Biography of Early Whitten Poindexter

Early Whitten Poindexter. On January 8, 1854, there was born on a farm in Martin County, Indiana, near the village with the euphonious name of Loogootee, a boy whose destiny soon took him away from his father’s fields and livestock and in 1885 brought him to Kansas, where now for more than thirty years he has been general agent for Kansas of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company.

He is recognized as one of the ablest life insurance men of the country. He is one of the leaders in the force of men who are regarded as the most aggressive in any line of business and whose work in the aggregate has been a factor in making the Northwestern Mutual one of the strongest companies in the country. Mr. Poindexter took to life insurance with a readiness and with results that indicated that his talents were not misapplied and as a result of hard and intelligent work and upright methods of doing business has found a success in that field beyond what he might have expected in any profession or other commercial line of endeavor.

An eminent American authority has declared that the finest and most virile qualities of American people have been preserved in the mountain districts of Eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. It was in Eastern Tennessee that Mr. Poindexter’s parents were both born, and the respective families probably had lived there for several generations. His parents were Christian and Lourinda (Keck) Poindexter. From the mountains of Tennessee they emigrated to Indiana, and the father acquired 320 acres of land which he devoted to general farming, and he was also a raiser of pedigreed sheep and hogs. He was a man of no little influence in his locality. He became a republican with the formation of that party, served several terms as county commissioner, and did all in his power to promote the upbuilding of churches and schools. He and his wife had a family of seventeen children. Five of them died in infancy, and ten are now living.

The second in age among this large family, Early W. Poindexter, grew up in Martin County, Indiana, attended the common schools, spent his vacations on his father’s farm, and in 1871, at the age of seventeen, began teaching district school. After that he taught a term or so every year until 1883. Toward the close of this work he had a normal school of 150 pupils at Bloomfield, Indiana. Some of the proceeds from his work as teacher he invested in further education, and he was a student in the University of Indiana at Bloomington until he graduated in 1879.

It was in December, 1879, that Mr. Poindexter married Miss Molly Hatfield, who was born in Greene County, Indiana. Seven children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Poindexter, and these children have well justified the careful training given them by their parents. All have had the advantages of University as well as the city schools. Clarence H., the oldest, attended the public schools of Topeka, graduated from Princeton College and has since been actively associated in the insurance business with his father, and is also a director of the People’s National Bank of Kansas City, Kansas. In 1904 he married Miss Olive Gundry. Urban H., the second son, has also had a university training and is in business with his father. Marlin H. has become a competent insurance man and is now state manager at Madison, Wisconsin. Mildred is the wife of C. R. Miller of Hutchinson, Kansas. E. W. Poindexter, Jr., is a student in the University of Wisconsin. Helen and Mary L. are still at home.

Mr. E. W. Poindexter had his first opportunity to sell life insurance in 1883. He took the local agency of the New York Life Company, and was soon made district agent at Vincennes, Indiana. He soon showed his qualifications for the business and in 1885 there came unsolicited to him an offer of a contract with the Northwestern Mutual for the Kansas agency of that company. He first removed to Leavenworth, but in the same year went to Topeka, and had his headquarters in that city until 1907, since which date his home and offices have been in Kansas City, Kansas. Topeka in 1885 was a comparatively small town. Mr. Poindexter not only directed the work of other agents but also was in the field himself and traveled all over the state, every year writing a large volume of insurance personally. Among other interests he is financially identified with the People’s National Bank of Kansas City, Kansas.

While Mr. Poindexter has always taken an active interest in local affairs, is a student of national problems and is a loyal republican, he has never sought any public office. He is one of the prominent Masons of Kansas. In 1901 he received the supreme honorary thirty-third degree of the Scottish Rite at Washington, District of Columbia. He belongs to the lodge and the various York Rite bodies of Masonry at Topeka, and also the Topeka Consistory, and is a member of the Shrine at Leavenworth. He is past eminent commander of the Knight Templar. Mr. Poindexter is affiliated with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, the Improved Order of Red Men, has held the state office of Great Sachem in the Red Men, has been Grand Patron of the Grand Chapter of the Eastern Star, and is Past Grand Counselor of the United Commercial Travelers. He and his wife are active members of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Poindexter is a member of the Kansas City Commercial Club and his son Clarence is active in the Rotary Club.



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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