CHARLES L. BROKAW. - The ancestral history of this representative citizen of Wyandotte county is one of the interesting order and touches closely and prominently the annals of the nation in the Colonial era. He has been an influential figure in connection with financial affairs in Kansas City, the metropolis of the county, for nearly a quarter of a century and is one of the well known and popular representatives of banking interests in the state. He holds the responsible office of cashier of the Commercial National Bank of Kansas City and the upbuilding of this solid and important institution has been signally conserved by his careful and discriminating administrative policies. His standing as a citizen and business man is such as to render specially consonant a resume of his career in this publication, dedicated to Wyandotte county and its people.
Charles Livingston Brokaw was born in Middlebush, Somerset county, New Jersey, on the 22nd of May, 1866, and is a son of Peter S. and Adaline (Brokaw) Brokaw, who were of distant kinship and both natives of New Jersey, where the respective families were founded in the Colonial days. The genealogy is traced back to Bourjon Broucard, a French Huguenot who, with many others, fled from his native land to escape the religious persecutions incident to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and who found refuge in Holland, whence he came to America and settled among the Hollanders in Harlem, New York, now an integral portion of the greater New York city. He married one of his countrywomen, Catherine LeFevre, and one of their sons was the founder of the New Jersey branch of the family. The mother of Peter S. Brokaw bore the maiden name of Johanna Van Dyne, and she was a representative of the prominent old Knickerbocker family of that name, one that gave valiant soldiers to the Continental line in the war of the Revolution. Peter S. Brokaw was reared and educated in his native state, where he became a prosperous farmer and merchant and where he continued to reside until 1870, when he removed with his family to Kansas and became one of the pioneer settlers at Somerset, Miami county, a village named in honor of his home county in New Jersey. In this place he became the first agent for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad and also the first postmaster of the town, in which he continued to reside until his death, in 1875, at the age of fifty-six years. His wife survived him by more than thirty years and passed the closing days of her life in Parkville, Missouri, where she was summoned to eternal rest in 1906, at the age of seventy-seven years and six months. Both she and her husband were zealous and consistent members of the Dutch Reformed church and in politics the father was a stanch Republican from the time of the organization of the party until his death. He was a man of sterling character and to him was ever accorded the high regard of his fellow men. Peter S. and Adaline Brokaw became the parents of eight sons and three daughters, and all of the number are still living except one daughter, who died in infancy, in 1864.
Charles L. Brokaw was four and one-half years of age at the time of the family removal to Kansas and he was reared to adult age in Miami county, to whose public schools he is indebted for his early educational training. As a youth he studied the art of telegraphy, but he did not long devote his attention to the same, as he secured a position as clerk in the Bank of Louisburg, under P. W. Goebel, at Louisburg, Miami county. He assumed this position January 1, 1884, and retained the same until 1888, after which he was similary employed at Paola, in the same county, until 1890, when he came to Wyandotte county and on the 1st of September, became paying teller in the Wyandotte National Bank. Through efficient service he won promotion to the position of assistant cashier and later to that of cashier, and of this latter office he continued incumbent until January 12, 1897, when he resigned and became associated in the organization of the Commercial State Bank of Kansas City. He was chosen cashier of the institution on the 1st of May of that year and has since retained this office, having been continued in the same after the bank was reorganized, in 1902, as the Commercial National Bank. This is one of the stanch and popular banking houses of this section of the state and its operations are based on ample capital and effective administration. As an executive officer Mr. Brokaw has shown marked discrimination and judgment and has gained prestige as one of the prominent figures in connection with banking affairs in the state, which has been his home from childhood. He has served as treasurer, secretary, vice president and president of the Kansas Bankers' Association, and this statement bears emphatic significance as showing his status in the banking circles of the state. He is a valued member of the Kansas City Mercantile Club, of which he has been president, as has he also of the Knife and Fork Club of Kansas City, Missouri. He is president of the board of trustees of Park College, at Parkville, Missouri, and is treasurer and a member of the board of trustees of Kansas City University, in his home city. He is an earnest supporter of all undertakings tending to advance the moral, social and material welfare of his home city and state and stands as a type of the model citizen, liberal, broad-minded and public-spirited.
Though never animated by aught of desire for political office, Mr. Brokaw is found aligned as a stalwart supporter of the cause of the Republican party, and both he and his wife are most zealous members of the First Presbyterian church of Kansas City, in the various departments of whose work they take an active part. He is an elder in the same and also superintendent of its Sunday School. He has been earnest and influential in connection with the Kansas State Christian Endeavor Society, of which he has served both as treasurer and president.
In the year 1888 was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Brokaw to Miss Louella Cusey, who died in June, 1891. In 1894 he wedded Miss Margaret Ursula Mayou, and they have two children, Dorothy Louise and Margaret Adaline, both of whom are attending the public schools.
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