Francis C. Dwinnell

FRANCIS C. DWINNELL is a leading business man of Frankfort, Kansas, now proprietor of the electric light plant which supplies electric current not only to that town but to the town of Vermillion. Besides his own important business connections he represents a family that has been identified with this section of Kansas since territorial days.

He is of New England and Revolutionary lineage. His great-grandfather fought gallantly in the struggle for independence during the Revolution. His grandfather, Francis Dwinnell, was a soldier in the War of 1812. He was born at Charlestown, New Hampshire, in 1792, and was quite young when the second war with Great Britain broke out. He learned the trade of carpenter and followed it during his somewhat brief active career. He died at Charlestown, New Hampshire, in 1844.

William T. Dwinnell, father of Francis C., was a leader in the free state forces of Northern Kansas. He was born at Charlestown, New Hampshire, in 1837, and was only seven years of age when his father died and was left an orphan by the death of his mother two years later. While living with his brother-in-law, A. D. Hull, he finished an academic education in Hartford, Connecticut, but left that city when about seventeen years of age and came West to Detroit, Michigan. There he worked as bookkeeper in a department store. It was in 1856 that he first came to Kansas, then a territory and filled with many lawless characters and the contending elements of abolitionists and slavery men. In the vicinity of Frankfort in Marshall County he preempted 160 acres and remained on it about a year, doing some preliminary development. He then returned to Detroit and filled his old position one winter, and in the following spring became a permanent settler near Frankfort, where he developed a good farm and in 1859 he carried the vote of Marshall County to Lecompton, and through his influence Marshall County's vote was given in favor of a free state. He had the original vote which showed a majority in favor of slavery thrown out, on the ground that Missourians in great numbers had come in and cast their vote illegally at the polls. He also took the census of Northeastern Kansas to determine its sympathies in regard to the war and during the war he was a deputy United States enrolling officer. He was a stanch and regular republican and for many years served as justice of the peace in Frankfort. He was a member and elder in the Presbyterian Church and was affiliated with the Knights of Pythias and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. This stanch old Kansas pioneer died at Mulhall, Oklahoma, in 1916. He married Margaret E. Auld, who was born in Ohio in 1842 and died at the home near Frankfort in 1874. Of their children the oldest is Elithea, wife of Albert Hull, and they are now living retired at Frankfort. The next in age is Francis C. D. G. Dwinnell was a banker, formerly manager of the bank at Mulhall, Oklahoma, and also at Spearfish, South Dakota, but had retired before his death, which occurred at Frankfort in 1902. Margaret E., who died at Frankfort in 1898, was a resident of Mulhall, Oklahoma, and the wife of A. C. Elliott, who is now living at Sapulpa, Oklahoma. William B., who died at El Paso, Texas, in 1911, had charge of the development department of the E. I. Dupont Powder Company. John, the youngest child, died in infancy.

Francis C. Dwinnell was born on a farm near Frankfort, Kansas, December 25, 1864. He grew up when Marshall County was still in a somewhat raw condition, attended the rural schools and also the public schools of Frankfort, and at the age of seventeen left his books to become a practical farmer. Farming was his occupation until 1912, and he was as successful in agriculture as he has been in business affairs. On selling his farm Mr. Dwinnell removed to Frankfort and bought the electric light plant. This he has developed and improved and it is now the source of light and power for the town of Frankfort and Vermillion. The plant is situated on Railroad Street.

Mr. Dwinnell is a member and elder in the Presbyterian Church. He is affiliated with Frankfort Lodge No. 67, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Frankfort Lodge of the Knights of Pythias, Frankfort Camp No. 1482, Modern Woodmen of America, and Frankfort Council No. 139, Knights and Ladies of Security.

In 1888, at Frankfort, he married Miss Ida Carr daughter of C. A. and Lucretia (Weise) Carr. Her parents reside at Hardy, Iowa. Her father is an honored veteran of the Civil war, having served with the Union army four years and three months. Mr. and Mrs. Dwinnell have two children: Paul E., the only son, is now associated with his father in business. Marguerite married Thomas Turner, who is engineer for the light plant at Frankfort.


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; transcribed 1997.
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