Biography of Howard C. Tillotson

Howard C. Tillotson. Some men make a success in life apparently by disregarding the old rule of sticking to one thing and to one place. The possession of several talents, and the judgment to make use of them operate to contradict the rule which the average person finds safe for his guidance. One of these men of varied abilities and varied experiences is Howard C. Tillotson, a prominent resident of Latham. Mr. Tillotson is a native of Kansas, and both he and his wife are people of special interest and note because of what they have done for others as well as for themselves.

Mr. Tillotson was born at Olathe, Kansas, July 29, 1868. His father, Charles Tillotson, was a Kansas pioneer and was a descendant of Bishop Tillotson, a noted English divine who came to the United States and was prominent in New York in Colonial days. Charles Tillotson was born at Pittsford, Monroe County, New York, August 14, 1827. He grew up in Pittsford, and married his first wife in that state. A tinner by trade, he followed the occupation through the states of New York, Indiana and Illinois, and in the early sixties located in Kansas still following his trade in this state. Kansas was a territory and Olathe was just on the border of settlement. He was perhaps the first tinsmith to establish a regular business at Olathe and he soon developed a hardware store and conducted the two lines successfully until 1875. He lived there during the troubles of war times, and his place of business was raided by the armies and guerilla forces of both Price and Quantrell. In 1879 Charles Tillotson removed his family to Stockton, Kansas, and in the spring of 1880 located in Graham County. He became a merchant at Old Millbrook, and had a homestead of 160 acres, part of which was platted into an addition to Millbrook. When the county seat was permanently located at Hill City, he moved his business there and continued merchandising for many years. He died at Hill City in Graham County in 1901. Charles Tillotson possessed many enviable characteristics. He was known as the soul of honor, had an incorruptible integrity and was thoroughly conscientious in all his relations with his fellow men, whether in business transactions or in personal dealings. He was a democrat before the Civil war, but after that struggle voted republican, and subsequently became identified with the populist movement in Kansas. Both at Millbrook and Hill City he served as justice of the peace and police judge. In religious matters he was a Spiritualist. For twenty-eight years he was active in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and served as noble grand. In the early ’50s he joined the Masonic fraternity, and he attained the Royal Arch degree.

His first wife was Eliza Ann Frink. The two children of that marriage are: Byron H., who was born October 28, 1850, was a tinner by trade but for twenty-five years was in the real estate business and died at Olathe, Kansas, August 28, 1916; Alice F., born in 1853, had never married, and had for many years been a proficient dressmaker, her home being now in Chicago, Illinois.

For his second wife Charles Tillotson married Ellen Louisa Burd. She was born at Binghamton, New York, October 17, 1840, and is now living at Lindsborg, Kansas, with her daughter, Ida. Her children were eight in number: Elburton, who died young; Ida M., who was born June 17, 1859, and is now living at Lindsborg, the widow of Henry J. Harwi, who was one of Kansas’ most noted criminal lawyers; Frank, who died young; and the fourth child, a daughter, also died in infancy; Howard C.; Hubert R., who was born February 28, 1871, and is now an attorney practicing at Lenora, Kansas; Mary, born September 19, 1873, is the wife of A. F. Lesley, a traveling salesman living at Berkeley, California; and Birdie, who died in infancy.

Howard C. Tillotson lived at Olathe until he was eleven years of age, attending the public schools there, and afterwards was in the schools of Western Kansas. In 1884, when sixteen years of age, he carried mail from Wakeeney to Millbrook a Star route. For a year and a half he attended the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, but left that school in 1887 and in 1888 became bookkeeper of the First National Bank at Millbrook. On January 14, 1889, he qualified for a clerkship in the railway mail service, and was thus engaged until January 18, 1894.

On leaving the mail service Mr. Tillotson located on a farm near Hill City, and in 1896 moved into that town. For two years he taught school in Graham County and this was followed by another occupational experience as a farmer for two or three years. For two years he also operated a transfer line in Hill City.

