Carrie Westlake Whitney.

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

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ager of the football team for one year. On the occasion of the second meet
for the Olympic games in Athens, Greece, in 1906, he was chosen as a mem-
ber of the American "games committee, and in the selection of athletes to
represent this country at the contest was chosen as one of a number to up-
hold American interests, on which occasion the honors w^ere carried off by
the representatives of the United States. Mr. Moulton winning second place
in the one hundred meters race here. He is a prominent and popular mem-
ber of the Greek letter fraternities, the Phi Gamma Delta and the Phi Delta
Phi. Interested in the political situation of the country, Mr. Moulton is a
republican, and in Kansas City is numbered among its best known and
most prominent young business men, whose future seems particularly bright,
owing to the ability, enterprise and firm purpose that he has already dis-
played in the conduct of important business interests.


William Tell Johnson, a lawyer of Kansas City, w^as born August 4,
1848, at Osceola, Missouri, a son of Judge Waldo P. Johnson, an eminent
lawyer and statesman. His more specifically literary education was acquired
in the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, from which he was graduated
with the class of 1868. He read law under the direction of his father, and
successfully passing the required examination, w^as admitted to the bar at
Butler, Missouri, on the 29th of June, 1872. Having thus qualified for prac-
tice, he located at Osceola, where he remained until 1879, when he removed
to Kansas City. In the meantime, in 1874, he formed a partnership with
John H. Lucas, and in 1880 William H. Lucas was admitted to the firm
under the style of Johnson & Lucas. For several years Mr. Johnson was
connected with nearly all of the important cases tried in St. Clair county.

In Kansas City he has devoted his attention largely to corporation law,
in which connection he has been the legal representative of the .John I.
Blair estate, the Kansas City Cable Railway Company and many others.
Wlhile now specializing in his profession, he has broad and comprehensive
knowledge of the fundamental principles of law and would undoubtedly
attain success in any department of jurisprudence into which he might wish


to direct his energies. He is quick in the solution of the problems of cor-
poration law, which are becoming more and more intricate with the com-
plexity of business interests, and is regarded as a wise counselor and safe
advocate. Outside the strict path of his profession Mr. Johnson is also well
known in business circles because of his close connection as an investor with
railroad interests, street railways and banks.

On the 15th of September, 1885, occurred the marriage of William Tell
Johnson and Miss Agnes M. Harris, a daughter of Dr. Edwin E. Harris, of
St. Clair county, Missouri, who became a surgeon in the Confederate army
during the Civil war and died in the service. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have
two daughters and a son, Margaret, Robert and Mary. They are well known
socially, having an extensive circle of friends in this city. Mr. Johnson is
a communicant of the Roman Catholic church, and through his political
:allegiance endorses the principles and policy of the old-fashioned democ-


When the complete history of Kansas City and its upbuilding shall have
been written there will be no name that figures more honorably on its pages
than that of Peter Soden, who dates his residence in Kansas City from 1855
and who in 1852 came to this county. For more than half a century there-
fore he has been, associated with the progress of Missouri's western metropolis
and has contributed in substantial measure to its upbuilding through his
connection with railroad construction and with building operations here.

Mr. Soden was born in County Cavan, Ireland, June 24, 1830, and com-
ing to America when a young man of eighteen years, settled in New York
in 1848. It was the favorable reports which he had heard concerning the
opportunities of the new world that led him to cross the Atlantic, for his
financial resources were very limited and he felt that he had comparatively
small chance to win success or work his way upward in a country hampered
by ca.ste, class, precedent and custom. He knew that honest endeavor brings
its reward on this side of the Atlantic and that he has ever been faithful
is indicated in the fact that in his first position he remained for four years.
"but the west called him and he responded. It was a great, wild district but
it had chances that could not be secured in the older and more tliickly set-
tled east and Mr. Soden was willing to make the sacrifice of living on the
frontier away from the comforts of the cities if he could in the course of
years gain a place among the men of affluence. In 1852 he arrived in Jack-
son county, Missouri, and for a short time was a resident of Independence,
which town was then of more relative im))ortance tlian Kansas City, it being
the starting point for the emigrants and the freighters who made their way
across the plains to the west and southwest.

