Biography of Charles O. Tallman

Charles O. Tallman, one of the leading business men of Fort Scott, is a son of the late Thomas W. Tallman, whose career reflects much of the history of Fort Scott and Bourbon County from pioneer times until the present century.

Bourbon County never had a more forceful character nor a man of greater popularity, than the late Thomas W. Tallman. He was born in Burlington County, New Jersey, October 25, 1826, and was eighty-nine years of age when he passed away December 27, 1915. His parents were Woodmanse and Elizabeth (Read) Tallman, also natives of New Jersey. Woodmanse Tallman’s father was Thomas Tallman, an Englishman, who came to America and was a man of large means. He had a large family of sons and when Woodmanse Tallman received his inheritance he moved out to Logan County, Ohio, settling on a farm, where he continued prosperous and successful and reared eleven children. The late Thomas W. Tallman was the fifth of these eleven sons, and was five years of age when his parents moved to Logan County. His early life was spent in that pioneer district, and he attended one of the subscription schools held there. He grew up on a farm but at the age of eighteen became a trader, buying and selling horses and also conducting a livery stable, and he spent much of his time at West Liberty and Bellefontaine. At Bellefontaine he met and in October, 1855, married Catherine Austin.

In the spring of 1856 Thomas W. Tallman made his first trip out to Kansas. There were no railroads at that time and from Kansas City he and five other men drove a team and wagon to Fort Scott. Fort Scott was then important mainly as the seat of the land office and as a military post. His first view of Fort Scott was obtained April 20, 1857, and soon afterward he bought 160-acre claim on the east side of the old town. He filed on this claim and proved it up. He bought other land, and on his claim he erected one of the best log houses then seen in that entire country. The following year he brought his family from Ohio. They journeyed by railroad to the terminus at Jeffcrson City, Missouri, and from there they came with wagon and team to Fort Scott. Thomas W. Tallman was one of the pioneer farmers of Bourbon County, and his enterprise enabled him to develop one of the best farms in the county in early years. He had hardly become well established when the border troubles broke out, and for eight or nine years his home was more or less constantly in danger. He often did guard duty at Fort Scott, and he kept his family in the city much of the time. When he first arrived at Fort Scott there were not more than 200 people in the town, and most of them lived within the boundaries of the old fort.

In the course of time his farm land became more valuable for other purposes than raising crops, and the eastern portion of the present city is built upon the land once owned by Thomas W. Tallman. When the Kansas City, Fort Scott & Gulf Railroad came through the company bought 100 acres of the Tallman Estate for the purposes of yards and roundhouse, and subsequently other portions of the land were laid out in city lots.

Soon after he became a resident of Fort Scott the territorial governor appointed him one of the county commissioners to lay off Bourbon County into townships, and he filled that office three years. He was elected in 1878 to the State Legislature and served two terms. He was always an ardent democrat and though living in a strongly republican district, his personal popularity and the confidence reposed in him by his fellow citizens, gave him official honors without regard to partisan questions. While in the Legislature he was one of the few democrats who voted for submitting the questions of state wide prohibition to the people and then and always he labored consistently and energetically on behalf of the prohibition cause. Thomas W. Tallman was the first democrat who was ever elected to the office of sheriff in Bourbon County, and he filled that office with characteristic efficiency for four years. There were any number of stanch republicans in Bourbon County who would never fail to give their vote for Tom Tallman.

In 1890 Mr. Tallman bought the Chicago Lumber Company, which had been established in 1887 during the boom days in Fort Scott. He acquired this business largely to give his sons a business start, and was only to a slight extent identified with its management personally. Thomas W. Tallman was a charter member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, in the lodge organized at Fort Scott in 1858, and at the time of his death was the last of the original charter members. His wife died May 26, 1900, at the age of seventy-four. Five children were born to their marriage, and the following paragraphs contain some individual reference to these different children.

Emma, the oldest, who died at Fort Scott, married William M. Davis, and her only surviving daughter Catherine is now the wife of Rev. J. H. Gross, a Presbyterian minister, and they reside in Marietta, Ohio.

Frank A. Tallman, who was born in Bourbon County, January 1, 1859, was educated in the country schools and in the schools of Fort Scott, and his first business experience was in association with his brother Charles in the commission business at Salt Lake City, Utah, where they remained two years. After selling out his interests in Salt Lake he spent several years in the commission business at Helena and Butte, Montana, and then returned to Fort Scott to take charge of the lumber business previously acquired by his father. Since Thomas W. Tallman’s death his sons Frank and Charles have continued the lumber business, and it is now the largest concern of its kind in the city. Frank Tallman married Mrs. Sarah (Stevenson) Baker. Politically he is a democrat.

Charles O. Tallman, who was born in Bourbon County November 20, 1860, was educated in the local schools and in the old Kansas Normal School, and began his career as a fireman on the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Gulf Railroad. He was promoted to freight and then to passenger engineer, and he had for several years a run on the old Memphis and Missouri Pacific System between Fort Scott and Topeka. For seven years he continued railroading, and then resigned to enter the commission business at Salt Lake City with his brother Frank. Later he was manager of the Capital Hotel at Boise, Idaho, for two years, and also spent some time in Seattle, Washington, and Portland, Oregon. Since his return to Fort Scott he has had an active share as a partner with his brother Frank in the lumber business. Mr. Charles O. Tallman is also a director of the Citizens National Bank, a position which his father held for many years. He is an active democrat, served two years as city treasurer, two years in the city council, and in 1915 was elected a city commissioner.

On November 17, 1899, at Fort Scott Charles O. Tallman married Miss Lcota Noel of Bourbon County. Her father Eli Noel, who was born in Indiana, settled near Uniontown in Bourbon County and was a farmer there until some years ago and is now manufacturer of the Noel automobile at Kansas City, Missouri. Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tallman have two sons: Thomas Noel Tallman and Harry Tallman.

Elizabeth L. Tallman, the fourth child of Thomas L. Tallman, died after her marriage to George E. Ware of Fort Scott, and left three children, Ida, Thomas and Mary Ware.

Fannie Tallman, the fifth child, who died in 1900, was the wife of John H. Crain, a well known attorney of Fort Scott. They had three children: Helen E. Crain born April 26, 1891; John Tallman Crain born March 4, 1892; and Margaret E. Crain, born May 3, 1890, and now the wife of Roy S. Johnson of Newkirk, Oklahoma.



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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