Biography of Leonard R. Manley

The value of a useful trade, of making one’s energy count toward one thing, of forging steadily ahead, regardless of obstaeles and discouragements, finds emphatic expression in the life of Leonard R. Manley, president and manager of the Topeka Pure Milk Company, the largest concern dealing exclusively in milk in the State of Kansas. When Mr. Manley first came to Topeka, it was in a humble capacity, but he was a thorough master of his trade, and possessed the ambition, energy and ability to better and elevate himself, so that he had shapod his abilities to his needs, had made the most of his opportunities, and had finally taken his place among the leading business men of his adopted city.

Mr. Manley was born at Nortonville, Jefferson County, Kansas, September 29, 1873, one of the five children born to George F. and Anna (Reed) Manley, natives respectively of Indiana and Missouri. His paternal grandfather was Garlington B. Manley, a native of Indiana, who took his family to Kansas in 1860 and located in Coffey County on a farm. The activities of the border ruffians in the period of the first year of the Civil war, however, caused him to give up his new home and moved, in 1862 to Leavenworth County, where he resided until 1885. In the latter year he went to Jefferson County, and there continued to reside until his death in 1892, The grandfather was a man of many sterling traits of character, was an industrious and successful farmer, and a citizen who was active in the affairs of his community. He was a democrat in his political views and helped to elect Grover Cleveland for the second time. While a good and patriotic citizen, he had an intense feeling against war, and would not allow any of his sons to enlist for service.

George F. Manley spent his boyhood and youth on his father’s Indiana farm and secured his education in the district schools of the Hoosier State. He was a young man when he came to Kansas with his parents, living first in Coffey County, later in Leavenworth County, subsequently in Jefferson County, where the greater part of his active life was passed. Like his father, he devoted his activities to agricultural pursuits and accumulated a good property, which he cultivated until his wife became ill and he removed to Colorado Springs. After four years in Colorado, Mrs. Manley died, April 25, 1906. She was born in Missouri, a daughter of Addison Reed, a native of Virginia, who moved to Independence, Missouri, in young manhood, there engaging in his trade of wagon-making, a vocation in which he made many of the conveyances that traveled in the freight trains over the old trails. After the death of his wife, George F. Manley returned to Topeka and retired from active affairs. He is a member of the Knights and Ladies of Security and of the Modern Woodmen of America and belonge also to the First Methodist Church, in the work of which he takes an active part. As a citizen who contributes to the welfare of his community and its people, he is held in high esteem, and his sterling qualities of mind and heart have attracted to him a wide circle of sincere friends.

Leonard R. Manley was educated in the district schools south of Meriden, in Jefferson County, and later was a student at the Kansas Agricultural College, at Manhattan, which he attended for two years, although he did not graduate. He was ambitious and anxious to start upon an independent career, and left college to aecept a position in the creamery business. While at college he had made a particular study of this branch of agriculture, and this knowledge enabled him to take charge or a small plant, at Council Grove, Kansas, but after one year this business was dissolved and Mr. Manley came to Topeka. Here he secured a position as buttermaker in the Nissley Creamery Company’s plant, a concern which grew rapidly, and in which Mr. Manley won rapid promotion. The business grew to such an extent that in 1903 a reorganization was effected by J. F. Nissley, D. Grazier, J. B. Sims, George Noble and L. R. Manley, Mr. Noble being made president. In 1907, Judge Whitcomb was elected to the presideney and Mr. Manley was advanced to manager and these officials held the same positions until 1915, when the offices of president and manager were combined and Mr. Manley was chosen to fill the position of chief executive, which he had since occupied. It will thus be seen that Mr. Manley is the arehiteet of his own fortunes and that he had builded well. Fidelity, energy and natural ability. have combined to form his success; which had come about through no happy circumstance, but which is the just reward of continued and unfailing effort. When Mr. Manley assumed the management of the concern, in 1907, it was doing a business of approximately $50,000 annually; in 1915 its business amounted to $250,000, and the plant had been enlarged until it is the largest of its kind in the state. This plant is modern in every respect, with up-to-date equipment, a light, airy establishment where sanitary conditions prevail. The output of this company had won a high reputation throughout the state, and much of the credit for this state of affairs must be given to the enterprising and energetic president manager.

Mr. Manley is a Blue Lodge Mason and a member of the Commercial Club of Topeka, the Co-operative Club and the Young Men’s Christian Association. He is a republican but not an office seeker. He had given his support to movements for the advancement of education, religion and charity, and joins other public-spirited citizens in civic movements.

On February 17, 1899, at Topeka, Mr. Manley was married to Miss Cora B. Neibarger, who was born at Mascoutah, Wisconsin, and they are the parents of two children: Vivian and Preston, the former of whom is attending Washburn College, while the latter is a pupil in the public schools. Mr. and Mrs. Manley and their children are members of the First Methodist Church, and Mrs. Manley is an active worker in church movements and devotes a great deal of time to charitable and benevolent enterprises.


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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