Duke A. Rogers. In preparing a review of the prominent men of Kansas whose lives have been devoted to persistent effort, and who by energy and ability of a high order have risen to places of business distinction, the record of Duke A. Rogers, oil and gas producer of Caney, is found to be one that compels more than passing attention. Mr. Rogers is one who essentially belongs to the men of action of Kansas, and, that he has not overlooked his opportunities, is clearly shown in what he has accomplished. He is prominently identified with the business and financial interests of the state, and few men are better informed upon a variety of business subjects or more highly esteemed by their associates. His success has been the logical result of the natural unfolding and development of his native powers; and close application, indefatigable energy and constant determination have constituted the foundation of his achievements.
Mr. Rogers was born at Springhill, Johnson County, Kansas, November 29, 1871, and is a son of J. C. and Mary C. (Parkins) Rogers. He belongs to a family of Scotch-Irish origin, the American progenitor of which came to the shores of this country during colonial days and settled in the vicinity of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Mr. Rogers has Revolutionary ancestors on both sides of the femily, among them being Gen. Nathaniel Greene.
Robert H. Rogers, the grandfather of Duke A. Rogers, was born in Pennsylvania in 1811, and died in 1889 at Kansas City (then known as Wyandotte), Kansas. He was reared in Pennsylvania and was a pioneer in Davenport and Le Claire, Iowa, where he became one of the most prominent business men of his day. He belonged to the firm of Davenport & Rogers, which established a large sawmill, conducted a line of boats and carried on an extensive banking business, in addition to building a large marine dry dock. He was a republican in political matters, and an active member of the Presbyterian Church. Mr. Rogers married Miss Mary Jane Caldwell, who was born in Kentucky, the daughter of slave holding planters. She died at Kansas City, Kansas, at the age of eighty-three years, having been the mother of the following children: Jennie, an extensive farm owner in the vicinity of Dee Moines, Iowa, and the widow of the late Mr. Day, who was a wealthy real estate owner and farmer; William A., a retired resident of Kansas City, Kansas, who, until the time of his retirement, was the oldest live stock commission merchant in the Kansas City Live Stock Exchange, being No. 1 on the list of members of that body; J. C.; Adelaide, who is unmarried and resides at Kansas City, Missouri; and A. Harry, a resident of Joplin, Missouri, and one of the most promnient and influential business men of Southwest Missouri. A. Harry Rogers is president, manager and treasurer, as well as controlling stockholder in the Southwest Missouri Electric Railway; controlling stockholder in the Joplin Globe; controlling stockholder in the Interstate Wholesale Grocery Company, which he organized; a director and large stockholder in the Joplin National Bank; and has large real estate and mining interests.
One of the prominent pioneer business men of Kansas was the late J. C. Rogers, whose death occurred at Wamego, this state, in March, 1913. A resident of Wamego for more than thirty-six years and prominently identified with the business interests of that place for an equal period, he is recalled as one of the builders of his community’s prosperity, a man whose ripened judgment and starling traits of character benefited every enterprise with which he was connected. He was born in September, 1848, at Davenport, Iowa, and was there reared and educated, also attending the schools of Le Claire for a time. In 1864 he enlisted in the Union army for 100 days’ service in the Civil war, but soon contracted army fever, from which he nearly died, and accordingly was honorably discharged. After the war he went to Council Bluffs, Iowa, where he was married, and in 1869 removed to Springhill, Kansas, where he located as a pioneer business man. After erecting a mill and placing it upon a paying basis, Mr. Rogers embarked in the business of stock dealing, and in this connection secured a good start in life through the shipment to Armour & Company of a trainload of live stock. He subsequently became the proprietor of a lumber yard and acquired possession of large tracts of farm land, and became so prominent in his community that he was elected one of the first mayors of Springhill, and one of the best it had before or since. In 1876 Mr. Rogers disposed of his property in that locality and moved with his family to Wamego, which he foresaw was to become one of the live and prosperous commercial centers of this part of the state. There he established what was at that time the only bank in the counties of Pottawattomie and Wabaunsee; subsequently opened up a hardware and implement business, and then engaged in the lumber business. During the first year this pioneer merchant did $95,000 worth of business in implements, hardware and lumber, and later contributed materially to the building development of the town by the erection of a number of residences and buildings, a line in which he later engaged in Kansas City. Mr. J. C. Rogers was also a charter member, a director of and a stockholder in the old National Bank of Commerce, now the Southwest National of Kansas City, and was also one of the original directors of the Inter-State National Bank of Kansas City. He likewise had extensive banking interests in California. Throughout his career, Mr. Rogers was ever willing to assist his fellow-men to success. While at Springhill he helped many of the merchants and farmers to overcome their reverses after the grasshopper plague of 1871, and on many occasions asked for no security, but seldom lost anything through his philanthropy. He also helped his city in the way of contributing to its improvements, and was finally elected mayor of Wamego, a position in which he was able to do much in the way of civic improvement and betterment. Mr. Rogers was a republican of the old school, was a member of the Masonic fraternity, and attended the Presbyterian Church. Like many men of large affairs, Mr. Rogers entertained broad ideas of benevolence, in large measure regarding himself as steward of his wealth, and in his generous contributions to both public and private enterprises, displayed the discrimination and good judgment which marked the man of humane impulses governed by practical business sagacity. He made an impress upon the history of his community and is justly remembered among its men of worth.
