William Macferran

WILLIAM MACFERRAN. If a record were kept of the daily trials, of adverse circumstances overcome and responsibilities faithfully discharged in the life of every financier, it would form not only a surpassing record of human experience but also a splendid index to human character. It is the man who can shoulder the everyday burdens, discharge multitudinous duties acceptably, and emerge successfully who is deserving of the esteem and admiration of his fellows.

Banking serves to develop many of this class and in their hands is placed the responsibility for much of the community welfare. They build the foundation of their enterprises stone by stone, and thus it is that their completed structures stand firm no matter how fiercely the storm of adversity beat against them. Topeka has numbered among its dependable citizens many substantial bankers, and among them should be mentioned William Macferran, president of the State Savings Bank.

Mr. Macferran was born at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, September 6, 1862, and is a son of Samuel and Mary E. (Walker) Macferran. The first of the family to come to America was Samuel Macferran, who, with his mother, emigrated to this country in 1793. She was before her marriage Mary Nice, of County Down, Ireland, whose husband was born in Scotland, in which country they were married and where he died. The family is an old and honored one of Philadelphia, and there is still a Macferran Street, and a part of what is now the city was once known as Nicetown, which was named in honor of the Nice family. Mr. Macferran's father, Samuel Macferran, was a retail merchant at Philadelphia, served on the school board, was prominent and active in local matters, and died about 1872.

As a boy William Macferran attended the public and high schools of his native city, following which he became a clerk in the wholesale and retail dry goods establishment of Walker, Zebley & Company. He continued until June, 1881, when he came to the West with his mother, two brothers and a sister, and located temporarily at Newton, Kansas. On January 2, 1882, he came to Topeka, where he has since made his home and where his mother died in February, 1912.

His first employment in Topeka was as clerk in the paymaster's department of the Santa Fe Railway, and being promoted to teller he occupied that position four years. His next transfer was to the cashier's department of the same road, where he acted as bank clerk for two years, and in 1888 left the Santa Fe to accept the position of assistant cashier with the Merchants National Bank, an institution with which he was connected for ten years.

In 1898 he organized the State Savings Bank, of which he was elected cashier, and in 1908, after ten years of faithful service, was elected president, a position he still retains. Through Mr. Macferran's endeavors the bank has outlived many other savings banks of Topeka and of Kansas, and the fact that it still remains as one of the solid banking houses of the state is largely the result of a close and careful study on his part of institutions of a similar kind, their methods and the laws bearing upon their conduct. The State Savings Bank of Topeka was the original pioneer in introducing the coupon time certificate system in the West. The certificate at once commended itself as an interest saver to the public and as a labor saver to the bank. Ever since embarking in business the State Savings Bank of Topeka has increased its deposits by $100,000 annually, and its depositors now number 8,500, which may be taken as one reason for its strength and solidity.

The history of Kansan banking will always credit Mr. William Macferran with a vital and fundamental part in the law guaranteeing deposits to the depositors and known on the statute books as the "Bank Depositors Guaranty Fund." The original draft of the Depositors Guaranty Bill, which subsequently became a state law, was the work of Mr. Macferran.

The essential features of this method of guaranteeing deposits are the bond security, the limited assessment per annum, and the deferred payment of depositors of a failed bank. These are all distinctive ideas around which Mr. Macferran built his bill. His contribution to the success of the measure may be described in the words of an editorial that appeared in the Topeka Daily Capital March 7, 1909: "Before his suggestion made to Governor Stubbs, of bonds as a basic guaranty fund, the idea of guaranteeing bank deposits in all the many bills submitted to the legislature was the creation at once of a large cash fund sufficient to meet all anticipated emergencies of failing banks. In place of such a fund Mr. Macferran proposed that banks entering the guaranty association should put up in the hands of the state, bonds of the same kind as are required by law for the investment of the school fund of the state, these bonds being still the property of the bank depositing them, the interest on them to be paid to the bank owning them, but to stand as a guarantee that in the event of the failure of a bank, the bank depositing the bonds would respond to assessments of a limited number per annum until the failure was made good or forfeit the bonds to the guaranty fund.

"The Macferran suggestions at once converted a number of opposing bankers and created a more favorable feeling among other bankers towards the whole idea of joint guaranty. They struck Governor Stubbs very favorably from the start and were submitted by him to the members of the banking committees of both houses. From the time the Macferran bill came before the banking committees it superseded all other bank guaranty bills, of which there were about twenty, and in its essential provisions it finally passed both houses and became a law."

Mr. Macferran is identified with various business concerns. He is a director and stockholder of the Warren M. Crosby Dry Goods Company and vice-president of the Shawnee Milling Company. The salient features of his career have been close application, thorough investigation and mastery of every subject that has come within his range, unflagging perseverance and resolute purpose, and to these he owes his steady advancement from a humble beginning to a prominent place and financial independence. Mr. Macferran and his family are members of the First Presbyterian Church. He was the secretary of the Kansas Bankers' Association in 1890 and is now a member and ex-president of the Kansas State Bankers' Association. He is a republican in his political sympathies, and his public service has included membership on the Topeka School Board.

Mr. Macferran was married in 1889 to Miss Clara Shellabarger, and they have had three children: Robert S., who died when he was seven years of age; William Walker and Kenneth S.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Mystina R. and Preston Smith, students from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 21,1999.

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