Location: Fort Scott Kansas

Biography of Oscar Rice

Oscar Rice, who had lived in Fort Scott since he graduated from high school, is a typical Kansan in his enterprise and hustling business ability. For a number of years he was a traveling salesman. In 1910 he drew up the plans and promoted the organization of The Western Automobile Indemnity Association. This association is the oldest and financially the strongest mutual association writing automobile liability in America. Since the organization of the association its headquarters have been at Fort Scott and Mr. Rice had been secretary and manager. Mr. Rice was one of those to recognize this new field of insurance consequent upon the enormous development of the automobile, and it was to supply a highly specialized and exclusive service that he organized this association, which in the past six years had extended its policies to automobile owners in eight different states of the Mississippi Valley and had gained that prestige resulting from reliable protection at a moderate cost, together with a perfect fairness and reasonableness in the settling of all claims. The Western Automobile Indemnity Association was organized and is conducted solely for the purpose of furnishing insurance to owners of automobile vehicles. It is one of the few companies of the kind, and as already stated is the largest and financially the strongest. In view of some recent developments, it will not be out of place...

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Biography of Edward C. Gates

Edward C, Gates. It was in 1887 that Edward C. Gates was admitted to the Kansas bar and undertook to build up a reputation and practice at Fulton, where be resided until he came to Fort Scott. In Fort Scott for the past twenty years he had enjoyed a reputation among the ablest members of the Kansas bar. Until 1913 he was actively associated with A. M. Keene in the firm of Keene & Gates, and since then had pratticed alone. The law had always represented to Mr. Gates a profession rather than an occnpation, and in all his work he had kept the dignity of the calling unimpaired. He is a strong and resourceful lawyer, and the success which had come to him had been earned by many years of conscientious and hard work. Mr. Gates spent a portion of his early youth in Kansas, though he was born at Dixon, Illinois, September 1, 1861. His parents, Joseph and Annie (Wiggins) Gates, were both born in England, were married there and soon afterward, in 1856, cams across the ocean and located at Dixon, Illinois, Several years later they removed to the City of Cincinnati, where Joseph Gates engaged in the wholesale book, and stationery business, and was prospering until his death in 1868. His widow survived him for a number of years and died at the home of...

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Biographical Sketch of Oscar Rice, Jr.

Oscar Rice was born in Terrell County, Georgia, August 23, 1865, and was about two years of age when his parents removed to Kansas. He attended the public schools in Fort Scott and after leaving high school he started out as a traveling salesman for the Fort Scott Wholesale Drug Company. He was successfully engaged as traveling representative of that concern until 1910, when he planned and organized The Western Automobile Indemnity Association. Mr. Rice for many years had been active in the Masonic Fraternity, is an active member of the Scottish Rite and is also a Knight Templar and Mystic Shriner. In 1914 he was Grand Patron of the Order of the Eastern Star. His chief hobby is automobiling. That naturally had made him a promoter of good roads. He was secretary of the Kansas City, Canada, and Gulf Good Roads project, and that had since developed into the Memphis and Jefferson Highway Association, of which Mr. Rice had been secretary since its organization. On December 19, 1894, at Fort Scott, he married Miss Stella Prager. She was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, daughter of David and Hattie (Briggs) Prager. Her father was one of the pioneer jewelers in Kansas, having a place of business in Lawrence and later at Leavenworth. During the war his entire stock of jewelry was carried away by Quantrell and his raiders when Lawrence...

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Biography of David G. Cobb

David G. Cobb, who is president and active head of the Fort Scott Wholesale Grocer Company, one of the largest and oldest institutions of its kind in Southeastern Kansas, represents a family that became identified with Bourbon County when the first settlements were being planted there. His father was long a distinctive figure in both business and public affairs in the county. The old home, where David G. Cobb was born, was at Marmaton, which was one of the first points of settlement and business in the county and which from 1858 until 1863 was the county seat. David Ransom Cobb, father of David G., was born at Bellows Falls, Vermont, in 1823, was reared and educated in his native town, attended school there, and started life comparatively poor, rising in the scale of suecess as a result of his honest endeavors. He was one of the earliest settlers of Kansas Territory. Arriving in 1858, he settled at old Marmaton in Bourbon County, and soon afterward formed a partnership with Edward Jones under the name Cobb & Jones, general merchants. For a number of years, and especially as long as Marrnaton held its prestige as one of the leading settlements of the county, they were prominent and prosperous merchants and conducted their establishment successfully from 1858 until shortly after the breaking out of the Civil war. Then in the...

