Carrie Westlake Whitney.

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

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ests of j\Ir, Doggett in the business and a few months later was chosen pres-
ident of the company. Under hi^ wi^e control the business developed rapidly.
This growth is perhaps best indicated by the remark which he made to a
friend a few years ago, that within six months he had spent fifty thousand
dollars for new fixtures and the better display of stock, and the money had
all come back in increased trade. He made it his policy to have his stock
present as attractive an appearance as possible and the guiding principles of
the house were based upon such old and time tried maxims as ''honesty is
the best policy" and ''there is no excellence without labor.'^ On the 15th
of July, 1901, the directors of the company voted to change the name to
the George B. Peck Dry Goods Company, which is today one of the largest
establishments of the kind in Kansas City. The record which INIr. Peck made
in business circles is one which any man might be proud to possess. From a
clerkship he worked his way upward to a place among the millionaire mer-
chants of the country and in all of his business affairs was guided by the
strictest sense of honor and integrity. He never made engagements that he
did not keep nor incurred obligations that he did not meet, and his career in
commercial circles commanded the respect and excited the admiration of his

On the 17th of April, 1895, Mr. Peck was married to Mi?s Eda M. Bach-
man, of this city, and unto them was born a daughter, Eda j\Iarie. The home
life was largely ideal. Mr. Peck regarded fidelity to family as one of the
highest duties of man and moreover derived his greatest pleasure in the
companionship at his own fireside. Seeking for the motive spring of conduct
and the guiding principles of his life, they are undoubtedly found in his
Christian faith and belief. He was a member of the First Presbyterian
church, loyal to all that the term Christian implied. For a long period he was
teacher of a large Sunday school class of young ladies. Regular in his at-
tendance on the various church services, he moreover brought hie- religion
into everyday life. He was actively engaged in charitable work for seven-
teen years and his deep interest in his fellowmen and his desire to aid his
fellow travelers on life's journey was manifest perhaps more strongly among
his employes than in any other situation of life. A few years ago he estab-
lished a school in his s^ioTe for cash boys and girls, furnishing teachers,
books and .stationery at his own expense. The school hours were from eight
to ten in the morning and half of the children attended one dav and the
other half the succeeding day. For four months each summer he rented a
cottage at Fairmount Park and each employe was given the opportunity of
spending one week there as his guest. Boats, fishing tackle, hammocks,
books and other means of pleasure and recreation were supplied and every-
thing possible done to give to his employes an ideal summer outing. Each
year he had a large Christmas tree for the cash boys and girls and each re-
ceived at least two presents. For several years he employed a house phy-
sician for employes and any who were sick could command the services of
the doctor without charge and the vsalary was paid during the illness. The


policy which Mr. Peck inaugurated in these particulars has been maintained
by the store and thus his good influence and his example lives after him
and his work is yet a factor in the world's progress. It was Mr. Peck who
established the Girls' Home at Fourteenth and Broadway and maintained
it practically alone, for several years prior to his death. There poor working
girls could find a home and if unable to pay could receive free board and
room'. He was a director in the Provident Association for many years and
his gifts to charitable and benevolent institutions were many and liberal.
It is said that no needy one was ever turned away by him. It was such
acts constantly occurring that made George B. Peck one of the best loved
men in Kansas City. He had a heart that seemed to take in the universe
and his sympathies were as broad as man's needs. To him his success was
the talent entrusted to him, and surely there came to him the words of ap-
proval, ''Well done, thou good and faithful servant." After an illness of
nearly two years he. passed away November 3, 1906.

No man was ever more respected in Kansas City or more fully enjoyed
the confidence of the people and none better deserved such respect and confi-
dence.. It is an important public duty to honor and perpetuate as far as
possible the memory of an eminent citizen — one who by his blameless and
honorable life and distinguished career reflected credit not only upon his
city but also upon the state. Through such memorials as this at hand the
individual and the character of his services are kept in remembrance and
the importance of those services acknowledged. His example stands as an
object lesson to those who come after him and though dead he still speaks.


