Marion Luther Reh was a community leader. He was born March 6, 1918, to Todd and Rhoda (Snapp) Reh on a farm southwest of Natoma, Kansas. The family later moved to a farm northeast of Natoma where he attended Round Mound rural school. They were poor and Marion learned about hard work at an early age. He started working out at age fourteen, helping neighboring ranchers and farmers. His working helped contribute to the family.
When Marion was eighteen, he took a job working for Bus Harbaugh, who had a grocery store and meat market in Natoma. Bus taught him how to butcher and cut meat. Later he worked for Harl Richmond at Richmond’s Store, taking care of the meat locker plant. In 1946 he and his brother Bill built a slaughter house at the east edge of Natoma. In 1948 they added a locker plant. Marion continued to work at the meat processing until 1978 when he sold his share to Bill. Marion was very much interested in the community. He helped organize the first Labor Day Celebration in 1938 and helped each year thereafter. He was a cubmaster when his sons were in Cub Scouts; later he was a 4-H leader. He was awarded a plaque by the high school FFA Chapter for helping their judging team. In 1960 he went to an auction school in Kansas City, Missouri. He was an auctioneer for many years, serving the area. He served on the Natoma City Council for several terms, a total of 23 years in all. Later he became Mayor, giving of his service for twelve years.
Marion always liked horses. He was known for taking kids for rides. Whenever they saw him riding, they knew he’d take them for a ride. He knew how to win their friendship and love, and most of them knew him as “Uncle” Marion. He became “family” active in the Kansas Western Horseman’s Association (KWHA). He served as a board member, was vice president, then he served one term as president for that association. He became a respected KWHA judge, fulfilling that job for twenty-five years. He was a very competitive rider and earned many trophies riding his quarter horse stallion. He was awarded “Judge of the Year” by contestant votes two out of the three years that this award was given. He helped organize several saddle clubs in the area and announced at many nearby shows. One of the reasons he was a favorite horse show judge was that he always took time to walk out and explain to the young people why he hadn’t placed them and what they could do to improve. Many parents thanked him because their children listened and did try to improve. He had a way that kids related to; they listened.
Marion was very instrumental in making the old Welling Theater into a community center. He spent many hours laboring on the remodeling of the building. He was happy and anxious for Natoma to have the Center. He was never too busy to help. After snowstorms, he was at many driveways on his tractor, clearing the snow. He was especially thoughtful of people living alone. In the springtime plowing gardens–not for pay but just out of goodness, he was there. He really cared about people, his community and his God. Marion married Roberta Hoskins in 1940 and they had three sons: Marion Lee, Gary, and Dennis. Marion died March 18, 1993, and was buried in the Natoma Cemetery.
Marion Reh was a man who seldom met anyone he didn’t like.
The annals of Osborne County history cite many individuals of exceptional ability. Few, however, can match the versatile Calvin Reasoner. Clergyman, newspaper editor and reporter, attorney, author, judge and politician, Reasoner left his impression on the early history of Osborne County and rightfully takes his place in the Osborne County Hall of Fame.
Calvin was born May 13, 1837, in Adamsville, Muskingum County, Ohio. He was the sixth of eleven children born to Jacob and Nancy (Hill) Reasoner. Little is known of his early life, other than that he was a college graduate with several degrees of merit, including Doctor of Laws. On March 8, 1863, Calvin married Venetia Shearer in Jackson County, Ohio. Together they raised four daughters, May, Florence, Clara, and Elsie.
After their marriage the Reasoners moved west to Leavenworth, Kansas, where from 1864 to 1869 Reasoner was pastor of the First Christian Church. In 1870 he moved his family west again, this time settling in Tilden Township in Osborne County, Kansas. There Calvin joined with others and founded the town of Arlington. To insure the stability of the new town he and his partner Frank Thompson opened a general store, and in 1871 Calvin became the town’s first postmaster.
