Biography of William Lanyon

William Lanyon. More than any other the name Lanyon is distinctive of the zinc industry in Southeastern Kansas, particularly at Pittsburg. The Lanyon family had been prominent in this particular industry for several generations. To a large degree the importance of Pittsburg as a zinc manufacturing center is due to the enterprise of the Lanyons who came to this part of Kansas more than thirty years ago from their original home in Southern Wisconsin, where they had operated extensive mining and manufacturing industries.

Though he was one of the earliest of the family to take an active part in the zinc industry in Southeastern Kansas, Mr. William Lanyon gave up many of his interests in that field some years ago, and is now best known as a banker and leading citizen. He is vice president of the National Bank of Pittsburg and is now serving as mayor of the city.

He was born at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, December 26, 1862. His father William Lanyon was a native of England, where he was born in 1830. Six years after his birth his parents came to the United States and finally settled in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. He grew up there, married, and was first engaged in the grain business. Coming to Pittsburg, Kansas, in 1882, he was a pioneer in the development of the coal fields and the operation of the zinc industry, and was closely associated with those phases of the city’s growth and development. However, he always kept his home at Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he died in June, 1908. He was a republican, a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and belonged to the Masons and the Ancient Order of United Workmen. William Lanyon, Sr., married Miss Maria Thomas, who was born in Mineral Point, Wisconsin, in 1837 and died there in 1914. Their children were: William; Ella, wife of Henry Vanghn, a broker in New York City; Myrtle, wife of J. A. Meserole, a retired druggist of Mineral Point; Colonel, who resides at Iola, Kansas, and was formerly closely identified with the Iola State Bank; Daisy is the wife of Thornton Posey, who is a buyer for the American Tobacco Company and lives in New York State.

William Lanyon received his early education in the public schools of Mineral Point, Wisconsin, graduating from the high school in 1882. In the fall of the same year he arrived in Pittsburg, and thence-forward was closely identified with the great Lanyon zinc smelters until 1908. The Lanyon Company also had zinc works at Iola. Several years ago these industries were sold to the United Zinc Company. Mr. Lanyon then built a zinc plant at Neodesha, Kansas, but finally sold that. He is still treasurer of the Pittsburg Zinc Company. After retiring from the zinc business largely he returned to Pittsburg and bought an interest in the National Bank of Pittsburg, of which he is now vice president.

Politically he is a republican. He served eight years altogether as member of the city council and as city commissioner. In April, 1915, he was elected mayor and is handling the affairs of the city in a very progressive and enlightened manner. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal Church, to Pittsburg Lodge No. 187, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Pittsburg Chapter No. 58, Royal Arch Masons, Pittsburg Commandery No. 29, Knights Templar, Mirza Temple of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at Pittsburg, and to Valley of Wichita Consistory No. 1 of the Scottish Rite. Everything connected with Pittsburg’s welfare finds a ready and generous supporter in Mr. Lanyon. He has been a working member of the Chamber of Commerce and the Retailers Association, and also belongs to the Country Club and the Kansas Bankers Association.

In 1883 at Mineral Point, his native town, he married Miss Amelia Spratley, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A. J. Spratley. Her father, who was a merchant, is now deceased and her mother still lives in Mineral Point. Mr. and Mrs. Lanyon have four children: Roy, who is employed in the zinc business at Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Lynnett is the wife of A. C. Ellsworth, who operates a steam shovel in the mines about Pittsburg; Wilma is a graduate of the Pittsburg High School and is now attending the Belmont Seminary for Young Women at Nashville, Tennessee; Helen is a senior in the Pittsburg High School.



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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