WILLIAM STARR TWIST. - One of the most prosperous and progressive business men of Bonner Springs, and one of the leading undertakers and funeral directors of Wyandotte county, William Starr Twist is a fine representative of the self-made men of our times, his success in life being entirely due to his own unaided efforts. Poor in pocket but rich in energy and ambition when beginning his active career, he industriously toiled onward and upward, rising by slow degrees to a position of affluence and influence. He was born, in 1859, at Yellow Springs, Ohio, a son of Russell Twist.
Born in New York state, Russell Twist migrated to Ohio in the late fifties and embarked in business as a manufacturer of churns. At the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted in defense of his country, serving in many of its important engagements. He subsequently carried on general farming in Ohio until 1871, when he migrated with his family to Kansas, locating in Wyandotte county. He married Nannie Foreman, of Ohio, and to them five children were born, as follows; Fremont W., deceased; Ella E., wife of Henry Kern, one of the editors of this biographical work; Lilly, who married Dillon W. Paxton, died in 1911, in Bonner Springs, at the home of her brother, William S. Twist; William S., the special subject of this brief sketch; and Charles, who is engaged in railroading in Kansas, married Maud Chadwick.
Spending his boyhood days on an Ohio farm, William Starr Twist came with his parents to Wyandotte county, Kansas, in 1871, and here completed his education in a school held in an old Indian cabin. He assisted his father on the farm until seventeen years old, when he began work at the carpenter's trade, and as a journeyman assisted in the erection of the shops at Armstrong, which is now a part of Kansas City, Kansas. In 1891 Mr. Twist embarked in mercantile pursuits in Bonner Springs, opening an implement house, one of the very first establishments of the kind in this part of the county. In addition to dealing in agricultural implements and machinery of all kinds, he sold wagons, buggies, carriages and vehicles of every description, meeting with such good success that he has now two places of business in Bonner Springs. Mr. Twist also embarked in the undertaking business, which has grown rapidly, assuming large proportions, his undertaking rooms on Oak street containing a well selected stock of caskets, shrouds and everything needful to provide suitable arrangements for the burial of the dead, including a handsome funeral car. In 1900 Mr. Twist was graduated from the Champion School of Embalming, at Springfield, Ohio, and has since taken special courses in embalming in other schools, his aim being to give to his patrons the highest and best possible service. Mr. Twist has gained an extended reputation for efficient and thoughtful service as a funeral director, and his services are in constant demand, his patronage being large. In 1903 he was elected president of the Kansas Funeral Directors' Association, and served one year. He is officially connected with two valuable enterprises, being president and manager of the Kaw Valley Telephone and Electric Light Company, and secretary of the Wyandotte County Telephone Company.
Politically Mr. Twist is a Populist, although he is a good friend of the Democrats. Fraternally he is a thirty-second degree Mason, of Kansas City, Kansas, a member of the Order of the Eastern Star; of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows; of the Fraternal Aid Association; of the Modern Woodmen of America; of the Ancient Order of United Workmen; and of the Central Protective Association.
Mr. Twist married Gertrude Montgomery, of Argentine, Kansas, and they became the parents of three children, namely: Evelyn, living at home; Russell, who died at the age of eighteen years; and Robert, living with his father. Mrs. Twist passed to the life beyond in 1904, and the following lines commemorating the sad event are excerpts from an article appearing in a Chicago publication.
"Laura Gertrude, wife of William S. Twist, president of the Kansas Funeral Directors' Association, passed away at her home in Bonner Springs, Kansas, at 7:30 p. m. Saturday, February 27, 1904, aged thirty-eight years, seven months and twenty-one days. She has been in feeble health for the past year. She leaves beside her husband, three children - Nannie Evelyn, William Russell and Robert Starr, aged respectively fifteen, thirteen and eleven years.
"Laura Gertrude Montgomery was born in Richmond county, July 6, 1865. Her parents moved to Kansas in 1869 and settled in Labette county. Twenty-five years ago the family moved to Rosedale, Wyandotte county, Kansas. Miss Montgomery was teaching school near the Twist homestead when she met and married William Starr Twist. The wedding occurred on March 24, 1886. She was an able assistant to Mr. Twist in his many duties, and accompanied him to Omaha when the National Association met in that city, and also to Minneapolis last year. The pallbearers were: L. M. Penwell, Topeka, Kansas; R. Cadwallader, Tonganoxie, Kansas; H. W. Gates, Rosedale, Kansas; J. Johnson, Osawatamie, Kansas; W. Samuels, Emporia, Kansas; and B. M. Whisner, Kansas City, Kansas, all of whom were members of the Kansas Funeral Directors' Association. W. B. Raymond, of Kansas City had charge of the services. In addition to the above there were present: Mrs. W. B. Raymond and Mrs. H. W. Gates, also H. A. Bumgardner and E. O. DeMoss, of Topeka, Kansas; J. M. Sexton, Leavenworth, and Clement Williams, Kansas City, Kansas."
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