Biography of Fred G. Palmer

Fred G. Palmer was chiefly responsible for the establishment and upbuilding of one of the leading industries of Kansas City, Kansas. This is the Kaw Boiler Works Company.

Like many other concerns that now wield a large influence in a city’s industrial life this business started on a small scale. Mr. Palmer was associated with exmayor T. B. Gilbert in organizing the business in 1905. They started making boilers and other equipment of that class in a rented building. The partnership was continued by these two men for six years. In 1911 the Kaw Boiler Works Company was organized and incorporated, with Mr. Palmer as president; H. H. Jadwin, vice president; E. L. Hudson, secretary and treasurer; George E. Way, assistant treasurer; and Howard E. Ward, superintendent. All these gentlemen are stockholders and directors in the company. The business began with a capital stock of $30,000, and in 1916 it was increased to $150,000 an increase which is a graphic measure of the rapid growth of the company. They now have the largest plant of its kind in the State of Kansas. While they have the facilities for the manufacture of all classes of boiler work, the company specializes in the manufacture of tanks, boilers, and other equipment for oil refineries. This branch of the business had been highly developed as a result of the wonderful expansion of the oil fields in Kansas and Oklahoma, and nearly all their equipment goes to those fields. Every one of the officers in the company is an expert in his particular line, and it is a working organization with an efficiency hard to match. The general offices of the company are at 1101 Waldenheim Building in Kansas City, Missouri. About 150 men are employed in the plant, and thus the payroll constitutes an important asset in the industrial prosperity of Kansas City, Kansas.

Mr. Fred G. Palmer was born in Springfield, Illinois, December 20, 1869, a son of Edwin E. and Mary A. (Prescott) Palmer. Both parents were natives of England, the father coming to America when young and the mother with her parents. The respective families located near Mount Vernon, Ohio, where Edwin E. Palmer and wife were married. Later they moved to Wisconsin, and from there went to Springfield, Illinois. During the war Edwin E. Palmer was employed as a machinist and boiler maker in the building of gun boats at Carondelet near St. Louis. While the family lived at Springfield, Illinois, they came to know Abraham Lincoln personally. Mr. Fred G. Palmer’s uncle William Prescott, who now lives at La Mesa, California, was an old time lawyer of Springfield, Illinois, at one time was associated with Lincoln in practice, served as captain of a company in the Civil war and also made a record as a judge.

Edwin E. Palmer was engaged in the boiler making trade at Springfield until 1883, in which year he sought larger opportunities at Kansas City, Kansas. He bought a small plant in Missouri, but in 1886, while building a gasometer in Salina, Kansas, the scaffold broke and precipitated him to death. His widow is still living, making her home with a daughter, Mrs. C. M. Waldo in Kansas City, Kansas. The other children are Mr. Frank Palmer of St. Louis, and George W. Palmer of Kansas City, Kansas.

Fred G. Palmer grew up and received most of his early training in Springfield and Kansas City, Kansas. After leaving school he learned the boiler trade and worked at it as a journeyman for a number of years. At the beginning of Governor Stanley’s administration he was appointed assistant engineer of the State Penitentiary at Lansing, and held that office for six years. He then came to Kansas City, Kansas, and entered into partnership with Mr. Gilbert which in the past ten years had grown to the splendid industry now know as the Kaw Boiler Works.

On June 20, 1901, Mr. Palmer married Miss Elizabeth Churchill, daughter of Levi Churchill, a prominent citizen of Leavenworth, who was active in politics and at one time served as sheriff of that county. Mr. and Mrs. Palmer have one son, Glenn Howard, who was six years of age in 1916 and had entered school. Mr. Palmer had always been identified with the republican party, though not as a seeker for public offices. He is affiliated with the Elks and with the Modern Woodmen of America. Mrs. Palmer is a member of the Baptist Church.



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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