EDWARD S. W. DROUGHT. - For practically a half a century Major E. S. W. Drought has been a prominent and influential citizen of the state of Kansas, and the years have told the story of an eminently successful career, the same being due to unusual executive ability, ambition and persistent determination. The Major gained distinction as a gallant and faithful soldier in the Civil war, and he has represented Wyandotte county, Kansas, in the State Legislature for a period of six years. No movement projected for the good of the commonwealth has ever failed of his heartiest support, and in all the relations of life he has so conducted himself as to win the unalloyed regard of all with whom he has come in contact.
Major E. S. W. Drought, of Kansas City, Kansas, was born at St. Phillips, province of Montreal, Canada, on the 19th of November, 1843. He is the son of Frederick William and Mary Ann (Barry) Drought, both of whom were born in Ireland, the former in Kings county and the latter in county Cork. His father, Frederick William Drought, was an officer in the English Navy. In 1833 his ship was laid up at New Orleans for repairs. He there met Miss Mary Ann Barry and they were married in 1836. Mary Ann Barry had come to this country with her family as a child. The first member of her family to come was Commodore John Barry, of Revolutionary fame, first commodore of the United States Navy. On his father's side Major Drought traces his ancestry back to one of three brothers who went from Brittany, France, to Ireland, and who were prominent soldiers of Cromwell's army. His mother's people were originally from Normandy, France, and they moved to Ireland at an early date. To Mr. and Mrs. Frederick W. Drought were born eight children, of whom the subject of this review was the fourth in order of birth, he being the only one living in 1911. The father was summoned to life eternal in 1889, at which time he had attained to the great age of one hundred and one years, three months and twenty days, and the devoted wife and mother passed away in 1859, at forty-three years of age. When a child of but four years of age the parents of Major Drought moved from Canada to Racine county, Wisconsin, and, later, in March, 1858, to Leavenworth county, Kansas, and thence to Wyandotte county, Kansas, in 1870.
Edward S. W. Drought was a lad of but seventeen years of age at the time of the breaking out of the Civil war, but he immediately became fired with enthusiasm for the cause of the Union. In 1860 he went to Colorado but returned in the fall, and in the spring of 1861 he enlisted as a soldier in the Union army, becoming a member of William's Mounted Rifles. One year later he was transferred to the Fifth Kansas Cavalry, serving in that department of the army until August, 1864, at which time he was mustered out of service, at Fort Leavenworth. In 1864 he organized a force of men and took a herd of one thousand, seven hundred and forty cattle from Kansas to Fort Sumner, New Mexico. His main object in doing this was to go with thirty of the men to Old Mexico to fight the French. While waiting for a guide in Mexico, however, they were disbanded by order of the government and in March, 1865, reached home. He was afterwards connected with a force which was to storm Petersburg, Virginia, but the war closed before this feat could be accomplished. Thereafter Major Drought was on guard at Washington, D. C., for several months, at the expiration of which he returned to his old home in Kansas, where he opened a general store, the same being located at Salina. He also entered a tract of eighty acres of land in Saline county and he continued to conduct his store until September, 1867, at which time he received the appointment as post trader at Fort Larnard, Kansas. He was connected with the latter position until November, 1869, and he then returned to Leavenworth, Kansas, where he remained until the following spring, when he removed to Wyandotte county. After engaging in farming and stock raising in this section of the state for a time he was elected to the position of county sheriff, which he filled with the utmost efficiency from 1871 to 1875. Before his term as sheriff had expired, however, he was honored by his fellow citizens with election to the position of county treasurer, of which important office he was incumbent for the ensuing four years. He was then elected to represent Wyandotte county in the state legislature, in which he served for six years and in which he made an admirable record. He was assigned to membership on important committees of the house and was a faithful and earnest worker in the deliberations of both the floor and committee room.
In 1887 Major Drought was appointed superintendent of construction for the Kansas City stock yards and he built the first Exchange building, which he has just finished wrecking since the new one has been completed. Major Drought has been consulting engineer in Mexico and the United States, having done a lot of engineering work in Onondago county, New York, and in the state of Arkansas. In 1885 he organized a company under the statutes of Kansas and made the surveys and locations of the Kansas City, Wyandotte & North-Western Railroad, from Kansas City to Beatrice, Nebraska, using over fifty thousand dollars of his own capital to get it started. In the following year he carried the bonds of the road to Wyandotte county and commenced the construction of the road under the reorganization. About this time he was engaged in the construction of some of the most substantial buildings of Kansas City, among them being the court house and numerous business blocks.
Major Drought was the organizer of the military company in Wyandotte county, Kansas, which was known as the Drought Rifles and which was uniformed much the same as the New York Seventh Regiment. He kept this company up for four or five years, at a great personal expense, and during General Grant's visit here it acted as his body guard, this being directly against the orders of Governor St. John. Although General Grant had not seen Major Drought for a number of years he recognized him again and they became great friends. Major Drought has been in command of men since earliest youth, his affability and personal magnetism making him a splendid leader.
Major Drought has been twice married, his first union having been to Miss Emma Colby and the date of the ceremony being the 1st of January, 1867. This marriage was prolific of four children, namely, Jessie, Phillip E., Carlotta and Margaret. Mrs. Drought was summoned to eternal rest in June, 1896, and subsequently the Major wedded Miss Eleanor Morris, of Leavenworth, Kansas. There have been no children born to the latter marriage.
In politics Major Drought is aligned as a stalwart in the ranks of the Republican party, in the local councils of which he has ever been a most active factor. He has held many important offices of public trust and responsibility, as noted in a previous paragraph, and in each of them he has acquitted himself with all of honor and distinction. In a fraternal way he has passed through the circle of York Rite Masonry, holding membership in Wyandotte Lodge, No. 3, Ancient, Free and Accepted Masons; Wyandotte Chapter, No. 6, Royal Arch Masons; and Ivanhoe Commandery, No. 21, Knights Templars. In his religious faith he is a member of the Episcopal church. Major Drought is one of the essentially representative citizens of Kansas City and he is a man of fine mental caliber and broad human sympathy. He is liberal in thought and deed, is tolerant of others' opinions and sensibilities and it may be said of him that the list of his friends in coincident with that of his acquaintances.
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