Carrie Westlake Whitney.

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

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of the land has since been disposed of and has been sold as town lots. He
remained a rei)resentative of agricultural interests here for a long period, and
his last years were spent in honorable retirement, his death occurring on
the 1st of April, 1896.

In March, 1862, in Kansas City, Mr. Self was married to Miss Louis>\
A. Brumfield, a native of Missouri, and they became the parents of six chil-
dren: Warren, now deceased; Emma J. ; Mary B., the wife of L. B. Dryden;
Cora B., the wife of John O. Riley ; F. C. ; and David S.

The father, David S. Self, Sr., was a democrat in his political views,
and though he never sought nor desired office for himself, he was a stanch
advocate of the principles of the party. Fraternally he was connected wath
the Masons, while his religious faith was indicated by his membership in
thp Presbyterian church, and he as-isted in building the Cumberland Pres-
byterian church of Kansas City and also the Westport church. In his death
the community mourned the loss of one of its oldest native sons, and one
who as the years passed by, bringing an increased population, always main-
tained his place as a foremost resident here, held in the highest respect by
the old-time citizens and also by tho=e with whom he became acquainted in
later years.

Mrs. Edwards, whose name introduces this review, was born upon her
father's farm within what is now the city limits of Kansas City, and pur-
sued her education here and in the schools of Independence. In 1884 she
gave her hand in marriage to George Shearer, a native of Kentucky, who
was a farmer of Jackson county, Missouri, identified with agricultural inter-
ests until his demise in April, 1898. There were four children born unto
them: David H., James E., Adeline J. and Georgia R. In 1903 Mrs.
Shearer was again married, becoming the wife of John A. Edwards, who is
engaged in buying and selling grain and in other business ventures in Kan-
sas City. Four years ago Mrs. Edwards established what is known as the



436 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

Edwards Cutlery Store, and is also bringing her artistic talents to bear in
a business way as a teacher of china painting. She has superior skill in this
direction and has produced some most creditable work, proving most at-
tractive from the artistic standpoint.



JOHN C. EGNER.



John C. Egner is the efficient chief of the fire department of Kansas
City, and has brought his department up to a degree of efficiency scarcely
equaled throughout the entire country. The laity does not realize what
ability, alertness and business capacity are demanded of the fire chief of a
great city. He must not only thoroughly understand the equipment of a
fire fighting company, but must maintain such drill and discipline that his
men are qualified at a moment's notice for the most serious emergencies
that can occur in fighting the fire fiend. Marked business ability, executive
force, keen discrimination and an ability to judge human nature — all these
are essential qualifications in maintaining and controlling a fire department
of the first order. Lacking in none of the requisite essentials of the efficient
chief, John C. Egner well deserves the important and responsible position
to which he has been called.

Born in Chicago, Illinois, November 29, 1860, he is a son of Charles
and Mary A. (Pfund) Egner. The father was a member of the Chicago
Volunteer Fire Company, No. 2, in the early days of that city, and is now
a life member of the Firemen's Benevolent Association of Chicago. For
many years he was connected w4th the packing business in the metropolis,
and in 1870 removed to Kansas City, where he embarked in the packing
business at the northwest corner of Twelfth and Walnut streets. At that
time a lumberyard occupied adjacent territory, but there was little other
business around him. He contiiuied in the packing industry here for a
number of years, but at length retired from active life, although he is still
living in Kansas Cit^^

John C. Egner attended the schools of Chicago to the age of twelve
years, Avhen he accompanied his parents on their removal to Kansas City
and continued his studies in the Humboldt school (now demolished), from
which he was gradiiated. He then entered business life with his father,
learning the business of l)utchering and sausagemaking. He attended the
Kansas City Turn Verein, of which he was an active member for about five
years, and the athletic training there received enabled him to take his next
step in life. Wishing to see something of the country, he joined the old
John Robinson circi.s as a gymnast and acrobat, traveling with that show
from 1879 until 1888. On the '21st of IMardi, 1884, ho was appointed by Chief
George C. Hale to a position in the fire department, being assigned to hook
and ladder company. No. 1. He remained in the department until Septem-
ber, 1891, when he was appointed foreman, and in November of the same
year was promoted to secretary and acting assistant chief. His promotion