It was on the steps of Reasoner and Thompson’s general store that the organization of Osborne County took place on May 27, 1871. Much to Calvin’s consternation. however, Osborne City was selected the temporary county seat and not Arlington. To champion Arlington’s cause, the first newspaper in the county, the Osborne County Express, appeared with Calvin Reasoner as editor. The county seat contest was spirited, but in the third and final election held in November 1872 Osborne City garnered 267 votes to Arlington’s 214 and dashed its supporters’ hopes forever. The Arlington post office was discontinued and the town quickly faded away.
Calvin accepted defeat graciously and moved his family to Osborne City, where he opened a successful law practice and real estate business. He served as editor of the Osborne Times newspaper in 1873 and was elected mayor of Osborne in 1881. In 1873-74 he served both as the county representative to the Kansas Legislature and on the board of trustees of the Kansas Institute for Education of the Blind. In 1876 he compiled the newspaper series Historical Sketches of Osborne County in which was preserved much of the history of the county’s first five years.
In 1881 the Reasoners divorced. Calvin then married Ellen Jillson on December 16, 1882, in Massachusetts. This marriage also ended in divorce four years later. By 1888 Reasoner was working in Washington, D.C., as a special correspondent for the Topeka Daily Capital. The 1890s saw Calvin move to Utah, where he served as a probate judge in Ogden and wrote influential political articles urging less state government control by the Mormon Church. In 1896 his self-published book, Church and State: The Issue of Civil and Religious Liberty in Utah, influenced many Utah legislators in writing that state’s constitution.
Calvin Reasoner later lived in Warrensburg, New York, and in Sanford, Florida, where he lived with relatives. He died there December 6, 1911, and was laid to rest in Sanford’s Lakeview Cemetery. To date there is no known photograph of Calvin.
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Selections From “HISTORICAL SKETCHES OF OSBORNE COUNTY”
by Calvin Reasoner
“Introduction: Since the announcement a few weeks ago that an effort would be made to preserve a record of the historical details incident to the earliest settlement of our county there has been a commendable interest manifested in the mater by a number of our most intelligent citizens, and we can promise you a series of articles in which the most important historical matters can be preserved. Let it be noted, however that in this series we will endeavor to follow no particular method whereby a systematic presentation would be secured. Some articles will be furnished to us entire and will be published as presented and due credit be given to each contributor. When the whole is spread upon the record, however scattering, it will not be difficult to systematize and put in proper shape. – C. R.
The first item we shall mention is the pecuniary condition of the early settlers in general. It is no disgrace to those who came first into our county to say that the majority of them were very poor in this world’s goods, however blessed they might feel to be in their hopes of another and better life. At the present, after half a dozen years of settlement, but few are well circumstanced. Few have more than the barest necessities of life. A very limited number have the comforts of life and scarcely any are able to afford the luxuries.
It must be expected that a majority of the settlers in a new country, and especially in a homestead country, will be poor. Before the homestead law was enacted lands were often sold to the highest bidder and men of capital as well as those of moderate means would purchase lands. The wealthy would buy large tracts and hold them for a rise in prices through settlement and the poor would buy each a farm for a home. It was consequently by the improvements of the poor that speculators would get an advance on their lands. But in a homestead country no man can get more that a small amount of land and in order to hold that he must live upon it. Thus a man of wealth can scarcely invest his means until lands begin to change hands. Some capital may be invested in the purchase and sale of goods, but even this kind of business is very much limited by the general destitution.
The markets . . . so far as there were any, were very remote from the settlers of our county–as they are still–but in 1870 and 1871 there was very little produced for sale, even if there had been a good market. The principal staple was buffalo meat, and this was carried down the Solomon [River] valley as far as Solomon City [110 miles away] or sometimes to Junction City [160 miles], both places being trading points. Buffalo meat was carried in wagons, sometimes in the raw state, and frequently it would be dried. The latter would sell at from six to ten cents per pound and the former at from three to six. Occasionally prices would vary from these figures but these were about the average. The employment was therefore better than nothing and it was all that was available at the time. Hence a great many of the settlers in 1870, 1871, and 1872 became of necessity buffalo hunters.
