Fred L. Stephenson is president of the Commercial State Bank of Yates Center. He had many other interests that connect him with that community, and for many years had been one of the live and energetic citizens, ever ready to co-operate in any plan for the advancement of local welfare. Mr. Stephenson had spent most of his life in Kansas and he owes to his individual energies and the opportunities of the state his prosperity and his position in affairs.
His ancestors were English people who came to New York in Colonial days. His grandfather was Thomas Stephenson, a native of New York State, an early settler in Ohio, where he spent the rest of his years, and a farmer and Baptist preacher.
Fred L. Stephenson was born in Grant County, Wisconsin, April 16, 1864. His father William P. Stephenson, who was born on Staten Island, New York, in 1823, spent his boyhood on Staten Island, as a young man went to the vicinity of Cleveland, Ohio, was married there and followed farming. In 1854 he moved out to Grant County, Wisconsin, and was one of the early settlers in that community. From Wisconsin he came to Kansas in 1869, and for two years was associated with the early settlers of Linn County. In 1871 he removed to Woodson County, buying a farm of 120 acres, and after developing and cultivating it for ten years retired to Yates Center, where he lived until his death in 1900. He was a stanch republican and for several years filled the office of county commissioner in Woodson County. His church was the Baptist. Fred Stephenson’s mother was Clarissa Richards, who was born in Massachusetts in 1820 and died in Woodson County, Kansas, in 1887. Their children were: Arthur, a farmer at Foraker, Oklahoma; Elizabeth, wife of H. G. Frazier, a minister of the Baptist Church living at Ottawa, Kansas; J. R., who is a soldier in the regular army of the United States and is now stationed at Fort Snelling, Minnesota; O. A., who owned the gas and electric plant at Bertram, Nebraska; and Fred L.
Fred L. Stephenson was five years of age when he came to Kansas, attained his early education in the public schools of Woodson County, and spent his life on his father’s farm until 1882. In that year he removed to Yates Center, where for several years he was alternately clerk in a store and a student of the local schools. For about two years he was deputy county clerk and deputy county treasurer, for four years was deputy register of deeds, and was then elected to the office of register of deeds, which he filled two terms or four years. For three years Mr. Stephenson was a local hardware merchant, but sold his business in 1900 in order to take an active part in the organization of the Commercial State Bank. He had been its president from the beginning. The other officers are: E. P. Baker, vice president; C. A. Hale, cashier; and John W. Gunnels, assistant cashier. The bank had a capital of $30,000 and surplus and undivided profits of $5,000. The bank home is at the corner of State and Rutledge streets on the southwest corner of the Square.
Mr. Stephenson is also a member of the firm of Stephenson and Hale, loans and insurance. Since 1889 he had owned an interest in the Yates Center News, he had farm lands in Woodson County, had one business building on the Square, and another adjoining the bank building. In 1906 he rebuilt his home on State Street, making of it a modern residence. Mr. Stephenson is a republican. He is a member and trustee of the Methodist Episcopal Church, had served in the city council, had been a member of the board of education for fourteen years and is now president of that body, is active in the Commercial Club, and belongs to the Kansas State Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association. He is affiliated with Gilead Lodge No. 144, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Yates Center, with Yates Center Camp No. 1519, Modern Woodmen of America, and is past chancellor commander of Yates Center Lodge No. 71 of the Knights of Pythias.
In 1891 at Yates Center he married Miss Mary E. Haun, who came from Bloomington, Illinois, to Afton, Iowa, and in 1884 moved to Yates Center, Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson have one daughter, Clarissa, who graduated A. B. from Baker University in 1916 and is now a teacher in the high school at Yates Center.