The ability which raises men from the ranks of the poor and toiling to the position of landed proprietors and enables them to take leading places in the financial world, is such as is possessed by the subject of this notice. A foreigner by birth, an American to his heart's core, George Denton, president of the bank of Denton, a prominent and successful farmer and one of the central figures in the business of the country surrounding Denton, is the eldest representative of a large, popular and influential family who have identified themselves with the growth and development of Doniphan county at different dates since the civil war period.
Mr. Denton, who is by training and education first of all a farmer, was born at Welton, Lincolnshire, England, February 2, 1828. In the early ages history reveals the Franks as the ruling and prevailing race in the north of England, while the Danes predominated in the southern portion. The ancestors of William Denton. Mr. Denton's father, came out of the former country, and the ancestors of Mary Welbourne, his mother, seem to have emanated from the latter. No accurate and positive record of the lineage and history of these early heads of families having been made, the reader must be content with the history of the Dentons with William and his wife as a beginning. It may be stated, however, on good authority that William Denton's father, also named William, was a shepherd and farm laborer. It is said that this first William Denton had three sons, -- William, already mentioned. and John and Jonathan. Of these William, born about 1809. married Mary Welbourne and had thirteen children, named as follows George; Annie, who married George Hinchclift and is now dead, leaving eight children; John, of Goff, Kansas; William; Mary, who married Samuel Chaney and is now dead; Benjamin, who died in military service during the civil war; Jonathan, dead; Michael, who served through the civil war; Moses, dead; James, Solomon, Isaac and Jacob. These children were born and received their early education near Welton, in Lincolnshire, England. The schools there at the time were inadequate, but they were better than none, and William Denton and his good wife impressed upon their children such principles as promote integrity, industry and good citizenship. The father is buried in England and the mother sleeps in Ridge Prairie cemetary at Denton, Doniphan county. Kansas.
George Denton undertook the battle of life at an early age, pressed by the need that he should aid to supply the needs of a large family of younger children. His environments had been entirely rural and the duties of the farm were all that demanded his attention. At the age of fourteen he hired to a neighbor for six months at a salary of one pound and ten shillings and board. Afterward he was employed by the year by different persons, with some whom he remained two and three years with wages increasing gradually to twelve pounds a year, finishing his series of years of wage-working as a farm foreman at twenty pounds a year.
In March, 1855, Mr. Denton gathered together his resources with the determination of coming to the United States, where opportunities for individual advancement were as open to the poor as to the rich. He embarked his family aboard the sailer Progress. at Liverpool, and, after some very slight delay occasioned by the breaking of a mast, reached New York, after a voyage of thirty-four days.
He went at once to Morrow county, Ohio, where he had relatives. Together, he and his wife had about two hundred and fifty dollars in money, not a sufficient sum to justify them in engaging in any business, and they laid it aside and he hired to a farmer for sixteen dollars a month for the summer and thirteen dollars a month for the winter. The next year, in company with a friend, with the aid of some borrowed money, he bought forty-four acres of land, at twenty-five dollars an acre, which Mr. Denton began to cultivate. He became the sole owner of the property in a few years, by purchase, and in 1861 bought forty-one acres more, at thirty dollars an acre. Just after the war he bought twenty-three acres more, at thirty-five dollars an acre. He paid for and improved all his land, and in 1873, the year he came to Kansas, he had advanced from the position of hired man, in 1855, to the ownership of a well-improved one-hundred-and-eight-acre farm.
Mr. Denton had friends in Kansas, who had sought the west at an early day and who induced him to join them by sending him encouraging reports as to the climate, the soil and the crops. Soon after arriving in Doniphan county, he bought the Underwood farm, once the site of the Underwood postoffice. He resumed there the business of farming and combined with it, as opportunity arose and his property permitted, the feeding and shipping of stock. Upon the organization of the bank of Denton in 1894, Mr. Denton was chosen its president and has since been identified with the active management of its affairs. He is universally regarded as one of the most successful of men. His ready grasp of situations and conditions and his guarded manner and conservative methods in transacting business bring to him and his institution the confidence of financiers and the unreserved patronage of the community.
Mr. Denton came to the United States about the time of the organization of the Republican party and his political affiliations are all in that direction. Political conditions may be said to have had something to do with his coming to America. There was something about the spirit of a monarchy, limited though it was, that did not fit his nature; hence his expatriation. He has never acted in a manner that would brand him as a politician, and he claims to be nothing more than a plain citizen with the welfare of his country and his community at heart. He has served Union township as its treasurer and has amply demonstrated his peculiar fitness for the office. Mr. Denton was married in 1854, at the age of twenty-six years, to Eliza, a daughter of George Topliss. Their children are: Louisa, the wife of James Miller; Ellen, the wife of Aaron Long; Sarah, the wife of Miller White; Martha, Who married H. C. Miller; Elizabeth, the wife of Edward F. Heeney; and William G. Denton, whose wife was Maud Miller.
Never, throughout his long and active life, has Mr. Denton been a man of impulses. His success has always been won by methods entirely legitimate. He has always acted on the principle that the future was before him and that in that future he had ample time to consider all things. His habits have been temperate and his morals unimpeached. Although not holding a membership in any religious body, his leanings are toward old-fashioned Methodism and he has given liberally of his means to the support of different churches. His life for the past quarter of a century has been one of even tenor, without exciting events except the mild and healthful excitement incident to achieving gratifying success and winning the plaudits of the business world and the confidence and good will of his fellow citizens. For some time he has shown an inclination toward retirement from active affairs, but an estate of four hundred acres, with other interests requiring personal oversight, make his services yet indispensable, and it will never be said that he has retired.