Let us draw a picture which has often been verified in our past history. Here comes a covered wagon slowly moving up the road which was recently merely a buffalo hunters’ trail. There are two persons walking and a boy driving. Inside you notice, as the team approaches, that there are women and children; also bedding, boxes, tools and traps of various kinds; a shovel and a broom stick out behind and a small chicken coop hangs on at the rear. The little cavalcade halts in our presence and inquires for vacant lands. They want to get ‘timber and water.’ You tell them that there is plenty of vacant land with timber and water at a certain point and then inquire how far they have come. Well they have driven some two or three hundred miles in search of a home and now they have got to their destination and they feel like laying the foundations of a new home. They don’t feel discouraged by the entire newness of the country but indicate a determination to make the best of it. They drive on to the place indicated and soon take hold on the surroundings and show they are able to take advantage of everything that offers in the building up of a new home.
You visit them in few weeks and find that they have used timber enough to build them a comfortable house capable of withstanding the winds, the heat and the rains. They are breaking some ground and planting corn in the sod. If the season is favorable they will get some ten or fifteen bushels per acre of sod corn and this will suffice to feed the team and perhaps a cow; and if it be not far to mill some of it will be ground for bread. If there are no mills the corn can be parched or boiled. I have known families to live all winter on little else than boiled corn and thankful to get even that meager supply. If the season should fail to be one that would produce corn our settler will have hard times. They have no money, perhaps. Probably they did not bring five dollars into the country with them. Some brought considerable money and soon consumed it in living expenses and then were quite destitute.
What then must our poor family do? There is no work that will bring any remuneration. How many poor settlers a few years ago contemplated life from this unhappy standpoint. If the settler could get to haul a load of goods or freight of any king for a merchant or anybody else this would be of help; anything he could turn his hand to. In this state of things it was very convenient to turn buffalo hunter, and for two purposes–one to supply the family with food, the other to have something for market to supply other things.
The year 1870 was tolerably good for wheat in the lower part of the Solomon valley, where it had begun to settle up and be cultivated, but it was dry through June and July. In the vicinity probably corn would not have made more than half a crop. Rains began early in August and continued through the fall. All through the early part of the summer hot winds prevailed. Some of the rains in the latter part of the season were exceeding heavy, so that the ground in many places was flooded with water. During the latter part of this year 1870 Mr. [Frank] Stafford settled with his mother and her family on Little Medicine Creek near the mouth. About the same time Baronet Gow, Will Garrison and Joseph Hart settled there, and these were the pioneers on Little Medicine. They were soon joined by Wiley Wilson and others. The winter was remarkably mild and pleasant and very favorable for the maintenance of stock without grain. Gow had two yoke of oxen and had no grain to feed them, but they lived through and came out in the spring in good order, having had nothing but buffalo grass to subsist on.
Gow was a great devotee of the ‘weed.’ He had been out about a month and was severely punished for want of it when he succeeded in getting half a dollar and came out post haste down the valley to the writer’s store to get tobacco–I should have said ‘tobaker.’ His chagrin can scarcely be imagined when he got to the store and found that he had lost his money. His words fell thick and fast and most of them indicated that he had been brought up under some of the numerous forms of orthodox religion. A caddy of bright navy seemed to intensify his disappointment. On being handed an immense plug his dental outfit set to work in good earnest as though the making of ‘amber’ was the chief end of man and to expectorate it around the height of human happiness. It was not expected at the time that the plug would ever be paid for but it was and hundreds of dollars more within the next two years by this same honest, hardy, good-natured Baronet Gow. Mr. Frank Stafford was one of the first three commissioners appointed by the governor and was subsequently elected to the same office by the popular vote. He still resides in single blessedness on Little Medicine.” — Osborne County Farmer, March 3, 1876, and July 7, 1876.
