Uri Balcom Pearsall.To have accomplished so notable a work as did the late Uri B. Pearsall in connection with the commercial development of the city of Fort Scott would prove sufficient to give precedence and reputation to any man, were this to represent the sum total of his efforts; but General Pearsall was a man of broad mental ken, strong initiative, and distinct individuality, a potent factor in the early railway development of southeastern Kansas, and he served with distinction in the Civil war, in which his services were of incalcuable value to the Union cause.
Uri Balcom Pearsall was born in Owego, Tioga county, New York, July 17, 1840, son of William Sutton and Eliza (Balcom) Pearsall. His ancestors, paternal and maternal, were among the early settlers of America, and numbered among them are men who achieved distinction in frontier life of those early days, in the commercial era which followed, in the French and Indian war, and later in the war of the Revolution. Charles Balcom, a maternal ancestor, was a native of England and a younger brother of Lord Balcom. He immigrated to the Massachusetts colony, in 1720, and became a man of large property and influence. The Pearsall family are also of English descent, founded in America, in 1740, and became residents of Long Island. William Sutton Pearsall became a pioneer settler of Tioga county, New York, shortly after the close of the War of 1812. He was the most extensive land owner of his time in that section of the state, one of the founders of Owego, built the first dam on the Susquehanna river and operated both lumber and flour mills.
General Pearsall was reared in Owego, N. Y., and acquired his education in Oxford Academy in that town. When he became sixteen years of age his father suffered business reverses, and he removed to Wisconsin and entered the employ of his uncle, Uri Balcom, an extensive lumber operator at Oconto. At the outbreak of the Civil war, in 1861, on President Lincoln's first call, he raised an infantry company, known as the Oconto River Drivers. Previous to securing equipment they were drilled with "peavies" in the place of muskets, and Capt. C. M. Pearsall, the only son of the General, has in his possession two of those necessary implements of the old-time river driver, used by his father's company. Mr. Pearsall was elected first lieutenant of the company, but refused a commission, preferring to serve as a private. As a member of Company H, Fourth Wisconsin infantry, he saw his first service and remained with this regiment until 1862. He was promoted to corporal and orderly sergeant, and in 1862 to second lieutenant, and was detailed as aide to Gen. W. T. Sherman. He was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Forty-eighth Wisconsin, in 1863, and colonel in 1864, but was detailed as engineer in the Department of the Gulf and never took command of his regiment. While serving as engineer he constructed the Red River dam, at Alexandria, Porter's fleet, as well as preserving that section to the Union forces. He was brevetted brigadier-general, March 13, 1865, and was successively in command of Fort Riley, Fort Scott and Fort Larned, Kansas, during the Indian campaigns of that year. He was mustered out at Fort Leavenworth, Dec. 30, 1865. On completion of the Red River campaign he received a vote of thanks from Congress, in recognition of his invaluable services, and subsequent to his death Congress allowed his widow a comfortable competency in further recognition of his services. He was wounded at Dry Tortugas, Fla., and never fully recovered, this injury eventually causing his death. In March, 1866, he located in Fort Scott, Kan., and engaged in the manufacture of lumber and flour and dealt in cattle. He was elected county treasurer of Bourbon county in 1874 and was reëlected in 1876 and again in 1878. In 1880 he established a wholesale nursery business, which became the largest west of the Mississippi river, and a large export trade was built up. It was largely through his efforts that the national government established its tree inspection service on imported shipments. He continued in the wholesale nursery business until 1897, when he was forced to make an assignment, due to the defalcations of an employee of his bank and to the drought in Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma, where his nursery product had been sold and on which he failed to realize. He was for three terms mayor of Fort Scott, built and owned its street railway, and also built, owned and operated the first independent telephone line in Kansas. He was president of the Ft. Scott Board of Trade and was recognized as that city's wealthiest and most progressive citizen. He was a director in the First National Bank of Ft. Scott, of the Missouri Pacific railway and of the Kansas City, Ft. Scott & Memphis railway. In October, 1898, he was appointed quartermaster of the National Soldiers' Home at Leavenworth, and served in that capacity until his death, Feb. 28, 1907. General Pearsall had attained the Knights Templars and Scottish Rite degrees in Masonry and was prominently identified in the work of that order. With Major Martin he founded Hugh De Payen Commandery at Fort Scott. A lifelong Republican, he was one of the influential men of his party in Kansas, but was disinclined to accept office in his later years.
General Pearsall married March 29, 1866, Miss Josephine M. Peck, daughter of Philonem T. Peck, of Clarksfield, Ohio, and a sister of Maj. E. J. Peck, of the Forty-eighth Wisconsin infantry, the Generals old regiment. Mrs. Pearsall had five brothers, all of whom served in the Civil warMajor Peck, previously mentioned; two who became captains, and two who were lieutenants. On their leaving for the front her father, a cripple, turned over to her the management of his 2,000-acre property, including 1,000 sheepa rather large undertaking for a young woman. General and Mrs. Pearsall were the parents of seven children, of whom two, with his widow, survive his death. Lottie Mell, the eldest, born April 29, 1867, is the widow of Frank Worcester, who was associated in business with General Pearsall. Mrs. Worcester resides in Enid, Okla., the mother of three childrenJessie Marie, Uri Balcom and Charlotte, who is the wife of Hubert Lynch, a jeweler of Wichita, Kan. Capt. Charles McAllister Pearsall, the surviving son, was born in Fort Scott, Kan., May 4, 1878. He was educated in the public schools of Fort Scott and engaged in clerical work in Kansas City until 1897, when he became private secretary to the general superintendent of Railway Mail Service at Kansas City, Mo. The year of 1899 he spent in Mexico, seeking health. In 1900 he accepted a position in the offices of the Great Western Manufacturing company at Leavenworth, where he remained until June, 1903, when he became chief clerk under his father at the National Soldiers' Home, and served in that capacity until July 13, 1908, when he was appointed to his present office, that of quartermaster with the rank of captain. He is unmarried. The deceased children of General and Mrs. Pearsall are: Mark Uri, born in 1869, died in childhood; Guy Balcom, born in 1873, married Clara Shoulder of Ft. Scott, Kan., and died in 1894; Eugene, born in 1884, died in childhood; Mary, born in 1880, died in 1882, and Uri Balcom, Jr., born in 1887, died in childhood.Pages 808-810 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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