Robert W. McGrath.One of the most successful and energetic members of the legal fraternity of Wilson county is Robert W. McGrath, of Fredonia, who has not only attained a high standing in certain lines of his profession, but has become known as a business man of exceptional acumen and accomplishment. He was born in McLean county, Illinois, March 28, 1863, one of eight children born to Michael and Amelia (Ryan) McGrath, natives of Ireland. The father was one of the revolutionists during the uprising in Ireland in 1848, and in that year was forced to leave his native country in disguise. He made his way to free America and established his residence in the State of Connecticut. The mother came from her native land to Canada, in 1847, and the following year removed to Connecticut, where she met Michael McGrath, and they were married in 1852. They removed to Bloomington, Ill., in 1855, and there the father followed farming until 1879, when they removed to Kansas. He died in Wilson county, in 1907, at the advanced age of ninety-two years, possessing all of his faculties unimpaired until the last. The mother died in 1896, at the age of seventy-four years. They were members of the Catholic church and Mr. McGrath was a Republican in his political views. The preliminary education of Robert W. McGrath began in McLean county, Illinois, was continued in Wilson county, Kansas, and before he had reached the age of twenty years he became a teacher in the public schools. In that way he paid the expenses of his further education in the Kansas Normal College at Fort Scott, the State Normal School at Emporia, and the University of Kansas, in the law department of which last named institution he graduated in 1893 with the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He began his practice in Fredonia and was successful from the start. He possesses all the qualities of an able practitioner. He has an extensive knowledge of the law, is a capable advocate, and is particularly strong in the real estate and commercial branches of his profession, of which he has made a specialty ever since opening his office. He is well known throughout southeastern Kansas as an authority on lands, titles and land investments, to which he has given a large portion of his attention and study for a number of years. Arbitration is no new theme to him, for it has been the basis of his law business for years. Whenever possible he has sought to bring about amicable settlements of disputes without resorts to the courts, and thus has saved his clients the expense and annoyance of extended litigation. Among the members of his profession he is known as a legal diplomat, which is, after all, the highest and best reputation known to the disciples of Blackstone. He possesses rare business ability, and his talents in that direction, accentuated by his law practice along the lines of his individual strength, have made him a business man of a high order. He is distinctly a self-made man, and out of the resources of his own genius and industry has built a professional reputation and practice. He has extensive banking interests in Fredonia and elsewhere, being one of the largest stockholders in and the president of the Coyville State Bank at Coyville, Kan. He has also extensive investments in lands and improved city real estate, and is recognized as one of the substantial business men of Wilson county. With implicit faith in the future of Fredonia, he made extensive investments in property when values were low and others had lost hope of the city's development, and by improving the property and disposing of it under better conditions gained profit for himself and contributed to Fredonia's prosperity at the same time. Mr. McGrath is a man of refined temperament and happy social qualities and is a citizen of public spirit and of the highest integrity. He has never aspired to an elective office and is possibly the only lawyer in Fredonia and Wilson county who has never cherished ambition for a public career. He is more of a church worker and home builder than statesman or would-be statesman. Continuing in the faith of his parents, he is a devoted member of the Catholic church at Fredonia, to the support of which he has probably been the largest contributor of the city. He gave more than $2,000 in money and in ground to the church edifice recently erected, and in the absence of a resident pastor has had charge of the Catholic Sunday schools in Fredonia for several years, being perhaps the only Catholic layman in Kansas now occupying such a position. He believes in the prohibition of the liquor traffic and in his political views is aligned with the progressive branch of the Republican party, believing in the referendum in legislation and in the recall of public officials when necessity so requires. He is opposed to large armies and navies and is heartily in sympathy with President Taft's efforts in behalf of international arbitration.Pages 816-818 from volume III, part 2 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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