Henry C. Lindsey

COL. HENRY C. LINDSEY. One of the most interesting citizens of Kansas is Henry C. Lindsey of Topeka. He is one of the men who know by actual experience and recollection the pioneer times of this state. He was a soldier in the Civil war, afterwards took Part in one of the important Indian campaigns in Western Kansas, and added to his military prestige and honor by service during the Spanish-American war. He is also one of Topeka's oldest business men.

He comes of a family that have apparently lived on the frontier and taken a leading part in its activities for several generations. Henry C. Lindsey was born at Iowa City, Iowa, August 27, 1844. That was before Iowa became a state. His father, Elzey Lindsey, was born in 1813, in what is now the State of West Virginia, about twenty miles from Washington, D. C., near the present Camp Alger. He was of Scotch-Irish ancestry, and the Lindseys have been identified with American life since colonial days. In 1838 Elzey Lindsey married Elizabeth Gordy of Dayton, Ohio. Not long after his marriage he went west to the Territory of Iowa, and identified himself with Iowa City, the first capital of that state. He assisted in building the state capitol there, but subsequently the seat of government was removed to Des Moines. From Iowa Elzey Lindsey came to Kansas and was an active participant in the movement to make this a free state. At the beginning of the war he joined Colonel Jennison's famous Seventh Kansas, and later gave his life to his country. He was killed at Germantown, Tennessee, and his body now rests in the National Cemetery at Washington.

Henry C. Lindsey was one of five children: Sarah, Minerva, William. Henry C. and Charles. The daughter Minerva lives with her son in the State of Oregon.

Colonel Lindsey was twelve years of age when his parents came to Kansas in 1856. Growing up on the frontier, he had very limited opportunities to obtain an education. The man who had the most influence over his life and gave him more of his schooling than any one else was E. G. Ross, a prominent early citizen of Topeka who later became distinguished in the history of the state. Mr. Ross befriended young Lindsey in many ways, aided him in his struggles to make a living, and gave him employment on the old Topeka Record. Colonel Lindsey says that he received more practical education while working on the Record than from any other source. Later Mr. Ross became United States senator from Kansas. He was was[sic] Kansas senator during the years following the Civil war. It became his unenviable duty to cast the deciding vote in the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson. Every influence except that of his personal integrity and judgment urged him to vote for the impeachment, and Senator Ross has told Colonel Lindsey that before the vote was taken he was approached by some parties who offered him an immense sum of money to cast his vote in favor of impeachment. He could not be bribed, and consequently he became subject to much reproach in later years, though the judgment of modern times is that he acted with true statesmanship as well as according to the dictates of his own conscience.

With the breaking out of the Civil war Colonel Lindsey, though a very young man at the time, joined Captain Ross' Company in the Eleventh Kansas Infantry as a drummer boy. He was gone altogether three years four months. After the war in 1867 he became a member of the Eighteenth Kansas in Col. Horace L. Moore's Regiment and took an active part in the Indian campaign. During this service of little less than a year Mr. Lindsey was made captain of Company A.

In the meantime, in 1865, after the Civil war was over, he engaged in the livery business. He is today still in active business and at the same location where he started fifty-one years ago. In 1898, when the Spanish-American war broke out Colonel Lindsey was appointed to command the Twenty-second Kansas Regulars, and he went into camp with this regiment at Camp Alger in West Virginia, close to the birthplace of his father.

Colonel Lindsey is a member of Lincoln Post of the Grand Army of the Republic at Topeka. In earlier years he gave much of his time and ability to public positions of trust and responsibility. He was chief of police of Topeka four terms, having been first elected in 1871, and he also served four years as deputy chief. For six years he was a county commissioner of Shawnee County and three years of that time he was chairman of the board. The handsome county jail at Topeka was built during his term of office.

In 1869 he married Miss Mary Stewart, and they became the parents of two children. Catherine W. is now the wife of O. S. Perkins. Harry S. died at the age of twenty-six.


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 October, 1997.
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