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 437

to his present responsible position as chief of the department carne on the
17th of December, 1906. He has labored earnestly and effectively not only
for the efficiency of the department in fighting fires, but also for the wel-
fare of the men. In 1891 a gymnasium was established at the old head-
quarters at Eighth and Walnut streets, and Mr. Egner was appointed in-
structor for the purpose of drilling both the old as well as the new firemen
to keep them in excellent physical condition. In June, 1893, Chief Hale
took a crew to London, England, with Mr. Egner as captain of the crew,
and attended the great International Fire Congress held at Royal Agricultural
Hall in London, where this crew won the laurels over all the foreign coun-
tries. In September, 1898, they participated in the national firemen's tour-
ning the laurels, and on the return trip gave exhibitions at the Crystal Pal-
nament held at the Trans-]\Iississippi exposition grounds in Omaha. Here
they won the contest, taking first prize. They afterward attended the ex>
position in Paris, France, with the same crew, in August, 1900, again win-
ace in London, England. It will be interesting in this connection to know
something of the record made on these different occasions, and therefore we
quote the following:

Time made by picked crew from the Kansas City, Missouri, fire depart-
ment, known as "American Fire Team" who attended the International Fire
Congress held at Royal Agricultural Hall, London, England, June 12th to
17th, 1893.

A skeleton engine house was erected, provided with brass sliding poles,
and so constructed as to afford the audience plain view of the bunk room
floor and all equipments necessary to represent a midnight turn out.

Men lying in bed, horses in stalls, standing fourteen feet from the col-
lars of suspended harness. From tap of gong until complete hitch was
made, the hind wheels clearing the door, with all men on apparatus. Time
given by judges, 8% seconds.

The best time made by any foreign company, under same conditions,
was 1 minute 171/2 seconds.

The American firemen also made Avhat Ave term floor hitches, men on
same floor with apparatus, horses in stalls, one man at each collar. From
tap of gong until hitch was made complete, time, 1 2-5 seconds. Hitch made
by two men.

Time made by picked crew from Kansas City fire department which
participated in the, National Fireman's Tournament held at Omaha, Ne-
braska, September 5th to 10th, 1898. (During Trans-Mississippi Exposi-
tion).

Time and conditions of quick turn out and contest, company consist-
ing of five men :

Men in bed with bunkers off, horses hitched in stalls, fourteen feet
from collars of suspended harness, one man allowed on apparatus floor.
Start from pistol shot: Men turn out of bed, put on bunkers, come down
sliding poles, hitch horses (hitch made by tw^o men), drive one hundred
yards to hydrant, make connections, lay one hundred and fifty feet of hose,
break couplings, put on pipe and drop same to ground (all couplings water-



438 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

tight), couplings tightened with spanners (Fayh couplings used by Kansas
City crew). Time from crack of pistol shot until pipe hit ground, 35i/^
seconds. Lincoln, Nebraska, time, 38 1^ seconds. (Screw couplings used.)

Pompier ladder contest, crew comprising five men, to use five pompier
ladders and make chain of ladders to top of six-story tower, all men to enter
the sixth-story window. Ladders placed in position on ground in front of
tower, one man at each ladder, start from crack of pistol shot, scale the tower,
time taken when last man enters the sixth-story window.

Kansas City, Missouri Time 1 minute 5 seconds

Denver, Colorado Time 1 minute 9% seconds

Omaha, Nebraska Time 1 minute ITVo seconds

Time made by picked crew from the Kansas City, Missouri, fire depart-
ment, who participated at the Great International Fire Congress, held at
the Paris Exposition, Paris, France, August 13 to 19, 1900.

TIME AND CONDITIONS OF CONTEST.

Cre.w consisting of fourteen men. Start from temporary engine house,
with steam fire engine and wagon, carrying hose, pompier ladders and men.
Engine allowed twenty pounds steam, horses hitched, run four hundred and
forty yards to skeleton of seven-story building (supposed to be on fire), take^
suction with engine from water tank, lay three hundred and fifty feet of
hose, make all connections, put on pipe and throw stream of water into
fourth story; at same, time life-saving crew to scale building with pom.pier
ladders, carrying life lines, make fast the lines and rescue one person with
line from seventh story and two persons from sixth story. This being done,
water to be shut off, all hose, ladders and life line, taken down and cleared
from building; time taken when crew saluted jury; started by electric gong
operated from jury stand.

