Transcribed from 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


J. H. Spines

J. H. SPINES. The men who establish, organize and develop successful commercial establishments must possess many qualities out of the ordinary. Their insight into business conditions must be keen and far-reaching, their knowledge of values profound, and their ability to grasp opportunities unlimited. Without industrial and commercial interests no locality progresses, for such enterprises are the very life of a community. The investment and attraction of capital, the employment of labor and the consequent opening of new avenues of endeavor to meet newly created demands, all infuse blood into the veins of a section and endow it with new vigor and strength. That part of West Douglas Avenue, between Main Street and the Arkansas River Bridge, in Wichita, is an excellent example of the above statement. With the location in its midst of an enterprise of the kind mentioned, its business life quickened, new interests were awakened, and it has developed into a prosperous center of the city. The man who is probably principally responsible for this desirable state of affairs is J. H. Spines, proprietor of Spines' Store and one of the most progressive of the younger generation of business men of Wichita.

Mr. Spines was born at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, May 2, 1884. After his graduation from the public schools, his family was not able to help him further in the way of an education, but the youth was ambitious to secure a more comprehensive training and accordingly enrolled as a student at Carroll College, Waukesha, Wisconsin, and succeeded in completing the classical courses by working during all his spare time at whatever employment he could find to do. He was graduated from that institution in 1903, and in the following year went to Chicago, where he secured a position with the great house of Siegel, Cooper & Company. He commenced in the humble capacity of stock boy, but his energy, ability and fidelity soon gained him recognition and he was so rapidly advanced that the end of three years found him occupying the position of assistant merchandise manager.

In[sic] was Mr. Spines' ambition, however, to become the owner of an establishment of his own, and he was therefore constantly on the lookout for opportunities. In 1909, having heard glowing reports of the opportunities to be found in Kansas, and particularly at Wichita, he came to this city and sought a location. His capital at that time amounted to something less than $500, but he rented a store at No. 111 West Douglas Avenue, and put in a small stock of gentlemen's clothing and furnishings. From the start the enterprise was a successful one, Mr. Spines having shown rare foresight in choosing a locality in which his establishment filled a long-felt want. He was shortly compelled to employ a clerk to assist him in the handling of his custom, and since then the business has grown by leaps and bounds, so that today he employs eighteen people, and carries a stock of goods worth $40,000. Spines' Store is known throughout this section, and while the same store building is occupied in which he began business, it has been rebuilt and remodeled on several occasions to suit the demands of the constantly-increasing trade.

While his own business has been growing and developing, Mr. Spines has been an important factor in the growth and development of the section of the city in which his establishment is situated. Through his influence and the stimulus of his example, many of the buildings have put on new modern fronts and in other ways improvements are going on that are tending to greatly enhance values and thus, in a definite way, to add to Wichita's prestige. He allies himself with all worthy movements for civic betterment, and his judgment and foresight are respected and referred to in circles where leading business men meet. Mr. Spines is a thirty-second degree Mason and member of the Mystic Shrine and also holds membership in the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He is popular no less with his employes than he is with his business and social associates.

Mr. Spines married Miss Lucille Latham, daughter of Chester A. Latham, a well known patent attorney of Wichita, and they have one daughter, Evelyn.


Transcribed from volume 4, page 1818 of 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; originally transcribed 1998, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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