Biography of Aaron B. Perine

Aaron B. Perine. One of the few remaining of the old pioneers of Kansas. Aaron B. Perine, of Topeka, came to this state sixty-three years ago, and has been a permanent resident of Kansas since 1854, except for the two years he was out of the state. In the early days he was engaged in work among the Indians for the Government, later turned his attention to the blacksmithing trade, and for many years now has been at the head of the successful Perine Plow Works. He was born at Dansville, Livingston County, New York, May 4, 1836, and is a son of John W. and Mariett (Ingalls) Perine.

Daniel Perrin (as the name was then spelled) was one of the Huguenots who fled from persecution from France, finally seeking refuge in America. On shipboard he met Maria Thorel, who later became his wife, and Aaron B. Perine is a direct descendant of these immigrants. His grandfather, William Perine, served eight years under Gen. George Washington in the Revolutionary war and attained the rank of captain. His father, John W. Perine, was a tanner by trade (then called the tan currier trade), and for the most part he and his wife passed their lives in Livingston County, New York.

Aaron B. Perine passed his boyhood and youth in several counties of New York and received but a limited education as a lad, his father having died when he was but ten years old. His youthful energies were devoted to learning the blacksmith’s trade, which he followed for a time in New York, and in October, 1854, when eighteen years old, came to Kansas for a short stay and for nine months was a resident of Lawrence. In order to encourage settlement, the authorities of Lawrence offered a city lot to anyone remaining in the town through the winter, and thus young Perine came into possession of a piece of town property. However, at that time he did not desire to remain in the new and sparsely settled community, and he therefore sold his title to his lot and in June, 1855, with the small amount of money thus secured and what he had been able to accumulate through helping to lay out the City of Lawrence, he returned to New York. Not long thereafter he again left the Empire State and went to Rockford, Illinois, then to Rochester, Minnesota, later to Joliet, Illinois, and then to Janesville, Wisconsin, finally settling at Iowa City, Iowa. From the latter place, in July, 1857, he again came to Kansas. He first located in Topeka, working at his trade in a shop located where Second and Jackson streets are now situated, and subsequently having a shop of his own at No. 426 Jackson Street. He then entered the employ of the United States Government as a mechanic under William Ross for the Pottawatomie Indians, and later under C. C. Hutchinson for the Sacs and Foxes. In this capacity he made many smoking tomahawks, shoed ponies and did other work connected with his trade. His third shop was on Kansas Avenue, Topeka, where the Warren M. Crosby store is now located, and in this venture had as a partner Charles O. Knowles, to whom he later sold his interest in the business. When again ready to embark in business on his own account, he opened a shop where now stands the “Hip” Theatre, on Eighth Street, and it was at this time that he began manufacturing plows, a business in which he has since been engaged with ever-increasing success. The last-named establishment was sold to Dwight Thatcher, who was state printer at that time, and since then Mr. Perine has been located at his present place of business, 809 Quincy Street. His associates in business are his two sons, and the firm has an excellent reputation in commercial and industrial circles of Topeka. Mr. Perine is a citizen who has not failed in discharging his responsibilities, and who still takes an active interest in civic matters. Although he has reached an age where most men are willing to retire, he still has an energetic body and a clear mind which will not allow him to transfer wholly the duties of the business to younger shoulders and intellects.

Mr. Perine was married May 6, 1862, to Miss Mary E. Bodwell, and they have had nine children, namely: Emma G., who is deceased; Frederick James, a printer of Seattle, Washington; Clara Naomi, who is now Mrs. Samuel P. Erwin; Fannie, who is deceased; Loring Lewis; Louise, who is deceased; Raymond Charles; John William; and Sherman Bodwell. Mrs. Perine is a daughter of Anson G. Bodwell and Elizabeth (Ives) Bodwell, who were among the earliest settlers of Kansas and prominent in the work of the Underground Railroad during the border warfare period that preceded the Civil war.

Mr. Perine has been an interested reader of the Scriptures for many years and believes the present war is the beginning of the great time of trouble as foretold by the ancient Prophet Daniel. He thinks this will result in the complete overthrow of the present order of things throughout the world, and then Christ’s Kingdom will be established upon earth and cover the whole world as the waters does the sea and it will be an Everlasting Kingdom and the Joy of all People.

Then the human race that have gone down in death will be raised again and with those still living will be given knowledge and ability to comply with all the conditions necessary to come back to perfection of being as Adam was before the fall and they will become lords of the earth as he was and have eternal life in the earthly phase of God’s Kingdom where His will will be done the same as it is done in Heaven. Those refusing to comply with these conditions will die the second death, which means they will become as though they never had been.

Anson Green Bodwell, father of Mrs. Perine, was born at Simsbury, Connecticut, June 3, 1801, a son of James and Susannah (Humphrey) Bodwell, and a grandson of Benjamin and Mary (Woodbridge) Bodwell. Mr. Bodwell married Miss Elizabeth Ives, October 1, 1826, who died at Topeka, Kansas, February 13, 1885, Mr. Bodwell surviving until April 4, 1892, when he died in New York, he having reached the remarkable age of nearly ninety-one years. Both have their final resting place at Farmington, Connecticut. They were the parents of ten children, of whom eight grew to maturity, but of whom but two, Mrs. Perine and Mrs. Emeline Stagg, also of Topeka, are now living. Mr. Bodwell, who was a furniture maker by vocation, came to Kansas in 1857, his family following him in the following year, except his two sons, Lewis and Sherman (the latter a soldier of the Union during the Civil war), who came to this state in 1856. There was nothing especially noteworthy in the career of Mr. Bodwell beyond the fact that he was eminently honest, consistently industrious and greatly respected because of the possession of sterling qualities of mind and heart. In later years, Mr. Bodwell was a man of venerable appearance, and his memory is yet kept green in the minds of the few remaining old settlers who live at and about Topeka and who shared with him the privileges of assisting the city in its early and later years of development.



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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