Biography of Martin Van Buren Cagney

Martin Van Buren Cagney, whose home had been in Emporia for the past thirty years, is an old time printer, having first taken up the art of typography when a boy before the Civil war, and had followed his trade under many changing conditions and in many localities. For many years he had been proprietor of a commercial printing establishment at Emporia, and had also been frequently honored with positions of trust and responsibility in that city.

His own career had the interest of much variety and he belongs to an interesting family. His father Maurice Cagney was born in Ireland in 1818, and became a sailor, and as a captain navigated different vessels owned in Boston. His home for many years was on the Massachusetts coast, chiefly at Salem, in which historic city his son Martin Van Buren was born June 8, 1843.

In 1848 the family left Salem and removed to Chicago, where Manrice Cagney owned and operated a line of hacks and transfer wagons in that then young and vigorously growing city. He later moved to a farm twenty-two miles west of St. Louis. There he found himself in somewhat unpleasant surroundings. He owned no slaves, was opposed to the institution, but all his neighbors were slave owners and they made it so unpleasant for him that in 1855 he left the farm and went to Keokuk, Iowa, where he resumed the transfer business. During the war he removed to Kansas City, Missouri, where for the last thirty years of his life he was retired from business. His death occurred in Kansas City in 1909, when at the age of ninety-one years three months. Politically he acted as a Douglas democrat before the war and afterwards was a republican. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church. Maurice Cagney married Mary Quinlivan, who was born in Scotland in 1814 and outlived her husband, reaching the remarkable age of ninety-eight years three months. She died at Kansas City in 1912. Her five children were: Mary, who died while the family were living near St. Louis, her death occurring in a St Louis hospital; Martin Van Buren; Thomas L., who enlisted and served during the last two years of the war in a Missouri regiment of infantry, is now a member of Warren Post Grand Army of the Republic at Kansas City, Missouri, where he resided and for many years was a first engineer on steamboats plying both the lower and upper courses of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers, retiring from that vocation many years ago and now owning real estate in Kansas City which enables him to live in ease and comfort; T. M. Cagney, who is a car builder at Kansas City; and Rose, wife of John Crotty, of Kansas City, who is an expert blacksmith and in earlier years was employed in making fine steel chases.

Mr. Cagney spent his childhood and youth partly on the Massachusetts coast, at Chicago, near St. Louis and at Keokuk, Iowa. At the age of thirteen he left the public schools and entered a printing office in Keokuk, where he learned the printer’s trade. He went with the family to Missouri early in the war, and served in the Missouri State Militia, being discharged with the rank of lieutenant in Company E Sixty-fifth Regiment, Missouri State Militia.

After the war he followed his trade as a journeyman in Indiana, Ohio, Illinois and Missouri, and in 1886 came to Emporia, where for two years he was foreman of the Emporia Republican, edited by ex-Governor Charles V. Eskridge. He then bought a printing establishment which he had conducted ever since, and his shop had been headquarters for high class job printing for fully a quarter of a century. His place of business is on Commercial Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues.

Mr. Cagney was for some years a member of the Emporia City Council and while a councilman was elected mayor, filling that office two years. He is a republican, a member of the Lutheran Church, and is affiliated with Emporia Lodge No. 12, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Emporia Chapter No. 12, Royal Arch Masons, Emporia Commandery No. 8, Knights Templar, Emporia Lodge No. 84, Ancient Order United Workmen, and his interests have matured in the Triple Tie Insurance Organization.

In 1888 at Emporia Mr. Cagney married Miss Amanda Weesner, daughter of Cyrenus and Rebeeca (Allen) Weeser. Her parents reside at 728 Exchange Street in Emporia. Mr. Weeser is employed by the Santa Fe Railroad Company. Mr. and Mrs. Cagney have one daughter, Edna, wife of Luther Myser, a resident of Des Moines, Iowa. Mr. Myser travels for a wholesale china house and also owned a half interest in the Myser Brothers China Store at Emporia.



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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