John Worth Creech.The semi-centenary of Kansas's statehood concluded an epoch in her history wherein were developed men, who from the standpoint of constructive, initiative and executive talent, rank with the most forceful in the annals of her sister commonwealths. Among those of her citizens actively concerned with her growth and development and who realized a large and substantial success in the business world, was he whose name initiates this article. His work in connection with railway construction was of such importance as to give precedence and reputation to any man, were it to represent the sum total of his efforts; but Mr. Creech was not only of potential value in the field of enterprise mentioned, but was of even greater usefulness in connection with the banking life of the State. He was for twenty-five years the controlling executive of the most important financial institution in the city of Herington; served for three terms as the head of its city government, and for two terms in the lower house of the State legislature. He was a man of broad mental ken, strong initiative and distinct individuality, who left not only a lasting impression in the field of enterprise mentioned, but was a most potent, though unostentatious factor in the religious and social life of Dickinson county, where he took up his residence in 1887.
John Worth Creech was a native of Virginia, born on his father's farm in Lee county on November 24, 1849, and died in the city of Herington, Kansas, on August 6, 1912. He was a son of Jonathan and Martha (Massie) Creech. The father's death when he was but three years old left the family poorly provided for, and young Creech was forced to make his own way. He secured such employment as was open to a young boy, and from his wages paid for his education, which was acquired in the country schools of his native county. Before attaining his majority, he entered the operating department of one of the railways in the capacity of a brakeman, and was later promoted to the position of conductor. Subsequently, he became a railroad contractor and in this department of the field of transportation became recognized as one of the able and successful men of his time. He constructed several hundred miles of railway in various sections of the United States, and in 1887 he located in the city of Herington, Kan., having secured a contract to build for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railway Company a branch line from that city to Salina, which he completed. During the following year, 1888, he purchased a block of stock in the Bank of Herington, and was elected president of the institution. The history of this bank, dating from the election of Mr. Creech to the presidency, is the history of his identification with the banking life of Kansas. Under his management, its business was of sound and continuous growth, and it always paid satisfactory dividends to its stockholders. In the development and administration of the business of this institution Mr. Creech was the dominant executive and to his progressiveness, energy and resourcefulness were due the strength and high reputation of the organization. He was known to the banking fraternity as an able and discriminating financier, and one, who brought the administrative policy of his bank up to the point of highest efficiency. He was also interested directly or indirectly with many other enterprises of his home city, and it is probable that no one of its citizens had more to do with the development and building up of Herington than he. From the time of taking up his residence in Kansas, he entered actively in the political life of his county and State, and although a native of the Old Dominion he was a consistent advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party. It was while a member of the legislature that Mr. Creech became best known to the citizens of the State at large. He served during the sessions of 1905 and 1907 as a member of the lower house, and was distinctively honored by appointment to the chairmanship of its most important committee, that of ways and means, during both sessions. He was actively concerned in all of the important legislation during his term of service, and was considered by his fellow members as one of the most active and energetic leaders of his party therein. His legislative career was marked by honesty and courage. He stood for the interests of the common people, from whom he sprung, and his loyalty to his constituents was notable. He labored not alone for himself, but by his accommodating disposition was of great assistance to all who were working openly for progressive legislation. He was also honored by his towns people with election to the mayor's chair for three successive terms, in which he served with credit to himself and his constituents. Early in life, Mr. Creech acquired the desire, the habit, the love of making money, and the habit of work. His shrewd business judgment, keen insight in business affairs, his knowledge of men and things coupled with indomitable energy, enabled him to attain recognition as one of the leading men of affairs in the State. He left at his death one of the large estates of his section, an estate which represents the brain, the pluck and energy of one man, who with his peculiar natural tact ever saw the propitious moment and availed himself of it. He was an ambitious and tireless worker, conservative in his business methods and his honesty and integrity were unquestioned. He was an active and influential member of the Trans-Mississippi Commercial Congress, and a regular attendant of the meetings of this great organization. He was one of the prominent Masons of the State, had attained the Scottish Rite degrees and was affiliated with Isis Temple Shrine. He was also a member of Kansas City Lodge, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
