Biography of Robert Pugh

One of the valuable acquisitions to the citizenship of Shawnee County was made about the close of the Civil war when Robert Pugh came to Kansas and became one of the pioneer homesteadors in Topeka and Tecumseh Township. During his active lifetime Robert Pugh developed a splendid estate as a farmer, and the qualities of his enterpriss descended to his only son living, Burton H. Pugh, who for many years had been one of the leading factors in the potato industry of the Kaw Valley.

A native of Preble County, Ohio, Robert Pugh was born January 26. 1830, a son of Merritt Pugh. When a child his family removed to a farm in Cass County, Indiana, where he grew up. Such education as he acquired was from the district schools. In Cass County, Indiana, Robert Pugh married Susan Troutman. In 1865 they removed to Kansas, and Mr. Pugh bought 240 acres in the northeastern corner of Topeka Township and the southeastern corner of Tecumseh Township in Shawnee County. At that time the land was almost entirely unimproved. That was the stage of Robert Pugh’s subsequent labors, and in time he had his land developed into one of the most productive farms in the state. His death occurred in May, 1898. His widow, Mrs. Pugh, is still living and resided on the old farm with the only survivor of their four children, Burton Homer Pugh. The late Mr. Pugh was an active member of the Methodist Church. In politics he was a stanch republican, and he was a very well read man.

Born on the farm where he now resided, February 2, 1871, Burton H. Pugh is a Kansan by birthright and is extremely loyal to his native state. His father being a farmer of ample means, he received an unusually broad and liberal education. From the district schools he entered the state agricultural college at Manhattan, where he was graduated in 1892. Later he attended the Kansas State University, taking a course in sociology, and spent one year at Howard College.

About the time he was ready to take up the responsibilities of life on his own account an interesting change had taken place in the agrieultural industry of the Kaw Valley. Up to that time the cereal crops had been in high favor, but with the introduction of potatoes it was rapidly proved that this valley could grow better and larger quantities of that tuber than almost any other section in the country. Thus in 1894 Mr. Pugh departed from the general routine of farming and gave practically his entire attention to the potato crop. In 1908 he organized a corporation to manufacture potato machinery, known as the Pugh Manufacturing Company. Mr. Pugh was the inventor of the machinery manufactured by this company and his patents covered a potato digger, planter, sorter, cutter and a digger and elevator combined. Later the factory was sold and the business was transferred to Leonardsville, New York.

Mr. Pugh is an active republican. He is a member of the Saturday Night Club of Topeka. By a former marriage he is the father of a son Paul, who was born October 18, 1894. His present wife before her marriage was Miss Belle Welch, daughter of R. B. Welch. Both Mr. and Mrs. Pugh are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church.


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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