It is a pleasure for the biographer to write a story of the life of a man who has arrived at the evening of life and be able to record something really worth while for the benefit of posterity. The life annals of a man who has succeeded in making a name for himself, achieving a well deserved competence, and been of some use to his community, and has arrived at the time of life when he can look back over the vista of the busy years that have passed, is interesting to a high degree. In D. C. Newcomb, pioneer merchant and patriarch, of Atchison, we find embodied that spirit of the West which enabled man to build up this great country and to achieve things of importance in the business and civic world. Mr. Newcomb loves his home city, its people and prestige and is proud of its standing among the cities of the west. He has had no small part in the up-building of Atchison, and it would have been better in the days gone by if the city had more men like him to assist its growth. Ever ready to contribute to any enterprise which might help the growth of the city, his liberality and boosting proclivities became proverbial, and it has oft been a saying of his that Atchison could just as well have been a city of fifty or sixty thousand inhabitants as to be its present size. Such men as he are of decided benefit to any community.

D. C. Newcomb, a pioneer merchant of Atchison, perhaps has had a much to do with the commercial development of Atchison County for the past half century as any other man within its borders. When Mr. Newcomb came to Atchison County in 1858 it was a difficult matter to tell whether Atchison, or its rival town, Sumner, was to be the chief town of the county. Sumner was a thriving town, but Mr. Newcomb picked Atchison as the winner and time has demonstrated that his judgement was sound. D.C. Newcomb was born in Washington County, Vermont, on Friday, July 13, 1836, and is a son of Hosea and Harriet (BIXBY) Newcomb, the former a native of New Hampshire and the latter a native of Roxbury, Mass., born in 1805. Hosea Newcomb was born in 1803 and came from a prominent New England family of English descent. The Newcomb family was founded in New England in 1635 by Francis Newcomb and his wife, who came from England and located in New England at that time. It is recorded that they made the voyage on a sailing vessel named "Planter." Hosea Newcomb, the father of D. C. was prominent in the affairs of his native town, Waitsfield, Vt., where he remained until 1859, when he came to Kansas, settling at the new town of Sumner, now extinct in Atchison County. He took an active part in the early day development of that promising frontier town and served as postmaster there. However, he returned to Vermont in 1873, where he died in 1889, at the age of eighty-six and his wife passed away March 17, 1903, age ninety-seven years, eight months and one day.

D. C. Newcomb was one of a family of five children and is now the only one living, except a sister, Mrs. Lydia M. SHEPHARD, of Minneapolis. A brother, Dan J. Newcomb, was a very early settler in Atchison County, coming here some time before D. C. arrived. He was prominent in the organization of Atchison County and was the first register of deeds of the county, D. C. serving as his deputy. D. C. Newcomb was reared in the town of Waitsfield, Vt., where he attended the public schools and later was a student at Newbury Seminary. In early life he clerked in a store at Johnson, Vt., and also clerked for a time in Montpelier, Vt. In 1858 he came to Atchison County and first landed at Sumner, but immediately went to Atchison and although the latter town was also in its early stages of development, the location impressed Mr. Newcomb so favorable that he determined to locate there. Soon after coming here he was appointed deputy register of deeds and served in that capacity for three years. He then engaged in clerking in a store, and in 1864 entered into partnership with Samuel GARD, who had been a fellow clerk of his, and they organized the firm of Gard & Newcomb and was engaged in the mercantile business. Their capital was limited, perhaps less than $2,500, but they were two industrious young men and had a reputation for honesty and square dealing, which was an important asset. Mr. Newcomb went to New York and bought a stock of goods valued at about $15,000, mostly on credit, and at the end of the first year they had paid for every dollar's worth of good which they had bought in the meantime and had a stock of about $15,000 worth on hand. The partnership arrangement continued about four years, when Mr. Newcomb purchased his partner's interest, who desired to dispose of his business on account of failing health. Mr. Newcomb continued in business alone and conducted the great Newcomb department store, the business of which developed far beyond his most fanciful dreams. Mr. Newcomb continued in the mercantile business until 1905, and for years was the leading merchant of Atchison. He sold his business to Ed LAKE, who has conducted it since 1905.

Mr. Newcomb has not only been a merchant prince in northeastern Kansas, but has been identified with the growth and development of Atchison from many standpoints. He was one of the organizers of the First National Bank and was closely identified with that financial institution for fifteen years. He served successively as director, vice-president and president, but when he went out of business he disposed of his banking interests.

Mr. Newcomb was united in marriage in 1866 with Miss Anna E., daughter of Capt. George W. BOWMAN, an early-day steamboat captain, but later engaged in the mercantile business at Atchison. He was a native of Brownsville, Pa. To Mr. and Mrs. Newcomb have been born two children: Hattie Mae, now the wife of Maj. Harry A. SMITH, U.S.A., a graduate of West Point Military Academy. During the Spanish-American War he held the rank of major in the Twenty-first Regiment, Kansas Infantry, and is now major in the Twenty-eighth Regiment. United States Infantry, doing duty on the Mexican border. To Major Smith and wife have been born two children: Newcomb, a cadet in the United States Military Academy, West Point, N.Y., and William, a graduate of Shattick's school Fairibault, Minn., now a student in the University of Minnesota. George Edgar the youngest born to Mr. and Mrs. Newcomb, born March 19, 1869, died March 25, 1909, aged forty years. He was married in October, 1895, to Miss Dorothy JONES, a native of Wisconsin, and three children were born to this union: Clara Forest, D. C., and Charles Jones. Mr. Newcomb has been a lifelong Republican and has always supported the policies and principles of that party. He had many flattering inducements to enter politics but has refused to accept, preferring to follow his commercial career in which he has been so successful. Mr. and Mrs. Newcomb are members of the Methodist Episcopal church, and for years have been active in the work of their congregation and both have lived exemplary Christian lives. Mr. Newcomb has held every office within the gift of the church, all of which have come to him without solicitation. In fact, every preferment has come to him unsolicited. In 1896 and 1900 he was elected a lay delegate to the general conference of the Methodist Episcopal church held at Omaha in 1896 and Chicago in 1901.

Taken From:

History of Atchison County, Kansas

by Sheffield Ingalls - 1916

Submitted by:

Clemi Higley Blackburn, September 2003