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


William A. Cormany

WILLIAM A. CORMANY. During a period covering more than a half century William A. Cormany has been a resident of Fort Scott, and in this time has been closely identified with the agencies that have made for progress along material, educational and moral lines. Coming here a veteran of the Civil war, in 1866, he entered newspaper life as owner of the Fort Scott Monitor, and since then his activities have branched out in various avenues of business. He is one of the few remaining of the early settlers of the city, and looks upon its present prosperity with the eye of a proprietor.

Mr. Cormany is a son of William and Margaret (Coldsmith) Cormany, the former of whom was born in Edinburg, Scotland, in 1810, and the latter in Pennsylvania, of Dutch descent, in 1813. William Cormany was brought to the United States in 1813, by his parents, the family settling in Pennsylvania, where he met and married Margaret Coldsmith, and in 1840 they started for Ohio in a covered wagon. When they were twelve miles from the little Town of Lithopolis, Fairfield County, Ohio, the wagon broke down, and before the journey could be resumed, the son, William A., was born, January 27, 1841. Several weeks later the little party again got under way and finally reached their destination, at Lancaster, Ohio, where the father worked at his trade of harnessmaker and also engaged in the manufacture of black-snake whips, contracted for by the United States Government. In 1862 the family went to Illinois, and there the mother died in the following year. She really grieved herself to death over the fact that she could learn nothing as to the fate of her three sons, George, Jacob and William A., who served through the Civil war as Union soldiers. Jacob Cormany was given a medal of honor for carrying his wounded captain from the field of battle under fire. The father survived the mother for some time, dying in 1880. He had been a soldier during the Mexican war, while William A. Corman's[sic] maternal grandfather was an American soldier during the War of 1812.

William A. Cormany attended the public schools of Lancaster, Ohio, but never graduated therefrom, the greater part of his education having come from the school of experience. As a youth he was bound over to a printer at Lancaster, where he served three years, during which time he received $30 per year for his services. After ten years of service he received a diploma, as was the custom of that day, signifying that he was a full-fledged journeyman printer. Armed with this, he went to Cincinnati, Ohio, but soon found out he had much to learn in regard to the printing business. His first salary at Cincinnati was $5 per week, and as his board and room cost him $4.75 it left the young man little for himself, but he was persevering and ambitious and decided to "stick it out." His persistence was rewarded, for after several months he was placed in the showbill department of the Cincinnati Commercial, and there made splendid headway, soon becoming considered as an expert in the art of showbill printing. At this time Mr. Cormany's career was interrupted by the Civil war. He came of good fighting stock on both sides of the family, and when the call came for volunteers to defend the Union, he responded, and April 12, 1861, enlisted in Company D, Sixth Regiment, Ohio Volunteer Infantry. This regiment was one of the first to go into action at the front and participated in the engagements at Laurel Hill, Carrick's Ford, Elkwater, Muzo Flats, Shiloh, Corinth, Perryville and Stone River, at which last-named battle Mr. Cormany was captured by the enemy, and held prisoner for nine months, the last three months of which time he was incarcerated in the notorious Libby Prison. That he suffered all the hardships and privations that were the portion of captured Union soldiers is shown in the fact that when captured he weighed 140 pounds, and when released weighed 89 3/4 pounds. After his recovery he fought at Chickamauga, Brown's Ferry, Orchard Knob and Missionary Ridge, and two days before his regiment was mustered out of the service, in June, 1864, was promoted second lieutenant for conspicuous bravery in leading a charge on Fort Resaca. When the Sixth Ohio was mustered into the service it totalled 1,031 men, and when mustered out but 327 of the original muster remained, and this regiment was the first in point of general health in the entire Northern army.

At the close of his military service, Mr. Cormany returned to Cincinnati, but soon became dissatisfied with his condition and believing that he could better himself in the West, in 1866 he came to Fort Scott, where, on March 1, he purchased the Monitor. With this publication he contined[sic] to be identified for many years, building it up to be one of the strong and influential newspapers of the state. Later various other business ventures secured the benefit of his ability and energy, and at the present time he is one of the best known men in Fort Scott in the fire insurance field. It was but natural that a man of Mr. Cormany's ability should be called upon for public service, and as city councilman, and finance commissioner under the commission form of government, he accomplished much for the advancement and general good of his adopted city. Mr. Cormany is a republican, and is affiliated with the Baptist Church. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and the United Commercial Travelers, and is prominent in Odd Fellowship, being past grand master of the Grand Lodge of Kansas.

On August 27, 1864, Mr. Cormany was married at Mount Carroll, Illinois, to Miss Susan Emmert. Mrs. Cormany's brother was Hon. D. B. Emmert, who was elected in the fall of 1869 as state senator of Kansas. He was a noted man in public life, a brilliant writer, and a close friend and associate of Hon. Eugene Ware, eminent Kansas lawyer and poet. Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Cormany: Ora, who is the wife of Grant Frankenburger, of Cimarron, New Mexico; Grace, who is the wife of W. B. Shirk, of Kansas City, Missouri; Charles E., of Milwaukee, who fought as a soldier during the Spanish-American war; Ada, who is the wife of C. E. Warner, who was adjutant of the Twentieth Kansas Regiment under General Funston, in Cuba, during our late war with Spain; and W. N. Cormany, of Fort Scott, who is commercial freight agent of the Missouri Pacific. Mr. and Mrs. Cormany have fourteen grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. They celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary in the mountains of New Mexico, August 27, 1914.


Transcribed from volume 4, pages 1969-1970 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 Casey Metcalf, student at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, February 25, 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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