James Dew Joseph, banker and financier, of Whitewater, was born at Centerville, Tyler county, West Virginia, Dec. 15, 1863, a son of James and Nancy (Conaway) Joseph. Among his early American ancestors was Thomas Conaway, a native of County Fermanagh, Ireland, who served as a soldier under General Braddock in the French and Indian war, and later took part in the Revolution which resulted in the independence of the United States. One of his descendants, Rev. Charles Conaway, resides at Fairmount, W. Va. Waitman F. Joseph, the grandfather of James D., was a Kansas pioneer. He married Sarah Cox, a member of the famous Cox family, to which Attorney-General Cox, of West Virginia, and the late Dudley Evans, of Brooklyn, N. Y., president of the Wells Fargo Express Company, belonged. (See sketch of William I. Joseph.)
James D. Joseph was reared on his father's farm until seventeen years of age, when he taught his first school. Soon after that he entered the normal school at Fairmount, W. Va., where he graduated with the highest honors of his class. Subsequently he took a post-graduate course in geology and astronomy. After completing the course in the normal school he taught school, raised tobacco, and worked at other occupations until he had paid off his father's debts, and in 1885 he came to Kansas. Here he taught school and farmed until 1892, when he engaged in the banking business at Whitewater, in which he has since continued. The bank which he started with a capital of about $6,000 has grown until, exclusive of real estate, it is the third largest bank in Butler county. He drafted the first bank guaranty bill ever introduced in the Kansas legislature, and was the first banker in the United States to issue denominational cashier's checks in the panic of 1907. In 1910 he was nominated for state senator by the Democrats of Butler county, and in a speech accepting the nomination said: "Away back, fourteen years ago, I wrote the first guaranty bill ever before the Kansas legislature. I had struggled for years to get it that far along. When once in the house the truths it contained, the principle upon which it was founded, helped to fight its battles. I have lived to see the principles of that law engrafted upon the statute books of Kansas . . . . The state guaranty law of Kansas is my sweetheart, and I am for itand when I am for it I am for you, and if you vote for it you will vote for me. That is the philosophy of the situation, and that is why I am here."
In 1903 Mr. Joseph organized the Whitewater Telephone Company, with a paid up capital of about $60,000, for the benefit of the farmers and villagers of Butler county, and he has stood by the institution, giving of his time and money to make it useful to his fellow citizens. As vice-president of the Eighth district, Kansas State Bankers' Association, he wrote and published a pamphlet entitled "Monetary Reform," in opposition to the central bank plan as proposed by Senator Aldrich of Rhode Island. Referring again to the denominational checks issued by Mr. Joseph, it is worthy to note that he ordered from his correspondent, the First National Bank of Kansas City, Mo., this form of credit, and received the following letter, dated Oct. 29, 1907:
"Dear Mr. Joseph: We wish to thank you for your letter of the 28th inst. You are entitled to be called 'A Captain of Finance,' and your head is working all right. We are sending you tonight cashier's checks, issued to bearer, as many as we can prepare, equal in amounts to $5,000, and will send you the balance tomorrow. Again thanking you for the suggestion, we remain, yours truly, C. G. Hutchinson."
This letter shows the estimation placed by other bankers on his judgment and his ability to grasp situations when emergencies arise. It is due to this judgment and ability, as well as to his energy and systematic manner of conducting business, that Mr. Joseph owes his success in financial matters. In addition to the banking interests at Whitewater, he is the owner of valuable farm lands in Harvey county. On March 3, 1892, Mr. Joseph married Miss Mary Nieman and they have two childrenDonald and Marion. The son graduated in the Whitewater high school as a member of the class of 1911, and is now a student in the Kansas University. The daughter is a student in the Whitewater high school. She is of a literary turn of mind, and though only thirteen years of age has written several sketches and poems, one of which was published recently in the St. Nicholas Magazine.Pages 480-481 from volume III, part 1 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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