Carrie Westlake Whitney.

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

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ing days in that state. The father devoted his time and energies to general
agricultural pursuits.

David S. Orrison was partly reared on the farm and acquired his edu-
cation in the common schools but put aside his text-books when quite young
and began providing for his own support as a clerk in his brother's store
at Monroe, Ohio. After spending a short time there he went to Salem, Ohio,
in answer to a note received from a traveling salesman whom he had met
in his brother's store and who had taken a liking- to the boy. The salesman
secured for Mr. Orrison a position in the store of a Mr. Shillings at ten
dollars per month, and he remained there for two years, during which time
his wages w^ere increased to fifteen dollars per month. Through the influence
of a brother in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, he then went to that place and
accepted a position in the store of Barker Brothers at a salary of fifteen dol-
lars per month. Later, however, he returned to Salem and resumed his
former position with Mr. Shillings. He was afterward employed as a clerk
in various places in Ohio and also spent some time in that way in Pittsburg.
When his former employer, George Barker, went with his son to Iowa City,
Iowa, and there built one of the best flour mills to be found in the state at
that time Mr. Orrison accompanied them and sold goods in the store of W. B.
Daniels & Company, it being one of the largest establishments west of the
Mis^iissippi. There he remained for about five years at a good salary. On
the expiration of that period he went to Chicago, w^here for one year he was
in the employ of Marshall Field, after which he returned to Iowa City and
became a partner in the firm of W. B. Daniels & Company, a connection
which continued for five years. On severing his connection with the house
he had a capital of twenty-one hundred dollars.


Continuing in commercial pursuits, Mr. Orrison, with Jolm Doggett
as a partner, conducted a wholesale and retail dry-goods and notions store,
which they carried on successfully for ten years. On the expiration of that
period Mr. Orrison became a partner in the ^Vbernathy Furniture Company,
with which he was associated for twenty years. Since that time he has not
been active in business but is interested to some extent in real estate, build-
mg and selling jjroperty. His success in all of his undertakings has been
so marked that his methods are of interest to the commercial w'orld. He has
based his business j)rinciples and actions upon rules which govern industry,
economy and strict, unswerving integrity. His enterjorise and progressive
spirit have made him a typical merchant of the middle w^est and in this con-
nection he has contributed in no small measure to the commercial develop-
ment of Kansas City. By constant exertion, associated with good judgment,
he raised himself to a prominent position in trade circles, winning the friend-
ship of many and the respect of all who know him.

Mr. Orrison was married in Iowa City, Iowa, on the 14th of October,
1863, to Miss Emma M. Rugg, who was born in the village of Kenton, Massa-
chusetts, a daughter of Edmund K. and Helen (Williams) Rugg. Her
father removed to St. Louis, Missouri, at an early date and subsequently be-
came a banker in Iowa City, Iowa. For a long period he was thus associated
with financial interests, but at length retired and both he and his wife spent
their last days in Kansas City. Unto Mr. and Mrs. Orrison has been born
one son, Louis D., whose natal day was January 18, 1868, and who is still at
home. Mr. Orrison gives his stalwart support to the republican party but
political office and honoi*s have never had attraction for him. His life has
been one of exceptional activity and usefulness and has been characterized
by the most unswerving integrity and honor. He started out as a poor boy
and his financial situation at the present time is represented by a large fi.gure.
His success has been won through close application to business and judicious
investment and throughout his entire commercial career there has been no
action on his ])art that has called forth adverse criticism. He well merits
the rest which he is now enjoying and which wins him classification with
Kansas City's prominent retired merchants.


Jesse C. Fitts is vice president of the Maxwell-McClure-Fitts Dry Goods
Company, one of the leading wholesale enterprises of Kansas City. He be-
came identified therewitli in 1904, at which time tlie firm entered the com-
mercial field as wholesale dry -goods merchants and since that time they have
met with nota])le success.

