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In many ways the State of Kansas during the last half century had had no more interesting, patriotic, versatile figure than Patrick H. Coney of Topeka. He came to Kansas after making a brilliant record as a soldier in the Civil war. He had been extremely successful as a business man, and his interests as a business man have extended over a wide and diversified field. No man in the country had exhibited a more intense loyalty and devotion to the welfare of the veterans of the great struggle between the North and the South. Mr. Coney is a lawyer, had practiced in Topeka over thirty years, is also a vigorous writer, had been a publisher in his time, and had always made his private success subsidiary to the public welfare.
He was born in Newbury, Vermont, March 10, 1848, a son of Luke and Honor Berry Coney. The genealogy of this family is traceable back to Laogare, ancestor of the Southern Hy Nials, a son of Nial of the Nine Hostages, Kings of Ireland in A. D. 379.
His father, Luke Coney, was born in County Roscommon, Ireland, and emigrated to the United States in 1839. After living a time in Boston he moved to Vermont, where he married, and in 1850 went to Wayne County, New York. His later life was spent in Topeka, where he died December 16, 1905, in his ninety-fifth year.
Patrick H. Coney spent his youth on a farm and his school advantages were seasoned with much hard work. He was patriotic to the core, and after the Civil war broke out his seal could not long be restrained, and when not quite fifteen he managed to get himself enlisted in Company H of the One Hundred and Eleventh New York Volunteer Infantry. He was detailed as dispatch bearer on the staff of General McDougall and later was promoted to orderly dispatch bearer on the staff of Gen. Nelson A. Miles. In that capacity he was with the army of the Union until the surrender of General Lee at Appomattox. On June 5, 1865, he was transferred to Company H of the Fourth New York Heavy Artillery, and received his honorable discharge at Hart’s Island, New York, October 5, 1865. At the Peach Orchard in front of Petersburg, Virginia, June 16, 1864, he was wounded, and was confined in the hospital sixty days. Altogether he was a participant in more than thirty engagements. With all this record he was less than eighteen when he left the army.
Returning to Wayne County, New York, he took up his interrupted studies and in 1867 was graduated from an academy. In the same year he came to Kansas, and for the next fifteen years he lived at Leavenworth, where he attracted attention as a student, business man, writer and publicist. Coming to Topeka in 1881, he founded and published the first exclusively soldier and sailor paper in the West–the National Banner, which subsequently was merged into the Knight and Soldier, and afterwards the Western Veteran. All these papers exerted a tremendous influence during their existence.
In the meantime his work had brought him a generous fund of knowledge in the law, and by taking up his studies syystsmatically he was admitted to the bar in 1885, and subsequently was licensed to practice in the United States District and Supreme courts. Since then for thirty years he had found a large and congenial field of work in the practice of law. While Mr. Coney had earned many large fees from wealthy elients, it is said that more than half his professional service had been rendered gratuitously to the old soldiers and the soldiers’ widows in securing pensions for them and in other ways easing the burdens of existence. His heart had been keenly attuned to the distress of the soldiers of the Civil war, and probably no man in Kansas had done more for their interests.
For years he had been an influential flgure in the councils of the Grand Army of the Republic, local, state and national. Besides being a member of Topeka Post, No. 71, Grand Army of the Republic, which was formerly known as Rice Post when he organized it, and its former commander, he was elected department commander of the Kansas Grand Army of the Republic in 1905 and reelected in 1907. He was transferred from the Topeka Post to the Lincoln Post in 1897.
Mr. Coney had traveled and read extensively, and had a well selected library of his favorite authors, is a collector of historical relics, and is a writer who lends perfect diction to an orderly train of thought and imagination. No one had ever questioned his loyalty to the republican party, but his time had been too much bestowed in other directions to seek political preferment. However, his talent as a campaign orator had been widely sought, and he had an acquaintance among a host of men of state and national prominence. A man of wealth, many public and private benefactions have received his aid. Among other properties he owned 16,000 acres of the best land in Benton County, Missouri.
He is a member of the Masonie Order, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, the Anti-Horse Thief Association, the Irish National Alliance, the Irish-American Historical Society, and the Kansas State Historical Society. He had without a doubt the finest collection of scrap-books in the state, all indexed. At the World’s Fair in Chicago in 1893 Mr. Coney successfully promoted and conducted the Lapland Exhibit, which was one of the most interesting features of that great fair. On July 29, 1886, at Topeka, Kansas, he was married to Emma G. Hltchcock, who was born in Cortland County, New York.