Combmaker, book canvasser, lumberman, brickmaker, military veteran, Congregational minister, stonemason, politician. All these were the trades of Russell Scott Osborn, born July 3, 1833, at Margaretville, Delaware County, New York. As a young man Osborn moved to Harvey County, Illinois. There he met and married Sabrina Letitia McKinley, a cousin of President William McKinley, on February 14, 1857. Russell and Sabrina had eight children – Nettie, Ella, Nathan, Catherine, Oscar, Carl, Charles and Katie.
With the start of the Civil War, Osborn enlisted in Company C of the 17th Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He then re-enlisted in Company F of the 140th Illinois Infantry, being discharged in December 1864 with the rank of captain. In 1865 he moved his family to Story County, Iowa, where Osborn engaged in the nursery business. During their stay here he was ordained a minister in the Congregational Church.
On August 7, 1872, the Osborn family came to Kansas and settled on a homestead located four miles west of Bull City in Sumner Township, Osborne County. They lived on the homestead for the next twenty years. Osborn supplemented his farming income by working as a stonemason. He built the Ash Rock Church in northwest RooksCounty, the First Congregational Church in Stockton, the Alton stone mill, and several stone houses in the vicinity, including his own.
As a Congregational minister, Osborn helped organize churches at Ash Rock in Rooks County, New Harmony in southern Smith County, and at Mount Ayr in Osborne County. He was appointed Assistant Superintendent of Congregational Churches in Western Kansas. Osborn preached wherever he went, and from 1890 to 1892 he served as minister of the First Congregational Church in Stockton.
Osborn had considered himself a Republican in political matters, but when he was about 60 years old he became involved in the Farmers’ Alliance Movement in an attempt to help the plight of farmers during a financially depressed era. With the rise of the Populist Party in 1890 Osborn and many other Kansans switched sides. In 1892 Captain Osborn became Kansas Secretary of State on the Populist Party ticket. His career as a politician found him involved in the infamous Legislative War of 1893. The Republican and Populist Party members of the Kansas House of Representatives battled over who would gain control of the House. The discord escalated to the point of physical violence with the Republicans breaking down the doors to Representative Hall with a sledge hammer and the two factions taking up arms against each other. The governor finally called in the state militia to restore the peace, and the Kansas Supreme Court determined that the Republican Party had the legal majority in the Kansas
Osborn served only one term as Secretary of State. He retired from politics and continued to live in Topeka. In 1898 his wife died and Osborn moved back to the old homestead in Osborne County, where he lived for six more years before moving to Stockton. He died there May 20, 1912, and was buried in the Pleasant Valley Cemetery in Sumner Township, Osborne County.
In 2011 Osborn’s great-great granddaughter Patsy Redden compiled a biography on his life entitled “Captain Osborn’s Legacy.”
William Henry Mize certainly helped put Osborne County on the map in its early days. William was born March 28, 1846, in Proctor, Owlsley County, Kentucky, to William and Caroline (Jacobs) Mize. There he grew to manhood and in 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Once he was captured by a unit of Confederate soldiers, which included some of his cousins. “It’s good to see you, Willie,” one of them told him, “but not in the company you keep.”
After being mustered out of service at the war’s end William moved to Kansas. At Junction City he met and married Louisa Ann Panton on January 3, 1872. They had five children, William, Walter, Granville, Mabel, and Ethel. In 1882 William relocated his family to Osborne, Kansas, where his parents had already settled. The Mizes first bought a farm southwest of town but soon moved into Osborne and rented out the farm.
Early in life William became a member of the Methodist Church and upon his arrival in Osborne he became a valuable layman in the church there. He is credited with rebuilding and thus saving the history of the church’s early years after the original records were lost in a fire. He worked as a farmer and later in Osborne he became an insurance agent and land speculator. One of his passions was writing. While many of his manuscripts never saw publication some did; the most notable was Gold, Grace, and Glory, which was published August 8, 1896, by G. W. Dillingham Publishers of New York, New York. The novel tells the tale of Methodist Church youth and their social lives as they traveled to various points in the Osborne County area.
