One of Osborne County’s best known citizens for forty years was John A. Fouts. The many city and county offices he held, together with his prominence in the G.A.R. and other lodges, display a record of service seldom equaled in the history of the county.
John was born May 7, 1844, near Dayton in Montgomery County, Ohio. The youngest of twelve children, at the age of three he moved with his family to Logansport, Indiana. There he enlisted in Company E of the 29th Indiana Volunteers in 1861 at the start of the Civil War. He served for nearly five years, mostly with the Army of the Cumberland, and was wounded in the leg at the battle of Chickamauga. He was mustered out in December 1865 at Marietta, Georgia, with the rank of sergeant.
Fouts returned to Indiana and spent the next two years farming near Logansport. In 1867 he moved to Fulton County, Indiana, where he farmed and also worked as a peddler traveling the countryside selling his various wares. After nine years he proposed to try his luck in the West and moved to Waterville, Kansas, where he engaged in the mercantile business. John then settled in Osborne, Kansas, in August 1878 and found work as a clerk in Alfred Fritchey’s general store, The Pennsylvania House, and later with J. R. Boland.
On April 29, 1880, John married Molly Ferguson in Osborne. The couple had five children–Maude, Franklin, Helen, Roy, and a baby who died in infancy. In 1883 John joined with Joseph Ford to start the Farmers Lumber Yard in Osborne. This partnership lasted until 1898 when Fouts entered into the implement business with Charles Eno.
In his years at Osborne John Fouts held more city and county offices than any other citizen. Between 1882 and 1909 he served three years as city clerk, six years on the board of education, eight terms as city council, and four terms as mayor of Osborne. In 1896 he was elected the Osborne County Representative to the state legislature for a term and in 1909 he began the first of three terms as Osborne County Clerk of the District Court. Socially he was a member of numerous lodges and organizations: the Odd Fellows Lodge; the Modern Woodmen of America; Rebekah Lodge; Ladies’ Circle Organization; Sons and Daughters of Justice; Workmen Lodge; Masonic Lodge; and the O. M. Mitchell Post Number 69 of the Grand Army of the Republic organization, of which he was commander in his last years. Somehow in the midst of all these activities John found time for still other interests–once he received a patent on a barbed wire fence builder, which became a market success in the region.
John was serving as Osborne justice of the peace and police judge when he was struck by an automobile while crossing the street near his home on November 28, 1918. He was carried into his residence but his injuries were too severe and he died a short time after. He was laid to rest in the Osborne Cemetery, with the final rites being handled by his Masonic brothers from Osborne and Downs, escorted by the Osborne State Guards and the Alton State Guards, who also furnished a twenty-man firing squad in honor of this distinguished Osborne County citizen.