John R. Mulvane

JOHN R. MULVANE has been a resident of Kansas since 1868 and for nearly forty years president of the Bank of Topeka. That position, together with the many other interests he has actively prosecuted, have made him a power in the financial and industrial life of Kansas.

His family lineage some generations back was identified with that of the McIlvaines of Scotland. His first American ancestor came to North Carolina before the Revolutionary war. His grandfather, John Mulvane, located in Tuscarawas County, Ohio, in 1803 and was one of the five original taxpayers of that county. He married Mary McCune, whose father, James McCune, served as an ensign in the United States Navy during the War of 1812, and as a reward for his services received a tract of land in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. John Mulvane was also a soldier in the War of 1812.

David Mulvane, father of John R., married Mary Ross, whose father, William Ross, was an Irishman of County Cork, Ireland, and had come to Ohio in 1805 as a missionary to the Delaware Indians. William Ross married Jane Whitaker, an English woman. One of her brothers owned a large cotton mill near Philadelphia, and another was an iron founder who made cannon for the Federal Government during the Civil war. David Mulvane began his career as a farmer boy, also worked on the towpath of the Ohio Canal, and in time became a successful merchant and manufacturer at Newcomerstown, Tuscarawas County.

At the home of his parents in Newcomerstown, Ohio, John R. Mulvane was born July 6, 1835. He was educated in a country school and as a boy learned the tanning trade in his father's tannery. At the age of twenty he was qualified to take charge of his father's country store.

In 1865 Mr. Mulvane joined his brother Joab in merchandising at Princeton, Illinois. His health broke down there and after same time spent in recuperating, he arrived at Topeka in August, 1868. He used his capital to deal in lands and cattle and in January, 1870, became cashier of the Topeka Bank and Savings Institution. In July, 1878, this bank was reorganized as the Bank of Topeka, with Mr. Mulvane as president.

Mr. Mulvan is a brother of Joab Mulvane, a pioneer Kansan, whose career is sketched on other pages. These two brothers were actively associated for many years in large industrial enterprises. They complete and brought to a successful issue the Topeka Water Company and reorganized the Topeka Street Railway Company. In 1879 Joab and John Mulvane and W. B. Strong bought a little telephone exchange in Topeka. That was the nucleus and the beginning of the great Missouri and Kansas Telephone Company, of which John R. Mulvane was one of the heavy stockholders and for many years president.

Mr. Mulvane and other members of the family became early interested in the salt industry in Kansas and supplied much of the capital for the companies operating at Hutchinson. He also helped promote and is a director of the Beatrice Creamery Company, the largest organization of the kind in the world. He is a stockholder in the Charles Wolff Packing Company of Topeka and a director of the Commerce Trust Company of Kansas City, Missouri.

His name is almost equally associated with civic enterprise and practical philanthropy. He was one of the two Kansans who helped organize the American Bankers' Association in Philadelphia in 1876, and was also the father and organizer of the Kansas Banker's Association, of which he was president four terms. He has served as president of the Topeka Free Library, of which he was one of the organizers, and in cooperation with Bishop Vail he helped organize Christ's Hospital of Topeka, which he has served many years as treasurer. Since 1901 he has been one of the trustees of Washburn College. Mr. Mulvane has been an active member of the Baptist Church over forty years, and for twenty years was a member of the board of directors of the First Church of Topeka. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and a Knight Templar, also an Odd Fellow, and is active in the Commercial Club, Country Club and other Kansas organizations.

Mr. Mulvane was married August 16, 1856, at Newcomerstown, Ohio, to Miss Hattie N. Freeman. With no children of their own they adopted and reared two orphans, the children of Mr. Mulvane's youngest sister. After the death of Mrs. Hattie N. Mulvane, Mr. Mulvane married Mrs. Mary A. Sedgwick, who died in June, 1916.


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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