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Charles N. Converse. Identified with banks and banking all through his business life, Charles N. Converse, president of the Citizens State Bank of Altoona, Kansas, is widely known in financial circles where his judgment is deemed sound and accurate, and his reputation had long been that of a forcible, able and efficient business man.
Charles N. Converse was born at Clinton, Illinois, June 22, 1863. His parents were Henry E. and Clara (Weaver) Converse, and his grandfathers were John Converse and Solomon Weaver. Solomon Weaver emigrated from Germany in boyhood and grew up at Clinton, Illinois, in which neighborhood he engaged in farming and there he died in 1883. On the paternal side the family traces its ancestry to France and when the first of the name, two brothers, came together to the American colonies, they spelled it Congiers. The brothers separated, one settling at Boston, Massachusetts, and the other at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
John Converse, the paternal grandfather, was born at Woburn, Massachusetts, February 14, 1813, and died at Clinton, Illinois, in June, 1880. He was an early settler in DeWitt County, Illinois, and a pioneer shoemaker at Clinton. He was a member of the Baptist Church and a good and worthy citizen. He married Eurania Nelson, who was born at Sutton, Massachusetts, in 1815, and died at Clinton, Illinois, in 1890. Of their family of children one survives, Frank H., a resident of Decatur, Illinois, a retired contractor and builder. During the Civil war he served as a member of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. The grandmother of Charles N. Converse, was a direct descendant of the great British admiral, Lord Horatio Nelson, and belonged also to the same ancestry as did the brave American General Putnam.
Henry E. Converse, father of Charles N. Converse, was born at Woburn, Massachusetts, January 8, 1836, and his death occurred at Burlington, Kansas, January 8, 1909. He was reared at Malden, Massachusetts, until he accompanied his people to Illinois, after which he went into railroad work as an engineer and conductor and during the Civil war served in the latter capacity on the Chicago & Alton Railroad. For a short time afterward he engaged in farming near Clinton, in 1863-4, but returned to railroading and continued until 1907, when he retired, removing then to Burlington, Kansas, where he died January 8, 1909. He belonged to the Masonic fraternity and to the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers. In politics he was one of the old-line republicans. He was a broadminded, well informed man with marked sterling traits of character.
Henry E. Converse married Clara Weaver, who was born in 1840, in Union County, Ohio, and died at Clinton, Illinois, in 1898. They were the parents of three children: Clara, who is the wife of A. H. Peck, who is a contractor and builder at Bloomington, Illinois; Charles N., of Altoona; and Frank, who died at Shreveport, Louisiana, when aged forty-seven years. He was a locomotive engineer on the Kansas City & Southern Railroad, running from Shreveport to Port Arthur and New Orleans.
Charles N. Converse enjoyed educational advantages at Clinton, Illinois, and after completing the high school course attended the University of Illinois, at Champaign, and immediately afterward entered the employ of the DeWitt County National Bank at Clinton. After coming to Kansas he was identified for 2½ years with the McPherson Bank, at McPherson, McPherson County, when he retired for a time from the confining cares of business, because of impaired health, seeking out-door exercise as a farmer. With this end in view he took up a claim, the third, in Stevens County and laid out the Town of Hugoton, which is now the county seat, and there not only built the first house but hauled all the lumber for its construction a distance of sixty-five miles. He remained one year in Stevens County and then once more gave heed to the call of business problems, for which organizing and executive ability of a high order seem to so well qualify him. After selling his claim he located at Waverly, in Coffey County, where, on February 1, 1902, he organized the First National Bank and served as its cashier until September, 1903, when he went to Burlington, Kansas, where he organized the Farmers National Bank and became at first its cashier and later president of that institution. In October, 1908, he went to Ottawa, Kansas, as vice president of the First National Bank. On March 1, 1911, Mr. Converse came to Altoona as president of the Citizens State Bank.
The Citizens State Bank of Altoona was established as a state bank in 1886. Its present officers are: Charles N. Converse, president; W. H. Hamblin, vice president; and Turner D. Jones, cashier. The capital of the bank is $16,000 and the surplus is $5,900. The bank building, a modern and attractive brick structure on Main Street, was erected in 1908. Under its present management the bank is in a very prosperous condition, great confidence being placed in Mr. Converse both as a very able financier and as a man of the highest personal integrity. He belongs to the Kansas Bankers Association, the Kansas State Bankers Association and the American Bankers Association. During the administration of Governor Bailey, Mr. Converse served by appointment as regent of the Kansas State University.
On May 4, 1884, Mr. Converse was married to Miss Fannie Pickrell, who is a daughter of William O. Pickrell, a native of Kentucky, who came to Kansas in 1866. Mr. and Mrs. Converse have two daughters, Clara L., who is the wife of William H. Hamblin, who is vice president of the Citizens State Bank of Altoona; and Helen R., who is a student at college.
In fraternal life Mr. Converse had long been prominent. He is a thirty-second degree Mason and his Masonic connections have been and are as follows: Altoona Lodge No. 118 Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he is past master; Altoona Chapter No. 240, Order of Eastern Star; Ottawa Chapter No. 7, Royal Arch Masons; for twenty years a member of Tancred Commandery. No. 11, at Ottawa, in 1913 demitted to Ab-Del Kader Commandery No. 27, at Fredonia, Kansas; Caswell Consistory No. 5, at Kansas City, Kansas; Mirzah Temple Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of Mystic Shrine, Pittsburg, Kansas. He belongs also to Ottawa Lodge No. 803, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks; the Ancient Order of United Workmen, No. 468, at Altoona; the Modern Woodmen of America No. 1175, Altoona; the Fraternal Aid Union No. 912, Altoona; the Knights and Ladies of Security No. 276, Altoona; and the Modern Order of Practorians, Dallas, Texas. Mr. Converse is a member of the Commercial Club at Altoona and its present treasurer.
While Mr. Converse had undoubtedly been a dominating factor in the financial field in this section for some years, he had never been unmindful of his duties as a citizen, nor had been neglectful in his attitude in relation to the higher things of life. He is foremost in contributing to charities at all times, is ever ready to co-operate in benevolent movements, and since youth had been a member of the Presbyterian Church, in which he is one of the elders at Altoona.