Biography of Frank L. Travis Hon.
Hon. Frank L. Travis. A resident of Kansas since early boyhood, Frank L. Travis had been a farmer, public official and insurance man at Iola, but his name is most familiarly known over the state at large through his active leadership in the Legislature of Kansas. During the recent session of the Lower House he was the accepted leader of his party, and some of the most beneficial legislation enacted in recent years had been largely shaped and influenced by Mr. Travis of Iola.
The ancestry of the Travis family goes back to Ireland. There were men of the name who immigrated to America in colonial days and settled in New York. The first point of settlement was near Delhi in Delaware County. The branch of which Frank L. Travis is a member subsequently removed to Otisville, New York. Mr. Travis’ great-grandfather was Rensselaer Travis, who was born in New York, followed the occupation of farming and hunting, and died at Otisville in that state. The grandfather was Silas L. Travis, whose mother was an own cousin of Gen. Joseph W. Warren, the hero of the Battle of Bunker Hill. Silas L. Travis was born at Otisville, New York, in 1819, for many years was associated with his son Henry F. as a merchant, and finally retired from business and removed to Allen County, Kansas, where he died in 1895. He married Rosanna Hare, who was born at Wigton, Scotland, and died at Iola, Kansas.
Frank Lomas Travis was born at Newburgh in Orange County, New York, July 28, 1868. His father was Henry Francis Travis, who was born in the same locality, along the Hudson River, October 19, 1841. He grew up and married in Newburgh, was a merchant for many years, associated with his father, and in 1877 removed to Kansas City, Missouri, where he followed the business of contracting and building. On April 14, 1879, he arrived at Iola, Kansas, and thenceforward was a farmer until his death, which occurred in Iola November 5, 1915. Wherever he lived he exercised a strong influence in community affairs. For many years he represented the Second Ward of the City of Newburgh as an alderman, and was also a county supervisor of Orange County, New York. In 1909-10 he served as mayor of Iola. He was a republican and had membership in Newburgh Lodge of Masons. Henry F. Travis had a most creditable record as a soldier. On April 19, 1861, a few days after Fort Sumter was fired upon, he enlisted in Company I of the Seventy-first New York Infantry. This company was sent to Washington by railroad. Following the Baltimore riot in which a Massachusetts regiment while passing through that city had been shamefully fired upon by southern sympathizers, Company I of the Seventy-first New York was the first detachment of Union troops to march through Baltimore. The company was only a hundred strong, and it bravely marched alone through the streets of that hostile community. Henry F. Travis had one year of service with the Seventy-first. He again enlisted in Company I of the One Hundred Twenty-fourth New York Infantry, and served until mustered out in August, 1865. He became captain of Company I. Through all the four years of the war he was never wounded or absent from duty on account of sickness. His regiment was a part of Ward’s Brigade of Carney’s Division of the Third Corps, and later was in Ward’s Brigade of Birney’s Division of the Third Corps. Captain Travis fought in every battle in which the Third Army Corps was engaged. He was at Gettysburg, at Fredricksburg, at Chancellorsville, Cold Harbor, Deep Bottom, Spottsylvania Court House and commanded the regiment during the terrible fight at the historic “Bloody Angle.”
Captain Travis married Elizabeth Malcolm, who was born at Newburgh, New York, in 1840, and is still living, a resident of Manhattan, Kansas. Frank L. Travis was the oldest of their children. Thomas B. had been lost track of by his family. Rose H. is the wife of A. H. King, a druggist of Manhattan. Robert M. is a field man for a bridge company and is now in Oklahoma. Anna Belle resided with her mother, and Donald M., the youngest, is a druggist at Blue Mound, Kansas.
Frank L. Travis had the advantages of a private school at Newburgh, New York, attended the public schools for a time in Kansas City, Missouri, and completed his education at Iola. He was eleven years of age when he came to Kansas, and after finishing his school course when about nineteen he worked on the farm with his father until 1892. In that year came his first important honor in public life, when he was elected clerk of the District courts of Allen County. By re-election in 1894 he served two terms, four years. In 1897 Mr. Travis engaged in the insurance business, and had continued along that line to the present time. He is a member of the firm of Smith & Travis, with offices on West Madison Street in Iola. His home, a modern residence, is at 911 North Sycamore Street.
From early manhood Mr. Travis had had an influential part in the republican party in his district and over the state at large. In 1908 he was elected a member of the State Senate, serving four years. While in the Senate Mr. Travis was chairman of the insurance committee and a member of the railroad committee and other important committees. He originated and drafted the wife abandonment bill which excited a great deal of comment not only in Kansas but in other states. He also drafted and introduced the anti-discrimination fire insurance law, which was subsequently tested before the Supreme Court and sustained. He was also author of other measures giving the state regulatory powers in the interests of a better justice to the people.
In 1914 Senator Travis was elected a member of the House of Representatives and was re-elected in 1916. In the House he was chairman of the insurance committee and a member of the labor committee, public utilities committee, historical committees, committee on militia and committee on judicial appointments. He was the “whip” of the House during the last session, and his tact and influence welded the republican constituency into an efficient body for the accomplishment of practical results in the matter of legislation. Representative Travis introduced a bill creating a department of child hygiene in the state board of health.
One incident of his work while in the Senate had special historical value. In 1911 a bill was introduced providing for a constitutional amendment to be offered at the next general election for the purpose of broadening the power of suffrage as granted to the women of the state. This bill passed the House, and when it came before the Senate, Senator Travis was the last man on the roll call. The bill required twenty-seven votes, and before it reached him twenty-six of these votes had been obtained. Previously Mr. Travis had given no intimation of his personal opinion on the bill, but he voted for it and thus secured its passage. Subsequently the measure was submitted to the voters of the state.
Mr. Travis had for thirteen years been an officer in the National Guard of Kansas. He finally retired from the Guard in September, 1915, but when the troubles on the Mexican border became acute in the summer of 1916 he was called back to service and assigned to command of the supply department of the First Kansas Infantry in the quartermaster’s department. In looking after the duties of that office he spent four months on the Mexican border, being stationed at Eagle Pass, Texas. He is still serving with the rank of captain in his company. Thus Mr. Travis had had military experience himself, his father was a gallant soldier in the Civil war, and by other ancestors he is eligible to membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and the Order of the Cincinnati.
His church home is the Episcopal. He is a member of Iola Lodge No. 38, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Valley Chapter No. 11, Royal Arch Masons, at Humboldt, of Esdraelon Commandery, Knights Templar. He is also active in the Iola Commercial Club and is a director of the State Savings Bank of Iola.
Mr. Travis was married at Iola in 1905 to Miss Anna McDonald, daughter of John M. and Lavina A. (Anderson) McDonald. Her father, now deceased, was a settler in Kansas during the territorial epoch and became a pioneer in Allen County in 1857. Mrs. Travis’ mother is still living at Iola, and her family also arrived in Kansas in 1857.