Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.


William B. Culbertson

WILLIAM B. CULBERTSON is one of the firm of the Scott City Land Company of Scott City. He arrived in Scott County September 10, 1904. As a land man he started among strangers and without capital other than his varied business experience in other sections of Kansas. For several years after he came sales of farm land in this region were so rare as to amount almost to an event in the career of the individual land man. There were several continuous years of real mental torture for Mr. Culbertson. He had the courage to hang on, and was assisted in this "hang over period" by a good and loyal friend. Without his aid Mr. Culbertson's career in Scott City might not have occurred just as it resulted. His friend furnished the backing for bridging over the financial chasms of the enterprising but struggling land man who is now the pioneer and dean of the fraternity in Scott County.

Eventually Mr. Culbertson formed a partnership with Robert P. Roark, a much younger man, and full of life and the fire of hope for the future of this section. That association marked the beginning of the Scott County Land Company, whose efforts and achievements are briefly related in the sketch of his partner elsewhere published. Such a network of stations over the Mississippi Valley as they have established for the dissemination of information about this section of Kansas has seldom been equalled and perhaps never excelled, and it has been the means of bringing to Scott and other counties a citizenship of sturdy and virile quality and certain to effect a revolution in the industrial conditions in this region.

The trying years of Mr. Culbertson's early career are in the past. The dark clouds began to break for the Land Company with the big wheat crop of 1914, a clear sky saluted them in 1915, and their business was never so good as in 1916.

Mr. Culbertson belongs to a pioneer family of Allen County, Kansas. The accident of birth makes him a native of Springfield, Illinois. His parents, through the influence of a relative, were kept in that city for some months, long enough for William B. Culbertson to be born, but the mother and the infant followed the father to Kansas a few months later.

Joseph Culbertson, father of William B., was a real pioneer of Allen County. He put up the first house on the townsite of Iola. That was in the year 1857, and thus he gained the distinction of founding the metropolis of Allen County and was identified with its growth and its business affairs throughout the rest of his life. His old home at Iola was sold by his son William B. to the Government for the Federal Building.

The Culbertson family came originally out of Devonshire, England. Robert B. Culbertson, father of Joseph, came to the United States, spending one year in Pennsylvania and for another year was at Zanesville, Ohio, the home of his sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Campbell. He then went on foot into Kentucky, finally locating in Hart County, where he spent the rest of his life. He was a cabinet workman, and a splendid one at that. He was the oldest son of a family and the custom of the family for generations had been to make the oldest son a cabinet maker. Robert B. Culbertson died about 1875, when ninety-nine years of age. He married Elizabeth Cook, who died some years later. The sons in their family were: Theodore, who was killed as a soldier in the Mexican war; William, who was a soldier in the same war, and subsequently fought in the Union army during the war between the states and died in Kentucky; Joseph; Doc and another brother, both of whom were killed while fighting on the Confederate side; Alexander, who was killed as a Union soldier; and Robert Emmett, who also became a pioneer of Allen County, Kansas. The daughters of Robert B. Culbertson and wife were: Emorine, who married Benjamin Towles; Sarah, who married John Edwards, and Mary, who died in Hart County, Kentucky.

Joseph Culbertson was born in Hart County, Kentucky, October 11, 1829, learned the cabinetmaking trade from his father, and after coming to Iola gave his particular attention to the furniture business. His place of business was several times injured by fire. As a matter of policy he never carried insurance. In politics he participated only as a democratic voter. He was one of the twenty men who owned the original Iola Town Company. He belonged to the Baptist Church and was a member of the Masonic order. His death occurred December 19, 1908, when nearly eighty years of age. The maiden name of his wife was Laura S. (Patton) Culbertson, daughter of Simpson and Margaret (Lee) Patton. Her father came from West Virginia to Kentucky and was of Welsh ancestry, while her mother was a relative of the Virginia Lees. Laura Culbertson, who died December 6, 1885, was the mother of the following children: William B.; J. Alexander, who died as a young man at Iola; Maggie, who died unmarried at Pasadena, California; Claude S., of Seattle, Washington; Robert Emmett, who never married, spent eight years as county clerk of Allen County, and died December 16, 1915.

As the above account shows, William B. Culbertson came to Kansas as an infant when this state was still a territory. However, he was sent back to Kentucky, where he spent a number of years gaining his education. He attended Hamilton College at Elizabethtown, Kentucky, five years, and was in school at Linlin 3 1/2 years. Then for two years he tried farming in Hart County, Kentucky. Returning to Iola, Kansas, he put in a year on the farm of his uncle, Robert E., and then a year in the photograph business with B. F. Pancost at Iola. Then came an experience as a merchant's clerk for six years, and on moving to Yates Center he engaged in the confectionery and restaurant business. After another year he went to Newton, Kansas. That town was then experiencing a condition known as "dead," and as there was nothing else to do he applied himself to an occupation discovered by accident. Apparently there was considerable demand for fixing stoves in the town. He specialized on that sort of repair work. It was slow progress in building up a business, but within two months he had created something like a second-hand business, probably the first of its kind in the town, and after developing that to a paying point he sold out. His next occupation was as a fence builder with a fence gang on the Missouri Pacific Railway, and after a month he was promoted to the bridge gang. Several months later he took an individual contract to fence twenty-five miles for the railway company, and after completing that work he took a clerkship in the Santa Fe office in Newton.

The railway company finally believed that Mr. Culbertson had in him the making of a land salesman and they sent him out to sell railroad land, and after his first trip he was offered a regular situation as land agent at Larned. He continued placing lands for the railway company for 5 1/2 years and sold all the better tracts owned by the Santa Fe between Great Bend and Colorado Line. He then associated himself with J. D. Blunt as partners in the real estate business at Larned, and that was his headquarters until 1896. In that year Mr. Culbertson, returning to Iola, entered the real estate business there, and then in 1904 transferred the scene of his activities to Scott City.

In 1881 Mr. Culbertson married Miss Adda McGee. Three daughters were born to their union: Mary, Lena and Lulu, all of whom are residents of Kansas City. Lena was deputy county clerk of Allen County for eight years, and all the daughters have been teachers. Mrs. Lydia H. Culbertson, Mr. Culbertson's present wife, was born in Lyon County, Kansas, and they were married in Nelson, Nebraska, in June, 1910. Mrs. Culbertson has a daughter Sarah, wife of George Schwerdts, of Scott City.


Pages 2086-2087.


Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

Volume 5 - Table of Contents

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