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Biography of William R. Smith

One of the fine buildings bordering the State Capitol grounds at Topeka is the Kansas State Printing plant. That is the official headquarters of William R. Smith, state printer, and also secretary of the State Printing Commission and chairman of the School Book Commission of the state. Doubtless any citizen, and particularly a printer, would deem it an honor to be at the head of an establishment which experts pronounce to be the equal in mechanical equipment and operating effieiency of any commercial printing establishment in the country. When Mr. Smith went into office on July 1, 1915, he brought with him a ripe experience, including an extensive service in all the grades of the printing business, years of editorial and newspaper publishing work, and perhaps best of all an inheritance and training in the progressive Kansas spirit. When the advancement of the welfare of the state is concerned, W. R. Smith can always be found in the ranks of the workers and usually among the leaders. The influence for good he has exercised as an editor in various sections of the state can hardly be overestimated. While his life has been distinctive in more than one particular, he is in every sense a typical Kansan. He was born at the old land office and capital, Lecompton, March 21, 1872. His grandparents, William L. and America C. (Barton) Smith were Kentucky peoplo who moved west in 1854, the year the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed through Congress, and they located at Lecompton, the historie capital of Kansas Territory. Both grandparents died in Lecompton. George W. Smith, father of the state...

Biography of Peter P. Elder

Peter P. Elder, deceased, ex-lieutenant governor of Kansas, and for many years a resident of Ottawa, was one of the most notable characters of Kansas and one of the select few who gave it a unique and substantial standing among the western states of the Union. He was a native of Maine, born in Somerset County, September 30, 1823; was of North-of-Ireland ancestry and Revolutionary stock. Mr. Elder spent the first thirty-four years of his life in his native county, getting an education and teaching school. He became an ardent abolitionist early in life, and in 1857 located in Franklin County, Kansas, prepared to do his part in defending his principles and possessions. First taking up a claim near Ohio City he commenced farming, immediately joined the Kansas militia, and in 1861 President Lincoln appointed him agent for the Osage and Seneca Indians at Fort Scott. In that position he rendered valuable service to the Union by keeping the Indians to its support, and when he resigned the agency he returned to Franklin County and located at Ottawa, which had been recently platted. In the late ’60s Mr. Elder erected the first substantial residence at Ottawa, and also established the banking firm of P. P. Elder & Company. It continued a successful business until the organization of its successor, in 1871–the First National Bank of Ottawa, of which Mr. Elder was also the first president. For the succeeding thirty years he developed into one of the largest and most successful farmers and stock raisers of the county. During all that period he had also been very active and prominent...

Biography of Carey J. Wilson

Carey J. Wilson is superintendent of insurance for the State of Kansas. His is one of the busiest offices at the State Capitol and practically every minute of his official time is taken up either with the broader policies of the state insurance department or with the immense amount of details pertaining to the ability of companies to meet solvency requirements, as well as the general conduct of business within the state. To this office Mr. Wilson brought years of practical experience in the insurance field. He had been solely identified with insurance since he left college. Though a native of North Carolina, Carey Josephus Wilson had lived in Kansas since early infancy. He was born at Burnsville in the Old North State February 21, 1868. In 1870 his parents, George Washington and Elizabeth (Erwin) Wilson came to Kansas, settling in Brown County. They now reside at Ottawa, Kansas. His father is a Baptist minister and during the Civil war served as chaplain in the Confederate army. Carey J. Wilson grew up in the country around Powhattan, attended country schools, the academic department of Ottawa University and the Liberal Arts Course of the University of Kansas, graduating from the State University with the degree Bachelor of Arts in 1899. His early experiences were those of a Kansas farm boy, and in the intervals of acquiring a liberal education he taught for three years. Since leaving the university he had been entirely engaged in the insurance business. Mr. Wilson was in the life insurance field from 1899 to 1911. In January, 1911, he was appointed assistant state superintendent of insurance,...

