Frederick H. Harvey.The death of the late Frederick H. Harvey, of Leavenworth, which occurred Feb. 9, 1901, marked the passing of a character who played a unique part in the development of the West. "The Fred Harvey System of Eating Houses" is known from coast to coast. Mr. Harvey was born in London, England, June 27, 1836, and came to America when fifteen years of age, starting in life for himself by working for $8 per month in New York. He worked hard, his salary being gradually increased he was enabled to save some money, and in 1856, he went to St. Louis and started in the restaurant business for himself. He did well until 1861, when the war ruined his business, and St. Joseph, Mo., offering an inviting field to retrieve his losses, he journeyed to that place on the Missouri river by steamboat. His trip up the river gave him a liking for steamboating and he entered the employment of the Missouri River Packet Company. Be remained with that company four years when he accepted a better position with the Hannibal & St. Joseph Railroad Company. By strict attention to his duties he was rapidly advanced and in 1865, came to Leavenworth, Kan., as ticket agent for the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy; Hannibal, St. Joseph & Kansas City; and St. Joseph & Council Bluffs railroads.
His advancement was rapid and in a few years he was made general Western freight agent with headquarters at Leavenworth. The most pleasing feature of his railroad life and the one that he valued above all others was the fact that he always enjoyed the confidence and esteem of those with whom he was associated. It was while in the employment of these railroads that Mr. Harvey observed the poor accommodations in the way of dining facilities for the traveling public and foresaw the possibilities of such a system as he, in later years, brought to perfection. He worked out his ideas and in 1876, associated with J. P. Rice, for a short time obtained control of the Kansas Pacific eating house at Wallace, Kan., it proving a success. This was the beginning of the great Harvey system of eating houses, hotels and dining car service. Shortly after the Wallace venture he established others and made a contract with the Santa Fe road, which was then rapidly extending its lines in the West. He first built the house at Florence on that line, and soon after the Topeka eating house was established, and as rapidly as possible the system was extended over the entire Santa Fe railroad until, at the time of his death, the Harvey system extended from Chicago to the Pacific coast. For many years he operated exclusively along the Santa Fe lines, but in 1896 he added the St. Louis & San Francisco railway to his hotel and dining car service. Thousands and tens of thousands of the traveling public have for thirty years known of the "Harvey eating houses." He set a standard of excellence, which is still maintained by the system he founded. Mr. Harvey's work was that of a pioneer and his energy and force of character were demonstrated by his carrying to a successful termination a venture that many thought would be unprofitable, if not impossible. Mr. Harvey was noted as an active and skillful business man. His prominent characteristics were an indomitable will, untiring energy and faithfulness to a trust. He maintained a high and honorable standard of conduct and, to all who knew him intimately, his life stands as an example worthy of emulation. He was a great reader, not for mere pleasure or pastime, but for the acquisition of profound knowledge. His private library was one of the best to be found in the country.
Mr. Harvey was married Jan. 14, 1860, to Miss Barbara Mattas, of St. Louis, Mo. Mrs. Harvey still resides in Leavenworth, where the family has resided since 1865. To Mr. and Mrs. Harvey were born nine children, of whom the following are living: Ford F., Kansas City, Mo.; Minnie B., wife of J. F. Huckel, Kansas City, Mo.; Marie J. married Herbert Hall, New York; Byron S., Chicago, Ill.; and Sybil, who resides with her mother. Mr. Harvey was a Knight Templar Mason and a member of the Episcopal church, of which the family are also members.Pages 385-387 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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