J. C. Rogers married Mary C. Parkins, who was born at Nottingham, England, in July, 1851, and who still survives her husband and resides at Wamego, Kansas. She was two years of age when she came to the United States with her parents, the family locating finally at Le Claire, Iowa. Her father was a building contractor who handled many large Government contracts, and among other structures he erected the Government Arsenal, at Rock Island, Illinois, and the State Insane Asylum at Fort Madison, Wisconsin. The children born to J. C. and Mary C. (Parkins) Rogers were as follows: Duke A., of this notice; William A., who is engaged in the moving picture show business at Wamego, Kansas, where he is also engaged in handling the affairs of his father’s large estate; Walter, who is a partner of his brother, William A., and looks after their interests in the bill posting business, for which they have the concession in the counties of Pottawattomie and Wanbansee; Genevieve, who resides with her mother; Isabelle, also living with her mother; Effie, who died at the age of 3½ years; and James C., who died in infancy.
After attending the public schools of Wamego, Duke A. Rogers entered Shattuck Military School, at Faribault, Minnesota, where he had a brilliant career. He was one of the editors of the school paper, was popular among his fellow students, had excellent marks in all his studies, and when he graduated in 1892 was senior cadet officer, with the rank of captain. His company received first prize as the best drilled company in the school, and was given a mark of 99 in a competitive drill, judged by three army officers. After leaving the military school, Mr. Rogers engaged in railroading for six months, a venture which nearly cost him his life, as, while working on the Union Pacific, he was in a head-on collision which took place at Munsey, Kansas, where he barely cleared the piled up debris of locomotives and cars. In 1897 he went to Chicago, where he was with the Chicago House Wreeking Company for six months, and then returned to Wamego and took over the hardware business of J. C. Bogers & Company, which he conducted with great success for ten years. In 1908 Mr. Rogers made his entrance into the oil and gas business, at Longton, Kansas. He raised the funds in New York City with which to purchase the old Superior Refining Company’s plant and all their lease holdings, as well as the old Caney plant. The company was then reorganized as the Kan-o-tex Refining Company, of which Mr. Rogers continued as vice president and manager for four years. On selling out his interests therein, he engaged in the oil producing business on his own account, and since then has followed the oil fields at Independence and Caney, Kansas, and Morris, Okmulgee and Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, and has producing wells in oil and gas at all these places, at present holding a controlling interest in ten wells and a large number of proven acres. He also owns four gas wells in the vicinity of Independence, near the Country Club. Mr. Rogers also is the owner of a fine home on East Taylor Street, Caney, a farm of 100 acres at Independence with its gas production, and other properties, and is largely interested in his father’s estate at Wamego.
Mr. Rogers has always taken a deep interest in his community’s welfare, never hesitating to advocate or oppose any measure or project which in his judgment has merited indorsement or opposition. He represents a high type of citizenship and is regarded as one of the leading business men of Caney, occupying as he does a high position in commercial and social circles. A progressive in politics, he has never sought public office, for the desire for public preferment has never been one of the family traits, but when he was only twenty-one years of age he served as a member of the Wamego City Council. Fraternally, Mr. Rogers belongs to Wamego Lodge, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, and to Cancy Lodge No. 1815, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.
Mr. Rogers was married in 1896, at Wamego, Kansas, to Miss Florence Ames, daughter of John and Nellie Ames, who live at Wamego. Mr. Ames is one of the oldest hotel proprietors now in the state, being still in harness at the age of eighty years. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Rogers: Muriel, born January 31, 1900, at Wamego, and now attending Saint Mary’s Hall Seminary, where she is taking an academic course and specializing in vocal and instrumental music; and John C., born December 13, 1905, at Wamego, and now attending the Caney public schools.