Transcribed by Leo Lawton from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka.
HARVEY M. LAWTON, who owns and resides in a comfortable home at 817 Kansas Street in Larned, is an old timer of Pawnee County, where he arrived in 1877. He came to Kansas when about twelve years of age from Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he was born in 1864.
His father, John Lawton, was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1833, and died in Pawnee County at the ageof sixty-six. The grandfather, Harvey Lawton, was of a family which originally settled in Rhode Island and went from that state to Western Pennsylvania as pioneers. John Lawton had a common school education, and was active in the Presbyterian Church. He spent much of his life in that region of Southwestern Pennsylvania where most of the inhabitants are Scotch-Irish and all connected actively or passively with one of the numerous branches of Presbyterianism. John Lawton served a number of years as an elder in his church. He married Elizabeth Walker, daughter of J. M. Walker, a Pennsylvania farmer. The Walker children were: Alexander, who died in Washington County, Pennsylvania, in 1916, at the age of eighty-five; Rachel, who died at the age of forty-five, the wife of Robert Doneldson, of Washington County; Vance, who spent his life in Washington County and died at the age of sixty; Elizabeth, who married John Lawton; James A., of Murray, Nebraska; Georgia, wife of J. P. Reed, of Larned; Mary, wife of Edgar Rankin, of Washington, Pennsylvania; John, of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania; Joseph, who died in young manhood; Virginia, unmarried and living at Huntington Beach, California; and Mrs. Cynthia Wilson, of Santa Ana, California.
Of the children of Harvey Lawton, Sr., John was the oldest. William and Owen both spent their lives in Pennsylvania. Arnold came to Kansas with his brother, but returned and died in Pennsylvania in 1916, at the age of eighty-three. Hannah is the wife of Vance Walker, of Pennsylvania. Luther lives at Union, Colorado. J. B. died in Pennsylvania in 1917, at the age of sixty-five. Sarah Jane is the wife of Harvey Minniken, of Santa Ana, California.
John Lawton and wife are survived by several children and numerous grandchildren. Clara married R. C. Welch, oneof the first settlers of Pawnee County, and has two children, Nira and Sarah. Ella is the wife of H. J. Baird, of Pawnee County, and has two sons, John and Joseph. The next in age is Harvey M. J. N., a bachelor, owns the old homestead in Pawnee County. William died in 1886, at the age of seventeen. Sarah Jane is the wife of James Buster, of Pawnee County, and has two children, Charles and Clayton. Bessie married William Gambill, now superintendent of the public schools of Canon City, Colorado, and their children are Elizabeth, Helen, Esther, William and John.
When the Lawton family came to Pawnee County in 1877 John Lawton bought a relinquishment consisting of eighty acres of homestead and eighty acres of timber claim, described as the northeast quarter of section 22, township 21, range 16 in Larned Township. He paid $1,600 for the land. It had some improvements, about eighty acres being under the plow and sowed in wheat. There was a two-room frame house with a lean-to attached, making altogether four rooms and covered with a shingle roof. There was a sod barn. Having brought their household furniture, they immediately took possession and began improving and farming. Their first crop was a good one. John Lawton while living in Pennsylvania had been remote from a railroad. When he came to Kansas he determined that his home should be convenient to railroad facilities. Thus while he could have secured more land at a much less cost further out in the country, this desire caused him to purchase the location just described, and he had funds sufficient to pay for the property. In the old home he reared his family, and in 1894 built a two-story, eight-room house, a barn 32 by 36 by 16, and subsequently a granary 20 by 20 feet. Somewhat later he acquired the southwest quarter of section 14, township 21, range 16, paying $2,000. This was a high price, since the only improvements were a sod house and barn. John Lawton continued raising wheat and corn, and also did considerable dairying. At one time he owned a number of registered Shorthorn cattle. However, wheat was the main part of his industry.
In the early years Harvey M. Lawton shared in the experiences of the home farm, and he also attended school in district No. 6. His first teacher was John Edwards, now a prominent business man of Larned. Mr. Lawton remained at home until his marriage in 1892. For a quarter of a century he has been successfully identified with farming, and besides his city home in Larned he now owns the south half of section 14, township 21, range 16.
On November 10, 1892, he married Mary Carpenter. Her father, James Carpenter, is now eighty-six years of age and is living with Mr. and Mrs. Lawton. He was one of the early settlers of Pawnee County, having come from Champaign County, Illinois. His father, Benjamin Carpenter, came from Westchester County, New York, and died in Champaign County, Illinois, in 1865, at the age of seventy-three. Benjamin Carpenter was a son of Samuel Carpenter, of New York State. The Carpenters were of English descent and originally bore the name Zimmerman, indicating their German origin. The Zimmermans had left Germany and gone to England in the fourteenth century. A century or so later their name became Carpenter, which means the same as the German Zimmerman. Then the Carpenters adopted the Quaker religion and some of them came to America in the early colonial period and landed at Plymouth Rock. During the persecution of the Quakers by the Puritans they went into Rhode Island. A grand-uncle of James Carpenter, Silas Carpenter, served with the rank of colonel in the Revolutionary war, and for his services was given a grant of many thousands of acres of land in Ohio.
James Carpenter, father of Mrs. Lawton, married Mary Feeks, who died in Larned in 1886, at the age of fifty-three. Her father, Stephen Feeks, of New York City, lived to be ninety-seven years old. His ancestors had come from Wales. The children of James and Mary Carpenter were six in number. Emma married George Arens, of Illinois, and their daughter Myrtle married Joe McMurray and had children named Lucile, Recil, Dwight; Leslie and Mrs. Bessie Ring are the other children of Emma. Stephen B. Carpenter died in California. Caroline Carpenter is the wife of I. T. Foster, of Wichita, Kansas, one of the oil kings of the newly opened oil district of Augusta, Kansas, and they have a son, Ira. Mr. Foster subscribed the $50,000 for the building of the Methodist Hospital of Wichita. Louise Carpenter married William Boyce, of Iowa. Mary is the wife of Mr. Lawton. John is unmarried and lives in Los Angeles, California.
Mr. and Mrs. Lawton have two children, Hazel and Edgar. Edgar enlisted for the war in December, 1917, and entered the naval service at San Francisco and is in training at San Pedro, California, as a gunner. Mr. Lawton has been quite active in politics, at first as a populist and then as a democrat. Numerous township offices have been conferred upon him, and he is now serving as city assessor of Larned, and for two terms was county treasurer of Pawnee County. He has been a delegate to both county and congressional conventions. His first presidential vote was cast for Cleveland in 1888. Mr. Lawton is a Lodge, Chapter and Knight Templar Mason, his wife being a member of the Eastern Star, and he is also affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He and his family are members of the Presbyterian Church of Larned.