The general public is apt to think of this section of the country as pre-
eminently an agricultural district, drawing its chief revenues from extensive
farming and stock-raising interests, yet Kansas City is a center for many
other commercial and industrial lines. Here are headquarters for many of
the largest lumber interests of the country, and of such Montgomery G.
West was formerly a representative, being a member of the Stevenson & West
Lumber Company, conducting a commission lumber business, handling ex-
clusively the cut of seven mills and a portion of the output of fifteen others.

Mr. West was born in Birmingham, Iowa. April 14, 1872, a son of An-
drew West, a native of Canton. Ohio, who served as a captain in the One
Hundred and Sixty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil war,
and for a time was connected with the same regiment as Major William Mc-
Kinley. Removing to Iowa after the war, he located at Birmingham, where
for several years he conducted business as a retail shoe merchant. Later he
removed to Des Moines and entered the employ of the Hawkeye Insurance
Company of that city, as special agent, and was representing the company
as special insurance adjuster at the time of his death in 1894. His wife,
who in her maidenhood was Louisa Schott, is a native of Ohio, and now re-


sides in Fort Madison, Iowa. She comes of German parentage, her father,
Adam Schott, a native of Germany, being brought to America when eight
years of age, and later serving his adopted country as a soldier of the war
of 1812.

The removal of the family to the capital city led Montgomery G. West
to become a student in the public schools of Des Moines, and at the age of
fifteen years he entered upon his business career, becoming an employe of
the Santa Fe Railroad at Fort Madison as office boy to the division super-
intendent. His industry, ability and fidelity won him promtion from time
to time, and at nineteen years of age he was chief clerk of the Chicago
division. He remained with the railroad company until twenty-two years
of age, after which he went to the city of Mexico, where he received his in-
itial training in connection with the lumber trade as an employe in the
lumber department of the Mexican Central Railroad for two years. This
was his equipment, and he soon passed on to more responsible positions
giving him a broader scope and wider opportunity. Returning to Iowa he
entered the employ of the S. & J. C. Atlee Lumber Company, at Fort Mad-
ison, Iowa, remaining there for three years, subsequent to which time he
spent three years in the Louisiana cypress and yellow pine belt with the
Lutcher & Moore Lumber Company.

In 1896 Mr. West came to Kansas City as assistant manager of the
Red Cypress Door & Sash Company, with which he remained until 1900,
when he entered the Libby & Fulton Sash & Door Company, of Kansas
City, as general sales agent and assistant manager, remaining in that capac-
ity until 1905. As the previous record indicates, each step that he has made
has been a forward one, his career being marked by an orderly progression
that is proof of his expanding powers and his growing business discernment.
On the 1st of May, 1906, he joined G. E. Stevenson and others in organizing
the Stevenson & West Lumber Company. At the beginning they controlled
the output of one mill, but arranged to handle the cut of others until today
they control an extensive business by handling the entire cut of seven mills
and a portion of the output of fifteen others. They dealt exclusively in
yellow pine and established centers for their trade at Chicago and Decatur,
Illinois; Hastings, Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Wichita, Kansas; Des
Moines, Iowa. Their shipments covered a territory extending on the north
to Duluth, on the west to New York, on the south to New Mexico, and on the
west to Colorado.

Mr. West has a creditable military record which began when, at the
age of eighteen years, he joined the Iowa National Guard, serving in Com-
pany F of the Second Regiment, of which he was a member at the time of
the Spanish-American war, but being out of the United States at the time
war was declared he was prevented from serving. Upon his return to his
native country he rejoined his regiment, just before they were mustered out
of the United States servdce. Since coming to Kansas City, for the past five
years he has been a member of the Third Kansas Regiment of the National
Guard and was on active duty for ten days during the flood of 1903 and
was the first man in charge of refugees brought into Convention hall. He


is now first lieutenant in the Third Regiment of Missouri Infantry and a
member of the staff of Colonel Lechtman.

It seems that every important thing that Mr. West has done has been
an element in his present success. For three and a half years he din'oted
his evenings to the study of law while carrying on business interests in Iowa
and now has a comprehensive knowledge of legal principles as an aid to the
conduct of his business interests. He speaks Spanish fluently and used that
language exclusively in conducting business and keeping his accounts, while
employed in the city of Mexico. His political allegiance is given to the
republican party, of which his family have been earnest supporters since
the dissolution of the whig party. He is active in a general way and a
member of the Republican Club. His social relations are with the Hoo
Hoos and the Kansas City Athletic Club and he attends the Episcopal church,
of which his wife is a member.

