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Freeman E. Nipps is one of the veteran railroad men of Kansas. Like many who have found success in that army of industrial workers, he began at a country station and as a telegraph operator. For more than a quarter of a century he has been the agent of the Missouri Pacific Railway at Topeka. Unlike many railway men, he has at the same time identified himself closely with local affairs, and at the present time his name is familiarly known throughout Shawnee County as chairman of the board of commissioners.
Though most of his life has been spent within the borders of Kansas, Mr. Nipps was born at Muscatine, Iowa, July 14, 1865. A few years later his parents removed to Boone, Iowa. There he attended the public schools until he was fourteen, and at that time he accompanied his parents to Kansas. Mr. Nipps is a son of Jacob and Josephine (Pfeifer) Nipps. His father was a man of considerable prominence in Phillips County, Kansas. Before coming to this state he had enlisted in an Ohio regiment during the Civil war, but continued illness prevented his taking an active part for any length of time in the struggle to preserve the Union. By trade he was a mechanic, but the greater part of his career was devoted to agriculture. In order to better provide for his growing family of children he came to Kansas in 1879. That was a comparatively early year in the settlement of Northwestern Kansas, and unlike many who homesteaded at that time his prosperity enabled him to move his property by railroad to within some thirty or forty miles of his destination. The rest of the way to Phillips County was covered by wagon. As was the case of many Western Kansas settlers at the time his family at first lived in a sod house on the prairie in Phillips County. The county was very sparsely populated and it was not unprecedented for a buffalo or an Indian to be seen on the open range. Jacob Nipps acquired title to 320 acres of land, and later added to this 320 acres more, and also owned good residence property in Phillipsburg. For a man of no extensive literary training, he was well posted on current topics and possessed an unusual fund of good, practical sense. He was an eager supporter of the cause of education and made many sacrifices that his children might have proper scholastic training. The citizens of Phillips County recognized his worth by making him the recipient of various local positions, and for two terms he was treasurer of that county. In religion he was a Methodist and in politics a republican. As long as he lived he commanded the greatest of respect for his many admirable qualities of mind and heart. His widow still survives and lives with a daughter at Muskogee, Oklahoma.
Freeman E. Nipps is one of four surviving children out of the seven born to his parents. After coming to Kansas he spent two terms in a district school and one term at a small college at Harlan. When only sixteen he passed an examination and secured a teacher’s license, following which a district school had his services as a teacher for two terms.
His career as a railroad man began more than thirty years ago. At eighteen he took up the study of telegraphy at Kirwin, Kansas, and completed this apprenticeship at Jamestown, Kansas, where he was employed as station helper at $35 a month. His first important position in railroad work was as an operator at Atchison, following which he was stationed at various points for a number of years, chiefly at Bigelow and Logan. For two years he was clerk in the Kansas City office of the Missouri Pacific Railway, but since February, 1888, has been this company’s agent at Topeka. This is one of the most responsible local positions along the road in Kansas.
His good citizenship has been dignified by important service rendered his home city. For two years he served as a councilman under the old form of city government. In 1912 he was elected a member of the board of commissioners for Shawnee County, and has held that office ever since. Upon the reorganization of the board in January, 1916, he was elected its chairman, a position he had declined a year previously, as the minutes of the board disclosed. Mr. Nipps is a republican, and is one of the most progressive of the younger generation of Topeka business men. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, an Elk and an active member of the Topeka Commercial Club.
Mr. Nipps married Miss Mary Smith. She is a daughter of the late Hon. James Smith, a prominent Kansan, who served three terms as secretary of state from January, 1879, to January, 1885, and who died May 28, 1914.