Biography of James Colyer Gordon

James Colyer Gordon, superintendent of the waterworks system of Independence, had, together with his father, who for thirty years was engineer of the waterworks, had more to do with making this public utility a splendid and effleient organ of public service than any other individual.

Independence had had a system of waterworks for thirty years or more. For many years it had been a municipally owned plant and the city corporation had expended an immense amount of money in perfecting the plant and the source of supply. The new water plant is located a mile and a half northeast of the city on the Verdigris River. Its more important equipment is as follows: An Allis-Chalmers Corliss Compound 4,000,000-gallon high duty pumping engine, besides a 3,000,000-gallon low duty and a 1,500,000-gallon low duty pumping engine. There are two pumps, Gardner Compound Duplex, with a capacity of 1,500,000 gallons each, inherited from the old plant, and there are 300 horse power boilers. The storage capacity is for 8,000,000 gallons, divided into three basins, and there is a clear water well. The plant also comprises three gravity filters, each of 1,000,000 gallons capacity.

This branch of the Gordon family is of Scotch-Irish descent and a great many of the family are to be found in the states of Indiana and Illinois. James Carter Gordon was born at New Harmony, Indiana, October 31, 1874. His father is Francis Marion Gordon, who was born at Poseyville, Indiana, in 1848, was reared there and married Rose Anderson, who was born in Indiana in 1852 and died at Independence in 1896. Francis M. Gordon early learned the trade of engineer, and in March, 1884, arrived at Independence. About a month afterwards he was appointed second engineer for the city and was the first engineer of the water plant which had recently been installed. He conducted the works for thirty years, retiring in 1915, and now resided at Mound Valley, Kansas, owning a farm three miles from that town. He is a democrat, a member of the Baptist Church and affiliated with the Woodmen of the World. He and his wife had seven children: James C.; H. A. Gordon, who spent twelve years as engineer for the Hoisting Mining Company at Globe, Arizona, was taken ill and returned to Independence, where he died at the age of thirty-five; C. E. Gordon, chief engtreer of the waterworks at Oklahoma City; F. W. Gordon, also an engineer living at St. Paul, Minnesota; Chester, on the farm with his father at Mound Valley; Grace, wife of R. H. Spohnhaner, who is engineer at Kansas Natural Pumping Station on the Verdigris River; Beesis, wife of D. E. Needham, a carpenter at Mound Valley.

James C. Gordon attended his first school at New Harmony, Indiana. He was ten years old when he came to Independence, and continued his education in the local schools until he was sixteen. In the meantime he found useful employment in different lines, and at the age of nineteen took his first position with the City of Independence as engineer of the waterworks. He held that place one year, and that was the time the city first took possession of the old water plant. Following that he spent a year at Bartlesville, Oklahoma, and assisted in erecting and managed the ice plant constructed by Steel and McClinie. Returning to Independence he was again in the employ of the city at the old pumping station, and as engineer had an important part in installing the new plant above described. He was engineer of this plant until 1913, and was then appointed superintendent and chief engineer. His residence is at the engineer’s house of the pumping station and his offices are in the City Building.

Mr. Gordon is a progressive republican, is affiliated with Independence Lodge No. 69, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and was formerly identified with the Encampment. He also belongs to the United Workmen at Independence and the Independence Commercial Club. In October, 1906, at Independence, he married Miss Kate Jones, daughter of J. C. and Elisabeth Jones, who reside on their farm near Neosho, Missouri. They are the parents of three children: Rose Ethel, born August 16, 1908; Elizabeth, born October 13, 1909; and James, born October 13, 1914.



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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