Biography of Henry Van Deman Faris

Henry Van Deman Faris, of Kanopolis, is a Kansas around whom center many associations of territorial and pioneer times. He is by five years the oldest living pioneer in Kansas west of Salina. He had been continuously identfied with Ellsworth County more than half a century.

Mr. Faris comes of that adventuresome pioneer stock that in successive waves had peopled and developed American soil. His grandfather, John Faris, was born in Ireland of Scotch descent. On coming to this country he partieipated as a soldier in the struggle for independence, and afterwards became a farmer in Virginia. He located on what was then the far western frontier, along the Ohio River in Ohio County, Virginia, now West Virginia, not far from the small settlement then but now the City of Wheeling. He died there many years before Henry V. Faris was born. He married a Miss Stuart, also of Scotch family.

Robert Faris, father of Henry V., was born in Ohio County in what is now West Virginia in 1801. He grew up and married in his native county, took up farming, and in 1828 left the comparatively well settled region around Wheeling and journeyed into the woods of Delaware County, Ohio, where he developed a farm. Then, in 1863, he again took up the journey and made the last stage toward the West, locating on a farm in Marshall County, Illinois, where he spent his last years and died in 1867. He was a man of decided convictions and a natural leader among men. He espoused the whig party and subsequently became a republican of the so-called black republican type. Long before popular sttention was attracted to the subject he was an advoeate of woman suffrage and of the prohibition cause. He served as an elder in the Presbyterian Church many years and in early life belonged to the Ohio Militis. Robert Faris married Margaret Irwin, who was born in the State of Ohio, near the Virginia line, and died on the farm in Delaware County, Ohio. She was the mother of four children: Ann, Irwin, Mary G. and a daughter that died in infancy, all the others being also deceased. For his second wife Robert Faris married Hester Maxwell. She was born in Ohio County, Virginia, in 1806 and died in Delaware County, Ohio, in 1855. Her father, William Maxwell, was born in Scotland, came to America in time to participate in the Revolutionary war, and spent his active life as a farmer in Ohio County, Virginia, where he died in the early part of the last century. He married a Miss McClain, also a native of Scotland, and she died in Western Virginia in the latter ’40s. Robert and Hester Faris had a family of seven children, the oldest being Henry Van Deman. The second, George Washington, enlisted in the Fourth Ohio Infantry early in the Civil war, was taken ill and sent home on a furlough and died in 1863. W. H. H., of the Ninety-sixth Ohio Infantry, was a farmer and lived in Ellsworth County, Kansas, until his death in April, 1916. Amzi M., of the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry, is a farmer four miles east and one mile north of Kanopolis. Margaret J. married Theodore Ruth, a prominent resident of Pomona, California. Mr. Ruth was for many years agent for the Wells Fargo & Company express at Pomona, was the first poetmaster of that city, and is now a pensioner of the express company and is a well to do citizen, employing the leisure of his employment for the operation of a greenhouse. The daughter Sarah E. lives at Manhattan, Kansas, the widow of Samuel B. Holler, a farmer. W. S. Faris, the youngest of the family, is a farmer three miles southeast of Kanopolis.

Henry Van Deman Faris was born in Delaware County, Ohio, June 8, 1838, and spent the first twenty years of his life on his father’s farm, obtaining his education in the rural schools. In 1859, at the age of twenty-one, he came west and located in Dickinson County, Kansas, which was then on the far western frontier. In that county he cut and rafted sawlogs down Smoky River to Junction City and during the winter made shingles. The spring of 1860 found him enrolled among the pioneer farmers of Dickinson County. He tilled the soil diligently, but that year was one of general crop failure, and he was reduced to the bottom of his resources. He started out tramping over the country looking for work, having not a penny of money, and he walked for many days subsisting as he could on the bounty of strangers. Finally a man named Gus Packard in Dickinson County gave him employment for a couple of weeks and paid him $8. For a time he also hunted on the western plains, and in September, 1860, arrived at Clear Creek in Ellsworth County. Here he took a farm and later pre-empted the 160 acres which was his home and the center of his extended farming activities for over half a century. He lived on the farm until 1916, and in the meantime had acquired a large ranch of 640 acres. Selling this farm in 1916, Mr. Faris removed to Kanopolis and bought a good home on Colorado Avenue, where he is now enjoying the comforts earned by his hard work and experience of over half a century in Kansas.

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There is no more ardont advocate of the principles and policies of the republican party in Kansas than Mr. Faris. He is likewise an active member of the Presbyterian Church and an elder at Kanopolis. Mr. Faris married in Henry County, Illinois, in 1871, Miss Emma Pitezel, daughter of Benjamin W. and Mary (Combs) Pitezel, both now deceased. Her father was a farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Faris have no children.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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