Carrie Westlake Whitney.

Kansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) online

. (page 19 of 65)
Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 65)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

their last days were passed.

Robert A. Lewis was a native of Georgia, his grandfather having come
into that country with the French Huguenots. In the state which was the
home of his ancestors Frank B. Lewis was born but was largely reared and
acquired his education in New^ York city, where his parents removed when
he was but a year old. At the age of eighteen years he secured a position
in a leather findings house and there became thoroughly acquainted with
the business in principle and detail. In 1880 he embarked in business on
his ow^n account, laying the foundation for the present successful mercantile
enterprise which he is now conducting and which is the largest of the kind
in this city. He deals extensively in leather findings and shoe store supplies
and has built up an excellent patronage which brings to him a large volume
of trade annually.

In 1894 Mr. Lewis was united in marriage to Miss Ardena Whitsett, of
Kansas City. They have two children : Margaret B. and Frances A. In
politics Mr. Lewis is a democrat, but without aspiration for office. He gives
undivided attention to his business affairs, which, capably conducted, are
bringing to him signal success.


America, ably termed the land of opportunity, gave to August R. Meyer
his chance of success. The difference between a prosperous man and he who
meets only failure, however, is that one sees and utilizes the advantages and
the other passes them by heedlessly. One of the world's w'orkers, developing
his native powers by broad study and experience, August R. Meyer gained a
position of distinctive prominence as a representative of the great mining
industries of the west. He w^as notable, moreover, in that few men who
attain the financial prominence that came to hi in enjoy in so large a degree
the confidence, honor and respect of those with whom they are associated.
Too often the acquircnicnt of wealth leaves the marks and scars of the battle,
but throughout an intensely active life Mr. Meyer also cultivated those graces
of character which are manifest in an acknowledgment of the rights of others
for kindly consideration for one's fellow travelers on life's journey and an
appreciation of all that promotes intellectual, esthetic and moral culture.
Thus the people who knew^ him in his lifetime rejoiced in the honors and


successes to which he attained and ever cherished his memory since he has
been called from the scene of earthly activities.

Mr. Meyer was one of Missouri's native sons, born in St. Louis in 1851.
His father, Heinrich Peter Meyer, was a native of Hamburg, and the mother,
who bore the maiden name of Margaretha Krafts, was also of German
nativity. When a young man the father, crossing the Atlantic to America
to enjoy its more extended business privileges, settled in St. Louis, where he
became the head of an extensive business conducted under the name of the St.
Louis Woodenware Company, an enterprise that is still in existence. He was
very successful, the business securing a volume of trade which enabled him
to advance to a position in the ranks of the wealthy manufacturers of St.

In the schools of his native city August R. Meyer pursued his early
education and at the age of fourteen was sent to Europe to complete his
studies. He was for some time a student in the Collge of Canton Zurich,
Switzerland, and having made choice of mining engineering as a profession
he completed his scientific education in the school of mines at Freiberg,
Saxony, from which he was graduated in 1872. Subsequently he spent several
terms as a student in the University of Berlin and later traveled through the
leading mining countries of Europe, studying the practical work carried on
in the field. Thus equipped with the best training that the old world could
afford, Mr. Meyer returned to St. Louis and for a period was engaged in
examining coal lands in Illinois. He soon passed on to positions of executive
control, subsequently bending his energies largely to organization, to con-
structive efforts and administrative direction. Possessing broad, enlightened
and liberal-minded views, faith in himself and in the vast potentialities in-
herent in his country's wide domain, the specific needs along the distinctive
lines chosen for his life work, his was an active career, in which he acom-
plished important and far-reaching results. In the spring of 1874 he went ta
Colorado and soon after was appointed government assayer for the district of
Fairplay, the appointment coming to him in recognition of a scientific paper
which he had written soon after his return to America and which attracted
widespread attention and endorsement.

