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 F. BOSWELL, who represents a pioneer family of Montgomery County, has spent most of his active career at Coffeyville, was a merchant there for a number of years, and now devotes his time to the management of his extensive property interests and also his holdings in the oil and gas district.
He was born in Atchison County, Missouri, October 29, 1859. The record of his family in America goes back to his grandfather George Finley Boswell, who was born in England of Scotch descent in 1804. After his marriage to Hannah Colter, who was a native of Ireland and of Irish descent, he came to America, settling in Tennessee, where he was a planter and on his plantation he also conducted a hattery. He died in Decatur County, Tennessee, in 1866 and his wife also passed away there. Of their children the only one now living is Mary, who resides at Stoutsville, in Fairfield County, Ohio, the widow of James Chenoweth, who was a farmer by occupation.
The founder of the Boswell family in Southern Kansas, was A. P. Boswell, father of George F. He was born in Decatur County, Tennessee, in 1837, grew up and married there, and from early life was well versed in the business of planting and farming. In 1857 he went to Northwest Missouri and was an early settler in Atchison County. After living there a few years and with the outbreak of the war between the North and the South he returned to his native state and in 1862 enlisted in a Tennessee regiment of the Confederate army. He was in active service until the close of the war. At one time he was taken a prisoner but was soon exchanged. Following the war he farmed in Tennessee, but in 1871 pioneered to Kansas, and was one of the early settlers near Coffeyville. After six years as a farmer, he moved to Coffeyville and was active in business affairs and as a money lender and in 1883 engaged in the hardware and implement business. He was a man of distinctive ability and enjoyed many honors from his fellow citizens. Politically he was a democrat. While living on his farm in Montgomery county he served as township trustee one term, and afterwards was elected and served for nine years or three terms as county commissioner. He also filled the office of mayor of Coffeyville two terms. Among other interests he was vice president of the First National Bank. While a resident of Tennessee he was an active member of the Methodist Church, and was affiliated with Keystone Lodge No. 102, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons at Coffeyville.
In 1855 in Decatur County, Tennessee, A. P. Boswell married Miss Melissa Dudley Kelley, who was born in that section of Tennessee June 22, 1833. She died at Coffeyville February 9, 1914. A. P. Boswell in 1896 made a business trip through Oklahoma and while at Nowata was stricken and died. He and his wife had the following children: George F., Sarah S., wife of A. L. Wagstaff, who has for many years been engaged in the brokerage and real estate business and is now living in Kansas City, Missouri; Andrew A., a resident of Coffeyville; Tina C., wife of E. E. Wilson, who was in the lumber business at Coffeyville and is now a business man of Pueblo, Colorado; Robert, who died in infancy; William A., who was in the hardware business for a number of years and also a trader and died at Coffeyville in 1908.
When George F. Boswell was an infant his parents returned to Tennessee and he spent much of his boyhood in Decatur County. He was about twelve years of age when his father became a pioneer in Montgomery County and he grew to manhood on the farm. In 1876 he finished his early education by graduating from the Coffeyville High School. During the forty years that have followed many interests have engaged his enterprise and active attention. He spent three years as a young man in learning the trade of carpenter, and also gained some valuable experience as a grain buyer. From 1882 to 1895 he was in the mercantile business at Coffeyville. For the past twenty years he has devoted all his business energies to looking after his property as a real estate holder and also the affairs of several large oil and gas corporations. Among local real estate which he owns are his residence at 510 Elm street, other dwelling houses on Walnut, Elm and Willow streets, and some scattered property throughout the city. He is a stockholder in the Coffeyville Gas and Fuel Company; a stockholder and director in the Coffeyville Shale Products Company; a stockholder and director and president of the Georgia Oil and Gas Company; president and stockholder of the Delokee Gas and Oil Company; stockholder and director of the McAlester-Edward Coal Company in Oklahoma; stockholder and president of the Boswell Realty Company; and has interests in the Robinson Packer and Machine Company of Coffeyville.
In political affiliation Mr. Boswell is a democrat. For three terms he served in the Coffeyville City Council, was city treasurer six years, and is now serving as a member of the school board. As a young man he joined the Christian Church, but he now attends the Methodist. For a number of years he was one of the active workers in the Chamber of Commerce. Fraternally his affiliations are with Camp No. 665, Modern Woodmen of America at Coffeyville, with the Kansas Fraternal Citizen, and with the Anti-Horse Thief Association.
