Chester Emery Dallas was born on the 18th of November, 1850. His parents were Dr. Leander J. and Nancy B. (Hood) Dallas and they lived in Belmont, Ohio at the time. Chester was the sixth of eight children.
By 1860, the Dallas family had moved to Palmyra in Kansas territory. It seems that Chester’s father had given up practicing medicine and was farming instead. In January of 1861, Kansas became the 34th state in the union. By the next year, the Civil War had started and Kansas was a really rough place. It seems that one of the very first battles of the war was fought right here in the area that they lived. Scary stuff.
When Chester was 20 in 1870, he was working as a laborer in Chetopa, Kansas, according to the 1870 census. I have found that he had been a student at Baker University in Baldwin City. Chester had gone to work on a newspaper in Chetopa that was owned an operated by a past president of the university. Chetopa is down on the Kansas Oklahoma border and was in the heart of Osage country. The first post office was established there in 1867, just a few years before Chester shows up in Chetopa on the census.
Chester’s father passed away in 1874 when Chester was 23 years old. By 1880, he had moved back home and was farming. He’s shown as living with his mother, so I’m guessing that when his father died, he went home to take care of things.
On the 24th of November, 1881 Chester married Margaret “Maggie” Harker. He was 31 years old and Maggie was 24. From notes that my grandmother left with my uncle, the Dallas family was Scotch-Irish and Maggie was French-Canadian. I haven’t been able to find pictures yet of either of them.
The couple welcomed a son, Walter Clark Dallas, on the 25th of November, 1884. They were still living in the Palmyra, Kansas area.
In 1886, Maggie filed for divorce in Franklin county, Kansas.
In the 1900 census, Chester was listed as a widower and living in a boarding house in Mound City, Kansas. Was he embarrassed that he was actually a divorcee, or did someone just get it wrong? He was a newspaper man, the publisher and editor of the Linn County Democratic Herald.
On the 25th of December, 1906, Chester remarried. His new wife was named Helen Corn. Chester was 60 years old, still running the newspaper and the couple owned a home on Pine Street in Mound City.
The only thing that I have been able to find about his years as a newspaper editor is one small article that indicates that he was being sued over an expose’ type article. This is from the Topeka State Journal, dated Sep. 04, 1915:
“STATE WILL HELP HIM
Attorney General Aid in Defense of Mound City Editor.
The attorney general’s office will prepare an answer for C.E. Dallas, Mound City editor, in the libel suit against his paper by the Luten interests. Whether the state will aid Dallas in the defense of his action has not been announced.
Some months ago Dallas published in his paper a story reflecting on the methods of the Luten bridge patent and royalty system. As an object lesson to the publishers, it is stated, the corporation filed suit against Dallas for $10,000 for libel. Dallas appealed to state departments for assistance and the attorney general’s office will prepare the publisher’s answer in the case.”
By the 1930 census, right before his death, Chester was working as a real estate agent in Mound City. Interesting! I wonder if that lawsuit put his newspaper out of business? If I find out more, I will update this story.
Chester passed away on the 21st of May 1930 at 79 years old. He is buried in the cemetery at La Cygne, Kansas.
There is so much more that I want to know about Chester’s life. I feel a research trip to Kansas coming up.
From: Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society, Volumes 1-2
J.W. Horner – The Chetopa Advance was started January 4, 1869, by Corey & Horner. Mr. Corey retired in May, 1869. January 4, 1870, S.A. Fitch purchased a half-interest and became joint proprietor and editor. John W. Horner was born at Harrisiburg, Penn in 1834; in 1855 graduated from the State Normal School of Michigan, and in 1858 at the Michigan State University; served in the army from May, 1861, till July, 1865 in all the positions from Lieutenant to Colonel of the Eighteenth Michigan Volunteers; came to Kansas in 1865; became President of Baker University, and in the fall of 1867 a professor in the State University; resigning after one year to engage in establishing the Advance. Of J.M. Cavanass, foreman of his office, Col. Horner says: “He is a graduate of Baker University; a young man of excellent literary tastes, who never looses an hour, never swears, never smokes, never chews, never gets drunk, never loses his patience, never goes to see the girls.” Chester Dallas, another employee, also a Baker University pupil, was equally virtuous. January 4, 1870, the paper took the name of the Southern Kansas Advance.
(Chester is my 2nd great-grandfather on my mom’s side of the family.)