Biography of W. W. Kaney

W. W. Kaney. In the career of W. W. Kaney, of Chanute, there is found an excellent illustration of the rewards that may be attained through industry and perseverance, for his had been a life in which achievements have been self gained and in which outside assistance had played no part. With but an indifferent education he started out in the world to make his own way when he was but a lad, and had steadfastly worked his way to a position of prominence as one of the leading oil producers of this part of Kansas.

Mr. Kaney was born June 4, 1867, near Cuba, Cattaraugus County, New York, on an Indian reservation of 160 acres, and is a son of William and Mary (Dunkin) Kancy. His grandfather was Seraphim Kaney, who was born in Germany and came to the United States in young manhood, locating in Pennsylvania, where he passed the remainder of his life in agricultural pursuits, and died on his farm 2½ miles from Saltsburg, that state, in 1870. William Kaney was born in 1836, at Tarentum, Pennsylvania, and was there reared and received a public school education, and when still a young man went to Cattaraugus County, New York, where he was married. He was one of the pioneers of the oil industry in the United States, having drilled the third well ever sunk for oil in this country, and followed the drilling of wells in New York, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Alabama, Governor’s Island, New York, and in Bohemia and Hungary, Europe. The entire active period of his career was devoted to the same line of business, but he is now retired and lives at Saltsburg, Pennsylvania, where he had a comfortable home. Mr. Kaney is a member of the Masonic fraternity. During the Civil war he enlisted in a Pennsylvania volunteer infantry regiment, with which he served for eleven months, taking part in several engagements and in the siege of Vicksburg. He married Mary Dunkin, who was born near Cuba, Cattaraugus County, New York, in 1846, and died at Titusville, Pennsylvania, in 1894, and they became the parents of three children, namely: W. W., of this review; Harry, who is a constructing engineer of electrical and power plants for the Westinghouse Electric Company, at Staten Island, New York; and Susie, who is the wife of Bert White, a traveling salesman with headquarters on a farm in Michigan.

W. W. Kaney received his education in the public schools of Titusville, Pennsylvania, which he left at the age of thirteen years. While this completed his school training, through observation and reading he had accumulated a vast store of worth-while knowledge, so that he is today a well-educated man. In his youth he was ambitious and industrious, anxious to get out among the world’s workers, and when only thirteen years of age left home and since that time had made his own way. His first employment was in a barrel factory, where, for long hours, he was paid a wage of 70 cents a day. He held this position until the barrel factory was destroyed by fire, when he entered upon a career in which he had since won prominence and success. His first connection with the oil business was a pumper of wells, for which hard labor he received $15 per month, but as he was only fifteen years old at the time, he considered his earnings good. From that position he rapidly rose to others, and remained in the Pennsylvania fields until 1892, when he went to Europe, and for twenty-two months was in Bohemia and Hungary, where he worked by the month. Returning to America in the fall of 1893, he drilled in Indiana and Ohio, and in January, 1896, took up his residence in Kansas, where his fortune awaited him. His first location here was with the Kansas Division of the Forest Oil Company, at Neodesha, and he continued with this concern until he began contracting on his own account in 1898, in which year he came to Chanute. Mr. Kaney continued contract drilling until 1912, and since that time had been a producer. He had twenty-seven oil wells producing and eleven gas wells between the Kansas, Missouri & Texas Railroad and the Neosho River, east of Chanute. This lease of over 1,200 acres, all proven, is the nearest field to Chanute of any of the gas and oil producing properties. He had also leases west of Chanute and to the north, in Allen County, and is known as one of the most thoroughly informed oil men in this part of the country. As a business man Mr. Kaney had always been held in high esteem by his associates, by reason of the straightforward manner in which he had conducted his affairs.

Mr. Kaney’s present residence at No. 602 West Main Street, is a modern home, and is made interesting and attractive by a fine yard, exceptionally well kept, in which he had a long series of cement tanks, in which he grows lilies and breeds goldfish. Here he had sixteen varieties of pond lilies, both the tender and hardy, the night and day bloomers, a rare and interesting collection that had been viewed with much interest by botanists from all over the country. He also breeds a new species of goldfish, a cross between the Ribbontail and the Japanese Fringe-tail. Here he raises also the Egyptian lotus and the water hyacinth, the latter known as “the million dollar weed” because the United States Government spent in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 in trying to rid the St. John’s River of this flower. Mr. Kaney had from 100 to 200 pond lily blossoms per day from May until the frost kills them.

Mr. Kaney is independent in politics and had never cared for public life. He is a life member of Chanute Lodge No. 806, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mr. Kaney always gives his support to measures calculated to aid the community, and is a friend of education and religious movements.

In 1887, at Perry, New York, Mr. Kaney was married to Miss Jennie L. Hack, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Adam Hack, the former of whom is a retired tinsmith of Perry, New York, while the latter is deceased. To Mr. and Mrs. Kaney there had been born one daughter: Laura May, a graduate of the Chanute High School and an expert bookkeeper, who resided with her parents.



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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