Later Mr. Soden went to Liberty, Mis.<()urj and was employed at the
arsenal of the T"^nited States government there for about three years. In


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1855 he became a resident of Kansas City and for more than a half century
he has been identified with its interests and has been closely associated with
its progress. Here he began business for himself as a contractor, and since
that time he has had much to do with the work of improvement in different
parts of the city. He was one of the pioneer contractors of Kansas City
and is certainly one of the oldest representatives of the business here, hav-
ing for fifty-three years been associated with its building interests. He
opened some of the first) streets laid out in Kansas City and which have
proven among the most important thoroughfares of this metropolis, includ-
ing Main, Delaware and Wyandotte streets. In 1860 he entered upon a
contract to construct that portion of the Missouri Pacific Railway extending
through Jackson county and was one of the pioneer railroad contractors
here. Since that time his operations have covered important portions of
the Cameron road, the Missouri River Railroad, the Missouri Pacific Railway
and its branches. For a long period he was closely associated with railroad
building and during the latter part of that time confined his energies almost
exclusively to furthering the interests of the Missouri Pacific Railway in its
building operations.

At the present writing Mr. Soden is devoting his time almost exclusively
to real-estate investments and as a speculative builder has been instrumental
in changing unsightly vacancies into attractive residence districts. Pre-
viously, however, during the period of his railway building, he riprapped
the Missouri river from the mouth of the Kaw to the old Lykins warehouse
at the foot of Third street in 1870. This was an important improvement,
which had marked influence on the growth and prosperity of the city. In
1861, when railroad building was suspended throughout this part of the
country owing to the progress of the Civil war, Mr. Soden engaged in freight-
ing between Kansas City and Colorado and so continued until the spring
of 1864, when he resumed the construction of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.
He is prominently known as a contractor and builder and his efforts in
this direction have been a forceful element in opening up the west and south-
west and in promoting the improvement and growth of Kansas City.

In 1863 Mr. Soden was elected and served as first lieutenant of Com-
pany H of the Seventy-seventh Regiment of INIissouri State Militia and from
Governor Gamble received his commission, w^hich he yet retains as a souve-
nir of that time. This regiment held itself in readiness for active duty to
protect home interests during the war, and when the war closed Mr. Soden
resumed his building operations, which have been quite exten.sive and al-
most uniformly successful. His investments have been made as the result
of mature consideration and have had sound business principles for their
basis. Many notew^orthy improvements have been carried forw'ard under
his supervision or as the result of his energy and sagacity. From time to
time he has embraced opportunity for becoming owner of valuable property
and now has realty at the northwest corner of Walnut street and Missouri
avenue, is also owner of the Commercial Hotel block at Walnut and Eleventh
streets, of the Barnaby building on Main street between Eleventh and
Twelfth streets, of Nos. 912 and 914 Main street at the Junction, together


Avith other valuable property. His present home was built in the summer
of 1907.

In 1865 Mr. Soden was married to Miss Delia Lackett, of Kansas City,
and has a son and daughter living. His eldest son, James, while pursuing
his education in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, w'as taken ill and died. His
other son, John W., now largely superintending his father's business inter-
ests, was married to Miss Walsh and has one child, Kathleen Irene. Eliza-
beth is the wife of John Hackel of Kansas City and they have one child,
Verneta Rose.

Mr. Soden wa^ for a half century a member of the Cathedral but on
his removal to his present home transferred his membership to the Church
of Our Lady of Perpetual Help. He is an independent voter but a citizen
whose cooperation has long been counted upon as a factor in movements of
public moment. He is numbered among Kansas City's pioneers. Yew busi-
ness men have longer remained within its borders and perhaps none have been
so clos'ely associated with the gradual development and progress of the county
as Mr. Soden. His life record may well serve as a source of encouragement
to others, showing what can be accomplished by determined, persistent effort,
by a ready utilization of opportunity and by that sound judgment which
develops through the use of one's inherent powers in adapting the Lessons
which life daily brings.


