Charles E. Wetherall

CHARLES E. WETHERALL has spent most of his life in Kingman County, and for a number of years has been a merchant and business man at Cunningham. He and his brother own the electric light plant there, and this is significant, because Mr. Wetherall has literally and figuratively supplied much of the motive power which has generated business and general development in that locality.

Mr. Wetherall represents an old American family of Irish stock. They came to Virginia in colonial times. His great-grandfather, George Wetherall, was born at Madison Court House, Virginia, and was a planter and slave owner. His wife Emma Wetherall was also a native of Virginia and died at Madison Court House. The grandfather of C. E. Wetherall was A. T. M. Wetherall, who was born in Virginia in 1821. When he was nine years of age his parents removed to Ohio. There were at least six children in the family, and the entire household made this removal in a small wagon drawn by one horse. That journey was accomplished with more difficulties and was more momentous in its results to the family than a modern journey from New York to Hong Kong. The Wetheralls established their home in Licking County, Ohio, in 1826 and died in Douglas reared and married. He afterwards removed to Illinois, was a successful farmer, and finally retired to the Town of Salem, where he died in 1892. He had served as a member of the State Militia, Ohio, and in politics was a democrat. The maiden name of his wife was Elizabeth Emery, who was born in Licking County, Ohio, in 1826 and died in Douglas County, Illinois, in 1861. Three of their children are still living: Sarah, wife of Steven Gill, a farmer in Dallas County, Iowa; Baltus, who is a locomotive engineer with the Frisco Railway, living in Marion County, Illinois; and Henry B.

Henry B. Wetherall, father of the Cunningham merchant, was born in Licking County, Ohio, March 9, 1850, but was reared and educated at Bement, Illinois, graduating from the high school there in 1868. He became a practical farmer in Piatt County, Illinois, but in 1884 brought his family to Kansas and settled in Pratt County, where he preempted 160 acres. He was an industrious farmer and homesteader there for twenty-five years and now owns a half section of land, situated ten miles southwest of Cunningham in Pratt County. He is living retired in Cunningham, owning a good home on First Street. Politically his actions have always been in line with the democratic party. For seven years he was trustee of Valley Township in Pratt County. He was reared a member of the United Brethren Church. Henry B. Wetherall married Elizabeth Bricker, who was born in Indiana, May 22, 1852. They had only two sons, Charles E. and A. M., business partners at Cunningham.

Charles E. Wetherall was born in Piatt County, Illinois, March 8, 1874, and was ten years of age when brought to Pratt County, Kansas. He grew up on the old homestead, acquired an education in the rural schools, and remained at home assisting his father in farming operations until he was twenty-five years of age. He then began farming for himself but in 1901 sought a larger field for his enterprise at Cunningham. Here he bought the general merchandise store of Elder & Simonson. It was a comparatively small business, and was acquired for $6,000. Today it is one of the leading department stores of Kingman County. They occupy floor space of 5,000 square feet with basement of similar size. The store is on Main Street and is conducted under the name of Wetherall Brothers. These brothers also own the electric light plant, which supplies Cunningham with electricity for lighting and power. Mr. Wetherall built a modern home in Cunningham in 1907 and he also owns the building in which the store is conducted. Politically he is an independent democrat. He has served as a member of the city council and has held other town offices, and is past noble grand of Cunningham Lodge No. 431, Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

In 1899 at Pratt, Kansas, Mr. Wetherall married Miss Addie Jenkins, daughter of J. C. and Louise (Howald) Jenkins. Her parents reside at Cunningham, her father being a retired farmer and an old resident of this section of Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Wetherall have two children, Austin, born in 1901, and Roy, born in 1904.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed February 10, 2000.

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