Mr. Kitts is a native of Warren county, New Jei^sey, and a son of John
and Lydia (Carhart) Fitts, who were likewise born in that state but are now
deceased. The father devoted his energies to farming and, reared under the
parental roof, Jesse C. Fitts acquired a country-school education and at the


age of thirteen years entered business life as an employe in a country store.
At the age of hfteen he came alone to northern Missouri, where he entered
the retail dry-goods house of his brother, Joseph Fitts, a merchant at Oregon,
this state. Closely applying himself to a mastery of the business in principle
and detail, he worked his way upward and after six years became sole pro-
prietor of the business, which he conducted with success until 1903, when
he turned over the management to C. J. Bunker, who later became a partner,
the firm of Fitts-Bunker Mercantile Company being then organized. It is
still in existence, with Mr. Fitts owning the controlling interest.

On retiring from the management of the retail house he came to Kan-
sas City, where he hoped to find broader scope for his energy and industry —
his dominant qualities. The opportunity came when in January, 1904, he
joined the Maxwell-McClure Wholesale Notion Company. The business was
reorganized in 1906 and incorporated as the Maxwell-McClure-Fitts Whole-
sale D'ry Goods Company, with Mr. Fitts as vice president and manager of
the dry-goods department. Since early youth he has been inclined toward a
mercantile life and has been very successful in this line. While in the dry-
goods business at Oregon, Missouri, he also owned and conducted a general
mercantile store at White Cloud, Kansas.

Since the time of his becoming associated with the present firm, and
their advent into the wholesale dry-goods line their growth has been remark-
able, for the three partners are strong, alert, enterprising business men, their
interests characterized b}^ an orderly progression that has resulted in the at-
tainment of a prominent place in commercial circles of Kansas City and the
middle west.

On the 28th of May, 1888, Mr. Fitts was married to Miss Cora Russell,
a daughter of Judge R. H. Russell, presiding justice of the county court
and one of the earliest settlers of Holt county, Kansas. They have three chil-
dren, ^Maurice, Dwight and Russell, aged respectively thirteen, eleven and
nine years. Mr. Fitts is associated with the Commercial Club and the Manu-
facturers et ^Merchants Association, in which connection he is contributing
to the, business development and consequent prosperity of his adopted city.
He votes with the democracy but the prominence of political life and posi-
tions has no attraction for him, as a naturally modest, retiring disposition
makes preferable the interests of his home life. He is known in business
circles as a merchant thoroughly reliable and his advancement in the world
of trade is indicative of the opportunities open to young men in this country.


Washington Jarvis Conner, a successful practitioner of osteopathy, was
born November 12, 1866, on a farm near Kirksvillc, Missouri, the famous
center of osteopathic instruction. His parents were David L. and Ann E.
(Kimbrough) Conner, the former a native of Howard county, Missouri, and
the latter of Boone county, this state.


Dr. Conner was a pupil in the public tichoold until he had mastered the
elementary branches of learning and then ejitered the State Normal School,
in which he continued his studies to the age of twenty-one. For six years
thereafter his time was divided between the profession of teaching and the
Vv'ork of the farm. Becoming interested in the science of ost^eoi^athy, he
took up a course of study at the age of twenty-seven years and was gradu-
ated in 1893 at the American School of Osteopathy in Kirksville, Missouri.
For three years he was a member of the faculty of that college and operator
in the A. T. Still Infirmary. In 1899 he came to Kansas City, where he
has continued in practice to the present and has been very successful in win-
ning a large patronage. His thorough study and preparation made him
familiar with the component parts of the human body and his success in
practice indicates his knowledge of a science that is proving one of the strong
curative agencies of the world.

Dt. Conner was married in 1893, at Kirksville, Missouri, to ISIiss Ida
May Kennedy, of that city, a daughter of John and Sarah Kennedy. They
have two daughters and a son, Bessie, Gladys and W. Jarvis, aged respect-
ively twelve, ten and two years. Dr. Conner is a member of the Odd Fel-
lows society and in his political affiliation is a democrat. He is conscien-
tious and painstaking in his practice and straightforward in business relations
and is gradually forging forward to the goal of success.


