Page 428-431, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Butler County, Kansas by Vol. P. Mooney. Standard Publishing Company, Lawrence, Kan.: 1916. ill.; 894 pgs.


M. S. Munson, now deceased, was a Butler county pioneer business man whose activities in the industrial world, perhaps, did as much to develop Butler county in the early days as any other man. M. S. Munson was born in Sheffield, Mass., July 5, 1842. He was a son of Stephen and Nancy (Nash) Munson, natives of Massachusetts, who spent their lives in that State and the old Munson homestead, which has been in the family for generations, is now owned by a brother of M. S. Munson.

The Munson family is of English descent, and they trace their ancestry back to the peerage of that country. The first record that we have of the Munson family in America is at Hartford, Conn., in 1637, where a record of Thomas Munson, who was the founder of the family in America, appeared. He was prominent in the Piquot war and a number of his descendants were conspicuous for their service in the Continental army during the Revolutionary war. Members of the Munson family have been prominent as soldiers, statesmen and professional men. Nancy Nash, the mother of Mr. Munson, was born in Connecticut, although a descendant of old Virginia stock, Governor Nash, one of the colonial governors of Virginia, having been a direct ancestor of hers.


M. S. Munson grew to manhood in his native town in Massachusets and was attending school when the Civil war broke out, and on September 22, 1862, he enlisted and on October 28, 1862, he was mustered into service as a member of Company H, Forty-ninth regiment Massachusetts infantry. He served throughout the Civil war, being located at New Orleans for a time, and his regiment was discharged and mustered out of service, September 1, 1863.

In June, 1869, he went to Chicago and later engaged in the commission business for S. P. Brownell, South Water street, Chicago, and for seven years was a member of the Board of Trade of that city. For several years he had the contract for furnishing the street car company of Chicago, of which John Lake was president at that time, with grain and hay for their horses. He first came to Kansas in 1875 in connection with his Chicago business. He came here to arrange for pasture for broken down street car horses, and was at Burlingame for a time and in 1876 operated in Council Grove, where he was buying corn for the Chicago market. In 1877 he came to Butler county and engaged in the lumber business at El Dorado in partnership with Capt. J. T. Anderson. At that time there were no railroads in Butler county and all their lumber had to be hauled from Florence. However, the railroads were built the following year and about one year later Mr. Munson bought his partner's interest and conducted the business alone until he retired. He also handled coal as well as lumber and general builders' supplies and bought grain.

In addition to his vast business enterprises he owned a farm of 640 acres in Chelsea township, where he made a specialty of raising Galloway cattle. His widow still owns this place. He exported the first car load of kafir corn ever shipped from Butler county. This was in 1900. He was also active in the introduction of alfalfa, which has proven to be one of the most profitable crops in Butler county. During his business career in Butler county, when many of the settlers were hard up, Mr. Munson sold them lumber with which to build their homes and waited for his pay. He also loaned a great deal of money to the settlers and in that way made it possible for many a poor man to get a start in life that in many instances led to the accumulation of a fortune. In his dealings he was lenient with his delinquent customers and often waited for a number of years and never foreclosed a mortgage. He had the confidence of the people and his losses from bad accounts were very few, notwithstanding the fact that he was not inclined to press his claims. He bought the land for the Santa Fe Railroad Company where the depot is now located, and it was through his efforts that the Santa Fe switch east of the depot was put in. The railroad company had been making an effort to place this switch there for several years and failed. Mr. Munson completed this piece of track one morning before breakfast, and it is still there. He was one of the right-of-way appraisers of the Orient railroad at the time of his death. He was an un-


usually successful business man. He loved horses and always kept the best. He was a close student of men and affairs. He was a thorough home man and a great reader and had a style of dry humor which sparkled with philosophy. He was a man of keen foresight and good judgment and his judgment was recognized by those who knew him, he often being called upon to arbitrate differences which arose between his acquaintances. He died October 10, 1906. The estimate in which he was held by those who knew him is best expressed in the language of Edward P. Ellett, an old friend and associate, who said of him, "He was a good fellow, a good citizen and a square man."

