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Charles S. Huffman, M. D. It is unusual for a medical man to become so widely and prominently identified with state affairs as Dr. Charles S. Huffman, of Columbus. Doctor Huffman is also a state senator, having represented his district in the State Senate for twelve years. On account of his long and arduous participation in the state militia, beginning with service in the famous Kansas Regiment during the Spanish-American war, he had attained the rank of brigade commander, and is one of the most active figures in the National Guard of the state. He made his mark in the world as a physician first, and had been for more than a quarter of a century actively identified with the profession at Columbus.
He was born in the historic Vincennes, Indiana, October 8, 1865. In his ancestry both in maternal and paternal lines can be found Revolutionary soldiers, and thus he inherits his interest in military affairs. Doctor Huffman served as assistant surgeon, with the rank of captain, in the Twentieth Kansas Regiment during the Spanish-American and Philippine wars, having enlisted in April, 1898. He was a member of Colonel Funston’s staff. He spent eighteen months in the service, and was mustered out at San Francisco, October 28, 1899. Since then he had never lost a keen interest in the National Guard, and had passed through all the grades of service and is now a brigade commander.
His early youth was spent in the vicinity of old Vincennes, and he attended the public schools there, graduating from high school in 1883. Doctor Huffman is one of the early settlers in Cherokee County, having come to this state soon after leaving high school and locating near Columbus, on his father’s farm. While several succeeding summers were spent in assisting his father on the farm, he taught school during the winter months for four seasons, all his teaching being done in Cherokee County. Ambitious for a larger life fitted to his talents, he entered in 1887 the medical department of the State University of Missouri, and was graduated in 1890. Doctor Huffman despite his many other interests, had been a keen and alert student of medical science and is without question one of the foremost representatives of his profession in the state today.
During the years 1895-1896 he took post-graduate work in the Bellevue Hospital Medical College of New York City. Beginning practice at Columbus, in 1890, he had since been busy with looking after a large general and surgical practice, and is now the second oldest physician in point of continuous residence in that city. Doctor Huffman is a member of the Cherokee County Medical Society, had served as secretary of the Kansas State Medical Society since 1903, also belongs to the Southeast Kansas Medical Society and the American Medical Association.
Over the state at large he is doubtless best known for his active participation in public affairs. For years he had been one of the leading republicans in this section of the state. He was first elected to the State Senate from the Tenth Kansas District in 1904 and had been re-elected in 1908, 1912 and 1916. He had in many ways wielded a strong influence in behalf of worthy legislation, and had been the means of furthering some of the laws which have given Kansas an enviable distinction among the states of the Union. For four years he was chairman of the important Ways and Means Committee in the Senate. During the last session he was chairman of the committee on military affairs, where his membership was in the nature of a fitting tribute to his long and active interest in the National Guard. It was he who introduced and secured the passage in 1907 of the Pure Food and Drug Act which is now on the statute books of the state. This was a piece of advanced legislation which placed Kansas among the forefront of the states that were safeguarding the health of the people by securing the purity of foods and drugs. Doctor Huffman had introduced and had been instrumental in the passage of a number of laws relating to the protection and safety of miners engaged in the mining industries of the state. This had been a subject of long continued study for him, and he had been equally zealous in behalf of the maintenance of the educational institutions at a high standard. He was one who lead the movement for the reorganization of the old board of regents, formerly composed of six members for each institution, into the board of administration for the educational institutions, comprising three members and concentrating all power and responsibility in their hands, a change that resulted in great benefit and improvement in the administration of the educational institutions of Kansas.
Those who are in a position to know say that Doctor Huffman deserves as much credit as any other member of the State Government for the construction of the splendid Memorial Building which adorns the capital city and stands a tribute not only to those brave soldiers of the Union, but also to the modern progressive tendencies of the state. Doctor Huffman was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee in the Senate when the appropriation for that building was made. He concerned himself with every phase of its construction from the time the original appropriation was passed until the hall was opened for the public use. The feature of the building which more than any other makes it unique among the public structures of Topeka, is the beautiful white marble employed on a generous scale both inside and out.
Some reference had already been made to the military activities of Doctor Huffman’s ancestors. The Huffmans originated in Germany, but members of the family came to Pennsylvania in colonial times. Doctor Huffman’s grandmother’s ancestors were from England. His grandfather, Solomon Huffman, was born in Pennsylvania, in 1800, and was one of the early settlers in the old French Town of Vincennes, Indiana. He came in the early days before the improved methods of transportation were in vogue, and made the trip down the Ohio River in a flat boat, and then voyaged up the Wabash until he arrived at his destination. He was a cabinetmaker by trade, a vocation he followed in his younger days, but most of his active life was spent in farming near Vincennes, where he died in 1877. In politics he was first a whig and later a republican, and was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Solomon Huffman married Fannie Purcell, who was born at Vincennes, in 1810, and died there in 1873. She was of a Virginia family.
William P. Huffman, father of Senator and Doctor Huffman, was born at Vincennes, Indiana, on April 4, 1834, was reared and married there, and became a farmer. In 1882 he moved to Hallowell, Kansas, and continued farming until he retired. He died at Hallowell, April 19, 1914. He was a republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church. William P. Huffman married Mary Williamson, who was born at old Vincennes, June 11, 1841, and died at Hallowell, in Cherokee County, Kansas, July 24, 1907. The children of this worthy couple were: Dr. Charles S., Alvin, who was born October 1, 1867, and is now a resident of Nevada, Missouri, being supervisor of bridges and the building department for the Missouri Pacific Railway; William P.; who was born September 26, 1869, and is a stockman at Ordway, Colorado; Minnie L.; who was born February 9, 1872, and died in Cherokee County, Kansas, July 20, 1901, had resided until a short time before her death in Cheyenne, Wyoming, being the wife of Ray Cook, now a resident of California; Lulu M., who was born September 13, 1879, and is now living at Oswego, Kansas, the widow of Thad Rodenberger, a farmer.
Doctor Huffman was married at Columbus, Kansas, in 1893, to Miss Minnie Cowley, a daughter of W. R. and Florence (Smith) Cowley, both of whom are now deceased. Her father, though a resident of Columbus, Kansas, was general attorney for the Long-Bell Lumber Company, of Kansas City, Missouri. Doctor and Mrs. Huffman have one daughter: Mona Clare, who was born November 21, 1895, is now a senior in the University of Kansas, at Lawrence, is an active member of the Sigma Kappa Sorority and is president of the Woman’s Governing Association of the University.
Senator Huffman had one of the attractive homes at Columbus, at 634 East Maple Street, and a farm of 240 acres in the southwest part of Cherokee County. He is a director in the Columbus State Bank, and for five years served as president of that institution. He had many associations with the social and business life of his home city, is active in the Columbus Commercial Club, is a prominent Mason, belonging to Prudence Lodge No. 100, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, at Columbus; Columbus Chapter No. 223, Royal Arch Masons; to Columbus Lodge No. 12, Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias; the Modern Woodmen of America; and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. He and his family are members of the Christian Church.