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Joseph Edward Exner, now president of the Coffeyville Shale Products Company and especially identified with a number of other manufacturing and business concerns of Montgomery County, is a veteran railroad man, having retired from the hazardous and responsible position of locomotive engineer some thirteen years ago to take up a career as a manufacturer at Coffeyville.
He is an Eastern man, though most of his experience in railroading and business has been gained in the West. His Exner ancestors had their original seat of residence in Germany. During colonial times two brothers of the name came to New York State, while another brother went to Australis.
At Savannah, New York, Joseph Edward Exner was born November 10, 1861, a son of Edward Exner. His father was born at Clyde, New York, in 1829 and was a successful farmer and stock raiser at Savannah and Port Byron, New York. His death occurred at the latter place in 1902. He was a democrat and a member of the Methodist Church. Edward Exner married Mary Jane DeVoe, who was born at Montezuma, New York, in 1841 and died at Savannah in that state in 1869. Their children were: Maitie, wife of Willis M. Frost, a retired farmer at South Butler, New York; and Joseph E.
Reared on a New York State farm, until he was eighteen years of age Joseph E. Exner attended the public schools of Savannah. His first experiences were one summer spent in work on a farm, then a year in a wagon factory at South Butler, and in 1882, at the age of twenty, he entered railroading as a brakeman for the New York Central Railway. He spent two years as a brakeman, one year nine months as a fireman, and in that brief time earned promotion to the rank of locomotive engineer. He was made an engineer December 5, 1886, and the following year was given promotion to the responsibility of piloting the engines of the White Mountain Express, a passenger train running between Oswego and Norwood, New York, there connecting with the Ogdensburg and Lake Champlain Railroad. He handled the throttle on that run for an entire summer, living at Watertown, New York. In the summer of 1887 he was engineer on the Buffalo, Rochester and Pittsburg Railway. On December 25, Christmas Day of 1887, Mr. Exner arrived at Little Rock, Arkansas. This was his first introduction to the West. After making one trip over the Iron Mountain Road in order to familiarize himself with it, he took the post of engineer and for two years ran an engine out of Little Rock. He was then transferred to the Kansas and Arkansas Valley Railroad between Fort Smith and Coffeyville, Kansas. Mr. Exner has many interesting incidents to relate of his career as a railroad man, particularly while an engineer on Southwestern railroads, which at the time and place were much exposed to the danger of attacks from bandits and outlaws.
After twenty-two years of faithful railroad service Mr. Exner resigned his position in January, 1903, and at the same date established his family residence at Coffeyville. Entering business, he established a brick yard at Coffeyville, first known as the Coffeyville Shale Brick Company. In 1914 it was reorganized as the Coffeyville Shale Products Company, and its output is now hollow building tiles. The plant is situated a mile and a half northwest of Coffeyville. The officers of the company are: Joseph E. Exner, president and general manager; A. N. Kellogg, vice president; and L. A. Florea, secretary and treasurer. This is one of the industries which helped to give Coffeyville its pre-eminence as a brick manufacturing center. The plant has a capacity of 100 tons for each ten-hour day, and the products are shipped over a radius of 300 miles around Coffeyville, some of it going as far as Omaha, Nebraska.
Mr. Exner is also vice president of the Denison Clay Company of Coffeyville, a company manufacturing hollow building tile with their plant two miles northwest of Coffeyville. He is president of the Exner-Dodge Packer Company, manufacturing all oil and gas well swage nipples and supplies. This is a large and important industry, the fine new factory being located at Fourth and Santa Fe streets. Another concern of which he is the chief executive officer is the Will-Pur Mining and Milling Company at Harrison, Arkansas, which owns 160 acres and has eighty acres under lease, and is rapidly developing promising prospects for mineral development. Mr. Exner also has an interest in 2,200 acres of gas leases near Van Buren, Arkansas. In Coffeyville he and his family occupy an attractive residence at 602 Lincoln Street. His own plant manufactured the brick for the construction of this modern home in 1905. He owns another dwelling house on Spring Street.
Politically Mr. Exner is a republican, is a member of the Presbyterian Church, and fraternally is affiliated with Keystone Lodge No. 102, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Coffeyville, Coffeyville Chapter No. 89, Royal Arch Masons, Lochinvar Commandery No. 52, Knights Templar, and Little Rock Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite. He is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, and belongs to the Good Fellowship Club at Coffeyville.
On January 29, 1884, Mr. Exner was married at Fairhaven, New York, to Miss Nannie R. Worden, of Spring Lake, New York. To their marriage were born three children. Blanche Estelle, born August 7, 1888, is the wife of Ben H. Morgan, a salesman for the Rea-Patterson Milling Company, with Coffeyville and Independence as his territory, and they reside at 610 West Fifth Street in Coffeyville. Maitie Evangeline was born April 20, 1899, and is now a senior in the Coffeyville High School. Louise Evelyn was born November 24, 1903, and is in the freshman class of the Coffeyville High School.