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Biography of Daniel B. Cowie

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Daniel B. Cowie. In an article on other pages of this publication will be found some account of the salt industry in Kansas and some mention of the more prominent mines and companies. One of the most striking figures in the development of the salt industry in Kansas was the late James Cowie, Sr., and the above named is a son of that salt pioneer and is now general superintendent of the Independent Salt Company at Kanopolis.

The Cowie family are Scotch people, and in Scotland they were also identified with mining. The grandfather of Daniel was George Cowie, who spent his life in Scotland and was a successful coal contractor. James Cowie, Sr., was born in Stirlingshire, Scotland, in 1839. He grew up and married there and from an early age was a coal miner. Prior to his coming to America he was general manager for one of the largest coal companies in Scotland, having supervision over ten diffierent coal properties. On coming to the United States in 1884 he entered the employ of the H. C. Frick Coal Company at Connellsville, Pennsylvania.

James Cowie, Sr., came to Kanopolis, Kansas, in 1889. The credit is given him for originating the salt mining industry of Kansas and he was known in the press and to the general public as the “salt king.” As manager of the Royal Salt Company he put in the first salt mine in Kansas just east of the city limits of Kanopolis. He managed that company until 1905 and then organized the Crystal Salt Company, of which he was manager and part owner. He bought from the Kanopolis townsite the salt rights underneath the town. The Crystal mine is just outside the limits of Kanopolis but its tunnels and underground work are partly beneath the town itself. At the time of his death James Cowie, Sr., was managing director of the Crystal Salt Company and also owned between 5,000 and 6,000 town lots in Kanopolis. Previously he was owner of about forty buildings in the town but had sold this part of his real estate. As an American citizen James Cowie, Sr., was a republican, was an active Presbyterian, and served a number of terms as mayor of Kanopolis and well justified the honors bestowed upon him by efficient service in the administration of municipal affairs.

James Cowie, Sr., married Elizabeth Barrowman. She was born in Scotland in 1842 and died at Kanopolis in 1915, while her husband passed away there in 1911. Her father, George Barrowman, was a prominent coal contractor in Scotland, where he died. James Cowie and wife had five children. George, the oldest, is manager of the Standard Salt Company at Little River, Kansas. James Cowie, Jr., is president of the Exchange State Bank of Kanopolis and is also mine foreman under his brother Daniel. Daniel is the third in the family. Janette married Samuel Hogsett, a loan and real estate man at Kansas City, Missouri. Elizabeth, the youngest child, is the wife of George P. Kelly, of Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. Kelly is president of the American Salt and Coal Company of Lyons, Kansas, and at this writing is installing one of the largest combination rock salt and evaporation salt plants in the United States. The evaporation works are already in operation and the rock salt mines will be completed and in a producing state within six months.

Daniel B. Cowie, son of James Cowie, Sr., was born at Kylswith, Stirlingshire, Scotland, March 20, 1869, and was fifteen years of age when the family came to the United States. He received his education in the public schools of Stirlingshire and for two years taught school in Scotland. At the age of eighteen he began working as a miner, and had an intimate experience with that industry in every capacity from tapper boy to general superintendent.

Under his father he became expert in all branches of salt mining and manufacture. He was general superintendent of the Kingman Salt Company at Kingman, Kansas, until the plant was burned in 1903, after which he returned to Kanopolis and was general superintendent of the Crystal Salt Company and since 1913 had been superintendent of the Independent Salt Company. For 3½ years prior to 1915 Mr. Cowie was at Detroit, Michigan, his services being employed to straighten out the tangled affairs of the rock salt plant, wherein was involved an investment of over $1,000,000. The plant was in the hands of a receiver and the expert ability of Mr. Cowie was called into service, and he not only put the plant on its feet but developed it so that now it is one of the best salt mine propositions in the United States.

Mr. Cowie lives close to the Independent Salt Company’s plant and in the superintendent’s house furnished by the company. He owned six dwelling houses in Kanopolis, a farm of eighty acres near the city, and is a stockholder and director in the Exchange State Bank.

His fellow citizens have honored him with the office of mayor two terms and with that of city clerk two terms. For fifteen consecutive years he was a member of the school board and since 1913 had again been on the board and is now treasurer. He is a republican, an elder in the Presbyterian Church, is past master of Kingman Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, a member of the Royal Arch Chapter and the Knights Templar Commandery at Kingman, is past noble grand of Kingman Lodge, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, past master workman of Kingman Lodge, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and charter member of Kanopolis Camp of the Modern Woodmen of America.

Mr. Cowie enjoys an ideal home life and had a large and happy family. He first married at Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in 1891, Miss Allie Matthews. She died in 1897, leaving two daughters: Elizabeth, now the wife of William McVittie, a member of the city fire department of Detroit, Michigan; and Janette, living at home. In 1900, at Emporia, Kansas, Mr. Cowie married Miss Ruth A. Haley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Samuel Haley. Her mother is deceased and her father still lives on a farm near Emporia. Mr. and Mrs. Cowie have seven children: Anna, born in 1901; Daniel, Jr., born in 1903; Margaret, born in 1905; Jane, born in 1907; Dorothy, born in 1909; Evelyn, born in 1911; and James, born in 1914.


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