Wilder Stevens Metcalf, former United States pension agent at the Topeka agency, was born at Milo, Me., Sept. 10, 1855. He is a son of Isaac Metcalf, a native of Royalston, Mass., born Jan. 29, 1822, who was a student at Bowdoin College and graduated in that famous school, in 1846. Isaac S. Metcalf followed the profession of civil engineer, in New England, for a few years; then, in 1849, he came west and helped to construct the Illinois Central railroad, being in charge of one division as a civil engineer. He was thus engaged until 1855, when the road was completed, and he was then offered a permanent position on the road, but declined it. He and his wife then returned to Maine on a visit, and it was while on this visit that the son, Wilder S., was born. Isaac S. Metcalf removed to Elyria, Ohio, in 1856, and there resided until his death, in 1897. He served as a colonel in the Ohio Home Guard during the Civil war, being too old for active service in the field. Isaac S. Metcalf was a son of Isaac and Anna Mayo (Stevens) Metcalf, natives of New England and descendants of families of Revolutionary patriots. The original Metcalf ancestor in America was Michael Metcalf, who emigrated from England to America, in 1634, and became a member of the Massachusetts colony, settling in Dedham. The mother of General Wilder was Antoinette Brigham Putnam, a native of New Hampshire and daughter of Rev. John Milton Putnam, a Congregational minister and the pastor of a church for a number of years, at Dunbarton, N. H., where his daughter, Antoinette, was born. The Putnam family was one of New England's stanchest Revolutionary families. The mother of General Metcalf was the first wife of Isaac S. Metcalf and bore him a family of twelve children. After her death, at Elyria, Ohio, in 1875, he married Hattie Howes, who bore him six children, two of whom were born after the father had reached the age of seventy. Of these eighteen children, thirteen are living, and ten of the thirteen sons.
Gen. Wilder S. Metcalf was reared to manhood in Elyria, Ohio, and graduated in the Elyria High School, in 1872, and in Oberlin College, in 1878. From 1878 to 1887 he resided in Wellington, Ohio, being engaged there as bookkeeper with a wholesale cheese and butter firm. In 1887 he came to Kansas and, on April 1 of that year, located at Lawrence, where he became the partner of Edward Russell in the farm mortgage business. The firm of Russell & Metcalf continued until the death of Mr. Russell, in 1898, since which time General Metcalf has continued the business alone, as its sole owner. The Wilder S. Metcalf Farm Mortgage Agency, of Lawrence, is one of the oldest and best known agencies of its kind in the state, its business operations extending over some twenty-five or thirty counties. General Metcalf's home is still at Lawrence. General Metcalf has had an extensive connection with military affairs. Prior to leaving Ohio he served in the Ohio National Guard for three years, holding the positions successively from private to first lieutenant. Upon locating at Lawrence, Kan., he enlisted as a private in the Kansas National Guard and subsequently held every position in the First infantry of the Kansas National Guard, from private up to colonel. He was colonel of the regiment, in 1898, when the Spanish-American war broke out, and upon the outbreak of that war was commissioned major of the Twentieth Kansas regiment, under Col. Frederick Funston. He went to San Francisco with his regiment, and thence to the Philippines, where it spent one year in the war with the Filipinos. Meanwhile, upon Colonel Funston's promotion to be brigadier-general, Major Metcalf was elected colonel of the regiment and received every vote in the regiment but one. From May, 1899, until mustered out he was in command of this regiment in the insurrection that prevailed in the Philippines. In October his regiment returned home, and was mustered out at San Francisco. He was twice wounded during this service. In the fall of 1899 he was brevetted brigadier-general by President McKinley, and upon his return to Lawrence from the Philippines service he again became the colonel of the First infantry of the Kansas National Guards, which position he still holds. In 1909 he was appointed by the secretary of war a member of the National Militia Board, consisting of five members, and is now serving on that board. In December, 1901, without any solicitation upon his part, whatever, he was appointed by President Theodore Roosevelt as United States pension agent, at Topeka. He took charge of the office, March 1, 1902, and held the position until Sept. 1, 1910, having been reappointed by Roosevelt, Jan. 30, 1906. He enjoys the distinction of being the only man to hold the office for two terms in succession. It is the largest pension agency in the United States, embracing, besides Kansas, the states of Missouri, Colorado, Oklahoma, and New Mexico, its distributions amounting to more than $18,000,000 annually.
General Metcalf was married, July 30, 1878, to Mary Eliza Crosier, of Wellington, Ohio. He associates fraternally as a member of the Masonic order, being a Knight Templar and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Army and Navy Club, of Washington, D. C., of the Kansas City and University clubs, of Kansas City, Mo., and of the Topeka Club, of Topeka. He also belongs to the Military Order of Foreign Wars, to the Spanish-American War Veterans, to the Army of the Philippines, and to the Military Order of the Carabas.Pages 373-375 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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