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John Robert Connelly

Politician. Democrat. Born: February 27, 1870, Mount Sterling, Illinois. Died: September 9, 1940, Concordia. Served in U.S. House of Representatives, 6th District: March 4, 1913, to March 3, 1919.

John R. Connelly was born at Mount Sterling, Illinois, on February 27, 1870, the son of Arthur Connelly, an Indiana-born farmer, who died in Colby, Kansas, on January 2, 1912. The younger Connelly attended public schools in Illinois, Nebraska, and Kansas, and studied at the Salina Normal School (he married Lillian Souders on June 17, 1896). Connelly first came to Thomas County in 1888, began teaching there at age nineteen, and took a homesteaded claim in 1892. At various times Connelly served as superintendent of schools for Thomas County, mayor of Colby, and president of the school board; he also was involved professionally in real estate and rentals. He first ran for Congress in 1908 but was defeated by his Republican opponent by just 277 votes; four years later he won the first of three terms in the House of Representatives (served, March 4, 1913-March 3, 1919), but was unsuccessful in his 1918 bid for a fourth term. From November 1897 to November 1918, Connelly was owner and editor of the Free Press, a Populist (through 1909) and then Democratic weekly. When the paper was sold (to J. P. Phillips), Connelly said "GOOD-BYE" to his readers; he explained, on November 21, 1918, that he had quite the business "this week selling the plant" and "the building" to Phillips. He had made the Free Press a Democratic paper during his years as editor, he wrote, and "We leave the Free Press in the hands of a democrat." Connelly engaged in the real-estate business at Colby thereafter and remained active in politics, unsuccessfully seeking election to Congress in 1924. He died in Concordia on September 9, 1940, but was buried in Colby's Beulah Cemetery.

Entry: Connelly, John Robert

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: June 2011

Date Modified: May 2012

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