Biography of Edwin Scotton

Edwin Scotton. Precisely speaking there is no new country and pioneers and pioneer life no longer exist. An absorbing and fascinating condition has passed into history, and its lessons and inspiration live principally in the lives of those who endured the hardships and contributed by various services and diversified gifts to the upbuilding of the present. Shawnee County has as noble a roll call of early settlers as any part of Kansas, and among those inseparably associated with the Fulton County records, none are more deserving of perpetuation in its annals than is the late Edwin Scotton.

Mr. Scotton was born at Manchester, England, May 8, 1827, one of twelve children of his parents, a member of an old and honorable English family, and the son of an English manufacturer who owned large brickyards at Manchester. When he was seven years of age, in 1834, Edwin Scotton accompanied his parents to America, and after eight weeks arrived at Buffalo, New York, having come by way of Canada. The family lived at Buffalo until 1846, when they disposed of their property and went to a 160-acre farm near Huntington, Indiana, in an ox cart. Mr. Scotton, who had received his education in the schools of Buffalo, was married December 29, 1852, to Mary Price, who died November 27, 1856, leaving three children; John F., born October 14, 1853; one who died in infancy; and George C., born November 18, 1856. John F. and George C. Scotton are both now residents of Portland, Oregon. On October 21, 1857, Edwin Scotton was married to Marian Patterson, who died June 22, 1859, leaving one child: Mary A., born November 7, 1858, who is now Mrs. Ed Schooley and lives on the home farm in Menoken Township, Shawnee County. On December 22, 1860, Mr. Scotton was married a third time, being united with Mary Ratcliff. She was born in England, the daughter of a wealthy weaver, who brought his family to the United States but returned to his native land, leaving his daughter in a New Jersey woolen mill, where she supported herself until her marriage to Mr. Scotton.

On his 160-acre farm, Mr. Scotton built a log cabin of 1½ stories, and in this he and his wife lived for one year, when a sawmill was established near their farm and Mr. Scotton had lumber made from the native timber on his land, from which he built a comfortable frame house, the carpets for which were woven by hand by Mrs. Scotton. She also assisted him in the clearing and cultivation of his land, and the farm was highly improved and valuable, but Mr. Scotton thought that he could find better opportunities in the West, and traded his Indiana farm for 640 acres in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, and a small farm in Illinois. He arrived in 1869, but soon found his investment an unprofitable one, as the land was practically worthless for farming purposes, and he traded his Kansas farm for a team of horses and his Illinois land he sold for $320. Somewhat disheartened by this experience he bought twenty acres of land in Shawnee County, then on the edge of the infant Town of Topeka, but now all included in North Topeka. After residing on this property for two years he bought eighty acres in the Kaw River bottom, near Menoken, and for five years lived in a log house, until he erected a large frame residence which is still standing on the home place. From time to time he continued to add to his holdings until at the time of his death, which occurred November 25, 1912, he was the owner of 520 acres of fine land. He devoted himself to general farming and the raising of draught horses, and his operations were uniformly successful, due to his industry and well directed management. Mr. Scotton had a number of discouraging experiences in Kansas, passing through the grasshopper plague and several droughts, but the most severe trial he was called upon to bear was the flood of 1903, when he lost a large part of his property. Then followed the flood of 1908, which was also disastrous to his interests, but not as destructive as the 1903 flood.

Mr. Scotton was long a member of the Grange and took an active part in its work. He was a democrat in his political views, and while he never cared for public office, served six years as justice of the peace in his community, where he was known as a man of absolute honesty and integrity. He was a charter member of the North Topeka Baptist Church and trustee, and always took an active interest in its work, as he did also in education and the general betterment of civic conditions. In 1909 he retired from active affairs and removed to Topeka, where his last years were passed in quiet and comfort. Mrs. Scotton, who was active in church and charitable work, a friend of the poor and a comforter of the unfortunate, passed to her final reward August 11, 1908. There were three children in the family: W. E., born December 10, 1861; Emma Jane, who is now Mrs. Frank Luce, born August 15, 1867; and C. W., who died in infancy.

W. E. Scotton was born in Indiana and was six years of age when he accompanied his parents to Kansas, where the greater part of his education was secured in the public schools of North Topeka. The first built at that place was a small, two-room structure, with planks and board benches, but later his father assisted in the building of a more commodious school in the Menoken Township District, so that the children could have better opportunities. W. E. Scotton remained on the home farm, of which he was given charge when he was twenty-three years of age, and continued as its manager until his marriage to Vietta Betz, of Ohio, a daughter of L. C. and Elizabeth (Bird) Betz, both natives of the Buckeye State. L. C. Betz was injured so that he could not serve in the army during the Civil war, but one of his brothers, Fred Betz, saw active service throughout the struggle as a member of the Tenth Ohio Cavalry. There were four children in the Betz family: Mrs. Scotton; Daisy, who is the wife of T. N. Davis; Bessie, who is Mrs. P. B. Koontz, of Topeka; and Orville, a resident of California. Mr. and Mrs. Scotton have two children: Edwin Betz and Dorothy Frances, both at home.

At the time of his marriage, Mr. Scotton bought 160 acres of land in Menoken Township, which now forms a part of his well-improved farm of 205 acres, in addition to which he has a great deal of town property. He was extensively engaged in general farming and raising hogs and horses, but in 1906 came to Topeka and engaged in the coal and feed business. Ill health caused his retirement from this latter line, and he now lives quietly, looking after his large realty interests. Mr. Scotton is a democrat, and while living in Menoken Township served for four years as township trustee and as a member of the school board for two years. He is treasurer of Eugene Lodge No. 79, of Odd Fellows, an office which he has held for six years. He has also been prominent in church work, he and Mrs. Scotton being members of the North Topeka Baptist Church, of which he has been a deacon for three years and a trustee for a great many years, and in addition is treasurer of the Crittenden Home Society. He has always been a stanch supporter of any movement that has made for better educational or religious methods, for better morals or for better citizenship.



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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