Dudley C. Haskell

Haskell County residents usually get a quick response when asked about the infamous Chief Satanta, or even the fur trader; William Sublette, familiar names used for our two cities.  But what about the man for whom our county was named?  Let us not forget the distinguished statesman whose name was given to our county; its place names only later were rounded out with those of an Indian and frontiersman.

Dudley C. Haskell  1842-1883

Dudley C. Haskell was an active state legislator from Lawerence at the time when Kansas was expanding from the east to its far borders.  As settlers moved west new counties were being formed and developed.  Formal county organizations originated within the State Capitol and names were bestowed by the legislature.  One source for christening these counties was to name them for the state senate or house members.  Although he had left the Legislature nine years earlier, Dudley C. Haskell undoubtedly received this honor posthumously when the southern part of what is now Finney County carved off to become the new Haskell County in 1887.

The Haskell family roots go deep in America, the first ancestors having arrived in Massachusetts in 1634.  Born in Springfield, Vermont, March 23, 1842, Dudley was 13 years of age when he arrived in Lawrence, Kansas, with his parents who were both well educated, ambitious and free-thinking people.  His father, spurred by the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, had come to help in keeping Kansas a free state and also to improve his own future.  During the dark days of early Kansas history (1855 to 1856) the hospitable log house of the Haskell's nearly always sheltered some advocate of freedom for Kansas and as a result, the family was often victims of raids on their home by proslavery rangers.  More than once they fled to the woods for protection.  In the building of our country, parents of this caliber gave us many men and women with high aspirations, a deep sense of trust and fearless strength in the defense of right.  Such a man was Dudley C.Haskell. 

Upon the death of his father when Dudley was 15, he became the man of the family until his older brothers could arrive from the eastern states.  When the family was finally adjusted he studied in Vermont for a year before returning to Lawrence, and at age 17 he enlisted in the Union Army.  Following his discharge he began became an unsuccessful gold prospector in Colorado for a few years before returning to the East to continue his education at Williston's Seminary in Easthampton, Massachusetts, and at Yale University where he completed a scientific course in 1865. 

In December 1865 at Stockbridge, Massachusetts, he married Hattie M. Kelsey, an accomplished and cultured descendant of the renowned Massachusetts clergymen, Cotton Mather.  A son and two daughters were born to Dudley and Hattie Haskell, the son dying in infancy. 

His experience in the Army and in Colorado Gold gold gulches helped Dudley build the most powerful physique of 6 feet, 3 inches in height and 210 pounds.  As he pursued knowledge he also preserved his well-being through gymnastics, baseball and boating, all of which he kept up for years after entering business as a merchant in Lawrence.

Dudley C.Haskell was elected to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1872, 1874 and 1876, serving a speaker in 1876.  He enjoyed great popularity among the people and was recognized for his industry, impartiality and integrity.  Politically he was Republican, and then honest believer in the fundamental principles about party. 

In the fall of 1876 he was elected by a majority of 4,680 votes to the 45th Congress of the United States, representing the second Kansas Congressional District and in 1878 was elected to the 46th Congress by an even larger majority.  He was a close personal friend of President McKinley's. 

Student, soldier, adventurer, merchant and statesmen, Dudley, C Haskell died December 16, 1883, and was eulogized in the United States Congress.  As far as it is known he was never a visitor in this county. 

In 1984 the Haskell County Historical Society received a letter from W.A. Haskell of the Haskell Family Association, Pfaffenrot, West Germany, requesting any material available from dudley C. Haskell's namesake county and exchanging information from Haskell family, some of which was very helpful in compiling the short  biography used here. - Ruby Rutledge