William Dunkin, of Independence, Kan., became a law student in the office of Thacher & Banks, at Lawrence, Kan., in March, 1872. About one year thereafter, through the kind influence of Judge N. T. Stephens, then associated with the firm of Thacher & Banks, Mr. Dunkin was admitted to the bar of Douglas county, and thereafter, on April 1, 1873, opened a law office and entered upon the practice of his profession at Independence, Kan. He has since then continuously occupied the same office. At the time he located at Independence he was wholly unacquainted in the county and spent the first few months in assiduous study, with little or no professional work.
He was then appointed city attorney and at once vigorously took up the pending litigation concerning the entry of the town site, the patent to which had been for several years withheld on account of contests between the city and claimants to portions of it. The next year (1874) he became a candidate on the Democratic ticket for county attotney. He spent the last ten days of the campaign on the stump in advocacy of his party's platform and in urging the peculiar fitness of the nominees on the ticket for the respective offices they sought. While the whole ticket went down in defeat Mr. Dunkin ran ahead of his ticket, or his opponent ran behind his, with the result that his opponent was elected by a very slight majority.
After his unsuccessful race for county attorney Mr. Dunkin soon acquired a lucrative practice, singularly, in a large measure, from political opponents. In 1876 he married Miss Elizabeth Browning Hull, of Kalamazoo, Mich. She is a native of Stonington, Conn. Their children are Florence E., Cora Hull Kimble (nee Dunkin), and William Latham, all residents of Independence, Kan. In 1877 Mr. Dunkin was elected by an overwhelming majority over Judge James DeLong as mayor of Independence, and shortly afterwards, through the aid of Senator John J. Ingalls, secured the patent to the town site, which had been held back by the contests and litigation for six or seven years. The finances of the city had become in a deplorable state and the new city council, containing leading business men, arranged to take up many thousands of dollars of scrip which had been unlawfully issued during the turbulent administration of Judge DeLong. The wisdom of enacting an ordinance to compel transplanting of shade trees at the expense of the adjoining property was urged by the mayor, but action was deferred because of the strict economy demanded by the financial conditions. This agitation, however, bore fruit in awakening that interest which caused transplanting by private individuals, and to it is due many of the beautiful trees that now afford so much comfort and add so greatly to the fascinating appearance of the streets.
At the end of his term Mr. Dunkin declined to become a candidate for reëlection and thereafter devoted his time to his extensive law practice, which extended to the district courts of several counties and to the state supreme and Federal courts. In 1886, with some half dozen other citizens, he met to organize a railway corporation to build a line from Independence up the Verdigris river to LeRoy, Kan. The move was inspired and carried out by Henry Foster, of Connecticut, who a few years before had purchased the Citizens' Bank from Hull Bros., and afterwards sold interests to A. C. Stich, Leroy Cahill and others. Mr. Dunkin drew the charter and afterwards became the general attorney of the road (the Verdigris Valley railroad), which position he held until its completion and sale to the Missouri Pacific Railroad Company, when he became local attorney for the last named corporation. This position he held several years; then, because he had begun to retire from the practice of law to devote his time to his private concerns, he resigned his local attorneyship of that road and of the St. Louis & San Francisco Railroad Company, though he continued to hold office as local attorney for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company to the present time and no longer looks after any legal matters except those that pertain to that office.
In 1888, while spending the summer with his family on Lake Michigan, and over his telegraphic protest to the Democratic convention, Mr. Dunkin was nominated as a candidate for state senator. He was defeated by something less than 400 plurality, while the Republican ticket carried the county by over 1,000.
During his residence at Independence he has accumulated a comfortable fortune, consisting largely of a number of river bottom farms, business and residence buildings in the city and elsewhere, and personal property, to the management of which his time is in the main devoted.
