William Cutter Little.A man's real worth to his community is best determined by inquiring into the sentiment of his neighbors and fellow citizens. Their estimate of him is found to be of more value in uncovering the truth than all other sources of information. However, if there is found in this sentiment a diversity of opinion, it is difficult to arrive at accurate conclusions. On the other hand, if absolute harmony prevails in it, if it is found to be a single unit, if a man's neighbors and daily associates, without a single dissenter, proclaim him to be a worthy citizen and a power for good in the community, then accuracy of conclusion is made easy; for no precedent exists in which perfect harmony of public sentiment has proved to be wrong. The conclusions formed and herein set forth with reference to the man under consideration have been moulded entirely from the sentiment of his friends and fellow citizens, and since this sentiment had in it not a single discordant note, its accuracy can be fully vouchsafed and relied upon. Judge William Cutter Little is one of the real pioneers of Wichita, as well as one of her substantial men and most highly respected citizens. Locating there in 1870, when the place was a mere hamlet, he has resided in Wichita constantly for more than forty years, and has been an important factor in the city's growth from the period of its infancy to the present time. During all these years he has helped to shape its destiny; has helped to solve its various municipal problems; has been a most potent factor in its development; has had the satisfaction of seeing it become the prosperous and important commercial city of more than 50,000 people that it is today, and has contributed to its social, architectural, religious, and educational advancement, as few others have done. He has also been just as active during this time in promoting the welfare and industrial betterment of Sedgwick county and of the State of Kansas.
Judge Little was born in Wethersfield, Henry county, Illinois, March 17, 1847, descended from good, old New England Revolutionary stock and a member of a worthy, numerous, and highly representative American family. His father was Caleb Jewett Tenney Little, who was born at Goffstown, N. H., July 13, 1811, and removed to the State of Illinois in 1837. His mother's maiden name was Eliza Ann Brooks, born at Groton, Mass., July 27, 1813. Both lived to a mature old age, the father, who by occupation was a general merchant, dying in his eighty-fourth year, and the mother in her eightieth year. The paternal grandfather, Abner Bailey Little, died in his ninetieth year. The family was founded in America by George Little, who immigrated to New England from Unicorn Street, London Bridge, England, and located at Newbury, Mass., in 1640. His descendants spread from Massachusetts to New Hampshire, Maine, Vermont, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois, and thence to other parts of the country, until today they inhabit practically every state of the American Union. The family has contributed its full share toward the building up of American institutions, and, perhaps, no other family can lay claim to a larger number of true, American patriots. The chief characteristics of its members have been thrift, industry, sobriety, intelligence, and patriotism, together with religious and educational tendencies of a high degree. In short, the descendants of George Little, in America, belong to that class of citizens who have been noted for their rugged honesty, their sturdy high character, their activity in the founding of schools, colleges, and churches, their loyalty and patriotism in time of war, and their industry and progressiveness in time of peace. George Little, though he came from England, was undoubtedly of Scotch descent, and the high standards for which the Scotch are noted have been worthily maintained by his American descendants. In Judge Little's possession there is a book entitled, "Descendants of George Little," which was published, in 1882, by George Thomas Little, A. M., of Auburn, Me., a member of the Maine Historical Society. This volume shows George Little's descendants to be very numerous throughout this country, there being personal accounts in it of more than 1,400 heads of families and 6,500 members, and it was published nearly thirty years ago.
In religion the family has been altogether Protestant, and for the most part Congregationalists, while in occupation it has been about equally divided among three of the principal vocationsone-third of them giving their attention to agriculture, one-third to commercial and mechanical pursuits, and the remaining third to the learned professions, being about equally divided in law, medicine, and theology. There have been five college presidents among them; there have been representatives in both branches of the National Congress, and statistics show that one out of every twenty has served in state legislatures. The family has been represented in all of the principal American wars, including the French and Indian, the Revolution, the war of 1812 and the Civil war. Col. Moses Little, who was officer of the day when Washington took command of the Continental army, and who commanded a regiment at the battle of Bunker Hill, was one of George Little's descendants, while others of his descendants have been prominent as authors and publishers; and through maternal lines kinship can be traced to the poets Longfellow and Whittier. Three towns of the American union bear the name of Littieton in honor of their founders, while the names of members of the family appear in generous numbers on the alumni rolls of American colleges, those of Harvard and Dartmouth predominating. The branch of the family to which William C. Little belongs has been noted for its remarkable longevity, his grandfather and both of his parents reaching a ripe old age, as has already been noted, while five golden weddings were celebrated by the brothers and sisters in his father's family. It will be seen by the foregoing that William C. Little belongs to a most worthy American familya family which has maintained a high standard in all matters relating to American progress, and which represents the best sentiments and highest ideals in American life; and it may also be said to be a family of pioneers, for his great ancestor, George Little, was a pioneer of Massachusetts and of the country itself, while his father was a pioneer of the State of Illinois, and he, himself, was a pioneer of the State of Kansas.
