Archibald B. Kirkwood, general manager of the Wear Coal Company and president of the Standard Mercantile Company, Pittsburg, Kansas, is one of the most practical business men and coal operators as well as most successful in the state of Kansas. Energy, industry and quickness of action have brought him from the humblest position in the coal mining industry to the highest, and he is a fine type of the man who finds his opportunities at hand, whatever his occupation, and rises to the top. He has been identified with the coal industry since the age of thirteen years, and the subsequent thirty years have been filled with well directed labor and have brought him to the important position which he now holds in the commercial and industrial activities of Pittsburg and this part of Kansas.
Mr. Kirkwood was born at Lonaconing, Allegany county, Maryland, in 1859, a son of John and Rachel (Gibb) Kirkwood. His father was born in Glasgow, Scotland, whence he emigrated as a young man to the United States, locating in Maryland. He was a practical coal miner, reared to the trade in his native country, and came to this country to find a larger field of operations. About 1862 he brought his family west and located at Fairbury, Livingston county, Illinois, where he opened and operated the second coal mine of that town, conducting it under the name of the Central Coal Company. He was a successful coal operator there until the late eighties, and then came to the coal fields of Kansas. He was assistant superintendent of the Osage Coal Company at Scranton for some time, and in 1893 came to Pittsburg, where his son Archibald had previously located. His death occurred in this city, but his wife survives him and is still living in this place. She was also born in Scotland.
Archibald B. Kirkwood attended school in Fairbury, Illinois, but at the age of thirteen entered the coal mines. He began with the occupation of keeping trap door, later drove mules, was then a practical coal digger, and from that came through all the positions of pit boss, mine foreman, superintendent, up to his present important place as general manager of a number of large mines. There is nothing about a mine of which he does not have a thorough practical working knowledge.
In 1880 Mr. Kirkwood left Fairbury and went to Montana, where he was a sub-contractor in the construction of the Big Horn tunnel on the Northern Pacific Railroad, in Custer county, where he remained nine months. He then came to Carbondale, Osage county, Kansas, where the coal mines were just then beginning to be of some importance. He became mine foreman for the Kansas Carbon Coal Company, which was the coal department of the old Kansas Pacific Railroad. From there he went to Scranton, in the same county, and was made foreman for the Osage Mining Company, the coal department of the Santa Fe Railroad. While in that mining region he first met Mr. Frank E. Wear, with whom he later became associated in the mining business. Mr. Kirkwood remained at Scranton until 1888, and then went to work for Mr. Wear at Liberal, Missouri, where they leased and operated a mine. They were there two years, thence went to Minden, Missouri, where they opened up the No. 1 mine, known as the "Sunshine." In the meantime, in 1890, the Wear Coal Company had been organized, and in 1891 Mr. Kirkwood came to Pittsburg as superintendent of the mine which they had opened. In 1900 he was elected general manager of all the coal mines of the Wear Coal Company, which include nine mines in the Pittsburg coal district, and a number of other mines at Collinsville, Oolagah and Poteau, Indian Territory, and mines in Arkansas and Missouri. They employ about eleven hundred men in the Pittsburg district alone. Mr. Kirkwood is a stockholder in the Wear Coal Company, of which F. E. Wear is president, T. G. Wear, vice president, and N. S. Wear, secretary.
Mr. Kirkwood is president of the Standard Mercantile Company of Pittsburg, which operates here in Pittsburg what is said to be the largest department store in Kansas. Its trade in 1903 amounted to over three hundred and sixty thousand dollars. The company was organized in 1899 to succeed the mercantile establishments of the Wear Coal Company and the Kansas and Texas Coal Company. The store occupies the largest commercial building in Pittsburg, a two-story brick and stone structure, with a frontage of one hundred feet on Broadway and one hundred and twenty-five feet on Seventh street, and is modern and well equipped in every particular. The company also has a store in Minden, Missouri.
Mr. Kirkwood affiliates with the Masonic blue lodge, chapter, council and commandery at Pittsburg, and with Ararat Temple of the Mystic Shrine at Kansas City; is also a member of the lodge of the Elks, the United Commercial Travelers, the Independent Order of Red Men and the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He was married at Windsor, Illinois, March 30, 1880, to Miss Ida M. Bowman, and they have three children: Ray N., who is wife of Dr. Robert B. Gibbs, of Pittsburg; Miss Edna and Roy.Pages 392-396 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Carolyn Ward, in November, 2003.
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