TO: J. J. BANKS, BRUCE HEDRICK, JERRY WALLACE, BILL BOTTORFF.
I have a mystery on my hands and I need your help if you can provide it.
I was given a list of the Sheriffs of Cowley County some time ago by Sheriff O’Dell.
He showed the following person held the position of Sheriff of Cowley County for the period 1888-1890: JAMES W. CONNER.
This does not agree with the information that my late husband [RKW] uncovered when he checked on the father and son by the name of O’Connor. Kay’s father revered Colonel John J. H. Connor and it was with elation that he snapped some items I uncovered about “Colonel John” in the later newspapers that I first covered.
Could it be possible that Sheriff ODell gave me the wrong information? MAW
RKW stated this file years ago...
Dr. B. R. O’Connor.
Colonel John H. O’Connor.
Note: Dr. Byron R. O’Connor, father of Col. John H. O’Connor, evidently had tired of being a physician. He came to Cowley County to start a sheep ranch. He later got involved with Col. McMullen in raising shorthorn cattle. He also raised hogs. He then sold his farm (over 20,000 acres) and eventually settled down in Grenola, where he again became a practicing physician.
Otter Township 1882: Byron R. O’Connor, 42; spouse, 34. P. O. Address: Cambridge.
Biographical data gathered by RKW on John H. O’Connor:
John H. O’Connor came to Winfield in 1879 when he was 12 years old. He went to school in the old Central building but left school after one year of high school. He worked with his father and learned the stone mason’s trade. He then attended Southwestern College for two years.
When his father was elected sheriff on the Union Labor ticket John was made deputy sheriff and jailor. He held those positions through 1887-88-89. Later he worked as a newspaper reporter and as collector for a publishing company. He was married in 1894 to Miss Sallie A. Rowland. Mrs. O’Connor died in 1903 soon after the birth of their only daughter.
He served in the Spanish-American war as a sergeant, battalion sergeant major, and regimental sergeant major. After being mustered out of service he organized Company 2, of the Second Kansas national guard of which he was made captain. In 1911 he was promoted to the rank of major of the second battalion of the Second Kansas Regiment. In 1916 he served with the troops on the Mexican border.
After being released and returning to civil life Major O’Connor was drafted under the dual oath president and governor act in 1917. He was sent to the school of musketry at Fort Sill for two months and then, after a brief rest at home was ordered to Camp Donaldson where the Fifth division was mobilized and he was given charge of 1007 men.
In France Major O’Connor was sent ahead of his troops to the front where he was under fire with the French troops. After serving as a major during the entire war he was promoted to the rank of Colonel for gallantry in action just two days before the signing of the armistice.
Col. O’Connor received two citations. He was decorated with the distinguished service cross for gallantry in the attack of Montrebeau woods and received the silver star citation for brilliant leadership at Baulny under heavy fire while conducting a support wave and rallying troops under fire.
Col. O’Connor returned home after the World War and took up the work of a newspaper reporter again but was appointed postmaster of Winfield on July 20, 1922. He held that position till his death.
He helped organize the American Legion and was a founder of Kansas Post Number 1. Topeka being the state capital wanted to be post 1, so Winfield finally agreed and took the number 10. He was the first commander of the post.
FROM THE NEWSPAPERS.
[DR. B. R. O’CONNOR MIGHT LOCATE IN WINFIELD.]
Winfield Courier, October 14, 1880.
Dr. B. R. O’Connor, of Mishawaka, Indiana, has been spending a few days in the city. The doctor is looking up a sheep ranch; and if he succeeds in finding one to suit him, he will remove with his family to Winfield in the spring and make this his future home. He is a gentleman of culture and will make a valuable addition to our society. We have room for more like him.
Winfield Courier, March 17, 1881.
Dr. B. R. O’Connor, accompanied by his mother and six-year-old son, and also Mr. E. M. Baldwin, of St. Joe County, Indiana, arrived on the nine o’clock train Thursday night. The Doctor has purchased the Todd farm, seven miles southeast of this place on Otter creek, and will fit it up for a sheep ranch. His wife and daughter will arrive in about two months, accompanied by Mrs. Baldwin.
[OTTER TOWNSHIP CORRESPONDENT: “OTTERITE.”]
Winfield Courier, September 6, 1883.
Southeast Cowley. Dr. O’Connor of North Otter seems to be turning his sheep into cattle, from the way he is purchasing young cattle of both sexes.
