Bigraphy of Herbert A. Rowland

Herbert A. Rowland, of McPherson, is one of the most widely known civil engineers of Central Kansas. He had served nearly twenty years as county surveyor of McPherson County, is city engineer of McPherson City, but his work in laying out and supervising municipal improvements is not confined to one locality. He had been consulting engineer for half a dozen or more of the larger towns in that section of the state.

Mr. Rowland belongs to the pioneer element of Kansas. He was born in a dugout on a claim in Saline County April 2, 1869. His parents were Joseph W. and Sarah Jane (Chamberlain) Rowland. His father, a son of William Rowland, a native of Washington County, Ohio, was also born in that county, October 28, 1840. He had just reached the years of manhood when the war broke out. He enlisted in Company I of the Sixty-second Ohio Volunteer Infantry and served until the close of the struggle. He was in the Army of the Potomac, the Army of the South and the Army of the James, and among the many important battles in which he participated were Bull Run, Deep Bottom, Wilderness, Winchester and in the closing scenes at Appomattox. In all the risks and dangers he incurred he was wounded only once, and then slightly, and was never taken prisoner. He was promoted to sergeant. With the close of the war he returned to Washington County, Ohio, and was engaged in farming there until he removed to Kansas in 1868. He reached Salina in October of that year, and was practically without funds or property. He located a homestead on section 2 in Smoky Hill Township, in what was then Saline County, now in McPherson County. That homestead he had occupied now for nearly fifty years and is still living there. He was one of the men who participated in the organization of McPherson County in 1872 and is honored as one of the very oldest settlers of this section. He is a member of James B. McPherson Post, Grand Army of the Republic, at McPherson. Joseph W. Rowland was married at Marietta, Ohio, May 26, 1868, to Miss Sarah Jane Chamberlain. Her father, John D. Chamberlain, was a native of Massachusetts, a veteran of the War of 1812 and a pioneer of Ohio. A civil engineer by profession, he was employed by the United States Government in making some of the line surveys in the Western Reserve of Ohio. Mrs. Joseph W. Rowland was born in Washington County, Ohio, June 14, 1840, and died at Lindsborg, Kansas, November 11, 1914. She was a member of the Lutheran Church. Her four children, two sons and two daughters, were as follows: Herbert A.; Dell, who was born on her father’s homestead June 18, 1872, is a graduate of Bethany College at Lindsborg in the normal department, taught school for a number of years, and in 1911 married John Henry, and they are now farming in McPherson County and have two children, June and Leonard; Elsie, born October 28, 1879, was educated in Bethany College at Lindsborg, taught in McPherson County and was killed in a railway wreck near Pueblo, Colorado, August 4, 1904; Fred, born January 11, 1882, also had the advantages of Bethany College, was married in 1905 to Ebba Norling, and he died at Pueblo, Colorado, February 15, 1911.

Herbert A. Rowland grew up in the country, attended rural schools, and completed his education at Lindsborg College. For several years he taught school in McPherson and Reno counties, and in the vacation periods did farming and stock raising. As a boy he showed the talents and inclinations for the profession which he had followed and he qualified himself for the work of civil engineer by much practical experience and study. In 1897 he was elected county surveyor of McPherson County, and is now serving in his tenth consecutive term. He was elected as a republican and had always been active in that party. Mr. Rowland had served for sixteen years as city engineer of McPherson. In the course of this service he had laid out nearly all the sewers and paving work done in McPherson. As consulting engineer he had been employed in connection with important municipal undertakings at Great Bend, Larned, Marion, Wellington, Lindsborg, Marquette and Council Grove. In those towns he had planned a number of extensive city improvements.

Mr. Rowland is a member of the Kansas Engineering Society and the American League of Municipal Improvements. He belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America and the Congregational Church. On April 26, 1905, at McPherson, he married Miss Jessie L. Hill, daughter of John W. Hill. Her father was born in New York State, was a soldier during the Civil war and was one of the prominent founders of the City of McPherson. He was a member of the original townsite company and of the Ashtabula Colony, and his homestead adjoined the town on the north. He took an active part in local affairs and for many years served as justice of the peace. He was widely known as Squire Hill. He died in 1895.

Mrs. Rowland was born at Ashtabula, Ohio, July 2, 1869, but was reared from childhood in McPherson County and was educated in Bethany College, in the State Normal School at Emporia and in the Emerson School of Expression at Boston, Massachusetts. Several years prior to her marriage she taught at McPherson. In 1912 Mrs. Rowland was elected a member of the city school board of McPherson, one of the few women of Kansas to hold such an honor in a city office. She is one of the active club women in this section of the state and had served as secretary and president of the Eighth District of Kansas Federation of Women’s Clubs. Mr. and Mrs. Rowland are prominent in the First Congregational Church, and have served as teachers in the Sunday-school. Mr. and Mrs. Rowland have no children of their own, and have adopted a son, Gilbert McKellar, who was born in Amsterdam, New York, September 23, 1905.


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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