Biography of Charles Sumner Risdon

Charles Sumner Risdon. Among the men who have lent dignity to the educator’s profession in Kansas, Charles Sumner Risdon is deserving of more than passing mention. Throughout his career he has been a resident of the Sunflower State, and from the time of his earliest ambitions for a career as an educator until he realized the attainment of his goal, he attended the educational institutions of the state. His standing in his profession was recognized in 1901, when he was appointed superintendent of schools of Independence, and this office he has filled so capably, that there has been no thought of a change.

Mr. Risdon was born on a farm in Clay County, Kansas, January 3, 1874, and is a son of J. T. W. and Mary Catherine (Rumple) Risdon. The family is an old and honored one in this country, the original ancestor having come to America from Wales and settled in Vermont during colonial days. David Risdon, the grandfather of Charles S. Risdon, was born in the Green Mountain State, from whence he migrated as a young man to the Western Reserve, his death occurring in Ohio when his son, J. T. W. Risdon, was still a child. J. T. W. Risdon was born March 5, 1835, at Tiffin, Ohio, and after the death of his father was taken to Iowa. There he was educated and reared, and after his marriage, in 1873, came to Kansas and settled at Clay Center, Clay County. He was a pioneer farmer and stockraiser of that community, an honorable and industrious man, and through a long career of faithful labor gained a handsome and valuable property. In politics Mr. Risdon was a republican, but he has never cared for public life, preferring to devote himself without interruption to the duties of his farm and his home. He was married in Iowa to Miss Mary Catherine Rumple, who was born in Ohio, December 11, 1842, and was taken by her parents when she was ten years of age to Iowa. Mr. and Mrs. Risdon became the parents of the following children: W. W., who is state mining inspector for New Mexico, with headquarters at Albuquerque; W. M., who had been engaged in farming and stockraising in the vicinity of Jetmore, Hodgeman County, Kansas, until his death at the age of forty-seven years; Dora, who became the wife of M. C. Porter, M. D., and resides in Topeka, where Doctor Porter is a prominent surgeon; Mary, who is the widow of the late R. M. Losey, a farmer of Clay County, and now resides at Clay Center, Kansas; Gertha, who is the wife of Clem Tolbert, engaged in the commercial business at Los Angeles, California; Charles Sumner, of this notice; and Dr. J. W., who is a well known physician and surgeon of Leavenworth, Kansas. The mother of these children still survives and makes her home at Independence, at the residence of her son, Charles Sumner.

Charles S. Risdon received his early education in the district schools of Clay County, Kansas, and remained on his father’s farm until he reached the age of eighteen years. In the meantime he secured an education that enabled him to obtain a teacher’s certificate, and in 1893 and 1894 he taught in the schools of his neighborhood during the winter months, while assisting his father in the work of the homestead in the summer seasons. Previous to this, in the school year 1892-93, he had taken a course at the Kansas State Normal School, located at Emporia. In 1895, to further himself for his chosen work, Mr. Risdon entered the Salina Normal University, from which he was graduated in August, with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, and in 1901 he was honored by the degree of Master of Arts from this same university. In 1898 and 1899 and again in 1900 and 1901, he acted in the capacity of principal of the high school at Thayer, Kansas, and his efficient work while there attracted such favorable attention that he was appointed superintendent of schools of Independence, a position which he has retained to the present time. In this capacity Mr. Risdon has under his superintendency five schools, fifty-four teachers and 2,000 scholars, and has succeeded in building up the school system here so that it is second to none in any city of the same size in the state.

In the line of his profession, Superintendent Risdon is a member of the National Educational Association, which he joined in 1900; the Montgomery County Teachers Association; and the Kansas State Teachers Association, being a director of the last-named and its president in 1908. He is also a member of the District Teachers Association, and was representative of the Third Congressional District for the Kansas State Teachers Association for a period of four years. His offices are maintained in the Washington School Building. A stanch republican, he has never aspired to any political honors, although always active in matters of public polity, and is an earnest and consistent advocate of temperance and other civic and social virtues. His activity, however, in politics and like affairs, is tactful and considerate, and has never been regarded as “offensive partisanship.” Superintendent Risdon’s religious affiliation is with the Presbyterian Church. He belongs to Fortitude Lodge No. 107, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of which he is past master; the Modern Woodmen of America, Thayer Camp; and Lodge No. 17, Ancient Order of United Workmen, of Independence, while his connection with club life includes membership in the Commercial and Rotary clubs of Independence.

Mr. Risdon was married at Omaha, Nebraska, in 1898, to Miss Myrtle May Starr, daughter of J. C. and Wilhelmina Starr, the latter of whom now resides at Scott City, Kansas. Mr. Starr, a former well known newspaper man and politician, is now deceased. Three children have been born to Professor and Mrs. Risdon, namely: Myrtle Anita, who is a sophomore in the high school at Long Beach, California; and Mary Catherine and Wilhelmina Christine, who are in the second grade of the public school there. The family home at Independence is the scene of many social events.



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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