Alexander Caraway Spilman, ex-probate judge of McPherson county and one of the founders of the city of Salina, is descended from an old Mississippi family on his father's side, while his mother's ancestry dates back to Colonial days, when the Caraway family located in Virginia, and its members played conspicuous parts in the history of that state during the early days. He was born in Yazoo City, Miss., Oct. 5, 1837, a son of James F. and Margaret (Caraway) Spilman. While he was still a small child his parents located in Illinois and there his boyhood days were spent. He received the educational advantages afforded by the public schools of Edwardsville, then entered the literary department of Illinois College at Jacksonville, attending for two years, and subsequently took a special course in engineering at the University of Michigan, where he remained one year. This was the time when the whole country was ringing with the wrongs done the people of Kansas who were striving to have the territory admitted to the sisterhood of states free from slavery. Mr. Spilman became filled with patriotism and decided to cast his lot with that of the Sunflower State. He joined his brother-in-law, Col. William A. Phillips, at the historic city of Lawrence, a strong anti-slavery settlement, in 1857. They, with the late A. M. Campbell and three others, organized the Salina Town Company, of which Mr. Spilman was made secretary, and entered the land upon which the city of Salina is now built, on March 8, 1858. They proved it up in the early '60s, and it has become one of the finest towns in the state. Being an anti-slavery man, Mr. Spilman responded to the call for volunteers at the outbreak of the Civil war and enlisted as a private in Company F, Sixth Kansas cavalry. In September, 1862, he was promoted to sergeant of the company and, in 1863, was transferred to the Third Indiana regiment with the commission of first lieutenant. Subsequently he was promoted to the rank of captain and served in that capacity until mustered out of the service in 1865. After the close of the war he returned to Salina and entered 160 acres of land, devoting his time to farming and acting as surveyor. Nearly all the surveying in Saline county during the late '60s and early '70s was done by Mr. Spilman, and he also acted as assistant to the government engineer in the original survey of 1858-59. He was the first register of deeds of Saline county, being appointed to that office by Territorial Governor Medary in July, 1860. On the organization of the county, early in the same year, he was appointed one of the commissioners and acted as clerk of that body. From first settling in the territory Mr. Spilman took an active and energetic part in politics. He was a stanch Republican and was elected to the state legislature on that ticket in 1867. In 1870 he moved to Roxbury, McPherson county, where he took up land and became extensively interested in farming and stock raising, which was a very lucrative business in those days. In 1886 he was elected probate judge of McPherson county, filling the office so ably that he was reëlected in 1888 and served until 1890. Upon retiring as judge he purchased an interest in the McPherson County Abstract Company, which had been organized in 1887. He succeeded Allison Brothers and since that time has been the able head of the extensive business carried on by the firm. Mr. Spilman is a very broad minded man and in addition to his regular business studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1889, and finds that his professional knowledge is of great benefit to him in his present occupation. He is the owner of large farming and city property and is one of the most prominent and highly respected citizens of the county where he elects to make his home. Mr. Spilman was one of the prime factors in the organization of Fletcher Webster Post, Grand Army of the Republic, of Roxbury, and was its commander for a number of years. He is a member of the Veteran Legion, McPherson Lodge, No. 172, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; McPherson Chapter, No. 48, Royal Arch Masons, and Garfield Commandery, No. 18, Knights Templars, and acts as secretary of the last three. He has at different times filled all chairs. Mr. Spilman is also a member of Isis Temple, Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, Salina.
In 1866 he married Mary A. Kennison, who died in 1871, leaving two children: May, the wife of Andrew Jacobson of Roxbury, Kan.; and James A., county treasurer of McPherson county (see sketch). In 1879 Mr. Spilman was married a second time to Harriet Stephens of McPherson county, and three children have been born to this union: Mignonette, a graduate of the University of Kansas with the class of 1907, is a teacher; Marion A., also a graduate of the State University in 1909, is at home; and Charles Clay, who is at present specializing in chemistry and English at the University of Kansas. The family are all members of the Presbyterian church, and are recognized social leaders in Salina and McPherson counties. The judge is loved for his warm, kind heart, and respected as one of the most wealthy and influential citizens. In 1901 he was elected mayor of McPherson on the Republican ticket and before that served as a member of the city council from 1895 to 1896. He is a director and life member of the Kansas State Historical Society.Pages 770-772 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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