Hon. Sol. A. Bardwell. Not so often, as in the election and re-election of Hon. Sol. A. Bardwell, has the public choice fallen upon so able and scholarly a man, one so admirably qualified for high public service. For many years Mr. Bardwell was widely known in the educational field, and still later in business circles, his entire training from boyhood leading along lines that develop mental strength and stable character. Accustomed to leadership and responsibility, he entered upon the duties of a legislator with intelligent vision as well as firmness of purpose. Being a careful student, a ready speaker and naturally aggressive, he became a strong number from the first and aided in bringing about much enlightened and constructive legislation.
He was born in Atchison County, Kansas, March 6, 1870, and is one of a family of six children born to Milner and Mary (Washer) Bardwell. Milner Bardwell was born in Massachusetts and came of an old and highly respected family of New England. His father was a Presbyterian minister who was a missionary among the Indians in Mississippi prior to the Civil war, a short time before which he had removed to Indiana. Milner Bardwell was then a young man and in Indiana he was married to Miss Mary Washer, a native of that state. In 1861 Milner Bardwell enlisted in an Indiana regiment for service in the Civil war, in which he was a faithful soldier for three years. Sickness then overcame him and he was sent home but never recovered sufficiently to rejoin his regiment, from which he received an honorable discharge. In 1868 he came to Kansas and resided in Atchison County for five years, in 1873 removing with his family to Riley County, where he pre-empted a homestead and there carried on agricultural pursuits until 1896 when he removed to Clay Center, Kansas, where he resided until his death some years later.
Sol. Bardwell was reared on his father’s farm and can recall the many hardships and disappointments incident to the pioneer days of Riley County. As he grew to school age he attended the district school in the winter time, working during the summer on the farm, and later, continued his studies in the high school at Clifton, Kansas. He was nineteen years old when he first entered the educational field, as a district school teacher and for nearly twenty years followed the profession. In the meanwhile he alternated, for a time attending school and teaching, in this way completing the educational course he had laid out for himself. In 1895 he was graduated from the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, Kansas. He took a post-graduate course in this institution a few years later. He taught in the district schools of Riley and Clay counties–was principal of the Leonardville schools, later principal of the Randolph schools both of Riley County and then went to Clay County as principal of the New Clay County High School just established. He remained in this position for seven years, which he resigned to enter business.
In 1908 Mr. Bardwell moved to Manhattan, Kansas, and went into the real estate and loan business in partnership with his brother Lou Bardwell, under the firm name of Bardwell & Bardwell. The business was profitable from the first. This association continues and is one of the most prosperous in this city, handling a large amount of outside capital at times that has resulted in fortunate investments and business development at Manhattan.
Mr. Bardwell has always been identified with the republican party. In 1914 he was chosen republican candidate for the legislature in Riley County, to which office he was subsequently easily elected. During his first term he served as chairman of the committee on education and with exceptional ability, and it has been said that at this session of the legislature more extensive and constructive school laws were enacted than ever before in the history of the state. In the second term he was favorably mentioned as an available candidate for speaker, but would not himself become an active candidate.
In 1898 Mr. Bardwell was married to Miss Edith Thomas, a daughter of Dr. F. M. Thomas, of Leonardville, Kansas. Mr. Bardwell is a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Manhattan and is president of its board of trustees. He also served four years as president of the board of education. Fraternally he is a Master Mason and belongs also to the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is dignified in his manner but frank and affable and his circle of personal friends and well wishers is wide.