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Biography of William R. Reid

It was to the building of the business of the Fort Scott Grocery Company that the late William R. Reid gave the best years of his life. He was presminent as a salesman. He had the commercial integrity, candor, and enthusiasm which are the bedrock policies of salesmanship, but more than that he always justified his loyalty and confidence in the goods he sold. Moreover, wherever he went, and for nearly two score years he traveled through every section of the states of Kansas and Missouri, he carried with him the gospel of good cheer, and the citizens of numberless obscure towns counted it a privilege to own the friendship of William R. Reid. The members of his profession have been humorously called “Knights of the Grip,” and he was in a more serious sense a true knight of business, the soul of honor, courtesy and upright manhood. He was born October 15, 1845, in New York City and was educated there. He lived to be nearly seventy years of age, and died in the harness at Fort Scott July 20, 1912. Early in his career he became connected with a large dry goods establishment in the City of Chicago. He was married there to Miss Alice McComas, daughter of the late Governor E. W. McComas, at one time lieutenant governor of Virginia, afterwards editor of the Chicago Times,...

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Biographical Sketch of Ernest Edward Reid

Ernest Edward Reid, who had inherited many of the salesmanship qualities of his honored father, and is vice president of the Fort Scott Wholesale Grocery Company, was born in Chicago, Illinois, October 8, 1865. He was educated in the public schools of Fort Scott, in the State Normal School and was still a boy when he began his business career as a utility worker in a Fort Scott book store. Three years later he found a position more to his liking in the local postoffice, and after two years there became express messenger for the Adams Express Company. For nearly thirty years Mr. Reid had concentrated all his energies and interests upon the wholesale grocery business. In 1887 he was made shipping and bill clerk for the Stadden Grocery Company. When that company retired in 1890, he and his father and Grant Hornady and A. J. McLaughlin organized the Southwestern Wholesale Grocery Company of Fort Scott. Several years later this was consolidated with the Fort Scott Wholesale Grocery Company, of which he is now vice president and had full charge of the local business as city salesman. Twenty-seven years of his life he had devoted to salesmanship, and is a past master of the art. Mr. Reid is also a director of the Western Automobile Indemnity Company of Fort Scott, is a member of the Chamber of Commerce, had...

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Biography of Elisha Wesley McComas, Hon.

While the years of his greatest activity and achievement, the period which made him a national figure, were spent in other localities, a special interest attaches to the career of Elisha W. McComas in Kansas, not only because he lived in that state for many years, but members of his family still reside there. He was born in Cabell County in Old Virginia, the second in a family of six sons. His father was a prominent man in Old Virginia, served several terms in Congress, filled a position on the local bench, and other places of honor. The early life of Governor McComas was spent in that portion of Virginia which subsequently became the war-born State of West Virginia. He was educated chiefly in Ohio and was admitted to the bar in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 1841. At the outbreak of the war with Mexico he was commissioned a captain in the Eleventh Virginia Infantry and served throughout the war. He was at one time wounded and taken prisoner and received his honorable discharge July 20, 1848. After the Mexican war he took up the practice of law, and as a brilliant young Southerner naturally drifted into politics. He was elected to the Virginia Legislature, and in 1855 had the distinction of being chosen lieutenant governor of Virginia on the ticket with Governor Henry A. Wise. He resigned...

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Biography of Charles I. Martin, Gen.

Kansas, in the course of its history, had produced soldiers as well as farmers, statesmen, orators and business men. As is well known, some of these soldiers have covered themselves with glory. It is the distinction of Gen. Charles I. Martin, present adjutant-general of the state, that he had succeeded in bringing the state militia, usually known as the National Guard, nearer to a basis of war perfection and preparedness than is true perhaps of the militia of any other state in the Union. In face, General Martin’s name possesses a nation wide significance. It was while teaching country school, in 1890, that he first enrolled himself as a private in the Kansas National Guard. Since then his interest in military affairs and particularly in the state organization had never relaxed for a minute. By close attention to his duties he was promoted through the grades until at the breaking out of the war with Spain he was captain of Company F of the First Kansas Regiment. With the mobilization of the troops on a war footing, his company became part of the famous Twentieth Kansas United States Volunteers. He shared prominently in the glorious record made by that regiment, accompanied it to San Francisco, thence to the Philippines, and he and his command participated in twenty-seven distinct engagements with the insurrectionists on those islands. General Martin was in...

