Arthur Capper moved to Topeka from Garnett, Kan., and went to work as a typesetter at the Topeka Daily Capital. He didn't stay in the trenches for long -- by 1893 he was publishing the Topeka Mail & Breeze. He was editor and publisher of the Daily Capital and purchased controlling interest in that newspaper in 1901. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1912, but in his second attempt was victorious, serving from 1915-19 as the first Kansas-born governor. He was sworn in as a U.S. senator in 1919 and served five consecutive terms before retiring in 1949.
During his tenure at the newspaper, his employees made regular rounds in poorer neighborhoods at Christmas with food and toys. When one of that group approached Capper with the concern that some of those children could not run outside to greet these Santa Clauses -- because they could not run -- Capper was moved to start a fund to provide crutches, wheelchairs, braces and other assistance for children crippled by polio. Today his legacy is know as The Capper Foundation Easter Seals and helps children with all kinds of assistive devices and therapies.
He married Florence Crawford, daughter of Kansas' third governor, Samuel Crawford, in 1892. The Crawfords are buried in the same lot.
Cyrus Holliday, 1826-1900; Section 8, Lot 1
Best know as the founder of the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway, Cyrus K. Holliday, was also the first chairman of the Topeka Town Association and served three non-consecutive terms as mayor.
He was active in the free-state movement and a leading voice in efforts to produce a constitution that would get Kansas admitted to the Union as a free state. He served in the territorial legislatures and constitutional conventions during the five years Kansas fought to be free.
Holliday also was in banking and co-founded Merchants National Bank.
Frye Giles, 1819-1898; Section 9, Lot 8
Frye Giles was a member of the original town company and author of a history of the city's formative years: "30 Years in Topeka, 1854-1884." The book chronicles events from the fire that drove the founders from their cabin in December 1854 through the turbulent bleeding Kansas years and the war to a quarter century of growth and progress.
Giles was Topeka's first postmaster and a co-founder of Topeka State Bank and Merchants National Bank.
W.H. Davis, 1857-1942; Section 69, Lot 122
W.H. Davis, mayor of Topeka from 1905-07, was a partner in the Parkhurst-Davis Mercantile Co., a wholesale grocery warehouse. By 1888, he was a millionaire – the only one in Kansas at the time. In 1907, he led a campaign to change the form of government to the commission style. That form of government lasted until the mid-1980s in Topeka. His business interests included the purchase in 1917 of the Coates House in Kansas City, Mo., a top-tier hotel at 10th and Broadway; the purchase price was $350,000.
Guilford G. Gage, 1834-1899, Section 51, Lot 36
Guilford G. Gage came to Topeka in May 1856, ready at the tender age of 22 to start making his mark in the world. He joined the 2nd Kansas and fought in the Battle of the Blue in October 1864 just east of Kansas City, Mo. Fourteen of his company died there, and Gage was captured. In 1895, Gage had the statue of the Civil War soldier erecting in Topeka Cemetery to honor those who fought in the Battle of Blue. After the Civil War, Gage made his mark in bricks, becoming a major supplier for the area. He alsoinvested in real estate and built homes in Shawnee County. He is best-known for donating the 80-acre tract that is Gage Park.
Edward P. McCabe, 1850–1920, Section 19, Lot 4
E.P. McCabe is the only African-American to have been elected to statewide office in Kansas. He later became a leading figure in an effort to stimulate a black migration into Oklahoma Territory, with the hopes of creating a state with a black majority. McCabe founded the city of Langston, Okla., as part of this effort, but actions by white settlers, supported by the tribal population, curbed the movement.
McCabe was a lawyer educated in Chicago. He settled in Nicodemus after coming to Kansas in 1878 and was elected county clerk there. He also spent time in Washington, D.C., lobbying for voting and civil rights for African-Americans.
COL. JOHN RITCHIE, 1817-1887; Section 18, Lot 5
An active participant in the troubles leading up to the Civil War, John Ritchie was for a time a prisoner in Lecompton Prison as a traitor under the laws of the bogus (pro-slavery) legislature. He was a friend and ardent admirer of John Brown, assisting him to escape from an attacking party when he was leaving in Kansas after his last visit. During the war he enlisted as a private in Company A, Fifth Kansas Cavalry (Lane's Guards), and was made captain. Ritchie donated the land upon which Lincoln College -- now Washburn University -- was located in 1865. His home is now part of the Shawnee County Historical Society's headquarters at 1108 SE Monroe in Topeka.
