Biography of John Henry Tole

John H. Tole. While it is certainly true that a live and growing community such as Liberty offers many and widely diversified opportunities for advancement along every line of personal endeavor, yet it is just as true that only a certain percentage achieve distinction, and a large number fail of even attaining a competency. It takes something more than mere opportunity to elevate a man from the common level of every-day accomplishments. Unless he has within him that divine spark of genius for his life work, be will continue to belong to the great majority of mediocre humanity, instead of climbing up the ladder of endeavor until he is able to command a view of affairs that will give him that grasp on the rounds of events that nothing can loosen. In reviewing the career and achievements of John H. Tole, of the Liberty Lumber Company and vice president and director of the Liberty State Bank, the above facts are given prominence for he has proven their truth.

Mr. Tole was born at Pleasant Hill, Pike County, Illinois, April 29, 1858, and is a son of James H. and Harriet (Richards) Tole. The family was of Scotch-Irish origin and at an early day in the pioneer history of Kentucky located in the Blue Grass State. There, in 1810, was born Winslow Parker Tole, the grandfather of John H. Tole. He was reared in Kentucky, and there educated, but as a young man moved to Missouri, where he became a pioneer farmer and a buyer and seller of livestock, occupations in which he continued to be engaged throughout the remainder of his life, his death occurring in Pike County on his farm in 1880. The grandfather was a man of substance, who occupied a prominent place in his community and had the respect of his community as a citizen and a man. He was a devout member of the Christian Church. Mr. Tole was married first to Miss Bradley, and they became the parents of the following children: Jonathan, who went to California in 1860 and who probably spent the rest of his life there, as nothing more was heard from him; James H., the father of John H.; John, twin of James H., who also went to California in 1860 and of whom all track was lost; Milton, who died as a young man; and Elizabeth, of whom trace has been lost by the family. Grandfather Tole was married second to Miss Hughes, and they had four children: William, postmaster at Arrol, Missouri, who enlisted in a Missouri regiment during the Civil war because the Illinois quota was filled, and fought throughout the four years of that struggle, being twice wounded in the right arm; and Luke, Olive and another daughter, of whom all trace has been lost. The grandfather was married a third time to Miss Hall, and they had two children: Parker, who resides near Nexico, Missouri, on a farm; and a daughter Lydea of whom nothing is known.

James H. Tole, father of John H. Tole, was born in 1835, in Pike County, Missouri, and was there reared to manhood on his father’s farm. As a young man he went to Pike County, Illinois, where he was married and made his home in the vicinity of Pleasant Hill until 1873, in which year he came to Montgomery County, Kansas, and bought 160 acres of land in Liberty Township, one mile west of the Town of Liberty, from Harry Dodd, a property on which he resided until 1890. At that time, feeling that he had performed his share of duty, he turned the active work over to younger shoulders and retired to his home at Liberty, where he died in 1898. Mr. Tole was an industrious farmer, who used modern methods in his work and whose farm was one model in every respect. In business circles his word was as good as his bond and his citizenship was always of the highest order, although he never aspired to public office. Politically, he was a Douglas democrat, and his religious faith was that of the Christian Church. Mr. Tole married Miss Harriet Richards, who was born near Lafayette, Indiana, in 1836, of Scotch descent and a daughter of Grant Richards. Mr. Richards, who was a pioneer into Indiana and spent his life in farming, in later years went to Pleasant Hill, Illinois, where his death occurred in 1862. Mrs. Tole passed away on the Liberty Township farm in 1874, having been the mother of the following children: Josephine, who died at the age of three years; John Henry, of this review: W. W., who was engaged in farming near Liberty, died November 15, 1916; Lillie J., the wife of Allen Presler, an extensive traveler, who has visited Alaska as a surveyor and many other out-of-the-way places in the country and is now a resident of Reno, Nevada; Mary F., who died on a farm in Drum Creek Township, as the wife of Charles Swartz, a railroad engineer of Harrisonville, Texas; Minnie M., who is the wife of W. J. Reardon, living on the home farm one mile west of Liberty; and M. L. B., town marshal and a street commissioner of Eskridge, Kansas.

John Henry Tole attended the public schools of Pike County, Illinois, and Montgomery County, Kansas, and was reared on his father’s farm, on which he resided until reaching the age of twenty-one years. For the two following school terms he taught in the country schools of Montgomery County, and then resumed farming as his regular vocation, being engaged therein until 1886. After serving in the capacity of township trustee of Liberty for one year, Mr. Tole entered the employ of S. A. Brown & Company in the grain and lumber business, thus securing his introduction to an industry which he was destined to make his life work. He remained in the employ of this firm at Liberty until 1891, when the business failed, and Mr. Tole turned his attention to wheat-buying, which he continued for two years, being identified with the George A. Adams Grain Company. In 1893 Mr. Tole founded the John H. Tole Lumber Company, a business which he conducted with a full measure of success until 1912, in which year he sold out to the W. D. Riley Lumber Company and turned his attention to his other business matters. In 1914, however, he again became the directing head of this industry when, with G. W. Ashley, he bought the yards, stock and equipment of this enterprise and changed the name to the Liberty Lumber Company, under which style it has since been conducted. While he still maintains his interests at Liberty, Mr. Tole is now a resident of Independence, whence he removed in 1913, and where his fine home is located at 210 North Eleventh Street. He also is the owner of eighty acres of good farming land, situated two miles northeast of Liberty, and owns property at Coffeyville, at 416 Elm Street. Mr. Tole has various other interests to claim his time and attention, being vice president and a director of the Liberty State Bank and a stockholder in the Cole-Trueman Ice and Cold Storage Company, as well as the owner of the third interest of the building of the general store establishment of David Heckman, at Liberty. Politically he is an independent democrat, and his fraternal connections are with Liberty Lodge, No. 123, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Odd Fellows Lodge No. 105, Liberty; the A. H. T. A., and Liberty Chapter of the Order of the Eastern Star. In each of his numerous fields of endeavor, Mr. Tole has displayed the same straightforwardness, the same honorable dealing that have placed his name so high in the estimation of his associates in business circles.

On January 21, 1901, Mr. Tole was united in marriage at Liberty, Kansas, with Mrs. Carrie M. (Goble) Kelso, widow of the late Samuel Kelso, for some years a farmer of Montgomery County, and daughter of Thomas J. Goble, an agriculturist living retired at Shawnee, Oklahoma. To Mr. and Mrs. Tole there have been born two children: John Hollis, who has just completed his grammar school at Independence; and Eunice Eugenia, who is still attending the graded 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.

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