WILLIAM P SYMNS
One of the extensive land owners of Wayne township, Doniphan county, is William P. Symns, who owns one thousand acres of land in this locality. His possessions have been acquired entirely through his own well-directed efforts, and his life record indicates the truth of the saying that success comes not from talent but results from industry, careful management and close application to business. He has been identified with the development and progress of Doniphan county since its pioneer days, at which time he came to Kansas and accepted a clerkship with Thomas Kemper, who was proprietor of the first general mercantile store in this section.
Mr. Symns is a native of Monroe county, West Virginia, and was born March 28, 1828. His father, John Symns, was born on the Emerald Isle, and was of Scotch-Irish lineage. His ancestors were of the Presbyterian faith and were people of high respectability. In early life John Symns crossed the Atlantic to America, taking up his abode in Virginia, where he afterward married Miss Elizabeth Peters, a native of the Old Dominion, which at that time comprised the section of country that now forms the state of West Virginia. She was a daughter of Christian Peters, and in honor of her family the village of Peterstown was named. John and Elizabeth Symns became the parents of the following children: Mrs. Catherine Lucas, who is now deceased; George W., who has also passed away; William P.; A. B.; Joe; Sam, who resides in Virginia on the old family homestead; and Mary E., deceased. The father learned the trade of a carpenter and wheelwright in early manhood, but during the greater part of his business career was known as a Virginia planter. He died on the old family homestead at the age of eighty-five years, and in his death the community lost one of its valued citizens. He and his family were members of the Presbyterian church, and in politics he was a Whig and an ardent admirer of Henry Clay. His wife, surviving him, passed away at the very advanced age of ninety-seven years. She was an earnest Christian woman, a faithful wife and mother and a true friend.
William P. Symns, whose name introduces this review, was the fifth in order of birth in the family and the third son. He pursued his education in the old-time log school house, which was lighted with greased paper windows. He conned his lessons while sitting on an old slab bench, while beside him lay his few books, for there were no desks. His training at farm labor, however, was not meager, and he remained at home till the spring of 1856, when he came to the West, first locating in St, Louis. Subsequently he made his way to St. Joseph, Missouri, reaching his destination after seven days of travel. He remained at that place for a short time and then came to Wathena, Doniphan county. The following year he went to Doniphan with his brother, A. B., who is now a wholesale grocer in Atchison. During the Civil War he entered the Confederate service, under Captain Lanney and General Jubal Early, serving until the cessation of hostilities. When peace was restored he returned home and secured a clerkship in St. Joseph, Missouri, where he remained for some time. He was afterward manager of a wagon train en route for Montana, and while thus engaged had the misfortune to break his ankle, which caused him several weeks of severe suffering. In 1867 he returned to Doniphan county, where he has since been identified with agricultural interests. His industry and untiring labors brought to him a good income, and as his financial resources increased he added to his real-estate investments until he became the owner of about one thousand acres of land in Doniphan county. He has erected thereon a fine modern residence, good barns and other necessary outbuildings, and has to-day one of the model farms of the county.
In 1872 Mr. Symns was united in marriage to Miss Maria L. Kent, a native of Missouri, and their union has been blessed with five children, namely: William P. and Andrew B., at home; Perry K., who is a student at Manhattan, Kansas; Belle and Elizabeth, who are still under the parental roof. Mr. Symns, realizing the importance of education in the affairs of life, has given his children excellent advantages in that direction. The eldest son is a graduate of Midland College, of Atchison, while the second son is a graduate of Manhattan College, of the class of 1888, and the third son is now pursuing his studies in that institution. Having long been a resident of the county, Mr. Symns is widely known, and he is a most progressive and public-spirited citizen, advocating all commendable improvements and lending an active support to all measures for the public good. He votes with the Democracy, but has never been an aspirant for office, preferring to devote his energies to his business interests, in which he has met with most creditable success. In all trade transactions he is thoroughly reliable, and has thereby won the confidence and good will of those with whom he has been brought in contact.