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., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

John H. Cavanaugh

JOHN H. CAVANAUGH. Because of admiration for courage, perseverance and industry no doubt the achievements of many of Lane County's honored pioneers look more interesting in the retrospective eyes of the younger generation than they were some thirty or more years ago to the participants. With many other ambitious young men, with little capital except health and energy, John H. Cavanaugh, now cashier and a director in the First National Bank of Dighton, Kansas, came to Lane County in 1886. As a class they had comparatively vague ideas as to the amount of real hardship to be endured and the discouraging conditions they would have to face before they could live as independent landowners. Many of these same young men returned to their eastern homes or sought new sections that offered alluring prospects. John H. Cavanaugh, however, was made of sterner stuff and not only has he lived to be fully recompensed for every early hardship but to be held in the highest esteem as one of the real founders and builders of a county that the State of Kansas, in all her richness, is proud to claim.

John H. Cavanaugh was born December 29, 1866, at Middle Creek, in Hancock County, Illinois. He is the only surviving son of Michael and Mary (Harter) Cavanaugh. His father was born in County Cork, Ireland, and from there in early manhood came to the United States and followed farming in Hancock County, Illinois, until his acidental death on a railroad in 1868. He had married Mary Harter, who is a daughter of Hebern Harter, then of Hancock County but formerly of Ohio. Mrs. Cavanaugh subsequently was married to a Mr. Munson, and now resides, in her seventy-sixth year, in Jefferson County, Iowa. Two children were born to her second marriage, Marion and Miles, both of whom reside in Van Buren County, Iowa.

After his period of school attendance was over John H. Cavanaugh assisted his mother on the Hancock County farm as long as she retained the property. He was twenty years old when he decided to join a party of emigrants setting out for Kansas, and as far as Cimarron, in Gray County, Kansas, the party traveled by rail. He reached Lane County in February, 1886, and took a tree claim in Sutton Township but settled on school land in Cleveland Township. He had no other home and thus hastened the building of what was termed his "soddy," a kind of dugout with a sod roof, a very prevalent type of residence at that time in many sections of the West, and not entirely separated from western prairies yet. While not, perhaps, as picturesque as the old-time log cabin, a sod house may often be exceedingly comfortable and has been the approved type of primitive home here.

Mr. Cavanaugh put his land under cultivation as rapidly as possible and was able to harvest a few fair crops of wheat. When the Oklahoma country was opened many of the early settlers of Lane County sold their land very cheaply and moved on to pastures now. This was an opportunity that Mr. Cavanaugh did not lose, purchasing very desirable land two miles south of the county seat. He maintained his home at Dighton and worked his land and improved it so substantially that he added many times to its value originally. He now owns six quarter sections, grows wheat and stock and is a frequent shipper of cattle, horses and mules. In early days he joined with other settlers in the neighborhood in the construction of the Santa Fe Railroad through Lane County and also worked on tree claims for non-residents and kept busy at all times, to which habit of industry Mr. Cavanaugh attributes much of his subsequent success.

No one was more foresighted than he in recognizing the signs of progress in Lane County, and with rare business judgment he began to reach out for business connections. In 1901 he became connected with the First State Bank of Dighton as bookkeeper and assistant cashier. The bank was organized as a national bank some years before it was denationalized, when the people in numbers left the county. Among its promoters were: J. J. Rush, of Larned, Kansas, who owned a string of banks in the state, the purchasers from Lane County being John Simmons, Charles Lobdell and F. W. King. The First State was reconverted into the present First National Bank in June, 1910, and capitalized at $40,000. Its officers are: J. S. Simmons, president; Caleb Dagg, vice president; John H. Cavanaugh, cashier, and Glen L. Cavanaugh, assistant cashier. The present board of directors is as follows: J. S. Simmons, Caleb Dagg, John H. Cavanaugh, D. B. King, Ed D. Hyames, H. T. Hineman and J. W. Owen. Mr. Cavanaugh has additional business interests of importance. He is a director of the First State Bank of Healy, Kansas, and was one of its organizers, and was also one of the organizers of the Farmers State Bank of Shields, Kansas, of which he is a director and stockholder. He is a stockholder in the Dighton Hotel Company, an enterprise which resulted in the building of a hotel here that cost $20,000. Mr. Cavanaugh is also a member of the board of directors of the Kansas Central Indemnity Company of Hutchinson, Kansas.

On May 2, 1889, Mr. Cavanaugh was married at Clyde, Kansas, to Miss Lillie Laughlin, who was born in Leavenworth County, Kansas, April 23, 1865. Dr. D. F. Laughlin, father of Mrs. Cavanaugh, came to Kansas from Guernsey County, Ohio. For a time he practiced medicine at Leavenworth and then homesteaded in Cloud County, subsequently becoming a leading citizen in that section. Mr. and Mrs. Cavanaugh have the following children: Glen L., who is manager of the mail department for the Western Adjustment and Inspection Company, Chicago, and assistant cashier of the First National Bank of Dighton, married Miss Eva Eggert, who is a daughter of C. F. Eggert; Agnes, who is a public school teacher at Kingman, Kansas; Helen, like her older sister, is a graduate of the high school at Dighton, is teaching in Lane County; Ruth, who is a high school student; and Dorothea, who is in school. Mr. Cavanaugh was reared in the Presbyterian faith but in early days there was no church of that denomination in this section and he united with the Methodist Church, to which he and family have been attached for some years. He is identified fraternally with the Masons and the Modern Woodmen. Since he came to Kansas changes have been brought about in many directions and he has shown a generous interest in promoting school, church and business organizations. He cast his first presidential vote in 1896, with the republican party and thus assisted in the election of William McKinley, and ever since has given support to the same political organization.