Niles C. Endsley was born in Alton, Kansas, November 10, 1889, the son of Henry and Emma (Austin) Endsley. Niles grew up in Alton and attended school there; a highlight of his school days came when Alton played Beloit, a much larger school, in football. Despite having only 15 players on their team, Alton soundly beat the visitors and the game is forever counted as one of the school’s greatest sporting achievements. He finished three years of high school before he dropped out at the request of his father, who needed help with the family harness business.
Later Niles “slipped off” and attended a business college course at Kansas Wesleyan University in Salina, Kansas, to learn shorthand. In 1908 his father came across a good buy in restaurant equipment and called on Niles to come home and run the new cafe. A complete steak dinner cost 25 cents. In 1913 he started a local photography studio while running the cafe, but times were too tough to make any money at it and he closed it down. Five years later he returned to Kansas Wesleyan University and became the first graduate from that school in stenotype instruction. Niles wanted to become a newspaper columnist, but instead went to work for the Independent Salt Company of Kanopolis, Kansas, using his stenotype and bookkeeping skills.
In 1916 Niles’ father’s health failed and he returned to Alton to take over the family farm a mile an a half northwest ofAlton. On June 8, 1918, he married Margaret J. Herd in Alton. They lived on six different farms until 1932, when he moved to live on the Frank and Mary Lewis farm (his aunt and uncle) where he lived the rest of his life. His family consisted of one son, Lybran.
Niles was a hard working and honest man who was well thought of by all who knew him. Some famous relatives that he was related to included Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Oliver “Hazard” Perry, who commanded the American navy on Lake Erie in the war of 1812. Niles enjoyed fishing and coin collecting and was a highly-regarded honey producer. He established his first apiary in the 1930s, and at one time he had up to 37 bee swarms. He also sold and raised popcorn for many years. In 1949 he contracted meningitis and was confined to bed, and then bought his first-ever tractor so that his wife could carry on with the farmwork a little easier.
He was active in the Congregational Church inAlton, and later the United Methodist Church. Niles held several offices in the church and served as Sunday School superintendent, teacher and deacon during his over 50 years of membership, attending services regularly up to the day before he died. He was a member of the Masonic Lodge for 65 years and of the Odd Fellow Lodge for 68 years, serving as secretary of that fraternity for 26 years. Niles held the office of Sumner Township clerk and he was also co-founded the Osborne County Farm Bureau and was a past county president of the organization.
In 1899 Niles began writing poetry. Fifty-three years later he began writing poems seriously and his talent in this field was widely recognized. He was a member of the Kansas Authors Club and in 1973 he published Echoes From the Valley, a compilation of his best work. Niles was an authority on historical lore in the area and he was often called upon to locate forgotten graves and to settle disputes concerning the events of the past. In 1970 he compiled The History of Bull City-Alton: 1870-1970 in recognition of the town’s centennial and on September 9th of that year Niles was honored as the Grand Marshal of the Alton Centennial Parade and Celebration. He passed away September 3, 1979, inAlton, and was laid to rest in the Sumner Cemetery.