William M. Hedge, president of the State Bank of Whiting and one of the leading merchants of that place, in partnership with W. E. Brown of Holton, in the lumber and grain business, was born in Bureau county. Illinois, Oct. 17, 1848. His parents were James and Bridget Hedge, who emigrated from Ireland at an early day and came to Illinois when it was comparatively an unbroken wilderness, with no railroads to the Mississippi river and settlements far apart. James Hedge was one of those brave pioneers who, being undaunted by work, entered 160 acres of land in Bureau county, cleared off the timber, built a comfortable log cabin, and within a few short years had a prosperous frontier farm. He died when William was young, and the struggle for existence in a wild country devolved upon the boy and his mother. The schools of that day in Illinois were few and the education the boy acquired was largely taught by experience, which may be a hard taskmaster but is a most thorough one, so that pupils thereof usually become men of mark in the world. It was the men, reared on the frontier, who ever pressed still further west, and this was true of Mr. Hedge, for, when twenty-one years of age, he came to Kansas to see what the goddess of fortune held in store for him. Like most of the settlers in a new country, he bought 160 acres of wild land in Jackson county, and within five short years had a good farm, with many improvements. But, during all the years of his boyhood in the country, it had become his ambition to be a merchant. He had business ability, made money on his prairie farm and, in 1876, he and Dr. A. S. Hatch engaged in general merchandising in Whiting, until 1879, when the partnership was dissolved, and he became the partner of W. E. Brown, at Whiting, in a hardware store. Later he became interested in grain elevators. From time to time his interests have increased until he is now one of the leading merchants of Jackson county, has the controlling interest in six large elevators, and, not being satisfied with these commercial enterprises, has also engaged in banking. Since 1903 Mr. Hedge has been the able executive of the State Bank of Whiting, one of the soundest banking concerns in the eastern part of Kansas. It is the man who accomplishes things in this Twentieth Century that is admired and respected; and Mr. Hedge has accomplished much, for he has reached his present financial and social position by his own efforts, in the face of most adverse circumstances. With little education and little money he started at the bottom, and now has reached the top by hard work and unswerving determination to let nothing stand in the way of success. It has not been easy, but the struggle upward has taken nothing from the geniality of this charming Irishman, who started as a tiller of the soil. He is held in high respect by his business associates and is one of the substantial citizens of Whiting. Politically he is a Democrat, and while interested in politics has always been too busy to hold office, except to act as mayor of Whiting, at the earnest solicitation of his friends.
Mr. Hedge married Mary Elizabeth Brown, in 1879. She is a daughter of Michael and Catharine Brown of Jackson county, who came to Kansas from the State of New York, in 1871. Four children have come to brighten the Hedge home: Ernest B. lives on the old homestead south of Whiting; Charles W. is assistant cashier in the State Bank; and Gertrude and Helen are at home. The family are members of the Methodist Episcopal church.Pages 604-605 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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