Judge William Cutter Little was reared to manhood in his native State of Illinois and was educated in its public schools and in Kewanee Academy, in which he graduated in 1866. Besides the commoner branches, his studies included English, Latin, Greek, and German. In the fall of 1866 he entered Beloit College, but after a short time his studies there were discontinued on account of ill health. He taught a country school during one winter and later read law in the offices of Howe & North, at Kewanee, Ill., and was admitted to practice by the Supreme Court of Illinois, April 25, 1870. His attention was first attracted to Kansas when, as a small boy, he assisted in shelling corn which had been donated by his father to the Kansas Immigration Aid Society. Later, when he was older, his father pointed out to him the advantages which a new country offered to young men of pluck, energy, and tenacity of purpose, and of limited means. Accordingly, soon after his admission to the bar, and while considering the question of a location, he decided that he would make Kansas his future home. Reaching this state, Sept. 20, 1870, he went directly to Wichita, where he has since resided. After practicing law about fourteen years he turned his entire attention to financial matters, and for more than twenty-five years has been prominently identified with the financial, commercial, and industrial history and affairs of the city. During 1881 and 1882 he wound up the affairs of the First National Bank of Wichita, as receiver, he is now president of the Wichita Loan and Trust company, president of the Western Investment and Realty company, and is vice-president of the State Savings Bank of Wichita. Together with associates, he built the first reinforced concrete building in the state, the present Boston Store on the corner of Douglas and Main streets, Wichita, and is still the principal owner of this valuable property, which is, perhaps, the largest and best building, devoted exclusively to retail purposes, in the State of Kansas. Judge Little has always taken an active part in the affairs of Wichita and of Sedgwick county and has been one of the foremost men in the city in devoting his time, attention, and energies to the public weal. He was vice-president of the company that built the first street railway to Fairmount; was chairman of the court-house committee, which acquired title to the ground and located the present county court-house, and he had charge of the election which voted the bonds to build it. He was a member of the citizens' committee, which, in conjunction with a committee from the city council, consulted with New York engineers concerning a sewer system for Wichita, and as such he helped to work out the perfect system in use today. He was an active participant in the movement, and one of its heavy cash contributors, which led to the location of the Dold and Whittaker packing houses in Wichita, the latter now being the splendid plant of the Cudahys, and in other ways his influence and means have contributed to the growth of Wichita's industrial development. He was one of the public-spirited citizens who purchased the site of the present United States government building in Wichita, and was thus instrumental in bringing about its most excellent and convenient location. Along this line it may also be mentioned that Judge Little took the initiatory steps in the movement which led to the purchase of the real estate by the city and the establishment of Hamilton Park at a point only a block and a half from Wichita's business center, and in the transaction which conveyed the property to the municipality he represented its Eastern owners. These are only a few of the more important ways in which Judge Little's influence for good in his community has been manifested. In addition to this his acts of philanthropy and his deeds of charity have been numerous, while his sterling integrity and his uniform, manly, high character have been such as to exercise a most beneficent influence upon his fellows and the rising youth. Though not an enthusiast, Judge Little has always taken a keen interest in manly, out-door sports, was formerly a member of the Pace Gun Club, and for many years was a member of the Waldock Lake Fishing and Gun Club, and of Wichita's Country Club.
In politics, he has always been a Republican, casting his first presidential vote for Ulysses S. Grant. His political ideas, however, have ever been characterized by independence of thought and action and by consistent progressiveness. In 1871 he was appointed county superintendent of public instruction, to fill out an unexpired term, and from 1872 to 1876 served two terms as probate judge of Sedgwick county. He is fond of literature, is a ready writer, and has the faculty of being able to express his thoughts easily in both poetry and prose. In the columns of the local press there has frequently appeared verse from Judge Little's pen, which shows him to possess much talent as a composer of well-metered, catchy and entertaining rhyme. In addition to being a large owner of city real estate, Judge Little has been an owner of Kansas farms, and he has ever taken a deep interest in the most advanced methods of agriculture and in the improvement of Kansas live stock. he has always been a strong advocate of the growing of alfalfa, and was one among the first men in Kansas to raise it and to demonstrate its great value and successful culture, he has ever been a lover of high bred domestic animals and has done much to improve the flocks and herds of Kansas. Pedigreed Merino sheep from the finest flocks of western New York and Vermont were brought in by him in carload lots, while the herds of Kansas cattle have been improved by pedigreed Short Horns and Herefords, which he had shipped in from the states of Missouri and Illinois. This marked fondness for thoroughbred domestic animals was in evidence even at his city home in Wichita, for his children's pony was an imported Shetland, the family dog was a well-bred Newfoundland, and the cows were of the best strain of Jerseys. For many years he was secretary of the local woolgrowers' association, which enabled flock masters to store and hold their wool and later ship it in car lots to the markets of St. Louis, Boston, and Philadelphia, thus obtaining better prices for their product.