It was on the 28th of April, 1898, that Mr. West was united in mar-
riage to Miss Nellie Schell, a daughter of Captain H. H. Schell, collector
of the port of San Francisco. They have a beautiful home at No. 3230
Wabash avenue, which was erected in the summer of 1907. It is in the
center of a cultured society circle and the scene of many an attractive social
function. Mr. West is one in whom nature and culture have vied in mak-
ing an interesting and entertaining gentleman. Without the adv^antages
of college education he entered upon his business career, bringing to the
outset, however, his strong individuality and the spirit of the initiative that
results in leadership. What a man does and what he attains depends largely
upon his opportunities, but the successful man is he who sees his oppor-
tunities and has sufficient courage to utilize them. He has always looked
upon the present moment as a training school for the future and thus when
called upon to assume the discharge of comprehensive duties was well trained
by years of painstaking work.


Edwin Cyrus Washburn, deceased, was engaged in business in Kansas
City as a tinner and cornice man. He was born in the state of New York,
July 31, 1853. His father, James B. AVashl)urn, was a farmer, who removed
with his family to Missouri and settled upon a tract of land of one hundred
and sixty acres three miles north of Nevada, this state. He later sold that
property and purchased a hotel in Nevada, where he spent the residue of his
days, his death occurring there about 1905. His life was in many respects
most exemplary, and liis record may well serve as a model to the young and
an inspiration to the aged. Of the Methodist Episcopal church he was a
most faithful ami consistent iiiciiil)er, and his life followed closely the teach-
ings of that denomination. In early manhood he wedded Miss Clarinda
Beiiiaii. wlio i.s .-:til] living at Washington, Arkansas. Their cliildren were:
AdcUxTt. wlio wa- married and died at Sdittgart, Ai'kan~a-: Edwin C. ;


Eugene, who died in Nevada, Missouri, in 1907 ; and George Milo, also of
Washington, Arkansas.

Edwin Cyrus Washburn was a poor boy with limited educational op-
portunities, but made the most of the time which he spent in school and
acquired a comprehensive knowledge of the branches which he studied. Not
liking farm labor, he determined to devote his attention to some other occu-
pation and took up the tinsmith's trade, entering upon an apprenticeship
thereto at the age of eighteen years under the direction of his uncle, James
A. Lacky, at Ellisville, Illinois. He served his full time there and then,
well equipped for a business career of that character, started out for him-
self. Removing to Grinnell, Iowa, he worked at his trade in the employ of
others for a time, but later took up his abode upon his father's farm three
miles north of Nevada, Missouri, where he carried on agricultural pursuits
for a short time. He next took up his abode in the town of Nevada, where
he engaged in business as a tinsmith until about 1886, when he removed to
Kansas City. Here he began work at his trade in the employ of Wise &
Ridge. He at first rented a home here, but eventually purchased a residence
at No. 4133 Euclid avenue. On the 4th of June, 1901, he met ^vith an acci-
dent at his home, sustaining injuries which caused his death.

In Ellisville, Illinois, while serving his apprenticeship, Mr. Washburn
was united in marriage, on the 2d of September, 1873, to Miss Martha A.
Tompkins, Avho was born in Schoharie county, New York, July 1, 1850.
Her father, J. C. Tompkins, was a native of Ulster county. New York, born
August 10, 1813, and was a farmer by occupation. He married Elizabeth
Moser, whose birth occurred in Greene county, New York, in 1820. They
removed to Illinois about 1867, settling on a farm in Fulton county, where
he and his wife spent their remaining days, the death of Mr. Tompkins oc-
curring there January 19, 1900, while his wife passed away October 24,
1892. They were both consistent and faithful members of the Methodist
Episcopal church. He and four of his sons were soldiers of the Union Army,
enlisting as members of New York regiments, and Mr. Tompkins was a most
patriotic man. His son. Jay A. Tompkins, was killed at his side by the burst-
ing of a shell in front of Petersburg. Hi^ sons, Joshua and Henry, were
in the Forty-fourth New York Volunteer Infantry, known as the Ellsworth
Avengers. Mr. and Mrs. Tompkins were the parents of the following chil-
dren, losing two (twins) at birth: Joshua, now of Canton, Illinois; Han-
nah, the wife of Austin Ploss, of Eminence, New York; Henry, of White
City, Kansas ; George, who is living in the Empire state ; Jay, who was killed
in the war; Mrs. Washburn; Ransom, living in Cuba, Illinois; and Lois, the
wife of J. W. Laswell, of Fulton county, Illinois. The paternal grandfather
of Mrs. Washburn was Joshua Tompkins, who died in Ncav York when
almost a centenarian. He was a Quaker in religious faith, and was twice
married, his first wife being Lois Lobdell, who died in New York.

