EDWARD A. NOBLE, pioneer merchant and citizen of Kinsley, has been in Edwards County practically throughout its existence as the home of civilized men. Through his individual career and activities much of the real history of this section could be told.
It was something of a chance, fortunate both for himself and the community, that Mr. Noble determined to cast in his lot with this frontier region. He was born October 19, 1842, acquired a liberal education in the schools at New Philadelphia, Ohio, and practically grew up in his father's mills. His father was a miller throughout his active career, and operated flouring mills at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, New Philadelphia, Ohio, and also at Allegheny City, Pennsylvania.
Edward A. Noble has been through the war as a Union soldier and, after a time, the climate of Pennsylvania had proved too severe for his constitution and it was for the purpose of physical recuperating that he determined upon a trip to the mountains of Colorado. Some friends were at Kinsley, Kansas, and that caused him to stop off here. Kinsley then had a good hotel, and the locality's atmosphere was full of cure for various ills. In a few days Mr. Noble had decided to remain at Kinsley rather than pursue his journey westward.
He made the acquaintance of the pioneer settler R. E. Edwards. Through him he entered upon his first business relations in Kinsley. This was a position paying a salary of $25 a month as clerk in the firm of Edwards Brothers & Price. He had first assisted the firm in making their invoice. He remained with them, steadily working and growing in health and vigor, until the following fall. He was so much improved that he then decided to return home and resume his former business connections in Pennsylvania. When he left the members of the firm assured him that his old place was open to him at any time he wished to return and at double the salary. After two weeks in Pennsylvania he concluded that his only hope for permanent health and vigor was in the Kansas climate, and thus in a short time he was back in Kinsley.
The date of Mr. Noble's first arrival in Kinsley was March 4, 1877, a little more than forty years ago. He had not long resumed his connection with the Edwards & Price firm when the junior partner was taken suddenly ill and Mr. Noble was appointed manager of the store. At the death of Mr. Price Mr. Edwards proposed to Mr. Noble that he buy some of the stock and offered to let him have it on time. He gave his note for the obligation, bearing a small rate of interest. This store was housed in the first brick building erected in Edwards County. After Mr. Noble joined the firm the name was changed to Edwards Brothers & Noble. In later years it has been the business of Edwards, Noble & Company. The country has been burned out, dried out and drowned out, too, strange as it may seem, and Mr. Noble has witnessed settlers come and go several times, but the business has weathered all the storms of vicissitude. In the early days the firm handled and shipped immense quantities of buffalo bones. "Bone picking" was the one reliable resource for many of the early settlers. This firm shipped bones by the trainload. Mr. Noble has seen Kinsley grow from a village of wooden shacks, perhaps a dozen in number, to a thrifty town of brick buildings, and he himself has contributed to the substantial development of the place. The store of the firm is now a two-story brick 45 by 140 feet, and its stock and service are such as to justify its pretension as a department store. Mr. Noble early became identified with the Kinsley Bank, and is now serving as its vice president and director. Many years ago he began buying farm land, and has done his part in raising the standards of Edwards County agriculture.
Mr. Noble was only a boy when the Civil war broke out, and on August 8, 1862, he was mustered into service in Company E of the 123rd Pennsylvania Infantry. He was under the command of Captain John S. Bell and Colonel John B. Clark, the latter one of the first ministers of the gospel at Allegheny City. The regiment was sent to the front at once, and took part in the second battle of Bull Run, at Fredericksburg, Antietam, Chancellorsville and many of the skirmishes and minor engagements that marked the long campaign through Northern Virginia. After his first term of enlistment expired Mr. Noble reenlisted in Company D of the 77th Pennsylvania Volunteers and was made first lieutenant of his company. This command served at first in Eastern Tennessee, participating in many skirimishes there, and its last work was done in Texas. When Lee surrendered the regiment was stationed at Shield's Mill near Greenville, Tennessee, but was soon ordered to Nashville. There Mr. Noble was appointed an aide on Major General Nathan Kimball's staff. The whole Fourth Corps was soon sent to Texas and landing at Old Indianola marched to Victoria, where Mr. Noble was adjutant of the post for about three months. His command was mustered out there, his discharge being dated December 6, 1865, but he was not paid off and finally discharged until January, 1866, at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
After the war Mr. Noble returned to Beaver Falls and resumed his place in his father's mills. Politically he has been a steadfast republican for over half a century. He cast his first presidential vote at Allegheny, Pennsylvania, in 1864, supporting Mr. Lincoln for his second term.
His grandfather was Lawrence Noble, descended from William Noble, one of three brothers who came from England. Lawrence Noble married Miss Lucy Beach. Their three children were Theron A., Orson Jay and Theodore. Theron died in Akron, Ohio, and Orson in Chicago, both leaving families. Theodore died at Wampum, Pennsylvania.
Theodore Noble, father of Edward A., was born near Canadaigua, New York, had a practical education, and from an early age owned and operated mills. He married Susan Curtiss, whose father was a farmer and tavern keeper at Black Rock near Buffalo, New York. Theodore Noble and wife both died during the '80s, both at the age of seventy-five and only a year apart. Of their eleven children five grew up: Charles, who was an accountant and died at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1867, at the age of thirty-one, leaving two children: Edward A., of this article, a druggist at Wichita, Kansas; Emma, widow of W. L. Hobbs and living in Sacramento, California; and Cora H., who lives in Kinsley.
Mr. Noble, who has never married, has always kept a home for those members of his family who cared to enjoy it. His residence at Kinsley is modern in every way and it stands on the site of his first home here. Fraternally he is a past master of the Kinsley Masonic Lodge, a past high priest of the Royal Arch Chapter at Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and also belongs to the Knight Templar Commandery. He was reared as a Presbyterian, subsequently became affiliated with the Episcopal Church, but is now a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist, belonging to the "Mother Church" at Boston.
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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