Horatio W. Gates

HORATIO W. GATES is one of the oldest and best known undertakers and embalmers in the State of Kansas. He has been in business for many years at Rosedale, his present location being 29 Southwest Boulevard. He has not been alone in that profession, and it is noteworthy that Mrs. Gates was the first woman to receive an embalmer's license in either Kansas or Missouri, and while many women have in recent years taken up the profession she was one of the real pioneers.

Mr. Gates was born August 2, 1849, at Mansfield, Ohio, but has been a resident of Kansas since 1870. He first came to the state in 1867, but only remained about a year. He was the youngest of eight children of Jacob and Ann Maria (Bell) Gates. His mother was a sister of Dr. S. B. Bell, one of the founders of Rosedale and whose name is permanently linked with the history of Kansas because of the magnificent gift he made to the state in the form of a hospital and school of medicine. Jacob Gates was born in 1801, and both he and his wife were natives of New Jersey. His father was a Revolutionary soldier and lost a leg during the struggle. Jacob Gates removed to Ohio in early days. In New Jersey he had operated a textile mill. An older brother had preceded him to Ohio and Jacob, selling his interests in New Jersey traveled to the West with wagon and horses. He bought 160 acres of heavily timbered land a mile north of Mansfield, and he soon built a dam and constructed a saw mill, which he operated until the lumber had been worked up on his land. The first home of the Gates family in Northwest Ohio was a log cabin of two rooms. He afterwards built a substantial two-story frame house and that was the home of the family until 1870, when he sold out and removed to Kansas. Two years later the State of Ohio bought the old Gates farm and it is now the grounds of the State Reformatory.

Two brothers of Horatio W. Gates were soldiers in the Civil war. Francis Price Gates enlisted as a second lieutenant in Company E of the Third Ohio Cavalry and was promoted to major of that regiment. He was a gallant soldier, and after the war, in 1867, he came to Kansas and located at Harlem. He assisted in building the old Hannibal bridge which has just recently been torn down. After ten years at Harlem Major Gates removed to Ottawa, where he had bought 320 acres, half of a section, which he and his brother William had acquired. Major Gates died in 1886. His brother William Bushnell Gates enlisted as orderly sergeant and was promoted to captain of Company A of the Third Ohio Cavalry. He went with his brother to Kansas and is now living at Ottawa.

Horatio W. Gates acquired his early education in the common schools at Mansfield, Ohio. He was twenty-one years of age when his father sold the old farm in Ohio and they came together to Kansas. Horatio Gates first went to Ottawa, intending to buy land near there, but subsequently bought a place at Desoto, acquiring 160 acres. This land was improved by Horatio, who built a one-room house 12 by 16 feet and had all the experiences of a pioneer. He became a general farmer and for a few years raised cattle and hogs, and from that entered the business of raising imported Clydesdale and Hamiltonian horses. This did not prove a profitable venture and in 1887 he sold his interests to Dr. S. B. Bell and removed to Rosedale, locating on land which he had received in part payment.

Horatio Gates' father died December 17, 1872, while the mother had died June 29, 1860. Horatio Gates was married December 24, 1868, to Hulda Sloane, a native of Ohio. Three daughters were born to them: Anna Medill, deceased wife of J. W. Davidson, of Wichita; Minnie May, widow of the late James A. Poland and now living in Kansas City, Missouri; and Lessie Marcks, who died at the age of fourteen. After a legal separation from his first wife Mr. Gates married June 21, 1892, Mary Louther, a native of Illinois. She had come to Kansas City, Kansas, where her father was a cabinet maker. Mrs. Gates was reared in Kansas City, Kansas. Two children have been born to their marriage: Miles Walker, now a student of law at the University of Kansas; and Margaret, still at home.

On coming to Rosedale in 1887 Mr. Gates began the operation of a livery and teaming business. He assisted in building the Rosedale street car line and the Armourdale line. Not long afterward he added an undertaking department to his business. He, together with Leroy Penwell of Topeka and about twelve others organized the Kansas Funeral Directors' Association. He was president of this organization in 1899, it having been founded in 1897. Mrs. Gates was the first secretary of the association and in 1899 was elected treasurer, an office she has continuously filled to the present time. Both were also active in the organization of the Embalmers' Board of Kansas, which is maintained as an adjunct of the State Board of Health. Mr. Gates served as first president of this board and he was the first to receive an embalmer's license in Kansas, while Mrs. Gates was the first woman to be thus licensed in either Kansas or Missouri. They have cooperated very effectively in the handling of their business affairs and have had only one backset, which came in 1915 with the burning of their store. They have since erected a handsome fireproof establishment which is one of the most perfect in its equipment and facilities in either of the two cities.

Mr. Gates is a republican and while living at Desoto, Kansas, took a very active part in politics, but has never sought any official honors since coming to Rosedale. He helped to bring about the new Chamber of Commerce at Rosedale and has generously given his support to the welfare of schools and churches, and everything that is, for the good of the community. He has a small interest in the Rosedale State Bank. Mr. Gates is affiliated with Lodge No. 333, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, at Rosedale, with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and various fraternal insurance orders. His son Miles W. is a member of Abdallah Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Leavenworth and is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason. Mrs. Gates is a member of the Eastern Star, the Royal Neighbors, the Nazarene Shrine at Kansas City, Missouri, and various other fraternal bodies open to woman membership. Mr. and Mrs. Gates are Methodists but generously support all denominations.


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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