William S. Marshall

WILLIAM S. MARSHALL, a native son of Butler County, is now one of its most successful business men and among other interests is cashier of the State Bank of Leon, where he resides.

Henry H. Marshall, his honored father, was a Butler County pioneer and one whose career deserves to be remembered by subsequent generations. He was born in Fountain County, Indiana, in 1846, his parents having come from South Carolina. He grew up in Indiana, and in 1869 married Miss Mary A. Elwell. Two years after their marriage they came out to Butler County, Kansas. In 1871 he bought a quarter section of land from Peter Johnson. That farm is two miles northeast of Leon and was originally a part of the Osage Indian trust lands, ceded from the United States in 1868. At the time of the cession Doctor Munson had pre-empted it, but later in the same year traded it to Peter Johnson for an ox team and wagon. Mr. Marshall acquired it by paying Johnson $2,250. The land is now worth easily $150 an acre, being all bottom land and not surpassed in fertility by any soil in the county. Peter Johnson had built a small frame house in 1868. This house, 12 by 18 feet, is still standing, and the lumber was sawed from native timber at William Martin's mill at El Dorado. Henry H. Marshall also pre-empted a quarter section adjoining his homestead in Little Walnut Township.

Henry H. Marshall began his career in Kansas on a modest capital. He had been a school teacher in Indiana, but in Kansas gave his time exclusively to farming and stock raising. His success was due not to the capital with which he started but to long continued industry and a capable business judgment. He bought and sold cattle on a large scale, fed livestock on his farms, and altogether transacted a great volume of business. By the success with which he managed his private affairs and by his well-known integrity of character, he was often accorded positions of honor and trust by his fellow citizens. In 1874, when this section of the state received aid on account of devastation due to the grasshoppers, he was appointed one of the distributors of the supplies, and conducted the work in a manner that gave universal satisfaction. In the early days the woods of Butler County were filled with game, and Mr. Marshall supplied his table with meat of deer and wild turkey and other game. He was not a professional hunter but game was so abundant in the early days that it required no special skill as a hunter nor did it take time from the main business of farming. The profits that came from his stock business he largely invested in other lands, and eventually acquired over 2,000 acres. The death of this worthy and successful citizen of Butler County occurred in November, 1911, when nearly sixty-six years of age. He was widely noted for his kindness to animals. It is said that he would never permit a domestic animal to be abused. He used many mules in his farming operations and when these animals became old and decrepit they were pensioned by being cared for just as well as when they had been able to give useful service. Several of these mules outlived their kindly master. One died in 1914, at the age of thirty-four, two others in 1915 at the age of thirty-five, and one died in 1916 at the age of thirty-six.

Henry H. Marshall started in the lumber business in 1882 and was actively engaged in it until 1905 or 1906, when he turned the active management over to his son M. W. It is now operated under the name of H. H. Marshall & Son.

H. H, Marshall was one of the organizers and the first president of the State Bank of Leon in 1903 and continued as president until his death in 1911. He had many other business interests, including a clothing store and an interest in a hardware and implement store in Leon. He lived on and operated his farm during all this time, coming and going between farm and Leon. His farm was a stock farm used mostly for feeding and fattening cattle, hogs, and sheep, and grazing cattle in summer.

Mrs. Henry H. Marshall died in April, 1912. They were the parents of five children, and those that survive are all prominent and well-to-do citizens. Morton W., the oldest, is a lumber merchant and president of the State Bank of Leon. He was born in July, 1870, and for twenty-seven years has been a lumber merchant at Leon. He married Miss Eleanor Martin, whose father, W. J. Martin, was also a pioneer of Butler County. Their children are Vivian, Jean L. and Shirley. John A., the third son, was born in November, 1874, is vice president of the State Bank of Leon and is in the implement business at Leon. He married Miss Belle Waldorf, and they have three children, Mary, Lois, and Wilbur. Etta M. is the wife of Bert R. Smith, a banker at Reece, Kansas, and their children are Roberta and Frances. Grace E. is the wife of H. S. Dederick, and they live on the old homestead in Little Walnut Township. Creta Zachary a foster sister, who seems the same as a sister, lived with the Marshalls from the time she was five years old. She married Charles W. Maclean and now lives on an adjoining farm to the old homestead.

William S. Marshall, who was the second in his father's family, was born in Butler County, on November 25, 1872. He spent his early life on the home farm, attended the country schools, and since coming to his majority has looked after extensive interests as a land owner and for a number of years has been a director of the State Bank of Leon, and is now its cashier. He taught twelve terms of school, nine of which were in the Leon School. In December, 1903, he married Lyndia Dedrick. Her father was J. J. Dedrick a pioneer who came to Kansas from Illinois in 1811. Mr. and Mrs. Marshall have three childrsn, Anita, Arlone, and Ruth.

