Biography of Lester Martin Combs

Lester Martin Combs has been an active newspaper man since he graduated from Baker University five years ago and is now editor, manager and treasurer of the Anthony Republican, the official paper of Harper County.

The Republican is the oldest paper in Harper County and was established a few years after the county was organized in 1879. The first editors and publishers were George W. Maffet and Charles Metcalf. For several years in the late ’80s the Republican had a daily edition. At the present time the Republican is printed at a modern plant on South Bluff Street. The Anthony Republican Company, Incorporated, had the following officers: R. S. McGowen, president; S. K. Rife, vice president; E. C. Wilcox, secretary; and L. M. Combs, editor, manager and treasurer. Throughout its existence of nearly forty years the Republican had steadily advocated the principles of the party for which it was named.

Lester Martin Combs was born in Wamego, Kansas, October 1, 1889. He is of English ancestry and his grandfather came from England and settled in Ohio, being a farmer in Butler County until his death.

M. S. Combs, father of the Anthony editor, was born in Butler County, Ohio, in 1840, grew up and married there and spent most of his active life as a farmer. He was an early settler in Kansas, locating in Wabaunsee County in 1861. He homesteaded 160 acres, farmed it many years, and later for a time was in the grocery business at Wamego. He then resumed farming and in 1900 retired to Herington, Kansas, where his death occurred November 16, 1912. He was an active republican and did much as a working member to sustain the Methodist Episcopal Church in the communities where he lived. He married Mary F. Davis, who was born in Missouri in 1847 and is now living at Anthony, Kansas, with her son Lester. There were four children, Lester being the oldest. Zula is the wife of George C. Krause, a confectioner at Anthony. Lisle H. is a druggist at El Dorado, Kansas. Kathryn married L. L. Smith, who conducts a plumbing establishment at Salina, Kansas.

Lester M. Combs attended the country schools of Pottawatomie County when a boy and in 1906 graduated from the Herington High School. He later entered Baker University at Baldwin City, from which he was graduated A. B. in 1912. He is a member of the Zeta Chi fraternity of Baker University.

On leaving college Mr. Combs worked for a few months with the Lawrence Gazette, but in the fall of 1912 went with the Abilene Reflector and in the spring of 1913 to the Wichita Beacon. From October, 1913, to January, 1914, he managed the Garden City Telegram, and at the latter date became associated with the Anthony Republican. Mr. Combs was elected county printer of Harper County in the fall of 1916 for a term of two years.

He is himself an active republican, is affiliated with Abilene Lodge of Masons, Anthony Lodge of Odd Fellows, and Anthony Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and superintendent of the Sunday school.

In 1914 at Anthony Mr. Combs married Miss Carol Shidler, daughter of J. H. and Elmira Shidler. Her parents live at Lake City, Kansas, her father a retired farmer. One son had been born to their marriage, Lester, Jr., born January 31, 1915.

Nickerson College and Reno County High Schoolis an educational combination of importance in the State of Kansas. The high school was established under the state law of 1886 authorizing the founding of such institutions, and nearly thirty counties have availed themselves of its provisions. Nickerson Normal College was founded in 1898. The South Side School Building was remodeled for the college and the City High School merged into the college. The first board of trustees consisted of W. E. Detter, George Turbush, J. H. Jackson, W. F. Hendry, L. C. Brown, J. A. Wilson and E. B. Smith. Professor Smith was its first president. In the fall of 1899 the Reno County High School was organized as the preparatory department of the college. It had had the effect of consolidating the schools of the county into a compact system and of placing the modern forms of higher education within the reach of the attendant of the district school. Since 1911 the Reno County High School had been a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. C. L. Cole is principal of the 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.

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