Biography of James J. Corkill

James J. Corkill, general superintendent of the Beatrice Creamery Company of Topeka, has spent most of his life in Kansas, and besides his present business connections he has a record of honorable service as a soldier, having been a member of the famous Twentieth Kansas Regiment in the Philippines, and afterwards serving two years with the Thirty-sixth Infantry in those islands.

He was born on the Isle of Man, England, in 1877, but came to America in 1889. His parents were William and Matilda (Kneale) Corkill. His maternal grandfather was J. H. Kneale, whose family were English and came out of Lancashire. William and Matilda Corkill spent their last years in Kansas and the former died in 1914 and the latter in 1912 at Topeka. William Corkill was a man of high moral character, and an exemplary citizen. He and his wife were the parents of five daughters and three sons: William H., Catherine Matilda, Charles Frederick, Eleanor E., Alice Rebecca, Edith Arabelle, Emily Anna and James J. William H. is a contractor and builder at Cleveland, Ohio. Catherine is the wife of Howard Griggs, a prosperous farmer at Maple Hill, Kansas. Federick for the past nine years has been connected with the Beatrice Creamery Company and resides at 119 Tyler Street. Alice is Mrs. W. E. Johnston, whose husband for a number of years was a stone contractor at Dover in Shawnee County, but is now a contractor at Stewart, Florida. Eleanor E. is the wife of John T. Barnes, a farmer in Arkansas. Emily is the widow of Mr. James A May and resides with her brother Frederick in Topeka. Edith is the wife of John T. Reed, their home being at Jacksonville, Florida.

James J. Corkill had his early advantages in the public schools of the Isle of Man. He came to this country at the age of twelve years and went to live temporarily with his uncle and aunt, John and Elizabeth Corkill at Dover in Shawnee County, Kansas, his parents later purchasing farm property at Dover. He continued his education at Dover, afterwards entered the Topeka High School, and from there became a student of Baker University.

His first experience after completing his education was in the freight department of the Santa Fe Railway.

In the spring of 1898 Mr. Corkill enlisted and became a member of the Twentieth Kansas Regiment, recruited under Col. Fred Funston. In the summer of that year his regiment embarked from San Francisco for the Philippines, and Mr. Corkill was soon promoted to sergeant of Company E. The record of the Twentieth Kansas in the Philippines is thoroughly familiar to Kansas people. Mr. Corkill fought in the first important engagement in which the regiment was employed, at Caloocan in the Island of Luzon, and participated in various skirmishes, later in the battle of Calumpit, following which there was almost continuous skirmishing until they captured the insurgent capital of Malolos, and ended the campaign by taking San Fernando. After fifteen months of almost continuous fighting the Twentieth Kansas returned to the United States. In the meantime James Corkill obtained his honorable discharge from the regiment while in Luzon, and enlisted in the Thirty-sixth Regiment of Infantry commanded by Colonel Bell, now General Bell. Thus Mr. Corkill had two years of further experience against the Philippine insurgents and in guard duty before he was given his honorable discharge and permitted to return to the United States.

In 1903 he entered the service of the Continental Creamery Company of Topeka. Reference to this great organization is made elsewhere. Showing ability and responsibility Mr. Corkill was promoted from time to time until 1908, when he became general superintendent of the greatest creamery plant in the world. The Beatrice Creamery Company has shipped at a single time as much as a train load of butter by express. It has had contracts to supply practically the entire United States Navy with butter. Mr. Corkill says that the Beatrice Creamery Company products are now used daily on every continent in the world, and shipments go from the various plants to fully one half the countries of the earth, either directly or indirectly.

Mr. Corkill was married in 1908 to Miss Jessie B. Klein. The Klein family were pioneers in Coffey County, Kansas, where they settled more than half a century ago. Their original home was in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Mrs. Corkill’s father was George A. Klein, who when a young man made a trip to Colorado and on returning while in Western Kansas was stricken with the fever and died. The Kleins are well and favorably known in Coffey County.



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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