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George W. Kidder, who, excepting for the earliest years of infancy, has spent his entire life in Crawford County, has had a long and varied and extremely useful relationship with business affairs in various towns of that county and particularly in Pittsburg. Mr. Kidder is now secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and is also secretary of the Retail Merchants Association.
The Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce, which was established in 1881 at the beginning of the town when Pittsburg was nothing more than a coal camp, has been in continuous operation ever since. They performed a great work and the city itself in many ways stands as a monument to the cooperative endeavors of this organization. It now has about 300 members representing every business, professional and mechanical pursuit, and these men are associated in such a way that their united efforts constitute a tremendous power for the upbuilding and advantage of Pittsburg. Many notable results have been accomplished by the organization.
In recent years the Chamber has brought about the construction of thirty-five miles of paved streets, the construction of a big storm sewer drainage system caring for a large portion of the city, the building of curbing, guttering and concrete bridges, and the improvement of several beautiful parks for the recreation of the citizens. The purchasing of the waterworks of the city, the extension of its mains to remote parts of the towns, extension and improvements of roads leading in every direction beyond city limits, the adjustment of railroad rates, the additional improvements placed in the city schools and in the State Manual Training Normal. The advocating and attending to of civic improvements with a view to continuous beautification–all these are a few of the notable results accomplished through the combined efforts and influence of the Chamber of Commerce. Analytical and practical tests have recently been made through this organization of the various clays abounding in great quantities in this part of Kansas. These tests have demonstrated to practical pottery manufacturers the great possibilities of a clay product business at Pittsburg. Pittsburg is an ideal situation for such industries. It has unusual natural advantages in the way of raw material and cheap fuel, has unexcelled shipping facilities and an enormous territory demanding such product and within easy reach by rail from factory to consumer. One of the objects now being pursued with great energy by the Chamber is the building up of this particular industry at Pittsburg. The Chamber of Commerce is a very live organization and its secretary Mr. Kidder has taken special pains to render it a medium of reliable and prompt information to all interested parties.
The Retail Merchants Association of Pittsburg, of which Mr. Kidder is also secretary, has for its object the closer relations and betterment of the merchants of Crawford County. This association furnishes to its members all legal and proper information which the individual merchants might require for their protection or for other business purposes. Thus this association has on file for the use of its members ratings on patrons, collection accounts statistics, information on bogus check writers and forgers, maintains a strict censorship on all special advertising plans presented, on all special sales systems by trading stamps, coupons, etc., and the association also makes weekly reports on chattel mortgages. The present officers of the association are: J. M. Leipman, president; F. D. Barker, vice president; G. W. Kidder, secretary; and H. Degan, Sr., treasurer.
George W. Kidder was born in Adams County, Illinois, June 8, 1868, and was brought to Southeastern Kansas about three years later. His father L. H. Kidder, who was born in Adams County, Illinois, January 11, 1843, was descended from an English family that came from England to Maine in colonial times. L. H. Kidder spent his early life as a farmer and school teacher in Adams County, and in 1871 he arrived on the full tide of early settlement in Southeastern Kansas. He located on a farm four miles south of Pittsburg in Baker Township of Crawford County, and being one of the early arrival he was able to select a good tract of 160 acres at a cost of only $1.25 per acre. Some years later he sold his farm and was engaged in the grocery business at Girard and later at Pittsburg. He was also well known in public affairs, and for four years was clerk of the District Court of Crawford County and held various township offices. Politically he was a republican, was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and belonged to Pittsburg Lodge No. 56 Ancient Order of United Workmen. He now resides at 106 East Park Street in Pittsburg and is engaged in the grocery business at 108 West Third Street. L. H. Kidder married Miss Matilda H. Moore, who was born in Muskingum County, Ohio, January 6, 1843, and is still living. Their children were: George W.; Alice, who died at the age of 4½ years; Charles Watson, who lives at Pittsburg but is a traveling salesman for the Ridenour-Baker Grocery Company of Kansas City, Missouri.
The early education of George W. Kidder came from the public schools of Crawford County. He finished the junior year in the Girard High School, but left school in 1888 to begin his practical commercial and mercantile experience. He spent one year with the firm of Kidder & Merriweather, and another year with the successor of that firm T. F. Gregg. For a year he clerked in a grocery and shoe store at Girard, and then had charge of the grocery department of the A. W. Barker department store at Girard until April, 1892. At that date Mr. Kidder came to Pittsburg, and was engaged in the mercantile business with his father from 1894 to 1896. He then sold his interest to the older Kidder and spent a year in the mechanical department of the Kansas City Southern Railroad Company and for four years was head bookkeeper in the coal department of that road. He was next employed as head bookkeeper a year and a half by the Pittsburg Daily Headlight. Ill health compelled him to give up that work. He was then in the real estate business under the firm name of Kidder and Coulter until 1908. The panic of that year brought on hard times which compelled him to sell out to his partner, and for the next two years he had charge of the general office of W. W. Cook & Sons, contractors for light, water and sewer plant. In 1910 Mr. Kidder returned to the Headlight as solicitor, but in a short time took charge of the new business department for the Home Light Heat and Power Company. He spent two years with that concern. In February, 1912, he was elected secretary of the Pittsburg Chamber of Commerce and since 1913 has been secretary of the Crawford County Retail Merchants Association. He is also secretary of the Crawford County Good Roads Association. His offices are in the Globe Building.
Mr. Kidder is a republican, and from 1900 to 1908 had a place on the city council. He is a steward in the Methodist Episcopal Church, and is superintendent of the Intermediate Department of the Sunday School. Among other business interests he is a stockholder in the new Cornelia Copper Company at Calumet, Michigan, and in the Elgin Motor Car Company of Chicago. Fraternally he is affiliated with Pittsburg Lodge No. 187 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Pittsburg Chapter No. 58 Royal Arch Masons.
On July 8, 1896, at Girard, Kansas, Mr. Kidder married Miss Emma Purdun. Mr. and Mrs. Kidder have three children: Clarence H., who graduated from the Pittsburg High School in 1914 and is now a student of the State Manual Training Normal School at Pittsburg. Maurice A. is in the freshman class of the high school, while Elizabeth A. is in the sixth grade of the grammar schools.