Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p., [155] leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.

William Foley

WILLIAM FOLEY, who came to Southwestern Kansas in the spring of 1885, is in point of continuous service one of the oldest contractors and builders in this section of the state. His home and much of his work through these years have been in Dodge City.

On coming to the state in March, 1885, Mr. Foley had no definite prospects or plans. He traveled about considerably before locating and he entered a pre-emption in Hodgeman County. He finally proved up on this claim, erected upon it his first Kansas home, a small two-room frame structure. Here he tried farming, breaking up the sod and for a couple of years his claim was his home. However he did not support himself from the land, and in the meantime entered the employ of Mr. R. P. Adams, one of the early builders at Dodge City, for whom he worked as a journeyman carpenter.

He later got into the contracting business with D. L. Sweeney, under the firm name of Sweeney & Foley. This firm handled their first large proposition in the erection of the City Hall, where the United States Land Office now is. Toward the close of the '80s the period of hard times struck Southwestern Kansas, and the firm suspended operations. Later they resumed their partnership, and the firm was continued until Mr. Sweeney was appointed deputy revenue collector of the district. This firm concerned its operations wholly within Dodge City. It is possible to identify their activities with some of the best work in the town, including the Soule College, now St. Mary's Academy, the finishing of the Averill residence, now the home of Governor Fitzgerald, the John Rath residence, and the residence on the State Forest Farm.

After Mr. Sweeney retired Mr. Foley continued contracting alone, and he has been in the business now for many years. He soon extended his work beyond the confines of Dodge City and to points all over Kansas and other states. Much of his work as a contractor has been in public buildings. Among the best of these are the high school and ward school at Abilene, schools at Beloit, Wilson, Alexander, Lebo, the first ward school and its later addition at Dodge City. He also constructed two schoolhouses at Pawhuska, Oklahoma. Further examples of his work are the court houses in Wallace County, Wichita County, Pawnee County, the last one of the best in Kansas. He erected all the buildings for the State Hospital for the Insane at Larned, and also the hospital for the Soldiers Home at Fort Dodge. Mr. Foley built the Masonic Temple in Dodge City, the Waterworks Building, the Simpson and Hoover Buildings, the Kansas State Bank Building, the Carnegie Library, the First National Bank of Spearville, and the Catholic Church at Windhorst, and he superintended the erection of the Catholic Church in Dodge City.

Mr. Foley came to Kansas from Washington County, Pennsylvania, where he was born August 14, 1861. His father, John Foley, was born in Dublin, Ireland, came to the United States when a young man, and for many years was a watchman on the old Hempfield Railway, now part of the Baltimore and Ohio systems. In time he was transferred to Wheeling, West Virginia, and he died in that city in 1880, at the age of sixty-five. He married at Pittsburg, Miss Ellen Sullivan, born near Queenstown, Ireland, and died at Washington, Pennsylvania. Their children were: Hannah, who died at Washington, Pennsylvania, unmarried; Miss Kate, housekeeper to her brother William; William; Ellen, wife of Mike Quirk, of Akron, Ohio; Michael; Lizzie, who married John Clair, of Pittsburgh, Mr. Clair being a railway engineer; and John, a railway man living at Pittsburg.

Mr. William Foley married at Trinidad, Colorado, in April 1889, Miss Emma Powell. Her father, Ira Powell, was formerly a farmer at Moundville, Missouri. Mrs. Foley, who was one of several children, died August 27, 1900, leaving two children. John who was an electrical engineer at Dodge City, joined the army as a volunteer in December, 1917, with the Engineers Corps, and is now with his company overseas in the 21st Engineers, Company N.; Kate is in the junior class of St. Mary's Academy, in this city.

Mr. Foley's political activities have only been as a voter of the democratic party, and frequently he has expressed his convictions by voting for the man rather than the party. He is a Catholic and a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security. He has invested some of his own means in improving property at Dodge City and among other holdings has his home at the corner of Fifth and Cedar streets.