Collection: A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans

Biographical Sketch of Samuel E. Hoffman

Samuel E. Hoffman was born in Pennsylvania about 1835. He came to Kansas from Iowa, locating in Neosho Falls, Woodson County, in 1858, being the first lawyer in that section of the state. Mr. Hoffman was prominent in the early stages of statehood, being a member of the Wyandotte constitutional convention of 1859 and of the first State Senate in 1861. He was also one of the agents appointed to select lands granted to the state by the general government in 1861-62. The later years of his life were spent in St. Louis, Missouri, where he was engaged in...

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Biography of John MacDonald

John MacDonald of Topeka has probably done more for the cause of education in Kansas than any other one man, and in saying this no disparagement is intended for the scores of men and women who have devoted much of their lives to educational work. He may well be distinguished as a pioneer in the method of reason as applied to learning. His kindly personality has left a deep impress for good, and many who have achieved distinction in the different walks of life are indebted to him for their early training. Throughout his career he has evidently been impressed with the importance of the great truth that to educate is more important than to govern, since to train men wisely for self-government is more important than to govern them untrained. He is one of the men who have belped to vitalize education and the school system of the great State of Kansas. John MacDonald was born February 6, 1843, at Linshader, in the Lewis, a short distance from the Standing Stones of Callernish in the Parish of Uig, in the Hebrides. His birthplace will recall to a great many the land of Sheila, the “Princess of Thule,” made famous in the novel of that name by Black. When he was very small his people removed to the mainland of Scotland, to Gairloch in Wester Ross, where he was...

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Biography of Jerry Hussey

One of the most interesting old timers of Kansas is Jerry Hussey, now living retired at Williamsburg. He served faithfully and loyally as a soldier during the Civil war, and soon after the close of that great struggle identified himself with the State of Kansas, where he helped to reclaim a part of the wilderness and make it a fertile and valuable farm. Of New England ancestry he was born in the State of Vermont in August, 1845, and when very young was left an orphan, so that he had to flght his own battles at a time when most boys have the care and direction of parents. When he was thirteen years of age in 1858 he came west, and for a time worked as a farm hand near Loveland in Clermont County, Ohio. He was working on a farm when the Civil war was declared, and in 1861, though only sixteen years of age, he enlisted in Company D of the Thirty-fourth Ohio Volunteer Infantry, which was afterwards merged with the Thirty-sixth Regiment. Most of his service was in the East on the great Virginia battle ground, and in the closing months of the war he was with Sheridan, his regiment having been mounted, in the Shenandoah Valley campaign, participating in the battle of Winchester. At Beverly, West Virginia, he was captured, and spent four months of...

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Biographical Sketch of George Marshall Crawford

George Marshall Crawford, the only son of Governor Crawford, was born at Emporia, Kansas, July 10, 1872, and for a number of years has been a prominent newspaper man and publisher at Topeka. His education came from the public schools of Topeka and the preparatory department at Washburn College, and in 1894 he graduated A. B. from Yale University. For three years he was a reporter on the Topeka Capital, but since September, 1897, has been manager of the Mail Printing Honse, in which he is a partner. Mr. Crawford is an active republican, an eighteen degree Scottish Rite Mason, a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security, the Knights of the Maccabees, the Topeka Country Club and Topeka Commercial Club. On November 6, 1895, he married Hortense Kelly, daughter of Rev. Bernard Kelly, who for many years was prominent in Kansas affairs. Mr. and Mrs. Crawford have two children: George Marshall, Jr., and...

