W. E. Stice

W. E. STICE, cashier of the Galena National Bank, died suddenly at his home, on the corner of Ninth and Main streets, February 28, 1899.

By the casual reader of the day's events, the announcement, full as it is with its suggestions of grief, might have been lost sight of, in the aggregation of records of human misery, which, alas, makes up so much of the average knowledge of the outside world, beyond one's own special sphere. It was not so to the people of Galena, who received the news of the sudden demise of one of their most truly honored and beloved citizens. Grief stalked unashamed in the streets of the city, sorrow reigned in every circle and from the miner's camp to the most palatial home ran a feeling of deep, heartfelt pity for the family of wife and children so lamentably bereft.

The late W. E. Stice was born in 1850 in Illinois and was taken as a child to Oswego, Kansas and was a son of D. M. Stice, of that city. The parents still survive, with three sons: James L., a post office inspector, who resides in St. Louis; and two others, who are fighting for their country in far away Manila.

The late Mr. Stice had been a resident of Galena since 1882, coming here then in search of fortune, with little capital except courage, energy and manly ambition. His connection with banking affairs commenced when he was given the position of cashier, with O. T. Street, in the Miners' & Merchants' Bank. In this position he exhibited so much tact, judgment and ability that he attracted the attention and won the friendship of J. Shomon, who was then president of the old bank, inducing the latter, several years later, to accept the young man as a business partner, although Mr. Stice's capital was little more than brains and experience. Under the new management, the institution became the Bank of Galena, which was subsequently changed to its present title, the Galena National Bank. Much of its great financial success must be attributed to Mr. Stice's management, his personal attention being given to all its affairs. He gained the justifiable reputation of being one of the most competent financiers and general business managers in the State, and was held in the highest esteem by all those with whom business ever brought him into contact. Taking pride in the success of this institution, to which he had devoted the best part of his life, he fell a victim to what has been denominated American intensity, which caused the lowering of vital forces and the consequent inability to overcome what might have been but a slight indisposition to one in perfect health. The one comfort afforded his devoted wife was that she was able to minister to him through the few moments of mortal agony.

Mr. Stice was an honored member of a number of fraternal orders, including the Masons, Knights of Pythias, Ancient Order of United Workmen, Woodmen and others, carried insurance in all of these and an additional old-line policy for $15,000. He had numerous financial interests and business associations with successful enterprises, which combined to make him a factor in the financial world.

In 1834, Mr. Stice was married to Blanche McPherson, who is a daughter of Hon. A. M. and Elmira T. (Inks) McPherson, and they and three children: Florence, Shomon and Alfred, all of whom survive. The father of Mrs. Stice is vice-president of the Galena Light & Power Company, vice-president of the Union Ice Company and one of the leading men of Galena. He was born in Kentucky, but was reared near St. Louis, Missouri, where his education was obtained in the district schools. For several years he engaged in farming and stock-raising and moved in 1870 to the vicinity of Springfield, Missouri, where he made a specialty of raising stock. In 1877 he came to Cherokee County, Kansas, in the first days of the discovery of lead and zinc ore, when the present busy city was but a tract of woodland. Of the two first prospectors here, one was ready to sell his interest, which Mr. McPherson bought for the sum of $400, and he mined here, with success, for some years, and then became interested in an ice and coal business. He has served the city of Galena, at various times, as councilman, was its second mayor, and in the fall of 1886 was appointed postmaster by President Cleveland, and was reappointed during that statesman's second administration. He is a member of the Commercial Club; of the Masons being a Knight Templar and a Shriner: of the Ancient Order of United Workmen; of the Knights and Ladies of Security; of the Bankers' Union; and of the Elks, in which order he has served as exalted ruler. His three children are: Mrs. W. E. Stice; Mrs. B. W. Miller, of Galena, and Mrs. J. B. Witt, of Kansas City.

The funeral services over all that was mortal of W. E. Stice took place at the cemetery, in Galena, in the presence of hundreds of those who by their presence desired to testify to their love and respect. It was one of the largest funerals ever held in the city. In compliance with the mayor's proclamation, appended below, all the business houses were closed, and both in mining and in commercial circles business was practically suspended. The Galena Lodge, A. F. & A. M., had charge of the services and they were of a character to impress even the most thoughtless. The beautiful casket, weighing 600 pounds, was of solid iron, with broadcloth coverings and gold and silver trimmings, with an interior of white satin and a large gold plate on the top, engraved with the suggestive words "At Rest."

After appropriate services were held at the home, the cortege formed and moved to the cemetery, headed by a cordon of police and the Galena Firemen's Band. The ritualistic service of the fraternity was performed in a solemn and impressive manner and when the vast concourse turned away to again face their own private sorrows, there were few eyes that were not wet with sympathy for the bereaved widow and little ones. Many Masons and other friends from abroad were in attendance, each one eager to tell some characteristic story or relate some kind deed of the friend from whom they had just parted. Among those who found it impossible to reach the city in time was Mr. Shomon who had hastenef home from Albuquerque, New Mexico. Through the thoughtful consideration of Mrs. Stice, the casket was opened upon his late arrival, that he might once again view the face of his dearly beloved friend.

The mayor of Galena, Hon. J. P. McCann, issued the following proclamation, which, in itself, was a token of unusual honor to a private citizen:

Realizing the esteem in which our lamented fellow citizen, W. E. Stice, was held by our people, regardless of class, and his standing in business and commercial circles, and appreciating the fact that he was a prominent figure in all matters pertaining to the interests and welfare of Galena, and the further fact that he has been identified with us all in matters of a business or social character for many years, it is deemed proper that we accord him a mark of respect due citizens of that character, whom an all wise Father has seen fit to call from our midst

Therefore, I would request and urge that all places of business be closed and that our citizens abstain from the transaction of all business between the hours of 10 A. M and 12 M to-morrow, Thursday, March 2, 1899, in order that all who may desire can attend the funeral services to be held during those hours, and as a mark of respect to the memory of one whose loss is mourned by the entire community.

(Signed) J. P. McCANN, Mayor.

And what manner of man was this, to whom citizens of high and low degree paid respect, deplored his loss and grieved with his beloved ones? In reply we feel that we can no better answer than to add to this record from the columns of the Galena Daily Republican of March 1, 1899, the testimony of one who had known him from his first location at Galena and appreciated him as one high-minded man may another:

"The death of W. E. Stice is the subject of conversation everywhere. A gloom such as was never before experienced seemed to settle over the entire community. Nothing else was talked of, nothing else thought of, yesterday. Men could not concentrate their minds on business, but seemed dazed at the awful visitation of the Death Angel. We doubt if another case is recorded where there was such universal sorrow over the death of a citizen of such modest and humble pretensions. The more men thought of the life and character of the deceased, the greater seemed the loss. The more they knew of him, the more they realized his true worth; the more free they were to proclaim his virtues. Stice was one man among a thousand. To say he had no enemies would be to slander him, for the man with no enemies is a cipher in the world, but we say he had fewer enemies than any man we ever knew who was engaged in the same business. Every one has a kind word to say of him. Said one gentleman: 'I do not believe Stice ever refused to aid a worthy person or object, whether church, politics or charity.' His heart and purse were ever open. Said another: 'Many of our citizens owe their prosperity to Ed Stice, whose assistance enabled them to make a success of their enterprises. A number of merchants would have failed had he not come to their rescue and bridged them over bad places.' On every hand we hear these comments. Men respected him in life, and, while they did not give voice to personal praise, they showed by every means the high esteem in which they held him as a citizen and a friend, and left no doubt as to their appreciation of his kindly deeds."


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Carolyn Ward, instructor from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 2/18/97.


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