Biography of Will R. Black

Will R. Black is a native Kansan, grew up and received his education in this state, and is now one of the capable oil inspectors under the state government, with headquarters and home at Coffeyville.

He traces his ancestry back to a family of Scotch origin, and one that was planted in Virginia during colonial days. His grandfather Andy Black, was born in Pulaski County, Virginia, in 1814, was reared and married in that state, and in 1838 went to Western Indiana, where he followed farming and stock raising until his death. He died at Greencastle, Indiana, in 1872. He was a democrat and a member of the Baptist Church. Andy Black married Clara McCammack, who was born in Virginia in 1816 and died in Indiana in 1878. Their children were: James, mentioned below; Jackson, who served with a Kansas regiment in the Civil war and has since followed farming in this state; Seleta, who died at Welda, Kansas, the wife of H. T. Hill, also deceased, who was a farmer and stock raiser; Robert, who lives at Welda, Kansas, was with an Indiana regiment in the Civil war and is a farmer; Thursa, who died at Welda, Kansas, unmarried; and Nellie, who died at Welda also unmarried.

James Black, father of the deputy state oil inspector, was born October 12, 1835, in Pulaski County, Virginia, and was about three years of age when his parents moved to Indiana. He grew up in that state, and in 1855 came as a pioneer to Kansas Territory, locating first at historic Ossawatomie, and in 1857 locating at Garnett. Settlers were just beginning to come into that section of Kansas, and James Black secured a homestead of 160 acres. A few years later he took his place in the ranks of the state militia and was in service in repelling Price’s raid through Kansas and Missouri. From pioneer times until advancing years compelled him to lay aside active responsibilities he was a farmer and stock raiser. In April, 1913, being an invalid, he went to the home of his son Will and died in Coffeyville January 3, 1916, when in his eighty-first year. While living in Anderson County he served two terms as county commissioner. He was a democrat and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. James Black was married in 1858, the year after he located on his homestead at Garnett, to Ellen Norris, who was born in Ohio January 18, 1838, and is still living, making her home with her son Will. The children were: Albert L., who was born in 1861, was a eigar manufacturer at Garnett for several years and later farmed near Texarkana, Texas, where he died in 1906; F. J. Black is a newspaper man, connected with the Kansas City Star and living at Coffeyville; Nellie N. is the wife of John W. Hedley, a jeweler at Altus, Oklahoma; Ella M. married Charles H. Paxton, a jeweler at Paola, Kansas; Osroe died in Garnett, Kansas, in 1889, and was born in 1872; the sixth and youngest of the family is Will R. Black.

Born at Garnett April 17, 1878, Will R. Black received his early education in the public schools of his native town, and left high school in his junior year to begin life on his own responsibilities. He found plenty to do and a means of making a satisfactory livelihood as a farmer and stock raiser near Garnett. In 1913 he was called from his farm by appointment from former Governor G. H. Hodges as a deputy state oil inspector. Mr. Black is now filling the office of oil inspector under civil service rules. He is a democrat.

On May 28, 1899, at Garnett he married Miss Rhoda I. Ellis, daughter of H. M. and Cynthia Ellis, her mother now deceased. Her father served as a soldier in the Civil war in the Ninth Kansas Volunteer Cavalry, and is now living retired at Garnett.



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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