Biography of William Clyde Tomlinson

William Clyde Tomlinson. As one of the representative and old established undertakers of Southeastern Kansas, William Clyde Tomlinson, of Chanute, belongs to that class of men in his line who have elevated the calling to a profession and conduct their work scientifically and expertly. Mr. Tomlinson established his business in Chanute seventeen years ago and with the exception of an interval of three years, has been here continuously since. During this time has witnessed remarkable advancements made in his field of endeavor. The modern undertaker and embalmer must be the possessor of qualities which fit him for his calling, for he must not only thoroughly understand it, but must be possessed of infinite tact and sympathy of manner. He is called into a family at a time of greater grief, when ordinary duties are suspended and there is a necessity for kindly action and expert advice. As the possessor of these qualities Mr. Tomlinson is gratefully remembered in many homes which have been visited by death.

William C. Tomlinson was born in Mercer County, Illinois, April 19, 1865, and is a son of Joseph F. and Adelaide (Rendall) Tomlinson, and belongs on both sides to families which have long been residents of this country and who have been distinguished in a number of fields of endeavor. On the paternal side the family is traced to three brothers who emigrated to America during colonial days, one locating in Vermont, one in Kentucky and one in North Carolina, William C. being descended from the last-named ancestor. Henry Bishop Tomlinson, his grandfather, was born in North Carolina, in 1796, and as a young man went to Boone County, Indiana, where he was engaged in practice as a physician for many years. He retired after a long and honorable service to his calling, and located at Chanute, Kansas, where he soon died, in 1881. His first wife, who was the grandmother of William C. Tomlinson, died when her son Joseph F. was but five years old, and the grandfather took for his second wife Polly Hacker, who died at Girard, Kansas.

Joseph F. Tomlinson was born November 8, 1843, in Boone County, Indiana, and was there reared and educated. He was still a young man when he left the parental roof and went to Mercer County, Illinois, in which community he was married, while home on a furlough during the war. He was living in that state when President Lincoln issued his first call for volunteers to defend the Union, and showed his patriotism by enlisting in Company I, Seventeenth Regiment, Illinois Volunteer Infantry, although then only seventeen years of age. His service as a wearer of the blue uniform of his country covered a period of three years and two months, and during this time saw much active fighting, including the engagements of Fort Donelson, Shiloh, Pittsburg Landing, Corinth, Holly Springs and the Siege of Vicksburg. When his service was completed, the brave young soldier returned to Mercer County, Illinois, where he engaged in farming, and in 1872 went to Iowa, there continuing his agricultural operations in Guthrie County until 1878, in that year going to Keokuk County, Iowa, as a farmer. Mr. Tomlinson came to Chanute in 1886 and on a farm in Neoshe County he continued to carry on operations until 1899. At that time he left the farm and removed to the city, where he established the undertaking business now conducted by his son. He did not live long enough to carry the business through to the proportions which he had planned, as his death occurred June 20, 1900. Mr. Tomlinson was a man who was respected and esteemed for his many admirable qualities of mind and heart, and for the honorable manner in which he always conducted his business operations and his private activities. He was a republican in his political views, although not an active politician, and was a devout and faithful member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. He always maintained his interest in the fortunes of his former comrades in the Union army, and was a popular member of Neosho Post No. 129, Grand Army of the Republic, at Chanute.