Elmer Ellsworth Hairgrove, named in honor of the first federal soldier
killed in the Civil war, is a resident of Kansas City, where he ranks among
the prominent lawyers. He was born August 7, 1861, at Jacksonville, Illinois.
His paternal grandfather, William Hairgrove, was in the Hamilton massacre
at Trading Post, Kansas, where he and his son, Asa, afterward auditor of
Kansas, were wounded. Another son, W. J. Hairgrove, became the father
of our subject. He was a native of Mississippi, came to Illinois in 1850 and
located in Morgan county, where he followed farming. There he married
Minerva J. Whitlock, a native of that county and there they have since re-
sided, having reached the ages of seventy-five and seventy-three years re-
spectively. The father is retired from active business life and is now on-
joying the comforts which his former labor secured to liim. In August,
1861, he enlisted for service in the Civil war as a member of the One Hun-
dred and First Illinois Infantry and remained at the front throughout the
period of liostilities. Unto him and his wife were born four children, of
whom three are living: Newton, a grain merchant and coal operator, own-
ing one of the finest veins of coal in the United Stales at Auburn. Illinois;
William X.. a lawyer of Jacksonville, Illinois: and Elmer E.. of thi' re-

The last named was educated in tlio Waverlv high school and in the
Whijiple Academy at Jacksonville, from which he was graduaterl in 1880.


His cullegiate course was pursued in D'rake University of De^ Moines, Iowa,
from which he was graduated in 1884 with the Bachelor of Arts degree.
Tlie same year he was admitted to the bar there and then returned to Wav-
erly, Illinois, where immediately afterward he was elected city attorney and
began practice. He tilled that position until 1888, when he resigned, pre-
paratory to removing to Sutton, Nebraska. There again he served as city
attorney and was also chosen to represent his district in the state legislature.
He remained at Sutton until October 29, 1900, when he made a trip to the
west in search of a favorable location and after spending two days in Kansas
City he decided to remain here, regarding it as the most promising city of the
west. He at once oj)ened a law office and entered upon active practice, in
which he has since continued alone, conducting a general practice without
confining his attention to any special field. He has, however, been very suc-
cessful in all branches and in all the courts, having a comprehensive knowl-
edge of the principles of jurisprudence and has won some of the most noted
criminal cases in both Kansas City, Missouri, and Kansas City, Kansas. He
has won for himself very favorable criticism for the careful and systematic
methods which he has followed. He has remarkable powers of concentration
and application and his retentive mind has often excited the surprise of his
professional colleagues. His oratory, clothing the sound logic of truth, carries
conviction to the minds of judge and jury and merit has enabled him to
mount the ladder of fame.

On the 11th of December, 1884, Mr. Hairgrove was married to Mi?s
Lizzie Leota Gray, a daughter of .lohn W. Gray, postmaster and merchant at
Lowder, Illinois, and a native of Pennsylvania. They have seven children,
of Avlioin six are living, Anna having died November 15, 1894, at the age
of eight years. The others are : Tillie, sixteen years of age ; Delia E., fourteen
years of age; Lizzie E., twelve; Charles E., nine; and Hilda and Hester,
twins, ]iow five years of age.

In politics Mr. Hairgrove is a republican and has always been active in
support of party principles but has never sought office since coming to Kansas
City. On the contrary he has declined to accept nominations, although fre-
quently requested to do so. He belongs to the Knights of Pythias fraternity,
to the Odd Fellows society, including the Rebekah degree, to the Modern
Woodmen Camp, the Yeomen, the Royal Arcanum, the Eagles and the In-
dians, and greatly enjoys the .sociability and fraternal spirit which these
organizations promote. He is likewise a faithful member of the Methodist
church. An ardent hunter and one of the best shots in the United States,
he was for many years champion of Nebraska and in his younger days re-
ceived many alluring offers from gun manufacturers, including a standing
offer of thirty-five hundred dollars per year to travel for them.

In the first years of his law practice when the struggle for existence was
hard and his practice paid but little these offers often looked very tempting,
but to give up the profession for which he had prepared looked too much like
acknowledging defeat and moreover he was intensely interested in and de-
voted to the law. His wife, too. was always in favor of his continuing in the
profession and the success he has won is evidence of the wisdom of his choice.