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Biography of Oscar R. Farris

Oscar R. Farris had an active experience as an educator for a number of years in the State of Indiana, where he was born, and about eight years ago he came to Kansas and had been a factor in vitalizing some of the schools of this state. He is now superintendent of the city schools system of Eureka. That is one of the best equipped public school organizations in Kansas, and his responsibilities and eapable administration make Mr. Farris one of the leading educators of Kansas. He was born in Knox County, Indiana, January 16, 1881. His Farris aucestors came from England and were early settlers in Kentucky. Mr. Farris in the maternal line is of German descent. His father, Milton Farris, was born in Martin County, Indiana, February 26, 1844, and grew up and married in that county. In 1861, at the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the Twenty-first Indiana Infantry, and was in the army until mustered out in 1866. He saw some severe fighting and very arduous campaigning. He was with General Butler in the south and assisted in the taking of New Orleans. In the battle of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, he was seriously wounded with a gun shot in the hip, and was incapacitated, in fact the wound nearly costing him his life. After the war he returned to Martin County, Indiana, was married,...

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Biography of Austin McCreary Keene

Austin McCreary Keene. The subject of this sketch is one of the prominent and successful attorneys of Southeastern Kansas. He was born at Middletown, Ohio, September 4, 1865, the son of Marshall B. Keene and Jennette McCreary Keene. Marshall Keene was born in 1823 at Keensburg, Illinois, a village in Wabash County named for his forbears. The Keenes of Keensburg have been men of prominence in that locality, having served as members of the Illinois Asscmbly, and been notable physieians and manufacturers. Jennette MeCreary was born in Monroe, Ohio, in 1836, and was married to Marshall B. Keene in 1861. Mr. Keene was at that time a manufacturer of carriages in Monroe. He had at different times maintained factories in Cincinnati, in Hartford, Connecticut, and later in Monroe. Three children were born to them: Mary, now residing in Fort Scott; George W., living at Carthage, Missouri, a shoe manufacturer; and Austin M. In 1890 Mr. and Mrs. Keene removed to Kansas, settling in Fort Scott where their son Austin had been a practicing attorney since 1887. Here they are passing the evening of their days watched over by their children and grandchildren. A. M. Keene spent his boyhood days in and about Middletown, his birthplace. His education was begun there. Later he attended a country school for some years, but graduated from the Middletown High School. He then entered the University...

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Biographical Sketch of Charles Lewellyn Biggs

Biggs, Charles Lewellyn; attorney; born, West Newton, Pa., Aug. 16, 1870; son of Andrew Wesley and Mary F. Gressley Biggs; educated Fort Scott, Kan.; 1889-1890, and Cleveland Law School, 1908; married, Chicago, Ill., May 9, 1899, Mary Blanche Fletcher; one son, Alfred H., age 8; in 1894, engaged in the manufacture bicycles in Chicago, in 1899; appointed state mgr. for Michigan of the North American Insurance Co. of Chicago; in connection with law business; mgr. for State of Ohio for The Knights of the Modern Maccabees; member law firm Bentley, McCrystal, Biggs & Staiger; trustee Highland Avenue Congregational Church, member Woodward Lodge of Masons, Mt. Olive Chapter Masons, Knights of The Modern Order of Maccabees, North American Union of Chicago; American Insurance Union of Columbus; member Chamber of Commerce; educational advantages have been confined to such reading as could be done on trains when traveling for insurance companies; degree from law school almost wholly due to this method of study; entered Taw firm of Biggs & Staiger, in 1909; in 1911, organized the firm of Bentley, McCrystal, Biggs &...

