Pages 753-755, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




WALTER J. AGNEW is a young man of enterprising spirit, progressive, energetic and wide-awake to possibilities in business and to the opportunities of life in general. He is numbered among the native sons of Kansas and is a representative of one of the leading families of this portion of the state. He was born in Anderson County, November 8, 1866, and is a son of the late honored citizen of Center township, Woodson County—William Agnew—who was born in County Down, Ireland, near the city of Belfast, February 29, 1832. At the age of twelve years he was left an orphan. In his father's family there were six children, of whom the surviving members are: Joseph, a resident of Rice County, Kansas; Mary, widow of Fred Brown, of Montreal, Canada, and Jennie, who is living in Glasgow, Scotland. After the death of his parents William Agnew resided with a Mr. Moffett, his maternal uncle, until sixteen years of age, when he resolved to try his fortune in America. He came alone to this country and during his early residence in the United States remained in New York. He afterward became a farm hand in Pennsylvania and later in Ohio and thus he acquired a start in life,


gaining the nucleus of the handsome competence which he afterward acquired.

Upon his return to America after a visit to the Emerald Isle in 185—, Mr. Agnew at once came to Kansas, locating at Garnett, Anderson County. Not long afterward he was followed by the lady whom he wedded—Miss Mary Jane Gregg—and after their marriage they settled upon a homestead claim in that county. Mr. Agnew giving his attention to the improvement of his property and the cultivation of his fields until after the inauguration of the Civil war, when he offered his services to the government, enlisting as a member of Company G, Twelfth Kansas infantry. His command served in Arkansas and Missouri and he remained in the army for three and a half years loyally aiding his adopted country in her struggle to preserve the Union. He was mostly engaged in guard duty but participated in a number of skirmishes and minor engagements. When hostilities had ceased and the country no longer needed his aid he received an honorable discharge and returned to his home in Anderson County, where he continued his farming operations until 1871, when he removed to Franklin County. In 1873 he came to Woodson County and purchased a quarter section of land on Owl creek. The land was in its primitive condition as shaped by the hand of nature, and with his usual energy and resolute purpose he began the development and improvement of the fields, which he transformed into rich tracts. At the time of his death he had made the farm one of the most productive and attractive in this part of the state.

In his political views Mr. Agnew was a stalwart Republican and his fellow townsmen, recognizing his ability called him to the office of township trustee, in which he served for several terms. He was prominent in local political circles and was usually a delegate to the county conventions of his party where his opinions carried weight, as his judgment was known to be sound and reliable. He died December 19th., 1891, and his wife passed away on the 20th. of February, 1896. Their children were: William F., of Woodson County; Walter Jr.; Elizabeth J. and Rosa M.

Walter J. Agnew secured his preliminary education in the district schools and supplemented it by study in Sanders' Normal, at Fort Scott, Kansas. He was trained to the work of the farm in his youth, and on attaining his majority became associated with his father in business. He has always resided on the old homestead farm, and continued his business connection with his father until the latter's death. He has since managed the property and the well tilled fields and thrifty appearance of the place indicates his careful supervision and commendable business methods.

On the 29th. of December, 1897, Mr. Agnew was married to Miss Anna E. Bigelow, a daughter of Edwin W. and Margaret (McGavran) Bigelow, who came to Kansas in February, 1882, from Dupont, Indiana.


Her father was born in Clinton County, New York, and died in Woodson County, Kansas, at the age of sixty years. His children are: Edwin T., of Smithfield, Nebraska; Ray, wife of G. W. Simpson, of Council Grove, Kansas; William M., of Hoyt, this state; L. C., of Beckhan, Oklahoma; Charles H., of Elwood, Nebraska; Mrs. Agnew, and Nelson L. and Margaret, both of Woodson County. One child graces the union of Mr. and Mrs. Agnew, Clarence Eugene, who was born April 8, 1899, and is the light and joy of the household. The Republican party receives the endorsement of Walter Agnew through his ballot at the polls, and he keeps well informed on the issues of the day, but does not seek office, as his time is occupied with his farming interests, whereby he is acquiring a gratifying measure of success. The family is one of prominence in the community, honored and respected for the possession of qualities of sterling worth.

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