Mr. Meyer continued in that position until 1875 and then became senior
partner of the firm of A. R. Meyer & Company, which opened an ore-crush-
ing mill at Alma, Colorado, and conducted business at that point until 1881.
His work in the development of the mining resources of the state forms an
integral and important chapter in Colorado's history. He was one of the
three founders of Leadville, visiting the site of that city in the fall of 1877,
when the locality was known as Caifornia Gulch. He made a critical ex-
amination of the mineral deposits, and being satisfied that the district con-
tained vast hidden wealth he purchased thirty acres and began the develop-
ment of the property. In February, 1878, with Alvinus B. Wood, of Ann
Arbor, Michigan, and George L. Henderson of Ohio, he laid out the town,
secured a postofRce and gave to the place the name of Leadville. He was^
also the pioneer here in its industrial interests, building its first sampling and
smelting works. In 1879, associated with Governor Taber and others, he


laid out the addition, including Harrison avenue, which is now the most im-
portant thoroughfare of the city. He was also at the head of the Meyer
Mining Company of Leadville and there resided until 1881.

Each forward step in his career had brought yir. Meyer a broader out-
look and wider scope for his activities, and his business life was notable by
reason of his sound judgment and wonderfully keen discernment. He made
a general study of Kansas City, its commercial prospects and! its railroad
advantages, with the result that he determined to make it the place of his
business headquarters and his permanent re-idencc. P'ollowing his removal
here he joined N. Witherall and T. Burdell in purchasing the small smelting
plant at Argentine. Mr. Meyer then reorganized the company, remodeled and
enlarged the works and began operations. From the beginning the new
enterprise proved a profitable venture and the growth of the business resulted
in the capitalization of the company for two million dollars, while the annual
business transacted reached fifteen million dollars. Constantly watchful of
opportunities, in 1899 the fertile brain of Mr. Meyer conceived the idea of
developing a subsidiary interest in connection with the smelter property.
This resulted in the organization of the Southwest Chemical Company, while
later the plant was enlarged and the business reincorporated under the style
of the United Zinc & Chemical Company, with ]Mr. ^Meyer as president and
one of the heavy stockholders, his leading associates in the enterprise being
B. D. Rowe, of Kansas City, and John Greenough, of New York. It was Mr.
Meyer's knowledge of chemistry and his comprehensive understanding of the
mining industry in all of its ditferent phases' that suggested the establishment
and proved a strong feature in its success.

The company was organized with a capital of three and a half million
dollars and has two plants, one in Argentine and the other at lola, Kansas,
employment being furnished by the company to one thousand men. Mr.
Meyer devoted his energies largely during the last six years of his life to
the development of the business. In his capacity as a mining engineer and
a controlling spirit in enterprises that resulted from his knowedge along that
line, he contributed in no small degree to the expansion and material growth
of the and himself derived therefrom substantial benefits. He owned
valuable mining i)roperties in Colorado and other sections of the country
and also invested quite largely in real estate, having considerable property in
Kansas City, inchiding his residence at the corner of Forty-fourth street and
Warwick biMilc\;n'<l. wliich. l)y the consensus of pulilic (>|>iiii()ii. is acknowl-
edged the most beautiful home in Kansas City.

Mr. ^Nloyei- wa.^ married in Denver, Colorado, in 1878, to Miss Emma J.
Hixon, a daughter of John B. Hixon, of that state. They became the parents
of seven children, of whom five are living: Ruth, the wife of William Allen
Smith, of lola, Alfred, Agnes, Henry and Pliilli]). the youngest now
eight years of age. The death of the husband and father occurred December
1, 1905, and while his loss was most deeply regretted in the city and in busi-
ness circles, it came with the greatest force to his family, for he was a devoted
husband and father. After becoming a resident of Kansas City he was most
actively and helpfuly associated Mith nmch that pertained to municipal


progress and improvement. He was a leading spirit in the movement ''to
make Kansas City beautiful," and was chosen president of the park board,
serving in that capacity when the system of parks and boulevards was planned.
One thoroughly familiar with the history of the city said of Mr, Meyer: "He
spent much time and money to advance the park plans ; he did this out of no
other motive than the upbuilding and progress of the city which he had
chosen as his permanent home. Mr. Meyer was always interested in parks
and his extensive travels gave him opportunities of seeing all of the famous
parks in the United States and many abroad.

