Carrie Westlake Whitney.

Kansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 3) online

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Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 69)
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In an enumeration of those men who have been the real founders, pro-
moters and builders of Kansas City, it is imperative that mention should be
made of William B. Clarke. lie contributed in substantial measure to its
development, to its extensive business interests, cooperated in those movements
resulting in moral progress and figured prominently in its social life. There
are few men whose lives are crowned with the honor and respect which
are uniformly accorded him and with him, success in life was reached by his
sterling qualities of mind and a heart true to every manly principle.

Mr. Clarke was born in Cleveland, Ohio, April 15, 1848, his parents
being Aaron and Caroline (Bingham) Clarke, natives of Connecticut, born
in Milford and Andover, respectively. Becoming residents of Cleveland,
Ohio, their son, William B. Clarke, was educated in the public and private
schools of that city, after which he took up the study of law and wtis ad-
mitted to the bar. During the greater part of his life, however, he figured in
financial circles. He gained a comprehensive knowledge of the banking
business in two of the largest banks in Cleveland. Desiring to engage in a
similar enterprise on his own account, he removed westward in 1869, and
in 1871 established a bank at Abilene, Kansas, which was then headquarters
for the Texas cattle trade. It was a wild frontier town where a lawless ele-
ment largely held sway and where little regard was manifest for the rule^
which should govern man in hLs relations with his fellowmen. Mr. Clarke,
however, maintained a high standard of conduct, clung to his idea'* con-
cerning temperance and carried no weapons. His fearlessness and genuine
worth won him respect and he succeeded in building up a prosperous bank-
ing business there. However, one year later, when Abilene ceased to be a
cattle center, he went to Junction City and there organized the banking
house of W. B. Clarke, which in 1886 was reorganized as the First National
Bank, in which he retained financial interests until his death. In the panic
of 1873 this bank was compelled to make arrangements with its creditors
but its doors were never elosod and within seven vears from that time. Mr.


Clarke had juiid oil' all of the debts, with interest, inaintaiiiing thereby
an uiiiis«ailaMe reputation for reliability, tru.>^t\voi'thinc8s and business honor.

The sphere of his activity broadened when in 1886 he came to Kansas
City Ji> |»rcsident of the Merchants National Bank and at the same time
became one of the heavy stockholders of the Missouri 6c Kansas Telephone
Company, and was it.s pre.«<ident for a number of year.-. In 1888 he organ-
ized the United States Trust Company, of which he continued as president
until his death, and in 1801 he organized a corporation controlling the entire
output of salt at Salt Lake City. With keen insight into future possibilities
he looked beyond the exigencies of the moment and labored for conditions
that were to come. Throughout his business career he displayed the keen-
est sagacity combined with strong executive force and discriminatioTi. He
was thus seldom if ever at error in <letermining the value of a business
situation and entered into large undertakings which were carried fonvard
to successful completion in accordance with his well defined plan-. lie was
one of the incorjKtrators of the railroad connecting Salt Lake City. Los An-
geles and Pedro, California, and became interested in railroad loiilding
in other states. Some of the largest mining enterprises in Colorado have
had the benefit of his cooperation in their development.

Mr. Clarke was a man of influence in social circles, in municipal affaire
and in national politics. He belonged to social clubs in a number of the
leading cities, and was elected president of the Commercial Clulj uf Kansas
City, having served successively as third. .<econd and first vice president.
His connections thereby contributed in .substantial manner to the welfare
of Kansas City. lie was also at one time president of the Kansas City Club,
and the Kansas City Country Clul).

Ml'. (Jlarke attained the thirty-.-econd degree of the Seottish Rite in
Masonry, was a member of the Sons of the American Revolution and the
Society of Colonial Wars, and also of the Kansas City Bar Association. Nor
was he neglectful of the higher, holier duties of life afteeting the moral de-
velopment of the race. As a layman of the Protestant Episcopal church he
was always prominent. He served as junior wardeti of Grace church for
many years and wa< the first treasurer of the dioce.<e of western Mis.-ouri,
continuing in that ofiTice until his death. He gave of his time as well jis of
his means to the furtherance of many charitable and benevolent movements.

