William P. Bunyan, of Fowler, Kan., a prominent business man, stockman and farmer of Meade county, is another of a great number of men of sterling worth who have found opportunity and wealth in Kansas. He was born Feb. 28, 1862, at Perryville, Ohio, to Azor and Catherine (Carpenter) Bunyan. Azor Bunyan was born in England in 1818 and came to the United States at the age of eighteen, locating in Ashland county, Ohio, where he farmed until 1865. He then moved to Illinois and continued to be engaged in agricultural pursuits until his death on May 6, 1874. He was a birthright member of the Friends society and in 1840 was married to Catherine Carpenter, who bore him ten childrenfive sons and five daughtersas follows: Sarah, Albert, Lucinda, Harriet, Charles, George, Emma, John, Clara and William P. The mother died on June 12, 1909.
William P. Bunyan acquired his education in the public schools of Piatt county, Illinois, but at the early age of ten years he left home and began to make his own way in the world. This he did as a farm laborer until 1877, when he went to Texas and for one year worked on a cotton plantation. Returning to Illinois he rented land and engaged in farming on his own account for three years. He prospered and in the meantime bought a farm of his own. In 1881 he removed to Kansas, locating first in Harper county, where for two years he worked on a cattle ranch. In 1884 he removed to Meade county, filed a claim on government land and for six years lived in a "dugout" in true Kansas pioneer fashion. He engaged in the cattle business, in which he prospered from the start, and to his original claim he added gradually by purchase until he owned several thousand acres. He continued to buy and sell land, raise and sell blooded cattle and horses until he became wealthy. He was the first man to raise Galloway cattle in western Kansas on a large scale, and has had as many as 600 head of them at one time of his own breeding and raising. In 1906 he sold his ranch and lands in Meade county and removed to the town of Fowler to retire from hard work, but the years of habit proved too strong and he later bought back his old ranch, together with large tracts of alfalfa lands. He now owns a number of well improved farms in Meade county. He built the Bunyan Hotel, the first modern hotel in Fowler and one of the best in the western part of the state. He is also interested in the Artesian Valley Alfalfa Company, of Fowler, and in other enterprises of the town and is recognized as one of its most influential, progressive and public-spirited citizens. He has been a member of the town council ever since the incorporation of Fowler.
Mr. Bunyan has been twice married. His first wife was Miss Laura J. Reams, whom he married on Feb. 19, 1880. She was born Aug. 26, 1863, at Sullivan, Ill., and died Dec. 25, 1894, on the ranch in Meade county, Kansas. To this marriage three children were born: Viola M., born July 23, 1881; Rosetta, born Dec. 22, 1883, now the wife of M. M. Way, a farmer at Fowler, Kan.; and Hattie Maude, born June 10, 1886, now the wife of Frank Van Ryper, a stock raiser at Fowler. On June 10, 1899, Mr. Bunyan wedded as his second wife Miss Lee F. Finley, a native of Barton county, Missouri, and a teacher prior to her marriage. Mr. and Mrs. Bunyan have one son, William Price, Jr., born Dec, 29, 1910.
Besides the interests mentioned Mr. Bunyan is a director of the Fowler State Bank. Fraternally he is a Knight Templar and Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, and is also a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.Pages 1448-1449 from volume III, part 2 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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