Thursday, June 7, 2012



Few men had more to do witli the growth and development of Blue Rapids, Marshall county, and few were held in greater esteem for their good work than was Dr. Rufus Swain Craft, a native of Winchester, Virginia, where he was born on February 11, 1831, the son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Hines) Craft. Doctor Craft first came to the state of Kansas in 1859 and was ever active in the affairs of his home community, until the time of his death on Alarch 8, 1908.

Samuel Craft was born in the state of New Jersey in 1808, and was the son of Benjamin Craft and wife. The father was a native of Maryland, where he received his education and there grew to manhood, when he located in New Jersey. The Craft family was, without doubt, of Welsh origin ; the
great-grandfather of Doctor Craft came to America in the middle of the eighteenth century and located in Maryland, where he was married and where he died a great many years ago. Benjamin Craft, the grandfather of Doctor Craft, after a residence of some years in New Jersey, located near Zanesville, Ohio, which at that time was known as the far West. There he and his family established their liome on a farm, and there the father died. 

The son, Samuel, who came to Ohio with his father, learned the trade of a shoemaker at Zanesville. He followed this work for a number of years and worked at difTerent places, and it was while working at Georgetown, D. C,  that he met and married Elizabeth Hines. For a time after their marriage they lived at Georgetown, after which they moved to Winchester, Virginia, and from there to Lawrenceburg, Indiana, in 1833. Samuel Craft spent many years of his life in Lawrenceburg, and in 1870, he came to Kansas, where his son was then living. Some time after coming to the state he engaged with the Santa Fe Railroad at Topeka, and remained with the company until a week before his death, which occurred in January, 1888, at the age of eighty-six years. His wife, Elizabeth Craft, was a native of the District of Columbia, and died at her home in Lawrenceburg in 1844.

Some years after the death of his first wife, Samuel Craft was married to Jane Boice, who died at her liome in Topeka, Kansas, in 1887. The early members of the family of Elizabeth (Hines) Craft were the owners of the site of the city of Washington and were prominent factors in the social and civic life of their time. They were descendants of the Swain families of Virginia and of John Wolfe and Pocahontas.

To Samuel and Elizabeth (Hines) Craft were born three children: Samuel A., Julia, the wife of George W. Denies, and Rufus Swain, all of whom are now deceased with the exception of Mrs. Benies, of Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. and Mrs. Craft were excellent people, educated and refined.  Mr. Craft was an honest and industrious man, and devoted his life to his trade until he accepted employment with the Ohio & Mississippi Railroad at Lawrenceburg. He was active in the Masonic order and in the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and at the time of his death, it was said that he was the oldest member of the latter order in the state. Few men of the community were held in higher regard, and at his funeral on one of the coldest days of the year, an imposing cortege composed of Masons, Odd
Fellows, railroad employees and friends, followed his remains to the grave.

Rufus Swain Craft, wIkj was but two years of age when his parents established their home in Lawrenceburg, was reared in that city and there received his educational training in the public schools and the Lawrenceburg Institute. AA'hile pursuing his studies in the latter school, where he was taking up the study of medicine, the Mexican War started. He was but sixteen years of age at the time, yet he laid aside his studies and passing himself for eighteen years, he enlisted in the Fourth Indiana Infantry, and saw active service under General Taylor and General Scott. He was with the forces at battles of Huamantla and Atalixco and the siege of Pueblo, in addition to many other skirmishes. After having served for some fourteen months, he returned to Lawrenceburg in 1848 and continued his study of
medicine in the institute of that place. After completing the work, he was employed as an instructor in the institution for a time, and later attended medical lectures in Cincinnati, Ohio. He had then reached his majority, and emigrated to Putnam county, Missouri, where he entered the practice of medicine with his uncle. Dr. John Hines. He remained here for four vears, when he located in Harrison county, Missouri, where he engaged in the practice until 1859, when he located in Holton, Jackson county, Kansas.

Doctor Craft was always interested in mill enterprises and. in 1865, he with his brother and a third partner decided to make a tour of inspection of some of the rivers of the state. Doctor Craft was given the section of  Blue Rapids; wlicre the llirecAverc to meet later. At this meeting it was  decided that tlie power at P)liie Rapids was tlie best, and the three, as partners, purchased twn hundred .and eighty-seven acres, at Blue Rapids, which also gave them tlie power further up the river. The .doctor porurchased in his own right, seventy acres, which now adjoins Blue Rapids on the west. The propertv. held in partnershij). was held until i(S70, when the tract was sold to the Genesee cokmy, which laid out the town of Blue Rapids. Up to the time of the platting of the town. Doctor Craft was a resident of Holton, but in 1872 he moved to Blue Rapids, the town he helped lay out and here he began his medical practice in Marshall county. He also conducted a drug store, one of the first in this section. He later owned the building in which he had his office and wiiere he conducted his store.

Alwavs interested in the milling business, Doctor Craft was one of the group of men who Iniilt the stone flouring-mill on the east side of Blue river, next the dam that had been constructed. This mill was operated until 1876 ])v Olmstead Brothers, at which time it was under the direction of J- S. Wright & Company. Doctor Craft still retained his interest in the mill he had assisted in establisliing and which had so much to do with the early progress of Blue Rapids. In August, 1887, the mill was sold to P. H. JMcHale, and the doctor retired from the business. To him has ever been
given much of the credit for the establishment of one of the important industries of the city. For many years the milling enterprises of Blue Rapids liave been recognized as among the greatest in this section of Kansas, and their products have become known throughout the confines of many a state. At the time Doctor Craft disposed of his interests in the mill, he also disposed of his interest in Jackson county, where he devoted his time and attention to the practice of his profession. For many years he was the leading practitioner of this section, and in later years he had an extensive office practice. His careful attention to business and his excellent ability and knowledge of medicine, won for him the highest commendation of the people of the district, and won for him a high place in the profession. Few men won higher approval in their work and few were held in greater regard and esteem.

