Henry Howell Isham was one of the prominent pioneer merchants of Coffeyville, founded and successfully conducted several business enterprises that were material factors in the growth and prosperity of the city, and on account of his business prominence and his personal character was held in the highest esteem.
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His death at Coffeyville November 19, 1906, meant the loss of one of the sterling old time citizens of Montgomery County. He was at that time seventy years of age, lacking three days. His birth had occurred at Colchester, Connecticut, November 22, 1836. He was of New England ancestry, four brothers of the name having come from England and settled in Connecticut or New York during colonial times. His grandfather Charles Isham was born in New York state, and spent his life as a farmer, dying near Watertown, New York. The late Henry H. Isham was a son of Charles and Mary (Rogers) Isham. His father was a farmer and died at Avon, New York. His mother was the daughter of one of the most prominent physicians of Colchester, Connecticut.
Reared at Avon, New York, Henry H. Isham was married February 9, 1865, at Lawrence, Michigan, to Miss Annetta Clark. Mrs. Isham, who still resides at Coffeyville, was born in Lawrence, Michigan, daughter of H. B. Clark, who was born near Watertown, New York, in 1812, and died at Lawrence, Michigan, in 1900. He was a pioneer settler in that section of Michigan and spent most of his career there as a farmer. Politically he was a republican. H. B. Clark married Amanda Marshall, who was born in Herkimer County, New York, in 1805 at Little Falls, and died at Lawrence, Michigan, in 1874. Mr. and Mrs. H. B. Clark were the parents of the following children: Oscar, who was a railway conductor and was accidentally killed while on duty at Cherryvale, Kansas; Charles, a retired farmer at Paw Paw, Michigan; Jeannette, who died at the age of eight years in Lawrence, Michigan; George, who died in childhood in Michigan; Mrs. Isham; Orrie, who lives with Mrs. Isham at Coffeyville, is the widow of L. W. Heath, who was a printer in Chicago; and Tabor, who died at Coffeyville in September, 1914.
After their marriage Mr. and Mrs. H. H. Isham returned to New York and lived in Avon until 1868. They then resided at South Haven, Michigan, until 1871, and in June of that year came to Kansas, spending a few months at Ottawa, and in November of the same year moving to Coffeyville. Coffeyville was then a village out on the frontier, and little more than a trading post for the scattered settlements of Southern Kansas and the Indian inhabitants of Indian Territory. While a resident of Avon, New York, Mr. Isham had conducted a tin shop and small hardware store, and was in the same line of business in South Haven, Michigan. On coming to Coffeyville he opened up a pioneer hardware store, and that grew in time, with the settling up and expansion of the surrounding country, into the leading mercantile establishment of its kind in that part of the state. After some years he sold out his hardware interests to his brother J. T. Isham, and the store is now conducted by Harry Isham, a nephew of Mr. H. H. Isham. From merchandising Mr. Isham turned his attention to banking, and conducted a private bank at Coffeyville for six years. He also operated extensively in loans and real estate and at his death left a large estate.
His public service should not pass unmentioned. He served on the council and school board, and devoted much time to every movement for the betterment of his home city. He was a democrat and later a republican, and a member of the Masonic fraternity at Avon, New York. His home was the center of his life, and he gave to his family his best affection. While he was still in the hardware business the famous Dalton gang raided Coffeyville and his store was one of the objects of their pillage. Mr. Isham armed himself with a gun and assisted in repelling the outlaws, and he has always been credited with having killed the leader of the band.
Mrs. Isham was well educated, having attended the public schools at Lawrence, Michigan, where she was born, and also the State Normal School, but was married soon after completing her course. She has been a very active member of the Presbyterian Church at Coffeyville, and was one of those who organized the Earnest Workers Society, and has been instrumental in furthering the benevolent purposes of that society. Mrs. Isham owns the residence at 114 West Tenth Street, the building in which the hardware store is conducted on Union Street, owns a restaurant and drug store building on Union Street, and other residence properties on Fifth Street and Tenth Street.
Mrs. Isham has one daughter, Frances, wife of C. W. Mansur, who lives at St. Louis, where he was manager for the John Deere Plow Company and is still an adviser of that concern. Mr. and Mrs. Mansur have one child, Charles, who is employed by the Miehle Printing Company of Chicago. Mrs. Mansur completed her education in Bethany College at Topeka and in a private school in Kansas City.