Mr. Clarke was well known in national polities and was chosen the
MiN-onri member of tin- advisory committee of the national republican com-
mittee during the last three presidential eami)aigns. but took no active part
in municipal or state politics. In 1808, when free coinage wa- a much <lis-
cussod (juestion, he organized tlir .*^ound Money lii^ague with a membership
of over .'V'Venteen thousand.

In 1.S76, Mr. Clarke wa.«5 marrit-d to Mis< Katr K. Rockwell, of Warsaw.
Illinois, and tlw-y became the parents of iwo <ons : William Rockwell and
Btrtrand Tioekwell. gnuluates <»f Yale and Williams College respectively.
The death of Mr. Clarke occurred February 24, lOOo, at Santa Barbara,
California. His life was one of intense and well directed activitv. He gnve


iiispiralioii lu all he met. His honest, forceful, upright life won him the
love and respect of everyone and his influence for good cannot be overesti-


Dimner B. Wallis, engaged in the real-estate haziness and linaiicially
interested in other busine^ concerns of Kansas City, wa.s born in Lycoming
county, Pennsylvania, November 26, 1855. His parent.-^, Jacob C. and Mary
(Dimm) AVallis, were also natives of the Keystone state. The ancestry on
the paternal side is traced back through eleven generations in an unljroken
line to Henry Cornish, a member of the whig party of England and an al-
derman of the city of London, who, being accused of complicity in the Rye-
house plot, was hung in front of his counting house August 23, 1685. His
daughter married Henry IloUingsworth and, coming to America, they laid
out the town of Newark, New Jersey, which they named New Work. The
first "Wallis in the direct line who came to America was Samuel Wallis, who
sailed from England in 1670 as a representative of an English syndicate
controlling two million acres of land in the Susquehanna valley. Dinmer
B. Wallis has the complete and unbroken record from that time to the
present. One of his great-grandfathers, John Lukcns, was surveyor general
of Pennsylvania and Delaware from 1771 until 177() and of the former state
from 17M until 1789, the Mason and Dixon Line being surveyed under his
supervision. In the maternal line Dimner B. Wallis is a direct descendant
in the eighth generation of Baron Von Sitler, who disinherited his two sons
for becoming Lutherans and placed with the German government sixty mil-
lion dollars to be held in trust for one hundred years and then distributed
to their descendants. The sons came to America in 1728 and located in
Philadelphia and Baltimore, and from the elder son, Dietrick Von Sitler,
Mrs. Mary Wallis was a direct descendant, the complete genealogical record
being in possession of our subject. The heirs, however, have never recov-
ered the estate and have recently formed a corporation for securing the smn
by litigation. Margaret Shippen, Avho became the wife of Benedict Arnold,
was a granddaughter of Margaret Wallis, sister of John Lukens Wallis, tlu'
grandfather of our subject, and therefore a third cousin of Dimner B. Wal-
lis. His father, Jacob C. Wallis, was a farmer, cattle-raiser and real-estate
dealer, who removed from Pennsylvania to Michigan jirior to the Civil war,
and in 1866 became a resident of .Tohnson county. Mi.-souri, when- he re-
sided until his death in 1873.

In the country schools of Johnson county. Mis.<(»uri. Dimner B. Wallis
began his education and afterward was graduated from the public-school
course at Index, Cass county, Missouri. On leaving school he engaged in
stock-raising, in which he continued until 1885, when he turned his atten-
tion to banking at Creighton, Mi.^souri, conducting the Farmers it Mer-
chants Bank of that place until 1805. He then sold his interests there and
removed to Kansas City, where he luis since conducted l»usine.*is as a real-ed-


tate dealer, handling both farm IiukIs and city property. He has been very
successful, negotiating many important realty transfers, and has also done
some speculative building, erecting house.< for rental and sale. He is per-
sonally interested to a considerable extent in Kansas City real estate, owning
nmcli rental property, and as a valuator of property his judgment is unusu-
ally correct. He likewise has other financial interests and is the owner of
an attnu-tive home at No. 3125 Chestnut street, which he completed in 1904.

On the 22d of June, 18.S7, Mr. Wallis was married in Ilenry county,
Missouri, to Miss Alice Quick, a daughter of Cornelius (^uick, of Cafis
county, Misisouri. They have four children. Roscoe !>.. Waldo B., Keene C.
and Ruth II.. jiged respectively fifteen, twelve, nine and seven years. The
two eldest are high school student- and the latter is a cartoonist and illus-
trator of marked talent, having already made sale of some of his work to
the daily papers.

