Hon. Washington E. Gregg. The chief executive office of any community is a responsible one and the individual occupying it has resting upon his shoulders not only the numerous burdens connected with the management of a city, but also the accountability for its commercial and moral integrity. As he is, so is his community, for it soon reflects his character and manner of dealing with large problems, and unless he keeps a firm grip upon the reins of office and forces his associates to handle civic affairs in an expeditions and straightforward manner, his administration soon shows the effect of lax principles and the community suffers accordingly. For this reason, of late years the people of the more advanced and progressive cities are choosing their mayors from among their sound business men, for they recognize the effect of example and action, and realize that a man who has accomplished much in a commercial, industrial or financial way, is very liable to be able to carry on the affairs of complicated civic government. The present incumbent of the mayoralty office of McCune, Kansas, is Hon. Washington E. Gregg, who has been engaged in business here for thirty-two years, is proprietor of the largest business establishment in the city, and is president of the McCune State Bank.
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Washington E. Gregg was born October 2, 1858, in Madison County, Ohio, and is a son of John Gregg. His father, who is one of the old and highly respected residents of McCuns, was born in 1833, in Madison County, Ohio, and was there reared and married. He possessed only an ordinary education, and had neither the advantages of capital or influential friends, so that he was principally employed as a general workman, accepting such honorable employment as presented itself. Through industry and thrift he accumulated enough means to go with his wife and children to Indiana, in 1860, and for eleven years was engaged in farming in that state, but in 1871 became a pioneer resident of Kansas, locating on a farm of 160 acres in Crawford County, which is now owned by his son, Washington E. John Gregg continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits during the remainder of his active career, at the end of which he gave up his labors and removed to his comfortable home at McCune, where he now resides. He is a republican in politics, and for several terms was a trustee of Osage Township. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church and to Lodge No. 70, Ancient Order of United Workmen, at McCune. Mr. Gregg was married to Miss Whittaker, who was born in Mudison County, Ohio, in 1836, and died August 6, 1865, being buried eight miles north of Williamsport, Indiana. They were the parents of four children: Washington E.; Agnes, who died at McCune in 1898, as the wife of Orin Doty, who resides on a farm west of McCune; A. B., who owns a farm of 160 acres adjoining the old homestead, 4½ miles northwest of McCune; and a boy who died in infancy. Mr. Gregg was married second to Miss Mary Sohn, who was born in 1840, in Germany, and died in 1906, at McCune, Kansas, and they became the parents of five children, as follows: Grant, who is a retired merchant of McCune; A. S., who is an agriculturist and makes his home at McCune; C. C., who is engaged in the coal business at Girard, Kansas; Dora, who is the wife of Doctor Strain, an optician of Parsons; and Edith, who is the wife of William Struhover, a traveling salesman of Marion, Indiana.
Washington E. Gregg received his education in the public schools of Warren, Indiana, and Crawford County, Kansas, and remained on his father’s farm until he was twenty years of age, at which time he commenced farming on his own account. In 1884 he came to Fredonia and entered upon the career which has since made him one of the leading business men of the city. His start was a modest one, consisting of a one-half interest in the furniture business conducted by George McCaslin, but after one year he bought his partner’s interest, and for two years thereafter conducted the business alone. He then sold a one-half interest to M. S. Anstin, but after two years again came into full possession of the establishment, which he has conducted by himself to the present. In 1893 he added a hardware stock to the business, and this hardware and furniture store is the largest in McCune, occupying floor space 45 × 140 feet, and situated on Hamilton Street. The trade extends over a radios of twelve miles, and the business has been built up through honest and straightforward methods, Mr. Gregg’s business reputation being an excellent one. As a member of the Commercial Club, he has been active in numerous movements which have added to the commercial and industrial prestige of McCune, and through precept and example has encouraged others to operate along progressive lines. Mr. Gregg is president of the McCune State Bank and vice president of the Mineral (Kansas) State Bank, and his connection with these enterprises has done much to insure their solidity. With supreme faith in the future of McCune and the surrounding country, he has invested his holdings in realty, and is now the owner of a resident on Main Street, the store building in which his business is located, a livery barn on Hamilton Street, 160 acres of farming land 3½ miles northwest of MeCune, 160 acres two miles north, and 160 acres one mile north of the city, and also has large coal interests in Oklahoma.
Mr. Gregg has long been one of the leading republicans of Crawford County, and has been called upon frequently to serve in public positions of trust and responsibility. After several terms as a councilman, he was elected mayor of the city, and, with an interval, was again elected to this office and is now serving his third consecutive term therein. During his administrations the electric light plant and electric water works have been installed and numerous other improvements have been made which have made this one of the up-to-date and progressive cities of this part of the state. In his official capacity his ablest abilities and energies have been given to the city’s welfare. He has always been a friend of education, and during the past fourteen years has been a member of the Crawford County High School board. In fraternal circles, Mayor Gregg is equally prominent. He belongs to McCune Lodge No. 237, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he has been past master three consecutive terms and senior deacon many terms; Cherokee Chapter No. 87, Royal Arch Masons; Cordelia Commandery No. 17, Knight Templars, of Parsons, Kansas; Fort Scott Consistory, No. 6, thirty-second degree; and Mirzah Templs, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Pittsburg, Kansas; McCune Lodge No. 193, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of which he is past noble grand; McCune Lodge No. 70, Ancient Order of United Workmen, of which he is past master workman; McCune Camp No. 2870, Modern Woodmen of America; and the Anti-Horse Thief Association. He is also president of the McCune Country Club and a general favorite in club and social circles.
Mr. Gregg was married in 1885, in McCune, to Miss Hannah Harley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. George Harley, both now deceased. Mr. Harley was a retired farmer and stockman. To Mr. and Mrs. Gregg there have been born three children, namely: Cecil D., a graduate of the McCune High School, who spent one year in the Crawford County High School and two years at Baker University and is now assisting his father in his business enterprises; Minnle, who is a graduate of the McCune High School, spent two years at the Manual Training Normal School at Pittsburg, and is now a teacher of domestic science in the McCune School; and Helen, a graduate of the McCune High School, class of 1916, who is attending the State Normal School.