Unto ]\Ir. and Mrs. Washburn was born a daughter, Jennie, whose birth
occurred in Ellisville, Illinois, and who was graduated from the Central
high school of Kansas City in 1894, after which she pursued a business
course at Central College, and was then employed as bill clerk by the Mount


Cracker & Candy Company. She is now the wife of Alexander R. Shaw, of
Kansas City, who is a carpenter. Since the death of her father they have
resided with Mrs. Washburn, and they have two children: Lois Eva, born
April 4, 1902; and Rnth Elizabeth, born October 6, 1903.

In i)olitics Mr. Washburn was a lifelong republican, never falter-
ing in liLs allegiance to the party from the time he attained his majority.
He held membership with the Woodmen and the Foresters, and was a con-
sistent and devoted member of the Arlington Methodist Episcopal church,
ever ready and willing to aid in the church work, and doing all in his power
to promote its growth and extend its influence. His life was indeed hon-
orable and upright, and his many good qualities made his death the occa-
sion of deep and widespread regret to his friends.


Andrew J. ^Nliddleton, a prominent contractor conducting business as
the senior partner of the A. J. Middleton & Son Construction Company, of
Kansas City, was born in Washington county, Iowa, on the 4th of March,
1849. His parents were AVilliam E. and Mary (Emery) Middleton. The
father was a native of eastern Tennessee and the mother of Ohio, in which
state they were married. They soon afterward joined the vanguard in that
procession of emigration to Iowa which promoted the pioneer development
(»f the state. The father participated in the Civil war, being a member of
the famous Iowa Graybeards, a regiment composed of elderly men who
made a brilliant record for loyalty and bravery. He gave his life on the
altar of his country, for his death occurred during his service at St. Louis,
February 14, 1863. Three of his sons were also soldiers of the Union army,
namely: William E., John and George, all now deceased.

Andrew J. Middleton remained upon the home farm in Iowa during
the period of his boyhood and youth and in early manhood went to New
London, that state, where he engaged in farming on his own account for
several years. His next removal took him to St. Joseph, Mi.<^souri. where
he learned the bricklayer's trade and followed it for some time, being en-
gaged on the construction of the old Toole Opera House and other prom-
inent buildings of that day. Afterward he went to Page county, Iowa, where
he engaged in contracting and building, and at the beginning of the min-
ing boom he went to l^eadville, Colorado, but lost heavily in mining oper-
ations there. He possessed, however, a resolute, determined spirit, wliich
has enabled him to retrieve his lost possessions. Since 1877 he has been a
resident of Kansas City, where he resumed his building operations and has
gained a wide and favorable reputation as a contractor. In fact, he is to-
day regarded as one of the most ])rominent representatives of the l)uilding
intere.sts of Kansas City, the firm of A. J. Middleton & Son being well
known. They were the l)uilders of the Moore storage warehouse at the cor-
ner of Nineteenth and Central streets and were the 1 n-gc-l contractors on







■' S;.TION'-"J


the new city hospital. They also built the new county jail at Independ-
ence, Missouri, in 1907, and at the present time are erecting a large build-
ing for the Publishing Realty Company at Twenty-fourth and Gillham
road, the dimensions of which are one hundred and forty-four by two hun-
dred and sixty-four feet. It is all concrete and is a fine modern structure.
The firm has largely confined their operations to the construction of ware-
houses and business buildings for the past ten years, making a specialty of
concrete contracting. Mr. Middleton was one of the pioneers in concrete
work in Kansas City and laid the first cement pavement put down here.
He was also the principal contractor in the concrete construction in the
park roadway system and his labors have at all times been highly satis-
factory and he has gained rank among the most prominent representatives
of building operations in this section of the country.

