Few men in Cloud county have risen from obscurity and gained the prominence accorded W.H.L. Pepperell. The interesting story of his life strikingly illustrates what a man can accomplish when he possesses ambition and the energy and the steadfastness of purpose to execute them. From poverty, a "little bootblack," as he is pleased to call himself, our subject has risen to prosperity, occupies a high standing as a citizen and is admired for the broad learning and scholarly attainments he has acquired - from where and when it would be difficult to determine exactly - for he began his career ere his school days had fairly dawned. But with the same determination that he has hewed down every obstacle in his path, he gained knowledge and acquired much of his book learning while in the employ of Mrs. Truesdell; furthermore it was of a practical kind, the quality that is a boon to the boy who turns pathfinder.
Mr. Pepperell was born in Plymouth, England, in 1862. In 1870 he came to America with his parents, who settled in Junction City, Kansas. As a mere child he evinced the same sort of emotion and ambition that beats in the breasts of more mature and restless humanity. His extreme youth nor the influence of his parents, who were in limited circumstances, did not prevent him from taking the "world by the horns." He learned through a traveling salesman, that a position awaited him at the "Truesdell House" in Concordia. The conditions were, a "rustler," and, in addition, could earn fees blacking boots, doing errands, etc. As a result of having fasted all day, Mr. Pepperell arrived in the new town of Concordia with twenty-five cents in his pocket. He left home with enough to pay his car fare from Junction City to Clyde and started to finish his journey on foot, but a kindly farmer gave him a ride in his wagon. Mr. Pepperell says should he live a century he could never forget the appearance of Mrs. Truesdell, in her silken gown, as she summoned him into her presence. He had expected to be ushered into a hearing with a grim-visaged landlord instead of this gracious woman, who appeared to him like a queen. She was a handsome woman and her grace appealed to the little stranger, as she mapped out a routine of duties for him to perform. Late in the afternoon Mrs. Truesdell discovered a look of weariness on the boy's face and thinking he may not have dined, true to her kindly nature, ordered a lunch prepared for him. Mr. Pepperell asserts that was the most sumptuous meal he ever partook of in his life, not excepting the scores of banquets he has since attended. He found a home with Mrs. Truesdell, a home in all that the word implies, and for a half dozen years lost his identity and was known as "Billy" Truesdell. In the meantime our subject had established a reputation for shrewdness, coupled with honor and integrity, the first requisites to success, and when the hotel burned down he was offered a clerkship, but refused a position with a salary to enter the law office of Laing & Wrong, that he might satisfy his longing for knowledge, an exceptional sacrifice for a penniless boy, but a wise one, for here he acquired, his business education, and at the expiration of one year had gained enough knowledge to form an association with N.E. Carpenter, an attorney and justice of the peace, in the real estate business. From this period he began to rise and in 1882, before having reached his majority, he was elected chairman of the Democratic county convention, and turned down an appointment, under Governor Glick, because, he had aspirations to become postmaster in Concordia. In 1884 he was elected a delegate to the national convention and also a member of the Democratic central committee, with which body he is still identified and has been secretary of for twelve years. This body comprises five counties. He became a candidate for postmaster in 1885 and, succeeding a hard fight, which continued through eleven months, Mr. Pepperell was placed in official position, under President Cleveland's first administration, and served with marked satisfaction for three years. Being among the following who believe "to the victor belongs the spoils," Mr. Pepperell resigned, under President McKinley's reign, six months prior to the expiration of his term. He was again chosen a delegate to the National convention that convened in 1892 and nominated ex-President Cleveland the second time. No better evidence of the efficient service he gave the people could be given than his second appointment to the position of postmaster in 1893, with virtually no opposition, and held the office another four years. His popularity among political circles is shown by repeated gifts of the people and those in office. July 1, 1898, he was appointed a director of the penitentiary by Governor Leedy and filled that office one and a half years. Mr. Pepperell also has an enviable fraternal record. He has been through all the chairs of the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and has been a delegate to the grand lodge for sixteen consecutive years, without missing a session.
In December, 1886, Mr. Pepperell was married to Miss Josephine Paradis, a popular Concordia young woman. Mrs. Pepperell is receiver for the auxiliary department of the Ancient Order of United Workmen for the state of Kansas. They are the parents of one son, William Earl, aged fourteen, who has a fine school record. Since he began his school career his report cards have ranked first in every instance but two; in these they ranked second. Mr. Pepperell's parents are both deceased, his father dying in 1897 and his mother in 1884. They died in Grand Junction, where they settled upon coming to America. He has two older brothers, Thomas L. and Andrew, and one sister, Mrs. Sarah Jane Mannering. Mr. Pepperell has continued in the real estate business through his political career and has been exceptionally successful; large sums of money are placed through his agency and he is entrusted to the management of extended interests. He represents several of the leading insurance companies, and whoever gives Mr. Pepperell their patronage is sure of courteous and careful consideration - the key to his success and popularity. No citizen has done more for the upbuilding of Concordia than he. No project is promoted that he is not a conspicuous figure and he has conducted the politics very acceptably to the Democracy of Cloud county.
Transcribed from E.F. Hollibaugh's Biographical history of Cloud County, Kansas biographies of representative citizens. Illustrated with portraits of prominent people, cuts of homes, stock, etc. [n.p., 1903] 919p. illus., ports. 28 cm.
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