JAMES McGREW. - It was given to James McGrew to wield a large and beneficial influence in connection with the development and upbuilding of the state of Kansas, and his identification with its history was such as to reflect lasting honor upon his memory as one of the sterling pioneers of his commonwealth. He was a man of broad mental grasp and exalted integrity of character, and, well equipped for leadership in thought and action, he used his powers in behalf of the civic and material progress of the state and especially of Wyandotte county, which was his home for more than half a century. Any history of this county or of the state itself would stultify its consistency were their failure to take due cognizance of the life and labors of "Governor" McGrew, as he was familiarly known and affectionately designated by the people of the state. He attained to patriarchal years and was in excellent health until a few days prior to his demise, which occurred at his home in McGrew's Grove, on Quindaro boulevard, Kansas City, on the 19th of January, 1911. Thus, at the venerable age of eighty-eight years, eleven months and twenty-three days, there passed away one of the last of a striking group of men who were most influential in shaping the history of the Sunflower state.
James McGrew was born in Adams county, Pennsylvania, on the 26th of January, 1822, and he received his early education in the schools of that state. He accompanied his parents on their removal to Ohio and later to Indiana, and was twenty-two years of age at the time when he came with them to the west. His father was numbered among the pioneer settlers on the Sac and Fox Indian reservation in Iowa, where he took up his residence in the year 1844, and in that state the parents passed the residue of their lives. The subject of this memoir eventually engaged in the general merchandise business at Lancaster, Keokuk county, Iowa, where he remained until September, 1857, when he came to Wyandotte county, Kansas, where he continued to maintain his home until his death. Concerning this movement and subsequent activities on his part the following statements were made in a Kansas City paper at the time of his death and are worthy of perpetuation in this article: "In September, 1857, while the late Thomas H. Swope and a party of eastern 'boomers' were organizing the old city of Wyandotte, Mr. McGrew found the place to engage in trade. He was a free-state man and took an active interest in the shaping of the affairs of the territory of Kansas, as a member of the territorial legislature in 1859 and 1860, and he was also a member of the first state senate after Kansas had been admitted to the Union. He was elected to this office in 1862. In the campaign in Kansas in 1864 there were two Republican state tickets in the field. Mr. McGrew was the nominee for lieutenant governor on the regular Republican ticket, and he defeated Hon. John J. Ingalls for this office by about four thousand votes, his antagonist having been the candidate on the Union Republican ticket. Mr. McGrew served his term with Samuel J. Crawford, the war governor of Kansas."
It should be stated further that as lieutenant governor Mr. McGrew was fearless and loyal in his efforts to maintain peace and order during the climacteric period of the Civil war, when the state was rent by conflicting elements and was the stage of bitter political and personal animosities. He was identified with various lines of enterprise in Wyandotte county for many years after the war and ever held a secure place in the confidence and esteem of the people of the state that so long represented his home. His co-operation was given in support of all measures and undertakings tending to advance the general welfare of the state and the splendid resources of a resolute and sterling personality were ever given in support of wise economic and governmental policies. He continued to be a stanch advocate of the principles of the Republican party until the close of his life. He lived up to the full tension of the pioneer epoch in the history of the west and was well fortified for the burdens and responsibilities incidental to the same.
Mr. McGrew was twice married. He first married Miss Mary Doggett, of Keokuk county, Iowa, and she was summoned to the life eternal in 1866. For his second wife Governor McGrew married Miss Lydia Slaven, of Alliance, Stark county, Ohio, and she survives him, as do also the following children: Henry, an attorney and representative business man of Kansas City, Kansas, is individually mentioned on other pages of this publication; Josephine is the wife of Henry H. Smalley, of Springfield, Missouri; Louise is the wife of Thomas S. Moffett, of Kansas City, Missouri; Grace is the wife of Captain William F. Clarke, of the United States army, residing in Kansas City, Kansas; and Miss Mary also resides in this city, in the beautiful family homestead in which the father passed the last years of his long and useful life.
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