by Michael Hathaway
Curator, Stafford County Museum
One of St. John's most honored, illustrious sons was Ulysses Samuel Guyer, born Dec. 13, 1868, in Lee Co., Ill., to Rev. and Mrs. Joseph Guyer.
They moved to Stafford County in 1893, settling on a homestead in Union Township, later moving to St. John. Guyer attended Lane University at Lecompton, Southwestern Business College at Wichita, Western College at Toledo, Iowa and KU. He held degrees from Western College, Coe College and Kansas City School of Law.
When Guyer's father was killed in 1896, he came to settle affairs at home. During that time, St. John High School principal James Brady also died. Guyer was asked to finish his term.
Years later, Guyer reminisced about this experience: "Forty years! Impossible! To me as fresh in memory as the evening chimes of yesterday ... I drove old 'Coaly' seven miles into the teeth of a stinging northwest wind and drifting snow that hissed through the prairie grass. Never was happier interlude prefaced with more forbidding introduction. Interlude? I was principal and teacher at the St. John High School by accident and against my will and inclination like so many of life's happy experiences. What would I not give to live it all over again!"
He served as principal at St. John about five years, leaving in 1901 for Kansas City, Ks., where he began practicing law. He was elected Judge of the First Division of the City Court in April 1907. He was named mayor of Kansas City, Ks., in April 1909. In 1924, he was elected to serve in the 68th United States Congress from the Second Kansas District, and was elected for 10 more terms.
A 1926 re-election campaign postcard found Guyer promising, "When elected to the 70th congress, I shall continue to work and vote for economy, tax reduction, aid to disabled veterans, pensions for soldiers and their widows, farm relief ... the use of navigable streams to reduce transportation cost, a protective tariff to protect the products of the farm and factory and provide employment for labor at good wages and for other laws consistent with Republican policies."
Guyer died June 5, 1943. According to his obituary, Guyer was "an ardent advocate of prohibition and faithful to the ideal of a representative government. He maintained a keen sense of governmental balance through all his years of
service ... Congressman Guyer was ranking Republican member of the House Judiciary Committee at the time of his death. Although he seldom took the floor, he was one of the most able speakers in either the House of Representatives or the Senate."
Funeral services were held June 8, 1943, in the auditorium of St. John High School. The community of St. John, the place he had always considered home through all the years, joined many national and state dignitaries in honoring his memory and life's accomplishments. Congressman Guyer was laid to rest at Fairview Park Cemetery in St. John.
In lieu of flowers, Mr. Guyer's former pupils started a memorial shelf at the St. John Library because he had donated so many valuable books over the years. (The Stafford County Museum Library will gladly accept donations of any of these old books that are stamped "From the Library of U.S. Guyer.")
[This story was extracted from the St. John Daily Capital; No Cyclone Shall Destroy: The Story of St. John, Kansas (Cole & Reuber); and the Guyer family file, all of which are available to the public at the Stafford County Museum Library, 100 N. Main, Stafford, KS. The library is open 9:00-3:30 weekdays and by special appointment.]