He is a large-hearted liiaii, generous and sympathetic, and charitable almost
to a fault. He gives ready aid in response to any tale of sorrow or distress
which reaches him and many there are who have reason to bless him for
timely assistance in an hour of need. The noble and artistic sentiments of
his nature find expression in many gems of poetry which he writes in leisure
hours but only for the enjoyment of himself and his most intimate friends.
To see Mr. Hairgrove in the courts presenting his cause with terse, decisive
logic, one would hardly suspect that he possesses so strongly the artistic and
poetic temperament but these qualities help to render him one of the best
balanced of men and enable him to look at life from every standpoint and to
understand the motives of human conduct.


A history of Kansas City in its municipal and government interests
would be incomplete without mention of Daniel Ahern, the efficient chief of
police, whose record in this connection has hardly been surpassed in the
entire United States. A native of Ireland, he was born on a farm in county
Limerick, November 24, 1855, his parents being William and Johanna
Shine Ahern, both of whom are now deceased. The son pursued his educa-
tion by study at home and also in the national schools and lessons of industry
and diligence were early impressed upon his mind, as well as those which
develop the intellectual forces. He worked on his father's farm through the
periods of vacation in his boyhood and youth, and in fact was thus identified
w^ith general agricultural pursuits until he came to the United States, sailing
from Queenstown and landing at New York in March, 1879, when in the
twenty-fourth year of his age.

The fact that he had friends living in Kansas City induced him to
make thL^ place his destination and he came on at once to the middle west.
Soon afterward he secured employment as a mechanic in the Fort Scott Rail-
road shops and on leaving that employ he was appointed to a position on the
police force in 1881 under Mayor Frank. He served as patrolman for eight
years in difi"erent parts of the city, when promotion came to him, making him
sergeant under Mayor Davenport. He was next promoted to lieutenant under
Mayor Holmes and was appointed inspector of police in July, 1907, while on
the 31st of that month he was chosen chief of police of Kansas City. He
is a man of excellent executive ability, administrative force and dis-
crimination and brings to bear the keen insight and sagacity so necessary
in meeting and solving the complex problems which continually arise in the
management of any intricate municipal interest.

Mr. Ahern was married in Kansas City, in 1884, to Miss Sarah Fla-
herty, of Kansas City, and unto them have been born four children: Mary
Frances, Daniel Edward, Margaret Justine and William Henry, all at home.
In i)()litics Mr. Ahern has been a lifelong democrat. He is a Catholic in
religious faith, holding membership with the Lady of Good Counsel church,



astor, lenox



and fraternally he is connected with the Knights of Columbus and the
Benevolent & Protective Order of Elks. Loyal in his citizenship, he is
devoted to the welfare of Kansas City and is most zealous and earnest in his
efforts to maintain law and order here.


James Everett Seaver, president of the Kansas City Board of Trade and
vice-president and general manager of the Midland Electric Company, is one
whose words carry weight in business circles, for in his own career he has
displayed an aptitude for successful management that indicates marked busi-
ness and executive ability. A native son of the Empire state, he was born in
Batavia, Genesee county, December 6, 1851.

His parents were James Everett and Nancy Keith Seaver, the former
a son of William and Nancy (McCleary) Seaver and the latter a daughter of
Nathan and Nancy (Keith) Follett. The first of the Seaver family in America
was Robert Seaver, a young Englishman, who came from his native coun-
try on the ship Mary and John and landed at Boston in 1633. He wedded
Elizabeth Ballard and reared a family of seven children. Settling at Rox-
bury, Massachusetts, his homestead stood at what is now the junction of Cen-
ter and Amary streets, and there rej)resentatives of the family remained for
several generations. Major William Seaver, of the fifth generation, and
Captain William Seaver, of the sixth generation, served in the Revolutionary
war. James E. Seaver, Sr., conducted a drug and book store at Batavia up to
the time of his death in 1852. His father-in-law, Nathan Follett, with his
family lived at Batavia until 1850, when he removed westward to Ypsilanti,
Michigan. His daughter, Mrs. Seaver, losing her husband in 1852, then took
her little son James, at that time but a year old, and joined her parents at
Ypsilanti, Michigan.