Harry P. Child belongs to the group of distinctive representative busi-
ness men who have been the pioneers in inaugurating and building up the
chief industries of this section of the country. He is now connected with
various extensive and important business interests of the west, chief of these
being the Kansas City Stock Yards. He first came to the city in 1859 — a
youth of eleven years — to return ten years later as a young man entering
upon his life's work. From that time his advancement has been rapid and
those who know aught of the extensive business annually conducted at the
stock yards recognize in him a large factor in its development.

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, he was born October 2, 1848, a son of Dr.
Abel L. and Rebecca (Coates) Child. In the paternal line he is descended
from Puritan ancestry, his father being a native of Vermont, who removed
to Ohio in 1843. His mother, who was born in Pennsylvania, was of Quaker
parentage. She died in his infancy and he was adopted by her sister, Mrs.
J. L. Mitchencr, who for the remainder of her life was all to him that a
mother could be. The removal of the Mitchencr family to Monmouth, Illinois,
occiu'rod when Mr. Child was six years of age and he there resided from 1(S54
until 1859, when the family came to Kansas City. Two years later he became
a resident of Chicago, where he lived until 1869, his time being divided be-
tween the acquirement of an education in the public schools and a knowledge
of the printer's trade. He served as compositor on the Chicago Evening Jour-


nal but fate held in store for him other things and on the day that the
Chicago Stock Yards were opened he became one of its employes, filling va-
rious positions from that year, 1865, until 1869. He then returned to Kansas
City and for two years was engaged with his uncle in the cattle shipping busi-
ness. When the Kansas City Stock Yards were opened in 1871 he became
connected with the company which was at the head of the enterprise, and
was appointed yard master. His previous experience in the Chicago yards,
his close application, his capability and hie laudable ambition, secured him
promotion from time to time, and as assistant superintendent, superintendent
and assistant general manager he has since been connected with the yards,
filling the last named position for several years. In the discharge of his duties
he has displayed keen foresight, excellent executive ability and unfaltering
energy, which have gained him rank with the leading business men of Kansas
City. He is also a director and the vice president of the Safety Savings &
Loan Association here.

On the 11th of May, 1881, Mr. Child was married to Miss Lillian M.
Peirce, of Kansas City, who w^as born in Ohio in 1852. Her parents were
Mr. and Mrs. Edgar T. Peirce, who also were of Quaker descent. Mr. Child's
beautiful and tasteful home in Kansas City is supplied with all the appoint-
ments and adornments that indicate refinement and culture. One of the finest
libraries of the city attests the literary taste of the owner, and the fine arts
add their delights to the pleasures that are found at his fireside. His religious
faith is indicated by his membership in the Christian Science church.


Peter D. Ridenour is a member of the most extensive wholesale grocery
house west of the Mississippi river, and his present prominent position in
comniercial circles has been attained through unremitting labor, close appli-
cation and the execution of well defined plans. His start in the business
world was a most humble one but his recognition and utilization of oppor-
tunity has brought him to the eminent place that he now occupies.

He was born May 5, 1831, in Union county, Indiana, and in his veins
flows tlie blood of Dutch, Scotch and German ancestry. The line is traced
back to Nicholas Ridenour, who in 1739 came from Rotterdam, Holland,
to America with his family, landing at Philadelphia. He settled in what
is now Washington county, Maryland, near Hagerstown, where he resided
until his death. His eldest son, Nicholas Ridenour, also reared his family
in that neighborhood and one of his sons, Jacob Ridenour. the father of
Peter Ridenour, was born in 1770. Having arrived at years of maturity he
wedded Margaret Dorcas and their eldest son, Samuel, was born in 1793. In
1802 Peter Ridenour with his family removed to Hamilton county, Ohio,
and two years later to Preble county, that state, establishing his home about
four miles from Oxford, where he carried on general agricultural pursuits.
He had a family of nine sons and nine daughters, of whom Samuel, the


eldest soil, was married in 1819 to Mi&s Barbara Miller, a daughter of Tobias
and Sarah (Henderson) Miller. On leaving Ohio they removed to Union
county, Indiana, settling near the state line about a half mile south of the
present village of College Corner. In the midst of dense beech woods and
from the native timber thev built a comfortable home, where their remain-
ing days Avere passed, the death of Samuel Ridenour occurring in 1850,
while his wife survived until 1883. They were buried in the cemetery at
the old homestead, being laid to rest in the midst of a community in which
they had long been respected citizens. They had sixteen children, eleven
daughtei-s and five sons, of whom twelve reached years of maturity.