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Biography of Col. Thomas W. Scudder

Few of the Kansas territorial pioneers are still living. One of them is Col. Thomas W. Scudder, of Topeka. Colonel Scudder made a splendid record as a soldier with the fighting columns of the First Kansas Cavalry during the Civil war. He also had many interesting experiences in the border warfare in 1857. Much of his Kansas experience was on a pre-emption claim of 103 acres, the place where he now lives, before the war in Shawnes County, and he has long been a resident of Topeka, where he has enjoyed the association and friendship of many prominent men. He is of very old and prominent American stock. He was born on Long Island in New York State, September 15, 1834, and is now in his eighty-third year. His father was Thomas Scudder, and the ancestry before him contains four successive Thomas Scudders. The Scudders were of English origin and coming to America in colonial days settled in Boston and afterwards moved to Long Island, New York, where members of the family established the Town of Huntington under charter from King William and Queen Mary. Many of the early Scudders were sailors, but now for many generations have been chiefly land owners and identifled with agricultural pursuits. The most numerous branches of the family are still found in the Eastern states. Thomas W. Scudder grew up on Long Island,...

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Biography of Samuel J. Crawford

Samuel J. Crawford was one of the first members of the Kansas State Legislature, by service on the field of battle attained the rank of brigadier-general during the Civil war, and was the third governor of the state. He was one of the history makers of early Kansas, and what he did to influence the early political development of Kansas must be told on other pages. Following is a brief sketch of his personal career. He was born in Lawrence County, Indiana, April 10, 1835, grew up on a farm, attended the graded schools of Bedford, Indiana, and the law school of Cincinnati College. His parents were William and Jane (Merrow) Crawford, who were natives of North Carolina and had moved to Indiana Territory in 1815. His paternal grandparents were James and Mary (Fraser) Crawford, his grandfather having been a Revolutionary soldier. In remote ancestry the Crawfords were Scotch. Samuel J. Crawford arrived in Kansas Territory and began the practice of law at Garnett on March 1, 1859. He had the personal courage, the mental talents and other qualities so essential for leadership in the troubled country of Kansas at that time, and he did not long remain a struggling lawyer in Garnett. In May of the same year of his arrival he attended the Ossawatomie convention and participated in the organization of the republican party in Kansas. In...

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Biography of Joseph H. Mercer

If Kansas should be called upon, through some unfortunate circumstance, to lose at this time the services of Hon. Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner, it would still owe him a debt of gratitude for the great work he has accomplished in the eradication of the evils attending the foot-and-mouth and other diseases injurious to animals in Kansas, in the bringing about of a better understanding between the farmer and the packer, in the arrangement of freight rates, and in the protection of the interests of the farmer, and particularly of the live stock man, in various ways and along numerous lines. Himself a practical farmer and student of live stock conditions, Mr. Mercer thoroughly understands every phase of agricultural work and through this understanding is able to handle the most delicate situations that arise in a position that calls for the utmost finesse, the greatest degree of diplomasy and unceasing application. Joseph H. Mercer, state live stock commissioner of Kansas, and secretary of the Kansas Live Stock Association, was born on a farm near Williamsburg, Noble County, Ohio, September 7, 1864, and is a son of Newlin Mercer and grandson of Jacob Mercer. For generations the family has been engaged in agricultural pursuits, and Newlin Mercer was of the calibre that led to his enlistment in the forces of the North to support the Union during the...

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Biography of William F. M. Arny

Kansas has produced no more eceentric, generous or beloved character than William F. M. Arny. Although not a native of the state, he was a son in all that stands for its independence and humanity. He was born in the District of Columbia, March 6, 1813, and after graduating from Bethany College, West Virginia, acted for a time as secretary for Alexander Campbell the famons Disciple preacher. At the age of twenty-eight he was on intimate terms with all of the leading men of the nation, especially with such as Abraham Lincoln and others of force and originality. In 1850 Mr. Arny settled in McLean County, Illinois; was active in the organization of the republican party, and in 1856 was a committeeman in that state appointed to raise money to settle Free State men in Kansas. In that year he made a trip of investigation to the territory, and its condition so appealed to him that in the spring of 1857 he settled in Anderson County. The people of Kansas, who had come thither to stay and build a real commonwealth of equals, accepted William F. M. Arny as a valuable accession to their forces, electing him both to the Leavenworth constitutional convention of 1858 and the House of Representatives of the First State Legislature, which assembled with the outbreak of the Civil war. At that time he was...