On April 8, 1881, Mr. Creech was united in marriage with Miss Prudence B. Howle, a daughter of George W. and Margaret M. (Gorin) Howle, of Blandville, Ky., who was born in that city on March 11, 1855. Her father, George W. Howle, was a native of Virginia, born September 2, 1812, whose ancestors were among the early settlers of America. The ancestral home was in Kent county, and he, as was his father, was a planter and, previous to the Civil war, was a large slave owner. He became a resident of Ballard county, Kentucky, in 1845, where he died on February 2, 1876. His wife, Margaret M. Gorin, was born in Christian county, Kentucky, January 19, 1828, and died August 16, 1900. To this union were born eleven children: William Parks Howle, a prominent physician of Charleston, Mo., born January 2, 1846; Aneliza, born June 4, 1848, the widow of James D. Shivell, of Wickliff, KY.; Julia Green, born March 6, 1850, the wife of Judson Swain, retired farmer and influential citizen of Herington, Kan.; Octavia, born January 22, 1852, the wife of E. R. Pollock, an extensive planter and stockman of Ballard county, Kentucky; George W. Howle, born August 2, 1853, breeder of registered cattle, and citizen of influence of Ballard county, Kentucky; Lucy J., born January 10, 1857, died March 7, 1887; Swan K., born August 15, 1859, died October 30, 1912; Curran P., born January 19, 1861, a successful farmer of Ballard county, Kentucky; Faulkner, born December 4, 1863, the wife of E. P. Lower, of Ana Darko, Okla.; Sallie, born July 6, 1866, died September 2, 1888; and Prudence B., married Mr. Creech, as previously stated. George W. and Curran P. Howle are among the most influential citizens of Ballard county, and their agricultural and stock interests are extensive. They are breeders of registered cattle and pedigreed horses, both light harness and running. They are active and influential in political affairs, as well as the social life of their county. Her father had been previously married, two children having been born of that union, one of whom was Rev. James L. Howle, born Oct. 19, 1840. He volunteered his services to the Southern cause, but was rejected owing to physical disability. His early life was spent as a farmer and later he was ordained as a minister of the Baptist church, and continued in the work of his Master until his death. He held pastorates in Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri, and was recognized as one of the able men of his calling. His death occurred August 5, 1912, at Morley, Mo. Blackston Howle, a younger brother, born December 25, 1842, served in Company C, Seventh Kentucky infantry of the Southern army during the Civil war, and was severely wounded at the Battle of Shilo, where he was taken prisoner and confined in Camp Douglas until the close of the war, the effects of which caused his death on October 20, 1878. Mrs. Creech is a woman of broad culture and refinement, possesses many lovable characteristics, and is in all respects a worthy daughter of the Blue Grass State. She has long been prominent in the social and religious life of her section, is a leader in literary and club circles, and known for her many charities. She has been awarded a diploma in recognition for valuable work in connection with the American Chautauqua, and two from the International Sunday School Association, in connection with her services with the teachers' training course and the advanced course. It is in great measure due to her efforts that the city of Herington possesses its fine library. She was the most active force in the organization of the Library Association, its first president, and gave generously of both time and money to the movement which attained its object, the present building, which is one of the best structures devoted to library purposes in the State. She is one of the most active and influential members of the Christian church of Herington, and her support of this congregation, whose house of worship was largely built through the generous donation of her husband, is bountiful.
John Worth Creech was not only a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, the successful man of affairs, but was a true Christian gentleman. He believed in the religion of deed and his creed was to do good. He believed in the gospel of help and hope and knew how much better, how much more sacred, a kind act is than any theory the brain has wrought. In 1908 he affiliated with the Christian church, and from that time on until his death was an active worker in the cause of Christianity. He gave to the building fund of his home congregation $10,000, which represents a large port[sic] of the cost of their new edifice. Hhis[sic] charities were many and varied, and marked by a desire to avoid publicity. It may be rightfully said of him as of another: "He was as generous as autumn, as hospitable as summer, as tender as a perfect day in June. If everyone for whom he did some unselfish act of kindness during his life should lay upon his grave one flower he would sleep beneath a wealth of bloom." The tributes of respect and in many cases of affection called forth by his death have seldom been equalled in the State in the passing away of a citizen. What may be termed his life work was finished, it had met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition. But infinitely more precious and of personal consequence to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of a well earned popularity, in the esteem which comes from honorable living, and in the affection which develops only from unselfish works.Pages 432-436 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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