BRADFORD R. GRIMES, of Ashland, is one of the few active men of today who have more than a passing knowledge and acquaintance with the earlier and pioneer stages of the great range cattle industry of the Southwest. The pages of history and the memory of such men as Mr. Grimes serve to perpetuate and recall the days of the past when the great Chisholm trail was one of the chief broad highways leading up from Texas into Kansas and the northern country, over which annually passed such immense herds of livestock that over a width of nearly a mile and a distance of hundreds of miles not a spear of grass survived the trampling of thousands of hoofs. Mr. Grimes has been going in and out of and through Kansas for the past forty years, and his active interests in the cattle industry are extensive.
This branch of the Grimes family originated in the colony of Connecticut. Grandfather Captain Richard Grimes was a sea captain and vessel owner. His mariner's compass is one of the family heirlooms now possessed by Bradford R. Grimes of Ashland. He married a Miss Bradford, a direct descendant of Governor Bradford of Massachusetts. Of their children the only two of whom there is record were William Bradford Grimes and Fannie Camp.
William B. Grimes was born near Hartford, Connecticut, and early in life took up a residence in Southern Texas along the coast. It is believed he went to that state on one of his father's vessels. It was about ten years before the Civil war that he moved to Texas and engaged in the cattle industry and came to own extensive interests as a cattle man, handling his herds by the thousands. His headquarters were in Matagorda County. His chief cow brand was his initials W B G, though many other brands were recorded in his name. While he was a grower of beef he also was identified with the early packing industry in Matagorda County. Fifty or sixty years ago cattle were comparatively a drag on the market, and it is known that he slaughtered cattle merely for their hides and tallow. The tallow was regarded as of the value of lard, while the meat was practically unmarketable. The meat of the slain cattle was rendered and fed to hogs. William B. Grimes was of course one of the large Texas cattlemen who sought outlet for their herds to the north over the famous old trails, especially the Chisholm trail. He drove his herds up from Texas over this trail to the old Kansas Pacific, now the Union Pacific.
William B. Grimes continued his primary occupation with the cattle industry until about 1875. Some of the profits of his enterprise he invested outside of Texas. He was one of the large depositors of the First National Bank at Kansas City managed by Mr. Holden. When that bank failed he was compelled to take a considerable frontage on Delaware Street in that city as security for his deposits. He finally built a business house on the ground, the nine story Grimes Block between 5th and 6th streets. It was a time of general depression, and being unable to rent the building he organized a wholesale dry goods house and the building became the home of Grimes, Wood & LaForce. Later it was the William B. Grimes Dry Goods Company. He was also a Kansas City banker, having organized the American National Bank and was its first president. He had extensive interests in Kansas City real estate, and was the first president of the Kansas City Commercial Club. In the height of his business career he was head of fourteen different institutions. He moved his family to Kansas City about 1880, but about fifteen years later, on account of heavy financial losses through the panic of 1893, he came out to Great Bend, Kansas, and died there in 1903, at the age of seventy-two. William B. Grimes was purely a business man. He possessed a liberal education and always kept himself well informed on political and economic subjects. In national politics he voted as a democrat. He and his wife had the following children: Bradford R.; William B., of Clark County, Kansas; Mrs. Lottoe Harwood, of Baltimore, Maryland; Richard, of Ashland; Mrs. Emily Green, of Chicago; and Miss Louise, of Los Angeles.
Bradford R. Grimes was born in Matagorda County, Texas, September 29, 1857. He was educated in his native state until about twelve years of age, when his father sent him north to New York, and he attended grammar school and college there to the age of eighteen. He then joined his parents in Texas, and took up the cattle business and helped drive a herd over the old Chisholm trail as his first experience. After that he continued busily engaged between Texas, Kansas and Dakota, driving cattle across country. For a time he also did ranching in the Cherokee strip in what is now Harper County, Oklahoma. In those early years he handled both stock and beef cattle, and he still has interests in Oklahoma as well as in Kansas. To indicate the extent of his ranching affairs it may be noted that at one time his lease holdings of the public domain amounted to about 80,000 acres, and his cattle pastured over the hills and valleys under about nine different brands.
Many years ago Mr. Grimes was in the habit of driving stock out of Texas to Dodge City over the Dodge City trail, and this gave him a first hand knowledge of the region around Ashland, and he knew that country long before Ashland was conceived of as a town. It was a portion of Kansas soil that attracted him and finally in 1892 he established his home at Ashland. For a quarter of a century he has had a leased ranch tributary to Ashland and is still directing his cattle ranching interests on a large scale. Mr. Grimes has never shown political ambition, and merely votes as a democrat. His parents were members of the Episcopal Church.
At Emporia, Kansas, March 11, 1908, Mr. Grimes married Miss Daisy Ferguson. The Fergusons are an old and prominent family of different states of the Union. Her grandfather, John Fielding Ferguson, came north from one of the Carolinas and settled in Preble County, Ohio, in pioneer times and spent the rest of his life as a farmer. William O. Ferguson, father of Mrs. Grimes, was born in Preble County April 14, 1829, and grew up with a good education considering his opportunities and early environment. He was one of a family of ten children. His brother, John Ferguson, was a prominent resident of Emporia for some years. Both brothers served in the same company in the Civil war. William O. Ferguson was a Kansas pioneer of 1857. His first home was in Lawrence, and from that old center of civilization in this state he volunteered in the Ninth Kansas Cavalry. He was in service throughout the war and was finally discharged at Jefferson Barracks. As a soldier he was on duty chiefly in the western country, largely among the Indians. At one time he was bearer of an important dispatch from Colorado to Leavenworth and went alone unscathed over this vast tract of wild and hostile country, From Lawrence he moved out to Lyon County and was a pioneer merchant at Emporia. From Emporia he sent wagon trains and supplies to the settlements of Eldorado, Wichita, Newton, and other points on the frontier, and hundreds of the old timers knew his goods and his reputation as a merchant who did not know him personally. He continued active in business for many years, and died January 12, 1913. He was a very strong republican, but had no ambition for himself in a political way. He was also one of the early Kansas prohibitionists, and was an ardent churchman, a member of the Christian denomination. William O. Ferguson married Catherine Slack, a daughter of William Slack, a native of Kentucky. She is still living in Emporia. Mr. and Mrs. Ferguson have two daughters: Miss Lou, principal of the Walnut Street School at Emporia, and Mrs. Grimes.
Mrs. Grimes is one of the best educated and most highly accomplished of Kansas women. She prepared for a teaching career in the Kansas State Normal at Emporia, also attended Colorado College at Colorado Springs, the University of Chicago, and later matriculated as a student in Columbia University, but at that point abandoned further education to become the wife of Mr. Grimes. Before she married she spent about nineteen years as a teacher, five of them being in the Southwest Oklahoma Normal School as supervisor of the Training School. Mrs. Grimes is a member of the Kansas Division of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, is former secretary of the Red Cross Chapter for Clark County, and is a member of the Episcopal Church.
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.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
Home Page for Kansas
Search all of Blue Skyways
The KSGenWeb Project