Biography of R. T. Updegraff

R. T. Updegraff has been perhaps the leading individual factor in the commercial and business development of the Town of Maple Hill in Wabaunsee County for the past thirty years. Mr. Updegraff came to Kansas after completing his education, and the vigor and enterprise which characterized his early life in this state have borne abundant fruit in several different lines.

Mr. Updegraff was born at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, November 28, 1862. He is of old Quaker family, the religion of the Friends having received the allegiance of the Updegraffs for many generations. The Updegraffs first came out of Holland in colonial times and settled at Germantown, Pennsylvania. Mr. Updegraff’s grandfather, David Updegraff, was a pioneer farmer at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, where he died before R. T. Updegraff was born. He was a loyal member of the Quaker Church.

D. B. Updegraff, father of the Maple Hill merchant, was born at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1830, and spent all his life in that community, where he died in 1894. He was a Quaker minister, an old line republican, and a man of very splendid character and an exemplar in conduct and leadership. He married Rebecca Price, who was born at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1831, and died there in 1864. Their children were: Anna E., wife of Allen Hilles, living at Los Angeles, California; O. P., in the insurance business at Topeka; W. R., a real estate man of Los Angeles; and R. T. Updegraff. The father married for his second wife Eliza Mitchell, who was born at Mount Pleasant, Ohio, in 1835, and died there in 1900. By this marriage there were four children: Blanche, wife of Horace Ratcliff, engaged in the insurance business at Madison, Wisconsin; Grace, who married Dr. Talmadge Bergen, and lives in Iowa; Alice, wife of Dr. Richard Brenneman, a physician and surgeon at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and David B., a missionary of the Quaker Church in India.

Mr. R. T. Updegraff grew up in Mount Pleasant, Ohio, attended the public schools there and completed his education in that fine old Quaker institution, Earlham College at Richmond, Indiana. He left college in 1885 and in the same year came to Kansas, where at Topeka he gained experience in the lumber business. He had been continuously a merchant and farmer ever since his college career.

In 1887 Mr. Updegraff located at Maple Hill and at that time established a lumber yard and general store on Main Street, which had been continuously under his name and management for thirty years. With this as a nucleus of his business he had rapidly acquired many other interests. He owned the building in which the store is located, the lumber yard near the depot, a residence on Main Street and another dwelling in the city, and had a farm of 160 acres two miles north of town. In 1904 Mr. Updegraff established the Maple Hill State Bank, and was its president five years until the institution was sold to the Stock Growers State Bank.

His service to the community should not pass unnoticed. He was a member of the school board twelve years and for one term served as mayor and for several terms was on the town council. Mr. Updegraff is a republican and is a member of the Quaker Church. In 1892, at Maple Hill, he married Miss Mae Small, daughter of W. B. and Addie (Warner) Small. Her mother is now deceased and her father is living with the Updegraff family. Mr. and Mrs. Updegraff have four children: Adelaide Rebecca, graduated with the degree Bachelor of Science from the Kansas State Agricultural College at Manhattan in 1917; Wilma Clara is a graduate of the Maple Hill High School with the class of 1916 and assists her father in the store; Alice Sarah is in the junior class of the local high school, while Russell Taylor, Jr., is a student in the grammar school.



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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