From 1903 through 1906 William served two terms as Osborne County Clerk. His deputy was his daughter Mabel. But he achieved his greatest fame as a loyal and accomplished member of the Masonic fraternal organizations. At this point in time membership in the ancient Masonic movement was highly prized and essential for furthering any careers in business or politics. The local Masonic Lodge was often the catalyst for new ideas and needed improvements in the smaller towns and cities across America. William Mize joined the Masons in 1868 and remained a member for fifty-two years, carrying over his membership wherever he later moved to. He joined Saqui Lodge, Number 160, in Osborne in 1884 and rose to the highest positions available within the Masonic fraternity ever achieved by an Osborne County citizen. He advanced in all degrees except the Scottish Rite, and only failed there because in his time the rite could only be conferred upon a candidate in Scotland itself. William served every office and capacity and three times served as Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Kansas, the head of all Masonic activities in the state. The DeMolay Lodge for Masonic Youth in Osborne was founded by Mize and was later renamed for him. His influence in Masonic matters reached beyond Kansas across the Midwest and in doing so further enhanced Osborne County as a notable place to live and work.
William Mize died April 12, 1920, in Osborne. An elaborate Masonic ceremony accompanied this most distinguished Mason to his final resting place in the Osborne Cemetery.
A farmer, stockman, and businessman, Olan Charles “O.C.” McFadden had his roots in the Natoma, Kansas area, where he was born on December 23, 1908 to Charles and Elsie (Smith) McFadden. When a child his family moved to Graham County, Kansas, and as a young man he served as a page at the state legislature while his father was a member of the Kansas House of Representatives. Olan attended secondary school in Morland, Kansas and graduated high school there as school valedictorian in 1927. Though he received a football scholarship to Kearney State College in Nebraska, he returned to help his father farm because he didn’t care for the college social life.
Myra Beryl Crist was born August 17, 1911 southeast of Osborne and was the daughter of Jess and Mildred Crist. Beryl attended school in Hoxie, Kansas and married Olan Charles McFadden in Morland on April 20, 1930. Their children were Carl Paul and Sandra Kay. During the early 1930s Olan hauled furniture for those moving out of Graham County.
In 1935 O.C. moved his family to Osborne. They had only one truck at the time with which to start a trucking business and lived in very humble surroundings. But over time O.C. slowly built up the business and at one point he had three tractor-trailers and drivers working for him. A major source of income was buying and hauled hogs to packing plants in Topeka and Kansas City. This job ended with the 1959 flood that destroyed the packing houses. Farming then became McFadden’s main source of income, with land ownership in four counties. He usually had a herd of cattle on pasture being fattened for market. When his hired hands reached retirement age McFadden leased his land to younger farmers.
O.C. had memberships in the Osborne United Methodist Church, Rotary Club, Good Sam Club and the National Motor Coach Association. He served as city councilman and mayor of Osborne, and as a United Methodist Church trustee. Over the years O.C. and his wife Beryl gave large sums of money in the Osborne area for a new baseball complex, community golf course, airport runway, the Osborne Methodist Church, and more than $300,000 to the new Osborne Public Library in 1995. From all accounts he had more fun giving his wealth away than he did making it. O.C. had a great sense of humor and the story is told of how after the library was built he would come in daily and sit under his portrait just to see if people would recognize him.
O.C.’s trademarks were his hat and checkered shirt. He was involved in singing tenor in a barbershop quartet, taking ball teams to games, motor boating, traveling, hunting, skeet shooting, pool and cards. O.C. was also a well-known square dance caller and teacher throughout northcentral Kansas and Nebraska.
Beryl died April 15, 1999 and was buried in the Osborne Cemetery. O.C. lasted nearly three more years, passing away on January 6, 2002 in Osborne. He was laid to rest next to his beloved Beryl in the Osborne Cemetery. In September 2002 the majority of his money was used to found the McFadden Charitable Trust, designed to benefit all of Osborne County into the future. By 2010 the Trust’s assets amounted to more than $4,000,000, with annual contributions across the county of over $300,000, and is one of the largest trusts of its kind in the state of Kansas.
