Transcribed from History of Wyandotte County Kansas and its people ed. and comp. by Perl W. Morgan. Chicago, The Lewis publishing company, 1911. 2 v. front., illus., plates, ports., fold. map. 28 cm. [Vol. 2 contains biographical data. Paged continuously.] p. 624-626 transcribed by Jeremy Brittle, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, on October 23, 2000


John Scanlan

JOHN SCANLAN the well known retired farmer of Quindaro township has had a noteworthy career. Perhaps the man who decides on a certain business or profession when he first starts out in life and devotes himself to that and that alone, may make more money than the one who has turned his attention to different lines, but the former misses a good deal of valuable experience which the man who has tried and made a success of several lines of work has gathered.

John Scanlan was born in Clare county, Ireland in June, 1835. He was the son of Patrick and Nora Scanlan. Mrs. Scanlan's maiden name was Myers and she, like her husband was born in Ireland. They lived there until 1848 when they came with their family to America. They first settled in Palmyra, New York and there brought up their family.

John was only ten years old when he left his native country and came to America. He had been to school in Ireland, but only for a short time. As soon as they arrived in Palmyra, New York, he was sent to school. He remained in New York state until 1859, when he went to New Orleans and got a job as fireman on a steamship. He stayed there for two years, when the Civil war broke out. During his residence in New Orleans he had seen something of the conditions of the negroes and believed that they would not be helped by being set free. Then too, he had the Irishman's instinctive feeling that the colored people were not made of just the same clay as the white people. He therefore, enlisted in the Confederate navy May 16, 1861, in which he served three years and nine months, practically throughout the war. For a time he was with the army, in the heavy artillery. He was a participant in the battle of Vicksburg, July, 1862. He was in the Ram and went through two northern fleets, going close enough to the northern flagship to have touched it. There was one hundred and eighty men in the crew under Captain Brown, Lieutenant Stevens being first officer. Mr. Scanlan seemed to lead a charmed existence, as he was never wounded. At one time six men were killed just four feet behind him, but he was not hurt and did not even know how close he had been to death until an hour later. He took part in several important naval battles. While on the Ram they were under fire of one hundred and twenty cannons a minute and the Ram was struck one hundred and eighty times, according to the dents. There are few men who had the narrow escapes that he did without a scratch. After the close of the war in 1866, he came to Kansas City, Kansas, but did not stay long. He next went to Denver, Colorado, where he worked on the Union Pacific Railroad and from Denver he went to Cheyenne, Wyoming. After a short time he came back to Kansas City, that being the place of all others where he felt he should like to settle. He bought one hundred and thirty acres of land, covered with timber, except for fifteen acres, which was cleared and on which was a log cabin. He lived in the cabin and set to work to clear the land, selling his timber at a good price. He used the land for pasture and in 1889 he built the home where he now lives and the barns which are near. He raises cattle and has a large dairy farm.

About 1879, he married Bridget Shay, the daughter of Patrick Shay, of Irish birth like himself. Three children have been born to this union, of whom Emmet is the eldest. He is a single man and lives on the farm, which he operates. He has forty-five head of cattle and gets one hundred gallons of milk each day, which he sells at wholesale. Mamie, the second child, is living at home with her father and brother, James, the youngest child died at the age of five months. Mrs. Scanlan died in 1901, at the age of sixty years.

Mr. Scanlan has led a very busy life since he began to farm, never finding time to take any very active part in public affairs. He is not now actively managing the farm, but still takes the deepest interest in all the details. He lives quietly on the farm which was purchased with the money he earned during the war, comfortably well off, surrounded by his children and the friends he has made during the years he has lived in Kansas. He is always glad to welcome any of his friends to his home and they delight in hearing him tell of his thrilling experiences during the war.



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