A beautiful piece of boulevard in the southern part of the city has been
named Meyer road in his honor. His cooperation Avas never sought in vain
when the purpose was public improvement and he looked upon the exigencies
of the moment and the possibilities of the future and labored for later as
well as present generations. He was president of the Commercial Club in
1895 and 1896 and for several years served on its directorate. At different
times he was treasurer of the board of trustees of the Young Men's Christian
Association ; was president of the Provident Association ; was a member of
the board of trustees of the Children's Free Hospital; and a member of the
board of trustees of the First Congregational church. As few men have done,
he realized the responsibilities of wealth and acknowledged his individual
obligation. What he did arose from a sincere interest in his fellowmen.
The accumulation of wealth was never allowed to warp his kindly, generous
nature, but on the contrary his humanitarianism developed with the progress
of his success and his esthetic culture. Few men have enjoyed in so large
measure the respect, popularity and the honor that was accorded August
R. Meyer, and perhaps no better testimonial of his position can be given
than the fact that soon after his death the Commercial Club instituted a
movement for a memorial statue to be erected to his memory. A large fund
was subscribed and collected and a commission given to Daniel Chester
French, the eminent American sculptor, to execute a portrait study of heroic
size, which was placed in one of the public parks in the year 1908. Thus
until the stone shall crumble long ages hence Kansas City w'ill know of one
who was her benefactor and who contributed so largely to her improvement
and adornment.


No history of the legal profession in Kansas City would be complete
without mention of John Cutter Gage, now one of the oldest practitioners
at the bar of Jackson county. Moreover, he was the first president of the
Kansas City Bar Association and also the Law Library Association and at one
time was president of the State Bar Association. His life record began at
Pelham, New Hampshire, April 20, 1835. The ancestry of the family is
traced back to John Gage, who came from England in 1630 and settled in
Boston. His father, Frye Gage, was a New England farmer and married


Kesiah Cutter. The boyhood days of John Cutter Gage were spent on the
homestead farm, his time divided between the duties of the fields and the
work of the schoolroom until he had mastered the elementary branches of
English learning, when he entered Phillips Academy, where he prepared for
college, matriculating at Dartmouth in 1852. After completing the work
of the freshman and sophomore years in that institution he entered Harvard
College in 1855 and was graduated therefrom in 1856. Having determined
to make the practice of law his life work, he became a student in the office
•of S. A. Brown, then a leading attorney of Lowell, Massachusetts, and was
admitted to the bar in Boston in 1858.

In the following March Mr. Gage arrived in Kansas City, where he has
■now continuously practiced for forty-nine years, being one of the oldest as
well as ablest representatives of the legal fraternity here. In 1860 he be-
came a partner of William C. Woodson and in 18'66 entered into partnership
relations with William Doug, which continued until 1869. In 1870 he was
joined by Sanford D. Ladd in the practice of law and the admission of Charles
E. Small to the firm in 1878 led to the adoption of the firm name of Gage,
Ladd & Small. This is one of the strongest law firms of the city, having had
a continuous existence of thirty years while his association with Mr. Ladd
covers thirty-eight years. In his practice Mr. Gage has won a large percentage
of the cases that have been entrusted to him. He convinces by his concise
statements of law and facts rather than by word painting and so high is the
respect for his legal ability and integrity that his assertions in court are sel-
dom questioned seriously. Judges and clients also respect him for his care-
ful counsel. He is a man of most courteous manner and yet firm and un-
yielding in all that he believes to be right. Whatever he does is for the best
interests of his clients and for the honor of his profession and no man gives
to either a more unqualified allegiance or riper ability. His standing in the
profession is indicated by the fact that he was honored with the presidency
of the Kansas City Bar Association upon its formation and also of the Law
Library Association, while his position in the profession in the state was at-
tested by his selection for the presidency of the State Bar Assocation in 1884.
No man is more familiar with the personnel nor the history of judicial pro-
ceedings of the state than Mr. Gage, who has written many historical articles
upon the bench and bar of Missouri.