Kansas City, Missouri Time 3 minutes 42 seconds

Milan Fire Brigade, Milan, Italy Time 10 minutes 12 seconds

Special exhibition was given on our return to London for the members
of the London Press, at Crystal Palace, London, England.

The exhibition included quick hitching, making a run with engine,
laying hose and throwing water (an English engine, used).

The horses stationed on each side of engine (twenty feet from col-
lars), harness lying on the ground, engine allowed twenty-five pounds
steam. At the Avord "Go," horses were turned loose, hitch to engme, all
men on board, run two hundred yards to water tank, take suction with en-
gine, lay out one hundred feet hose, made all connections, time taken when
water showed at nozzle. Time 35 se.conds. Timed by a committee from
London Press.

N. B. — All of the above records with the exception of the special exhibi-
tion at Crystal Palace, are recorded in the New York Clipper Annual.

Chief Egner has been in the service in Kansas City for twenty-three years,
has be.en the prime mover in promoting the athletic developments of the boys
and in keeping everything thoroughly modern in connection with the de-
partment. He is a member of the Firemen's Relief Association, also of Hum-



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 439

boldt Lodge, No. 4, K. P., Heroine Lodge, No. 104, A .F. & A. M., and is
a life member of the Kansas City Social Turn Verein.

On the 27th of September, 1887, Mr. Egner married Miss Alice Clark,
of Kansas City, and they have a son and a daughter, Carl C. and Olga M.
Egner.



ALBERT M. SILLS.

Albert M. Sills is a member of the firm of Sills, Northup & Company,
operating extensively in real estate in Kansas City. His keen business dis-
cernment and sound judgment are elements in his success, for he is seldom,
if ever, at error in estimating the value of property and its possible rise or
diminution in price. He was born in Sillsville, Lenox county, Canada, Janu-
ary 28, 1855.

His father, D. Sills, was a prominent man of that place, and his grand-
father, the Rev. John Sills, was a leading minister of the Methodist Epis-
copal church, w^ho, a native of Kingston county, removed to Lejiox county
in early life, becoming one, of the pioneer residents of that locality. It was
in his honor that the town of Sillsville was named. He reared four sons,
including D. Sills, the father of our subject, and Daniel Sills, who became
prominent grain merchants, while the other two, William and John Sills,
followe.d in the professional footsteps of their father and became clergymen
of the Methodist Episcopal church. The American ancestors came originally
from Germany, where the name was Von Sells. They settled first in the
United States and afterward removed to Canada. The mother of Albert M.
Sills was Eleanor Alice (Thompson) Sills, a native of County Antrim, Ire-
land, and a member of a Quaker family who came to America during her
early girlhood.

Albert M. Sills is one of a family of five children, and in the, public
schools of his native town acquired his education to the age of sixteen years,
when he entered the book store of a brother-in-law as clerk, there remaining
until he was twenty years of age. He next became connected with his father
in the grain trade, and in February, 1878, when twenty-three years of age,
he crossed the border into the United States to enjoy the larger business op-
portunities with its livelier competition and advancement more quickly se-
cured. Making his way to Kansas City, he fille.d various positions in the
freight department of the Kansas Pacific Railroad Company until 1880, act-
ing as chief clerk at the time of his resignation. In the fall of 1880 he with-
drew from railroad service to enter the field of re,al-estate operation, joining
W. H. Craig under the firm style of W. H. Craig & Company. In 1886 they
admitted C. M. Northup to a partnership, and upon the death of Mr. Craig
in 1890 the firm was reorganized as the Sills, Northup & Company. Their
first important deal was the handling of the Dundee place, a tract of one
hundred acres, formerly the city fair grounds, which they platted and sold
in town lots for one million dollars. Among their more recent additions
are Dundee Park, Kingston Place, Graham's Addition, Meadow Hill, Fair-



440 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

land Heighti^: and Faiiiand Addition, the latter being the personal property
of Mr. Sills. He ha.s confined his business interests and activity entirely to
real estate, in which he is heavily interested, and in connection with a gen-
eral real-estate busine.ss the firm does a loan, fire insurance and rental l)usi-
ness.

