William Corydon Edwards.A man's real worth to his community, or to his state, is identical with the extent of his services therein and thereto. Thousands, yes millions of good men pass through the period of their earthly career, wholly unknown, save within the circle of their own family or the environment of their own neighborhood. They may be honest, patriotic, brave and true; they may be splendid examples of moral worth; may be perfect types of individual citienship.[sic] Yet they are of no interest whatever, save to their family and friends, for their lives are passed in obscurity, and as the unseen flower of the forest and desert, kissed only by the sunbeams of heaven, blooms in its silent solitude, then fades and perishes forever, so do they pass over the milestones of life, then wither and die, without the world being even cognizant of their coming and going. Though they may have been perfect specimens of God's own noblemen, their presence here was quite as unnoticed as would be that of an additional fly to the insect world. Other men by reason of their special fitness and high traits of character, together with their exemplary habits and moral worth, are frequently called by their fellows to positions of public trust, and while they, too, finally succumb to the ravages of time and pass off the stage of action, yet their good deeds and public services while here leave behind them footprints in the public annals that not even time can efface. A conspicuous example of the latter class is the Hon. William Corydon Edwards, ex-secretary of state, railroad promoter and builder, flawless citizen and the present postmaster of Wichita.
William Corydon Edwards was born on a farm in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, April 12, 1853, the son of David Griffith Edwards, a farmer born in Wales in 1816; came to the United States in 1836 and located on the farm in Tioga county, Pennsylvania (on which the subject was born), where he died in 1879. The mother of Mr. Edwards was Elizabeth Hughes before her marriage to David Griffith Edwards. She was born in Hull, England, in 1828; came to the United States with her parents, Joseph and Nancy Hughes, when she was six years old, in 1834. She died in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, in 1881. The parents of Mr. Edwards belonged to that class of plain, honest, religious, country-folk which form the very bone and sinew of the republic, and they gave to their son, William, a bedrock of high character that has since enabled him to build upon it the excellent type of American citizenship which he so perfectly represents at the present time. William C. Edwards was the third in a family of twelve childrensix sons and six daughterswhose names in the order of their ages are as follows: Thomas Hughes Edwards, a lawyer of Kansas City, Mo.; Mrs. Jennie Edwards Williams, of Dodge City, Kan.; William Corydon Edwards, the subject of this sketch; John Griffith Edwards, of Larned, Kan.; Mary Ann, who died in infancy; Joseph Hughes Edwards, of Chicago, Ill.; Mrs. Hattie Edwards Ripple, of Dodge City, Kan.; Benjamin Franklin Edwards, who resides on the old homestead in Tioga county, Pennsylvania; Mrs. Elizabeth Edwards Boyer, deceased; George Frederick Edwards, deceased; Mrs. Ann Edwards Watson, deceased; and Alice Minnie Edwards, deceased.
William C. Edwards was reared on the Pennsylvania farm on which he was born. He attended a common school in his boyhood, which was supplemented by one year's training in the Wellsboro (Pa.) Academy, after which he completed a course in the State Normal School at Mansfield, Pa., graduating there in 1874. His health having become slightly impaired through arduous attention to his studies, he then spent one year in Canada recuperating it. He had taught two terms of school in his native state before completing his education, and in January, 1876, he came to Kansas in response to a telegram from his brother, Thomas Hughes Edwards, who at the time was principal of the public schools at Larned, Kan., and wished to relinquish the position in order to enter a bank, and who wired his brother, William C., to come to Larned and become his successor as school principal. He finished the term of school and continued to reside at Larned until the year 1901. During the period of his residence at Larned, after completing the school term, he served as deputy register of deeds; studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1878; practiced law as a member of the firm of Vernon & Edwards from 1878 to 1884; held the office of register of deeds of Pawnee county from January, 1878, to January, 1884, carrying on his law practice at the same time. In 1884 he organized the Phoenix State Bank, of Larned, with a paid-up capital of $75,000, and he served as its president until 1889 when having acquired other interests that demanded his attention, he closed up the bank, paying every depositor in full and his every stockholder 124 per cent. on the amount of his stock. Meanwhile, in 1883, he became one of the organizers of the Denver, Memphis & Atlantic railway, served as its secretary during the period of its construction, and later for two years as its vice-president. Always an ardent disciple of the Republican party, he had during all these years taken an active part in its affairs, not only in his county, but also in his district and state. He served two terms in the lower branch of the state legislature, having been elected first in 1884 and reëlected in 1886, serving through the regular sessions of 1885 and 1887 and the special session of 1886, but declining a third nomination. In 1890 he was a prominent candidate before the convention for the congressional nomination of his party, and though defeated for this, it served to pave the way for other political honors which were his later on. In 1892 he was the candidate on the Republican state ticket for the office of secretary of state, but he was defeated along with the entire Republican ticket of that year by the combined strength of the fusion ticket composed of Democrats and Populists. In 1894 he was again the candidate of his party for secretary of state and was elected, serving as such one term of two years. In 1896 he was renominated for the office by acclamation, but once more the Democrats and Populists successfully fused their strength and the Republican ticket was defeated. In 1898 he was a formidable candidate before the Republican state convention for nomination to the office of governor, but finally threw his strength to the late Gov. William E. Stanley, which secured for the latter the nomination.
