Charles O. Bollinger. The pioneers of Southeastern Kansas have finished their work long since, having laid the foundations and made ready for the inevitable inrush of population and the adequate development of resources. Their descendants have raised noble structures upon these foundations, that are the embodiment of twentieth century civilization. Gone are the days of small accomplishments, for the sons of the pioneers, taking up their work where the elder man laid it down, have extended the scope of modern methods and progress into every part of the section and into every labor in which mankind may engage. One of the old and honored families of Southeast Kansas that had taken part in the great development of the past sixty years, and whose members are now prominent and substantial residents of the communities which have grown into being during the period of the family’s residence here, is that of Bollinger. This family was founded in Bourbon County in 1855, and one of its worthy representatives at this time is Charles O. Bollinger, a leading business man of Iola, ex-mayor of the city and ex-sheriff of Allen County.
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Mr. Bollinger was born on his father’s farm in Bourbon County, Kansas, December 15, 1874, and is a son of Wiley and Cinderella (Lee) Bollinger, and a member of a family which, originating in Holland, settled in Pennsylvania during the era of the American colonies. John M. Bollinger, the grandfather of Charles O., is thought to have been born in Pennsylvania, although his birthplace may have been in Missouri. At any rate he was an early resident of the latter state, where for many years he was engaged in farming, and died on his home place in Greene County before the birth of his grandson. He married a Miss Stotler, who also died in Missouri.
Wiley Bollinger was born in 1832, in Platte County, Missouri, and was there reared and educated, but later removed with his parents to Greene County, where he was married and started his independent career as an agriculturist. In 1855 he decided to try his fortunes on the prairies of Kansas and accordingly came to Bourbon County, where he homesteaded 160 acres of land. He became one of the substantial citizens of his community, and when peace and prosperity were disturbed by the outbreak of the Civil war, he joined the Home Guards, and was ready for service throughout the struggle between the states. As the years passed he accumulated more and more property, which he cultivated intelligently and managed wisely, and in the meantime found time to contribute to the public welfare by serving in offices of responsibility. For a number of years he was coroner of Bourbon County, served also as justice of the peace during a long period, and in 1880 was chosen as representative from Bourbon County to the Kansas State Legislature, being re-elected thereto in 1882 and serving in all four years. His service was an excellent one. Judge Bollinger was a stalwart republican. He belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church and for a number of years belonged to the board of trustees thereof.
Mr. Bollinger married Miss Cinderella Lee, who was born in Jasper County, Illinois, in 1840, and died April 21, 1907, in Bourbon County, on the farm where her husband had passed away April 1, 1902. They were the parents of the following children: David A., who is a banker of Mound Valley, Kansas; Edward S., who is engaged in the life insurance business at Fort Scott, Kansas; William Walter, pastor of the College Hill Methodist Episcopal Church at Winfield, Kansas; Alfaretta J., who is the wife of Dr. L. A. Runyon, a practicing physician and surgeon of Arcadia, Kansas; Charles O., of this notice; Ida, who is the wife of Lee Venable, who is engaged in farming in Allen County, Kansas; Fred L., who for many years had had charge of the Standard Oil station at Fort Scott; and a daughter, born third, who died in infancy.
Charles O. Bollinger received his education in the public schools of Bourbon County, Kansas, Baker University, which he attended one year and left in 1892, and Fort Scott Normal School, which he attended during the school terms of 1893 and 1894. He then returned to the farm and assisted his father until several years after his marriage, when, in 1898, he came to Allen County and settled on another property, on which he carried on farming operations until 1905. Mr. Bollinger then left the farm to engage in business ventures at Iola. His first enterprise was connected with the real estate and farm loan business, which he conducted for one year and which he gave up because of the exacting nature of the duties of the office of sheriff of Allen County, to which he was elected in 1906. During the two years of his term his duties were very capably discharged, and in 1908 he was re-elected to succeed himself and again made a good record. In 1910 he was made mayor of Iola and occupied the chief executive’s chair until 1913, during which period he secured many improvements for the city. Mr. Bollinger then re-entered business affairs by purchasing the feed mill and elevator at Iola, but after conducting this business for one year disposed of his interests and in 1915 formed a partnership with L. H. Wishard, and embarked in the hardware business, under the firm style of Wishard & Bollinger. The store is situated on the corner of Jefferson Avenue and East Street and a complete stock of shelf and heavy hardware is carried, in addition to stoves, agricultural implements, etc. In business circles Mr. Bollinger maintains the reputation of being an honorable dealer and one who respects the highest business ethics. He had always been a republican and at various times had held high position in the ranks of his party, being accounted one of the influential members of the organization in this part of the state. He was a delegate to the national convention of his party, held at Chicago in 1912, for the Second District; was secretary of the Republican State Central Committee from 1910 to 1912, and is now chairman of the Allen County Republican Central Committee, a position which he also held from 1910 to 1912. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church and is a member of the board of trustees. Fraternally, Mr. Bollinger belongs to Iola Lodge No. 38, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Iola Lodge No. 21, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; and Iola Camp No. 101, Woodmen of the World. In addition to his store building, and his modern residence at No. 307 North Sycamore Street, which he erected in 1907, he is the owner of 160 acres of valuable farming land, located eight miles northwest of Moran, Kansas.
Mr. Bollinger was married in 1895, in Bourbon County, Kansas, to Miss Maude L. Kepley, daughter of Ephraim and Jane (Pipkin) Kepley, the latter still a resident of Bourbon County and eighty-seven years of age. Ephraim Kepley, who is now deceased, was one of the earliest pioneers of Bourbon, where he arrived in 1854, and built the first log cabin erected by a white man on the Osage River. Mr. Bollinger had a picture of this old historic landmark. Mr. and Mrs. Bollinger are the parents of one son: John Merl, born November 8, 1901, who is attending the public schools.