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Biography of Hon. John Shaw Dawson

On the roll of men who have been prominently identified with the civie affairs of the State of Kansas during the past two decades, the name of Hon. John Shaw Dawson occupies a leading and conspienous place. When he came to this state, in 1887, it was as a country school teacher, but he possessed the ambition and ability necessary to carry him to high position, and it was not long are he became connected with public matters, and, being admitted to the bar in 1898, rose rapidly in his profession and in public confidence. After serving in various positions of trust, in 1914 he was elevated to the bench of the Supreme Court, where he still remains as an associate justice. Judge Dawson was born at Grantown-on-Spey, Scotland, June 10, 1869, a son of James J. and Annie (Shaw) Dawson. His father spent the greater part of his life in railroad work in Great Britain, but in his later years followed merchandising in Scotland and held the position of postmaster in the village where he yet resides. John Shaw Dawson was primarily educated in the public schools, later attanding the Robert Gorden’s College, at Aberdeen, an institution of wide repute as a superior technical school. It was his father’s desire that he should enter the ministry for his life work, but, meeting with opposition from the prospective dominie,...

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Biographical Sketch of David E. Ballard

A native of Franklin County, Vermont, David E. Ballard is a leading citizen and a prosperous farmer of Washington, and looks back with still keen interest to the days of nearly sixty years ago, when he assisted in the civil organization of his county and his state. He was born March 20, 1837, of English and Revolutionary ancestors. When he was a boy his father, Appleton Ballard, moved to Morrow County, Ohio, not to cultivate the land, but to provide his family with a home while he fared forth on the high seas of the East. While thus engaged, he was murdered and robbed in the harbor of Halifax, after he had disposed of his cargo. In May, 1857, when he had but just entered his twenty-first year, David E. Ballard located in Brown County, Kansas, and in the following year moved to Washington County, which was then on the point of organization. In fact, he assisted in that work, and was the first county clerk. In 1859 he was elected to the House of Representatives of the first State Legislature (1861), and in the senatorial election was an active partisan of James H. Lane. He joined the ranks of the Second Kansas Infantry in November, 1861, and in the following year was made first lientenant, being mustered out of the service, in February, 1865. He was in the...

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Biography of Abraham Ellis

Abraham Ellis, for many years a resident of Miami County, was popularly known as “Bullet-Hole Ellis,” from the fact that for twenty-three years he carried a deep wound, almost in the center of his forehead, in which had originally been buried a bullet fired by the noted raider, William C. Quantrill. His recovery was one of the most remarkable in surgical annals, and the ball which inflicted the wound, as well as the twenty-seven pieces of froutal bone which were picked from his skull at the time, are among the remarkable exhibits displayed in the Army and Navy Medical Museum at Washington, D. C. Mr. Ellis was born in Green County, Ohio, April 22, 1815, and for many years in his earlier manbood was a successful teacher, but his health compelled him to cling to the soil. In September, 1857, he left Ohio and located in Miami County, six miles from the Missouri line. He was therefore in the very hotbed of the Border warfare, and his strong free-soil sentiments and capacity for organization made him a personal friend, a co-worker and a tristed lieutenant of John Brown. In October, 1858, he was elected a member of the Territorial Legislature and in the following December a representative of the lower house of the First State Legislature. At that time Mr. Ellis was county commissioner and superintendent of public instruction,...

