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


Charles Edwin Westlake

CHARLES E. WESTLAKE. There is a type of business man who has apparently a peculiar genius for doing a number of things well and efficiently. Such a man has the commercial instinct highly developed. Charles E. Westlake of Sedan illustrates the type. He has been a farmer and rancher, has merchandised in several different lines, has been an oil producer, and is now engaged in the undertaking business at Sedan, and one of the livest and most energetic citizens of that town.

Both he and his family have been identified with Kansas a great many years. The Westlakes originated in England, where his grandfather, John Westlake, was born. He came to Canada, but lived retired in that country and died in the Province of Quebec, being killed by a runaway horse. As a resident of England he followed merchandising.

Walter Westlake, father of Charles E., was born in England in 1842, came as a young man to the Province of Quebec, Canada, was married there, and for several years engaged in farming. In 1872 he landed at Sabetha, in Nemaha County, Kansas, and continued an active farmer in that community until his death in 1906. After becoming an American citizen he supported the republican party and was the recipient of several township offices in Nemaha County. He belonged to the Episcopal Church and was affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. In Canada he married Janet Greenfield, who now resides with her youngest daughter at Helena in Alfalfa County, Oklahoma. She was born in the Province of Quebec in 1848. Walter Westlake and wife had a family of seven children: Maggie is the wife of William Summervill, a farmer in Marion County, Kansas; the second in age is Charles E.; Albert is in the real estate business at Hennessey, Oklahoma; Oliver is a practicing physician and surgeon at Silver City, New Mexico; Mary married Gene Ritter, a stationary engineer at Leavenworth, Kansas; Harvey conducts a garage at Okmulgee, Oklahoma; Charlotte is the wife of Guy Leteer, who owns the telephone system at Helena, Oklahoma.

Charles Edwin Westlake was born in the Province of Quebec, Canada, July 20, 1870, and was two years of age when his parents removed to Northern Kansas. He attended the public schools of Neuchatel in that county and spent the first twenty-two years of his life on his father's farm. After that he farmed for himself in Neuchatel Township of Nemaha County until 1901 and then entered upon the multifarious affairs which have since engaged his attention. The summer of 1902 he spent on a ranch in Butler County. In 1903 he bought a tract of land in Marion County, but soon traded it for a stock of goods at Vilas in Wilson County, and in the same year sold this stock of goods and in September removed to Hennessey, Kingfisher County, Oklahoma. There he acquired a half interest in a meat market and made a success of that enterprise. Selling out in 1905 in September of that year he traded a piece of land in Lincoln County, Oklahoma, for a stock of furniture at Winston in Daviess County, Missouri. Thus he became a furniture merchant in that Missouri town, but sold out on September 19, 1907, at an advantage. While visiting his mother at Leavenworth, Kansas, he accepted an opportunity to connect himself with the J. W. Sexton Undertaking Company, and while with that firm he gained a thorough knowledge of the undertaking business. He was in business at Leavenworth until March 1, 1910, and on the 20th of May of the same year arrived at Sedan, buying the furniture and undertaking business of D. B. Kenny. His furniture stock he sold out in August, 1913, and now confines himself exclusively to the undertaking business. He has well equipped offices and display rooms on Main Street, and is one of the leading undertakers of Chautauqua County.

His business and financial interests are now widespread. Besides his residence on Chautauqua Street he owns a half interest in his office building, has a farm of 160 acres in Woodson County, Kansas, and has two-thirds interest in twenty acres of oil land adjoining Sedan on the south.

Mr. Westlake takes much interest in local affairs, is a republican voter, and while living in Neuchatel Township of Nemaha County served on the school board. He affiliates with the Episcopal Church, and fraternally is affiliated with Vesper Lodge No. 136, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and Camp No. 919, Modern Woodmen of America, both at Sedan.

By a former marriage Mr. Westlake has four children: Elvina; Arthur, an employe of the Prairie Oil and Gas Company at Independence, Kansas; Stanley, who is a student living in Nemaha County, Kansas; and Lucy, who attends school in Nemaha County. In May, 1913, at Sedan, Mr. Westlake married Miss Nellie Cook, daughter of Philip and Elizabeth (Carter) Cook. Her parents now reside at Sedan, her father being a retired farmer and a town official.


Transcribed from volume 4, page 2129 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 October 1997, modified 2003 by Carolyn Ward.

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