Mr. Wallis h;L* been a lifelong voter of the democratic ticket, but is not
an active party worker. Both he and his wife are members of the Linwood
Presbyterian church and give earnest and helpful support to the various
branches of church work and contribute liberally for its maint^^nance. Mr.
Wallis was for ten years superintendent of the Sunday school of the Presby-
terian church at Creighton, Missouri. He gives generously to public move-
ments and charities, and his nephew, John Wallis Creighton, of Creighton,
Missouri, is a missionary in China. His interests have never been selfishly
centered upon his own affairs, but have extended to concerns of public mo-
ment and have led to his hearty coojioration in various movements for in-
tellectual and moral progress.


George Elliott Simpson, prominent in financial circles in New York city
and in Kansas City, was identified with the early development of the latter
and in later years, through financial interests, largely promoted its growth
and progress. His hist days, too, were here passed, and honored and re-
spected by all who knew him, his death wiu? the occasion of deep and wide-
spread regret. He was a native of (lallatin, Tennessee, born February 22,
1833, and was of Scotch lineage on the paternal side and of French descent
in the maternal line. His grandfather. Colonel Richard Simpson, was one
of the most noted of the "Round Heads'' of North Carolina and represented
Cornwell county in the hou.-e of commons. His father, Benjamin F. Simp-
son, removed from Gallatin, Tennes.see, to Mis.^ouri, in 1841 and located about
a mile north of Independence, removing to that city in LMfi to give his
children Vietler educational advantages.

Following his graduation from the local schools George E. Simpson en-
tered Chapel Hill College in Lafayette county, where he pursued the regular
course and after>\ard studied higher mathematics and language under the
late Rev. Nathan Scarritt. at Shawnee Mi.^sion near Westport. This was the


pioneer epoch in tlie history of western Missouri, iind when to the west lay
the unsettled, uncultivated plains, while the immediate district was also
largely unclaimed and unimproved. Mr. Simpson was the promoter of many
of the early business and public interests here. He was as.sociated with the
firm of Alexander and Majors, who had a government contract for transpor-
tation along the old Santa Fe trail. In 1853 he engaged in merchandising at
Sibley on the Missouri river in Jackson county but in 1854 went to Cali-
fornia by the overland route, remaining there for two years. In 1856 he
returned to Independence and entered the banking house of Turner & Thorn-
ton, becoming thus an active factor in financial circles of the county. He
was married in 1858 to Miss Ellen Young, whose family was a prominent
and influential one in Jackson county, having come here from Vicksburg,
Mississippi, in 1844. Following his marriage Mr. Simpson came to Kansas
City as assistant cashier of the Old Union Bank, of which H. M. Northrup,
recently deceased, was president. This bank was robbed by "Redlegs" from
Kansas in 1861. The robbery was committed in the daytime and the Rev.
Thomas Johnson, who had succeeded H. M. Northrup in the presidency waa
afterward killed. Such were some of the tragical events which occurred in-
cident to the troublous times of the Civil war. Mr. Simpson was in the bank
at the time of the robbery. He continued in Kansas City until 1862, when
he removed to New York city. In the meantime he had not only been closely
associated with business interests but had also cooperated largely in measures
of vital importance to the community. He was closely identified with the
Southern Methodist church and was one of the tru.«tees of the old Fifth street
church, the first Southern Methodist church of this city.

Mr. Simpson went to New York city, joining H. M. Northrup and J. S.
Chick, who had been driven out of business here by the exigencies of war and
who had organized the bank of Northrup & Chick in New York. He re-
mained with that firm until January, 1871, when the bank of Donncll. Law-
son & Simpson was established at No. 4 Wall street, New Y^'ork. It became
one of the noted financial organizations of that time and was largely associ-
ated with the railway systems of Ohio, Florida, North Carolina, Mi.ssouri,
Kansas and Nebraska. The railway between New York and Philadelphia
known as the "Bond route" owed its existence to this house.

