HON. EDGAR R. THORPE, a resident of Kearny County thirty years, is widely known as a successful lawyer and is also one of the largest farmers in Kansas.
Mr. Thorpe was born in Ross County, Ohio, August 1, 1861. His family have lived for several generations in that richly historic section of the old Buckeye State, His great-grandfather, James W. Thorpe, was a native of Scotland, and on coming to the United States settled in Ross County, Ohio, when it was a comparatively new and pioneer country. The grandfather, John Thorpe, was a native of Ross County, and spent his life there as a farmer and stock raiser. His children were John F., who lost his life as a Union soldier, and Daniel.
Daniel Thorpe, father of the Kansas lawyer, was born in Ross County, Ohio, in 1831, and gave his active years to farming and stock raising. He came to Kearny County late in life, in 1890, and died here in 1892. He had entered land in the county. While living in Ohio he was an active democrat, was a strong Scotch Presbyterian, and did a good deal to upbuild church influences at Lakin during his brief residence there. Daniel Thorpe married Hannah Robinson, a daughter of Joseph and Mary (Kilgore) Robinson. Mary Kilgore was a daughter of Captain Kilgore, who was killed while captain of a company of Revolutionary patriots in 1777. Mrs. Daniel Thorpe died in 1916. Her children were: Edgar R.; Thornton N., a prominent citizen of Lakin elsewhere mentioned; Mrs. William H. Johnson, of Kearny County; and Roy P., of Merced, California.
Edgar R. Thorpe had the old Ohio farm as his early environment. He attended the public schools, also an academy at South Salem, Ohio, and at the age of sixteen began writing life insurance. Before he was twenty-one he was made general agent of the Bellefountain Life Insurance Company. He resigned this work in order to come to Kansas and begin his career anew in the far West.
He arrived in Kearny County February 1, 1888, bringing with him his wife, and they entered a homestead on the south side of the Arkansas River. This homestead he proved up and still owns. Mr. Thorpe and his wife shared in the pioneer life of this locality, and while many of his years have been given to a learned profession he knows what it is to earn his bread by the sweat of his brow. His first home was a small frame shack. He had unusual success as an early farmer. At first he did not even have a team to plow his land, and he went in debt, paying three per cent a month for money with which to equip himself with farming tools. At the end of three years he had two teams, sixty head of cattle and was entirely out of debt. He had fortunately chosen irrigated farming as his vocation, and gained his prosperity through alfalfa, grain and cattle. As already noted, he is still a farmer, and owns large tracts of land in different localities of the state and keeps in close touch with agricultural matters.
From his farm he was called to the county seat by his election as register of deeds in 1891. He served two terms. While in office he read law, continued it after the close of his official term and was admitted to the bar before Judge Abbott. The committee of examiners were Judge Henry Mason, Judge Andrew Hoskinson and Judge S. R. Peters. Mr. Thorpe soon began practice, forming a partnership with Albert Hoskinson under the name Thorpe & Hoskinson. This continued several years and since then Mr. Thorpe has carried the responsibilities of a large practice alone. He was appointed attorney for the Santa Fe Railway Company in 1895 and much of his work since then has been in handling the affairs of the railroad in this locality. Soon after his admission to practice in the local courts he was admitted to the Kansas Supreme Court and about the same time to the Federal Courts. Many of his most important cases have been before the Federal District Courts. He has usually been the local attorney employed in all litigation over irrigation matters. Mr. Thorpe organized the Kearny County Farmers Irrigation Association and is attorney for the South Side Irrigation Association. He has been attorney for the United States Sugar & Land Company since it began business in this region. He acquired the lands occupied by the company reservoir, partly by purchase and partly by condemnation. This tract cost over $300,000. For six years Mr. Thorpe served as county attorney of Kearny County, being elected in 1895 and continuing in office for three terms. While county attorney he secured the first conviction in the county for a penal offense, cattle stealing. At the present time he is attorney representing Kearny County in a suit for $40,000, the case, Aetna Insurance Company vs. Kearny County, being an old and prominent one and having been before the courts for twenty-one years. The case was brought in the matter of bonds purchased and said to have been fraudulently issued. Mr. Thorpe organized the Deerfield State Bank, secured a national charter for the First National Bank of Syracuse, and for many years was a majority stockholder of the Kearny County Bank.
Recently he was chosen chairman of the War Council of Kearny County, and was also active in the Red Cross movement in this locality, though ill health in his family did not allow him the participation which he desired. Mr. Thorpe is a republican, and is the only member of that party in his family for generations. He cast his first vote as a republican, has served four years as a member of the State Central Committee, and was a republican presidential elector in 1908. Fraternally he is a past master of the local Masonic Lodge, is affiliated with the Knight Templar Commandery at Garden City and with Isis Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Salina. Mr. Thorpe is a Presbyterian and for many years has been deacon of the local church.
At Hillsboro, Ohio, April 4, 1882, he married Miss Irene Zink, and together they shared the early experiences of life in Kansas and have reared a fine family of children. Mrs. Thorpe was born January 10, 1861, a daughter of Thomas and Mary (Robbins) Zink. There were five children in the Zink family: Mrs. H. J. Parker, of Barber County, Kansas; Miss Ollie, deceased; Mrs. Thorpe; Millie, wife of W. L. Morrow, of Columbus, Ohio; and Nettie, who died in childhood. Charles, the oldest child of Mr. Thorpe, is a rancher in Kearny County and by his marriage to Ella Wright has four children, Edith, Margaret, Dorothy and Edgar W. Georgie E., the second child, married R. E. Menn, of Lakin, and has two sons, Roy Thorpe and Donald. Edgar Glenn, the youngest child, is a resident of Lakin, and married Mayme Fuller. They have a son, Edgar R. Jr.
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.
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