Biography of William R. Murrow

William R. Murrow. Kansas, with splendid natural resources and true western energy and progressiveness, has afforded to her native sons the best of opportunities, and it is gratifying to note that the greater percentage of the younger generation representative of pioneer families has had the good judgment to pay unfaltering allegiance to the Sunflower commonwealth and to aid in the furtherance of the civic and material progress and prosperity of the state. In the thriving City of Independence, Montgomery County, such a native son is he whose name initiates this paragraph, and his prominence and influence in the business affairs of this section of the state is indicated fully by his incumbency of the responsible position of the manager of the Kansas Gas & Electric Company.

William Rollins Murrow was born at Ellinwood, Barton County, Kansas, on May 16, 1878, and is a son of William D. D. and Ploma Elizabeth (Lawrence) Murrow, the former of whom was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1845, and the latter of whom was born on the shore of the Bay of Fundy, in Nova Scotia, Canada, in 1854. The father passed the closing years of his life at Ellinwood, Kansas, where he died in 1880, and the widowed mother was a resident of Kansas City, Missouri, at the time of her death, in 1895. The subject of this sketch is the only child of this sterling pioneer couple of Kansas. As a youth William D. D. Murrow lived in the City of Boston, Massachusetts, where he found employment in an establishment devoted to the manufacturing of machinery. He was a resident of that city at the outbreak of the Civil war and though he was but sixteen years of age at the time he promptly tendered his services in defense of the Union, by enlisting in the First Massachusetts Cavalry. With this valiant command he continued in service three years and seven months, and he participated in many of the important engagements that marked the progress of the great conflict. After the close of the war and the reception of his honorable discharge, this gallant young veteran returned to Boston, and there he continued his residence until 1877, when he came to Kansas and established his residence at Ellinwood, where he became the owner and manager of a hotel, the same having been conducted by him until his death. He was a republican in his political proclivities, was a man of sterling character and always commanded the confidence and good will of his fellow men, both he and his wife having been active members of the Baptist Church.

William R. Murrow was but two years of age at the time of his father’s death and his mother later became the wife of Dudley Rhoads. The family removed to Hutchinson, Kansas, and later Mr. Rhoads opened and was proprietor of the Midland Hotel, at Hutchinson, a house that under his able management gained a high reputation and became one of the leading hotels of the West. He is now venerable in years and is living retired in the City of Chicago. The one child of the second marriage is Anna, who is the wife of Ned Roberts, who is a traveling salesman for a wholesale paper house at Columbus, Ohio, and who resides at Granville, that state.

In the public schools of Hutchinson, Kansas, William R. Murrow gained his early education, and after the removal of the family to Kansas City he continued his studies in the high school. In 1893, when about sixteen years of age, he went to the City of Chicago, where he found employment in the electrical operating department of the World’s Columbian Exposition. After the close of the great exposition he was for eight months in the employ of the Edison Illuminating Company of St. Louis, Missouri. He then returned to Kansas City, where for a number of years he was employed as telegraph operator for the board of trade, he having learned the art of telegraphy in St. Louis. Finally he engaged in the electrical construction business in an independent way, with offices in the American Bank Building, Kansas City. He continued to be thus engaged for a period of three years, and in 1903 he returned to Kansas and at Peru, Chautauqua County, erected an electrical power house for the pumping of oil wells, this being the first plant of the kind built for that purpose in the entire United States. After the decline in the price of oil Mr. Murrow sold his power plant and obtained a franchise for an electric-light plant at Cherryvale, Montgomery County. In partnership with H. E. West he completed the construction of this plant, and after they had operated the same eighteen months they sold the plant and business to capitalists residing in Colorado Springs, Colorado. While still operating the electric plant at Cherryvale Mr. Murrow formed a partnership alliance with A. C. Stich, of Independence, and secured a franchise for the installing in this city of an electric-light and power plant. In the enterprise H. E. West and J. Barzen, of Kansas City, became associated, and in 1905 operations were instituted under the corporate title of the Independence Electric Company. The enterprise developed to substantial proportions and in 1911 the controlling company sold the property and business to the Kansas Gas & Electric Company, by which Mr. Murrow has since been retained as general manager of the plants at both Independence and Cherryvale, the latter plant having been purchased after that at Independence had been taken over by the present company. The Kansas Gas & Electric Company has the distinction of being the first in this section of Kansas to employ wireless telegraphy as a commercial agency and its wireless system touches the cities of Independence, Wichita and Pittsburg, Kansas. The official corps of the company is as here noted: President, H. P. Wright, of Kansas City, Missouri; vice president, L. O. Ripley, of Wichita; and secretary and treasurer, Charles E. Smyth, of Wichita. The local offices of the company at Independence are located at 113 South Sixth Street. Mr. Murrow has identified himself fully and loyally with the civic and business life of Independence and is the owner of his attractive home property, at 400 East Locust Street.

In politics Mr. Murrow gives his allegiance to the republican party, and in his home city he is affiliated with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Rotary Club, the Commercial Club and the Country Club. He is also a member of the American Society of Electrical Engineers and of the national electrical organization known as the Jovian Order. In addition to his activities as manager of the Kansas Gas & Electric Company Mr. Murrow is vice president of the Elgin Oil & Gas Company, and one-half owner of the substantial business conducted under the title of the M. & M. Manufacturing Company, this name being given from the surname initials of the two interested principals, Mr. Murrow and Mr. Mark D. Mitchell. This company manufactures oil-well specialties and is also actively concerned in natural gas production.

On the 14th of January, 1905, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Murrow to Miss Tillie N. Barzen, daughter of Jacob Barzen, a well known capitalist of Kansas City and one originally concerned in the organization of the Independence Electric Company, as previously noted. Mr. and Mrs. Murrow have two children: William Templer, who was born January 29, 1909, and Richard Barzen, who was born December 16, 1912.

The genealogy of the Murrow family traces back to stanch English origin and the first American representatives settled in the Dominion of Canada, whence the parents of the subject of this sketch removed to Boston, Massachusetts, when young, their marriage having been solemnized in that city.



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.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Discover more from Access Genealogy

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading

Scroll to Top