While in New York, Mr. Simpson became a valued and prominent mem-
ber of several of the leading metropolitan clubs — the Manhattan, the Down
Town, the Southern Society, the Adirondack Preserve Association, the Essex
County Country Club, the Orange Athletic Club, the Essex County Toboggan
Club and the New England Society. He was al?o a member of the New
Y^ork Chamber of Commerce and a director in the National Bank of the Re-
public. The family residence was maintained at East Orange, New Jersey,
from 1871 until 1880 and afterward at Orange, New Jersey, until 1892, with
the exception of one winter spent in New York for educational advantages.
In the latter year Mr. Simpson withdrew from business in the east and re-
turned to Kansas City, where he became vice president of the National Water
Works Company. In the meantime, through his financial operations in the
east Mr. Simpson contributed in large measure to the development of this


city, the company with which he was connected being for a considerable
period fiscal agents for Kansas and Arkansas. His death resulted from an
accident. While returning from the Quindaro hunting station in a buggy in
company with Charles A. Jones, the horse became frightened and the ve-
hicle was overturned. The injuries which Mr. Simpson sustained terminated
his life April 11, 1893.

Mrs. Simpson survives her husband and is now living at No. 3613 Wal-
nut street. She was born in Gallatin, Mississippi, in 1841. Their family
numbered eleven children, of whom seven are yet living: Frank, a member
of the firm of Simpson & Groves, controlling the largast real-estate, loan and
insurance business in Kansas City; Dr. James Young Simpson, a practicing
physician of Kansas City ; Ellen Lee, Eliza Bell and Mary Louise, all at home ;
George Elliott, professor of theoretical music at Baylor College, at Belton,
Texas; and Mastin Simpson, secretary and treasurer of the H. P. Wright In-
vestment Company. The others were George Sanders, Laura and Maude, who
died in childhood ; and Lawrence Raymond, who died in Kansas City in 1892,
at the age of four years. Mr. Simpson was devoted to his home and family
and regarded no personal sacrifice or effort on his part too great if it would
promote the happiness and enhance the welfare of his wife and children.
He ever held to high ideals in citizenship and had firm faith in Kansas
City and its future, which faith he manifested in the active cooperation which
he gave to various interests and movements in which the city was a direct
beneficiary. The principles which governed his life were those which develop
upright, honorable manhood. He was the associate and warm personal friend
of many distinguished residents of New York as well as in Kansas City and
left to his family a most honored name.


The life record of Dr. Isaac M. Ridge if given in detail would })rac-
tically present a complete history of the early days of Missouri and Kansas
City especially, and w'ould constitute an important chapter in the annals
of the latter. He was the first college graduated physician to locate in Kan-
sas City and his experiences were those which usually fall to the lot of the
member of the medical fraternity on the frontier — the long rides through
summer's heat and winter's cold, over roads at times almost impassable, to
receive, perhaps, no compensation for his services, other than the conscious-
ness of a duty well performed. He was born in Adair county, Kentucky,
July 9, 1825, and in the paternal line came of Dutch and Welsh ancCvStry,
while in the maternal line, he was of Scotch and French ancestry. Both fam-
ilies, however, were planted on American soil in colonial days in Virginia or
North Carolina. His parents were William and Sophia (Dillingham)
Ridge. The father, a native of Maryland, removed to Kentucky in 1800,
and following his marriage, which was celebrated in that state, went to Lafay-
ette conntv. ^lissouri, in 1833.






Dr. Kidge, tlieii a youtli ui' eiglit yearri, pur.-ued liia uducution in a
private school aiid in an academy at Dover, Mi^ouri. There he also took
up the ^-tudy of medicine under the direction of Dr. I. S. Warren. Suljse-
quently he became a student in the Tran«ylvania University at Lexington,
Kentucky, from which he was graduated in 1848 with the first honors of
his class.

On the 1st day of June of the same year Dr. Ridge located for practice
at the old city of Kansas sometimes called Westport J^anding, but now Kan-
.-:as City, and oiDone.d an office on the Levee. The settlement numbered less
than four hundred. He was the first and only college graduated physician
in the city. He made horseback trips daily into all adjoining counties and
across the river into the territory of Kansas, as there was need for his pro-
fessional services. By his kindness and skill toward the Wyandotte Indians,
he won their friendship and gained a great influence over them, which ex-
tended rapidly to other tribes. When roving red men were a part of the
life of the great west, Dr. Ridge was honored by the Indians at one of the
"great corn feasts," by being made a member of their tribe, at which cele-
bration he was given the soubriquet of "Little Thunder," in Indian
Animicans, from his positive manner and directness of speech, and sonorous
voice which were brought into play when his instructions were disobeyed,
for they regarded his cures as miraculous.

