Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918
GEORGE HOWE BECHTEL. Of the men who are maintaining Montgomery County's reputation and prestige in financial circles, few are more highly esteemed as banking officials and citizens than George Howe Bechtel, cashier of the Liberty State Bank, of Liberty. Like many other Kansas bankers, Mr. Bechtel is a product of the farm and of the schoolroom. It would seem that the practicality developed in agricultural life and the mental sharpening acquired in the educator's vocation form a combination happily adaptative to the great and important business of banking. At least, Mr. Bechtel's career and his success support such a view.
Mr. Bechtel was born September 13, 1867, in Atchison County, Kansas, and is a son of William and Emma F. (Thompson) Bechtel and a member of a family that originated in Holland and emigrated to America in Colonial times, settling in Pennsylvania. Joshua Bechtel, the grandfather of George H. Bechtel, was born in the Keystone State, and there passed his entire life, dying in Montgomery County. He followed farming as a vocation and was accounted a substantial man and a good citizen, respected and esteemed by those who knew him. William Bechtel, father of George H., was born in 1825, in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, and was there reared and educated. In young manhood he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he was married, and there followed carpentering and building until coming to Kansas in 1860. He first located at Leavenworth, where he worked at his trade, made sashes for Colonel Anthony to be used in the Times Building, and during the early days of that city assisted in its upbuilding and development. In 1865 he removed with his family to Atchison County, Kansas, and with his earnings purchased a farm of 160 acres, on the prairies. This he succeeded in putting under a good state of cultivation, and there he made his home during the remainder of his active life, although at the time of his retirement he went to Valley Falls, Kansas, where his death occurred in December, 1904. During the Civil war Mr. Bechtel served in the Kansas State Militia, with which organization he assisted in repelling Price in his raid through Kansas. He was a republican in his political views, and belonged to the Methodist Episcopal Church, in the work of which he was always active, being a member of the official board for a long period of years. As a citizen he did his full duty by his community, and his sterling traits of character gave him a high standing in the confidence of his fellowmen. Mr. Bechtel married Emma F. Thompson, who was born in Rhode Island, in 1833, and died in Atchison County, Kansas, in 1907. She was a Christian woman of many charities and was beloved by a wide circle of friends. To Mr. and Mrs. Bechtel there were born the following children: Willis, a resident of San Francisco, California; Jennie, the wife of Luman Rutty, who is retired and lives on his orange grove at Pomona, California; Nellie, who is the wife of Lewis Chandlee, a carpenter and builder of California; Emma, who is the wife of William S. Irvin, of Muskogee, Oklahoma; J. R., a graduate of the Topeka Medical College and now a practicing physician and surgeon of Lawrence, Kansas; George Howe, of this notice; and Edward, who is a carpenter and builder of Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
George Howe Bechtel attended the public schools of Atchison County, the Salina Normal University and the State Normal School, at Emporia, and in the meantime resided on the home farm, where he devoted his summers to the cultivation of the soil. Thus, at the age of twenty-one years, he was equipped physically and mentally for the vocation of teaching, which he followed for four years in Dickinson County and for seven years in Atchison County, and in the latter was for two years principal of the schools of Huron. In 1902 Mr. Bechtel gave up teaching for the business of banking in that year becoming bookkeeper for the Huron State Bank, with which concern he was connected three years. He then became cashier of the Citizens State Bank, of Peru, Kansas, with which he was identified for two and one-half years, and in 1907 came to Liberty to become cashier of the Liberty State Bank, a position which he has since retained. The Liberty State Bank was established in 1904 as a state institution, by C. W. Wingate, Lewis Billings and others, and immediately began to fill a long felt need. In that year the brick banking house was built on Main Street, and the business of the institution has steadily grown under the management of the following officials: president, Lewis Billings, of Cherryvale; vice president, John H. Tole, Liberty; cashier, George H. Bechtel, Liberty; and assistant cashier, G. W. Wingate, Liberty. The capital of the Liberty State Bank is $10,000 and the surplus and undivided profits, $3,600. It bears an excellent reputation in banking circles and is regarded as a safe and conservative institution which will protect its depositors' interests in every way, such an opinion being the result of its past operations and the well known integrity of its officials. Mr. Bechtel is a republican. While a resident of Huron he served as a member of the city counsel, has been a member of the school board at Liberty, and at present is city treasurer. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church and to its board of trustees. Mr. Bechtel is also a member of the Kansas State Bankers Association.
In 1896, at Nortonville, Kansas, Mr. Bechtel was married to Miss Mabel Mitchell, daughter of Charles and Isabelle (Helm) Mitchell, residents of Baldwin, Kansas, where Mr. Mitchell is a retired farmer. To Mr. and Mrs. Bechtel there have been born the following children: Isabelle, a graduate of Montgomery County High School, class of 1915, and now bookkeeper in the Bank of Liberty; Viola, a senior at the Montgomery County High School; Ruby, a freshman in that school; William and George, who are attending the graded schools of Liberty; and Dorothy, still at home.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 2009-2010 of A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; originally transcribed by students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, March, 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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