William Charles Stephenson, senior member of the firm of W. C. Stephenson & Company, real estate and loan agents, Topeka, was born on a farm two miles east of the city, in Shawnee county, Jan. 1, 1861, the year that Kansas was admitted to the Union. His father, Jesse Wilson Stephenson, a farmer and stock raiser, was born in Ohio, Oct. 8, 1828, and came from Edgar county, Illinois, to Kansas in 1855, when he preëmpted the farm on which his son, William C., was born, thus becoming one of the pioneers of Shawnee county. He had married Nancy Jane Jordan in Edgar county, Illinois, and two of their ten children had been born to them before their removal to Kansas, which trip was made in a covered wagon drawn by an ox team. She was born in Kentucky, July 22, 1827, and was a daughter of Rev. Charles William Jordan, a Methodist minister who came to Kansas with the Stephenson family and resided in Shawnee county until his death, in 1866, at the age of eighty-two years. Both the father and mother were charter members of the first Methodist Sunday school organized in Shawnee county. The father, Jesse Wilson Stephenson, died July 14, 1905, and is survived by his wife, who is now eighty-four years of age, and despite her great age she is yet hale and hearty. Of the ten children born to Jesse W. and Nancy J. Stephenson eight are still living, and William C., was sixth in order of birth. The children are Edgar, who died at the age of two years; Mrs. Emma Elizabeth Naylor, of Los Angeles, Cal.; Candace, who married Rev. Jared M. Wilson, a Methodist minister, and died at Susanville, Cal., in 1894; Mrs. Eva Jane Wright of Paris, Ill.; Mary Ellen of Topeka; William C.; Mrs. Harriet F. Butler of Shawnee, Okla.; Mrs. Linnie Lockhart of Steamboat Springs, Col.; Ulysses Grant of Hutchinson, Kan.; and Jesse Wilson, Jr., of Los Angeles, Cal.
William C. Stephenson was reared on the old Stephenson homestead, near Topeka, which homestead still belongs to the family and is now very valuable realty, as the city of Topeka now extends almost out to the farm. He was educated in the district schools of Shawnee county, and later took a course in a Topeka business college. For five years after he completed this business course he was bookkeeper in a grocery store in North Topeka and for the next seven years he was employed as a real estate salesman for the Bartholomew Real Estate & Investment Company, formerly of Topeka. In 1896 Mr. Stephenson embarked in the real estate and loan business independently, with offices at 609 Kansas avenue, Topeka, and to this business he has since devoted his entire attention, with the result that he is now recognized as one of the leading men engaged in that business in Topeka. In January, 1908, W. W. Webb became a partner in the business, since which time the firm name has been W. C. Stephenson & Company. Mr. Stephenson is a director of the Topeka Bridge & Iron Manufacturing Company, and also a director of the Topeka Tile & Supply Company. He is treasurer of the Independent Mines & Power Company of Topeka, which is operating in the State of Idaho. He is a Republican and has served one term in the Kansas state legislature and has been a member of the Topeka city council four years, though he resides in a Democratic ward. He is practically the father of the Topeka park system. While a member of the city council he was the author of the ordinance which established the present park system, and while a member of the state legislature, to which he was elected, in 1898, he introduced and secured the passage of a bill appropriating one mill on each dollar's worth of property in Topeka for park purposes. He also introduced and secured the passage of a bill intended to increase the state school fund in order to provide larger sums for the building of schools in all first class cities of the state and for the payment of better wages to the teachers. Mr. Stephenson is a member and an ex-vice-president of the Topeka Commercial Club, is a member of the Elks Club and chairman of its board of trustees, and is a member of the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Topeka.
On May 25, 1887, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Stephenson and Miss Lillie B. Riley, a native of Topeka. She died, Aug. 31, 1910, leaving two daughters: Grace May and Lillian Elizabeth, now aged twenty-one and nineteen years, respectively. The youngest child, Emmett Charles, died aged five and a half years. Both daughters are now accomplished young ladies, the elder, Grace M., being an artist of much ability and the younger one, Lilliam E., being a skilled musician, both as a vocalist and as an instrumentalist.Pages 681-682 from volume III, part 1 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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