Biography of George Washington Kanavel

George Washington Kanavel, a pioneer of Harvey County, had been a prominent business man and for a number of years served the State of Kansas in positions where his integrity and financial training made him valuable.

He was born on a farm in Holmes County, Ohio, January 27, 1844, a son of Thomas and Mahala (Helm) Kanavel. His father was born in Ohio in 1815 and his mother in 1820. Thomas Kanavel was a carpenter by trade and died in Ohio in 1876, while his wife passed away in 1893.

George W. Kanavel, one of eight children, grew up in Coshocton County, Ohio, and had a public school education. At the age of seventeen, in November, 1861, he enlisted in Company F of the 88th Ohio Infantry, and served throughout the war as a private and non-commissioned officer. He was present as a gallant soldier on seventeen battlefields, including Iuka, Corinth, Jackson, Champion’s Hill, Missionary Ridge, siege of Vicksburg, the campaign from Chattanooga to Atlanta, and the march from Atlanta to the sea. With the close of the war he served an apprenticeship at the trade of shoemaker in his home community in Ohio. He gave up this occupation and in 1872 arrived in Kansas, taking up a homestead in Harvey County. In 1873 he entered the Methodist ministry, and for eight years carried the responsibilities of this work in addition to the management of his farm. Mr. Kanavel became president of the Sedgwick State Bank in 1882, and in the spring of 1885 he organized the bank at Riverside, California, and served as its first president for three years. His home for many years had been at Sedgwick.

By appointment from Governor W. F. Stanley he served more than six years as a member of the State Board of Charities and in 1906 was elected to the State Board of Railroad Commissioners and filled that office with signal ability for six years, part of the time as chairman of the board. In 1916 he was elected on the republican ticket to represent Henry and McPherson counties in the Kansas State Senate, in which body he served on nine important committees. He is a republican, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and a Scottish Rite Mason.

August 27, 1868, George W. Kanavel married Miss Mary A. Paugh, of Muskingum County, Ohio, who died at Sedgwick, Kansas, in 1917. They became the parents of three sons, Edwin J., Allen B. and Thomas M. Edwin J. studied medicine, but is now in business at Sedgwick as proprietor of a lumber yard on Commercial Avenue. The son Allen B. Kanavel had gained high distinction in the medical profession, with home at Chicago. He graduated from Northwestern University of Chicago in 1896, pursued his studies and researches abroad and for a number of years had been connected with the Medical School of Northwestern University at Chicago as instructor of surgery, instructor of clinical surgery, assistant professor of surgery, and is also attending surgeon to the Wesley and Cook County hospitals. He is widely known as an author and contributing author to various publications on medicine and surgery.



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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