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Biography of Arthur W. Bronson

For the past seventeen years a resident of Topeka, Mr. Bronson has been a considerable factor in the material prosperity of the state, particularly in connection with the agricultural interests. As resident agent for a firm of foreign capitalists, he has been instrumental during his time in handling and distributing over $25,000,000 cash to the land owners and farmers of Kansas and adjoining states, and he is perhaps as well informed as any man in the state on the subject of agricultural credit, land values and farming interests from the financial standpoint. A native of Herkimer County, New York, where he was born June 3, 1855, Arthur W. Bronson is a son of O. W. and Elizabeth (Harter) Bronson. His family have been Americans for many generations, and O. W. Bronson was a carriage manufacturer, a trade which he adopted from his father. O. W. Bronson also owned a farm in New York, and it was in the country that Arthur W. Bronson spent the first twelve years of his life. He attended the public schools, and in 1877 graduated in the civil engineering department of Willston Seminary in Massachusetts. Though prepared for a technical profession, Mr. Bronson never practiced civil engineering, but instead engaged in merchandising at Herkimer, New York, and not finding that business to his liking he came west in 1884, and for three years was...

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Biography of George H. Keller

The name of George H. Keller, one of the founders of Leavenworth, stands among old-time residents for all that is brave and generous and stable and whole-souled, in the most trying times of the territory and the state. As John Speer once said: “His name was a synonym for honesty, integrity and patriotism; his house in Leavenworth illustrated the proverbial hospitality of the ‘Old Kentucky Home.'” “Uncle” George Keller was born in that state in February, 1801; his wife, a Van Dyke, was also a native of Kentucky, and both were descended from Holland Dutch stock. Soon after his marriage the couple migrated to a timbered farm near Terre Haute, Indiana, where he raised live stock and conducted a large inn on the National Road. In 1835 they moved to Platte County, Missouri, and for fifteen years Mr. Keller engaged in farming and manufacturing, when he disposed of all his interests, equipped a large train with merchandise and started for Sonoma Valley and the gold fields of California. He there founded the Town of Petaluma, now a prosperous city of several thousand people. In 1852 he located at Weston, Kansas, resumed farming, and was thus engaged until the spring of 1854, when, with other citizens of Weston, he founded the Town of Leavenworth. In the fall of that year, after completing the Leavenworth Hotel, the third building constructed in...

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Biographical Sketch of Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton

Napoleon Bonaparte Blanton was born in Missouri about 1830, and in a letter written to Charles H. Dickson, several years before his death, thus explains the origin of his impressive name: “I was first named James by my grandfather on my mother’s side. My father was of French descent and was a friend of Napoleon, but my grandfather hated him. After my father and my grandfather had quarreled about Napoleon, my father changed my name to that of the great general.” In September, 1854, Mr. Blanton moved from Jackson County, Missouri, and settled on the Wakarusa. He left that locality in 1857 and became one of the members of the Humboldt Town Site Company. In the second year of the Civil war he was mustered into the Union service as captain of a company in the Kansas Infantry, but resigned in the following year. He had already served as a representative from Allen County in the First State Legislature; was instrumental in causing the land office to be moved from Mapleton to Humboldt in September, 1861, and was re elected to the State House of Representatives in 1868. He spent the last years of his life at Sulphur, Oklahoma, and died at Wichita, Kansas, where one of his married daughters resided, April 30, 1913, from injuries received in an automobile...

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Biography of Charles G. Blakely

Charles G. Blakely, whose attainments as a business man have made his name familiar not only in his home City of Topeka but in many parts of the state, has been a resident of Kansas since the fall of 1883, and his first experience here was as teacher in Brown County. His is the interesting story of a boy born and reared in the mountainens district of Eastern Kentucky, where people lived on the plane of the simplest existence but not always of the highest ideals. There, in his early youth, came a stimulus to his ambition and hope which raised him out of his circumstances, and by self-help he struggled upward on the road of aspiration and finally made himself a place among the world’s influential workers. In the early days of Kentucky about the time Daniel Boone made history from the “dark and bloody ground,” members of the Blakely and Brown families from North Carolina and Virginia respectively settled within the borders of that commonwealth, and aided in reclaiming it from the domain of the wilderness, fought wild beasts and wild Indians, and for several generations lived peacefully and contentedly in the mountainous districts of the state. Many years later John Chestnut Blakely, a native of the mountains of Laurel County and Sarah Brown of the Bluegrass region, met and married, and they were the parents of...

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