Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled
by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society,
Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii,
2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
One Sunday morning in April, 1887, William Gorsuch completed the last
stage of his overland journey from Illinois and stopped his wagon and picketed
his horse within the limits of Wichita County. While resting oil the rich
Buffalo grass that then covered nearly all the prairie for miles around he
could see herds of antelope grazing in the distance. Having once arrived,
he has never left the county as a permanent home and has been closely identified
with agricultural, industrial and official affairs ever since. His associations
as a pioneer, his active participation in the harvest and threshing matters
of the farmers, and his service as treasurer of the county have made him
as widely known as any other citizen.
Mr. Gorsuch was born in Schuyler County, Illinois, June 26, 1862.
Before taking up his career in Western Kansas it will be proper to refer
to his family record. His father, Nicholas Gorsuch, was born near Wellsville
in West Virginia, but left that locality when a young man and moved to Schuyler
County, Illinois. The lands in that section of Illinois were then in almost
as little demand as in a later generation they were in Wichita County, Kansas.
Evidence of this is found in the fact that Nicholas Gorsuch was able to trade
an old horse for one hundred and sixty acres adjoining his home farm. He
spent his life as a farmer, was a staunch republican and a member of the
Methodist Church. Nicholas Gorsuch married Jane McNeeley, who is still living
in Schuyler County, Illinois, at the age of eighty-eight. Her father, John
McNeeley, was of Irish and Scotch blood and an early settler in Schuyler
County. Nicholas Gorsuch died at the age of sixty-two. Their children were:
John, who died leaving a family at Palmyra, Missouri; Jennie, who died unmarried;
William; Ida, twin sister of William, who died as Mrs. Johnson in Schuyler
County, Illinois; Mrs. Carey Janes, a widow in Schuyler County; and Fannie,
wife of Amos Everhart, of Schuyler County.
Mr. William Gorsuch was a young married man when he arrived in Wichita
County, and his oldest child was the first white child born in Yates Township.
He had married in Schuyler County June 20, 1886, Miss Alice Rose. Her father,
W. B. Rose, was born in Kentucky, and he had a family by a former marriage.
The mother of Mrs. Gorsuch was Martha Ellis, also a native of Kentucky. She
was also twice married, and her children by the first marriage were Roxie,
Anna and Laura Harman. W. B. Rose was a California '49er, twice crossed the
plains, and on the Pacific slope was engaged in mining and other occupations.
He finally located on a farm in Schuyler County, Illinois, and died there
in 1898, at the age of seventy-two. His widow passed away in 1910. Mrs. Gorsuch
was born in January, 1867, and the other children of the family were: Nettie,
living in Schuyler County, widow of Claude Tipton; Mrs. Cora Gibson, of St.
Louis; Warren, who died near St. Louis, leaving two children; Bruce, of Hanson,
Mr. and Mrs. Gorsuch had the following children: Earl, who is assistant
cashier of the Leoti State Bank, and by his marriage to Jessie Preedy has
a daughter, Loleta; Harry, in the butcher business at Leoti, Kansas; Walter,
who was a locomotive fireman with the Santa Fe, is now ranching with his
father; Chester, is in military training at Kansas University; Cora, wife
of R. F. Hollister, assistant cashier of the First State Bank of Leoti, and
they have one child, Lorell; and Ralph, the youngest of the family, a student
at Salina, Kansas.
Mr. Gorsuch's first homestead was the southwest quarter of section
9, township 20, range 37. This he commuted, and afterward purchased a relinquishment
on a pre-emption, the northeast quarter of section 10, township 20, range
38. This he proved up. Later he settled on the northeast quarter of section
7, township 18, range 37, and after living there five years he patented the
land. On his first place he built as a pioneer home a sod house of a single
room, plastered with native gypsum. It had the advantage of being cool in
summer and very comfortable in winter. On his pre-emption he built a dugout,
and kept his home in that place while paying out. On his last homestead he
put up a four room frame house, and that sheltered the family while he was
achieving some of his success in Wichita County.
Mr. Gorsuch arrived here with a span of horses, wagon and harness,
some household goods and about $50 in money. That was perhaps more capital
than the majority of early settlers had. However, he and his young wife went
through the fire of adversity, and it required all their courage and grit
to stand up under the load they carried for some years. In spite of it all
it is possible to record that the family never went to bed hungry. Times
were hard, but they usually found some expedient to drive the wolf from the
door. At one time, being out of money, they started for town with a barrel
of water in the wagon. On the way they drowned out a number of ground squirrels
from their holes, and secured enough of these animals to pay for a week's
supply of groceries. The county at that time was paying a bounty for the
scalps of ground squirrels. Mr. Gorsuch in those early days frequently asked
for work because he needed it, but he never asked the price. If he got a
dollar a day or two dollars a day with his team it was well and good, since
the money afforded him the necessities of life. One winter he spent in the
sugar factory at Rockyford, Colorado, as a wage worker, he was also employed
in the brick yard at Leoti, and he used his team to do grading when the Missouri
Pacific Railway was built through.
In 1891, the first big wheat year, Mr. Gorsuch bought a threshing
outfit. He got it on time, and before the harvest was over he had earned
$1,600 with it and had 5,000 bushels of wheat himself. He continued threshing
for sixteen years. In that time he bought new and wore out three J. I. Chase
machines. On the whole his experience as a thresherman was not profitable.
He himself tried wheat growing for some years, until he became convinced
it was not profitable, at least as a single crop. After that he gave his
attention to stock. Mixed farming, both grain and stock, in Mr. Gorsuch's
judgment is what pays best in the western counties of Kansas, and the future
prosperity of the region will rest upon that kind of agriculture. While Mr.
Gorsuch has not been a worker in the fields for some years he still owns
a stock ranch near Leoti.
About his first public service was performed as a director of the
schools. He served as a trustee of Leoti Township two years, and three years
as commissioner of district No. 2. In 1904 he was elected county treasurer,
succeeding John C. Ford. Two years later he was re-elected. In 1908 Mrs.
Gorsuch became the democratic nominee for the office and was elected. She
was re-elected for a second term in 1910, Mr. Gorsuch performing the duties
of deputy. In 1912 he was again the successful candidate on the republican
ticket, and in 1914 was given another term. His wife during these years served
as his deputy. Their alternate records of service in this office and on opposing
tickets constitute perhaps a unique experience in county politics in Kansas.
In 1916 Mrs. Gorsuch had no confidence in the success of the democratic ticket
in the county, and she declined to become a candidate.
Mr. Gorsuch did his first voting in Wichita County, and his first
vote was a ballot cast against the railroad bonds. He grew up in a republican
home and has always maintained his allegiance in that party.