Slave Narrative of Clayton Holbert

Interviewer: Leta Gray Person Interviewed: Clayton Holbert Location: Ottawa, Kansas Place of Birth: Linn County, Tennessee Age: 86 THE AMERICAN GUIDE TOPEKA, KANSAS EX SLAVE STORY OTTAWA, KANSAS BY: Leta Gray (interviewer) “My name is Clayton Holbert, and I am an ex slave. I am eighty-six years old. I was born and raised in Linn County, Tennessee. My master’s name was Pleasant “Ples” Holbert. My master had a fairly large plantation; he had, I imagine, around one hundred slaves.” “I was working the fields during the wind-up of the Civil War. They always had a man in the field to teach the small boys to work, and I was one of the boys. I was learning to plant corn, etc. My father, brother and uncle went to war on the Union side.” “We raised corn, barley, and cotton, and produced all of our living on the plantation. There was no such thing as going to town to buy things. All of our clothing was homespun, our socks were knitted, and everything. We had our looms, and made our own suits, we also had reels, and we carved, spun, and knitted. We always wore yarn socks for winter, which we made. It didn’t get cold, in the winter in Tennessee, just a little frost was all. We fixed all of our cotton and wool ourselves.” “For our meat we used to kill fifteen, twenty, or fifty, and sometimes a hundred hogs. We usually had hickory. It was considered the best for smoking meat, when we butchered. Our meat we had then was the finest possible. It had a lot more...

Biography of Herbert O. Caster

Herbert O. Caster, who, on February 2, 1914, qualified as attorney for the State Public Utilities Commission, and is now a resident of Topeka, had lived in Kansas for thirty-eight years, and is well known over the state, but particularly in his home County of Decatur, where before his admission to the bar he made a fine record for himself as an educator and an energetic factor in other affairs of public importance. When the Caster family came to Kansas in 1878 they took up a homestead in Decatur County. At that time the county was a sparsely settled regiMeigon, and there was not a single frame house within its borders. Like everyone else there the Caster family lived in a home constructed partly of sod and partly a dug-out. The old-timers of Kansas recall the hardships of the first settlers, of their incessant warfare with drought and blizzards, crop failures, and atarvation prices for such prodnce as could be aetually spared in excess of home consumption. All these discouragements the family of Herbert O. Caster erperienced. His parents were Dan and Jane (Turner) Caster. Dan Caster was a man of more than ordinary intelligence, and took an active part in local affairs in Decatur County, serving as chairman of the board of county commissioners, and in 1891 and in 1893 being elected to represent his county in the State Legislature. Herbert O. Caster is an Ohio man by birth, having been born in Meigs County, August 28, 1871, and was therefore seven years old when he came to Kansas. Within his personal experience he knows what Kansans went...

Biographical Sketch of Joel K. Goodin

Joel K. Goodin, an early lawyer and legislator and a free-state leader, was born at Somerset, Perry County, Ohio, February 24, 1824. He received an academic education, after which he took up the study of law. Early in 1854 he was admitted to the bar in his native state and the following June located upon the Wakarusa River in what is now Douglas County, Kansas. Mr. Goodin was a delegate to the Big Springs convention; was clerk of the lower house of the Topeka Legislature until it was dispersed by Colonel Sumner; was secretary of the council in the free-state Legislature of 1858, and the same year began the practice of law in Douglas County, but soon afterward removed to Ottawa. In 1866 he was elected to represent Franklin County in the Legislature, and was re-elected in 1867. While a member of the House he assisted in organizing the State School for the Deaf at Olathe. Mr. Goodin died at Ottawa on December 9,...

Biography of Horatio W. Gates

Horatio W. Gates is one of the oldest and best known undertakers and embalmers in the State of Kansas. He had been in business for many years at Rossdale, his present location being 29 Southwest Boulevard. He had not been alone in that profession, and it is noteworthy that Mrs. Gates was the first woman to receive an embalmer’s license in either Kansas or Missouri, and while many women have in recent years taken up the profession she was one of the real pioneers. Mr. Gates was born August 2, 1849, at Mansfield, Ohio, but had been a resident of Kansas since 1870. He first came to the state in 1867, but only remained about a year. He was the youngest of eight children of Jacob and Ann Maria (Bell) Gates. His mother was a sister of Dr. S. B. Bell, one of the founders of Rosedale and whose name is perinanently linked with the history of Kansas because of the magnificent gift he made to the state in the form of a hospital and school of medicine. Jacob Gates was born in 1801, and both he and his wife were natives of New Jersey. His father was a Revolutionary soldier and lost a leg during the struggls. Jacob Gates removed to Ohio in early days. In New Jersey he had operated a textile mill. An older brother had preceded him to Ohio and Jacob, selling his interests in New Jersey, traveled to the West with wagon and horses. He bought 160 acres of heavily timbered land a mile north of Mansfield, and he soon built a dam and...

