Benjamin Hutchinson Clover was born in Pleasant Township, Franklin Co., Ohio, on December 22, 1837. His parents were Henry Clover and Mary Ann McHenry, both originally from Virginia. The Congressional Record says he was born near Jefferson in Franklin County, Ohio. This probably refers to West Jefferson, Jefferson Township, Madison County, Ohio, which would have been one of the closest towns to his father's farm—which was in the far northwest corner of Pleasant Township, Franklin County, between Big Darby Creek and Little Darby Creek. The area looks amazingly like the land on which he finally settled in Cowley County.
Benjamin was most likely named after Benjamin H. Lilly, who had married Henry's sister, Rose Ann Clover, and was the family's nearest neighbor. Benjamin grew up on his father's farm and attended the Academy at Jefferson and taught there for a time. Somehow he met Elizabeth Lilly Cullumber, who was the niece of Benjamin Lilly. Her father's farm was in Madison County, Ohio, straddling the border between Fairfield and Jefferson Townships. She was the daughter of Thomas F. Cullumber and Emily Susan Lilly, the sister of Benjamin H. Lilly. There was a ford across Little Darby Creek in those days and you can still see the track. We may perhaps picture Ben riding down the tree covered lane and across the creek to visit her. As the crow flies, the two lived only a few miles apart. On April 1, 1858, he was married to Elizabeth Lilly Cullumber in Madison County, Ohio. They were married by Abraham Wright, a Minister of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Both Ben and Elizabeth had close relatives married in Methodist churches so they may have been members of the same church although Elizabeth was a Christian Scientist at a later date.
They settled down to live next to Ben's father because in the 1860 census, Ben and his father are neighbors. Benjamin had an older sister, Roseann Clover, who married Henry Johnson. Ben also had a younger brother, John M. Clover, who married Mary Ann Ferguson.
On March 19, 1863, John Clover, Benjamin's brother, purchased land from Henry and Rose Johnson. Henry and Roseann apparently then moved to Illinois because the 1870 Federal census of Wolf River Township, Doniphan County, Kansas, shows that their son, William, was born in Illinois. This is important because Benjamin and Elizabeth decided to move to Douglas County, Illinois, near Tuscola in 1864. It may have been that they received glowing reports from Ben's sister about Illinois.
Maryann (McHenry) Clover, their mother, died on March 5, 1864. A few months after this Ben sold out. He purchased land in Garret Township, Douglas County, Illinois, on November 1, 1864. He left before his father, Henry Clover, died on March 2, 1865. Bible records show Henry was born July 24, 1798.
Douglas County must not have been as wonderful as they had hoped because in 1870 they made plans to move to a new promised land, Kansas. In 1870, Ben wrote the following letter to his cousins. This letter tells us a lot about the man Ben must have been. It is filled with his dreams and enthusiasm. The Joe Clover mentioned eventually married Ben's oldest daughter, Julia Ella Clover. Joe, James, and Frank were great-grandsons of Henry Clover, Sr., Benjamin's grandfather. The squire mentioned must be John Clover, Ben's brother, since the deed records show that he sold part of his land to John.
"Tuscola Aug 7, 1870
Jim & Joe & Frank
Boys I have sold out and am getting ready to go to KS as soon as possible. I hope to be ready to start by the first of Sept or sooner. Do any of you want to go along or have you gone back on KS. The squire has bought me out. He likes this country. Well & so do I but all things considered I like KS better. Joe you had better come and take the trip any how whether Jim does or not. Elizabeth is going to Ohio to stay till spring and I am going to Bach it or bull it or stag it or what ever you are a mind to call it. That country is improving faster than any country ever did before by half way.
Joe if you think you will go come out here as soon as you can and help me get ready. Boys if you ever think of going to KS now is your time for it is my opinion that five years from now it will take a fortune to get land that a few dollars will now get.
Write to me immediately and tell me what you will do.
