Biography of Ed J. Dunfee

Ed J. Dunfee. One of the most difficult of the officers under the Kansas form of government is that of county sheriff. The discharge of the duties of this position calls for the incumbent to possess qualities of personal courage, tempered with diplomacy and tact, executive capacity, and no small amount of detective ability. To successfully serve in this office in a manner that wins the admiration of the community to such a degree that re-election is secured without opposition is something unusual, but this had been the experience of Ed J. Dunfee, sheriff of Allen County, now serving his second term. Sheriff Dunfee had been a life long resident of Kansas, and had been acting in an official capacity since 1911. His public record is one characterized by faithful attention to the duties which have devolved upon him.

Ed J. Dunfee was born at Fredonia, Wilson County, Kansas, June 19, 1874, and is a son of John W. and Emma (Joyce) Dunfee. He comes of sound Irish stock on both sides of the family, and it is probable that the first Dunfee of this branch to come to the United States from Erin was the grandfather of Sheriff Dunfee, who settled first in Pennsylvania and later removed to Ohio. Bishop Joyce, of Kansas, is a brother of Sheriff Dunfee’s mother. John W. Dunfee was born in 1847, in Ohio, and when he was still a lad was taken by his parents to Lafayette, Indiana, where he was residing at the time of the outbreak of the Civil war. He was only a lad of fifteen years when he presented himself to the recruiting officer, but managed to convince him that he was older and was duly accepted as a private of the Sixty-third Regiment, Indiana Volnnteer Infantry, with which he served for three years and three months. During this service the young soldler took part in some of the hardest fought and most important engagements of the entire war, and while he was never wounded or captured, he suffered the hardships of army life keenly and in after years was frequently reminded of their effect upon his health. Although only a boy he did his full share chearfully and courageously and won the respect and friendship of officers and comrades alike. The latter part of his service was characterized by participation in the great march of Sherman’s army to the sea, following which he returned North with the victorious Federal forces and duty received his honorable discharge. Mr. Dunfee returned for a time to Indiana, but his army experiences had bred in him a desire for action, and in 1869 he came to Kansas and became a pioneer homesteader in Wilson County, where he took up a tract of 160 acres near Fredonia. He also had a blacksmith shop there, and while proving up on his land was engaged in working at his trade, his customers coming from many miles around. In 1887 he removed to Iola, Kansas, where he continued in the blacksmith business, and here his death occurred in 1914. He was a lifelong republican. While a resident of Fredonia he acted in the capacity of justice of the peace during a long period, and for a number of years was a member of the city council after coming to Iola. Judge Dunfee was one of the strong and substantial men of his community, one who had the respect and confidence of all classes. He was a faithful and devout member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, in which he served during a long period as deacon, and supported its movements liberally. He never forgot the boys who had worn the blue uniform with him, and remained an active and interested member of the local poat of the Grand Army of the Republic until his death. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Masons. Judge Dunfee married Miss Emma Joyce, who was born in 1849, in Indiana, and now resided at Iola, Kansas, and they became the parents of five children, as follows: Hattie May, who is the wife of M. J. Leabo, a merchant of Iola; Retty Mary, who died at Iola, in July, 1915, was the wife of the late James Conyers, who prior to his death had been a farmer in Allen County; Ed J., of this notice; James W., who is a teamster and drayman of Iola; and Ida Gertrude, who married E. C. Smith, resided on a farm in Allen County, which they still own, until 1916, and then removed to Pennsylvania, where Mr. Smith is now a furnace builder for smelter plants.

Ed J. Dunfee received his education in the public schools of Fredonia and Iola, and after graduating from the Iola High School, in the class of 1891, embarked in the barber business. This he followed first at Iola, subsequently moving to Fredonia and later to Howard, at which place he remained until 1906. In that year he returned to Iola, and here continned in the same line of business until 1911, when he was appointed under sheriff, an office in which he served four years. In 1914 he received the election to the office of sheriff, and so capably did he discharge his duties that at the election of 1916 he had no opposition on either ticket. He secured the most votes of any candidate in Allen County, and ran ahead of even Governor Capper. Mr. Dunfee maintains offices in the courthouse at Iola. As previously noted, he had shown an appreciation of the importance of the responsibilities of his office and had discharged its duties carefully. Sheriff Dunfee owned his own residence at No. 16 North Sycamore Street, Iola, as well as three farms in Missouri, which total 200 acres of valuable land. In politics he had always been a republican, and while residing at Howard was a member of the city council. With his family, he belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church. He is well and favorably known as a fraternalist, belonging to Iola Lodge No. 38, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Iola Lodge No. 21, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Iola Camp No. 961, Modern Woodmen of America; and Neosho Lodge No. 43, Knights of Pythias.

Mr. Dunfee was married September 22, 1895, at Howard, Kansas, to Miss Meusett Morgan, daughter of E. C. and Flora (Seamands) Morgan, residents of Leon, Kansas, where Mr. Morgan conducts a harness and shoe shop. Mr. and Mrs. Dunfee have one son, Lee Prentice, who resided with his parents and is a member of the senior class at the Iola High School.



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.

Search Military Records - Fold3

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Pin It on Pinterest

Scroll to Top