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


James M. Cavaness

JAMES M. CAVANESS. The name Cavaness belongs to both the pioneer and modern era of Kansas. Anywhere in the southeastern part of the state the name is most closely associated with the newspaper business, and two generations are still active in that work, James M. Cavaness and two of his sons, Herbert and Wilfrid, all of whom are connected in some official capacity with the Chanute Tribune.

The origin of the Cavaness family was undoubtedly in Ireland, but the first of the name came to America in the colonial period and settled in North Carolina.

Urban C. Cavaness, father of James M. Cavaness, was born May 10, 1810, in Randolph County, North Carolina. He was reared and married in his native state, and his first child was born in Randolph County. In 1834 he removed to Indiana and was the pioneer shoemaker at Monrovia in that state. Later he became a hotel proprietor. In 1856 Urban C. Cavaness arrived at Lawrence, Kansas. Later he moved to Baldwin, where he kept one of the first houses of public entertainment in that college town, and he also had a hack for the conveyance of mail and passengers. He was identified with the movement to make Kansas a free state, and during the war saw some active service in helping to repel Price's raid. Though he was a democrat by inheritance he later became a republican. He was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church and of the Masonic fraternity. His death occurred at Baldwin, Kansas, January 11, 1899, when nearly ninety years old. In November, 1832, he married Miss Mary Amick, who was born in North Carolina in 1806 and died at Baldwin, Kansas, December 27, 1898, at the age of ninety-two. Their children were: Francis M., who died at the age of twenty-one; William F., who died when three years old; Alpheus A. B., who was a carpenter early in life, saw active service in the Union army during the Civil war, and was severely wounded, and on account of this injury subsequently conducted a book store at Baldwin, Kansas, where he died April 18, 1816;[sic] James M.; Sarah C., who lives at Baldwin, the widow of S. L. Clayton, who was a carpenter and farmer; Mary C., who died at Kansas City, Missouri, in 1914, and her husband, E. E. Gaddis, also deceased, was in the real estate business and also a weigher in a packing house at Kansas City; Alvira, who died in infancy.

James M. Cavaness was born at Monrovia, Indiana, March 29, 1842, and was a boy of about fourteen when his parents came to Kansas. In 1866 he was a member of the first graduating class from Baker University. He received the degree A. B. and spent the two succeeding years in work as principal of schools at Butler, Missouri, and Paola, Kansas. Since the fall of 1869, when he entered the Advance office at Chetopa, his work and interests have been constantly in the newspaper field. He was connected with the Chetopa Advance for thirty years, and twenty-five years as manager and editor. In 1899 he removed to Chanute and acquired the Tribune, and is still helping to run that paper. His political influence has always been given the republican party. For nearly eleven years he served as postmaster at Chetopa, and while in college served as postmaster at Baldwin, having been appointed to that office by President Lincoln. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and was formerly affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Knights of Pythias.

In 1873 at Garnett, Kansas, James M. Cavaness married Mary I. Swallow, who was born in Ohio in 1853. Their children are: Ethel, wife of J. Luther Taylor, who is an attorney and also in the real estate and loan business at Pittsburg, Kansas; Wilfrid and Herbert, both mentioned in succeeding paragraphs.

James M. Cavaness is a well-known member of the Kansas Authors Club of Topeka, and of the Quill Club of Kansas City. His literary efforts have mainly been in the field of poetry. His brother, the late A. A. B. Cavaness, was a graceful writer of verse, and in 1896 he and James M. Cavaness published a book entitled "Poems by Two Brothers." Later J. M. Cavaness published a book entitled "Jay Hawker Juleps." This book is now in its third edition. Another product of his pen is "Rythmic Studies of the World," published in 1911, a second volume in 1916. A. A. B. Cavaness in 1906 published "Rubaiyat of Hope."

Wilfrid Cavaness, who has been a Kansas newspaper man for over twenty years, was born at Chetopa November 24, 1875. He attended the public schools there, graduating from high school in 1892, and for two years was a student in Baker University. In 1895 he became connected with the Chetopa Advance under his father, and remained there until 1899. For the following two years he was with the Columbus Courier, and in 1901 came to Chanute and is now treasurer and manager of the Chanute Tribune.

The Chanute Tribune was established April 8, 1892, by George M. Dewey. It has always been published as a republican paper, and is now both a daily and weekly and has a large circulation and influence over Neosho and surrounding counties. The officers of the Tribune Company are: Herbert Cavaness, president; Wilfrid Cavaness, treasurer and manager; George L. Barcus, vice president; and Fletcher Maclary secretary. The Tribune plant is thoroughly equipped with all the modern machinery for printing and typesetting, and it is a very successful newspaper. The plant and offices are located at 14 North Lincoln Avenue, and Cavaness Brothers own the building.

Wilfrid Cavaness is a republican, is affiliated with Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, Cedar Chapter No. 21, Royal Arch Masons, Cedar Commandery No. 44, Knights Templar, Mirza Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Pittsburg, Fort Scott Consistory No. 4 of the Scottish Rite, Chanute Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and also the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Commercial Club. Mr. Cavaness is vice president of the People's Amusement Company of Chanute and has some interests in the oil fields in Kansas and Oklahoma.

In 1908 at St. Joseph, Missouri, he married Miss Wynona L. Stewart, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Stewart, who now resides at Chanute, where Mr. Stewart is locomotive engineer on the Santa Fe Road.

Herbert Cavaness, president of the Tribune Company at Chanute, was born at Chetopa August 23, 1877. He was graduated from the Chetopa High School in 1893, and took the full literary course in Baker University, where he was graduated A. B. in 1899. While in university he was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity and the Athenian Literary Society. There was hardly a break between his college career and his work as a newspaper man, which he has followed with great enthusiasm and success. In September, 1899, he went to work on the Chanute Tribune, and gives practically all his time to his office as president and editor. At the February, 1916, meeting of the Kansas State Editorial Association, he was elected president and on February 24, 1917, was elected a member of the Topeka Press Club. For eight years he served as postmaster at Chanute, having been appointed in 1906 by President Roosevelt and re-appointed under President Taft. He is an active republican, a member of Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons, Fort Scott Consistory No. 4 of the Scottish Rite, Chanute Chapter No. 21, Royal Arch Masons, Chanute Commandery No. 44 Knights Templar, and Mirza Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Pittsburg. He also belongs to Hilda Parker Chapter No. 385 of the Eastern Star, and Lodge No. 806 of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and Chanute Lodge No. 96 Ancient Order of United Workmen. He is an active member of the Chanute Commercial Club.

Mr. Cavaness was married to Miss Ora Allen, November 24, 1916, the only daughter of the late R. N. Allen, one of the oldest residents of Chanute.


Transcribed from volume 4, pages 2162-2163 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 October 1997 , modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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