The home of Mr. Sills is located at Seventy-third street and Troost
avenue, in the midst of a valuable tract of land of twenty acres. He was
married oii the 10th of October, 1878, to Miss Fannie Muir, a daughter of
William ]\Iuir, a dry-goods me,rchant of Hamilton, Canada. They have five
children: John Muir, a resident civil engineer of the Frisco Railroad at
Springfield, Mi.ssouri ; William C, a photographer of St. Louis; Albert C,
who is a student in a business college; and Katharine M. and Fannie E.,
both at home. The parents are me,mbers of the Independence Avenue
Methodist Episcopal church and are interested in all that tends to uplift
humanity and promote the moral progress of the world. Mr. Sills is public
spirited, and is a very liberal donor to many public and charitable move-
ments. No good work done in the name of charity or religion seeks his co-
operation in vain. In politics he is a republican, and he belongs to tho Mer-
chants & Manufacturers Association. He has carefully planned his ad-
vancement, and has accomplished it by reason of his faithfulness, his close
application and his stalwart, unfaltering energy.



NATHAN W. PUTNAM.

Nathan W. Putnam, numbered among the pioneer residents of Kansas
City, was born in Johnstown, Fulton county, New York, March 12. 1830.
The family traces their ancestry back to the same root as General Israel Put-
nam of Revolutionary war fame. The graudfather, Aaron Putnam, an
extensive farmer and slave owner, died in New York. His son, John A.
Putnam, father of Nathan W. Putnam, was also a native of Fulton county.
New York, where he followed the occupation of farming. Tic wedded Dian-
tha M. Wells and died when his son, Nathan W., was seventeen year- of ago.
The mother afterward married again.

Nathan W. Putnam was the only son and .second child in a family of
nine children. He pursued a pul)lic-school education in hi- youtli wliile
spending his boyhood days upon the home farm. The summer months
were largely devoted to work in the field and meadows, but the o])portuni-
ties of the west proved a strong attraction for him, and at the age of twenty
years he left his old home in the Empire state and came to ]Mi.-;souri. making
the journey by w^ay of the Erie canal to Buff'alo, thence around the lakes to
Ohio. His mother and sisters came with him and settled in southeastern Mis-
souri. Here Mr. Putnam in early manhood started out in life. |)0.sses.sed of
energy and dctcrminaticm. and as the years have pa.ssed he lias achieved a.
creditable measure of success.




N. W. PUTNAM.



':::^ riLV/ YORK
rUB.IC LIBRARY



ASTOR, LENOX
'I'lLDLN FC ":i:BATrONS



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 443

He was married in 1859 to Miss Sarah A. Smith a, native of Missouri,
and they began their domestic life in Sioux City, Iowa. About forty years
ago they removed to Kansas City, where Mr. Putnam established a coal and
feed business, which he carried on for ten or twelve years. On the expira-
tion of that period he sold out and purchased a tract of land, upon which he
built houses for speculative purposes. His operations in real estate have
proven profitable and have brought to him a good financial return, enabling
him now to live retired. In 1887 he took up his abode on Troost avenue
and Fifty-fourth street, where he now makes his home, and his activity, en-
terprise, keen business discernment and judicious investment in former years
make it possible for him to enjoy the comforts and many of the luxuries of
life without further recourse to labor.

Unto Mr. and Mrs. Putnam have been born five children, but Pearl,
the eldest, died in Colorado. Edward is a resident of that state. Mary E.
is now the wife of Harry Ashcroft. Gertrude is the wife of N. I.
Banta, of Kansas City; and Ralph W. is living in Jackson county,
Missouri. The parents are members of the Howard Memorial Methodist
Episcopal church, and their lives have been guided by the teachings
of that denomination and are in full accord therewith. Mr. Putnam
has been a lifelong democrat, and served as county recorder and as
county treasurer in Woodbury county, Iowa, where he lived for five years.
He also filled the position of postmaster there, and was always loyal to the
trust reposed in him, discharging his duties wuth promptness, fidelity and
capability. He has now reached the seventy-eighth milestone on life's jour-
ney, and by reason of well spent years receives the respect, unqualified con-
fidence and high esteem of all who know him.



WILLIAM J. SMITH.