Yours muchly, Ben Clover"
Elizabeth says that she returned to her family home in Madison County, Ohio, while he went to Kansas in the winter of 1870. Her mother, Emily Susan (Lilly) Cullumber, died of rheumatism September 29, 1870 (about a month after the above letter), so her mother may have been ailing and this may have affected their plans. She followed Ben to Kansas with 6 of their children soon after that. We do not have an exact date. It is difficult at this time to tell what caused Ben to decide to move to Kansas rather than another place. It may be connected to the fact that his sister, Roseann, and her husband, Henry Johnson, had already moved to Kansas by this time. Of course, Kansas would have been in the news because it became a state in 1861 and there was a massive movement of settlers into Kansas during the 60s.
Ben settled in Windsor Township of Cowley County, Kansas. He homesteaded land which later turned out to be school land so he took new land north of Cambridge.
Claim jumpers must have been a problem according to the following letter sent to James Clover.
"Well Jim and Frank,
I have not much time to write. I sent you 2 declaratory statements for you to sign and be sworn or before a Notary or clerk of court. Do it quick and send them to me right off. I don't say for you to come to Kansas whether or no but if you ever intend to come, COME NOW. Can't Frank come right off. If he could come we might save your claim a little longer. Jos. and yours have both been jumped. Jo had a cut foot and had not done much on his (claim) and had not filed yet. If you can get these papers back, so as to file before any others do it will all be right I guess provided you come on soon. People here who try to hold claims for others who don't come in reasonable time, get into bad odor sometimes. John owns the claim right east of Jos, and Jo took the one south of yours. John gave a fellow 50 dollars for his claim on it and he is offered a thousand if he will deed it.
I will write more soon. Be prompt.
Yours Ben Clover"
Farming must have been profitable because Ben acquired land at a prodigious rate. The 1883 Landowner's atlas shows Ben Clover owning just over a section, a section being 640 acres. There is a large landowner's map on the wall of the Cowley County Genealogical Society dated 1892, no publisher evident, which shows his name as owner of over 2 and ½ sections.
Extract from the 1888 Cowley County Biographical Census: "B. H. Clover farmer section 9, Post Office Cambridge, KS, children: Julia, Thomas H., William S., John P., Susie, Charles, Frank; came to Kansas in 1870, located on farm where he now resides, owns 930 acres of land of which 400 acres are under cultivation. His orchard consists of 1000 peach, 200 apple and a variety of small fruits. He is largely interested in stock with which he has had great success. He is president of the Cambridge Town Company."
Farmers of earlier years in the East had done a different type of farming. They had been subsistence farmers on very small farms in Virginia and Ohio where they grew, produced, and/or manufactured almost everything used on the farm with only perhaps one cash crop. In Kansas, the land was not suitable for this and the times had changed so that Ben was growing food to sell. However, thousands of other farmers had also moved to Kansas drawn by the lush harvests and the stories about the promised land. They also mortgaged their lands to purchase more land to grow more food. By the late 1880s the farming and economic conditions had changed. There was a huge surplus of food and the prices had fallen steeply. The land prices had also dropped drastically and the farmers were in serious trouble. Taxes had risen steeply during the boom times as cities and counties built and borrowed.
The farmers blamed the government for many of their tribulations and formed the Farmers Alliance to try to get better representation. Ben was one of the founders of the organization and he served two terms as the president. The group eventually decided to start a political party, the Populist Party; and according to family tradition, it was started in Ben's parlor and named by Elizabeth.
The entrenched politicians saw this as a serious menace as it in fact was. In 1890, the Editors of the local Republican Newspapers were outraged. They settled down to fight the Populist Party with some of the dirtiest journalism of an age not known for truth and accuracy in its newspapers. The Republican Editors attacked Ben because he was the foremost spokesman in Kansas for his party and very visible as a candidate for Congress. However, when the election was over, it was obvious that the Republican party had lost the election massively all over Kansas. The wave of change which started in Kansas began then to sweep over the nation. Ben went off to Washington in triumph.
