Robert Steele, of the firm of Hawley & Steele, undertakers and funeral directors of Topeka, is a native Kansan, having been born in Coffey county, Feb. 5, 1871. He is of English and Scotch descent and is the son of Samuel L. and Philora A. (Edwards) Steele, the former of whom was a native of White county, Indiana, where he was reared to farm pursuits. He served the cause of the Union during the Civil war as a member of Company H, Eighty-seventh Indiana infantry, which was organized at South Bend, Ind., was mustered in at Indianapolis Aug. 31, 1862, and left the state the same day for Louisville. This regiment saw hard service and participated in Buell's Kentucky campaign; in the campaign against Tullahoma and Chattanooga; participated in the movement against Chattanooga and took a conspicuous part at Chickamauga, where Samuel Steele was wounded. On the reorganization of the Army of the Cumberland it formed a part of the Second brigade, Third division, Fourteenth corps. It was in the front line in the storming of Missionary Ridge and joined in the pursuit of the enemy to Ringgold; it joined in the Atlanta movement and participated at Rocky Face Ridge, Resaca, Cassville, Dallas, Kenesaw Mountain, Peachtree creek, and the engagements at Atlanta, Utoy creek and Jonesboro. It took part in the pursuit of Hood through northern Georgia; returned to Atlanta, and upon reaching Savannah it took part in the siege and remained there until Jan. 30, 1865, when it joined the movement through the Carolinas. It was mustered out at Washington, D. C., June 10, 1865. Samuel L. Steele and his wife became the parents of three sons and six daughters, all of whom are living and reside in Kansas, except Clara, now Mrs. A. L. Courtright of Brook, Ind. They are: Ida, Lillie, Robert, Clara, Daniel, Sadie, Frank, Josie, and Hattie. The mother died in Coffey county, Kansas, in 1894, and the father in Osage county, Kansas, in 1905, at the home of his daughter, Sadie. The father came to Coffey county, Kansas, in 1867, and took up an eighty-acre tract of wild land adjoining another eighty-acre tract taken up by his cousin, Hugh H. Steele. They together built a double frame house, so that half of it was on each of the eighty-acre tracts, and there the family of Samuel Steele was reared. He continued to reside on the old homestead after his wife's death until the marriage of his daughter, Hattie, after which he made his home with his children. Samuel Steele was the son of John Steele, a native of Indiana, who came to Coffey county, Kansas, in 1859, and spent the remainder of his life there.
Robert Steele, the subject of this review, was reared on the Coffey county farm and attended the local schools. He assisted in the usual farm work and in herding cattle until seventeen years of age, when he began to work independently at farming and stock raising and was thus engaged until 1905, when he became a clerk in an undertaking business at Burlington, Kan. In 1906 he came to Topeka and took a position with J. T. Barkley, which position he retained until Mr. Barkley closed the business out in May, 1910, whereupon Mr. Steele, in conjunction with Charles B. Hawley, formed a partnership and took over the business, which they have since conducted under the firm name of Hawley & Steele. Mr. Steele is meeting with merited success, due not only to his knowledge of the business and to his excellent equipment, but also to his care and courteous attention to details when conducting a funeral.
On Dec. 22, 1890, Mr. Steele married Miss Velma B. Davidson, the daughter of James A. and Melissa A. Davidson, both natives of Iowa, where Mrs. Steele was born in Marion county on Oct. 1, 1872. In 1883 her parents came to Coffey county, Kansas, where they still reside on a farm near Strawn. Mr. and Mrs. Steele have one son, Arthur Roy Steele, born Aug. 27, 1892. He attended the district schools, the graded schools of Burlington, and completed his education in the Topeka High School. He is now an assistant to his father in the undertaking business. Politically Mr. Steele supports that candidate whom he deems to be the best man for the office. Fraternally he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Woodmen of the World, the Knights and Ladies of Security, the Sons and Daughters of Justice, and the Improved Order of Red Men.Pages 1256-1258 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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