On October 16. 1852, Rufus Swain Craft was united in marriage to Anna B. Bledsoe, in Putnam county, Kansas. Mrs. Craft was born at Ghent, Carroll county, Kentucky, where her forefathers had settled on their removal from Virginia. She was of a well-known family in her native state, many of whom became prominent in the various affairs of the state and nation. Her uncle, Jesse Bledsoe, was a well-known United States senator, and another uncle, Lewis Saunders, was one of the very first residents of the state to engage in the importation of fine stock, for which the Bkie Grass state has since become famous. Mrs. Craft was born on January lo, 1834, and was the daughter of Aaron and Ehnore (Bond) Bledsoe, the father being a native of Virginia, and the mother of the state of Pennsylvania, she having been born near the town of Beaver. Both the Bledsoe and Boyd famihes were prominent in their native states, and after their location in the Blue Grass region, they were among the influential and prosperous people of the state. The family was a worthy one, and to them is due much of the wonderful advancement and progress of the state that is known the world over, for its fine horses and splendid cattle.

To Rufus Swain and Anna B. Craft were born the followino- children : George, William, Ella, Samuel Adolphus, Emma, Julia and Edward. George, a bright young man of nineteen years, had completed the work in the local schools and had entered the medical department of the Campbell University at Holton, when he was taken with consumption. His father took him to Colorado, Mexico and California, in the hope of some relief, but the dread disease had taken too firm a hold and he passed away at Santa Anna, California, on July I, 1887; William R. died in infancy; Ella completed her education in the local school and married Clement E. Coulter, the son of William and Eliza (Lince) Coulter. His parents were natives of Ireland and were of a prominent family. His paternal great-grandfather was a major in the British army, but his son Charles, the grandfather of Clement E., was
reared on the home farm in the native land.

Charles Coulter was married in Ireland to Jane Cluxton, a native of the County Louth. To this union six children were born, all of whom came to America with their parents, with the exception of William and his sister, Jane, who later came to the new land. William Coulter was a man of much ability and possessed of a high education, having completed the course of study at the classical school of Cootehill, and later attained a high place as an apothecary, and took an active part in helping the victims of the cholera scourge in Ireland in 1831. In 1842 he was united in marriage to Eliza Llnce, a native of Dublin, Ireland, and a woman of pleasing qualities and loved by all who knew her. They were the parents of twelve children, two of whom died in infancy, the others receiving an excellent education in the higher institutions of learning.

The son, Clement E., graduated from schools of pharmacy, both in Canada and Philadelphia, and later entered the drug business with his father-in-law, Doctor Craft, at Blue Rapids, where he and his wife were among the prominent and active members of the local social life, vmtil the time of her death on December 29, 1888; Samuel Adolphus was born in the northern part of Missouri and (lied at the ai^e of six years; Emma died at the age of three years, and Edward, at the age of two years; Julia received her education in the local schools and later was united in marriage, on Decemljer 25, 1882, to Henry I. Hewitt, one of .the well-known and prosperous residents of the county, who was born in Ohio. To this union one son.

George C, was born, whose birth occurred on December 20, 1886. He completed his education in the high school of Blue Rapids and later entered the employ of the American Refining and Smelting Company and is now located at Garfield, Utah, and is one of their trusted and valued men. Henry I. Hewitt, who was for many years an employee of the Canton, Ohio, Bridge Company, died at Elyria, Ohio, on December 1, 1912. During his employment with that company he and his wife maintained their home in Blue Rapids, where Mrs. Hewitt was one of the charter members of the Order of the Eastern Star. The early members of the Hewitt family settled at Southport, Connecticut, on the mother's side. On the father's side, at Middletown, Maryland, and later moved to the Western Reserve in Ohio. The mother of Henry I. Hewitt, Elizabeth Hewitt, was a woman of much ability and was noted for her great memory.  His grandmother, Eveline Woods, married Capt. George Smith, who was lost at sea, after which she married Doctor Sherwood, of Southport, Connecticut.  His death occurred some years later and she was then married to Philo Wells, W'ho lived to be ninety-nine years of age, and the grandmother, who was born on November 11, 181 1, lived until April 1, 1910.

Clement E. and Ella Coulter were the parents of three children : Edna, Royal and Anna. Edna received her education in the schools of Blue Rapids, and later married Frank Wigginton, who is a cousin of the present wife of President Woodrow Wilson. They now live at Wells City, Missouri, and are among the highly respected and influential people of the state. Royal S. and Anna Florence are now residents of Los Angeles, California.

Doctor Craft was a man of great personality, and while he was not in any sense a seeker after office, the people of Jackson county elected him county commissioner, county treasurer and to the state Legislature in 1862; he also served as a member of the city council of Blue Rapids for a number of years.  He filled these positions with dignity and honor, and displayed much ability and fidelity to the people of his community. He was a man of sound judgment on all professional and business matters, and his judgment and intellect were sharpened by his long years of experience and his contact with the general public. As a physician, he stood at the head of his profession in Marshall county, and his services were in constant demand. As a man of business he was always trusted and as. a citizen he was held in the highest regard and esteem by all who knew him. It was his effort at all times to work for the best interests of Bine Rapids and the surrounding country, and today his memory is held in reverence by all.

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