Biography of William Acker

William Acker has for many years been prominently known in Marshall County, at first as a teacher and educator, afterwards as a farmer and stock raiser, and in connection with various public interests and affairs. Mr. Acker is vice president of the State Bank of Vermillion and is one of the leading blooded stock raisers in that community.

He is a native of Kansas and was born in Seneca March 19, 1862. He was left an orphan almost in infancy, and was adopted and reared by the late D. W. Acker, whose family name he took. His own family name was Spencer. His father, John Spencer, was born in Indiana and was a Kansas pioneer, locating in Seneca in 1856. For some years he ran a stage line between Leavenworth and Seneca. His death occurred as a result of an accident near Leavenworth in 1865. The Spencer family is of very early Colonial American stock and settled in Massachusetta along about the time of the Mayflower pilgrims. John Spencer married Julia Smith, who was born in New York State in 1840 and died in Seneca in 1862, soon after the birth of her only child, William. Julia Smith was a sister of Mrs. Mary V. Lyon and H. E. Smith, well known pioneers of Nemaha County, and who later removed to Santa Ans, California.

D. W. Acker, foster father of William Acker, was born in New York State in 1826. He was one of the prominent free state men in early Kansas Territory, locating in Sumner, near Atchison, in 1854. By trade he was a brick maker and he had the distinction of manufacturing the first brick in Sumner, probably the first in Kansas, and also made the first briek ever made at Atchison. From brick burned in his kiln he erected the first brick building in the City of Atchison. For a few years he was a resident of Atchison, and as an old timer became associated with such prominent citizens of Kansas as J. J. Ingalls, Jim Lane, Governor Harvey and others. In 1860 he removed to Nemaha County, Kansas, and engaged in brick making and farming. In 1866 he removed to a farm near Vermillion and subsequently was a brick manufacturer at Seneca. His death occurred on his farm near Vermillion in 1902. He was a republican and had played a very active part in the events by which Kansas was made a free state. He was at one time a conductor on the “underground” railway. He had a part in the border wars, and as a member of the Kansas militia helped repel Price’s army from Kansas. He served as city clerk and justice of the peace at Seneca and filled other local offices, and in Masonry was grand lecturer of the State of Kansas at the time of his last illness. He was one of the best known Masons in the entire state. D. W. Acker married Nancy Jane Kinney, who was born in New York State in 1831 and died at Vermillion, Kansas, in 1908. They had no children except their foster child, William Acker.

William Acker was educated in the public schools of Marshall County and is also a graudate of the Kansas Normal College at Paola. Until twenty years of age he lived with his adopted parents, but at the age of sixteen had begun teaching in Marshall County. For ten years most of his time was spent in the school room. Since then he had been occupied with stock raising and farming and had been one of the leading buyers and shippers of cattle out of Marshall. He had a fine stock farm adjoining Vermillion on the east. Mr. Acker makes a specialty of Hereford cattle and Poland China hogs. Besides his substantial country home, where he resided, he owned a garage in Vermillion and also a store building in that city.

Mr. Acker was superintendent of schools of Marshall County during 1888-90. He had held various township offices in Noble Township and had been a director of the public schools. He is a republican and is identified with Vermillion Lodges of Masons and Odd Fellows. He is a Scottish Rite Mason. Mr. Acker married in 1887 at Wymore, Nebraska, Miss Ella. C. Sheridan, for many years a successful teacher in Marshall County, and a daughter of W. D. and Melinda Sheridan. Her parents are both now deceased. Her father was a farmer and an early settler in Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Acker have no children.



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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