Fortunate is the community which had citizens with the substantial conservatism of practical business men and yet are forward looking in matters of new development and improvement. In the matter of towns and communities there is perhaps more truth in Ingalls’ statement that opportunity knocks but once at the door, than in its application to individuals. Recently the oil district of Southern Kansas was extended into Butler County. By the good sense and public spirit of several local citizens, prominent among whom is F. H. Penley, president of the First National Bank of Augusta, this sudden development of great natural wealth and resources was utilized to the distinct advantage of what had been merely a country village, and Augusta is now on a fair way to become one of the thriving centers of population and industry in the state.
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Mr. Penley represents a pioneer family in Butler County and he had been personally identified with the business and civic life of this section of Kansas for forty years. He came to Kansas when a boy. He was born in the State of Maine at Bethel in Oxford County in 1856. His parents, Charles Freeland and Abbie (Locke) Penley, were also natives of Maine. They came to Kansas in 1870, locating about two miles north of Augusta. Charles F. Penley took up a homestead claim and was engaged in farming and stock raising there the rest of his active career. The Penleys were early comers and what they did and the influenee they exercised had its marked impress upon the subsequent development of the county. Mr. F. H. Penlcy was the oldest of three children. His sister, Alice Manley, distinguished herself as a Baptist missionary in India. She began her missionary work in 1879 and represented the Augusta First Baptist Church in the foreign missionary field. Mr. Penley’s brother, A. E. Penley, is a grain and feed dealer at Delta, Colorado.
Fourteen years of age when he came to Kansas, F. H. Penley had the advantages of common schools in his native state and also attended schools to some extent in Butler County. When he reached his majority he began farming and stock raising on his own account, and for thirty years he gave much of his energy to that line of business. But for the past sixteen years his exertions have been especially exemplified in the Town of Augusta and in both its business and civic life.
The Augusta State Bank was organized in 1902 and Mr. Penley was one of those chiefly instrumental in getting the institution chartered and under way. The bank was started under a state charter with a capital stock of $10,000. One year later it was reorganized and the state charter was surrendered and a national charter acquired. The change of name made it the First National Bank of Augusta. At the same time the capital stock was increased to $25,000. The First National now had a surplus of $25,000 and is one of the most solid and prosperous banking houses of Butler County. It had a continuous record of sixteen years of successful banking. Some of the best known business men and farmers of Augusta and vicinity are among its officers and stockholders. A list of executive officers is: F. H. Penley, president; H. W. Wilson, vice president; W. A. Penley, cashier; and A. R. Peckham, assistant cashier. Besides these officers the other directors are J. W. Skaer, John Guthrie, M. F. Taylor, W. W. Peckham, W. B. Earll and E. C. Penley.
Mr. Penley was the first vice president of the bank and now for several years had been its president. Besides his part in the farming, stock raising and banking activities of this section of Butler County, Mr. Penley is also well known as a merchant. In 1908 he bought the J. h. Butts & Son hardware and implement house and organized the Paul & Penley Hardware Company. This had become one of the largest establishments of its kind in Butler County. Besides the store at Augusta they have a branch store at Mulvaue which does a business equal in volume to that of the main store.
Mr. Penley not only showed a genial welcome to the extension of the oil and gas fields into his part of Butler County, but proved his faith in the industry by investing his own capital and originating development work on his own account. He was one of the pioneers to exploit the oil and gas resources of the great Augusta field. He is a member of the Skaer Gas & Drilling Company, and had worked to the limit of his individual strength to make the wealth that is daily pouring out of the wells of more than passing benefit to this community.
Mr. Penley married in 1877, at Augusta, Miss Ellen F. Colburn. Mrs. Penley was born in Massachusetts, but came when a child with her parents to Kansas in 1854. The Colburns were among the pioneers of pioneers in Kansas territory, and they lived at Lawrence when that town was one of the focal points of settlement and a center for much of the history of early times. The Colburns lived at Lawrence when Quantrell brought his notorions band of outlaws and guerrillas and sacked and burned the settlement and murdered a number of its inhabitants.
Mr. and Mrs. Penley take justifiable pride in their family of children. Walter, the oldest, is now cashier of the First National Bank of Augusta. He married Winnie Paul, of Augusta. Ernest C., who is a member of the Paul & Penley Hardware Company of Augusta, married Pearl Panl, of Augusta. Ruth is the wife of Roy J. Paul, a farmer near Augusta. Charles W., the youngest, is a teller in the First National Bank of Augusta. He married Mary Haines, of Hutchinson, Kansas.