Biography of James R. Moran

James R. Moran. No better purpose could be served by such a publication as this than that of recording the names and struggles of some of those early pioneers who came to Kansas in the bleak days of 1854 and by their self-sacriflcing labors helped make the State of Kansas and left families and deseendants to honor them in all subsequent generations. Such a character was James R. Moran, and this sketch is devoted to some of the leading facts of his life.

He was a native of Tennessee, born there March 22, 1882. He grew up in his native state on a farm, and received a very meager education. In Tennessoe he married Mary Hatcher. With other members of the Hatcher family they removed to Illinois about 1846, locating in Saline County. After some years spent there James R. Moran, for the purpose of bettering his fortune and providing homes for his growing children, determined to go to the new State of Texas. In 1854 he and his family set out on the long road to the Southwest, having a covered wagon drawn by horses. That was the year when the Kansas-Nebraska bill was agitating the entire country and when the question as to whether Kansas should be a free or slave state was precipitated and caused concern not only to the people then living in Kansas but to the entire nation. There was no district of the country more widely advertised on account-of this crisis in the political situation than Kansas. James R. Moran in the course of his journey determined to stop in Kansas, believing that the territory would eventually become a free state. He arrived in Shawnee County and located near where Auburn now stands, but at a place then called Brownsville, For a time the Moran family lived in an Indian cabin. Later they had a temporary home in a tent in the woods on land pre-empted by Mr. Moran. Still later he put up a log cabin made of round logs, joined together with pegs, and the one room had a dirt floor and the roof was made of shakes. One of those famous Kansas wind storms afterwards came along and blew off the roof, and it had to be replaced with new material. It was in such homes that the Moran family had their early experiences of Kansas. They were thrifty and energetic people, but like all other pioneers they had to put up with the simplest and crudest conveniences at first.

When James R. Moran settled in Shawnee County his only neighbors in the same locality were the family of John Brown, for whom Brownsville was named, and L. T. Cook and family. The country away from the bottoms was one wide expanse of unbroken prairie, unfenced, and with here and there clumps of shrubbery. Occasionally the Indians or some wandering hunters started prairie fires, and after one of those fires the country for miles presented an unbroken prospect of blackness. When the prairies were covered with snow they were a glare of white rolling expanse.

James R. Moran broke his land with ok teams, and he shared in practically every vicissitude and hardship to which the early settlers were subjected. In 1856 he was called to arms to defend the territory against the attacks of the pro-slavery faction. He was himself an ardent free-state man and later an Abe Lincoln republican. He never held any political office, but none the less he did a worthy part in laying the foundations of a great commonwealth, where his children and grandchildren have since lived to enjoy prosperity. For some years after coming to Kansas James R. Moran would work hard on his farm all week, and then on Saturday night would carry home 100 pounds of flour on his back to supply provisions for the following week.

The death of this honored pioneer came on August 8, 1863. He left behind him a widow and eight children, there having been nine children altogether. The burden of the care of the household then fell upon the widowed mother, and too much cannot be said as a tribute to this splendid pioneer woman. With the help of her older children she managed to keep the household together, and she experienced all the blackest days in the history of Kansas. Fortunately she survived into times of plenty and widespread prosperity, and her death occurred August 26, 1893. Of her children four sons and three daughters are still living.

Samuel Marion Moran, the oldest son of the late James R. Moran, was born on his father’s place in Illinois December 7, 1847, and had himself almost attained the age of three score and ten. He was a child of seven years when the family went out to Shawnee County. His own recollections include many of the conditions and events which have been woven into the history of this state, and as a boy had the advantages of such public schools as were maintained during the ’50s and ’60s, and he became strong and resourceful through the necessities of pioneer life and the unusual responsibilities thrown upon his young shoulders. One item of his early experience should be especially mentioned. In 1865 about the close of the war he made a trip with ox teams and a large caravan of supplies to Fort Lyon, Colorado. This was an eventful journey, and while they endured no Indian attack, that was not becanse they were not hostile but because the train was numerically too strong and well armed for the Indisns’ open hostility. For practically half a century Mr. Moran had given his time and energy to farming and stock raising, and is one of the most prosperous agriculturists of Shawnee County. He now owned 640 acres, an entire section, in Auburn Township.

In politics he is a democrat, and had filled a number of local official positions. He also belongs to the Masonic order. On March 5, 1874, he married Miss Jennie Walker. They are the parents of five children: Anna, Mrs. Frank Atwood; Marietta and Myrtle M., both of whom died in infancy; Willis Russell, who married Edna Cole; and Lester W.



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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