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.


James H. Downing

JAMES H. DOWNING, one of the best known citizens of Hays, is a veteran of the Civil war, and for upwards of half a century has been identified with the business and public life of Kansas.

He was born in Scott County, Illinois, December 25, 1842. His father, John Downing, was born in Ireland in 1807, came to the United States when young, and followed the trade of carpenter and cabinet maker. He died in Scott County, Illinois, in 1844. He married in that county a Virginia lady, Elizabeth Davis, who was born in 1817. Their union resulted in two children, John and James H. The former was also a Civil war veteran, was on General Sherman's staff and died in St. Louis in 1867. The mother married for her second husband John Boyd, a merchant, who died at Pittsfield, Illinois, in 1903. Mrs. Boyd died at Pittsfield in August, 1858. By her second marriage she had two children, Mary, who died in California in 1910, and William, a resident of Santa Cruz, California.

James H. Downing grew up in Illinois and when the Civil war came on he tried again and again to get into the Union army. He was rejected on account of underweight, but in May, 1864, was finally taken into Company E of the One Hundred and Thirty-Seventh Illinois Infantry. The most important battle in which he participated was that of Memphis, Tennessee, in August, 1864. Soon afterward he was taken ill, was mustered out in October, and suffered the effects of his army service for seven months.

In 1868 Mr. Downing came to Kansas and worked as a printer on the Leavenworth Bulletin and Press for eight years. March 7, 1876, he established the Ellis County Star at Hays, and was its publisher and editor for fifteen years. In 1889 he went to Topeka as clerk of the State Board of Railroad Commissioners, remaining in the capital for four years. After his return to Hays he engaged in the mercantile business and in 1895 was appointed and for two years served as store keeper at the State Reformatory at Hutchinson. He then returned to Hays and during the McKinley and Roosevelt administrations served five years as postmaster. For four years he was also deputy register of deeds of Ellis County and for the past ten years has been a justice of the peace. He is now practically retired from business affairs. He owns a farm of 150 acres adjoining Wichita, and he helped organize the First National Bank of Hays as a stockholder.

Mr. Downing is a sterling republican. He is affiliated with Hays Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Hays Chapter of the Royal Arch, and Aleppo Commandery of the Knights Templar at Hays, and belongs to Isis Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Salina. Mr. Downing has served four times as commander of Vance Post No. 2, Grand Army of the Republic.

November 2, 1869, at Council Bluffs, Iowa, he married Miss Ella L. West, daughter of E. and Tirzah West, both now deceased. Her father was a farmer and railroad contractor. Mr. Downing's only child, Jackie, died at the age of five years.


Page 2208.


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

Tom & Carolyn Ward
Columbus, KS

tcward@columbus-ks.com


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