Biography of William E. Rippetoe

William E. Rippetoe. When the veterans of the lumber business in Kansas are mentioned, there is a place for William E. Rippetoe, who now has two yards, one of them at Havana, where he resides. Thirty years of active experience constitute his record, and furthermore he is one of the old-timers of Kansas, his family having been transplanted to this state when Kansas was still a frontier territory and a battle-ground of contention between the North and South.

There has been something of the pioneer spirit apparently in every generation. One of his ancestors was banished from France along with many other Huguenots who did not receive even wore treatment during the era of persecution. Then after the family had been transferred to American soil there was another representative, William Rippetoe, great-grandfather of the lumberman above mentioned, who did loyal duty as a member of Washington’s staff during the Revolution.

John Rippetoe, the grandfather, was born in 1790 in that part of old Virginia which subsequently by division became the State of West Virginia. As a young man he journeyed down the Ohio and found a satisfying place to live and work out his destiny in Kentucky, where he became a farmer, and died in Russell County in 1863.

From Kentucky John Rippetoe, Jr., who was born in Russell County in 1829, moved into northwest Missouri, and while living in De Kalb County married Teckly Coffey, who had been born in Russell County, Kentucky, in 1833. These worthy people were living on one of the early farms in De Kalb County when their son William E. Rippetoe was born on January 4, 1855.

Then in the course of the same year, soon after the original Kansas-Nebraska Act went through Congress, the father started for Kansas, selecting a place for homesteading in Jackson County. He was one of the first permanent settlers in that part of the state, and thencaforward employed himself in the activities of farming and stock-raising. He did his part in redeeming Kansas, not only by cultivating some of its virgin soil but also in fighting for its freedom a few years later when the war came on. For five months he was with the Seventeenth Kansas Infantry, and was stationed at Paola during Price’s raid. He served as township trustee, as county commissioner, and was elected county clerk, but declined to qualify. He was devoted to his church, the Methodist, which he served many years as steward and trustee. Politically he was a republican, and a member of the Masonic order.

His death occurred at Hoyt in Jackson County in 1903, and his wife passed away at Meriden in the same county in 1908. Their first child was William E., and the others were as follows: Willis W., a farmer in Jackeon County; Sarah Elizabeth, wife of Orlando Sechrist, a farmer at Meriden; Jacob James, a druggist at Spokane, Washington; J. L., a resident of Alma and now county treasurer of Wabaunsee County; H. R., an employee of the Santa Fe belt lines, formerly a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, and now of Rosedale, Kansas; Robert, a railroad man, killed in an accident at Strong City, Kansas, at the age of twenty-two; Mary A., wife of William N. Willard, a farmer near Hoyt, in Jackson County; Susie T., deceased wife of W. S. Seneder, who is bond clerk for the state superintendent at Topeka.

As a boy in Jackson County William E. Rippetoe made the wisest use of the opportunities afforded by the district schools, and also attended high school at Holton. At the age of nineteen he married and settled down to farming in Jackson County, where he remained twelve years.

His first experience in the lumber business was at Hoyt, where he conducted a yard from 1887 to 1907, a period of twenty years. Then, after five months in the coal trade at Colorado Springs, Colorado, he returned to Kansas and for a like period was selling lumber at Irving in Marshall County. This was followed by four years as a lumber merchant at Topeka and two years at Overbrook. Coming to Havana in May, 1914, he bought the interests of E. W. Worthen and Walter Myers in the Havana Lumber Company and also their yard at Wayside, and has since actively managed these two places of business. He is also interested in the Home Lumber Company at Sedan and has lumber yards at Niotaye, Kansas. The business has grown rapidly, and he is rated as one of the prosperous men of that community. He owns his home on Mary Street in Havana, also other real estate there and a lot and place of business at Wayside.

He stands very high in Masonry. He has served three years as master and is now past master of Caney Lodge No. 324, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; is a member of Overbrook Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Topeka Commandery, No. 5, Knights Templar; Topeka Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite and has also received the honorary degree for services K. C. C. H.; and Caney Chapter of the Eastern Star. His membership is also in Havana Lodge No. 343, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and the Havana Country Club. His politics is republican.

In his native Missouri County Mr. Rippetoe married Miss Lucinda Harris, a daughter of John Harris, a farmer. Mrs. Rippetoe died in Jackson County, Kansas, in 1883, leaving three children. Rosa B., who died at Hoyt, Kansas, May 12, 1915, was the wife of E. C. Lyon, a carpenter at Havana. Benjamin went to the Philippines with the army and now has a Government position there. Flora E. is the wife of James Randels, a cement worker at Overbrook.

In 1884 at Meriden, Kansas, Mr. Rippetoe married Mary F. McDowell, daughter of Barton and Ava McDowell, both now deceased. Her father was a farmer. By this marriage there were six children; Franklin H., who graduated from the Stricklin Business College of Topeka, where he is now bookkeeper for the Chicago Lumber Company; Everett O., a manager of the Howe Lumber Company at Sedan, Kansas; Ava, who is a graduate of the Colorado Springs Academy, is the wife of Clifford E. Hileman, a mail carrier at Topeka; Robert H., a graduate of the Dougherty Business College of Topeka, is manager of his father’s lumber yard at Wayside; Walter Leslie is manager of his father’s business at Havana; Charles W. a student at Kansas State Agricultural College.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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