Pages 403-404, 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.


Frances Wilson



MISS FRANCES WILSON—Fifteen years of public service is sufficient to establish the good name of the person whose name introduces this review. It is an ample guaranty of all the elements which constitute integrity, truth and sobriety and these qualities are little more than an apology for the real attributes which enter into the mental composition of Allen County's lady Treasurer.

Frances Wilson was born in Allen County after the war of the Rebellion. Her father, James H. Wilson, a worthy farmer of Iola township, came into the county near the close of 1863 to take up his residence permanently. He drove the Leavenworth, Lawrence and Humboldt stage, but upon leaving this employ he arranged with O'Brien, Scott and Amsden to care for their cattle around about Humboldt. He became so attached to the country that when his period of service as a cattle man was terminated he decided to remain here and engaged in farming. In the spring of 1866 he resided on the Neosho River (on the Willenburg farm) where his daughter and second child was born. He has vibrated between Iola and Humboldt townships in these thirty-five years, finally becoming a fixture of the latter.

Mr. Wilson was born in Gurnsey County, Ohio, August 3, 1836, and is a son of Enos Wilson, a native of Maryland. The latter, with his wife, went into Ohio early and died when James was a small child. An uncle took the orphaned boy with the intention of bringing him up but he, too, died and the boy, at the age of six years, was forced to provide the greater part of his means of support. He got little chance to prepare himself along educational lines for the battles of life, as he became a farm hand from the first and remained one until he left Ohio. In 1854 he went to Champaign County, Illinois, and was engaged in farming until his entry into Kansas during the war period. In August, 1863, he was married to Rebecca J., a daughter of John Ellis, a native of Indiana.

Immediately after his marriage Mr. Wilson emigrated to Kansas. He took the boat at St. Louis for Lawrence and left that place on the last stage out before the guerrillas sacked the town. Their baggage containing all


their personal effects were destroyed and thus they entered Allen County.

George, Frances and Samuel Wilson are the children of James H. Wilson. The former is an employee of the Santa Fe Railway Company, the last named is a progressive young farmer of Iola township, and Frances is the subject of this brief sketch.

"Frankie" Wilson is known to every tax-payer in Allen County. She began getting acquainted with them away back in the regime of "Pap" H. H. Hayward, for whom she engaged as a clerk in 1886. She was not specially equipped for such a responsible place but the good old man gave her a chance and that was what she desired. She had attended the schools of her district and advanced far enough to have become a "common school graduate" had that ceremony been established in her day. In the Treasurer's office her first years were those of a student. The numerous details of the office she set out earnestly to master and before her preceptor retired from office she knew them perfectly. When Mr. Cunningham took charge of the office he retained Miss Wilson as his deputy. This movement was in full accord with the sentiment of the public for she was even then regarded as necessary to the perfect and systematic conduct of the office. Having served through this term, the public was again gratified to learn that Mr. Nelson had arranged to keep her with him through his administration of the office. The same sincere service was rendered to him as was to his successor. Mr. Decker, through both of whose regime she was all but the chief of the office. In all clerical matters pertaining to the conduct of the affairs of the office Miss Wilson was reliable almost to infallibility. Her natural modest and retiring disposition coupled with her capacity and ability as an accountant made her a favorite with her predecessors and, when the time for the nomination of a new Treasurer approached, she was the favorite with the people.

Women seldom become politicians, save in Kansas. The calling is honorable when engaged in in response to a universal and enthusiastic outburst of the people. Her campaign for the nomination for County Treasurer was not a campaign. When it was known that she would serve in that capacity she was the nominee. People like to support their friends for office and she was everybody's friend.

When the convention was called she had been named in the primaries and all that was left was the formal announcement of the result. The election was almost as pronouncedly in favor of her. Her majority greatly exceeded the normal Republican majority in the county. She was installed October 9, 1900 and chose for her deputy one of the most popular men of the 20th Kansas, Lewis Coffield.

It is a fact that criticism is one of the penalties of success. In the brief review of the life of our subject there seems to have been nothing but success, yet there is not in all Allen county one who would be warranted in engaging in other than favorable criticism of her years of public service. No person in public life in Allen county has so unanimously won the good will and confidence of the whole people as she, and no person, whether in public or private life, so richly deserves such unreserved endorsement and approval.

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