Ben must have been a well known and important person in the area because he had been on the board of School Commissioners from 1873 to 1888. He was twice president of the Kansas State Farmer's Alliance and Industrial Union. He was twice vice president of the National organization of that order. He was elected as a Populist to the 52nd Congress and served from March 4, 1891, to March 3, 1893. He was not a candidate for reelection in 1892. After returning to Kansas, he was active in various State positions in Topeka. He died December 30, 1899, and is buried in Douglas Cemetery, Butler County, Kansas.
The above article was submitted by Mrs. Alan H. (June C.) Byrne, 6000 Burnside Landing Drive, Burke, Virginia 22015.
[Note: She was most insistent that the article be written up as she submitted it.]
Mr. Benjamin Hutchinson Clover, in company with several young men from his locality in Illinois, drove three teams belonging to him to Cowley County, Kansas, and located on Grouse Creek. He was unique inasmuch as he had $3,000 with him, an amount possessed by very few pioneers.
Provisions at that early day were exceedingly high, bacon being sold at 27 cents per pound, and potatoes at $2.50 per bushel; these it was necessary to haul from Fall River.
Mr. Clover located a claim in section 16, township 31, range 7 east, in Grouse Valley, which was later declared school land, and appraised at $3.00 per acre. He then took a claim in section 17, and later bought the rights of Messrs. Dudley, Lee, Martin, and Thornbrew, whose claims adjoined his.
Mrs. Clover, with their six children, followed her husband to Cowley County, arriving on March 20, 1871.
Their first house was of frame, the lumber for which was hauled from Emporia, a distance of 100 miles; it possessed but two rooms for a long time, and was then enlarged. Mr. Clover set about cultivating his land and was successful with his crops, especially in 1874, when his corn was fully matured before the advent of the grasshoppers, and he sold it at $2.00 per bushel. Game was to be found in abundance. Mrs. Clover, having brought a side-saddle with her, rode frequently. She was a gifted woman, and met the problems of the settlement in a courageous manner that did much towards furthering the welfare of her community.
The nearest railroad point, at first, was Chanute, and in 1880 the nearest was Independence. Mr. Clover was very active in securing bonds for the Southern Kansas Railway. At the old town of Lazette, he built a sawmill and grist-mill. Mr. Clover was active in all the affairs of Grouse Valley and became president of the Cambridge Town Company when the K. C. L. & S. Railroad was built south of Lazette, forcing the move of most of the buildings and citizens at Lazette to the new locality. The site of Cambridge was plotted May 3, 1880. Mrs. Benjamin Clover gave the town its name. Mr. Clover was the first justice of the peace in Windsor Township, and many trials and claim contests were held at his residence, which, for years, was the largest in the valley.
In politics, Mr. Clover was a Populist. At a meeting held in his house, the name “People’s Party,” was suggested by Mrs. Clover. Mr. Clover served as county commissioner in Illinois, and was a candidate for the state legislature in Kansas, declining to run for governor. He was elected to Congress, in 1892, from the third Congressional District, embracing the counties of Chautauqua, Elk, Montgomery, Howard, Cowley, Crawford, and Labette. He served with credit to himself and his constituency.
In 1892 Mrs. Clover and her family were left in charge of the farm, which was then incumbered with an $18,000 mortgage, and with more than $1,800, besides, in accrued interest on notes and renewals. By good management and hard work, the incumbrance was lifted, and the family freed from debt. They had one of the largest and most fertile farms, of the county, consisting of 1,600 acres, lying in Grouse Valley. They had large orchards and made corn the principal crop. They raised hogs and cattle and feed on a large scale.
In 1901 the children resided on different parts of the farm, and Mrs. Clover was temporarily living in Cambridge, where she bought property.
