Biography of Warren Knaus

Warren Knaus has two distinctions among the citizens of Kansas. For over thirty years he had been an editor and newspaper publisher at McPherson and is now one of the oldest newspaper men in continuous service in the state. His other claim to distinction is one more exclusive and recognized chiefly in scientific circles, but his work had brought him some of the rewards paid to scientific scholarship granted by bodies of world membership. He is one of the chief authorities in Kansas on entomology.

A resident of Kansas since 1870, Mr. Knaus was twelve years of age when the family came from Indiana to this state. He was born February 24, 1858, near Liber in Jay County, Indiana. He was the youngest son of six children born to George and Isabel Knaus. The Knaus family originated in Germany, the first of the name coming to this country in 1742 and settling in Berks County, Pensylvania. Branches of the family also resided in Lancaster County, from which place Mr. Knaus’ grandfather moved to Tuscarawas County, Ohio, locating in the early part of the nineteenth century at Zoar, near Trenton. About 1840 George Knaus moved to Mercer County, Ohio, on the Indiana line. He married Isabel Scott and they made their home at Liber, near Portland, the county seat of Jay County, Indiana, and also near Fort Recovery in Mercer County, Ohio. In the fall of 1870 the family migrated to Southeast Kansas, locating in October of that year near Buffalo in Wilson County.

As a youth Warren Knaus had chiefly the advantages of the country schools and the wholesome discipline of the home farm. When eighteen years of age he began teaching in Wilson County. In 1879 he entered the State Agricultural College at Manhattan and completed the four years’ course in three years, graduating with the degree of Bachelor of Science. After three years the same institution gave him his Master’s degree. Mr. Knaus in the meantime had two other years of experience in school work, but in 1885 began his newspaper career on the Salina Weekly Herald. October 1, 1886, he established the Weekly Democrat in McPherson, Kansas, and had published that substantial and influential organ continuously now for over thirty years.

Personally he reflects and stands for the same brand of politics advocated by his paper. He had always been deeply interested in the public welfare of McPherson city and county, and for twenty-five years was either chairman or secretary of the Democratic County Central Committee and for the past four years had been chairman of the Democratic Congressional Committee of the eighth district. During President Cleveland’s second term Mr. Knaus served as postmaster of McPherson for a term of four years.

Mr. Knaus had a family consisting of three daughters. He was married in 1892 to Miss Jennie E. Coburn, who died February 17, 1917. Her father was a pioneer of Saline County.

As a boy Mr. Knaus distinguished himself among his playfellows in the country by an inordinate fondness for insects. While others were content to recognize insects only as inoffensive or destructive pests, he took a great joy in finding out many facts concerning the traits and habits and individual characteristics of the creatures popularly known as bugs. Since taking his college course Mr. Knaus had more and more applied himself to the study of entomology. His specialty is Coleoptera or beetles. At the present time he had a collection of about 8,000 species of North American beetles, with approximately 50,000 specimens in his collection. He had collected all over the Central West, and many species of beetles have been named in his honor. Mr. Knaus is in constant correspondence with leading collectors and workers in beetles in the United States and is also a correspondent with a number of leading entomologists of Europe. All his time outside of business duties is devoted to his specialty in entomology. For a number of years he had identified and arranged collections in Coleoptera for private collectors and for different state universities and agricultural colleges. He keeps in close touch with the advanced work in economic entomology, receives all the entomological publications of the United States Government, and is a subscriber to all the entomological publications in the United States. He had himself been a contributor for many years to the entomological literature of the Kansas Academy of Science, the Entomological News, the Brooklyn Entomological Society, etc. Mr. Knaus had one of the largest private entomological libraries in the West, and had one of the best half dozen private collections of Coleoptera in the entire country.

In order to keep his collection of Coleoptera intact and that it may be used by students in this suborder in the future, Mr. Knaus had donated his entire collection of beetles to the State Agricultural College at Manhattan, and his collection will be kept separate and will be known as the “Warren Knaus Collection.” Mr. Knaus had gone over the entire collection and brought it up to date in arrangement and nomenclature and housed it in uniform museum boxes suitable for easy study of the contents. These boxes will be kept in steel cases. The collection had been accepted by the college and a vote of thanks tendered by the administrative board for the donation.

Mr. Knaus is a life member of the Kansas Academy of Science, a corresponding member of the Washington Entomological Society, of the New York Entomological Society and the Entomological Society of Ontario, Canada. He also is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Fellowship in this association is awarded for original and meritorious work in some line of natural science.



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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