Robert M. Bronaugh of Baileyville had been a factor in the life of Kansas for considerably more than half a century. His people were in fact territorial pioneers. He fought when the country needed his fighting ability as a young man during the Civil war, and after that took up farming and latterly business connections with Baileyville, where he is still a merchant and is vice president of the Baileyville State Bank.
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He comes of old French stock and of aristocratic ancestry in America. Mr. Bronaugh was born in Schuyler County, Illinois, May 6, 1844. His paternal ancestors some generations back were Huguenots who emigrated from France to England and from there came to America and located near Fredericksburg, Virginia. In the old Dominion they became planters and slave holders. Mr. Bronaugh’s grandfather bore the name Taliaferro Bronaugh, and he was born near Fredericksburg, Virginia, in 1776, the year the Declaration of Independence was signed. In 1801 he crossed the mountains and became a Kentucky pioneer. He was a farmer and planter, raised large quantities of tobaeco, and worked his plantation with the aid of slaves. He died near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1863. He also kept a country hotel for a number of years. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church.
Thomas Bronaugh, father of Robert M., was born near Hopkinsville, Kentucky, in 1805. He grew up and married there and he left Kentucky and removed to Illinois in order to get away from the institution of slavery, which he thoroughly disliked. At the time of his marriage his father gave him a faithful darky slave, and a woman slave to his bride. Thomas Bronaugh married Mary Rollins, who was born in Kentucky in 1809, and died on the Kansas farm in 1875. She was of a family of noted Kentuckians and a cousin of Major Rollins and of Ben Ficklin, both prominent characters in Kentucky history. Her parents were Kentucky planters and slave owners but long before the war they freed their slaves and sent them to the Republic of Liberia in Africa.
Thomas Bronaugh went with his wife to Schuyler County, Illinois, in 1830, and as a pioneer settled in that locality. In 1859 he again became a pioneer, this time in the Territory of Kansas. He bought a pre-emption in Namaha County and for many years was successfully engaged in farming. He died on his farm near Baileyville in Marion Township in 1884. Politically he was a democrat. He served eighteen years as a justice of the peace, and as township trustee eighteen years in Illinois. He was a very active supporter of the Baptist Church. Among other attainments he had a thorough knowledge of the law and practlced that profession in connection with farming. Thomas Bronaugh and wife had eight children: Eliza, who died at Seneca, Kansas, in 1871, married O. C. Bruner, who at one time was county treasurer of Nemaha County, served twenty years as county surveyor, and died at Atchison, Kansas. Taliaferro became a farmer and died near Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, in 1913. James T. was also a farmer and died near Seneca, Kansas, in 1898. Lucy A., who now lives at La Mesa, California, married A. L. Gilliland, who was a wagonmaker by trade. Virginia, who died in Fresno, California, in 1914, married Thomas Magatagan, a farmer now deceased. The sixth in the family is Robert M. Elvira is the wife of B. F. McBratney, who assists Mr. Robert Bronaugh in the store at Baileyville. Mary died on the old home farm at Baileyville in 1867.
Robert M. Bronaugh was fifteen years of age when the family came to Kansas. He had attended the rural schools in Schuyler County, Illinois, and afterwards the high school at Centralia, Kansas. He lived on his father’s farm until 1862 and then enlisted in Company E of the Thirteenth Kansas Infantry and saw active service for three years. One of the most important engagements in which he participated was the battle of Prairie Grove, Arkansas, December 7, 1862. He was also with the Union forces that repelled the raid of General Price through Southern Missouri and Kansas. With the close of the war he returned home, married soon afterward, and then actively entered upon his career as a farmer. From the farm Mr. Bronaugh came into Baileyville and in 1894 bought an interest in a lumber and hardware business. In 1904 be sold that business and had since continued as a furniture merchant. The store, the only one of its kind in a radius of six miles, is located on Main Street and carries a complete equipment of household goods. For a number of years Mr. Bronaugh had been interested as a stockholder in the Baileyville State Bank and is now serving as its vice president. He had sold his farms and had invested much of the surplos in the bank in his mercantile business and in various improved real estate in Baileyville. Included ip his property is his own home in the northwest part of the town.
Mr. Bronaugh is a Democrat in politics. He served as township trustee of Marion Township. He is a member and trustee of the Presbyterian Church, is past noble grand of Baileyville Lodge No. 406, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and had represented the lodge many times in the Grand Lodge at Topeka, Fort Scott and elsewhere. He also belongs to the Knights and Ladies of Security at Baileyville, to Seneca Post No. 92, Grand Army of the Republic, and is a member of the Kansas State Historical Society.
In 1866, near Baileyville, Mr. Bronaugh married Miss Mary Casady, daughter of John M. and Eliza Casady. Her father was for many years a farmer in Nemaha County, having come to this state from Ohio. He and his wife subsequently went to Oregon, where they died. Mr. and Mrs. Bronaugh have four children: John M. is a farmer two miles south of Baileyville; Olive married A. B. Griffiths, in the elevator and grain business at Baileyville; Laura, who died near Baileyville in 1904, was the wife of Harry Bigelow, a farmer, also deceased; Thomas C. is proprietor of a dry cleaning and pressing establishment at Kansas City, Missouri.
Many paragraphs might be filled with interesting reminiscences of Mr. Bronaugh’s life in Nemaha County, and he recalls the fact that in the summer and fall of 1860 he with others killed buffalo within eighty miles of Baileyville.