GEORGE L. BANKS GRAVESTONE PHOTO
From History of Montgomery County, Kansas, By Its Own People, published by L. Wallace Duncan, Iola, Kansas, 1903, pgs. 468-470:
Banks—To one not in love with nature unadorned, citizenship on the frontier is
uninteresting and monotonous indeed. The absence of stir and the whirl of
business, the unbroken solitude of days and the primitive and rude
accommodations of the settler, all had a tendency to depress and weaken one’s
intentions, and but for the determination and the hope that springs eternal in
the human breast, discouragements and then desertion would have depopluated
Southern Kansas in a decade after the Civil war. But privations were
endured -- now looked upon as blessings – and other difficulties were
surmounted and the versatile and tenacious pioneer laid the foundation and
erected the superstructure for one of the great and prosperous states of the
American union. No man’s work alone did this, but the efforts of the
aggregate, the great whole, brought about a result of which their posterity may
well be proud. During the last years of the pioneer period in Montgomery
county many men, yet its citizens, cast their lot here with and participated in
the final acts in the shaping of its internal and civilian affairs.
Modestly, yet energetically, connected with this particular era, was George L.
Banks, of this review, the pioneer widely known settler of Fawn Creek township.
He established himself in the county in May, 1871, and was for fifteen years an
active and patriotic devotee to the agricultural and political interests of the
same. With the exception of six years, when he was absent from the state,
that interest has scarcely lessened in intensity in thirty-two years.
Mr. Banks is one
of Lake county, Ohio’s native sons, and was born October 13, 1839. His
parents, Orin and Olive (Brown) Banks, were natives of Scoharrie county, New
York, and born the father January 25, 1803, and the mother March 12, 1805.
They were married in 1823, and settled in Lake county, Indiana, in 1845 and
stopped, first, in LaPorte county. They passed their lives as country
people, were upright Christian folk and were thrifty as farmers of their time.
They died in Lake county, Indiana, the father October 29, 1857, and the mother
January 27, 1887. The Banks were Scotch-Irish origin and the Browns of
English lineage. The parents both belonged to old families of the east and
reared a large family of children, as follows: Charles, of Salina, Kansas;
Elisha, of McPherson county, Kansas; Parley, of Lake county, Indiana; Mary C.,
wife of Simon White, of LaPorte county, Indiana; George L., of this notice;
Nathaniel P., of Lake county, Indiana; Sarah L., wife of W. B. Adams of
Montgomery county, Kansas.
George L. Banks
spent his youth and early manhood in LaPorte county, Indiana, and had the
advantage of a good country school education. The Civil war came on just
after he had reached his majority, and was concerned with the serious affairs of
peace, but he enlisted, June 6, 1861, in Company “C”, 15th Inf. under Col.
Geo. D. Wagner. The regiment was ordered at once into the field and it
took part in the battles of Greenbriar and Elk Water that same year. As
the war progressed it participated in the battles of Shiloh, Perryville, Stone
River and Missionary Ridge, where Mr. Banks was wounded, and rendered unfit for
service for some weeks. During his later active service he was in battle
at Charleston and Dandridge, Tennessee. He was discharged from the army
June 25, 1864. In 1897, he received from the Secretary of War a medal of
bronze, appropriately engraved and inscribed in commemoration of distinguished
service while in the line of duty. Engraved on the face of the medal is:
to Color Sergeant George L. Banks, 15th Indiana Infantry,
at Missionary Ridge, Tennessee, November 25, 1863.”
The letter from
the Secretary of War notifying Mr. Banks of the honor accorded him and
announcing the issuing of the medal states the specific acts of gallantry and is
herewith made a part of this record:
MEDAL OF HONOR.
Washington, D. C. Sept. 21, 1897.
George L. Banks,
Esq. – Independence, Kansas.
hereby notified that by direction of the President and under the provisions of
the Act of Congress approved March 3, 1963, providing for the presentation of
medals of honor to such officers, non-commissioned officers and privates as have
most distinguished themselves in action, a Congressional Medal of Honor has this
day been presented to you for most distinguished gallantry in action, the
following being a statement of the particular service: At Missionary
Ridge, November 25, 1863, this soldier, then a Color Sergeant, 15th, Indiana
Vols., in the assault, led his regiment, calling upon his comrades to follow,
and near the summit he was wounded and left behind insensible, but having
recovered consciousness rejoined the advance, again took the flag and carried it
forward to the enemy’s works, where he was again wounded. In the brigade
of eight regiments the flag of the 15th Indiana was the first planted on the
The medal will
be forwarded to you by registered mail as soon as it shall have been engraved.
Respectfully, R. A. Alger, Secretary of War.
After the war,
Mr. Banks resumed farming in Indiana and continued it with a fair measure of
success ‘till his departure for the broad prairies and the pure air of Kansas,
in the spring of 1871. Matters were in a formative state of Montgomery
county and he aided in organizing, and was the first clerk of school district
No. 91, and the school house was named “The Banks School House” in his
honor. He entered and patented a piece of land and was occupied with its
improvement ‘till December, 1886, when he disposed of it and transferred his
residence to Angola, Indiana, where he became the proprietor of a hotel.
Remaining there only a short time he removed to Camden, Hillsdale county,
Michigan, where he resided six years, returning thence to Montgomery county,
Kansas. From 1892 to 1895, he was a resident of Independence, and
the latter year moved out to his farm in section 8, township 33, range 15, where
he owns one hundred and sixty acres. He owns an eighty in section 17, and
is regarded one of the successful and reliable farmers of his county.
October 9, 1864,
Mr. Banks was united in marriage with Olive W. Chandler, a daughter of Thomas P.
and Betsy (Woodmanse) Chandler, of Vermont. Mrs. Banks was born at
Caledonia, Vermont, August 25, 1842 and died December 12, 1902. She was
her husband’s companion for thirty-eight years and bore his three sons:
William N., Charles B. and Arthur A., all honorable young men of Montgomery
Bank’s political action has been exercised in the ranks of the Republican
party. He has ever manifested a good citizen’s interest in local, state
and national affairs and his face has been a familiar one in local gatherings of
his party. He filled all the offices of Fawn Creek township. He is
prominent in the State Grand Army and is commander of the Southeast Kansas
Association of old soldiers. He belongs to the subordinate lodge
Independent Order of Odd Fellows. He is a member of the A. H. T. A.
Contributed by Mrs. Maryann Johnson a Civil war researcher and a volunteer in the Kansas Room of the Independence Public Library, Independence, Kansas.