Robert O'Neill Rizer, of Junction City, gained his first intimate knowledge of the State of Kansas during the great Civil war, and foreseeing that after the stress and turmoil of those stirring times had subsided that the state had a great future before it, he decided to be one of its citizens, and located in Junction City in 1865over forty-five years ago.
Mr. Rizer was born in Philadelphia, Pa., May 24, 1837, and is a son of Charles and Matilda M. (Babe) Rizer, the former a son of Martin Rizer, a Revolutionary patriot. These parents must have imbued their sons with the most fervent patriotic spirit, for four of them entered the service of the Union army. They were: Robert O. Rizer, a brief record of whose services are incorporated in this sketch; Dr. Martin Rizer, who served as assistant surgeon of a Philadelphia regiment, was later made brigade surgeon at Antietam, Md., and after the war was made surgeon general of the State of Illinois; Dr. Charles Rizer, who was assistant surgeon on the war steamer, "Harriet Lane"; and Daniel M. Rizer, who served as a private in a Pennsylvania regiment.
Robert O. Rizer was educated in the Philadelphia grammar schools and after leaving school was employed for a time in the office of Rowley, Ashburner & Company, a shipping firm in Philadelphia, and from 1855 to 1859 he was similarly engaged in a general store in Chicago. At the close of that employment he superintended a trading trip for John Z. A. Rollins, who outfitted an expedition of thirty wagons to go to Pike's Peak, Col. On his arrival in Denver Mr. Rizer engaged as a clerk with Toppan & Company, which firm conducted a general store there. He resigned his clerkship to enlist as a Union soldier at Denver, May 16, 1862, and was commissioned by Governor Evans, of Colorado, a second lieutenant of Capt. Seymour W. Wagoner's Company K, Second regiment Colorado infantry. The same month of his enlistment he was sent to the mountains to get recruits from the mining camps. In the spring of 1863 the regiment was ordered to march to the states under command of Lieutenant-Colonel Dodd. The command proceeded to St. Louis, Mo., and encamped at Benton Barracks, where they were supplied with horses, then ordered to Maravia. On Nov. 20, 1863, the Second infantry was consolidated with the incomplete Third infantry and formed the Second Colorado cavalry, of which Lieutenant Rizer was assigned as second lieutenant of Company I, and later was promoted to first lieutenant of Company E, to rank from July 20, 1864. June 29, 1864, he was ordered to report to Brigadier-General Brown, district of central Missouri, and served as aide-de-camp and acting assistant adjutant-general. On May 14, 1864, he was assigned to the command of the post at Lawrence, Kan., by Brigadier-General Davies, and sent with an escort of ten men to his post. On May 6, 1865, he was ordered by Major-General Dodge, headquarters department of Missouri, to report to Gen. Guy V. Henry, of South sub-district of plains, as acting assistant adjutant-general. The services of the Colorado troops were invaluable during the war in checking the Confederate plan for gaining control of the great Southwest, in holding in check the Indian tribes, and for their brilliant performances in the Indian Territory, Missouri and Kansas, and the Second Colorado cavalry took a most illustrious part in all of that work. Lieutenant Rizer bore a gallant part in all the engagements of his command during Price's invasion of Missouri, and rendered efficient and meritorious service at all times. He received his honorable discharge at Leavenworth, Kan., on Sept. 23, 1865, by reason of the close of the war.
In 1865 Mr. Rizer located at Junction City, Kan., where he became a bookkeeper for Streeter & Strickler. In 1867 he and James Streeter engaged in the banking business under the firm name of James Streeter & Company, which firm was merged, in 1870, into that of the First National Bank and which in turn was succeeded by W. B. Clarke &Company. In 1875 Mr. Rizer, with John B. Anderson, organized the Davis County Savings Bank, of which Mr. Rizer was cashier. The business of this firm was liquidated in 1877, after which the bank continned until 1880, as R. O. Rizer & Company, bankers. Since that time Mr. Rizer has been pension and claim agent at Junction City, and is general agent for the United States Fidelity & Guarantee Company, of Baltimore.
In 1865 Mr. Rizer was united in marriage to Miss Mary J. Keith, of Denver, Col., and to them were born ten children, five of whom are living: Henrietta, who is the wife of F. B. Gaylord, a sketch of whom appears elsewhere in this volume; Josephine, Blanche, and Edna, all of whom reside with their parents; and Mary Theresa, who is the wife of Fred Durand, assistant cashier of the First National Bank at Junction City. Mr. Rizer has held numerous official positions, having been city clerk two terms; mayor of Junction City three terms; treasurer of Geary county two terms; and has been United States pension claim attorney for many years. Two of his personal friends were Kit Carson and General Harney, the former of whom Mr. Rizer had entertained at his home. Another familiar Kansas figure was "Wild Bill" Hickok, who lived near Mr. Rizer several years. When Mr. Rizer was mayor of Junction City, several cowboys from Abilene were coming to shoot up Junction City in revenge for one of their number having been injured in a fight there. Mayor Rizer appointed "Wild Bill" marshall of Junction City for one day and he, single handed, rode out some five miles from the town and induced the cowboys to return to Abilene. Mr. Rizer is a member of Junction City Post, No. 132, Department of Kansas, Grand Army of the Republic, in which he has filled all the offices and has served a second term as commander; was aide-de-camp on the staff of Gen. Corporal Tanner, commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic; and served on the National flag committee. He is also a member of the Loyal Legion.Pages 748-750 from volume III, part 2 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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