Talbert Jackson English, president of the First National Bank of Sterling, is one of the few mature business men and citizens who can claim Rice County as the place of their nativity. Mr. English had had an active business career in different lines, but for many years had been identified with the bank of which he is now the head.
He was born near Sterling in Rice County, Kansas, November 20, 1874. His father is John McCollister English, who became widely known in this section of Kansas as a land owner and capitalist. The ancestry of this family goes back to Northern Ireland and is Scotch-Irish. In former generations the name was spelled Inglish. In 1798 two brothers and a sister of the family came to America and settled in Virginia. T. J. English’s grandfather was James Tolbert English, who was born in 1816. He lived in Chillicothe, Ohio; Sangamon County, Illinois; Danville, Illinois, and finally retired and came to Kansas, dying at Sterling in 1897.
John McCollister English was born at Chillicothe, Ohio, in 1845, and was reared partly there and partly in Sangamon County, Illinois. For some years he was in the merchandise business at Mount Auburn, Indiana. In October, 1871, in a conveyance drawn by one horse, he and his little family started for Kansas. That was the very month that the great Chicago fire took place. In May, 1872, he settled on a farm in southwestern McPherson County, homesteading 160 acres. Then followed the usual struggles and heartbreaking experiences of the Kansan during the ’70s, and he not only suffered from drought, but his house was burned and he lost practically all his possessions. Seeking a place to begin over again, he removed to Rice County in 1874, and at Sterling engaged in the drug business several years. Having managed to accumulate some capital, he loaned it out on satisfactory terms and also bought land at the prevailing low prices of the time. Thus he gradually recouped himself and acquired a great deal of land in Central Kansas, now very valuable. In 1902 he practically retired from business and moved to Wichita, and since 1916 had lived at Thomas, Oklahoma. Politically he had always been identified with the republican party and is affiliated with the Masonic Order. He had a record as a Union soldier, having enlisted in 1862 in the Sixty-second Illinois Infantry. He served three years, until the close of hostilities.
John M. English married Effie Caroline Bull. She was born in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, in 1856, and died at St. Louis, Missouri, March 15, 1898.
Talbert Jackson English, only son of his parents, received his first instruction in the public schools of Sterling and graduated from the high school in 1891. For a year or so he was a telegraph operator for the Postal Telegraph Company. In 1894 he and his mother went to St. Louis to live, and while there he was variously employed, for a time being cashier of the St. Louis Refrigerator and Wooden Gutter Company until its plant was destroyed in the great cyclone. Then he was cashier for the Rumsey & Sikemeier Company until the death of his mother in March, 1898. He then returned to Sterling and on April 8, 1898, entered the First National Bank as a clerk. With the business of that institution he had been steadily identified to the present time, having been promoted to assistant cashier, then to cashier, and on January 12, 1915, became president. The other officers of the bank are A. L. McMurphy, vice president, and R. A. Newman, cashier. The First National Bank of Sterling was established June 27, 1884, with the late J. H. Smith as its first president. The bank had had a prosperous existence, maintains its capital at $50,000, had surplus and profits of $26,000, and its deposits average about $350,000.
Besides his position as a banker Mr. English is owner of farms in Rice and Reno counties, Kansas, aggregating about 5,000 acres. In 1902 he built his modern home at the corner of Eighth and Adams streets in Sterling. He had always taken a working interest in the welfare of his community and was member and secretary for five years of the local school board. The new high school building was erected while he was on the board. He also served six years in the city council and two years as mayor. Mr. English is a republican, and is an active member of the Congregational Church and its present treasurer.
On February 22, 1900, in Sterling, he married Miss Mabel L. Grandy. To their marriage were born four children: John Hubert, born December 6, 1900, now in the junior class of the local high school; Dorothy Margaret, born August 10, 1902, in the sophomore class of the high school; Florence Hildreth, born June 22, 1904, and in the eighth grade; and Kenneth Dickson, born May 8, 1907, and a student in the fifth grade of the public schools. Mrs. Ella Grandy, mother of Mrs. English, is a member of the English home.