Bend; Maggie, wife of Marshall M. Jones, of Denver, Colorado; Mary L., wife of William p. Feder, of Wichita; and Giles B., of Great Bend.
Returning now to the career of Charles Edward Dodge, he was born at Port Washington, Wisconsin, October 28, 1848, and acquired his early education in the common schools and high school. He studied and became proficient in the German language, and for about seven years was a successful teacher, part of the time in Wisconsin and later in Kansas. The last year he spent in Wisconsin he was principal of the Port Washington schools. He arrived in Barton County July 27, 1872, and at that time entered the homestead which he still owns. In the fall of that year he wont to McPherson County, taught a school that winter where Marquette Mills now stand, but returned to Barton County in the spring. In the fall of 1873 he was elected register of deeds, being the first to hold that office by regular election. He was the incumbent of that office consecutively for fourteen years, until January, 1888. In the meantime he had compiled a set of abstracts of title, and on leaving office he engaged in the abstract business, and has continued that important service ever since, being regarded as the first and best authority in every question affecting land titles in Barton County. He has also served as county commissioner, and for more than twenty years has been clerk of the Great Bend Board of Education. In politics, like his father, he has always been a republican.
In Barton County Mr. Dodge married on his birthday, October 28, 1879, Miss Cora R. Chappel, daughter of John W. and Jeanette A. (Brown) Chappel, of Chautauqua County, New York, where Mrs. Dodge was born March 7, 1858. Mr. and Mrs. Dodge have been blessed with a fine family of children. Edward J., the oldest, living at Great Bend, married Delia Arnold; Paul J. is a resident of Atchison, Kansas; Jeanette is the wife of Edward Johnson, of Great Bend; Velma is the wife of William Harris, of Great Bend; Floy married Homer Moore, of Albany, Oregon; Mildred is cashier of the American Railway Express at Great Bend; Jessie, the youngest, is active assistant to her father in his office.