On the 26th of April, 1886, Mr. Gage was married to Miss Ida Bailey,
a daughter of Dr. Elijah Bailey, of Monroe couiily, Missouri, and they have
two children, John Bailey and Marion Manseur.


When a man has traveled far on life's journey it is a source of satis-
faction to his friends that in the evening of his days he can enjoy rest with-
out further recourse to labor. Nature seems to have intended that this should
be the case, for in youth mic is full of the energy and hope of early life, and in



TILDI N rc :r:)*,\TIONS


later years these qualities are directed by the sound judgment which results
from practical experience, and if one's labors be persistent and intelligently
directed there results a measure of success which makes it possible for the
individual to put aside business cares in his later years. Such has been the
course of Mr. Kraus, whose life of intense activity is now crowned with an
age of ease. He was born in Baden, Germany, in April 26, 1831, and came
to America in the spring of 1850. He was then a young man of nineteen
years, ambitious to make his way in the world and realizing also that ''there
is no excellence without labor." He had about twenty-five dollars when he
landed in America. He began selling oil cloths for tables — traveled through the
country on foot, and was thus engaged for four years, making money in that
venture. In 1854 he went to Madison, Wisconsin, where he and his brother
ran a hotel, there remaining until 1857, when Philip Kraus left that place
by boat and went down the river to St. Louis. From that point he proceeded
up the Missouri river to Kansas City, arriving here in May, 1857, when the
town was small and of little industrial or commercial importance. In the
early days of his residence here he knew every man engaged in business in
Kansas City. This seemed almost the last point of civilization before one ven-
tured upon the plains, where the Indians were numerous and often manifested
, open hostility toward the white race. Mr. Kraus, however, made it his busi-
ness to engage in trading with the red men, selling goods to the Shawnee
and Delaware Indians for three years, going out among them with wagons
in which he carried such goods as he knew they desired. He afterward estab-
lished a store at Shawnee, which he conducted until it was destroyed by fire in
1863. In that year he went to Fort Scott, Kansas, and also at Fort Smith,
and while in the state was forced into the service of the army, cutting trees,
etc. In 1865 he returned to Kansas Citv and in the vear 1866 became a resi-
dent of Holland, Clay county, Missouri, becoming closely identified with the
upbuilding of that place in pioneer times. He conducted a general store there,
assisted in establishing the postoffice and was postmaster at that point for
twenty-one years. Again he came to Kansfis City in 1871 and bought a corner
lot at Tracy and West Ninth street. Around this he built a wall and upon
the ground erected a small house, but in 1888 he began the erection of flats
there and added to the original number, until he now has twenty-three apart-
ments, ranging from three to six rooms each. Of the rental and care of this
property he and his son now have charge, but the latter is largely relieving
the father of the business management, and Mr. Kraus is thus enabled to
enjoy well earned rest. From time to time he made judicious and well placed
investment in property, owning considerable land in Clay county, including
two hundred acres near Birmingham. Through his purchase and sale of
real estate he made considerable money and thus, with a gratifying competence
to supply all his needs, is now enjoying life and the rest which should ever
crown earnest effort and long continued toil.

Mr. Kraus was married in Clay county to Miss Catherine Klamn in 1872,
and unto them were born two children, but the daughter died in early life.
The son, John P., was born in Harlem, Clay county, in 1873, and was edu-
cated in the Woodland public school of Kansas City and in the German


schools. He is now associated with his father in the management of busi-
ness interests, which are carefully conducted, and are bringing a gratifying
financial return annually. A well spent and honorable life has gained for
Mr. Kraus the respect and esteem of all with whom he has been brought
in contact, and he is well known in this part of the state as one whose efforts
in the upbuilding of the west have been effective and far-reaching.


