ISAAC LA GRANGE. - It is most gratifying to be able to present within the pages of this publication reviews of the careers of so large a number of the venerable pioneers of Kansas who are living within the borders of Wyandotte county, and among this number no slight precedence should be accorded to Mr. La Grange, who has been a potent factor in connection with the industrial and civic development of the state and who has so ordered his life as to retain the inviolable confidence and esteem of those with whom he has come in contact in a business social way. He is now living retired, and in his attractive home Kansas City is enjoying the gracious rewards of former years of earnest endeavor.
Isaac La Grange was born in the city of Albany, New York, on the 24th of November, 1828, and is a son of Isaac and Susan (La Grange) La Grange, the former of whom was born at Saint Armand, province of Quebec, Canada, and the latter of whom was born in Schoharie county, New York. The mother was thirty-two years of age at the time of her death and the father attained to the venerable age of eighty-three years.
Of the six children Isaac is the elder of the two now living, and his brother, Jacob, is a resident of Colorado. The lineage of the La Grange family is traced back to French-Huguenot origin. In the early part of the eighteenth century two brothers of the name were driven from their native land to escape the religious persecution incidental to the revocation of the Edict of Nantes and after remaining for a time in Holland they came to America and settled near Albany, New York, in the Mohawk valley, where so many sturdy Hollanders founded homes, as did also a number of the French-Huguenot families. Inter-marriages were made between the two and thus Mr. La Grange claims descent in both of these sterling lines, the genealogy on the maternal side likewise showing a blending of the French and Holland Dutch strains. Isaac La Grange, Sr., was a man of strong character and marked intellectuality. As a young man he was a successful teacher in the common schools of New York state, where he continued to be engaged in farming for a number of years after his marriage. He next established himself in the mercantile business in Alabany, where he continued to be identified with this line of enterprise for many years. He was located on a farm near Albany for some time after going out of business, and from this farm he moved to Paris, Illinois, where he died. As one of the representative citizens of the capital city of New York and as a man of broad views and marked public spirit he formed the acquaintance of many of the leading men of his day. He was an intimate friend of Governor Seward and of Thurlow Weed and in politics was a stanch Whig of the "old-line" type.
The early educational training of Isaac La Grange, subject of this review, was gained in the common schools of his native state, and he attended the same during the winter terms of three months, when his services were not in requisition in connection with the work of the home farm. As a youth he was apprenticed to the trade of carpenter and joiner, at Schenectady, New York, and in due course of time he became a skillful artisan. For several years after completing his apprenticeship he traveled about in various parts of the country, working as a journeyman at his trade, and finally he located at Paris, the county seat of Edgar county, Illinois, where he engaged in contracting and building and where his marriage was solemnized. There he continued to maintain his home for a period of eighteen years and he was one of the representative business men of the town, in which he had located in 1851. Impaired health finally led him to seek a change of climate and he came to Kansas in 1869. He was one of the early settlers of Paola, the judicial center of Miami county, where he erected the first hotel of appreciable size and accommodations and also built for himself a comfortable dwelling. There he engaged in the buying and shipping of grain and he also was compelled to take into his possession a grocery store in connection with which he had loaned a considerable sum of money. He was the first to ship grain from Miami county to Kansas City, Missouri, and also to the city of St. Louis, and he was also the first to make direct shipments of grain from Kansas to Baltimore, Maryland. His enterprise and progressive methods brought him into prominence as one of the able and aggressive business men of the state and he was one of the most honored and influential citizens of Miami county. He was interested in various lines of business activity, and at Paola he erected a flour mill, which he operated for seven years. Within the period of his activities there were three bank failures in his county, and he became associated with other leading citizens of Paola in organizing the Miami County State Bank, of which he became vice-president at the time of its incorporation. He held this office for twelve years. Of the thirty-two original stockholders of the institution only a few are now living, and of the first executive officers only Mr. La Grange and William Crowell, who was cashier, are now left.
In 1883, after having disposed of his various holdings in Miami county, Mr. La Grange removed to the old city of Wyandotte, where he engaged in the real-estate business. He did much to further the upbuilding of the present metropolis of Kansas City and the development of Wyandotte county, and he identified himself closely with civic affairs as well as those of more purely business order. He became one of the principal stockholders of the Wyandotte National Bank and was finally made president of the institution, to which he continued to give much of his time and attention until 1890, when he resigned his office and removed to Ogden, Utah, where he was engaged in the wholesale grocery business until 1895. He passed the following three years in Los Angeles, California, and then returned to Kansas City, where he has since lived virtually retired from active business and where he is held in unqualified esteem by all who know him. While he has always shown a loyal interest in public affairs, both general and local, he has not been imbued with office-seeking propensities. However, he served one term as a member of the city council of Paris, Illinois, and one term as county commissioner of Miami county, Kansas. He is a stanch advocate of the principles and policies of the Republican party and his religious faith is that of the Presbyterian church, of which his wife also was a devoted member for many years prior to her death.
On the 18th of February, 1858, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. La Grange to Miss Sarah Ann Link, who was born and reared in Edgar county, Illinois, and who was a representative of one of the sterling pioneer families of that county. The great loss and bereavement in the life of Mr. La Grange came on the 17th of October, 1910, when his loved and devoted wife, who had been his companion and help-meet for more than half a century, was summoned to the life eternal, at the age of seventy-two years. Concerning the children of this union the following brief data are given: Mary is the wife of Frank W. Mitchell, of Kansas City, Missouri; Anna died at the age of thirty-seven years, and her husband, F. E. Williams, died in February, 1901, aged fifty-one years, leaving two children, named Martha and Ruth; Nancy is the wife of Clement M. Staub, of Los Angeles, California; Almira is the wife of Dr. O. C. Link, of that city; and Susan is the wife of G. J. Ratcliff, who is engaged in the banking business at Highland, Doniphan county, Kansas.
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