Biography of William Allen Piniston

William Allen Piniston. Among the farmers of Shawnee County the results of whose operations render a good account of their husbandry, is William Allen Peniston, the ownor of a well-cultivated property located near North Topeka, where he had been a resident since 1888. A member of the publicspirited, progressive class, he had aided his community while advancing his own interests, and although not an office seeker or public figure as a politician, had wielded some influence in the locality in which he had made his home for so many years.

Mr. Peniston was born in 1856, in Pike County, Ohio, where the family was well and favorably known for nearly a century. Joseph Peniston, his grandfather, located in that region in early territorial days, or long before the county was named in honor of Col. Zebulon Montgomery Pike, who passed through the neighborhood about 1805 while on his way to Pike’s Peak, Colorado. Joseph Peniston was a farmer by vocation and took up a claim in the new country, where he developed a good farm from the wilderness and lived to see the community grow and prosper as a fertile agricultural region. George Peniston, son of the pioneer and father of William A. Peniston, was born in Pike County, in 1800, and, like his father, was a farmer. He was a man highly esteemed in his community, achieved considerable local reputation, was justice of the peace for a number of years, and took a great interest and active part in the Ohio State Militia, in which he was advanced to the rank of assistant adjutant-general. Through a life of industry and honorable dealing he accumulated a satisfying property and at the time of his death was one of the well-to-do men of his part of the county. When about twenty-one years of age he was united in marriage with Amanda Cowgill, a native of Virginia, and a member of a family of Southern sympathizers, of English extraction. Ten children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Peniston, namely: Mary Jane, who became Mrs. Wheaton, of Greenfield, Ohio; Nancy J., who married Mr. Wilson, a cousin of President Woodrow Wilson, and died in Pike County about 1875; Julia, who died in infancy; William Allen, of this review; Eliza, who is Mrs. Long, of Summitt Hill, Ross County, Ohio; Harriet E., who is Mrs. A. Addy, of Meridan, Jefferson County, Kansas; Georgiana, who is Mrs. Hill, of Wilmington, Ohio; Flora G., who is Mrs. Darling, of Springfield, Ohio; Virginia, who was Mrs. Smith of Greenfield, Ohio, and died in 1901; and Isaac, who died in infancy.

William Allen Peniston was named in honor of one of Ohio’s most distinguished citizens, Governor William Allen, who was a neighbor and who was greatly respected and esteemed by the Peniston family. Mr. Peniston grew up on the home farm in Pike County, and his boyhood was passed amid the stirring times of the Civil war, and in a locality visited by the famous raider Morgan. He can relate many incidents connected with the excursions of this intrepid Confederate, one in particular being the killing of McDougal. This Ohio man had been impressed as a guide for Morgan’s men, but at the first opportunity made a dash for liberty and fled to the Scioto River, where he found a boat. His former captors soon caught up to him and demanded his return, but McDougal defied them to shoot him and he was at once killed by a volley. In spite of such occurrences as this, Mr. Peniston states that Morgan’s men frightened more than they hurt, and declares that Hobson’s followers were much more extravagant and always demanded more horses and provisions than did the Southerner.

Mr. Peniston secured his education in the public schools and grew up as do most Ohio farmers’ sons, and on reaching manhood adopted that vocation for himself. He was married in 1879 to Miss Elda Ault, of Ross County, Ohio, a member of a family of Pennsylvania-Dutch extraction, and to this union there have been born a son and a daughter: Ervin Ellis, who died in infancy; and Flora E., who is the wife of C. A. Burton and lives on a farm near Ozawkie, Jefferson County, Kansas. Emanuel Ault, the father of Mrs. Peniston, came West at a very early day and in 1869 settled near Kansas City, but soon thereafter moved to near Olathe, Johnson County, Kansas, finally, in 1887, taking up his residence at Valley Falls, Jefferson County, Kansas. He married Elizabeth Ortman, of Ross County, Ohio, and they had five sons and three daughters: Lyman, who was a Union soldier, and lost his life on the battlefield of Chattanooga; Mary C., who is Mrs. Long and lives at Rock Creek, Jefferson County, Kansas; J. W., who died in 1906 in Colorado; Addison, who died in that state in 1915; Austin, who died in Johnson County, September 27, 1881; Mrs. Peniston; Fletcher Ault, who resided in Wasbington State; and Sarah E. Kerr, of Valley Falls, Kansas.

Four years after his marriage, William A. Peniston came to Kansas, settling. in Shawnee County. Here he had continued to make his home ever since and had prospered in his operations, through his own efforts. His present property is located 1 1/2 miles west of the Boys’ Industrial School, at North Topeka. Throughout his career Mr. Peniston had followed modern methods and had made a study of his vocation, in this way getting the best results from his labors. He had been fair and honorable in his dealings with his fellow-men and his reputation in business circles is of the best, while as a useful and helpful citizen he is also held in high esteem.



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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