During the years 1897-98-99 he held a responsible position with the Kansas City Southern railway as the associate of Arthur E. Stilwell. In those years he disposed of real estate at Port Arthur, Tex., in the interest of the road, to the extent of $1,166,000. In the year 1900 he was associated with Mr. Stilwell in the organization and construction of the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient railway, and upon organization of the road he served as one of its directors for eight years, and is still one of its large stockholders. The labor incident to the successful establishment of the Orient railway occupied his attention for several years. Meanwhile, in 1901, he had changed his place of residence from Larned to Wichita. On Jan. 30, 1908, he was appointed postmaster of the city of Wichita by President Theodore Roosevelt and he is now serving in that capacity. The appointment having been made wholly without any solicitation on his part, it affords a fine testimonial of his high standing in his party and of his general moral worth as a citizen. He is president of the Edwards Land & Improvement Company, organized in 1886 with a paid-up cash capital of $100,000 and general offices located in Wichita. The stock of this concern, which deals extensively in Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas lands, is owned entirely by Mr. Edwards and members of his family, his wife being its secretary and his son, W. C. Edwards, Jr., its vice-president.
William C. Edwards has not only been prominent in the banking, political and railway affairs of the State of Kansas, but he is also prominent in the fraternal and religious circles of his adopted city and state. He is a Thirty-second Degree Scottish Rite Mason, a Knight Templar and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Uniform Rank Knights of Pythias; a trustee and a prominent member of St. Paul's Methodist Episcopal Church, of Wichita; a member and director of the Young Men's Christian Association, of Wichita; a trustee of the Wichita Young Women's Christian Association and is president of the Wichita Manual Training School. A man of modest demeanor, pleasant manner and high character, whose predominating features are progress, public spirit and a conscientious discharge of duty both in public and private life, he measures up to a high standard of good citizenship, and, though comparatively a young man, he has already carved an impress on the history of Kansas and made a name for himself among those who are so rapidly making of her one of the great states of the American Union.
Mr. Edwards was married April 3, 1878, in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, to Miss Franc C. Mitchell, a member of a prominent family in the Keystone State, a cousin of the late Hon. John I. Mitchell, distinguished lawyer, who served for many years on the district and appellate court benches of Pennsylvania and later in the United States senate from that state. Mrs. Edwards was born in Tioga county, Pennsylvania, Dec. 21, 1855, a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is prominent in the social and religious life of Wichita. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards have two living children: William C. Edwards, Jr., received his early education in the public schools of Kansas and is a graduate of Lexington (Mo.) Military Academy and of Kansas State University, and is a civil engineer and architect by profession, who lives in Kansas City, Mo.; and Miss Carrol Elizabeth Edwards, a graduate of the Wichita High School and a student of the Rockford, Ill., Seminary. Mr. and Mrs. Edwards also have two grandchildrenWilliam C. Edwards the third and Searles Edwards, both the children of William C. Edwards, Jr., and his wife, who was a Miss Josephine Searles.Pages 1196-1199 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.
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I
TITLE PAGE / LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS
J | K | L | Mc | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z
A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z
Background and KSGenWeb logo were designed and are copyrighted by
Tom & Carolyn Ward
for the limited use of the KSGenWeb Project.
Permission is granted for use only on an official KSGenWeb page.
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project