Of this number Peter I). Ridenour was the fifth son and seventh child.
His youth was a period of earnest and unremitting toil. He assisted his
father in clearing the land from the timber, splitting rails, chopping wood
and grubbing up the stumps. He had the opportunity of attending school
for two or three months each winter, the little temple of learning being a
log structure with puncheon floor. The methods of instruction were almost
as primitive as the building but there Mr. Ridenour mastered the rudiments
of an education and laid the foundation for the success which has come
to him in later years. In the winter of 1849-50, attracted by the discovery
of gold in California, he started for the Pacific coast by way of the Isthmus
of Panama, hoping to achieve a fortune in the mines. After a year de-
\otedoto the search for gold he returned by way of Central America to New
Orleans, thence up the Mississippi river to Cincinnati, by stage to his old
home. The father had died during his absence and the elder brothers had
started out in life for themselves'. For a few months Mr. Ridenour assisted
his mother in the management and care of the home farm and in Janu-
ary, 1852, went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he entered upon his mercantile
career as junior member of the grocery firm of Moore & Ridenour. The
following year, however, he sold out and came to the middle west, looking
for a place to make a home. At that time there were no railroads west
of the Mississippi river but the tide of emigration was steadily flowing
westward. After Mr. Ridenour had spent one winter (1855-56) in northern
Iowa he concluded he was too far north and drove to Leavenworth. Kansas,
and to Kansas City in December. 1856. In the spring of 1857 he went to
Kansas, then in a very unsettled condition and spent the year traveling
through the state, making his headquarters, however, at Lawrence. He was
pleased with the country and decided to remain.

Mr. Ridenour made preparations for having a home of his own in the
west but returned to Ohio, where he was married at Xenia. to ^liss Sarah
L. Beatty. In March he took his bride to Lawrence, where he resided until
the spring of 1880, remaining for a long period one of the leading and
influential business men of that place. In the spring of 1858, at Lawrence,
he became acquainted with Harlow W. Baker, of Maine, and they entered
into a partnership for the conduct of a grocery store under the firm name
of Ridenour & Baker, which constituted the nucleus of the present extensive
wholesale business. A few years later three of Mr. Baker's brothers came
from Maine, while Samurl Ridenour. a brother of Peter Ridenour. came


from Ohio. Three branch houses were then established, these being con-
ducted by Samuel Ridenour and the three Baker brothers, while the parent
house at Lawrence, Kansas, continued under the management of the original
partners until 1878, when all the Kansas houses were closed and the busi-
ness consolidated into the present establishment at Kansas City. Death has
caused various changes in the partnership, E. W. Baker having died in 1876,
Alden A. Baker in 1903, and Harlow W. Baker, one of the founders of the
business, on the 2oth of March, 1904. He and Mr. Ridenour had been
associated in business together for forty-six years, their relations remaining
mutually profitable throughout this period. Their store was entirely de-
stroyed by fire when Quantrell sacked and burned the city of Lawrence, and
they had to .^tart over without a dollar but they had good credit and an
untarnished business reputation and were not long in recuperating from their
losses. Their relations were always agreeable, their business successful and
they remained like brothers to each other until the ties between them were
severed by death.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Ridenour were born six children, of whom two died
in childhood, while four reached adult age. Those .still living are: Kate,
now the wife of John C. Lester; Edward M. ; Alice B., the wife of E. A. Ray-
mond: and Ethel B., at home. There are also eleven grandchildren. John
C. Lester, Edward M. Ridenour and E. A. Raymond are all connected with
the business established by our subject.

