Benjamin Chase McQuesten, of Ottawa, Kan., has long been connected with its business and social life. He is one of the city's pioneers in banking, having organized and established the banking house of Shepherd & McQuesten, in 1869, the second institution of the kind to be established in the city. This venture met with success and possessed the confidence as well as a flattering support of the people, and it was merged into the People's National Bank, of which institution he was elected cashier. He held this position for several years, or until J. P. Harris became connected with the bank, after which he resigned and removed to a farm near the city, where he resided about one year, when the directors of the First National Bank sought his services as its assistant cashier, and he accepted the position which he held for many years. Although filling a responsible position in the First National Bank which ordinarily requires the whole of one's time and attention, Mr. McQuesten was chosen to fill another exceptionally responsible office, that of treasurer of the Franklin County Agricultural Society, regarded as the most successful agricultural society in the state. This position he has successfully filled for the last twenty years and bids fair to continue as long as his services are required.
Mr. McQuesten comes of stanch Scotch ancestry and was born at Plymouth, N. H., May 18, 1835. He is the son of Alvah and Abigail (Chase) McQuesten, the former the son of Peter and Judith (Greenough) McQuesten, natives of New Hampshire. Peter McQuesten was born Nov. 14, 1766, and Judith Greenough, his wife, on Dec. 9, 1771. They were married in New Hampshire, May 18, 1793, and became the parents of nine children, namely: Simon, William D., Alvah, the father of our subject, Veleria, Charles C., Greenough, Peter R., Oliver S. and Relief J. Alvah was born March 3, 1797, at Plymouth, N. H., and died in Boston, Mass., March 2, 1880. Abigail (Chase) McQuesten, the mother of Benjamin C. of this record, was born Dec. 5, 1799, at Canterbury, N. H., and died May 15, 1863. Alvah McQuesten and Abigail Chase were married at Plymouth, N. H., Dec. 30, 1823, and were blessed with the following children who grew to maturity: Relief J., born June 17, 1827, married Charles G. Chase of Boston, Mass., Dec. 17, 1853; Abigail C., born June 28, 1831, married Joseph W. Lane Nov. 28, 1858; Alvah A., born May 9, 1833, resides in Ottawa, Kan. (1910); Benjamin C., the subject of this sketch; Garaphelia B., born Nov. 3, 1842, married Joseph Watson of Boston, Mass. It will be noted that but five sons and daughters were named above, six of their eleven children having died early in life.
Benjamin C. McQuesten spent his youth in assisting his father, who was a practical tanner and currier, and thus mastered that trade ere he had reached his majority. During that time, however, he attended the common schools, which were as good as could be found in New England in that day, and supplemented his scholastic training in them by attending the Plymouth Academy, where with means provided by his own efforts, he secured a practical knowledge of bookkeeping and excelled as a penman. At the age of nineteen, or in 1854, he decided to go west and accordingly proceeded to Springfield, Ill., where he engaged in the mercantile business. This he continued with marked success until 1869, when he disposed of his mercantile interests in Springfield and came directly to Ottawa, Kan., where he began his business career as set forth in the beginning of this sketch.
On Sept. 25, 1860, he was united in marriage with Miss Emily R. Matheny, daughter of Charles R. and Jemina (Ogle) Matheny, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Illinois. Emily R. Matheny was born in Springfield, Ill., March 16, 1833, where she was reared and educated not only in the schools of Springfield but also in the Methodist Female College at Jacksonville, Ill., where she took a three-years course. Charles R. Matheny, her father, was a prominent minister of the Methodist Episcopal church and an associate of Peter Cartwright, one of the most noted evangelists of his day. Mrs. McQuesten's brother, James Matheny, practiced law in Springfield when the martyred Lincoln was also a member of the Springfield bar, and their association together made them lifelong friends. James Matheny was an attorney of exceptional ability, and is succeeded in the practice of law by his son, James H. Matheny, who has attained eminent distinction in the legal profession and was president of the Illinois Bar Association in 1908. Mr. McQuesten and his wife have one child, Ben C., born Aug. 5, 1861. He was eight years of age when he accompanied his parents to Ottawa, and was therefore reared and educated in that city. He early manifested a desire to enter the ministry and bent every energy in that dirction.[sic] He was reared in the Presbyterian faith, as both Mr. and Mrs. McQuesten are long-time members of that church, and he decided to qualify himself to meet the approval of the Presbyterian synod which requires a very rigid and exacting examination of all applicants for the ministry. He won recognition and his first assignment, after three years of persistent self-study, was to the pastorate of the First Presbyterian Church of Humboldt, Kan. He is now located at Eldorado, where he is recognized as one of that city's most eloquent and progressive ministers. On Aug. 19, 1885, he was united in marriage to Miss Mary E. Johnson, and to them has been born a daughter, Ruth C., born Jan. 23, 1893, who is now (1910) attending the Presbyterian College at Emporia. As stated, Benjamin C. McQuesten and his wife are members of the Presbyterian church of Ottawa, in which both are earnest workers, laboring incessantly for its success. These honored pioneers expect to spend the rest of their lives in the city of Ottawa where almost a half century of association with its people has endeared the place to them. Fraternally Mr. McQuesten is a Mason, having been master of Springfield Lodge No. 4, Free and Accepted Masons, as well as eminent commander of Elwood Commandery at Springfield, Ill., prior to his removal to Kansas. Since his residence in Ottawa he has served as master of Ottawa Lodge No. 128, Free and Accepted Masons, being its first master while working under a dispensation, as well as its first elected master. He has taken the Knight Templar degrees and is past eminent commander of Tancred Commandery of Ottawa. Although his first vote was cast for Millard Fillmore, a Whig, he has ever since espoused the principles of the Republican party, but in local affairs he usually supports the best man regardless of party. Mr. and Mrs. McQuesten celebrated their golden wedding anniversary Sept. 25, 1910, at their pleasant home on South Main street.Pages 1390-1392 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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