The lives of William Wallace (also known as “W. W.” or Mac”) and Nellie Mae (Wagner) McDaneld were deeply rooted in Osborne County. Wallace, the oldest of the three children of Ira and Anna (Eastman) McDaneld, was born August 3, 1907, near Bloomington in Tilden Township, Osborne County, Kansas. He was named after the great Scot, William Wallace. The family moved to Victor Township in 1908 and in 1909 moved to a dairy farm which Wallace’s father named “Lone Pine Dairy Farm;” however, the “pine” may have been a cedar.
The third of eight children in the Frank and Altena (Bradshaw) Wagner family, Nellie was born on a farm in Victor Township on September 7, 1906. Except for four years spent near Arriba, Colorado, where her father homesteaded, Nellie grew up in Victor Township.
The Victor School and Church of the Brethren were fundamental in their lives. Wallace and Nellie attended Victor Rural School District Number 64 and Covert High School, graduating in 1926 and 1925. Both families attended the Victor Church of the Brethren. Nellie’s father served as the minister and probably influenced Wallace’s decision to be a minister. Wallace’s mother taught Sunday School classes, and Wallace and Nellie were involved in youth programs.
Following graduation, Nellie worked for several area families and in Waldo, Kansas stores. Wallace worked on threshing crews and on the family dairy farm. They married August 15, 1928, in Victor Township. In 1929, they moved to McPherson, Kansas, where Wallace attended the Church of the Brethren college. Poor eye sight kept Nellie from furthering her education. The depression years interrupted Wallace’s education after two years, and Wallace and Nellie returned to Osborne County where Wallace pursued a teaching career which spanned thirty years. Except for a few years when he taught in Decatur and Smith Counties, Wallace taught in the Osborne County rural schools of Victor, Valley View, Potterville and Portis, teaching in Portis from 1939 until 1962.
In the early 1950s the state required upgraded teaching certificates and Wallace returned to McPherson College during summer sessions, receiving his education degree in 1956. It was a family joke that he had been a college junior for twenty-five years.
Wallace was licensed to preach by the Victor church in 1928, and in 1937 accepted a call to minister at the North Solomon Church of the Brethren in Portis. The family was living in Victor Township where Wallace was teaching and traveled to Portis for services. Wallace served the church until 1962. For the next ten years, Wallace served as a substitute pastor in many churches in Osborne and surrounding counties until 1972 when he returned to the Portis church and served there until his death. Nellie was involved in various church activities and played the piano for many years. Wallace and Nellie moved to Portis in 1938 and purchased a house on the hill (Goat Hill, as Wallace named it) in 1943. Their four children–Donald, Arthur, Shirley and Sharon–grew up there. The house was the forerunner of the “food bank”–who might be coming for dinner was anyone’s guess, as transients were sent or simply found their way up the hill. Nellie took great pleasure in preparing the house for private weddings and the guest room was often occupied with visiting church leaders. Wallace became Osborne County Superintendent of Schools in 1962, a position he held until the state abolished the office in 1969. Continuing in government, Wallace became Osborne County Register of Deeds in 1969 and retired from that office in 1981.
The accomplishments Wallace and Nellie enjoyed can be credited to teamwork. They were so attuned that it is impossible to write about one without the other. As Wallace ministered to those who were in need, ill, grieving or in distress, and Nellie was always there lending support. For the classes Wallace taught and Nellie was a self-proclaimed “room mother”. She would fix holiday desserts and treats, load them into a picnic basket and head for the school. With the family grown, Nellie became a “working girl” assisting Wallace in the County Superintendent office. Nellie retired when the office closed, but soon came out of retirement and joined Wallace in the Register of Deeds office. The time in the Register of Deeds office presented an opportunity for Nellie to research and document the history of Osborne County families, schools and churches in Covert and Portis, and helped to compile histories on the towns of Covert and Portis. Nellie was known as the “Bell Lady” for her bell collection. She acquired over four hundred bells and often presented programs for organizations. Wallace had a forty-year collection of sermons which were titled and categorized.