James E. Seaver, of this review, was a pupil in the public schools of
Ypsilanti between the ages of six and seventeen years. He aftenvard learned
the milling business with his grandfather Follett, who owned a large mill
in that city. In 1870 he went to California and spent two years in traveling
through the west. The year 1878 witnessed his arrival in Kansas City, where
he engaged in the grain business. Here his activity and enterprise have con-
stantly promoted his business .success and enlarged the scope of his activities
and his position in commercial circles is indicated by the honor that came to
him in his election to the presidency of the Kansas City Board of Trade. He
is likewise vice president and general manager of the ^lidland Elevator Com-
pany and is a director of the Commercial Club. As officer and stockholder
he is connected with many other business enterprises of importance and hi-^
wise counsel proves a strong factor in the prosperous management and control
of these. He readily comprehends the intricacies of a complex business prob-
lem and readily sees the way to a successful solution thereof. He forms his
plans readilv and is determined in their execution, while another potent


element in his success has been his ready recognition and utilization of oppor-

On the 22d of December, 1875, Mr. Seaver was married to Miss Bella
Ralston Carr, a daughter of David and Cynthia Ann Carr. They now have
one child, Everett Herbert, born September 2, 1886. The parents are com-
municants of the Episcopal church and Mr. Seaver gives his political support
to the democracy. In Masonry he has taken the degrees of the lodge and
chapter, also attained the thirty-second degree of the Scottish Rite and is a
member of the Mystic Shrine.


Dt. Charles Lengel was a prominent German physician and surgeon of
Kansas City, who began practice here in 1878. He was born in Magdeburg,
Germany, October 6, 1836, and his parents always remained residents of that
country. The father was a capitalist, who died during the early boyhood of
his son Charles.

Dr. Lengel acquired his preliminary education in Germany and when a
young man enlisted in the Prussian army, serving for several years. While
thus connected with the military interests of the country he took up the study
of surgery. Following the close of the war he came to America about 1868,
landing in New York city, whence he proceeded direct to Omaha, Nebraska,
where he took up the study of medicine and surgery, being graduated from
the college there, after which he began his practice in Omaha. He remained
a member of the medical fraternity at that place for but a brief period, how-
ever, and then went to West Point, where he practiced for a short time. He
next located at Burlington, Iowa, where he engaged in practice for several
years and while there was a member of the Burlington Meaical Institute. He
also assisted in organizing the Des Moines County Medical Society and be-
came one of its charter members. He continued in practice in Burlington
until his removal to Kansas City in 1878, when he opened an office and soon
became recognized n.s one of the leading representatives of the profession

Dr. Lengel was married in the town of hi.^ nativity to Miss Leopoldina
Schindler, a native of Eisleben, Germany, in wliich country her parents spent
their entire lives, passing away during the early girlhood of their daughter.
The father was a tailor by trade. Unto Dr. and Mrs. Lengel were born eight
children, of whom four are now living: William F., engaged with the Kansas
City Star, married Alice Werz, and resides at No. 2410 Olive street. Gustav
is foreman with the Kansas City Bag Company but resides in Kansas City,
Kansas. Albert G. is connected with the St. T^ouis Globe Democrat of St.
Louis, Missouri. Harriet L. is the wife of Joseph Haydn Jones, a resident
of Kansas City and assistant manager of the Kansas City Bag Company. He
is a native of Fort Dodge, Iowa, a son of Professor W. V. and Lucy Jones. He
was a professor of music and also a landowner near Fort Dodge, Iowa, where


he died in Augii^st, 1906. His widow now resides on the old home farm near
Fort Dodge. There were three children born unto Mr. and Mrs. Joseph
Haydn Jones, Dorothy, Burnam and Eleanor, who with their parents reside
at No. 4033 McGree street. The four members of the Lengel family now
deceased are as follows: Dr. Adolph J. Lengel, who was a practicing physi-
cian of D'allas, Texas, where he died in 1903 ; Charles ; Hedwig ; and one who
died unnamed in infancy.

Leaving Burlington, Iowa, in 187S, Dr. Lengel removed to Kansas City,
opening an ofhce at the corner of Third and Delaware streets. He soon built
up a large practice, especially among the Gennan- American citizens, making
a specialty of surgery, to which he devoted his attention throughout the re-
mainder of his life. He died here August 22, 1895, death coming to him
while he was in his office at No. 1222 McGee street. In politics he was an
inflexible adherent of the democracy and took much interest in the growth

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 2) → online text (page 44 of 65)