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Charles S. Gleed was born in Morrisville, Vermont, March 23, 1856. His father, Thomas Gleed, was a leading lawyer of Vermont who held various public offices and who, while still a young man, died as he was about to enter the army in 1861. His grandfather, the Rev. John Gleed, was an English missionary preacher of great force of character who came to the United States for the purpose of participating in the movement against slavery. Mr. Gleed’s mother was Cornelia Fisk, a woman of rare intelligence and refinement. His grandfather was Moses Fisk, a Massachusetts pioneer in Northern Vermont. He was one of the founders of the Town of Waterville and rendered his county and state many unusual services. In 1866 Mr. Gleed removed to Lawrence, Kansas, with his mother and his brother, James Willis Gleed. He graduated from the city schools of Lawrence and the State University of Kansas and was subsequently a member of the first class in the law school of the university. For the purpose of earning a living and an education Mr. Gleed worked at many employments. He was the first accountant of the state university, and started its first college paper. He also engaged quite extensively in newspaper work, which he had never wholly abandoned in spite of constant professional and business responsibilities of the heavier kind. He served in the business departments of several newspapers and did reportorial and editorial work for the Lawrence Journal, Lawrence Tribune, Kansas Spirit, Kansas Collegiate, the Denver Tribune, the Kansas City Journal, the Chicago Tribune and the New York Herald. He engaged in the publicity and advertising work of three transcontinental railroad companies–the Kansas Pacific, the Union Pacific and the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe. Many years later, in 1896, he bought the Kansas City Journal in company with Hal Gaylord and became the company’s president. A writer in the history of Kansas newspapers, published by the Kansas State Historical Society in 1917, in speaking of the Journal, says that probably no twenty odd years in the life of any newspaper in the United States will show a higher grade of editorial opinion than will be found in the Journal under Mr. Gleed’s direction.
Leaving the traffic department of the Santa Fe Mr. Gleed became chief clerk of the law department of the same company. In 1884 he and his brother began law practice together in Topeka, Kansas, which practice they have since conducted with marked success. Their clients have included many of the largest railroads, telephone companies, banks and other business corporations as well as the State of Kansas in numerous contentions.
Since 1884 Mr. Gleed had held a great variety of important business relations. He was secretary of the Chicago, Santa Fe & California Railroad Company while it was constructing the Santa Fe line from Kansas City to Chicago. He was a member of the reorganization committees of the St. Louis & San Francisco and the Central Vermont railroads; was five years a director of the reorganized St. Louis & San Francisco Railway Company; had been a director of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway System continuously since 1895; was seven years president of the Missouri & Kansas (Bell) Telephone Company and several years president of the Pioneer (Bell) Telephone & Telegraph Company of Oklahoma and the Bell Telephone Company of Missouri; is now chairman of the boards of directors of the Bell Telephone companies in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas; is president of the old Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company; is director of the Santa Fe Pacific Company; director of the Central National Bank, Topeka; vice president of the Pioneer Trust Company and the Farmers Loan & Trust Company of Kansas City; director of the Topeka Railway Company and the Kansas City-Western Railway Company; president of the Kansas City Journal Company; director of the Chicago Railway Equipment Company; director of the Franklin Steel Company; director of the London-Arizona Copper Company; and is or had been officer and director of many other financial, manufacturing and public service corporations. He was for about fifteen years regent of the University of Kansas; is director and president of the Kansas Historical Society; was member of the commission which established the Kansas State Printing and Publishing House; is member of the state council of defense; and had been a member of many other public committees and commissions. He had never held political office. He had written and spoken voluminously on literary, historical, legal and economic questions. His books, pamphlets, magazine articles and addresses on Kansas history, the history of the Santa Fe Railway System, and along kindred lines are exceedingly valuable. His political and biographical writings, taken consecutively, furnish almost a full history of Kansas political life. His biographical sketches are of many of the men who have been leaders in the political, educational and industrial life of the state. He is an eloquent and effective public speaker.
He had belonged since boyhood to the republican party and the Congregational Church, was a charter member of Kansas Alpha Phi Kappa Psi, the college fraternity of which President Wilson is a member, and belongs to numerous social clubs, city and country, in Topeka, Lawrence, Kansas City, St. Louis and New York.
In 1888 Mr. Gleed married Miss Mabel Gore of Lawrence, Kansas. To them have been born three daughters–Cornelia, Joanna and Grace.
A recent writer had said of Mr. Gleed:
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“He finds time for extensive reading which embraces every phase of literature. Perhaps no man in the country had a wider acquaintance with men in public life. He had a charming personality, is a kindly and helpful friend and neighbor, and is rightly esteemed one of the foremost citizens of Kansas.”