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William W. Graves. It is as a publisher, author and editor that William W. Graves has made his mark in Kansas. Until he was about twenty-two years of age he had concerned himself with the business of getting an education, working in his father’s store at St. Paul, Kansas, and with teaching.
Then came his decision to learn the printer’s trade. The publishers of the Pittsburg World expressed a willingness to “take him on” as an apprentice, allowing him to work as hard as he pleased, but he was to receive no wages at the first and was to board himself. He stuck to his resolutions, completed the contract, and then his name was entered upon the payroll.
The Pittsburg World was a daily paper, but in 1893 it was moved from Pittsburg to Girard, Kansas, and Mr. Graves went along with it as local editor. The World suspended publication in 1895, and that was the first jolt Mr. Graves had sustained in his ambitions as a newspaper man. The first day of January, 1896, found him connected with the Neosho County Journal, a weekly published at St. Paul and owned by the Fitzsimmons Brothers. He had acquired a one-fourth interest, but in August of the same year he purchased the rest of the stock and has since been the paper’s editor and owner. On becoming chief of the office he changed its name to the St. Paul Journal. The St. Paul Journal was established in 1868 by John H. Scott. It is democratic in politics, and furnishes the news and sings the praises of St. Paul and Neosho County.
Had he done nothing more, still Mr. Graves would be considered one of Kansas’ successful journalists. However, on January 6, 1902, he was elected editor of the official paper of the Anti-Horse Thief Association, Kansas Division, and was given the contract for publishing this paper by a special committee appointed at the state meeting of the order held at Independence, Kansas, October 16-17, 1901. Many predicted that the paper would fail. Doubtless Mr. Graves is the chief reason it has not failed, and the prosperous condition of the Anti-Horse Thief Association Weekly News today flatly contradicts all doubts and ill omens of fifteen years ago. This paper started with a circulation from Mr. Graves’ office of 700 copies, all paid for. There was a rapid expansion, until the circulation reached 7,000, and for the past ten years the average has been 5,000. The News has since been recognized by the officers of the Missouri, Oklahoma, Arkansas, New Mexico and Illinois divisions of the order as the official paper of their respective divisions.
At the beginning of this article Mr. Graves was referred to as an author. Many know him only in that capacity. He has written a great deal besides in the columns of his home paper, and has published his own and books of other writers from his plant at St. Paul. He has written “The Tricks of Rascals,” published in 1905, and now in its second edition; “The Law for Criminal Catchers,” published in 1907; “On the Trail,” published in 1908; “Graves’ Manual,” a compilation of parliamentary rules for the Anti-Horse Thief Association, now in its second edition; “Origin and Principles of the Anti-Horse Thief Association,” published in 1915; “Early Jesuits at Osage Mission,” published in 1916. He is also publisher of “The Degree of Honor Messenger,” a monthly paper, of “A Prince of His Race,” by Oscar Graham, and “The Call of the Master,” by Rev. Raymond O’Keefe, C. P.
William W. Graves was born near Blencoe, Washington County, Kentucky, October 26, 1871. His ancestors came from England to Maryland about the time of Lord Baltimore, and a later generation moved over the mountains to Kentucky. His father, James P. Graves, was also born in Kentucky, in the year 1852, and married Minerva Ballard, who was born in Kentucky in 1853. In 1881 these parents left Kentucky and moved to Neosho County, Kansas. James Graves was engaged in business as a merchant at St. Paul, but somewhat later removed to Montgomery, Indiana, and is now living at Bicknell in that state. His wife died at Linton, Indiana, in May, 1910. Their children were: William W.; Addie, wife of George Haag, a coal miner at Linton, Indiana; Alice, wife of George Fitzpatrick, a coal miner at Linton; Charles, in a lumber yard at Linton; Edward, a chemist who lives in Columbus, Ohio; Ida, who is unmarried and lives in Chicago; Joseph, who is studying medicine in Valparaiso, Indiana; and Lillian, who lives with her brother Edward at Columbus, where she is attending school.
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The early education of William W. Graves was acquired in the district schools of Kentucky, and in 1891 he graduated from the St. Francis Institute of St. Paul, Kansas. As already mentioned his first business experience was as clerk in his father’s store in St. Paul, and for one year he had the entire management of the store. Then for a year he taught school, and from that turned his attention to mastering the printing trade, as already described.
On April 30, 1895, Mr. Graves married Miss Emma Hopkins, who was a native of New York and came to Kansas with her parents in 1874. Her parents were Joshua B. and Charille Hopkins.
In politics Mr. Graves is a democrat, and individually and through his paper has found many opportunities to serve his home community. He has been township clerk of Mission Township, and in 1896 and 1897 was elected a member of the St. Paul civil council. He owns fifty shares of stock in the Kansas Casualty and Surety Company of Wichita, has his own residence on Lafayette Street in St. Paul, another dwelling on the same street, and the building in which his offices and plant are located on Fifth Street. He is also owner of the opera house on that street, and has a good farm of 110 acres 1½ miles south of St. Paul. Another business connection is with the firm of Sork & Company, harness dealers of St. Paul. Besides printing and publishing a first class newspaper, Mr. Graves has been in the fire insurance business for the past fifteen years, and represents the following standard companies: Hanover Fire, American Central, Springfield, Cleveland, Queen, Phenix of Hartford, Fidelity-Phenix, National and the Hartford.
His active relations with the Anti-Horse Thief Association have already been mentioned, and he is a member of local branch No. 29 of St. Paul. He is a charter member of Council No. 760, Knights of Columbus, is a charter member of the Royal Neighbors, No. 753, of St. Paul, has for twenty years been affiliated with the Modern Woodmen of America and has served as clerk of Camp No. 296 of St. Paul, and is past master workman of St. Paul Lodge No. 26, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and four times has been sent as a state delegate to that order.