George H. Hunter, a resident of Wellington almost forty years, is one of the leading millers of the state, is president of the oldest bank in Wellington, and has also given much of his time and energies to public affairs, being the present mayor of Wellington.
He was born on a farm near Circleville, Ohio, December 1, 1849, one of the five children of Alexander M. and Sophia (Zepp) Hunter, the former a native of Ohio and the latter of Pennsylvania. Sophia Zepp was of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction, and when a child was brought to Ohio by her uncle and aunt. Alexander M. Hunter enlisted at the outbreak of the Civil war, but on account of physical disability was not accepted for service. He was a republican and a member of the Congregational Church. He came out to Wellington, was associated with his son in the flour mill from 1879 until 1910, and one day while fishing on a railway bridge was killed by a train, being then nearly ninety years of age.
When George H. Hunter was six months of age his parents moved to a farm in Shelby County, Illinois. He had only the advantages of the district schools and his higher education was gained largely through his own efforts and by paying his own expenses through the State Normal University at Normal, Illinois. At the age of twenty he entered that school and was graduated at twenty-three. After one year as a teacher he engaged, in 1872, in the mercantile business and followed it with considerable success for six years in Illinois. Desiring a larger field, and knowing the possibilities of Kansas through some of his friends who had already come to the state, he moved his store to Wellington in 1878. Wellington was then a small village. In 1879 he sold the store and concentrated all his attention upon the flour mill which he had bought in the preceding year.
While at Normal, Illinois, on August 1, 1872, he married Miss Frances M. Beale, who was born in Mason County, Illinois, and was his class mate in Normal School. Mr. and Mrs. Hunter have nine children. Charles W. is now secretary and treasurer of the Hunter Milling Company and has served fifteen years as president of the Board of Education. Lottie M. is Mrs. W. T. Voils of Wellington. George H. Jr. is a rancher at Fargo, Oklahoma. Edna M. is still at home. Frank B. lives at Wellington. Harry is manager of a milling company at Attica, Kansas. Maud M. is Mrs. G. Harris Carr, of Wellington. Fannie S. is Mrs. Foss Farrar of Arkansas City, Kansas. Grace is a student of music and art in a school in Chicago. All the children have had college advantages.
The flour mill which Mr. Hunter bought at Wellington in 1878 was then of the style of equipment known as a buhr mill. It had a limited capacity and was largely employed for the grinding of local grain and feed stuffs. The genius of a capable business man has raised it from a small local institution until it now ranks as the second largest mill in Kansas outside of Kansas City. The mill has a capacity of 1,500 barrels a day and the product is widely distributed all over the country. When Mr. Hunter bought the mill he had no practical knowledge of milling, but was not ashamed to learn. He brought to the business good judgment, and after mastering the technical details he was soon recognized as an expert miller. He has been active manager of the plant at Wellington since 1879, and has realized his ambition of making the business one of the best of its kind in the state. Besides this mill the Hunter Milling Company has a 300 barrel mill at Attica. The company was incorporated in 1888 with George H. Hunter as president, W. T. Voils as vice president, and Charles W. Hunter as secretary and treasurer.
While a man of unassuming nature, never craving publicity, Mr. Hunter has been very active in public affairs. He is a republican and was a delegate to the National Convention of his party in 1908 and was presidential elector in 1904. For fifteen years he was a member of the Board of Education, a position which has been held for a similar period by his son Charles. He was a member of the city council ten years, served as mayor from 1890 to 1892, also in 1910, and is now on a three year term beginning in 1914. His administration as mayor has been one of marked benefit to the city. During his term a waterworks system has been installed, said to be the finest in the state for the size of the city, and the municipality has also taken over the ownership of the electric lighting plant. These are two conspicuous improvements, but there have been many others. From 1908 to 1912 Mr. Hunter served as a member of the State Senate. During that time he introduced and secured the passage of nine bills, each pertaining to some vital interest of the community or state.
Mr. Hunter is president of the Wellington National Bank, the oldest bank in the city. He also owns considerable property both in the city and in the country. He is enthusiastic in behalf of better highways, and is a member of the executive committee from the Eighth District of the Kansas Good Roads Association. He is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, being affiliated with the Wichita Consistory. His happy married life was terminated with the death of Mrs. Hunter on May 6, 1903. She was a devoted mother in the home and was very active in the Congregational Church, with which Mr. Hunter has also been identified for many years and was trustee until his place was taken by his son Charles W.