Mr. Dunkin was born at Flint Hill, Rappahannock county, Virginia, April 7, 1845. His father, Dr. William Dnnkin, was born in Londoun county, Virginia, April 5, 1797. After studying medicine and attending medical lectures in Baltimore, he was graduated in 1822 and for about twenty years thereafter practiced his profession in Rappahannock county, Virginia, where he was wedded to Mrs. Elizabeth Late (nee Woodside), a widow, who was the mother of two childrena son, William Michael, and Mary Catherineby her deceased husband, John Late. Dr. Dunkin was descended from Scotch parentage and his wife was of Irish extraction. The ancestry of both lived in Virginia for many years during the Colonial period and through the Revolutionary war, in which some of them participated. In the spring of 1846 Dr. Dunkin, with his family, then consisting of his wife, two step-children, a daughter (Anne) and a son (William) then less than a year old, moved in covered wagons with his numerous slaves across the Alleghany mountains to a new home in Harrison county, Virginia. Their home was a farm situated between Bridgeport and Clarksburg, which in time he increased to about 1,000 acres. At the time of his arrival there typhoid fever was prevalent in the county. At his former home Dr. Dunkin had had much recent experience in the treatment of this dreaded disease. He therefore at once acquired an extensive practice and soon won an enviable reputation as a physician, which endured to the time of his death, June 22, 1868. Soon after locating he began the erection of a large stone house, in which he resided until his death. At this house were born the following children: John, James, Elizabeth and Amanda, the last in 1854, all of whom are yet living. About 1855 the stepson, William M. Late, after studying medicine at home, attended medical lectures one year at Baltimore and then two years at the University in Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1858, and on his return Dr. Dunkin gradually retired in favor of his stepson, who held the practice and added to it till his death, in 1906.
Owing to the excited state of the public mind preceding the Civil war, and the unsettled conditions along the line of hostility, where the doctor and his family lived during the war, educational facilities were sadly neglected. During a portion of the time the older children were periodically instructed by the doctor, by private tutors at home, and by inferior teachers at subscription schools. At times the home was between contending armies and often not far from the seat of hostilities. While the doctor and his wife were slaveowners, as had been their ancestors during and since the Colonial days, he was an uncompromising and aggressive Union man, and felt if the preservation of the Union should result in the destruction of slavery it would be an additional blessing, for he had always felt, as did Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and other patriotic heroes of the Revolution, that justice to the black race as well as the welfare of the whites demanded the gradual extinction of the institution. In those never-to-be-forgotten days along the border it was not unusual to find brothers in opposing armies and fathers arrayed in deadly conflict against their sons. In the case of Dr. Dunkin his brothers and relatives were without exception loyal to the government and many of them served in the Union army, while his wife's relatives were equally devoted to the cause of the Confederacy and a number of them fought in the Southern army.
When about sixteen years of age William Dunkin, Jr., became greatly concerned about an education. He wanted to go to the academy at Morgantown, W. Va., afterwards the West Virginia University, to take up a classical course, and finally, after graduating from Princeton or Harvard, study and practice law. He persistently, but unsuccessfully, importuned his father on the subject till at last, when about nineteen years of age, he ran away from home and went to New York City, where, after weeks of effort, he secured a position as errand boy in the office of Edward P. Clark, a distinguished lawyer on Lower Broadway, with whom he remained some three months, when he returned home with the understanding that he was to enter the academy. His father, however, seemed unalterably opposed to that part of the plan respecting the practice of law, and ever held to the idea that it was an unworthy profession when compared to that of medicine and surgery. After some six or eight months at the academy, where the son had made fine progress in a classical course, he returned home in broken health, which did not become fully restored for several years.
After his fathers death, in 1868, Mr. Dunkin administered on his estate and settled that portion of it in Michigan, where he spent the winter of 1871-72 for that purpose. In March, 1872, at the instance of his cousin, Maj. Wyllis C. Ransom, of Lawrence, Kan., he entered the law office of Thacher & Banks, as before stated.Pages 136-139 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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