Mr. Tomlinson was married in Mercer County, Illinois, to Miss Adelaide Randall, who was born February 12, 1845, at Rochester, New York, a member of a family which settled at Providence, Rhode Island, when that place was founded by Roger Williams, in 1636. Stephen Randall, Jr., the maternal grandfather of William C. Tomlinson, was born in 1811, in Rhode Island, and shortly before the birth of his daughter, Adelaide, removed to New York and located at Rochester. In 1847 he went with his family to Mercer County, Illinois, and engaged in farming, but in the evening of life removed to near Sigourney, Iowa, where he passed away in 1896, at the age of eighty-five years. He married Rachel Trumbull, who was born in either Connecticut or Rhode Island, and died at the homestead in Mercer County, Illinois. Mr. Tomlinson belonged to a military training company, as had his father before him, and several members of the Randall family saw military service. Stephen Randall, Sr., the great-grandfather of William C. Tomlinson, was born in 1787, at Providence, Rhode Island. He removed with his son Stephen to New York, and his great-grandson still possesses a memento of his visit in the Empire State, in a tomahawk which was picked up by him at Sackett’s Harbor, and which had been used in the War of 1812. In 1847 he went as a pioneer farmer to Mercer County, Illinois, and there his death occurred in 1870.

Mrs. Adelaide Tomlinson died in Keokuk County, Iowa, in 1884, having been the mother of the following children: William C., of this review; Ira W., who was engaged in farming in Keokuk County, Iowa, until his death at the age of twenty-five years; Charley E., who was also a farmer in that county and died when thirty-four years of age; Leona A., who died at Trinidad, Colorado, in 1898, as the wife of the late R. S. Lawrence, who until his death was a machinist in the employ of the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad; and Lucy, who died in 1884, at Sigonrney, Keokuk County, Iowa, aged seven years. Joseph F. Tomlinson was again married, to Miss Jane Jessup, now a resident of Sigourncy, Keokuk County, Iowa, and they had one son: W. Elmer, who is credit man for the International Harvester Company, with headquarters at Columbia, South Carolina.

As a boy and youth William C. Tomlinson divided his time between assisting his father on the home place during half of the year and spending the rest in the public schools, both in Illinois and Iowa. In the winter of 1886 he attended the United Presbyterian Academy, at Washington, Iowa, and on leaving that institution entered upon his own career. His first experience was as a country school teacher in Iowa, where he remained one term, and in 1887 he came to Chanute and for six years taught in the Neosho County schools. He continued as an educator in the Neosho and Wilson County schools for nine years and the Wyandotte County schools for three years, and in 1899 located permanently at Chanute, where he began business as a dealer in second-hand furniture and stoves. The sudden death of his father, in 1900, caused him to give up his business in order to take charge of the undertaking establishment, of which he has since been the owner, the offices being located at No. 201 West Main Street. One of the most modern of undertakers, Mr. Tomlinson is always on the alert to secure every improvement or advantage of new discoveries, and keeps his equipment abreast of the times in all particulars. His residence is at No. 221 Southwestern Avenue.

Mr. Tomlinson is a republican, and at various times has been called upon by his fellow-citizens to serve in public positions, having been township clerk of Canville Township for one term of two years, and a member of the Chanute Board of Education for seven years. His religious faith is that of the Baptist denomination, and he has for several years been a trustee of his church. Mr. Tomlinson is particularly well known in fraternal circles, belonging to Cedar Lodge No. 103, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Chanute Lodge No. 852, Modern Woodmen of America; Hector Lodge No. 64, Independent Order of Odd Fellows; Chanute Lodge No. 63, Woodmen of the World; the Fraternal Aid Union; Council No. 44, Sons and Daughters of Justice; Chanute Lodge No. 688, Loyal Order of Moose; and the Anti-Horse Thief Association; and also holds membership in the Chanute Business Men’s Club and Abe Lincoln Camp No. 83, Sons of Veterans, of which latter he is past commander.

Mr. Tomlinson was married in 1889 at Earleton, Kansas, to Miss Louvisa Williams, daughter of John and Lydia (Shelton) Williams, retired farming people who reside at Chanute. Three children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Tomlinson: Vernie A., who received a high school education and is now the wife of George C. Young, who is connected with Wade & Stanley’s furniture store at Chanute; Bertha C., a graduate of the Chanute High School, who taught school for one year in Neosho County and two years at Chanute, before her marriage to Roy E. Cowen, who is manager of the National Supply Company, of Colorado, Kansas; and Bernice, who is attending the Chanute High School as a member of the junior class.



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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