ORRIN W. DAWSON, who is now serving his tenth consecutive year as mayor of Great Bend, is a business man of wide experience, was trained for a lawyer, and has all those qualifications which entitle a man to the trust and confidence of the community.
Mr. Dawson, who has lived in Barton County since early childhood, was born in Jones County, Iowa, December 14, 1868. The early American Dawsons came from Ireland and settled in Virginia, and all of them seem to have been farmers. His grandfather was William Wiley Dawson, a native of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. He became a pioneer in Iowa and finally came to Kansas, dying at Great Bend. James G. Dawson, father of Mayor Dawson, was born in Pennsylvania, but spent the greater part of his life in Iowa. He enlisted while there in Company H of the Thirty-first Iowa Infantry, and saw much active service. He was with Grant at Shiloh, was wounded there, and later was with Sherman's Army until he was finally discharged on account of his wounds, in 1876 he brought his family to Barton County, Kansas, and was one of the pioneers, acquiring railroad land and followed farming with success. He died March 8, 1888. He was a republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church. James G. Dawson married Margaret J. Clark, who is now living in Massachusetts with a son. She was the mother of three children: Elmer E., of Boston, Massachusetts; Orrin W.; and Myrtle E., widow of H. E. Turck, of Ellinwood, Kansas.
Orrin W. Dawson was seven years old when his parents came to Kansas. He attended the Great Bend schools, also the Central Normal College, and for a few months taught school. His chief work, however, until reaching manhood was farming. While a teacher he studied shorthand, and for several years worked as a stenographer in some of the flouring mills of Great Bend. Later he was official court stenographer, first under Judge Ansel R. Clark and later for Judge Brinckerhoff. While doing court work he also studied law, and was admitted to the bar, but as above indicated, never practiced. He found perhaps a more congenial and profitable field in the real estate, insurance and loan business. He is now senior member of the firm of Dawson & Zutavern, fire insurance farm loans and lands. They might also be classed as practical farmers and wheat growers, having a large amount of land in cultivation. Mr. Dawson is a director of the Citizens National Bank of Great Bend.
He as[sic] been a recognized leader in the political life in his section of the state for a number of years. As to his work as mayor of Great Bend there may be mentioned to the credit of his administration the building and completion of the sewer system, the construction of a drainage system, and the laying of about eight miles of paving.
Mr. Dawson first became interested in politics outside his county when he was nominated by the Progressive body for Congress in the Seventh District. That was in 1914. Though he had opposition from both the republican and democratic nominees he polled between 13,000 and 14,000 votes. This was the largest vote given any progressive candidate for Congress in the state that year. In 1916 Mr. Dawson was one of the four delegates at large to the National Progressive Convention at Chicago. He was present and a witness to all the scenes enacted in the effort to nominate Roosevelt for president that year. In 1918 Mr. Dawson was a member from the Seventh District to advance the nomination of Mr. Allen for governor, and contributed something to the results when Mr. Allen carried every county in Kansas.
As mayor and one of the leading citizens of Great Bend it is natural that Mr. Dawson should be looked upon as a leader in local war work. He served as chairman of the Barton County War Council, was Barton County Food Administrator and County Fuel Administrator, and had the satisfaction of seeing the county go over the top on every drive for war work. When the plan was being advanced to recruit a division for the overseas army under the leadership of Colonel Roosevelt, Mr. Dawson was authorized to raise a regiment in Kansas as part of the proposed force, and he had made considerable progress before the plan was definitely abandoned as a result of the administration's objections. Mr. Dawson served as recruiting officer for the first and second officers training camp.
He has been identified with a number of other community projects. He was a committee member in bringing into shape the Carnegie Library of Great Bend. He is a member of the Lodge, Chapter, Council and Commandery of York Rite Masonry, is a Shriner, and an Elk, but is not an officer in any lodge. He and his wife are active Presbyterians, and he is church treasurer and a member of the session. Mr. Dawson built one of the good homes of Great Bend at 2405 Forest Avenue.
In Pawnee County, Kansas, September 1, 1892, Mr. Dawson married Miss Jennie J. Monger, daughter of Willis Monger. Mrs. Dawson, who was one of seven children, was born in Indiana and for a time was a student of the Central Normal College of Great Bend. For several years she taught in Pawnee County. Mr. and Mrs. Dawson have two daughters, Helen and Dorothy. After completing the work of the Great Bend High School Helen entered Kansas University, graduating with the A. B. degree, and is now a student in the Boston Conservatory of Music. Dorothy is a member of the class of 1920 in Kansas University.
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.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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