William Neely Todd, president of the Bittman-Todd Grocery Company, one of the oldest and best known mercantile concerns of the city of Leavenworth, was born in Ohio county, Virginia (now West Virginia), Dec. 1, 1850. He is a son of Thomas and Susan M. (Smith) Todd, both natives of Virginia, where members of the Todd family were prominent for generations. The parents removed to Leavenworth in the territorial days, and there they passed the remainder of their lives, the father dying in 1860 and the mother in 1908. Joseph Todd, a Methodist minister, was one of the founders of the city of Leavenworth, having located there in 1855. He was a strong pro-slavery man, while Thomas Todd, the father of the subject of this sketch, was just as ardently opposed to slavery. Joseph Todd finally removed to Missouri, where he died.
William N. Todd landed in Leavenworth on July 1, 1857, having made the journey from Virginia via the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers, and began his business career as an errand boy in the house of which he is now the executive head. The Bittman-Todd Company was founded in 1858 by Cochran & Bittman. In the early '60s O. B. Taylor purchased an interest in the business and the firm became Cochran, Bittman & Taylor. Mr. Taylor withdrew in 1890, and in 1894 the business was incorporated with G. M. Bittman as president; W. N. Todd, vice-president; and J. M. Gable, secretary and treasurer. Mr. Bittman's death, in 1902, led to a reorganization of the company. The present officers (1911) are: W. N. Todd, president; E. E. Bittman, vice-president; T. L. Todd, secretary and treasurer. This house was one of the first wholesale establishments west of the Missouri, and during the half century of its existence has always done a prosperous wholesale business. Its location on Main street, in the center of the business district, is admirable for its purposes, and probably no business institution in the city is more widely or more favorably known. From errand boy Mr. Todd worked his way up to the position of traveling salesman. The persevering disposition inherited from a sturdy Scotch-Irish ancestry would not permit him to be satisfied until he had mastered all the details of the business, and the result is seen in the fact that today he stands at the head of one of the substantial commercial houses of the Sunflower State. His fraternal relations are with the time-honored Masonic fraternity. While he takes a commendable interest in public affairs, the only offices he has ever held were those of city councilman and member of the school board, positions that pay only a small salary, and accepted mainly because he felt that it is the duty of every American citizen to make some concession to the common welfare.
In 1882 Mr. Todd and Miss Hattie Allen of Leavenworth were united in marriage, and this union has been blessed with the following children: Thomas L., now secretary and treasurer of the Bittman-Todd Company; Henry A., one of the buyers for the company; Sue A., Josephine, and William N., Jr., who resides at the parental home.Pages 844-845 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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