John R. Mulvane, president of the Bank of Topeka, is one of the best known business men of Kansas. Uniting, with great natural capacity, the qualities of energy, honesty and daring, he has carried a great number of undertakings to marked success. Today he is rated as one of the rich men of the West, and every dollar of his fortune has been made by his own unaided efforts. He was born in Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas county, Ohio, July 6, 1835. He once told his biographer that his education was secured sitting on a slab seat in a pioneer country school house. At an early age he went into his father's tannery to learn the trade, and while still a boy gained such a knowledge of general merchandising that at the age of twenty he was able to take practical charge of his father's country store.
The Mulvane family originally came from the Mcllvanes of Scotland. The first American representative came to North Carolina before the Revolutionary war. About 1803 John Mulvane, the paternal grandfather of John R., located in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, where he was one of the five original taxpayers of the county. He married Mary McCune, daughter of James McCune, who served as an ensign in the United States navy during the war of 1812 and received as a reward from the government a tract of land in Tuscarawas county, Ohio, upon which he settled. John Mulvane was a soldier in the war of 1812. His son, David, the father of John R. Mulvane, married Mary Ross, the daughter of William Ross, an Irishman of County Cork, who came to Ohio in 1805 as a missionary to the Delaware Indians. The wife of William Ross was Jane Whittaker, an Englishwoman. One of her brothers was the owner of the great cotton mills near Philadelphia, and another was an iron founder who made cannon for the Federal government during the Civil war. David Mulvane was first a farmer boy and then a laborer on the Ohio canal. By perseverance and industry he steadily improved his condition and became the leading merchant and manufacturer in Newcomerstown.
In 1865 John R. Mulvane left his father and engaged in merchandising at Princeton, Ill., with his brother, Jacob Mulvane. His health soon failed and after some time spent in a sanitarium he came to Kansas, arriving in Topeka in August, 1868. He had some means and at first dealt in land and cattle. In January, 1870, he became cashier of the Topeka Bank and Savings Institution, and thus commenced the career that has made him one of the best known financiers in the West. In July, 1878, this bank was reorganized as the Bank of Topeka, Mr. Mulvane becoming the president, which place he has held ever since. However, he has not confined his entire time and energy to banking, but has engaged in other enterprises of various kinds and great proportions. With his brother, Joab, he was one of the powers that completed and made a success of the Topeka Water Company and was a potent factor in the reorganization of the Topeka Street Railway Company. In both enterprises he made money. The following year (1879), with his brother, Joab, and W. B. Strong, he bought a little telephone exchange that was trying to do business in Topeka. Out of this beginning has grown the great Missouri & Kansas Telephone Company, of which Mr. Mulvane was president and a heavy stockholder. Mr. Mulvane has been largely interested in the salt industry and was one of the large stockholders in the companies operating in Hutchinson; was one of the promoters of the Beatrice Creamery Company of Lincoln, Denver and Topeka, whose output of the famous Meadow Gold butter is larger than that of any other brand in the United States. He is a large stockholder in the Charles Wolff Packing Company of Topeka and is one of the largest owners of irrigated lands in Bent county, Colorado. He is director and vice-president of the Globe Surety Company, and director in the Commerce Trust Company, all of Kansas City, Mo.
Mr. Mulvane married Miss Hattie M. Freeman at Newcomerstown, Ohio, Aug. 16, 1856. No children were born to this union, but Mr. and Mrs. Mulvane adopted and reared the two orphan children of Mr. Mulvane's youngest sister. He has been a member of the Baptist church for more than forty years, and for twenty years has been a member of the board of directors of the First Baptist church of Topeka. He is president of the Topeka Free Library, of which he was one of the organizers. In coöperation with Bishop Vail he was one of the organizers of Christ's Hospital of Topeka, in which corporation he still holds the position of treasurer. He is a member of the Commercial club and of the Country club, is a Thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, Knight Templar and an Odd Fellow. Since 1901 he has been one of the trustees of Washburn College.Pages 752-753 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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