Winfield Courier, December 6, 1883.
We had the pleasure of meeting Dr. O’Connor, one of Cowley’s big farmers, last Monday. The Doctor owns a large tract of land in Otter Township, which he is stocking with the very best strains of cattle. He and Col. McMullen purchased a lot of thoroughbred shorthorns Monday.
Winfield Courier, December 27, 1883.
Mrs. Dr. B. R. O’Connor and her daughter, Genie, of Otter Township, spent Christmas in the city, the guests of Col. Tom Soward.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, January 1, 1885.
The following is an abstract of the report of the claims allowed by the County Auditor for the month of November, A. D., 1884. B. R. O’Connor. Road damages.
BREVITIES FROM OTTER. “QUIZ.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, April 2, 1885.
On the 18th Legrand Baldwin departed this life. The funeral sermon was preached by Rev. Webb. Dr. O’Connor, who was present, made several brief, fitting, and touching remarks.
SOUTH OTTER. “OTTERITE.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, May 21, 1885.
Have had Noah’s flood No. 2 in and around this section. Cedar creek, Rock creek, Otter creek, Big Cana, and Grant creek were all the highest ever known since this country has been settled. On Otter and Big Cana all the loose soil has been washed off and farmers will have to stir their ground again. Farmers on Cana say that their farms are damaged one-half or more to say nothing of houses, fences, corn, stock, etc. Nine persons have been known to be drowned, up to date, but all the bodies have not been recovered. This loss of life was all east and southeast of Cedarvale, in Chautauqua County. Big Cana was 25 feet above low water mark. Joe. Dale’s house and Hart’s mill, with several other buildings, went down the stream. Dr. O’Connor, on the head of Otter, lost over 100 head of fat hogs.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 16, 1885.
The Dr. O’Connor farm, in eastern Cowley, 3,000 acres, has changed hands for $20,000: the biggest sale on record this year.
Winfield Courier, Thursday, July 16, 1885.
The following are the real estate transfers filed in the office of Register of Deeds since our last issue.
Elizabeth O’Connor to Byron R O’Connor w hf sec 28 and e hf and sw qr and e hf nw qr sec 29 and 27 lots in 39-32-8-e: $20,000.
Byron R O’Connor et ux to Elizabeth O’Connor, w ½ sec 28 and e ½ of sw ¼ and e ½ nw ¼ sec 29 and 27 lots in 30-32-8-e, 2002 acres: $20,600.
OTTER VALLEY. “JESSE.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, October 1, 1885.
Lou Wilkins will teach in the O’Connor district this winter.
We hear that Dr. O’Connor is going to move to Grenola in the near future.
OTTER VALLEY. “JESSE.”
Winfield Courier, Thursday, January 21, 1886.
Dr. O’Connor, of East Otter, has moved to Grenola. He has given up farming and is going to practice medicine again. He is a splendid physician and we hated to give him up.
[COL. JOHN H. O’CONNOR: NEW POSTMASTER AT WINFIELD.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Wednesday, August 23, 1922.
The new postmaster at Winfield, Col. John H. O’Connor, took charge of the office there today, according to reports from the county seat received here. He will in the future devote his entire time to the job, but in case of an emergency will be on the staff of the Daily Courier, as he has been the city editor of that paper for a number of years past.
[WINFIELD POSTMASTER IS NOW A COLONEL: COLONEL O’CONNOR.]
Arkansas City Traveler, Saturday, September 9, 1922.
Winfield, Kans., Sept. 9.—It’s Colonel O’Connor, now, Winfield’s postmaster, who has heretofore held a commission as lieutenant colonel, received word Friday of his promotion to the grade of colonel in the infantry reserve corps.
Colonel O’Connor is in command of the 353rd infantry, a tactical organization with a nucleus of officers ready for expansion to a full-strength regiment of infantry should the United States ever engage in another war.
With a Winfield man in command of the regiment, regimental headquarters will be located in Winfield.
Through twenty-five years of service with the national guard and army, Colonel O’Connor has climbed successfully the steps from “buck private” to colonel. He entered the world war as a major, received promotion to the grade of lieutenant-colonel after the Argonne battle; and as soon as he was mustered out, accepted a commission as lieutenant-colonel in the infantry reserve corps. His ability is now again recognized by his promotion to the grade of colonel.