Nellie died December 30, 1985, in the family home at Portis. Wallace passed away a short time later on April 19 1986, in Salina, Kansas. Both are buried in the Osborne Cemetery. Wallace and Nellie were active participants in the school, community and church. Wallace served on the city council and various boards and committees, such as the State Textbook Committee and the local ministerial committee. Nellie was involved in YWCA, Ladies Aid, PTA, and the Portis Christian Women’s Association. They may not have made headlines, but they made an impact on those they met through their active involvement. They were considered trustworthy and they bestowed and received great respect.
After their deaths, the children and grandchildren kept the Portis home as a family gathering place. The family also acquired the North Solomon Church of the Brethren to be used for family gatherings and family church services.
One of the few Osborne County citizens to achieve state office in Kansas was William Henry McBride. A son of the Reverend Henry and Christina (Thrushy) McBride, William was born May 22, 1842, in Summit County, Ohio. He was educated at the Greensburg (Ohio) Seminary and with the beginning of the Civil War he enlisted in October 1861 in Company I of the 76th Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served in the Army of the Tennessee and was wounded in the assault on Arkansas Post, Arkansas, on January 11, 1863, and received his discharge July 21, 1865, at Columbus, Ohio. On August 29, 1865, he married Aurelia L. Fisher at Georgetown, Ohio. They had two children, Frank and Minnie.
After the wedding the McBrides moved to Iowa. They first lived in Ottumwa, Iowa, and then after six years they settled in Council Bluffs, Iowa. During these years in Iowa William engaged in the mercantile business and spent much of his spare time studying law. On October 1, 1871, the family arrived in Kirwin, Phillips County, Kansas. William worked for two years as editor of the Kirwin Chief newspaper and continued in the mercantile business. In October 1877 he was admitted to the Phillips County bar and entered into the law firm of May and McBride in Kirwin. Six years later he gained the Republican nomination for the Phillips County Representative to the Kansas legislature. The ensuing campaign proved a lively and spirited contest.
“Last Thursday evening at the courthouse was the joint discussion upon the political issues of the day, between W. H. McBride, the Republican candidate, and G. M. Finch, the Greenback candidate, for Representative. A large audience was present. Mr. Finch no doubt did the best he could . . . he frothed a little as he pranced upon the bit for a few moments, and then settling back upon his haunches, he snorted forth the words f-r-a-u-d a-n-d c-o-r-r-u-p-t-i-o-n and then collapsed. Mr. McBride is a merciful man, and did not wish to chew him entirely up into mincemeat, yet, when he quit, his opponent was terribly mangled. It was easy for the audience to see who would best serve them in the legislature.
“McBride is well posted, is a fine speaker and has a strong vigorous nature. He will be heard, and don’t you forget it, in the legislature, while Finch, to say the least, is a weak sister, and his——-but as he will soon demise politically, we will draw the veil of charity.” — Phillipsburg Herald, November 1, 1883.
McBride was duly elected and served a two-year term in the Kansas House of Representatives. Afterwards he moved to Osborne, Kansas, and practiced law there. He also served as one of the directors of the state penitentiary and in January 1891 he was appointed Superintendent of Insurance of Kansas by Kansas Governor Lyman Humphrey. In January 1893 he left this office and returned to his law practice in Osborne. Seven years later the McBrides moved to Fergus Falls, Minnesota, where he engaged in a land and farm loan business. William was a longtime member of both the Masonic Lodge and the Grand Army of the Republic and was elected mayor of Fergus Falls.
In his later years William and his wife partitioned their time between their home in Fergus Falls and visiting their daughter in Sterling, Kansas. After Aurelia McBride’s death in 1920 William made his home in Sterling and died there on November 17, 1922. He was buried beside his wife in Sterling’s Cottonwood Cemetery.