At Kewanee, Henry county, Illinois, on June 2, 1875, Judge Little was married to Miss Anna Louise Reed. She was born at Canandaigua, N. Y., Aug. 31, 1853, daughter of William and Lucinda (Antes) Reed. The Reed family, also, was of good New England Revolutionary stock, many of its members becoming sturdy and aggressive early settlers of western New York. It was composed of good men and true, not unknown in war, politics, and religionsuch famous characters as Gen. George A. Custer, ex-Speaker Thomas B. Reed, and Episcopal Bishop Charles Cheney, of Chicago, being among their number. Judge Little and wife are the parents of three children, all sons, and born at Wichita, Kan., as follows: Fred William Little, born Nov. 16, 1877, was educated at Lewis Academy and Wentworth Military Academy, read law in the offices of the late Gov. William E. Stanley, was admitted to the bar in 1900, and is now vice-president of the Wichita Loan and Trust company, and of the Western Investment and Realty company; married Nov. 23, 1901, to Miss Sarah Emma, daughter of Finlay and Sarah (Parham) Ross; one child, Fred Ross Little, born Aug. 31, 1906. George Reed Little, born May 3, 1880, received his preparatory education in the Wichita public schools and at Lewis Academy, graduating in 1899; completed his literary work in Fairmount College and at Harvard University; graduated from the Northwestern University Medical School, of Chicago, June 20, 1907, following which he completed services as resident physician in the Rockford Hospital, at Rockford, Ill.; the Milwaukee County Hospital, of Wauwatosa, Wis., and the Chicago Lying-in Hospital and Dispensary, at Chicago, Ill., receiving diplomas from those institutions; he is now a practicing physician and surgeon of Wichita. Edward Antes Little, born Jan. 20, 1889, was educated in the Wichita public schools, Fairmount College and Leland Stanford University; graduated from the literary department of the last named institution in 1910, and is now a student in its legal department.
Judge Little is eligible to membership in the Sons of the American Revolution and his wife is eligible to membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution, both having in their possession all the necessary data which would admit them to those two patriotic organizations. Ever since he located in Wichita, Judge Little has been a member and active supporter of the First Presbyterian Church of that city, there being no Congregational church there at an early date. During the greater part of his forty years' membership with the First Presbyterian Church he has served as one of its trustees, and for many years was president of its official board. He has always taken a deep interest in churches, schools, and colleges, and the work of the Young Men's Christian Association, and has ever been a generous supporter of all of these bulwarks of society and civilization. He was one of the founders of Lewis Academy and of Fairmount College, of Wichita, and he and Mrs. Little have for many years been liberal contributors to the cause of foreign missions, maintaining missionaries at their own expense in foreign lands. Judge Little feels that of all the investments he has ever made, outside of home and family, those that have paid the largest dividends and yielded the highest happiness, are those made by himself and wife in supporting native pastors in foreign lands, in the education of young men for the ministry at Chefoo, China, and in the assistance given to the missions and to the poor of their home city. He believes the world is growing better, is an ardent supporter of the theory of international arbitration, and his sympathies have ever been with the weak as against the strong. Judge Little is a well preserved man and is apparently quite as active, and possessed of as much vigor as a man in the fullness of his prime. His fine physical condition, no doubt, is due, in part at least, to his regular manner of living and abstemious habits, it being a rule of his life totally to abstain from intoxicants and narcotics of every form. In other words, it has been his aim to adhere strictly to the principles of the simple life, with the result that he is possessed of a clear brain, a steady nerve, and a well-fortified physique, despite his three score and four years. Simple in his tastes, quiet and unobtrusive in his manner, with tenacity of purpose, Judge Little has made an impress on the financial, business, religious, and educational history of Wichita, as few others have done, and has proved himself to be a creditable representative of an excellent family and a worthy descendant of his patriotic ancestry.Pages 72-77 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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