ENSIGN REXFORD is a farmer and stockman of Wichita county, owning fourteen hundred acres of land. He is familiar with the early history of the county, having resided within its borders from a period in which the greater part of the land was wild, unclaimed and unimproved. Many changes have occurred and with the work of improvement Mr. Rexford has been identified in a helpful way. He was born in Lee county, Iowa, in December, 1841, his parents being William D. and Laura A. (Hamilton) Rexford. In the paternal line he is descended from Scotch-Irish ancestry. His father was born in Steuben county, New York, in 1800, and his mother was also a native of the Empire state. In 1838 William D. Rexford removed to Iowa, settling in Lee county among its pioneer residents. He became a factor in the early development of that locality and there made his home until 1847, when he made a trip across the plains to Oregon. This was two years before the great tide of emigration set in toward California. He was accompanied by his entire family, including several children, among whom was Ensign Rexford, of this review. The emigrant trains consisted of about fifty wagons and the party thus traveled to the Pacific coast experienced all the hardships and trials incident to a journey of that character in the early days. They were in constant danger of Indian attack and various difficulties were to be encountered because of the lack of good roads and of settlements at which supplies might be obtained. They journeyed on until the days had lengthened into weeks and the weeks into months ere they reached their destination. For a year after their arrival in Oregon Mr. Rexford and his family remained near Salem then removed to his tract of land six miles from Albany, Oregon, which became the family homestead. Mr. Rexford was a successful farmer and stock-raiser and spent the greater part of his business career upon his land near Albany. A short time prior to his death, however, he removed to northern California for the benefit of his health and there he departed this life in 1875. His widow survived him for a number of years and died in Oregon in 1885. The surviving members of the family are: Ensign, Mrs. Martha Ross, who is now in Payette, Idaho, and Charles Rexford, who is living in Corvallis, Oregon.
Ensign Rexford was in his seventh year when he made a trip across the plains with his parents. He remembers many events of that journey and of early pioneer life in the Sunset state. His boyhood days were spent upon the home farm near Albany and in that locality he acquired his education. Early trained to the work of the fields, he soon became of much assistance to his father in the cultivation of the old homestead and his practical knowledge and experience there acquired have proved of immense value to him in his later business career. In 1858 he left home and went to The Dalles, Oregon, and into eastern Washington, Idaho, through the mining regions of eastern Oregon and Washington territory, and participated in the development of some of the well known gold mines of that region. He also drove cattle there and led the life of the typical frontiersman. Indeed, if his history were written in detail it would present a vivid picture of the conditions of the far west when the Pacific coast was cut off from the old east by the long stretches of hot sand and high mountain ranges, there being no railroad or telegraphic communications.
Mr. Rexford was always interested in cattle-raising, and desiring to devote his time and energies to this industry, he made his way to Texas in 1879, regarding it as the portion of the country best adapted to the business. He secured a tract of land upon which he now resides in Wichita county, about twelve miles north of the city of Wichita, but neither the town nor the county had been organized at that time and the country had been organized at that time and the country was wild and unimproved. Mr. Rexford purchased the squatters’ rights to adjoining tracts of land until he owned a large ranch. He did not give his attention immediately, however, to the raising of cattle, but became identified with the construction of new railroads that were being built in Texas at that time. He was thus engaged until 1882, when he returned to his home and began the improvement of his farm, which today comprises fourteen hundred acres of valuable land devoted partly to general farming and partly to stock-raising. He is especially interested in the latter branch of his business and makes a specialty of the breeding and raising of pure-blooded Hereford cattle and good horses and mules. He annually makes extensive sales of stock, and because of superior grades finds a ready sale upon the market and realizes a good profit for his labor.
In 1873 in Albany, Oregon, Mr. Rexford was united in marriage to Miss Amanda Wylie, whose parents also crossed the plains in early pioneer times, although at a date subsequent to the removal of the Rexford family to Oregon. To our subject and his wife have been born two children, Burk and Mrs. Ruth Nix. A quarter of a century has passed since Mr. and Mrs. Rexford came to Wichita county, and no history of this portion of the state would be complete without mention of this worthy pioneer couple. Mr. Rexford has borne an active and helpful part in the work of public progress of civilization. He who battles with and subjects the forces of nature is usually a man of strong purpose, of stalwart interest and commendable resolution and these qualities are found as salient characteristics in the life work of Ensign Rexford.
Mr. Rexford is proud of the fact that he has always been a temperance man and an advocate of its principles, and is at this writing advocating a ticket on a temperance platform for the coming county election.
Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906),