William S. Marshall is interested in the hardware and implement house of Benninghoff, King and Company, of Leon, in the Marshall Clothing Company and the Marshall lumber yards of Leon; also in the Carlisle Company, a general mercantile and drug store of Leon. He is a member of Joppa Lodge No. 223, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He plays the solo cornet in the Leon Concert Band, an organization that has been operated for the last twenty-five years. This band is uniformed and is one of the few bands in Kansas that has held up its organization and membership, and has gained much prominence in cities all over the state. It classes high as a band and has a membership of twenty-eight at present. It gives open air concerts from the Leon band stand every Saturday night during the summer months and thousands of people congregate from far and near on these occasions, driving long distances for the privilege of listening. It is the pride of Leon and every Saturday night Leon takes on the appearance of a metropolis. Mr. Marshall's two brothers are members of the band, M. W. being its director and J. A. playing trombone and directing the military discipline of the band. Each year this band plays at the Douglas County Fair, at the noted Kaffir Corn Carnival at El Dorado and at the Wichita Annual Wheat Show. It has entered state band contests and has won high awards and "brings home the money."

The State Bank of Leon. The writer has been extolling the virtues of business establishments in thirty states but he has never yet run across just such an institution as the State Bank of Leon in any town within five or six times the size of this city. This bank occupies a three floor pressed brick and stone trimmed structure 50 by 122 feet in size and made absolutely fireproof with steel and reinforced concrete.

The above bank has an unusual personnel. The officers are M. W. Marshall. president; J. A. Marshall, vice president, and W. S. Marshall, cashier. These gentlemen are brothers, are all numbered among the leading and forceful business men of Southwest Kansas and all are actively engaged in business in Leon. Their father, the late Henry H. Marshall, was one of the five old pioneer business men whose clear vision foretold the splendid development that has followed in the community since the elder Marshall settled here in 1871. The splendid legacy of personal integrity, depth of character and fine business ability which he left is fully and strongly manifested in the three sons who rank with the ablest men of their field.

The capital stock of the State Bank of Leon is $10,000.00; surplus $12,000.00; deposits $250,000.00 and total resources $275,000.00. The big banking room is fitted with mahogany, brass and dull marble fixtures, tiled floor, fireproof vault, safe deposit boxes for patrons, Mosler screw door safe--the kind that has never been burglarized--and all other accessories for the safeguarding of customers' interests.

Always liberal with friends and patrons, this bank has at the same time stayed safely within the limits prescribed by the best ethics of sound banking. The management stands singularly close to the needs and interests of its friends.

Above the bank in the big fireproof building are offices arranged in suites and a convention room on the third floor. And the entire second floor back of the office suites is a big modern opera house, also fireproof from top to bottom, with a big stage, including concrete floor and boxes. Across this auditorium are the longest steel span girders in the state--50 feet by 14 by 36 inches. These huge girders rest on great steel pillars, the weight on the walls thus being reduced to a minimum. The entire building is roofed with solid concrete.

The Marshall brothers own upwards of 1,800 acres of the finest farming land in the state near Leon. All men who would command recognition in the largest centers, they have chosen to stay in Leon and make big investments here because they like their old home locality better than any other spot on earth. Social democratic in their tastes and loyal to their community, these gentlemen have made broad individual successes, conspicuous among which is the splendid bank that has long stood as so vital a factor in the business life of the community.

Walnut Springs Camp. The Marshall families--three brothers, two sisters and one foster sister--spend the month of August in each year at the Walnut Springs Camp, a camping ground on the old homestead. They move out August 1st of each year and have built a spacious dining pavilion 18 by 24 feet, with cement floor, metal roof, and arranged with screens complete. The three brothers attend to business matters in Leon over the telephone or in person during the day and all eat and sleep at the camp. They have an ideal spot--fishing, boating, bathing, with games of croquet, and tennis courts on the campground. The five families spend the month of August each year in a sort of reunion and old-time fashioned way and all enjoy it immensely. They have a cook and for a common Sunday dinner it takes about twenty loaves of bread, eight chickens, one-half bushel of potatoes, $2.00 worth of beef, one-third barrel of iced tea and five gallons of ice cream. The Leon Band, with families and friends, also meet at the camp ground with the Marshalls for an annual gathering once each year. The Marshalls break camp the last of August each year and return to their several homes feeling highly rejuvenated and refreshed by having taken the regular annual autumnal outing.


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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