Biography of Theodore Saxon

Theodore Saxon. The career of Theodore Saxon is an expression of well directed and intelligent industry, of devotion to the best interests of the community, and promotion of the highest tenets of agriculture. His financial standing is indicated by the possession of 1,240 acres of Kansas land, all of which had come to him through the exercise of thrift, good management and business sagacity. Like so many founders and builders of civilization in Shawnee County, Mr. Saxon, who is now a retired resident of Topeka, sprang from the soil of the Hoosier state, and carved his way to prominence and usefulness by unaided industry and a commendable ambition to arise from the modest conditions of his early life.

Mr. Saxon is a native of Wayne County, Indiana, where he was born on a farm December 2, 1839. He is one of two children, and the only one living, born to the marriage of Clayton Saxon and Salena Ferguson, and his father having died before Theodore was born, the latter was reared in the family of his grandfather, Micajah Ferguson, who was engaged in farming in Wayne County. During the youthful part of his career, Mr. Saxon divided his time between sccuring his education in the district schools of the state of his nativity and in assisting in the work of the homestead farm. For about thirty years he followed farming in Indiana, but felt that he could better himself in the West, and, having relatives in Kansas, finally came to this state in 1869. Prior to this time, a large part of his Indiana life had been passed with an uncle on his mother’s side, Horton Ferguson, who was an extensive stockraiser and who had gained something more than a local reputation by reason of the many premiums which his live stock won at the meetings of the Indiana State Fair. Thus it was that when Mr. Saxon came to the Sunflower state he was fully prepared to add an element of strength to any community in which he might settle, as the possessor of strong and finished abilities in every department of agriculture.

Mr. Saxon made the journey from his Indiana home to Atchison, Kansas, by rail, and from the latter point to his new locality, in Pottawatomie County, in a covered Government wagon drawn by a yoke of oxen. For three months after his arrival he made his home in this conveyance, but by the end of that period had built a log cabin. The rude structure of logs continued to be his place of abode for the next fifteen years, during which time he “bached” it. In the erection of this structure he was assisted by friendly Indians of the Pottawatomie tribe, his nearest neighbors. He never had the least trouble with the Indians, as he treated them fairly in all things and in return received their friendship and was treated fairly by them. His nearest white neighbor was a full mile away, another was about three miles distant, three or four miles in another direction was a third, and the next one’s home was ten miles from Mr. Saxon’s place.

While living on this farm Mr. Saxon was married to Miss Esther J. Linscott, May 25, 1886, and at that time crected a more commodious and comfortable home. His original farm had consisted of 160 acres, but after he had put this under a high state of cultivation and his crops began to flourish, he began adding to his property, gradually at first and more extensively later, until he had accumulated 1,240 acres, this property now representing his farm holdings. In a like manner his stock was improved. When he first came to Kansas he started in a small way to breed an ordinary grade of cattle, but as the years passed he accumulated a fine herd of thoroughbred Jersey cattle, as well as a herd of Short Horns, and Poland-China hogs and French draft horses. In 1895 Mr. Saxon took a carload of horses from Kansas to Scotland, where he sold them, and he is perhaps the first Kansan to perform such an undertaking. His material life had been one crowned with suecess, and this had been achieved entirely through his own exertions.

In political matters Mr. Saxon had always been a democrat. During his active life he took a keen interest in politics, and at various times was called upon for public service. For five years he was a trustee, and in 1876 was elected a member of the lower house of the Kansas Legislature, being the first democrat from Pottawatomie County to be thus honored. For some time previous to 1893 the populists had been sweeping the elections in his county, but in that year Mr. Saxon, with the help of the republican votes, succeeded in defeating the populistie candidate for county commissioner, a capacity in which he served for three years with signal ability. His public life had always been such as to gain and hold the confidence of the people of his locality.

Socially, Mr. Saxon stands high in Masonry, in which he had attained to the thirty-second Scottish Rite degree. In the fall of 1898, feeling that he had earned a rest from active labor, he retired and moved to Topeka. He and Mrs. Saxon are the parents of three sons: Warren Theodore, who married Grace Bilter, had one daughter, Dorothy E., and resided on the home farm; Keene, who is sixteen years of age and attending school; and Sidney, aged thirteen, at home.

Mrs. Esther J. Saxon was born on a farm in Washington County, Iowa, November 5, 1860, and was a very small child when her mother died. Her father, Shepard K. Linscott, prominent in Kansas affairs and appropriate mention of whom is given elsewhere in this volume, remarried and removed to Kansas when Mrs. Saxon was twelve years of age. She had ever since made this state her home. After completing her scholastic training at the Ladies Seminary, Rockford, Illinois, she remained at home until her marriage to Theodore Saxon, when she was twenty-six years old, and had devoted her life, with the keen instinets of a business woman, to agricultural pursnits. In this direction she had attained success equal to that of her husband and his neighbors. Thoroughly alive to the public issues of the day, she frequently had been solicited to permit her name to be used for political honors, but while she is a believer in equal rights in political matters for women, she had so far preferred to devote her time to home and farming. However, that she might be tempted to accept public honors is indicated by the following article, which is quoted from a recent issue of the Topeka Daily Capital: “Mrs. Theodore Saxon, Shawnee county’s well-known woman farmer, probably will be the first woman candidate to come out for the state senate in Kansas. Mrs. Saxon is considering running for the democratic nomination for state senator at the August primaries. Although she refused to announce her candidacy, Mrs. Saxon admitted that it is being urged by a large number of her friends, who believe that there should be a woman in the legislature, and that Mrs. Saxon is the woman for the place. Mrs. Saxon admits that she would like to be elected to the senate. ‘I believe that there is a place for women in the legislature,’ she declared. ‘Women who have had any business experience and combine that experience with a knowledge of women’s problems will naturally see details in law-making that many men overlook. The laws are as much concerned with women as with men, and a woman’s viewpoint is needed in the making of them.’ If elected to the office Mrs. Saxon declared that she will have no special hobbies, but will look into all the measures that come up. ‘As a farmer I am interested in rural credits legislation, but I have lived in Topeka long enough to know the needs of the city for legislation. A legislator should not consider the needs of either city or county exclusively.’

“Mrs. Saxon had had the entire charge of her farm for a number of years and had run all the business connected with it. She is also a practical housekeeper and does all the housework for a family consisting of a husband and two sons. Managing the business and household for a family keeps a woman pretty busy, she declares, and leaves her very little time to run for office. The pressure of home and business duties would be the only thing that would deter her from making the race. Mrs. Saxon is a member of the Linscott family of Holton, and a prominent member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.”



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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