Biography of Frank Sigel Dietrich

The day of the lawyer who depended upon inspiration, and whose chief preparation for forensic victory was the acquisition of alcoholic stimulants, is past. The lawyer of today depends not alone upon inspiration, but also upon hard work in preparing his cases for trial, and upon their careful presentation and handling in the courts. Usually he has to convince hard-headed business men of the merits of his case, which involves nothing of sentiment or of sensationalism and much of pecuniary interest and of commercial right and wrong, pure and simple. He goes before a judge and jury cool, collected, alert, bristling with business, equipped with a thorough knowledge of principles and decisions applicable to his case, ready for emergencies, and with the persuasive oratory of reason and precedent clearly expressed and logically arrayed, but having little need for mere theatrical display. Thus equipped, thus discharging his duty to his client, to the court, and to himself, he wins upon the law and the evidence, ably interpreting the one and bringing out the full force of the other. Such a modern, successful lawyer is the subject of this sketch, concerning whose life we have gathered the following facts. Frank Sigel Dietrich was born near Ottawa, Kansas, January 23, 1863, and came of German ancestry. Both his father and his mother were born near Frankfort, in Germany, where they spent the early portion of their lives, but, imbued with that strong desire for personal liberty and personal rights characterizing so many Germans, they emigrated to America in 1855. For two years they lived in the city of Chicago, but still desiring...

Biographical Sketch of William E. Stich

William E. Stich. The largest general insurance office in Independence is owned and managed by William E. Stich. Mr. Stich is a brother of the late A. C. Stich, whose career as a business man and eitizen of Montgomery County had been described on other pages, where many of the detalls of the family history will be found. William E. Stich was born in Hanover, Germany, February 16, 1850. His parents came to this country in 1857 and located at Kalamazoo, Michigan. His early education was received in the schools there, and in the meantime he learned to be a cabinet maker under his father, who was a master of that trade. At the age of seventeen, on leaving school, he began working in an organ factory, and remained there about six years. He then became connected with the musical merchandise house of R. D. Bulloch of Jackson, Michigan, and was manager of their store at Saginaw for nine years. In 1883 Mr. Stich came to Kansas and bought his brother’s interest in a store at Paola. This was a general merchandise store and as its proprietor he conducted it for twenty-one years. Then in 1904 he moved to Ottawa, Kansas, and for a year was in the ice business. After a year’s intermission, he came to Independence in 1906, and had since been in the insurance business. His offices are at 204 1/2 North Penn Avenue. He is also a stockholder in the Exchange National Bank of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Mr., Stich had a comfortable home at 508 Maple Street. He is a member and former trustee of the...

Biographical Sketch of Herbert Hickman

Herbert Hickman is editor and owner of The Florence Bulletin, and had proved himself a very diligent and enterprising young newspaper man, coming up from the ranks of an apprenticeship as a printer. He was born in Las Animas, Colorado, December 6, 1893, a son of George W. and Maggie H. (Brown) Hickman, both of whom died when he was a small boy. His father was a native of Missouri and his mother of West Virginia. Herbert had a twin brother, Harvey Cecil, who died at the age of five years, and the youngest child, Warren Milton, was born in 1895 and died in 1902. After the death of his parents Herbert Hickman lived with his maternal grandparents at Colony, Kansas. His mother’s father was Rufus M. Brown, one of the early settlers at Colony. He served in the Union army as a member of Company G, First Regiment, Ohio Heavy Artillery Volunteers, and was long active in Grand Army circles in Kansas, His death occurred in Colony in 1911. In the home of his grandparents Herbert Hickman had good advantages, attending the public schools and spending three years working in the printing office of the Frce Press at Colony. He also continued his apprenticeship one year in Ottawa, Kansas. On March 2, 1914, he came to Florence as foreman of The Bulletin, and on May 1, 1917, bought that paper and the plant. The Bulletin is the only paper published at Florence, is a republican paper and was established in 1887 by J. B. Crooch. It is now in its thirty-first year. Mr. Hickman married at Colony September...
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