Hon. Ben S. Paulen. Each individual, under a democratic form of government, possesses an equal chance for public advancement. There is no reason why any man, providing that he possess real ability and sound judgment, cannot aspire to the highest position in the land, but while this is true theoretically, in actuality it is the one who had always been a little in advance of his associates and had developed his faculties beyond the ordinary who forges ahead and is placed by the people in positions of honor and responsibility. In this connection the foregoing is true of Hon. Ben S. Paulen, one of the leading merchants of Fredonia and vice president of the Wilson County Bank. Long prominent in commercial and financial circles, he demonstrated that he was possessed of abilities far beyond the ordinary, and reached an honorable goal in 1912 when elected to a seat in the Kansas State Senate from the Thirteenth District and to which office he had recently been re-elected, being the first senator to succeed himself from this district, as the counties of Wilson and Masha had rotated the senator.
Senator Paulen was born on a farm in DeWitt County, Illinois, July 14, 1869, and is a son of J. W. and Lucy B. (Johnson) Paulen. His grandfather was Diebold Paulen, who was born at Strassburg, Alsace Lorraine, and after serving in the German regular army emigrated to the United States and settled near Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois, where he passed the remainder of his life in farming. He was the first of the family to come to the United States, was a pioneer of Sangamon County, and belonged to the sturdy, home-loving type of his race who made good and substantial citizens and whose labors have done much in the settlement and improvement of new sections of the country.
J. W. Paulen, father of Senator Paulen, was born September 8, 1839, on a farm in Sangamon County, Illinois, and was reared and educated in the vicinity of Springfield. He was brought up as a farmer and when ready to enter upon his own career engaged in agricultural pursuits, first in Sangamon and later in DeWitt County. From the latter he came to Kansas in 1869, settling in Wilson County on a farm four miles south of Fredonia. On this tract of 160 acres he resided for five years, at the end of which time he was elected clerk of the District Court and moved into the Town of Fredonia. When his term of five years expired, Mr. Paulen embarked in the banking business at Fredonia and continued therein for three years, but disposed of his interests in that direction to give his full attention to the real estate business, in which he had become interested. In 1879 he also entered mercantile affairs when he opened a hardware establishment, located on the west side of the public square. In 1914 he sold out the hardware stock, and is now engaged in the general mercantile business, in partnership with his son, Ben S. They have built up an excellent trade, which covers the entire city and its surrounding territory. Mr. Paulen is favorably known in business circles, as a shrewd merchant who makes the most of his opportunities, but whose business dealings are always prosecuted in an honorable and straightforward manner. He is a republican in his political views and had long been active and prominent in the ranks of his party, having held a number of minor positions as well as being Mayor of Fredonis for two terms. Fraternally, he is affiliated with Constellation Lodge No. 95, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Kilwinning Chapter No. 44, Royal Arch Masons; Abal Del Kader Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar; and Mirza Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of the Noble Mystie Shrine, Pittsburg, Kansas; and to the Ancient Order of United Workmen. While living in Illinois, Mr. Paulen enlisted in the One Hundred and Thirtieth Regiment, Volunteer Infantry, and served two years and eleven months as a Union soldier during the Civil war. He was in the Siege of Vicksburg, took part in many other important engagements, and during Banks’ Red River Campaign was made a prisoner at Sabine Cross Roads and held by the enemy for fourteen months at Tyler, Texas, until his exchange could be effected. His war record was an excellent one. Mr. Paulen married Miss Lucy B. Johnson, who was born in 1848, at Frankfort, Kentucky, and to this union there were born six children: Ben S., of this review; Laura E., who resided at Alva, Oklahoma, wife of Fred N. Howell, a teacher in the Oklahoma Normal School; Minnie, the wife of C. E. Burke, bank printer with the Burke Printing Company, a large and well known firm of Fredonia; Mildred, who is the wife of James L. Fitzmorris, a farmer of Fall River, Kansas; Ray, who resided on a form near Fredonia; and Blanche, who is the wife of Dr. C. A. Thomas, a practicing physician and surgeon of Fredonia.
Ben B. Paulen was thoroughly trained in his youth for his struggle with life, first attending the graded and high schools of Fredonia, from which latter he was graduated in 1887, then going to the Kansas University for one term, and later taking a course in the Saint Louis Business College. In 1889 he entered business with his father, with whom he had continued to be associated to the present time. The store now occupies a floor space 60 by 100 feet, and is stocked with an attractive line of general merchandise, well arranged, tastefully chosen and popularly priced, and the business had grown to be the largest of its kind in Fredonia and this part of the state. As a business man who was progressive, enterprising and energetic, Mr. Paulen began attracting the attention of the people, who soon discovered him possessed of official possibilities. As a member of the city council and as city treasurer of Fredonia he verified these suspicions, and finally was elected mayor, a position which he held for three terms, during which time he did much to advance the civic and material interests of Fredonia. In 1912 he became the candidate of the republican party for the office of state senator from the Thirteenth Senatorial District, and so faithfully and well did he discharge the duties of that office that he received the re-election in 1916. During his first term, Senator Paulen was chairman of the Committee on Printing, and a member of the committees on Citles of the Second Class, Banks and Banking, Oil and Gas, Public Buildings, Municipal Corporations and Emgrossed Bills. He was connected with much important legislation, and introduced and championed the bill for cities of the second class to levy special taxes for the purpose of purchasing fire apparatus; the bank check bill which provides a punishment for overdrawing a bank account by check; and the bill for the adoption of the Massachusetts ballot. Senator Paulen is now on the following committees: chairman, Committees and Rules Committee; member Ways and Means, Citles of the Second Class, Banks and Banking, Federal and State Affairs and Gas and Oil committees. He had been appointed by Governor Capper as state inspector of oils for a four year term beginning April 1, 1917.
Senator Paulen belongs to Constellation Lodge No. 95, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons; Killwinning Chapter No. 44, Royal Arch Masons; Abal Del Lader Commandery No. 26, Knights Templar; and Mirza Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Pittsburg, Kansas, and is a thirty-second degree Mason, belonging to Consistory No. 1, Wichita. Senator Paulen is a trustee of the Wilson County Hospital. He had been connected with some big business enterprises, and at this time is vice president of the Wilson County Bank and of the Fredonia Ice and Light Company. He resided in his own modern home at No. 415 Eleventh Street, and is the owner of much other property.
On February 14, 1900, Mr. Paulen was married at Holton, Kansas, to Miss Barbara Ellis, daughter of the late E. T. and Thurza Ellis, of Holton, both of whom are now deceased. Mr. Ellis, who was in business at Holton for a number of years and was a Union veteran of the Civil war, was better known as Judge Ellis, because of his many years of service as a justice of the peace.