Francis Homer Penley, of Augusta, Kan., is one of the most prominent business men of Butler county, being identified with its commercial and industrial activities as a banker, merchant and farmer. Mr. Penley was born at Bethel, Oxford county, Maine, March 20, 1856, a son of C. Freeland and Abbie (Stowe) Penley. The Penley family was founded in America by Francis' grandfather, who was a deserter from the British fleet during the war of 1812 and who located at Bethel, Me., where he became a farmer. His son, C. Freeland Penley, also gave the active years of his career to agricultural pursuits. The latter became a pioneer settler in Butler county, Kan., in 1870. He bought a farm of 200 acres adjoining Augusta, and was there very successfully engaged in farming until 1882, when he retired from active work and care and returned to his native state of Maine. He is still living at an advanced age and resides at South Paris, in that state.
Francis H. Penley acquired his education in the public schools of Maine and of Butler county, Kansas. He remained at the parental home until twenty-one years of age and assisted his father on the farm. In 1877 he rented a 480-acre farm in Walnut township, Butler county, where he began his independent career in the great basic industry of agriculture. He remained on this property for twenty-two years, in the meanwhile purchasing 360 acres adjacent to his rented farm. This property he disposed of in 1899 and he then purchased his present farm of 320 acres adjoining the city of Augusta, and later added further by purchase 80 acres, the whole forming one of the model farms in Butler county. He is a well known breeder of fine stock and is also extensively engaged in feeding cattle. Progressive methods have characterized Mr. Penley's career as a farmer and through his able management of his farming and stock interests he has risen to a position of influence and great prosperity. A man of high character, of large experience and of cool, clear and sound business judgment, he has come to be recognized as one of the most active, capable and energetic men of Butler county, and one of its most worthy citizens. In 1901 he became one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Augusta, and was elected vice-president of the bank, which position he still holds. His son, Walter A. Penley, is now cashier of the bank. In December, 1909, he engaged in the retail hardware and implement business with C. O. Paul, under the firm style of Paul & Penley, Mr. Penley's identification with the firm being only as a stockholder though his son, Ernest Cleland, is an active partner. There are two branches of the business, one at Augusta and one at Mulvane, and from the first it has proved a successful venture.
Politically, Mr. Penley was aligned with the Republican party until 1896, since when he has given his allegiance to the Democratic party. While taking a lively interest in public affairs, he has never been allured by public position and has held no county or state offices. He has been a member of the Augusta board of education for many years, however, and at present is president of the board. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church at Augusta, is chairman of its board of trustees, and was superintendent of the Sunday school of the Walnut township church for many years. Fraternally, he is a member of Augusta Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons.
On June 17, 1877, Mr. Penley was united in marriage to Miss Ellen F. Colburn, a daughter of Willard Colburn, who was one of a party of colonists to settle with their families in Lawrence, Kan. Mr. Colburn also was a native of New England. Mr. and Mrs. Penley have four children, viz.: Walter A. Penley, a graduate of the Lawrence Business College and now cashier of the First National Bank of Augusta; Ernest Cleland, an interested principal in the hardware business of Paul & Penley, at Augusta and Mulvane; Ruth, the wife of Roy Paul, who operates the home farm of Mr. Penley; and Charles W., a student in the Augusta High School. Mr. Penley is a man of public spirit, progressive in his own business methods and in his views as a citizen. Movements touching the general welfare of the community always receive his hearty support and he is ever a liberal contributor to all worthy objects. He is essentially a home builder, a gentleman of refined, kindly and courteous manner, and of commanding influence in his community. He has long held the high esteem of a large circle of social and business friends, among whom his name is a synonymn for honor and integrity. His family shares this high esteem and prominently participate in the church and social life of their community.Pages 1577-1578 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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