Leander McChesney.The development of the State of Kansas from what was called, fifty years ago, the Great American Desert, a development which has advanced her to a position of importance among her sister commonwealths of the Union, would have been impossible without the assistance and encouragement of her financial institutions. The conduct of the business of her banks has been, with few exceptions, in the hands of men who have had unbounded faith in her natural resources, in the timber of her citizenship, and who have been of material value in moulding opinion along constructive, productive and progressive lines, with the result that no instance of more substantial and satisfactory growth is found in the history of our country. It is in connection with the banking life of the State that the man under consideration reached the maximum of usefulness as a citizen of Kansas. He was for twenty years the controlling executive of one of her important financial institutions. His home county honored him with public office, in which he served with credit and distinction. Clay Center, his place of residence for many years, recognized in him one of her most useful, influential and progressive men of affairs.
Leander McChesney was born in Orange, N. J., August 30, 1842, a son of Alexander and Mary (Lindsley) McChesney. He was reared in his native city, acquired his education in its public schools, and from his father, who was a manufacturer of hats, receiving a thorough business training. On the call of Lincoln, in 1861, for volunteers he enlisted in Battery B, First New Jersey artillery, known as Cook's Battery. For valor on the field of battle he was promoted to the rank of corporal, then to that of sergeant, and later commissioned second lieutenant, serving from 1861 until mustered out in 1865. With his regiment he participated in many important battles, including Gettysburg, and in the latter was seriously wounded in the left shoulder, from which he never entirely recovered. On conclusion of his military service he went to the Pacific coast, where he was employed as a cowboy and miner, and accumulated sufficient funds to embark in the wholesale lumber business. In 1873 he came to Clay county, Kansas, where he engaged in farming, having purchased a tract of land in Exter township. He was actively concerned in the political life of the county, at that time in the first stages of its development, was a consistent advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party, and, in 1882, was elected treasurer of Clay county, and, in 1884, was elected to succeed himself. His administration of the business of this office, in which he served for four years, was creditable to himself and his constituents and was marked by successful financial methods. On his retirement from this office he became a stockholder in the Peoples National Bank, of Clay Center, and was elected president and remained with the institution in this capacity until the time of his death, which occurred November 15, 1909. In the development and administration of the business of this bank Mr. McChesney was the dominant executive and to his progressiveness, energy and resourcefulness was due the strength and high reputation of the organization during his connection with the institution. He was known to the banking fraternity as an able and discriminating financier and one who had brought the administrative policy of his bank up to the point of highest efficiency. He was concerned directly or indirectly with enterprises and movements which were important factors in the growth and development of Clay Center, and served for two years as a member of the city council. He was an ambitious and tireless worker, conservative in his business methods, and his business integrity and honesty were unquestioned. He left at his death an estate which represents the brain, the pluck and energy of one man, who, with his peculiar natural tact, ever saw the propitious moment and availed himself of it.
On May 16, 1877, Mr. McChesney married Miss Mary E. Parry, a daughter of Samuel and Mary (Llewellyn) Parry, born in Staffordshire, England, on January 20, 1858. The family came to the United States in 1861, residing for the first eight years in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Parry was employed in coal mining. In 1871 he brought his family to Kansas, homesteading land in Exter township, Clay county. He was engaged in farming until 1882, when he retired from active life and became a resident of Clay Center, where he died on August 15, 1912. Two children, besides Mrs. McChesney, survive: William, born May 30, 1861, a resident of Neosho, Mo., and Llewellyn, born June 1, 1865, of Clay Center.
Leander and Mary E. (Parry) McChesney were the parents of eight children, who are, in order of birth, as follows: Elsie, born February 18, 1878, died in infancy; Ethel, born May 5, 1879, died February 18, 1881; Earl, born December 6, 1881, cashier of the State Bank, of Milford, Kan.; He was graduated from the Clay Center High School with the class of 1902, and on October 6, 1903, married Miss Franc Campbell. The fourth child, Lee, born May 31, 1884, is cashier of the State Bank, of Keats, Kan. He married, on June 29, 1910, Miss Elsie Whitmer. Hazel, born October 24, 1887, died in infancy; Ray, born December 1, 1888, is cashier of the State Bank, of Ogden, Kan. He was graduated from the Clay Center High School with the class of 1907, and on November 17, 1910, married Miss Edna Beck. The two youngest children, both daughters, reside with their mother; Meda, born May 30, 1897, and Marion, born October 24, 1899.
Mr. McChesney was in all respects a high type of the conservative, unassuming American, diligent in his public duties and commercial affairs and conscientious in all things. His own standard of life was high and it was seen in what grew to be one of the most successful banking institutions in northern Kansas. In a large measure his life work was finishedit had met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition. But infinitely more precious and of personal worth to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of well earned popularity, in the esteem which comes from honorable living, and in the affection that slowly develops only from unselfish works. In his business life he was the embodiment of honor, as he was in his social and domestic life the perfection of love and gentleness.Pages 476-478 from a supplemental volume 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 October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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