In August, 1872, Mr. ^liddleton was married to Miss Mary E. Miller,
a resident of St. Joseph, Missouri, but a native of Michigan. They have
become the parents of a son and daughter: William E., who learned the
builder's trade under the direction of his father and has since been associ-
ated with him in business; and Mary E., now the wife of Charlie Johns, of
Kansas City, Missouri.

Mr. Middleton is a member of the Master Builders Exchange and in
building circles his opinions are largely received as authority because of
his wide experience, his long connection with the business and his effi-
ciency, which he is continually promoting by keeping in close touch with the
advancement that is being made in architectural lines. Fraternally he is
connected with Kansas City Lodge, No. 220, A. F. & A. M., Kansas City
Chapter, No. 228, R. A. M. ; Kansas City Commandery, No. 10, K. T., West-
ern Consistory, A. & A. S. R., and Ararat Temple, A. A. 0. N. M. S. He
likewise belongs to Kansas City Lodge, No. 26, B. P. 0. E., and is true to
the teachings of these organizations. His political allegiance is given the
republican party, but he has never sought nor desired office, feeling that his
biLsiness affairs make full claim upon his time and attention. He has de-
pended for his success upon a cultivation of that capability which always
brings trade and also upon the employment of honorable methods which
neither seek nor require di.sguise.


Charles H. Van Vleck was born AugiLst 3, 1858, in the town of Fenner,
Madison county, New York. The ancestors of the Van Vleck family came
to America from Holland in 1658, and it was jiLst two hundred years later
that the subject of this review made his appearance upon the stage of earthly
activities. The first Van A^leck was a native of Holland. Two brothers of
the family with their families, crossed the Atlantic to New York, then New
Amsterdam, it being still under the Dutch rule. One brother settled on
Manhattan Island, the other brother made his way up the Hudson river and


established a home near that historic stream. All of the \^an A^leck^ today
spring from tliLs ancestry and the family is now widely represented over the
United States.

John B. Van Vleck, father of Charles H., was the patentee and builder
of the old chain pump that drew water up out of the wells and cisterns on
chains. His place of business was at Utica, New York, where the enterprise
was conducted under the firm style of Van Vleck & Bonney. In 1855 John
B. \^an Meek sold out and removed to the town of Fenner, where he pur-
chased the farm upon which he was born and which remained his home
until after the birth of his son Charles. Later he removed to Port Byron,
New York, and in the year 1866 w^ent into the nursery business. He fitted
out twenty-two lots of horses and men and sent them into all parts of Michi-
gan to sell fruit trees and shrubbery. He was considered the pioneer fruit
tree man of that state, shipping to Michigan the nursery stock which was
grown in Rochester, New- York. He died in Port Byron, New York, in Feb-
ruary, 1873, while the mother, long surviving him, passed away at the home
of her son Charles in Independence, Missouri, March 22, 1904.

Charles H. Van Vleck was educated in the free schools and academy at
Port Byron, New York, but was not able to complete the full course on ac-
count of the father's death and the mother's financial condition at that time.
This has always been a matter of deep regret to him. His experience in life
has been varied, though always along commercial lines. His first step after
leaving school was to sell household necessities and he made it his purpose to
study the methods of successful business men, selecting his associates among
men of mature years, caring nothing for the frivolous things or games that
command the attention of most boys. At fourteen years of age, wishing to
see and know something more of his native state, he began driving a team
of mules on the Erie canal, wdiich work at that time paid better wages than
anything else a boy could do. He followed boating for several years, and
at the age of sixteen was owmer and captain of a boat — said to be the youngest
captain at that time on the Erie canal. At the age of twenty years he was
master of a vessel that patrolled the Hudson rivoi- ;ind tlic ^ouiid. and wa>

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 35 of 65)