On April 9, 1878, M. S. Munson and Genevieve Mather were united in marriage at Council Grove, Kans. She was born in Kansas City, Mo., while her parents were temporarily residing there en route to Kansas. Mrs. Munson belongs to one of the historic pioneer families of Kansas and is a descendant of colonial ancestry. She is a daughter of J. P. and Sallie (Deming) Mather, natives of New York, the father of Jefferson county and the mother of Otsego county. The Mather family is of English descent and trace their ancestry back to the twelfth century in the mother country. This family was founded in New England, according to the first official record, in 1623, and many conspicuous members of the Mather family appear in the early history of New England, among them being Cotton Mather, a prominent figure in American literature during colonial days.

J. P. Mather and Sallie Deming were married at Spring Creek, Warren county, Pennsylvania, February 11, 1841. They lived in Erie county, Pennsylvania, and owned land on the present site of the city of Corry, making their home in that locality until 1857. The father was extensively engaged in the lumber business and rafted lumber down the Ohio river to Cincinnati for a number of years. In 1857 he had a great amount of lumber on hand, owing to his inability to run rafts on the river the two preceding years on account of low water. Being unable to sell his lumber in Cincinnati when he reached that point, he went on down the Ohio river and up the Mississippi, and after selling most of his lumber at St. Louis, he went up the Missouri river to Leavenworth, where he sold the first shingles to be sold in Kansas, and after disposing of his lumber he bought machinery for a flouring and saw mill, which he shipped from St. Louis by river transportation to Westport, which is now the site of Kansas City. He had determined to haul his mill machinery to Council Grove and build a mill near the Kaw Indiana reservation, but when he reached Westport the Border war was raging with such fierceness that he decided to remain there for a time. However, the following year, or in 1860, he continued his journey with his mill machinery and erected a mill at Council Grove, according to his plan. This was the most distant mill west located in Kansas and the third one to be built in the State, the other two being at Lawrence and Fort Scott.


The Mather mill at Council Grove on the Neosho river was a substantial three story building, built of brick, and was located near the old Kaw mission, the brick being manufactured on the east side of the river. When this mill was built it was a great wonder to the 3,000 Kaw Indians who lived on the reservation there and they called Mr. Mather Ta-poos-ka. Mr. Mather also built a twelve-room house in the vicinity of the mill, which in those days was considered a mansion. The house is still standing and is in a good state of preservation. This is one of the historic places in Kansas. Mrs. Mather, who was active in the early suffrage movement in Kansas, entertained in this house, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Kady Stanton and other prominent women of the times. J. P. Mather spent the last six years of his life in Emporia, where he died on May 8, 1905, aged ninety years, and his wife departed this life December 13, 1908, aged eighty-eight years.

To Mr. and Mrs. Munson were born the following children: Wilbur, operating the Chelsea township ranch; Elmer, also on the Chelsea township ranch; Arthur, an electrician in the employ of the Pacific Electric railway in Los Angeles, Cal.; Inez, at home, and Mahlon A., a student in Leland Stanford University, Palo Alto, Cal.

Mrs. Munson had an opportunity to observe much of the early life in Kansas, living in such close proximity to the Kaw Indian reservation, she had an opportunity to study the "Noble Red Man" in his native heath, and she has had many exciting experiences with Indians. She has seen three thousand Cheyenne redskins on the warpath, and at one time a drunken Indian came to the Mather home and threatend to scalp her, demanding $5 and some flour. Her sister covered the Indian with a revolver, whereupon the inebriated child of the forest departed. Mrs. Munson could speak the Kaw language fluently, and knows a lot about the traits of Indians. When she was a girl she owned an Indian pony and was some rider, too.

Mrs. Munson is a woman of unusual ability and takes a prominent part in the social and civic life of El Dorado and Butler county. She is a member of the W. M. B. Club and has been president and also treasurer of the local club and was the first recording secretary of the Eighth District Federation of Woman's Clubs. She was auditor of the State Federation of Woman's Clubs. She was the first to introduce civic beautifying in El Dorado, offering prizes for the best results and through her efforts the Chautauqua was established here. She is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and is a Republican.

Mrs. Munson served on the first woman's jury in the District Court of Butler county. This jury returned a verdict after three hours of deliberation on a case which had been previously tried before a jury of men who had failed to agree. Thus the theory of the dark ages that women do not agree as well as men was exploded.

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