In February, 1887, at Coffeyville Mr. Boswell married Miss Alvira Burke, daughter of John Burke. Her father who lived on a farm west of Coffeyville, died November 29, 1916, in his ninety-second year. Mrs. Boswell died at Coffeyville in 1902, being survived by one daughter, Georgia. Georgia Boswell was born in Coffeyville in 1890 and is now the wife of Harry W. McEwen, cashier of the Cuthbert State Bank at Cuthbert, South Dakota.
On May 11, 1904 at Coffeyville Mr. Boswell married for his present wife Miss Leona R. Stephenson, a woman of brilliant mind and social leadership, and with a record of important public service to her credit in her home city of Coffeyville. Mrs. Boswell, who was born at Marietta, Ohio, December 5, 1871, was educated in the public schools of Johnson and Miami County, Kansas, her parents having come to Kansas in the early days. She was a student for two years in the high school at Paola, and then entered the Kansas State Normal at Emporia, from which she graduated in the spring of 1893 with a life teacher's certificate entitling her to teach in practically any state in the Union without further examination. Mrs. Boswell's first experience as a teacher was one year in the grade schools of Coffeyville, another year in the high school, and the third year she was in the Independence High School. Returning to Coffeyville she taught for seven years as assistant principal and principal of the high school. Since her marriage she has ably directed the affairs of her household and the care and rearing of her children, and has also borne many of the responsibilities laid upon the women of the city. She is a member of the Carnegie Library Board, and has filled a place on that board since the library was built, and has ably assisted in its support and maintenance. She is a member of the Coffeyville Culture Club and was president of the City Federation of Women's Clubs when the Carnegie library was opened. The library in fact stands as a monument to the combined efforts of these women's clubs. It fell to Mrs. Boswell to make the presentation speech when the city federation turned over its library and 2,700 volumes and other equipment to the new Carnegie institution. Mrs. Boswell is a member of the Methodist Church and the Royal Neighbors.
Mrs. Boswell is a granddaughter of John Stephenson, who was born 1793, and was one of the pioneer settlers in Southeastern Ohio, where he followed farming. He died at Marietta in that state in 1874. The maiden name of his wife was Gray, and she was born in Ohio and died at Marietta. Of their children the two now living are: Belle, wife of Benjamin Cogswell, of Marietta, Ohio; Jewett, a retired farmer at Gardner, Kansas.
Mrs. Boswell's father was Henry Stephenson, who was born in Marietta, Ohio, in 1837, and died at Arroyo Grande, California, in August, 1908. He was reared and married in Ohio, where he took up farming, and in the summer of 1876 brought his family to Spring Hill in Johnson County, Kansas. The buffaloes were still numerous on the plains when he arrived in Kansas, and he was one of the sterling pioneers who developed this country. Later he moved to Emporia for a year, and in 1890 began his operations as a rancher twenty-five miles southeast of Coffeyville in the Cherokee Nation, where he leased an extensive tract of land and devoted it to wheat raising and the cattle industry. He conducted that ranch until 1898, then removed to Coffeyville, where he had his home for three years, and after that spent three years in Seattle, Washington, in business with his son Russell. Returning to the Osage Nation, he was associated with his son Henry on a ranch there, and afterwards went with his son to a ranch in California, where he died. Henry Stephenson was a democrat and a member of the Baptist Church. He married Rebecca M. Sheets, who was born in Marietta, Ohio, in 1844, and died at Coffeyville in January, 1898. Mrs. Boswell was the third in a family of seven children. Her brother Rodney, now living at Arroyo Grande, California, is a miner and has some mines in Old Mexico, in the state of Sonora, 125 miles from Hermosillo. Her next younger brother, Henry, a resident of Los Angeles, is a manager of five large cattle ranches and is part owner and manager of the ranch at Palomas, which in recent months has attracted so much notice as being the scene of Villa's raid against Columbus, New Mexico. Catherine A., the next younger than Mrs. Boswell, lives in Santa Maria, California; Russell, who died at Santa Maria, California, in January, 1913, was a wholesale and retail meat merchant there. Odell died at Spring Hill, Kansas, in 1882. Sylvester S., the youngest child, spends his time traveling and lives in California.
Mr. and Mrs. Boswell have two children. Catherine Parr was born November 7, 1906, and is now in the public schools at Coffeyville. Berenice Kelley was born October 2, 1908.
Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1977-1979 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 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.
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