Mrs. Elizabeth Lilly Culumber was born in Madison County, Ohio, March 28, 1840, and was reared in the same neighborhood as our future husband, Benjamin Hutchinson Clover. Mrs. Clover was a daughter of T. H. And Emily Susan (Lilly) Culumber. Her father was born in 1800, and on the same farm where her existence began. He died in 1863, having served some time in the army. He was a prominent farmer and stock raiser, and in politics, a strong Republican. His wife was born in Virginia, about 1800, and was of English-Scotch descent. Mrs. Clover was the eldest of seven children: Elizabeth L. (Clover); Mary (Goodson), of London, Ohio; Rebecca A. (McDonald), of Winfield, Kansas; Maggie (Morris), who died in 1896, in Madison County, Ohio; William, who resided near Cambridge, Cowley County, Kansas; Maggie (Morris), who died in 1896, in Madison County, Ohio; William, who resided near Cambridge, Cowley County, Kansas; Sarah (Stone), of Winfield, Kansas; and Thomas, who died at the age of twelve years. Mrs. Clover received a good academic education in Ohio, and lived at home until her marriage.
Ben and Elizabeth L. Clover had seven children: Julia Ella (Clover), who married her third cousin, was living in Stillwater, Oklahoma, in 1901; and had three children—Irma, who taught school; Oliver Perry, twenty years old, and in college; and Nina, who was five years old. Thomas H. Clover married Martha Reed, and had four children: Thomas H., Jr.; Lilly A.; Ella, and Bryan. William T. S. Clover, thirty-five years old in 1901, lived with his mother. John P. Clover, who married Maude Sifford, of Oklahoma, had one son, Fred, born in 1899. Charles Clover lived on the old home place in Grouse Valley; he married Mary Foust of Atlanta, Kansas, and they had one daughter, Ruth. Susie (Dawsuit) lived in Cambridge, and had one son, Frank, aged eight years. Frank L. Clover married Mary Dowson, and had three daughters: Lillian, Susie, and an infant.
In religious views the family were Methodists, excepting Mrs. Clover, who was of the Christian Science belief.
She was offered as much as $60 per acre, for some of her land, but always refused to sell.
John M. Clover, a pioneer hardware merchant of Burden, was a brother of Ben Clover; Joe Clover, a member of the Cambridge Town Company, was a cousin. Mrs. Rebecca McDowell and Sarah A. Stoner, of Winfield, were sisters of Mrs. Ben Clover, and William Cullumber, of Cambridge, was a brother.
Thomas H. Clover, the eldest son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Clover, was identified with activities of eastern Cowley County during his lifetime. He was engaged in farming and stock raising with success, and entered into local affairs of the community. He held various township offices and was an official in the Cowley County Livestock Association for several years. In 1901 he was elected County Commissioner from his district and served approxi-mately twelve years: much of the time presiding as chairman of the board. He married Martha Reed in Cowley County.
Charles C. Clover, another son of Mr. and Mrs. Benjamin H. Clover, was closely identified with Cambridge and Windsor Township, where practically his entire life was spent. He was reared on the family homestead and naturally chose that vocation for his adult activity—his farm well adapted to agricultural pursuits. His training as a youth with livestock paid off later. He became known as one of the best judges of livestock in the southwest.
Henry Clover, father of Benjamin H. Clover, was born in Virginia, and followed the occupation of a farmer. Henry Clover died in Ohio, in 1863, at the age of sixty-three years. He was one of the best men in Franklin County, strong religiously, and with great political influence. He married Mary McHenry, who was born in Highland County, Ohio, of English-German parents. They had three children: Rose (Johnson), who died in Doniphan County, Kansas, in 1881; Benjamin H., deceased; and J. M., who died in Morris County, Kansas.
Bill, Jerry Case advised us against printing anything about Clover. He had a bad reputation with many people in county...as I recall, he left his wife for another woman and his wife had to raise children on her own. What is most peculiar is the way the woman who submitted this was most insistent that story be told “her way”...???