Biography of Benjamin F. E. Marsh

Benjamin F. E. Marsh. For thirty consecutive years Mr. Marsh had served with unceasing diligence and fidelity the Santa Fe Railway Company. His many friends in the service and among Topeka people generally had a special sense of pleasure in learning of his recent promotion to the office of assistant general freight agent. He had earned every step of his promotion since taking his first clerkship, and had long been recognized as an expert on many of the technical subjects counected with the handling of the freight department of this great system.

A native of Topeka where he was born June 25, 1869, Mr. Marsh is a son of William Tolar and Nancy (Poague) Marsh. His father was born in Ohio June 10, 1837, and settled in Topeka in 1868. He was a building contractor, and in the course of his business built a home at 414 East Sixth Avenue in which he lived until his death on August 21, 1912. During the Civil war he had served as captain of a company in the One Hundred and Thirty-fourth Indiana Infantry and was long a prominent member of Lincoln Post Grand Army of the Republic at Topeka. Politically he was a republican. The Marsh family came out of Essex County, England, as early as 1645, first settling at New Haven, Connecticut, and from there going to Elizabethtown, New Jersey, in 1665. Some of the land early occupied by the family in New Jersey still belongs to one of the descendants. Another member of the family, Daniel Marsh, served as quartermaster-general in Washington’s army during the Revolution, and lost his life by the overturning of a boat while he was being rowed ashore from a ship. From New Jersey the branch of the family to which Benjamin F. E. Marsh belongs moved to Ohio and from there to Indiana. His grandfather moved from Indiana to Marion County, Iowa, where he died May 3, 1869. Mr. Marsh’s mother, Nancy Poague, was born in Franklin County, Indiana, February 16, 1840, a daughter of John Poague, who was born in Kentucky while his parents were on their way from Virginia to Indiana, being a son of William Poague, a native of Augusta County, Virginia. Nancy Poague married for her first husband Richard Scott, who was a farmer who served in the Civil war and died while a prisoner in Andersonville. Mrs. Marsh died at Topeka, August 24, 1906. By her first marriage there are two children: Alice, unmarried and living at Topeka; and Ida, wife of W. H. Righter, a physician and surgeon at Topeka. Mr. Marsh’s one brother and two sisters are: Minnie, wife of C. J. Cooper, a printer at Topeka; John William, a pharmacist at Topeka; and Jessie, wife of M. C. Lamott, a farmer near Hagerstown, Indiana.

Benjamin F. E. Marsh grew up in Topeka, attended school in Greensburg, Decatur County, Indiana, had a year of high school there and part of a year in the high school at Topeka, and spent one term in Rondebush’s, now Strickler’s, Business Gollege in Topeka. Following that came two years of experience with his father in the building business and on December 16, 1886, he entered the service of the Santa Fe Railway Company in the anditing department. He was a clerk in that department with the exception of three months spent in the claim department at Galveston, Texas, until 1894.

In that year he was transferred to the general freight office, and had been connected with the freight department in various positions for the past twenty-two years. He was at first a tariff clerk, then a rate clerk, and on May 1, 1904, was made chief tariff clerk and sent to Chicago. July 15, 1904, he was made chief clerk of the general freight office at Topeka, and his next upward move in the service came on February 1, 1910, when he was made division freight agent at Topeka. The valus of his services put him in order for another promotion, which came on February 15, 1916, when he was made assistant general freight agent.

Mr. Marsh is a Master Mason, a republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church. He owned his home at 111 East Eleventh Street, where he had resided since 1897. On April 20, 1897, he married, in Shawnee County, Miss Mary Engler, who was born in Topeka April 12, 1870, a daughter of Charles and Rose (Vascalda) Engler. Mrs. Marsh belongs to one of the pioneer families of Kansas. Her father was born in Prussia November 24, 1832, came to America in 1848, and from Indiana, where he first settled, moved to Topeka in 1857. Here he built a home at the corner of Fifth and Fillmore streets, but finally moved to his quarter section of land which he had pre-empted just south of the city and where he resided until his death on November 11, 1900. He was a republican and a member of the German Lutheran Church. He was a very successful farmer and stockman. Mrs. Marsh’s mother was born in Belgium January 18, 1845, and was brought to Kansas in the winter of 1853, when her father, Andrew Vascalda, preempted 160 acres of land in Shawnee County about three miles east of the present City of Topeka. He was one of the very first settlers in that locality, and for a time he conducted a ferry over the river. Mr. Marsh’s mother died at the home place south of  Topeka, June 28, 1894. Mr. and Mrs. Marsh have two children: Ruth Catherine, born January 9, 1900, and Benjamin Engler, born December 31, 1901, both in Topeka.



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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