Biography of Lewis J. Lamar

Lewis J. Lamar, present mayor of the Town of McFarland, is a veteran railroad man, though by no means old in point of years of life. He became self supporting at the age of sixteen, and therefore had had an active career much longer than his age would indicate.

Mr. Lamar was born at Nashville, Illinois, July 31, 1879. His grandfather was a Frenchman and on coming to America settled in Pennsylvania, where he married into a family of Pennsylvania Dutch. Lewis J. Lamar’s maternal grandmother was a member of the Hanks family and was a sister of the mother of Abraham Lincoln. Elisha Lamar, father of Lewis J., was born in Spencer County, Indiana, in 1841, and when a boy accompanied his parents to the community of Lincoln, Indiana. He grew up there, and at the age of twenty, in 1861, enlisted in Company E, Forty-ninth Indiana Regiment of Infantry. He was in the Union army 4½ years, and participated in all the engagements of his regiment, including the great battle of Gettysburg. He was at one time on duty as corporal of guard and received a bad wound in the stomach, from which he never entirely recovered. He was mustered out September 18, 1865, at Indianapolis, Indiana. Mr. Lamar became a farmer in Indiana, moved from there to Springfield, Illinois, continuing the vocation of agriculture, and finally located at Nashville, Illinois, where in addition to farming he did contracting for railroads and public works. His death occurred at Nashville in 1902. He was a republican and one of the very active members of the First Baptist Church of Nashville. He married at Troy, Indiana, Miss Nancy Lynch, who was born in that state in 1840, and is now living at Nashville. They had a family of nine children, Mayor Lamar being next to the youngest. Martha, the oldest, is the wife of William McLaughlin, a telegraph operator living at Staples, Louisiana. John was a bridge carpenter on the Air Line Railroad and died at Nashville, Illinois, in 1915. Jane is the wife of William Smith, a farmer and a cooper by trade living at Nashville. Alfred lives at Nashville and is an evangelist. Charles, also a resident of Nashville, does public work. Elijah died at Nashville at the age of fourteen. James, whose home is at Nashville, formerly traveled for an Iowa tool firm but is now in the same business for himself, buying tools direct from the manufacturers and selling them to retailers. Walter, the youngest child, when last heard from was in the service of the United States navy in the Hawahan Islands.

Lewis J. Lamar received his early training in the public schools of Nashville, Illinois. Leaving school at fifteen, he worked six months as a messenger boy for the Western Union Telegraph Company and for another six months carried the mail between the depot and postoffice at Nashville. Like many boys railroading possessed a fascination for him, and his next work was as a freight checker with the Illinois Southern Railroad. After a year he went to braking, but at the end of three months, on account of the strenuous objections of his parents, he had to give up that position, since he was not yet of age. Then followed an experience of eight months as farm worker and after that three months in coal mines. After two years at Brubaker, Illinois, Martel, Nebraska, and Midland, Kansas, with the American Ballast Company, Mr. Lamar realized one of his earlier ambitious when he was made a switchman with the Illinois Central Railway Company and put in seven years at that occupation, part of the time as night yard master at Carbondale, Illinois. For one year he was in the grocery business at Carbondale, and in 1908 was transferred to East St. Louis, where he was switchman three months and then came to Lawrence, Kansas, and had three months’ experience in a furniture store. For another six months he was fireman in the steam plant of the Kansas University at Lawrence, and then resumed railroading with the Rock Island, stationed at McFarland. He began here as switchman and was night yard master three years and had since had charge of the local yards in switching and making up trains, one of the responsible positions in the railroad service.

Mr. Lamar was elected mayor of McFarland in the spring of 1917. He is usually republican but quite independent in politics. He was formerly a deacon of the Methodist Episcopal Church, is a member of Switchmen’s Union No. 82 at Herington, Kansas, and is affiliated with Alma Lodge No. 161, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons. He was formerly a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America and the Ancient Order of United Workmen, and from 1901 until 1907 he held all the offices in the order of Brotherhood of Railroad Trainmen. He owned his residence on Agnes Avenue in McFarland.

In 1898, at Lawrence, Mr. Lamar married Miss Minnie Duncan. Her father, James Duncan, is a resident of Topeka and owned considerable farm and city property. Mr. and Mrs. Lamar have a family of six children: Fern, born in 1899 and still at home; May, who died at the age of two weeks; Helen, born in 1902 and a freshman in the local high school; John, born June 27, 1906; Eugene, born June 29, 1910; and Fred, born August 14, 1914.


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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