In the fall of 1903 Mr. Tillotson entered the University Medical College at Kansas City, taking a course in medicine, but abandoned his intention of becoming a physician and on April 20, 1904, engaged in the drug business at Newton, Kansas. In August, 1906, he removed that store to Howard, Kansas. On October 20, 1904, he bought the drug store he still owned at Latham. However, he remained at Howard and conducted his business there until September, 1909, when he sold out and came to Latham to concentrate his attention upon the local business. Besides his large and well equipped store he owned a residence on Cherry Street and had a farm of one hundred seventy-four acres and a fraction in Woods County, Oklahoma, and with his brother Hubert owned a place of 166 acres in Graham County.

Both Mr. Tillotson and his wife are registered pharmacists. When a young man in school he learned the trade of printer, and having a natural aptitude for mechanics he also mustered the trades of carpenter and cabinet maker.

In his political experience Mr. Tillotson was a regular republican for many years, but latterly had adopted the progressive policies. For many years he had taken an active part in Masonry, having been made a Mason July 21, 1890, in Millbrook Lodge No. 281, a lodge that is now located at Hill City. He served as secretary of his home lodge two years, senior deacon two years, senior warden one year, and is now affiliated with Latham Lodge No. 401, of which he had been worshipful master three terms and is now secretary. He also belongs to Solomon Valley Chapter No. 81, Royal Arch Masons, at Stockton, and is a former member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.

Mr. Tillotson married at Olathe January 2, 1893, Miss Ava Hamill. Her parents were Dr. Thomas and Bettie W. (Short) Hamill. Her father, now deceased, was for many years a physician and surgeon at Olathe, where her widowed mother still lives. Mrs. Tillotson is one of the most interesting women in Kansas. She had had many varied experiences and also had the accomplishments and the culture which enable her to make much of life in many environments. She holds a teacher’s life certificate from the state, is also proficient in music and art and had taught both those subjects. She was educated in the public schools of Olathe and is a graduate of the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, holding the degree Bachelor of Science and the degree Master of Science from that institution. For twelve years she taught school in Graham, Elk and Butler counties, and is still devoted to her profession, teaching in Union School District No. 42 of Butler County. Her experiences as a teacher in Western Kansas might well be the subject of a long and interesting article could she find time to write it. The first school she taught there was three miles from her home, and she rode horseback morning and night for six months. The next school was seventeen miles from her home, and she drove that distance for a similar period of six months. Her third school was ten miles from home, and she drove back and forth twice a week, and her boarding place was four miles from the schoolhouse and she had to drive that distance every day. The next six months term she taught, her schoolhouse was fifteen miles from home and while she made the round trip once a week by driving she also drove two miles night and morning between her boarding place and the school. The next school was twelve miles away and she drove back and forth once a week and boarded three miles from the schoolhouse. The school she taught in Elk County was four miles from home and she covered that distance with her trusty horse every day for a period of six months. She next taught a school southeast of Latham, and put in two terms of six months, driving every day the distance of three and a half miles. A noteworthy fact about this is that all the driving was done with one horse, and it is probable that no other Kansas teacher had driven so many miles in the course of her work. She is now in her third term at her present school, which is two and three-quarters miles from home, and she walks that distance back and forth every day. Mrs. Tillotson is an active member of the Congregational Church.

They have one son, Harold H., who was born December 9, 1895. He was graduated from the Latham High School in 1916 and is now a student in the Phillips University at Enid, Oklahoma. This son is a very vigorous type of young American manhood and had not only excelled in matters of scholarship but in athletics. He is an all round athlete, a star basket ball player and a long distance runner. In 1916 he competed in many athletic contests and was awarded six gold medals, six silver medals and six bronze medals, one of the gold medals being a prize in oratory. He was given a silver cup valued at twenty-five dollars for winning the mile run in the competition held in El Dorado in 1916 by all the high schools of Butler County. This cup he won against two class A and two class B schools. He is a youth of strong character, very popular in students bodies, and always led his class in high school. He was the biggest point winner in the high school meet of Southern Kansas held at Wichita in 1916, winning the silver cup. His record for the mile run is 5:08 2/5.

He was given a scholarship at Phillips University at Enid, Oklahoma, by virtue of his superiority in athletics, where he demonstrated his ability in basket ball by his whirlwind playing as running guard. He takes an active part in the Christian Church and in the various young people’s meetings and leagues. From his father he inherits much mechanical ability and is pursuing the electrical engineering course at Enid. In 1915 he took a course in a school of automobile instruction at Kansas City.


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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