Biography of John C. Carpenter, Col.

Col. John C. Carpenter, retired attorney, veteran of the Civil war, Kansas pioneer, ex-state senator, successful business man and public-spirited citizen, had flgured so conspicuously and honorably in connection with the public interests, business activity and substantial development of Neosho County for forty-six years that no history of this locality would be complete without the record of his career. Throughout his entire life he had been looked upon as a model of integrity and honor, one who had always stood as an example of what determination, combined with the highest degree of integrity, can accomplish for a man of natural ability and strength of charactor.

Colonel Carpenter was born at Indiana, the countyseat of Indiana County, Pennsylvania, February 5, 1838, a son of Ephraim and Elizabeth (Shryock) Carpenter, and a member of a family which came originally from England to America during Colonial times and settled in New Hampshire. Ephraim Carpenter was born August 19, 1788, at Sharon, Windsor County, Vermont, and was there reared to young manhood, when he removed to Greensburg, Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania. There he completed his studies and was admitted to the bar, and shortly thereafter moved to Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he continued in the practice of his calling until his retirement. His death occurred June 10, 1860, at Indiana. Mrs. Carpenter, who was born there January 21, 1797, preceded her husband in death, passing away January 24, 1859. They were the parents of the foliowing children: Susan, born July 28, 1821, who married Andrew Hall, a furniture manufacturer, and both are now deceased; Philena, born January 28, 1823, who married William H. Cochran, publisher of the Ohio State Times, of Mount Vernon, Ohio, and both are deeeased; James, born September 24, 1824, who came to Kansas as a pioneer of 1858, engaged in farming in Allen County, and there died; Henry S., born July 12, 1826, who went to California as one of the argonauts of 1849, remained in that state, and died at Downieville, California, March 19, 1897; Ellen, born February 4, 1828, who married Mr. Weller, deceased, and died August 5, 1880, at Milpitas, California, both being buried at San Jose; Eunice, born April 1, 1830, who married Mr. Cooley, a farmer, deceased, and died May 29, 1907, in Allen County Kansas; Austin G., born December 16, 1831, a retired farmer of Olathe, Kansas, who was a lientenant in the Ninth Kansas Cavalry during the Civil war, and in 1879 was elected county treasurer of Johnson County, Kansas, where. he had since made his home; Leonard W., born January 26, 1834, who was a physician and surgeon of Seattle, Washington, and died there in February, 1908, was colonel of the Fourth Ohio Infantry, belonged to the Second Army Corps and is buried in the National Cemetery at Gettyaburg, Pennsylvania; Ephraim, born February 7, 1836, was for some years a land owner and cattle buyer of Dodge City, Kansas, but died at Olathe, Kansas, in December, 1915; Col. John C., of this review; and Mary Elizabeth, born December 28, 1841, who married Mr. Elliott, for forty years, agent for the Pennsylvania Railroad at Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and died at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, December 28, 1901.

John C. Carpenter attended the public schools of Indiana, Pennsylvania, and in 1855 was graduated from an academy at that place. Subsequently he enrolled as a student at Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio, which he attended for one and one-half years, and at the end of that time came to Allen County, Kansas, with his father, and located near Geneva, in 1857, to visit his brother, Austin G. Colonel Caroenter remained in Kansas until the spring of 1859, when he returned to his Pennsylvania home, and at Indiana entered the law office of H. W. Weir, with whom he was studying law when the Civil war broke out. In 1861 he joined Company E, Sixty-seventh Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, of which he was elected lieutenant, and, leaving Philadelphia, went to Annapolis, Maryland, to do patrol duty. From that point the regiment went to the Shenaudoah Valley, where, at the battle of Winchester, June 15, 1863, Lieutenant Carpenter was taken prisoner by the enemy. He was sent to Richmond, where he remained until March, 1864, and, in the meanwhile his commission as captain had been signed. During his stay in Richmond, among seventy-one captains, of which he was one, a ballot was taken to see which two should be executed in retaliation for the execution of Captains Corbett and MeGraw, who had been put to death by order of Gencral Burnsides, on Johnson’s Ialand, after having been caught recruiting in the Union lines in Kentocky. The captains selected were Sawyer, from a New Jersey regiment, and Flynn, from an Indiana regiment, but they were not put to death. In March, 1864, Captain Carpenter returned to Annapolis, Maryland, and then to Washington, D. C., with forty officers from Libby Prison, and reported to the commissary general of prisons, General Hoffman, from whom he secured a leave of absence for thirty days. At the sud of that time he returned to his regiment, and subsequently took part in a number of hotly-contested engagements, winning promotion by his fidelity and gallantry to the rank of colonel of his regiment, which position he held at the close of the war, in June, 1865, when he was mustered out of the service.

At that time Colonal Carpenter returned to Indiana, Pennsyivania, where he completed the reading of law with H. W. Weir, and in April, 1866, was admitted to the bar. In the following month he came to Kansas and located at Erie, Neosho County, where he remained four years in practice. In 1870, as one of the original town company, he laid out, with others, the townsite of New Chicago, at the crossing of the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad and the old L. L. & G. Railroad, the latter now the Santa Fe. This place was subsequently merged with its rival, Tioga, and thus came into being the present prosperous city of Chanute. Thus Colonel Carpenter is entitled to be known as one of the fathers of the city. In later years he laid out eighty acres of land on the north as an addition to the city, and all of this had since been sold with the exception of thirty-five lots, which the Colonel still owned. He is also the owner of a business building on Main Street, betwecn the First National Bank and the Santa Fe Railroad; a residence at No. 419 North Highland Avenue, and an interest in two eighty-acre tracts, one to the south and one to the west of Chanute, in Neosho County. He is a valued member of Neosho Post No. 129, Grand Army of the Republic, of which he is past commander, belongs to the Loyal Legion, and is a thirty-third degree Mason.

Colonel Carpenter continued to be engaged in the practice of his profession at Chanute until 1878, in which year he was appointed collector of internal revenue by President Hayes, an office in which he served until 1888, when President Cleveland was elected. Returning to Channte, he resumed the practice of law, and continued as a practitioner until 1901, when he retired. He is a republican of the old line, and many public honors have been his. In 1868 he was first elected to the Kansas State Senate, was returned to that body in 1876, was again elected in 1900, and in 1902 received his last call to the state capitol. In the republican state convention of 1870 he received thirty-five votes for lieutenant governor; in the convention of 1872 he received thirty-eight votos for governor; in June of that year was a delegate to the national convention of his party; in January, 1874, received two votes in the Senate and one in the House for the United States Senate; and in the same year was temporary chairman of the state convention of republicans at Topeka. On June 29, 1874, Colonel Carpenter was appointed register of the United States Land Office, an office which he declined to accept. He was made chairman of the board of the Kansas World’s Fair Commission, in 1891, and in March, 1902, was tendered by President McKinley the office of United States Commisstoner of Pensions, but declined the honor.

Throughout his career, Colonel Carpenter’s actions have been directed by an inherent honesty, a strict probity, an utter fearlessness, that have gained him the unqualified respect and confidence of all with whom he had been associated in any way. His life had been a long and useful one, and in its evening he may look back over the years that have passed and feel a justiflable content in that he had played an honorable part in the making of one of the greatest states in the Union.


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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