History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - Starts With "G"



William Gay (18??-1856) Shawnee and Wyandot Indian agent in 1856, Gay became a victim of the pro-slavery partisans during the Kansas-Missouri Border War. On June 21, 1856, accompanied by his son, he started to Westport, Missouri, and when about two miles from there, he was met by three men. One of them offered him a drink, and in the course of the conversation Gay was asked whether he was for or against slavery. He replied that he was from Michigan, but this indirect answer did not satisfy his inquisitor, who repeated the question. Gay then replied that he was in favor of making Kansas a free state. No sooner were the words out of his mouth, when he shot several times and fatally wounded. His  son was also wounded, but managed to make his escape. It was thought by some that robbery was really the motive for Gay's murder, the perpetrators of the deed hoping to find on his person the key to the safe in which the agency money was kept. If they found the key they were afraid to attempt to use it because of the storm of indignation aroused by the murder.


John White GearyJohn White Geary (1819-1873) - The third Territorial Governor of Kansas, Geary was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania on December 30, 1819. His early education was acquired under the instruction of his father, who conducted an academy. He then entered Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1841. The death of his father about this time made it necessary for him to contribute to the support of his widowed mother and his siblings. He clerked in a store in Pittsburgh for a time, taught school, and finally took up the work of a civil engineer.  He followed this occupation in Pennsylvania and Kentucky until the breaking out of the war with Mexico, when he raised a company known as the "American Highlanders," which became a part of the Second Pennsylvania Infantry, of which he was made lieutenant-colonel. His regiment was attached to the army of General Scott, and for his gallantry at the Belen Gate in Mexico City, Geary was promoted to the rank of colonel. After the capture of the Mexican capitol he was placed in charge of the city as commandant. The discovery of gold in California lured him to the Pacific Coast, and on January 22, 1849, he was appointed postmaster of San Francisco by President John Tyler. After a few months of  service he was removed by President Taylor, and was then elected by the citizens to the office of First Alcalde of the City. He was also elected the first mayor of San Francisco under the charter of 1850. In 1852, he returned to Pennsylvania on a visit, but while there his wife died, and he never returned to California. On July 31, 1856, he was appointed Governor of Kansas. He resigned on March 12, 1857, and like Governor Andrew Reeder, left the territory at night to escape assassination at the hands of members of his own political party.


He then returned to Pennsylvania, where he lived quietly on his farm until commencement of the Civil War in 1861. Upon the first call for volunteers, he raised the Twenty-eighth Pennsylvania Infantry and was commissioned colonel of the regiment. Subsequently, he was promoted to brigadier and still later to major-general. During the Atlanta Campaign and the famous march to the sea he commanded the "White Star" division of the Twentieth Army Corps, and on December 22, 1864, was appointed by General Sherman military governor of Savannah. In 1866 he was elected governor of Pennsylvania, and at the close of his term was re-elected. Governor Geary died at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania on February 8, 1873, eighteen days after the expiration of his second term as governor. His work in Kansas did much to break the power of the pro-slavery party and contributed materially to the admission of Kansas as a free state. Geary County was named in his honor.

Fry W. GilesFry W. Giles (1819-1898) - One of the founders of Topeka, Giles was born at Littleton, New Hampshire in 1819. In the fall of 1854, he left New England for Kansas and on December 4th, arrived at the place where Topeka would soon stand. He was secretary of the association that laid out the city, and it is said that it was Giles who gave the name to the new town. In March, 1855 he was appointed postmaster, the first to serve in that capacity in Topeka. During the early settlement of the county he kept a private record of real estate transfers, which was later made the legal records of Shawnee County by an act of the legislature. In 1857, he was elected county recorder and clerk, and in 1864 he opened the first bank in Topeka. Two years later ,he took a partner and the business was conducted for some time under the firm name of F. W. Giles & Co. When the Topeka National Bank was founded he became its first president. Giles was the author of a work entitled Thirty Years in Topeka, which was published in 1886. In this work, he related many interesting incidents that otherwise might have been forgotten. He died on June 9, 1898.

George W. GlickGeorge W. Glick (1827-1911) - The ninth governor of Kansas after the state was admitted into the Union, Glick was born at Greencastle, Ohio on July 4, 1827, a son of Isaac and Mary (Sanders) Glick. When Glick was about five years old he moved with his parents to Sandusky County, Ohio, where his father acquired extensive farming interests and became a citizen of prominence, having been elected treasurer of the county three times in succession. Here, Glick attended public schools. His ambition was to be a lawyer and soon after leaving school, he entered the office of Buckland & Hayes at Lower Sandusky (now Fremont), where he studied for two years. He was admitted to the bar in 1850, began to practice at Fremont, and soon won distinction as a lawyer. A firm believer in the principles advocated by the Democratic Party, he cast his political lot with that organization and in 1858 was nominated for Congress, but declined the honor. The same year he made the race for state senator against Ralph P. Buckland, one of his earlier instructors, and although defeated, led his ticket by nearly 2,000 votes. About a year before this campaign he had been appointed colonel of the Second Regiment and Judge-Advocate of the Seventeenth Division of the Ohio militia by Governor Salmon P. Chase. On December 7. 1907, he was elected first vice-president of the Kansas Historical Society.



