David Heckman. Of the men whose ability, industry and forethought have added to the character, wealth and good government of Liberty, none are better known than David Heckman. Mr. Heckman is a business man, not only by training and long experience, but by preference and natural talent, and all these qualities have been combined to form a force through which he has worked his way to success. He first came to this community in 1870, but it was not until 1877 that he located permanently in Liberty, and since that time his fortunes have been linked indissolubly with those of the growing community which he has watched grow and develop with the eye of a proprietor.
Mr. Heckman was born on his father’s farm near Leechburg, Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, January 17, 1847, being a son of Abraham and Esther (Klingensmith) Heckman, a grandson of Philip Heckman, a pioneer Pennsylvania farmer who died in Armstrong County before his birth, and a member of a family which originated in Germany and transferred its abiding place to America many years ago. Abraham Heckman was born in 1812, in Armstrong County, and there his entire life was passed in the vocations of farming and stockraising. He was a man of sound intelligence and force of character, and his abilities were recognized by his fellow-citizens on a number of occasions when they elected him to public positions of trust and responsibility, such as overseer of the poor, township treasurer and numerous other posts. He took a great interest in civic affairs and was prominent in his community as a democratic politician. He died in 1906, in the faith of the Lutheran Church, in which he had been an active worker. Mr. Heckman married Miss Esther Klingensrnith, who was born in Armstrong County in 1816 and died there in 1901, and they became the parents of the following children: Gideon, who died in Armstrong County after a long career passed as a tiller of the soil; Henry, who, in following the vocation of schoolteacher, traveled from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and died at Salem, Oregon; Mary Ann, who is the widow of Lonis Deiffendeifer, a farmer of Indiana County, Pennsylvania; Peter, who died near the old homestead farm in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania; A. J., who fought as a soldier during the Civil war, subsequently came to Kansas where he was in business with his brother, David, and died at Ossawotamie, Kansas, being buried at Liberty; William, who was in the real estate business and insurance at Coffeyville and died in February, 1916; David, of this review; John C., who was identified with steel mills in Pennsylvania for twenty years before his death in Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, in 1910; Catherine, who is the wife of Albert Klingensmith, a hardware merchant near New Kensington, Pennsylvania; and Margaret, who is the wife of Abraham Shutt, now living retired at Leechburg, Pennsylvania, after many years spent in agricultural pursuits.
David Heckman attended the district schools of Armstrong County, Pennsylvania, and was reared on his father’s farm, on which he resided until reaching the age of twenty-three years. In 1870 he left the parental roof to seek his fortune in the West, and arrived in Montgomery County, Kansas, February 14th of that year when he pre-empted from the United States Government a property which was later to become the townsite of Liberty. This he subsequently sold, after a short period, to Captains McTaggart and Herod, and the town was founded in 1871. When he disposed of this land, Mr. Heckman went to Crawford County, Kansas, where for six years he lived on a farm. Conditions there, however, were not entirely satisfactory, and on disposing of his property advantageously, he returned to Liberty, then a full-fledged, growing and prosperous town. In company with his father-in-law, he embarked in the mercantile business, with a stock of goods worth $2,000. From the start the business was successful, the ability, good judgment and foresight of the partners attracting a large volume of patronage and their straightforward dealing and absolute integrity in all matters holding customers that were once made. At one time, during the earlier days, so great had the business grown that trade was attracted from a radius of fifteen miles, and there are still a number of customers who come in from six miles and even farther to deal with this old and reliable concern. A three-story building is occupied, Mr. Heckman owning two floors and leasing the third, and everything is sold from a pin to a thrashing machine or an automobile. The floors have a front of 75 feet and a depth of 80 feet, and the great stock is being constantly rearranged and renewed so that only up-to-date goods of the best quality are kept. Throughout his career Mr. Heckman’s name has been synonymous with fair and upright dealing, and this gives him decided prestige in business circles. While the greater part of his attention has been centered in his store, he has other interests, and at the same time has not been neglectful of his duties as a citizen, for he has lent his support to various public-spirited enterprises which have helped Liberty in its growth. He resides in his own home, located in block 9. Mr. Heckman is a democrat in political affairs, and fraternally is well known, belonging to Independent Order of Odd Fellows Lodge No. 105, Liberty, Modern Woodmen of America Camp No. 96, Liberty; Lodge No. 279, Ancient Order of United Workmen, of Coffeyville; the Rehekahs of Liberty and the Anti-Horse Thief Association, of this city.
In 1874, at Liberty, Mr. Heckman was united in marriage with Miss Emma Barnett, daughter of the late Edward Barnett, a merchant of this place. Mrs. Heckman died February 29, 1916, having been the mother of one child, Myrtle, who died aged eighteen months and one adopted daughter, True, who married Frank Love, and resides at Winona, Missouri, where Mr. Love is filling the position of railroad agent.