George L. Beckner.Success in any line of occupation, in any avenue of business, is not a matter of spontaneity, but represents the result of the application of definite subjective forces and the controlling of objective agencies in such a way as to achieve desired ends. Mr. Beckner has realized a large and substantial success in the business world and his career has well exemplified the truth of the foregoing statements. He occupies today a prominent place in the agricultural circles of northern Kansas, is the owner of one of the largest farms in Clay county, and, has, for several years, been actively concerned with the political, social and religious life of his section. Progressive and energetic in the management of his commercial affairs, loyal and public spirited as a citizen, he holds a secure position in the confidence and esteem of the community.
George L. Beckner was born on his father's farm in McDonough county, Illinois, February 25, 1865, and is descended, on both paternal and maternal sides, from pioneer Kentucky stock. His father, George W. Beckner, was born in Bath county, Kentucky, on January 21, 1825. He was reared a farmer, was married, in 1848, to Deborah VanKirk, and subsequently removed to Illinois. He died in Warren county, that State, on February 21, 1900. His wife was a daughter of Mathias and Elizabeth (Wilson) VanKirk, born in Fleming county, Kentucky, August 11, 1827, and died in Warren county, Illinois, July 10, 1905. They were the parents of twelve children, seven sons and five daughters, four of whom survive, viz.: Meranda, born in 1849, the wife of William Shores, a farmer, of Warren county, Illinois; George L., the subject of this article; Susan J., born August 31, 1867, who married H. O. Turner, a farmer, of Smith county, Kansas, in 1888; and Hattie F., born in 1869, the wife of Frank Raymond, a farmer, of Fremont county, Iowa.
George L. Beckner passed his boyhood days on the paternal farm in Warren county, Illinois, and acquired his education in the public schools. At the age of eighteen he entered Rush Medical College at Chicago; where he remained one year. In 1885 he visited Kansas for the first time and was employed for about one year in Brown county as a farm hand. In 1886 he entered the employ of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company at St. Joseph, Mo. He was first an axman and later a transitman with one of its engineering corps, resigning late in 1888. In February of the following year he returned to Illinois and engaged in farming on the home farm in Warren county and continued in this line of occupation until 1909. His parents were his especial care during the sunset years of their lives, which were passed surrounded with every comfort and that attention which comes only from filial affection. His farming operations brought him substantial returns and he was conceded to be one of the foremost agriculturists of his county. He has, since attaining his majority, been a consistent advocate of the principles and policies of the Democratic party and was honored with public office in which he served with credit to himself and his constituents. He was for eight years a justice of the peace, for four years a member of the board of trustees of his township, and for a similar length of time a member of the board of supervisors of Warren county. In the religious life of his district he was also a leader. He served as a deacon in the Christian church, as its choir leader and superintendent of its Sunday school. On March 1, 1909, he returned to Kansas and became a resident of Clay county, purchasing one of the large farms in the county, 200 acres in extent, which adjoins the city of Clay Center on the south and on which he has since resided. In the matter of improvements this property is not excelled in northern Kansas. It is well stocked and ably managed. Mr. Beckner has taken the same active part in the civic and religious life of Clay county that marked his residence in Illinois. He is one of the most influential Democrats in the county, has served as chairman of the Clay county Democratic central committee, and was a delegate from Clay county to the Democratic State convention at Hutchinson in 1911. He is an elder in the Christian church at Clay Center and superintendent of its Sunday school. His fraternal affiliations are with Clay Center Lodge Ancient Free and Accepted Masons and with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.
On September 12, 1888, Mr. Beckner married Miss Minnie Haws, daughter of Samuel and Mary (Pinkerton) Haws, personal mention of whom appears in this volume. Mrs. Beckner was born on September 10, 1871, and died in the Clay Center Hospital June 30, 1913. She was an ardent worker in the cause of Christianity, devoting much of her time to the charitable institution and organizations of her home city, and was also organist of the Christian church for many years. She was a woman of many charming traits of character, a loving mother to her children, and a true helpmeet to her husband. A native of Clay county, her return after an absence of twenty years, marked her re-entrance to its social and religious life, in which she was a leader at the time of her death. She is survived by her husband and the following children: George Bernard, born December 4, 1890; Mary Ruth, born October 2, 1892, a graduate of the Clay Center High School with the class of 1911, who married, on May 8, 1912, Wilbur Swenson, a son of Eric H. Swenson, a personal review of whom is printed on other pages of this volume; Loren L., born December 23, 1894, a graduate of the Clay Center High School with the class of 1912; Samuel Miles, born May 5, 1901, and Walter Glenn, born March 25, 1907.
As a man among men, bearing his due share in connection with the practical activities and responsibilities of a work-a-day world, Mr. Beckner has been successful; but over all, and above all, he is rich in the possession of a well earned popularity and the esteem which comes from honorable living. Progressiveness and energy have marked the management of his commercial affairs and his methods have been clean, capable and honest. His close associates have been men who have had the welfare of the community at heart and who have been ready to assist, with time and money, any enterprise or measure which had for its object commercial, civic or social betterment.Pages 412-414 from a supplemental volume of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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