Joseph Benjamin Betts, a prominent general contractor and vice-president of the Germa-nAmerican State Bank at Topeka, is a member of a pioneer Kansas family and has been a resident of Topeka practically since 1879, during which time he has won the esteem and confidence of the business community and has held various official positions, all of which he has filled with ability and honor.
He was born on a farm in Morgan county, Illinois, Feb. 22, 1851. His father, Joseph Benjamin Betts, Sr., was a native of Milford, Del., born in September, 1817, but later became a resident of Piatt county, Illinois, where he engaged in farming and at one time served as sheriff of that county. He removed with his family from Illinois to the State of Kansas, in 1860, and spent the remainder of his life in Jefferson county, where he became a prominent farmer and stock raiser. His death occurred there on June 17, 1877. The Betts family is of English descent and the first member of that family in America was Thomas Betts, who immigrated to this country prior to the war of the Revolution. The mother of Mr. Betts was Susan Cowden Wimmer, born in Athens, Ohio, June 10, 1820. She is still living, in Jefferson county, Kansas, full of years, having reached the age of ninety-one.
Mr. Betts was nine years old when the family came to Kansas, has spent practically his whole life in this state, and has seen it pass triumphantly through many of its crises. He was reared on his father's farm, and on reaching manhood took up the same vocation, which he followed in Jefferson county until 1879. In that year he removed to Topeka, where for the ensuing year he was the proprietor of a meat market. He then removed to Crawford county, but in 1882 returned to Topeka, where he has since resided. He possessed much skill and natural genius in the use of tools and had managed to get a knowledge of the carpenter's trade. Since his return to Topeka, in 1882, he has engaged in general contracting and has been very successful in all of his ventures in that business, which has placed him among the wealthiest contractors of the city. Some of the large contracts which he has successfully carried to completion were for the erection of the barracks and officers' quarters at Fort Riley, costing $500,000; the courthouses at Burlington, Manhattan, Marion, and Salina, Kan.; the Davis Block in Topeka; many depots and round houses for the Santa Fe railway; and the Santa Fe shops at Topeka and at Amarillo, Tex. He has recently completed a hospital for the state at Rosedale, Kan., and is now erecting for the state a new building for the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan. He has recently erected for himself, at 825 Buchanan street, one of the handsomest homes in Topeka. Mr. Betts was one of the organizers of the German-American State Bank of Topeka, in 1908, and since that time has served as its vice-president.
Mr. Betts was married, Oct. 29, 1892, to Miss Lula M. Sandmeyer, of Wabaunsee county, Kansas, but a native of Covington, Ky. Her father, Jacob Sandmeyer, was a soldier in the Mexican war. Mr. Betts has three children living: Joseph Warren, Rebecca Myrtle, wife of H. C. Goodrich, of Topeka, and Freda Marguerite. He has always been a Republican in party principles. For two years he was a member of the Topeka City Council; he also served eight years in the Kansas state legislaturefour years in the house and four years in the senate. He is identified with the Masonic order as a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, a Knight Templar, and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He also affiliates fraternally with the Benevolent and Protective Order of EIks, the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Modern Woodmen of America, Ancient Order of United Workmen, and the Order of Eagles, and he is a charter member of the Fraternal Aid Association. Mr. Betts is also a member of the Commercial Club and the Country Club, of Topeka.Pages 224-245 from volume III, part 1 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 December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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