The steady growth and development which have characterized Kansas
City find an exponent in the life and record of William J. Smith, who, be-
coming identified with its interests whe.n its population did not exceed five
thousand, has steadily expanded his business concerns proportionate to the
growth of the city, and is today known as- one of its most prominent and
representative men. He was born near New York city in 1836, a son of
James Smith, who died when the subject of this review was but six years
of age. He frequently sat in the church w^herejn Washington Irving was
also a worshiper, and he pursued his education in Irving Institute at Tarry-
town, which was immortalized through Ii*ving's legend of the Sleepy Hol-
low. At the age of sixteen ye.ars he left the Empire state, accompanying his
mother and stepfather on their removal westward to Peoria county, Illinois.
His mother bore the maiden name of Frances Wood and was also a native
of New York. After living for some time in Illinois, she and her daughter
came to Kansas City and her last days were here passed.



444 HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY

William J. Smith arrived in Kansas City in the spring of 1866 and
established the, first store here for the sale of wagons, agricultural imple-
ments and seeds. He was located at the east side of Market Square for a
number of jQar.-i, conducting business under the firm name of Smith & Keat-
ing, at which time the population was only about five, thousand. In 1879
the firm built a large warehouse on the west bottoms and moved thereto,
enlarging their business to a considerable extent in order to meet the, grow-
ing demands of the trade. As the city expanded their business also grew
and justified the erection of a second warehouse. They also extended their
efforts to other localities, establishing branch stores at Wichita, and Fort
Scott, Kansas, and St. Joseph, Missouri. In fact, this became one of the
important commercial houses of the west, successfully conducted by the firm
of Smith & Keating until 1887, when they sold out to the, Kingman, Moore
Company.

In 1885 Mr. Smith turned his attention to city railway interests in the
building of the Kansas City Cable Railroad, becoming president of the com-
pany which constructed the line from the depot to Woodland avenue by
Avay of Eighth stree.t. The company also built the Troost avenue line and
the line on Summit street, and operated all three. Mr. Smith likewise be-
came president of the Grand avenue line and in 1894, after long and suc-
cessful conne.ction with street railway building and operation, disposed of
his interests. In 1900 he established the business now conducted under
the style of the Smith & Sons Manufacturing Company, manufacturers of
grading tools, such as plows, rock crushers, road rollers and scrapers for
railroad and township work. This business has proved profitable from the
beginning, and the trade has constantly and steadily grown until it has
reached large proportions. In addition to the business handled from the
main house in Kansas City, they have branch agencies in Atlanta, Georgia,
Los Angeles, California, Oakland, California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and
Spokane, W^ashington, and Boise, Idaho. The factory in Kansas City is
six hundred by one hundred and twenty feet, located at the intersection of
Lydia and Guinotte streets, and is thoroughly equipped with the latest im-
proved machinery necessary for the successful conduct of the business. Em-
ployment is now furnished to eighty men, and Mr. Smith is, starting his .sons
in the business with him, giving them the benefit of his practical experience
and wise counsel in Idisiness matters. From time to time he has made extensive
investments in real estate, and for twenty years was the, owner of a home at
Ninth and Locust streets, after which he purchased his present residence
at No. 3000 Troost avenue. To this he has made substantial improvements,
and it is today pointed out to visitors as Kansas City's most palatial home.

In 1877 occurred the marriage of William J. Smith and Miss Elizaljeth
Bussell, a native of New York. They have nine children, eight of whom
are living: William, who is now in Imsiness with his father; Serena, the
wife of Ellison Neal; Frances, the wife of Emil Bachman; Elizabeth; Ed-
ward, of the Smith Manufacturing Company; Alice, who is a student in
Wellesley College; and Mabel and Marian, at liome. The children have,
been provided witli llic Ix'st educational advantages attainable and have



HISTORY OF KANSAS CITY 445

traveled exte,nsively abroad, thus greatly adding to their knowledge as well
as pleasure.

Mr. Smith is a member of the Manufacturers Club, and without in-
vidious distinction may be termed one of the foremost residents of Kansas
City. In fact, his name has become synonymous with ente,rprise and busi-
ness progress here. His political allegiance is given the republican party
and his religious faith is indicated by his attendance at the Episcopal church.
His career forcibly illustrates what may be, accomplished by determination
and energy in a land where all avenues are open and exertion is untrammeled,
but, as a prominent financier has expressed it, "Success depends upon the
opportunity and the man — but first the man," and while America gives
excellent chances to every individual, it is by reason of inherent force of
character, indomitable and laudable ambition, unflagging energy and intui-
tive perception that William J. Smith has gained a place among those who
are leaders in the business circles of the west.



Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 42 of 65)