Walter Puckey.The development of a community reflects the progressiveness and aggressiveness of its citizenship. The commercial, social and religious life of a city is dependent for the standard it attains upon those who are leaders and moulders of opinion; whose own standard of life must be high if the life of the community be above the average. The city of Clay Center is known to the residents of Kansas for its pushing, progressive commercialism, the harmony of its home life, and the Christian spirit of its people. It has been fortunate in having had for its leaders and teachers, men who have possessed qualifications above the average, who, as citizens, have sought opportunity to do good, who have defended what they believed to be right, who have been home builders, and who have been believers in the religion of deed. Such a man was Mr. Puckey, a resident of Clay Center for thirty-five years, during which time he was actively identified with all phases of the city's life, was an acknowledged leader in those movements, which had in view the development and betterment of the community, and who enjoyed the respect and esteem of the residents of his home city and county.
Walter Puckey was born at Tywar-dreath, Cornwall, England, July 11, 1849, an only son of Walter and Thomasine (Cook) Puckey. He was reared in Cornwall and obtained his education in the schools of his native town. With his parents he came to the United States, in 1867, locating at Galena, Ill., and established himself as a merchant. He operated this enterprise for the succeeding three years, when he removed to California, journeying via Panama. The following year marked his return to Galena, and his return to commercial life as a general merchant. In 1877 he came to Kansas and located at Clay Center and entered the employ of W. F. Carter, proprietor of a general store. He continued as a merchant until 1886, during which time he had other associates, when he entered the real estate field in the offices of Caldwell, Peterson & Mumford. In the spring of 1889 he became the successor to M. F. Mumford & Company, real estate, loan and insurance agents, and established his offices at the corner of Court and Fifth streets. In this field of endeavor he was successful. He became one of the large operators of Northern Kansas. His knowledge of realty values and ability to guage future development were such that he became recognized as an authority on farm lands and town property. He was a firm believer in the agricultural possibilities of Clay county and with development in this line of the resultant growth of Clay Center. His knowledge of values coupled with his enthusiasm as to the future importance of his home city as a commercial center, were of material value in assisting the advancement of the city and county. It is probable that within the lines of his endeavor Clay Center has never had a more useful citizen. His identification with the public life of the county and of Clay Center covered many years. He served as city clerk for a number of years, and at one time was water commissioner. He was elected to the office of clerk of the district court of Clay county in 1906, and reëlected in 1908 and 1910. His administration of the affairs of this office was economical, able and honest. He revised the system of record keeping, in use for many years, simplifying, systematizing and making comprehensive the office records. He felt keenly the responsibilities of public office, and lived up to them to the letter. He was secretary of the Clay County Fair Association, and it was in great measure due to his efforts and work that the organization was held together. From September, 1898, until October, 1906, he was secretary of the State Firemen's Association of Kansas, was considered one of its most valued members, and was widely known throughout the State by those identified with that organization. His fraternal affiliations were with the Masonic and Odd Fellow orders, and he was prominent in both. He had attained the Knights Templar degree in the former and of the latter organization was a member of State-wide prominence and influence, being a member of the Grand Lodge of Kansas, and had on several occasions been a delegate to the grand lodge and encampment.
Mr. Puckey married on September 11, 1873, at Galena, Ill., Miss Inez Grumme, daughter of Julius C. and Olive J. (Stebbins) Grumme, a review of whom this article follows. To this union were born two children: Charles Walter Puckey, who was born at Galena, Ill., on November 7, 1875, and Elsie Inez Puckey, born in Clay Center, Kan., on May 11, 1894, and a graduate of the Clay Center High school with the class of 1914. They, with their mother, survive Mr. Puckey, who died on August 7, 1913.Pages 427-428 from a supplemental volume 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 October 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM196. It is a single volume 3.
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