George T. Guernsey, banker and prominent citizen of Independence, Kan., is a native of Iowa, born at the city of Dubuque, Aug. 11, 1859. Mr. Guernsey is a son of Rev. Jesse and Elizabeth (Eaton) Guernsey, natives of Connecticut, in which state they were married, and whence they came west. Rev. Jesse Guernsey was highly educated and came west to preach as a Congregational minister. He became a pioneer minister in his denomination in Iowa, where he successfully labored many years. He died in 1871, at the age of forty-eight years. Reverend Guernsey and wife were the parents of four children: Nathaniel T. is a lawyer and a resident of Des Moines, Iowa; George T. is the second in order of birth; Eben E. is in business in Buffalo, N. Y.; and Jesse is a teacher of history in the New Briton (Conn.) Normal School.
George T. Guernsey was reared in Iowa, in the public schools of which state his education was obtained. Very early in his youth he began the battle of life for himself. In 1874, when only fifteen years of age, he came to Kansas and accepted a position in the private bank of W. E. Otis, at independence. He was but a youth, poor but self-reliant. With diligence and fidelity he applied himself to his work, determined to succeed in life. He received merited promotion from one position of trust to another, and finally became a partner of Mr. Otis in the banking business. In 1883 he retired from the banking business to engage in the insurance business. In December of that year Mr. Guernsey, Lyman U. Humphrey, P. V. Hockett, and others organized the Commercial Bank of Independence, then a state bank, and on the first day of January, 1884, the bank opened its doors for business, with Mr. Guernsey as cashier, and with Lyman U. Humphrey, afterward governor, as president. The Commercial Bank prospered from the beginning and grew in importance until, in the wisdom of its officers, it was deemed best to nationalize the bank. Under a reorganization it became the Commercial National Bank of Independence Jan. 1, 1891. From time to time the capitalization has been increased, and its business has grown and so prospered that today it is one of the ten largest banks of Kansas. Mr. Guernsey remained cashier of the bank until 1904, when he was elected its president, which position he has since held. Chiefly the business career of Mr. Guernsey has been that of a successful banker, but aside from banking he extended his business interests, now holding an interest in most of the manufacturing establishments at Independence, and he is also interested in the oil industry. He has also acquired extensive real estate holdings in Independence, forging his way from a poor and worthily ambitious youth to wealth and prominence in the business world. Throughout his business career he has manifested a commendable spirit of public progression. With due regard for the public weal he has always sought to contribute largely of his means and influence to promote the general public welfare. In the field of politics he has never sought political honors, but as a stanch Republican has taken an active part in political affairs. He is a charter member of the Independence lodge of Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and is numbered among the highly esteemed citizens of Independence.
In 1881 Mr. Guernsey married Miss Lillie E., daughter of the Rev. D. V. Mitchell, who was a prominent Methodist minister for years in Kansas, of which state he was a pioneer and in which he was for many years a presiding elder in the Methodist Episcopal church. Mrs. Guernsey's ancestors participated in the American Revolution, by reason of which she is a member of the patriotic society known as the Daughters of the American Revolution, of which she has been for years and is now State Regent for Kansas. She is also a pioneer member of the Kansas State Federation of Women's Clubs and is otherwise well and favorably known in social circles, not only in the resident city of her family but also in the state.
Mr. and Mrs. Guernsey are the parents of two living children, a third child having died at the age of five years. Those living are George T., Jr., and Jessie. The latter is attending school in Washington, D. S.[sic]Pages 298-300 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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