Francis M. Sexton.To have accomplished so notable a work as did the late Mr. Sexton in connection with Kansas banking would prove sufficient to give precedence and reputation to any man, were this to represent the sum total of his efforts; but Mr. Sexton was a man of broad mental ken, strong initiative and distinct individuality, who left not only a lasting impression in the field of enterprise mentioned but was a most potent factor in the commercial and agricultural development of Ottawa county, of which he became a resident in 1870. Left an orphan at the age of twelve, without resources, he worked his way throught[sic] the common schools and later completed a commercial college course. He came to Kansas shortly before attaining his majority, with very limited means, and located a homestead near the present city of Delphos. He possessed energy, ability and ambition, which, coupled with sound judgment and the faculty of knowing men, enabled him to attain a recognized position among the most able men of affairs of the State. He was the controlling executive, for some twelve years preceding his death, of the most important financial institution in Ottawa county, a leader in the political life of his section, was honored with public office in which he served with credit and distinction, and in attaining wealth, influence and station, remained an unassuming, kind and generous man who possessed the esteem of all who knew him and the affection of his friends and close associates.
Francis M. Sexton was a native of the State of New York and was born in the city of Syracuse on December 25, 1849, the son of Thomas Sexton. His parents died during his early boyhood, his mother when he was aged nine and his father three years later. After the latter's death he was for a time a member of the family of a sister who resided in Milwaukee, Wis., and later with a family by the name of Timeson, near Harvard, Ill. His life while with the Timesons was one of the most pleasant recollections of his boyhood. They were excellent people and he was cared for as their own; in fact, they wished him to remain with them, offering to make him an equal heir with their own children in their property. Ambitious to succeed and realizing that an education was one of the essentials to success, Mr. Sexton chose to employ his savings in completing his studies and entered a business college in a neighboring city, where he completed its prescribed course, following which he was a bookkeeper at Ottawa, Ill. He next sought for an opportunity to begin for himself and selected the State of Kansas as his field of operation, and in 1870 located a homestead near Delphos, Ottawa county. During the time he was proving up on his land he was employed as a clerk at Delphos and was also actively concerned in the political affairs of the county. He was elected clerk of Ottawa county in 1872, and reëlected in 1874 and 1876, serving three terms. His record in the administration of the business of this office reflected credit upon himself and his constituents. On entering the office of county clerk he became a resident of Minneapolis, and on the conclusion of his service engaged in the real estate business with the late C. C. Olney. He was elected cashier of the Ottawa County Bank in 1882, and in 1900 became president of the institution. The history of this bank is the history of Mr. Sexton's identification with the banking life of Kansas. Established with a capital of $50,000.00 its business has been of sound and continuous growth. It has a surplus of $25,000.00, undivided profits of $25,000.00, deposits of $220,000.00, and has always paid satisfactory dividends to its stockholders.
In the development and administration of the business of this institution Mr. Sexton was for many years the dominant executive, and to his progressiveness, energy and resourcefulness was due the strength and high reputation of the organization. He was known to the banking fraternity as an able and discriminating financier and one who had brought the administrative policy of his bank up to the point of highest efficiency. He also had the distinction of having established the first bank in Delphos, in 1880, the Bank of Deiphos, now the State Bank of Delphos. Mr. Sexton was interested directly or indirectly with many other business enterprises of his home city and county, and perhaps no one of its citizens had more to do with the development and building up of Minneapolis than he. In truth, he was one of the foremost in every movement which had for its object the city's progress, thrift and substantial growth. He was an ambitious and tireless worker, conservative in his business methods, and his integrity and honesty were unquestioned. He had early in life acquired the desire, the habit, the love of making money and the habit of work. His shrewd business judgment, keen insight into business affairs, his knowledge of men and things, coupled with indomitable energy, enabled him to attain rank with the leading men of affairs in the State. He left at his death one of the large estates of his section, an estate which represents the brain, the pluck and energy of one man, who, with his peculiar natural tact, ever saw the propitious moment and availed himself of it. Handicapped during the latter years of his life by deafness, he still remained in active conduct of his bank, and these years were, notwithstanding this impediment, the years of his greatest business successes. He was an active factor in the social and religious life of his home city and his charities were many and varied, but in his giving he sought to avoid ostentation. He had attained the Knights Templar degree in Masonry and was a member of Askelon Commandery, of Salina. His death occurred on May 31, 1913, at San Diego, Cal., where he had gone for rest and recreation.
On May 25, 1875, Mr. Sexton was united in marriage with Miss Alice May Elder, the daughter of John H. and Lydia A. (Robinson) Elder, who was born at Franklin, Ohio, January 21, 1858. Four children were born to this union: Euna S., born March 26, 1876, the wife of Dana D. Gage, of Minneapolis; Alice May, born February 15, 1878, who died November 22, 1901. She married, on August 24, 1901, Lieut. Ernest H. Agnew, U. S. A., and following her marriage resided in the Philippines, where her death occurred; Jay C., born February 6, 1880, attorney at San Diego, Cal., and Ray F., born December 5, 1883, assistant cashier of the Ottawa County Bank.
Francis M. Sexton was a high type of the true Christian gentleman. He believed in the gospel of help and hope and knew how much better, and how much more sacred, a kind act is than any theory the brain has wrought. He was a believer in the religion of deed and his creed was to do good. He was a home builder and believed in the family and the fireside, in the sacredness of the hearth. Predominant among his many sterling characteristics was his fatherliness, his great foresight in caring for his own, and his tender sympathy with them was conspicuous in his life. What may be termed his life work was finished and it had met to a great extent the fullness of his ambition; but infinitely more precious and of personal consequence to him was the fact that he died rich in the possession of a well earned popularity, in the esteem which comes from honorable living, and in the affection which slowly develops only from unselfish works.Pages 464-466 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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