AVhen ambition is satisfied and every ultimate aim accomplished, satiety
follows, effort languishes and industry becomes futile. It is the man who is
not satisfied with present conditions who delights in the doing, who finds
pleasure in exerting his powers and in solving intricate problems that becomes
a forceful factor in the world's development. From early youth Robert Alex-
ander Long has been one of the world's workers and his success, so great as
to seem almost magical, is attributable directly to his own labors.

The rapid development of all material resources during the closing years
of the nineteenth century and the opening years of the twentieth has brought
business enterprises up from the day of small things to gigantic
proportions, where millions of dollars take the place of hundreds and where
men are required to handle thousands as carefully and as successfully as their
grandfathers handled hundreds. All the history of the world shows that to
grapple with new conditions, to fill breaches in all great crises men have been
developed and have stood ready to assume new and great responsibilities and
have discharged them well and profitably. Many youths now taking their first
lessons in practical business will work up gradually from one responsibility
to one higher and then to still higher ones, as R. A. Long has done, for what
he has accomplished others maj^ do. True his have been ''massive deeds and
great" in one sense and yet his entire accomplishment but represents the
fit utilization of the innate talents which were his.

His life record began in Shelby county, Kentucky, in December, 1850.
His father was an intensely practical, methodical and ambitious man, who
believed in doing not dreaming. There was, however, an imaginative spirit
in Robert A. Long that led him at times out of his farm life environment
into great future possibilities. He formed plans and looked forward to the
day when his lines of life would not hold him to the plow but when he would
become a forceful factor in great business undertakings. However, in his
boyhood and youth he was held down to the work of the fields and to the
acquirement of an education in the public schools, which he attended until
his seventeenth year, when necessity forced him to give his undivided atten-
tion to business, his services being needed on the old home farm. There he
continued to the age of twenty-two years, when his life broadened perceptibly
in its ]»(»>sibilities and outlook.

He came to Kansas City to visit his uncle, C. J. White, then cashier of
the City Savings Rank. Mr. White had a son, Robert, and Dr. J. B.


Bell, president of the bank, had a son, Victor B. Bell. The three young men
were about of an age and in that summer they joined in a business enter-
prise which constituted the nucleus of the Long and Bell fortunes. R. A.
Long had saved a hundred or two dollars, the others had less but they had
credit at the Kansas City Savings Bank. Going to Columbus, Kansas, they
there established a lumber business, taking with them a carload of lumber.
Although Mr. Long had to some extent hitherto been regarded as somewhat
visionary, the practical side of his nature here developed with remarkable
rapidity. He had found a business that was congenial and one which offered
unlimited possibilities. The broad prairies of Kansas had no timber supply
and the young men realized that it would be a wise thing to establish lumber-
yards elsewhere in the newly developing state. After two years Mr. White
died but the firm of Long & Bell continued, constantly extending their busi-
ness until when Mr. Bell died two or three years ago their interests included
nearly out' hundred lumberyards through the we. - t and southwest, together
with enormous mill properties, nearly four hundred thousand acres of timber
land in Louisiana and Texas, railroad properties, a steamship line, coal mines,
general mercantile establishments and land agencies. The name of Long
is inseparably connected with the development of the lumber trade in the
^j; west and southwest. One of the secrets of his success was the fact that he
thoroughly acquainted himself with the business in every detail during his
early connection therewith. He continually sought out new lines for the
development of the trade and he took into his business several axioms or
rules and has lived up to them consistently. These include honesty and
sincerity of purpose; a firm belief that a man should make himself felt in
his community and that he should acknowledge always that he owes much
to that community.

Each year saw an increase in the business of the firm — a new yard
opened, a new mill built, a new store established — until the volume of trade
annually reaches into the millions. One of the most recent undertakings
of the firm is the erection of what is known as the R. A. Long building at
Tenth street and Grand avenue. In its construction one of the air castles
of his earlier life has taken substantial form and it is a notable fact that
most of the plans and hopes and dreams of his earlier years have found ful-

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 19 of 65)