Mr. Ridenour cares little for politics but is interested in public move-
ments and in the prosperity of Kansas City, where he has now made his
home for almost thirt\' years, which covers the period of the city's greatest
growth and development. He belongs to the little group of distinctively
representative business men who have been the pioneers in inaugurating and
building up the chief industries of this section of the country. He early
had the sagacity and prescience to discern the eminence which the future
had in store for this great and growing western country, and acting in ac-
cordance with the dictates of his faith and judgment, he has garnered in the
fullness of time the generous harvest which is the just recompense of in-
domitable industry, spotless integrity and marvelous enterprise.


Edward F. Nelson, during the latter years of his life, was well known as
a capitalist of Kansas City. He arrived here in 1870 in company with his
father, George H. Nelson. They w^ere large landowners of Kentucky and
made the trip to western Missouri to see the country. They were so well
pleased with Kansas City and its prospects that they afterward spent much
of their time here, but returned on frequent trips to Kentucky to supervise
their invested interests in that state.

Edward F. Nelson was married in Kentucky, in 1875, to Miss Lilly
Nelson, who was born in Virginia and was a daughter of Dr. Henry Nelson,


who for a long period engaged in the practice of medicine and surgery. In
1865, however, he removed to Kansas City and here retired fi'om profes-
sional labors and invested hi.- capital in property. He w'as thus identified
with real-estate dealings as a speculator and became the owner of consider-
able valuable realty. Eventually, however, he removed to St. Louis, where
his remaining days were passed. His wife bore the maiden name of Cath-
erine Ingraham and their family included a daughter, Lilly, who in 1875
became Mrs. Edward F. Nelson. By this marriage there has been born one
daughter, Mary Dunlap, who lives with her mother and was educated here.
Edward F. Nelson died at his old home in Lexington, Kentucky, in
1891. In his political views he was always a stalwart democrat, but while
unswerving in support of the principles of the party, political honor and
preferment had no attraction for him. His religious faith was that of the
Episcopal church. During his residence in Kansas City he made many
friends here and became widely known. He was a man of broad general
learning and culture, and association with him meant expansion and im-
provement. Relieved of the necessity of strenuous toil, he had time and
opportunity to cultivate those graces of mind and character w^hich made
him an interesting and entertaining gentleman and Kansas City numbered
him as a valued acquisition to her ranks.


John W. Merrill, deceased, is numbered among those who helped to
make Kansas City the beautiful and attractive metropolitan center which we
find today. He was born in Trumbull. Ohio, in 1827 and in early life learned
and followed the printer's trade in Warren, Ohio. With a nature that could
never be content with mediocrity, he gradually advanced in efficiency and
made steady progress in his business career until in 1845 he became manag-
ing editor of the Mahoning Index at Canfield, Ohio. In 1847 he removed
to what was then Westport but is now Keno.sha. Wisconsin, Avhere he en-
gaged in the transportation business on the Great Lakes. He became a
resident of Kansas City in 1868 and made his entrance into commercial
circles here as proprietor of a Inmberyard at the corner of Twelfth and Wal-
nut streets, which was then the very outskirts of the city. As the city
rapidly grew- and expanded he changed his location to the intersection of
Eleventh and Main street^, while later he was located at Eleventh and Bal-
timore streets, where the Hotel Baltimore now stands. This business was
finally removed to Southwe.-t boulevard and Summit street, where it is still
conducted by his son, being a part of the estate.

In 1853 Mr. Morrill Avas united in marriage to Miss Mary Foster. They
became the parents of four sons: John F., J. Will, Charles B. and Henry
C. The dentil of {hv husband and father occurred February 28, 1904, at
his winter home at Tropic. Florida, on the Indian river. The residence
of the familv in Kansas Citv has for years been at No. 2612 Independence





avenue. Mr. Merrill was a man of forceful bu^iiness ability, having the
power to coordinate forces and to assimilate interests, shaping and control-

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 21 of 65)