Martha Farnsworth kept a personal diary from 1882 through 1922 that describes her daily activities, an unhappy marriage to an alcoholic, the loss of her only child and widowhood. Her second marriage was happy, and she was active in the suffrage movement, helping Kansas in 1912 to become the seventh state to grant women the right to vote.
Jane Cree Stormont, 1823-1907; Section 42, Lot 35
Jane Cree Stormont in 1895 put up $10,000 to open a hospital dedicated to the care of women. It wasn't long before the doors were opened to all, and Stormont required the hospital care also for those who could not pay.
The Stormont hospital was later merged with Christ's Hospital, which had been started by Bishop Thomas and Ellen Vail (Section 18), and that partnership has grown to become today's Stormont-Vail HealthCare network.
Henry Worrall, 1825-1902; Section 15, Lot 5
A self-taught artist, Worrall's depictions of life in Kansas, described as “journalism in pictures,” became regular features in eastern journals including Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.
Worrall also played guitar and instructed music students. He enjoyed cultivating grapes and raised a large vineyard at his Topeka home. Worrall was a prolific musician; having composed guitar and banjo music that would lay down the foundations for country and blues music in the early 20th century. Worrall's most famous work in wood, the Kansas state seal, was exhibited at the Centennial Exposition.
The Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway hired Worrall to write articles to encourage immigration to Kansas. Worrall created crayon portraits of members of the state supreme court and an oil portrait of Gov. Thomas Andrew Osborn. The artist died June 20, 1902, in Topeka.
Source: Kansas State Historical Society
Brig. Gen. Norman F. Ramsey, 1882-1963, Section 82
Norman Foster Ramsey was two months shy of his 16th birthday when he and a buddy decided to leave high school and join the 20th Kansas fighting in the Philippines. That was in 1898. When he returned after eight months, he finished his courses at Topeka High School.
A commission to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point put Ramsey back in uniform in 1901, and he was elected president of his 1905 graduating class. It was peacetime, so from there Ramsey went to work in ordnance – the division of the Army responsible for making sure everything from bullets to bombs were where they needed to be when they needed to be.
Ramsey became an expert in the field of technical explosives. The bulk of his career was spent managing the huge arsenal at Rock Island, Ill., which at more than 17 acres, is the largest such facility in the world.
Ramsey finally retired from the Army in November 1945 at the age of 63 after 46 years in uniform. He is buried in Topeka Cemetery in the family plot of his wife’s father, J.G. Bauer, a prominent Topeka hardware store owner. The general’s wife, Mina Bauer Ramsey, studied math at the University of Chicago and earned a professorship at the University of Kansas. Their son, Norman Foster Ramsey Jr., was a Nobel Laureate in physics in 1989.
Sen. Edmund G. Ross
In Section 2 of Topeka Cemetery lies Flynt Ross, 4-year-old son of Edmund G. Ross, the U.S. senator whose one vote ended the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.
Ross was Gov. Sam Crawford’s choice as replacement for Sen. Jim Lane, who committed suicide in 1866 after being vilified for his support of Johnson. The Radical Republicans saw Ross as one of their own and forged ahead on the impeachment of President Johnson. They needed 36 votes to convict, and there were 42 Republicans in the Senate. Six had said they would not vote guilty, and 35 stuck with the party line, but Ross would not commit.
To the barrage from Kansas demanding he vote against Johnson, Ross replied: “I have taken an oath to do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws, and trust that I shall have the courage to vote according to the dictates of my judgment and for the highest good of the country.”
In Ross’ words: “I almost literally looked down into my open grave. Friendships, position, fortune, everything that makes life desirable to an ambitious man were about to be swept away by the breath of my mouth, perhaps forever.”
He served out his term, then packed the rest of his family and moved to New Mexico, where he later was appointed governor. He had left Kansas behind, for good.