Biography of Ario C. Mendenhall

Ario C. Mendenhall. While the Mendenhall name had been well and honorably known in Kansas for more than a quarter of a century, it is to Pennsylvania that the biographer must turn for the family’s earlier history. It had been established that three brothers of that name came to the American colonies from England at the same time that William Penn headed his party of colonists, and that one of these remained with the great Quaker colonist and peacemaker, and that one crossed the line into Ohio while the third was lost in the far west. The Mendenhalls that Kansas had known descended from the Pennsylvania settler and are yet numerous in the old Keystone State. A worthy representative of this family and bearer of its honorable name, is Ario C. Mendenhall, who, for the past eighteen years had been prominent in the business life of Chanute, Kansas. He was born at Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, December 18, 1870. His parents were Lorenzo Don and Sarah Jane (Lemon) Mendenhall.

Lorenzo Dow Mendenhall was born in Columbia County, Pennsylvania, October 17, 1827, a son of Eli Mendenball, who spent his entire life in Columbia County, dying in 1888, at the age of eighty-four years. His wife, who bore the maiden name of Elizabeth Davis, died in 1874 in her native state, at the age of seventy-nine years. They had four children: Carlton, Araminta M., Elizabeth and Lorenzo Dow. Being the eldest son, Lorenzo early became self-supporting, learning the milling business very thoroughly, and also the tanning business, a very important one in those days, which he followed for some years. During the period of the Civil war when General Lee’s forces invaded Pennsylvania, he served as a member of the home troops that repelled them. For several years of this time he was also in the employ of the Government as manager of an extensive rice cleaning mill, preparing the grain for the Union army. After he returned to Pennsylvania, Mr. Mendenhall was engaged as manager of the great mills of A. Pardee & Company, situated at Hazleton, and continued to operate these mills for nine years. He then removed to South Bend, Indiana, and there was engaged in the milling business for two years, and for a decade traveled over the country as a dresser of millstones, this being before and when a young man.

In 1880 Mr. Mendenhall removed with his family to Humboldt, Kansas, but did not re-enter the milling business here but turned his attention to agricultural pursuits. He purchased a well located farm of 160 acres, situated in Cottage Grove Township, six miles southeast of Humboldt, and, although entirely without farm experience, succeeded in this enterprise and became a large producer of wheat, corn, oats and flax. He retired from active pursuits in September, 1909, and then came to Chanute, Kansas, where he died December 20 following. On December 31, 1856, he was married to Sarah Jane Lemon, who was born in 1834 at Rohrsburg, Pennsylvania, where she still resided. They became the parents of five children: Lorenzo, who died at the age of eight years; two sons, deceased, one at the age of six years and the other aged eighteen months; Ario C.; and Estella Grace, who is the wife of a Mr. Lackey, a farmer residing near Cement, Oklahoma. Lorenzo Dow Mendenhall was a republican in politics and fraternally he was an Odd Fellow.

Ario C. Mendenhall attended the country schools in Allen County, Kansas, and remained with his father until he was twenty-seven years old, managing the home farm for a number of years. In 1897 he began operating a threshing and also a well drilling outfit and ever since coming to Chanute, September 1, 1898, had made the well drilling business in the various oil fields his main activity, although he also owned a farm of 160 acres in Allen County. Mr. Mendenhall had probably drilled more of the wells in the mid-continent oil and gas fields than any other operator, having worked from Humboldt to Neodesha, in Wilson County, a wide territory, having rigs continually drilling several wells at a time. At present he is interested in seven producing oil leases in Allen County and one gas lease, and had one gas lease in Wilson County. In addition to his large business in this direction, Mr. Mendenhall looks after his farm interests with care and also attends to the management of quite a large amount of real estate that he owned at Chanute, including his handsome residence at No. 601 Highland Avenue. His various interests have brought him into association with all classes of men and their general verdict is that he is a shrewd, far-sighted business man but is one who is honest and upright in all his transactions and rather than take an advantage of anyone, would be more likely to extend a helping hand and financial aid if necessary. Hence he had a wide circle of real friends and well wishers.

In Allen County, in 1896, Mr. Mendenhall was married to Miss Allie Bair, who is a daughter of W. M. and Sarah (Spanlding) Bair. The father of Mrs. Mendenhall was a farmer in Allen County and died there. The mother makes her home with Mr. and Mrs. Mendenhall. They have two children: Roscoe, who was born July 13, 1899, is a student in the Chanute High School; and Ralph, who was born August 16, 1910, who is also in school. In politics Mr. Mendenhall had always been a republican and, in good citizenship is well qualified for public office but he had never consented to serve in any position. He is a member of Chanute Lodge No. 806 Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.



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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