On September 17, 1857, Glick married to Elizabeth Ryder at at Massillon, Ohio and the couple would eventually have two children. In the fall of 1858, Glick came to Kansas, settling at Atchison, where he formed a partnership with Alfred G. Otis, which association lasted for fifteen years. At the election of December 6, 1859 -- the first election under the Wyandotte Constitution -- he was the Democratic candidate for judge of the Second Judicial District; was a member of the legislature from 1863 to 1868; was the Democratic candidate for governor in 1868, but was defeated by James M. Harvey; was elected to the legislature again in 1875 and also in 1880; served as Speaker Pro Tem in the session of 1876; and in 1882 was nominated and elected governor, being the only candidate on the Democratic state ticket to win a victory. Governor Glick had been active in political and legal affairs in many other ways. In 1866 he was elected a delegate to the Union convention at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; he served as County Commissioner and Auditor of Atchison County; was one of the early directors of the Union Pacific Railroad and attorney for the central branch from 1867 to 1874. He was engaged in farming and stock raising in 1874, his "Shannon Hill" farm of about 600 acres being one of the best known farms in eastern Kansas. was a United States Pension Agent at Topeka from 1885 to 1892; was for over thirty years a member of the State Board of Agriculture; and was involved in numerous other organizations and businesses. . After a long illness Governor Glick died at his home on April 13, 1911.

Grenville L. Gove (18??-1864) - Military Officer and Civil War casualty, he was a son of Moses Gove, who was at one time, the mayor of Manhattan, Kansas. When the Civil War broke out he enlisted in Company F, Sixth Kansas Cavalry as a private, but was soon made a corporal. In the summer of 1862 he was assigned to duty as a recruiting officer and raised Company G, Eleventh Kansas Cavalry, of which he was commissioned first lieutenant. In May, 1864, he was promoted to captain and remained in command of the company until his death at Olathe, Kansas on November 7, 1864. Gove County was named in his honor.

Edward Grafstrom (1862-1906) - A mechanical engineer, Grafstrom was born at Motola, Sweden on December 19, 1862. He was educated at the Orebro University and the Boras Institute of Technology, where he graduated in mechanical engineering at the age of 19. Soon afterward he came to America, where he found employment with the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad, and at the time of his death he was their Chief Mechanical Engineer of that great corporation. Grafstrom met his fate in a manner that was both sad and tragic. At the time of the great flood in the spring of 1903, he designed and hastily constructed a small steamer, with which he engaged in rescuing the inhabitants of the flooded districts of Topeka. Hundreds of people were conveyed to places of safety through his energy and foresight. However, on the night of June 2nd, while trying to rescue still more, his boat was capsized, and while the other five members of the crew succeeded in saving themselves, Grafstrom was swept away by the raging waters. His body was never recovered. On June 6, 1906, a committee of railroad men presented to the Kansas Historical Society a fine bronze tablet bearing an inscription recounting his deed of valor and his heroic sacrifice.

Nehemiah GreenNehemiah Green (1855-1890) - Fourth governor of the State of Kansas, he was born at Grassy Point, Hardin County, Ohio on March 8, 1837. In March, 1855, when he was only 18 years-old, he came to Kansas with his two brothers, Lewis F. and George S., both of whom afterward served in the Kansas Legislature. They settled in the town of Palmyra (now Baldwin) in Douglas County, but the following year Nehemiah returned to Ohio and entered the Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware, where he completed his education. In 1860, he was made pastor of a Methodist Church and served in that capacity until in 1862, when he enlisted as a lieutenant in Company B of the Eighty-ninth Ohio Infantry. Before the expiration of his term of enlistment, failing health forced him to resign his commission. On May 2, 1864, he re-entered the service as a private in Company G, One Hundred and Fifty-third Ohio Infantry, but a few days later he was appointed sergeant-major and was mustered out with that rank with his regiment on September 9, 1864. He then returned to Kansas and became pastor of a church at Manhattan. He also purchased a farm of 320 acres on Mill Creek and devoted much of his time to raising cattle for the market. In November, 1866 he was nominated by the Republican State Convention for the office of Lieutenant-Governor, and at the election the following November was elected. Upon the resignation of Governor Samuel J. Crawford on November 4, 1868, Green succeeded to the office of governor and served for the remainder of the term. Governor Green was twice married. In 1860 he married Ida Leffingwell of Williamsburg, Ohio, who died in 1870, and in 1873 he married Mary Sturdevant of Rushville, New York. Upon the expiration of his term as governor in 1869 he returned to the ministry, and in 1870-71 he was the presiding elder of the Manhattan District. The illness and death of his first wife then caused him to give up the pulpit for a time. Consequently, he retired to his farm until 1873, when he again took up the work and for about two years was stationed at Holton. In 1875 he had charge of a church at Waterville. In 1880 he yielded to the solicitations of his friends and was elected to the state legislature. This was his last public service. Governor Green died at Manhattan on January 12, 1890.

Roy Farrell Greene (1873-1909) - Poet and humorist, was born at Three Rivers, Mich., in 1873. He came to Kansas as a child, his parents locating near Hackney, a little village about 6 miles north of Arkansas City. After graduating in the Arkansas City high school, he took up newspaper work, and at the time of his death on January 30, 1909, he was city editor of a daily paper at Arkansas City. In 1909 he published a book of poems, entitled "Cupid is King," and he wrote many interesting stories for newspapers and magazines. His friends called him the "Poet Lariat" and the "Prairie Poet."


Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.

About the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.


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