Biography of William F. M. Arny

Kansas has produced no more eceentric, generous or beloved character than William F. M. Arny. Although not a native of the state, he was a son in all that stands for its independence and humanity. He was born in the District of Columbia, March 6, 1813, and after graduating from Bethany College, West Virginia, acted for a time as secretary for Alexander Campbell the famons Disciple preacher. At the age of twenty-eight he was on intimate terms with all of the leading men of the nation, especially with such as Abraham Lincoln and others of force and originality. In 1850 Mr. Arny settled in McLean County, Illinois; was active in the organization of the republican party, and in 1856 was a committeeman in that state appointed to raise money to settle Free State men in Kansas. In that year he made a trip of investigation to the territory, and its condition so appealed to him that in the spring of 1857 he settled in Anderson County.

The people of Kansas, who had come thither to stay and build a real commonwealth of equals, accepted William F. M. Arny as a valuable accession to their forces, electing him both to the Leavenworth constitutional convention of 1858 and the House of Representatives of the First State Legislature, which assembled with the outbreak of the Civil war. At that time he was also closing his faithful stewardship of the relief fund and the goods entrusted to him in behalf of the sufferers from the grasshopper plague of 1857. He had been elected a delegate to the Grasehopper Falls convention soon after coming to Kansas, had handled thousands of dollars and over 9,000,000 pounds of relief goods. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed him secretary of the Territory of New Mexico. He was a great favorite with the Indians in that region, and, in the prosecution of his official duties, accomplished much in exploiting the mineral resources of New Mexico. But in that matter, as in all other measures with which he was identified and prominent, he did not profit financially; in fact, seemed always careless of. persond gain. Naturally he died poor, albeit honored and deeply loved–which is better than to have died financially prosperous. On his return from a trip East he stopped off at Topeka, was taken ill and died suddenly September 18, 1881. A short time before, at the theater, he had been robbed of his money and passes, and a collection of $125 was taken up among his old Kansas friends to pay the expenses of his burial. His body was forwarded to Santa Fe, where funeral services were held in the palace.



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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