To the honor and nobility of the nature of the red men Dr. Ridge was
always enthusiastic in his praise, never receiving anything but the kindliest
services attention and love of the many many tribes, that were passing to and
fro through Missouri and came within his jurisdiction, always glad to have
Little Thunder their guest and friend, which was manifested time and again
up to the day of his de.ath. Treat the Indians, said the Doctor, with honesty,
uprightness and truthfulness and they will always be your stanch supporters;
deceive them, they never forgive nor forget, neither wdll they lose an op-
portunity of showing their complete disgust for those whom they think
wronged them.

With the increasing emigration of 1849 his practice grew and his en-
durance was taxed to the limit. In the midst of the great epidemic of Asiatic
cholera in 1849, he became a victim of the scourge, and it hardly seemed
that a recovery was possible. The only medical aid which he could secure
came from Dr. Charles Robinson, afterward the first governor of Kansas,
who was then en route to California. In records made by Dr. Ridge this
is related, "I said to my friend Mingus, I have a fine in the stable,
saddle and bridle, in view of present conditions they will be of no service
to me in the future, perhaps. Will you stride him and go to Robinson, give
my situation as best you know how and ask him to return to me. He
did as requested, rode one hundred and ten miles in twelve hours or by sun-
rise the next morning, and back the same day with Dr. Robinson. I was un-
conscions when he arrived, hardly recognizing him at all. He examined
me closely, was told what I had done for myself and diagnosed my
case as a hopeless one, but for reasons best known to myself, he sat down
by my bedside, and treated me for two days and two nights, administering


what he regarded a^ the proper treatment for one collapsed in cholera,
finally leaving me without giving any rea^ion to my friends, to hope that I
would ever get well. To Dr. Robinson s skill and the indefatigable care
and watchfulness of Captain Chouteau and my boon companion Henry Chick
and his brother Joseph, I was nursed back to health and strength.

''Dr. Robinson left his company and proceeded to California remain-
ing in California for two or three or perhaps four years, returning to the
state about 1855 or 1856, came to the state of Kansas, was elected governor
of that state, and, during the fearful struggle between the states during the
Civil war, I had the opportunity to reciprocate and repay him for the great
favor he had conferred upon me.

"In 1861 during the progress of the war Dr. Robinson made a trip to
his old homestead in Massachusetts and on again coming to the west made
a trip up the river from St. Louis. The boat on which he had taken pas-
sage was captured near Napoleon, some miles below Kansas City, and the
governor was made a prisoner. News of the capture was conveyed by a
mounted courier to me. I had not forgotten the kindness received at the
hands of Dr. Robinson during the cholera epidemic, so saddled my horse
and rode all night, arriving just in time to hear that Governor Robinson
was to be hung at daybreak by a posse of desperadoes of those troublesome
times. Witliout a moment's delay I gained admission to the presence of
Governor Robinson. In the gloom of the early morning, my hat pulled
well down over my eyes, Robinson failed to recognize me. Advancing
toward him, my hand extended and speaking as man to man, voice choked
under the circumstances of the past and the prasent, I said: 'Governor
Robinson, they will never hang you except over my dead body. I leave
you to make every effort in the power of a human being to save you.' Great
was his surpri.«ie to meet me as he thought he had left me a dying young
physician whom he would never meet as a living man again.

"By the earnest work of influential friends, Governor Robinson was
sent on his way rejoicing. He was one of the nobles of God's creations;
a man who made no personal distinctions on account of personal opinions
or political differences, but was true to himself and to his fellows in every
relation in life. His obligations to his fellow creatures could not be violated.

"Wo did not meet again until the opening of the Kansas City Exposi-

Online LibraryCarrie Westlake WhitneyKansas City, Missouri; its history and its people 1808-1908 (Volume 3) → online text (page 1 of 69)