Biography of John Ellsworth Wiley

John Ellsworth Wiley, a prominent lawyer of Mound City, had been a resident of Kansas for half a century and during his active life had made himself useful both in the field of education and in that of the law and had attained no small degree of success and honor in his chosen vocation.

Mr. Wiley was born on a farm in Knox County, Missouri, November 20, 1861, son of Elijah Perry and Amy Jane (Shahan) Wiley. The Wiley family had the spirit of pioneers and have lived successively on various frontiers of advancing civilization. Elijah P. Wiley was born in Hancock County, Indiana, in 1836, when all that country was raw and new. His parents were Wilford W. and Mary (Carter) Wiley, both natives of Kentucky. In 1844 the Wiley family moved to Knox County, Missouri, and took a home in what was then a rough and primitive community. The grandparents both died there. Elijah Wiley was reared on a farm, had only a common school education and made farming his chief business in life. It was in 1867 that he came to Kansas and joined the very early settlers in Crawford County, where he bought land and where he continued farming, meeting with a fair degree of success, until his death July 19, 1904. He was an old line republican and for many years served as justice of the peace. He was also active in the Methodist Episcopal Church from early youth. On March 13, 1856, Elijah Wiley married Miss Shahan, who was born in West Virginia in 1835, daughter of David Shahan, a native of the same state. Mrs. Elijah Wiley died February 4, 1894, in Crawford County, Kansas. She, like her husband, had been a life long member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. They were the parents of seven children, six sons and one daughter, noted briefly as follows: Margaret Jane, born January 11, 1857, now the wife of David P. Burch, a farmer of Crawford County; Wilford M., born March 22, 1859, and died December 4, 1859; John E., the third in age; Lewis Albert, born April 26, 1864, now a farmer at Holly, Colorado; Wesley Elmer, born June 13, 1867, died December 14, 1884; Perry Elton, born March 25, 1870, is a farmer and oil operator in Payne County, Oklahoma; William Newton, born May 25, 1872, died February 20, 1885.

John E. Wiley was a boy of about six years of age when his parents moved to Crawford County, on the edge of the Indian country. He grew up there and made the best of his advantages in the limited district school near his father’s farm. He early determined to get an education and develop such talents as he possessed, and in pursuit of that ambition he attended the old Kansas Normal School at Paola, where he specialized in reading and elocution, and also attended the old Kansas Normal College at Fort Scott, graduating in 1886. The expenses of attending these schools he met by teaching. After leaving the Fort Scott Normal he continued work as a teacher for twelve years in Crawford and Stafford counties, and during most of that time he was a student of law. He qualified and was admitted to practice at St. John, Kansas, in 1891. For four years he had his office at Stafford, but in 1896 located at Mound City, where for over twenty years he had been regarded as one of the safe and reliable counselors and attorneys of Linn County.

In 1898 he was elected on the republican ticket county attorney and filled that office two years. He had also served as city attorney and police judge of Mound City. Mr. Wiley is a Royal Arch Mason, a member of the Congregational Church, and is an active member of the Kansas State Historical Society.

January 1, 1896, at Mound City, he married Miss Alice M. Gregory. Mrs. Wiley was born in Massachusetts October 18, 1863, a daughter of Artemus Ward and Harriet E. (Adams) Gregory. Her father and mother were natives of Massachusetts. For seven years prior to her marriage Mrs. Wiley was a teacher at Mound City, Kansas, and for years had been active in church and club movements. Three children were born to their union, one son and two daughters. John Gregory, born September 5, 1898, died January 8, 1917, when at the entrance upon a most promising young manhood. Helen Harriet, the older of the two daughters, was born September 6, 1900, and her sister, Alice Dorothy, was born June 13, 1904.


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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