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Biography of John H. Crider

John H. Crider. A continuous practice as a member of the Fort Scott bar since 1882 gives John H. Crider a distinction not only as one of the oldest members of the local bar, but also as one of the most successful. From the first Mr. Orider has looked upon the law not so much as a vocation as a profession requiring all the loyalty and service of his nature and throughout has kept his work in full accord with the high standards and dignity of his vocation. It may be a matter of interest to recall that Mr. Crider earned his first fee of $100 from Hon. Eugens Ware, “Ironquill,” this amount being paid him for his services as referee in proceedings in aid of an execution. Mr. Crider was born in Lancaster, Ohio, March 2, 1859, son of Dr. Henry L. and Sarah Ann (Weisz) Crider. The founder of the Crider family in the United States was Jacob Crider, who was born in Germany in 1768, and was an early settler in Fairfield County, Ohio, where he followed farming until his death in 1824. He was the great-grandfather of the Fort Scott attorney. His wife, Barbara Weaver, was also born in Germany and died in Fairfield County, Ohio, in 1844. Jacob Crider, grandfather of John H., was born in Fairfield County, Ohio, February 12, 1807, and died...

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Biography of David Prager

David Prager. It was the influence of his personality and character as much as his successful business activities that made David Prager so useful and valuable a citizen of Fort Scott, where he resided for over forty years. His carcer illustrates the fact that the successful man is not necessarily the selfish man. He did not keep the resources of his heart nor of his material means to himself, but dispensed them with free hand among his family, his friends and the entire community. He was one of Fort Scott’s most beloved and best known citizens. David Prager was born in a village in Bavaria, Germany, June 7, 1834. He lived in Kansas from territorial days until his death at his home, 224 South Crawford Street, in Fort Scott, November 26, 1911. His death, due to heart failure, came suddenly, and though in his seventy-eighth year at the time, it was a heavy blow to the community. His early education was acquired in his native land. At the age of fifteen he came to the United States and joined an older brother at St. Louis. He also lived for a few years in Peoria and Alton, Illinois. On coming to this country he began an apprenticeship as a jeweler and goldsmith. He finished the apprenticeship at Alton, and in 1858 arrived at Lawrence, Kansas, then the chief center of...

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Biography of Calvin Arthur Davis

Calvin Arthur Davis. The superintendent of the Cudahy Refining Company at Chanute, Kansas, Calvin Arthur Davis, is one of the sons of the Sunflower state who has worked his own way to position and independence. A product of the farm, when he started upon his career his equipment consisted of ambition, determination and good common sense, and these qualities he directed so well that he soon became recognized as a man from whom large things could be expected. Promotion naturally followed, and his career has since been one of constant advancement. Mr. Davis was born on a farm south of Fort Scott, in Bourbon County, Kansas, August 24, 1880, and is a son of Calvin and Hattie H. (Peterson) Davis. The family came originally from Wales and settled in Virginia, during the Colonial era, later branching out to Kentucky and other southern states. Luther Davis the grandfather of Calvin A., was born in 1815, in Kentucky, and prior to the Civil war was a planter and slaveholder near the city of Lexington. From Kentucky he went to Cumberland County, Illinois, where he farmed until the spring of 1877, at that time coming to Kansas and homesteading a tract of 160 acres of land in Butler County. There he passed the remaining years of his life in agricultural operations, becoming one of the substantial and highly respected citizens of his...

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Biography of Edward E. Dix

Edward E. Dix. The vocation of railroading continues to attract many ambitious young men when they enter upon life’s activities, and this field of activity has often proven rich in opportunity to those who have possessed the inclination to work industriously and faithfully, to scorn hardships, to face heavy responsibilities, and to give absolute devotion to the interests of the great systems which employ them. There is no place for those who do not thus prove themselves. Among the officials of almost every other line of business there are found men of sterling worth who would have succeeded well in almost any field of activity, but for railroading there must be natural inclination, and this must be supplemented by hard, practical experience. In this connection may be cited the career of Edward E. Dix, general agent of the Frisco Railroad at Fort Scott, Kansas, who has won promotion from the very bottom of the ladder through the possession of the qualities noted above as being necessary for success in the life of a railroad man. Mr. Dix was born at Lawrence, Douglas County, Kansas, March 21, 1860, and is a son of Ralph C. and Jette (Graham) Dix, the former born at Wethersfield, Hartford County, Connecticut, and the latter at Freeport, Stephenson County, Illinois. Ralph C. Dix had learned the trade of mechanic in the East but felt that...

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