Biography of Richard Price Cravens
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Richard Price Cravens. It must be conceded that the earlier history of Salina was made by a comparatively few reliable, responsible men, who, courageous in their action and steadfast in their belief in the future possibilities of the city, forged ahead, blazing the way for others, who, following in their footsteps and working with them, have developed one of the greatest business centers in the great state of Kansas. Had these men been less active, less willing to put their entire energies into their work, today’s prosperity would have never been developed. One improvement leads to another, each advance means more to follow, but the growth of any section is a gradual series of developments. Perhaps in no one line was more steady advancement made than in that which had to do with Salina’s insurance interests, and one of the men whose achievements in this direction made his name well known is Richard Price Cravens. Mr. Cravens came to Salina in 1878, in which year he was admitted to the practice of law, but with the opening of business opportunities he put aside his profession and for many years was engaged exclusively in the handling of insurance, more recently having become president of the Cravens Mortgage Company. Incidentally, he is one of the best known insurance men in the state, and had been variously honored by his fellow-members in the vocation.
Richard Price Cravens was born July 31, 1856, in a log house on a pioneer farm in Ray County, Missouri, his parents being Thomas Jefferson and Mary (Stahl) Cravens. His father was born in the same home, in 1830, and there passed his entire life as a farmer and stockraiser, and died in 1857. He was married in 1854, Mrs. Cravens being of German ancestry and born March 20, 1833, in Ohio. She was a life-long member of the Christian Union Church, and died in that faith at Excelsior Springs, Missouri, February 1, 1915. There were three children in the family, namely: Alice, born in 1855, who died in infancy; Richard Price; and Mary Thomas, born October 8, 1858, in Ray County, Missouri, married in 1881 Calvin L. Cravens, a native of that county and now a druggist of Excelsior Springs, Missouri, and had four children, Edith, who died in infancy, and Ella, Frances and Hugh, living.
Richard Price Cravens was reared on his grandfather’s farm and secured his early education in the public schools. When he was eighteen years of age he began teaching school, but after one year as an educator gave up that vocation and became a salesman in the store of an uncle at Fredericksburg, Missouri. When he was twenty years of age he entered the law department of the University of Missouri, and was duly graduated from that institution with the class of 1878, at which time he received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. Mr. Cravens came to Salina, Kansas, June 18, 1878, and that same year was admitted to the bar. However, it seemed that he had not yet found his right groove in life, for after one year of practice he turned his attention to other matters. He had during this period become interested in the matter of insurance, and after experimenting in the line, came to the conclusion that in this field lay his chance for success. Accordingly, while he did not totally abandon the law, he gave more and more of his time to the insurance business, and since then had never really engaged in active practice. Mr. Cravens gradually developed his talents in this new line until he became a force in Kansas circles in the vocation. As he assumed a stronger and more prominent position, he came to be recognized among his co-workers in this calling as one singularly gifted, and at various times he had been honored by election to positions of honor and trust. For three years he was president of the Kansas State Association of Local Insurance Agents, and he is now chairman of the fire branch of the State Federation of Insurance Agents and a member of the national organization committee of the National Association of Insurance Agents. Mr. Cravens is a democrat, and while he had not sought office had been frequently called upon to serve in public capacities. He was mayor of Salina two years, a member of the city council eight years, and a member of the board of education twelve years, during five years of which he acted in the capacity of chairman of that body. His fraternal connections include membership in the Masons, in which he had attained to the Royal Arch Chapter. In 1909 Mr. Cravens organized the Cravens Mortgage Company, for the handling of real estate loans, of which concern he is president, with his son, Walter Cravens, as vice president and manager.
Mr. Cravens had been twice married. His first wife, with whom he was united September 19, 1879, bore the maiden name of Jennie Bates, and was born in Ray, County, Missouri, December 24, 1858, and died at Salina, Kansas, August 22, 1892. To this union there were born six children: Walter Price, born April 11, 1882, married Miss Bertha D. Hoover, and had two children, Virginia and Frances; Grace, born April 2, 1884; Richard Harold, born March 6, 1886, associated with his father in business and a thirty-second degree Mason, married Miss Kate Crissman, and had one child, Richard Harold, Jr.; Thomas Jewell, born January 9, 1888, a graduate of Kansas Wesleyan University of Salina, for a few years a teacher, and later professor of English in a leading university, and now engaged in literary work in New York City; Charles Russell, born March 20, 1890, who is in business with his father; and Virginia E., born August 20, 1892, who married in 1914 V. R. Andrews, a civil engineer of Kansas City, Missouri. On August 5, 1896, Mr. Cravens was married to Miss Crudenia Poston, who was born February 19, 1870, at Franklin, Indiana. They have two children: Rolland Poston, born December 22, 1900; and Kenton Robinson, born June 6, 1904.