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Biography of James Medill

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James Medill. The late James Medill was one of the men who came to Kansas during its territorial period, and while he was but one of scores of similar pioneers, he bore his part worthily, although inconspicuously, in the upbuilding of the commonwealth. Mr. Medill was born on a farm in Jefferson County, Ohio, near Steubenville, May 21, 1824, a son of Joseph Medill, who was of the same family that produced the Medills who made the Chicago Tribune famous.

James Medill was reared to manhood in his native county, where he acquired a good, practical education. As a young man he flat-boated up and down the lower Mississippi River and also was engaged in merchandising. His mind was early fired by the stories of Kansas, and in April, 1857, voyaged here by river and landed at Leavenworth, at that time away out on the frontier. For a few years he boarded with “Uncle” George Keller, who kept a boarding house at Leavenworth, and oftentimes was compelled to sleep on the floor, owing to the flood of emigrants passing through to the communities farther west. Eventually he began buying land, and at one time owned large tracts, in one body having thirteen quarter-sections near Effingham. He never engaged in farming to any great extent himself, and not at all until after his marriage, which occurred June 3, 1863, to Lydia A. Redburn, a native of Pennsylvania. When Mr. Medill first came to Leavenworth, he taught a term of school, but this was only at the urgent request of the settlers who wanted their children to secure an education. He came from a locality where there was considerable money and his friends in the East entrusted a large amount of money to him to invest and in this way he carried on a number of transactions. Passing time increased the value of his holdings in realty and he became well to do. He was a stanch republican in politics and a Protestant in religious belief. He was elected and served two terms as a member of the Kansas Legislature and was also Kansas railroad assessor for two years. Mr. Medill was one of those who helped organize the Kansas State Agricultural Society, in March, 1862, and was a member of the committee which drafted its constitution. His death occurred July 3, 1894. Three children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Medill: May, who married William Hollingsworth, had one daughter, and died in 1891; Sherman; and Nannie, who died in young womanhood.

Sherman Medill,president of the State Savings Bank of Leavenworth, and one of the city’s leading citizens, is the only male representative of his father’s family. He was born on a farm in Alexandria Township, Leavenworth County, Kansas, December 27, 1865, and during his early life was engaged in farming. He was educated in the district schools and at Lawrence Business College, and had long been prominently connected with business and financial affairs. One of the original stockholders of the State Savings Bank, at Leavenworth, he moved his home to this city in 1906, and served as vice president of the institution for a period, and in 1913 was elected president, a position which he had since retained. The other officers are T. I. Mains, vice president; F. M. Potter, cashier; and J. R. Burt, assistant cashier. The growth of the State Savings Bank during recent years is shown in the fact that from September 11, 1912, until April, 1917, the deposits increased from $109,626.07 to over $600,000.

Mr. Medill was married June 4, 1900, to Miss Monica Morgan, and they have had six children: one who died in infancy, unnamed; James S.; William Harold; George T. and Joseph, twins, the latter deceased; and Loraine. Mr. Medill is a republican and in 1898 was elected to the Kansas Legislature, but with this exception had never aspired to office. He is a prominent and popular member of the Masonic fraternity.


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