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In this enlightened age when men of industry, energy and merit are rapidly pushing their way to the front, those who by their individual efforts have won favor and fortune, may properly claim recognition. Years ago, when the west was entering upon this era of growth and development and Kansas was laying its foundation for future prosperity, there came hither from all parts of the country men poor but honest, and with spirited independence and a determination to succeed that justly entitled them to representation in the history of the great west. Among this class is numbered William S. Cain. He was born in Castletown, Isle of Man, April 17, 1836, and is the eldest son of John W. Cain, whose birth also occurred there, and who married Ann Mylchreest, of Ballamoda. In 1856 John W. Cain came to America, taking up his residence in Atchison, Kansas, where he died in 1888, his remains being interred in Mount Vernon cemetery. John William Cain was originally a free-soil man and advocated that doctrine when it was dangerous to do so, but was always firm and fearless in support of his honest convictions and nothing could turn him from the course which he believed to be right. He served for a number of years as justice of the peace and discharged his duties with marked fairness and impartiality.

Mr. W. S. Cain spent the first sixteen years of his life in his native isle, and during that time attended private schools. He then left home, going to Melbourne, Australia, where he was a gold miner from September, 1852, until December, 1854, when he returned to the Isle of Man. In July, he came to the United States and went to Mineral Point, Wisconsin, where he purchased a tract of land and engaged in farming. The following year his father and brother John, who had just come to this country, joined him and they all moved to Atchison, Kansas, where the family permanently located. Each of the sons entered one hundred and sixty acres of land from the government and began the development and improvement of the farm. W. S. Cain continued to farm until 1861, when he responded to Mr. Lincoln's first call for troops to aid in suppressing the rebellion in the south, and later joined Company C, Eighth Kansas Infantry, under command of Captain James M. Graham and Colonel John A. Martin. For meritorious service he was successively promoted to be sergeant, orderly sergeant, and sergeant major, of the Eighth Kansas, and commissioned by the governor of Kansas as second lieutenant. In August, 1863, after a rigid examination before a board of generals, Mr. Cain was appointed first lieutenant of Company H, in the Twelfth Regiment, United States Colored Infantry. On the organization of that regiment he was appointed adjutant, and in 1864 he was commissioned by order of President Lincoln as captain of Company C, Twelfth United States Colored Infantry, with which rank he served until the close of the war. He participated in many engagements, raids and skirmishes, and displayed marked bravery on the field of battle, while at all times he was loyal to the old flag and the cause it represented.

After receiving an honorable discharge Mr. Cain returned to Kansas where he resumed farming, which he continued until 1875. In that year he removed to Atchison, here he opened a general mercantile establishment which he has since continued. He now has a large store and enjoys an extensive patronage. His success in business is an indication of the honorable business methods which he follows. He displays marked energy in the management of his commercial affairs; his sound judgment and reliable business methods having secured him a large and profitable trade.

In 1864 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Cain and Miss Ann Cowley, a daughter of Charles Cowley, of Brown county, Kansas. She was born on the Isle of Man and came to this state during her early girlhood, here remaining until her death in 1870. In 1871 Mr. Cain was again married, his second union being with Miss Susan Adaline Crouch, eldest daughter of David Crouch, of Pierce Junction, Brown county, Kansas. Four children have been born of this union, of whom three are living, namely: Elizabeth M.; Cora J., who is teaching in the public schools of Atchison; and John W., a grain dealer, of Lancaster, Kansas. The family is one of prominence in the community, and to the members of the household is extended the hospitality of many of the best homes of Atchison. Mr. Cain has long been an active factor in political circles, and in 1865 was elected to represent the eighth district of Kansas in the state legislature, where he served on the ways and means, currency, printing and other important committees. In 1896 he was the Fusion nominee for representative from the city of Atchison. He has served on the Republican central committee, and his opinions always carry weight in the councils of his party. Socially he is connected with the E. C. Johnson Post, No. 336, G. A. R., of which he is a past commander. Religiously he and all his family are Protestant Episcopalians. In the discharge of all his duties of citizenship he manifests the same loyalty which marked his course upon the battlefields of the south. He is a broad-minded man, possessed of a wide field of general information, and is not only practical but above all is progressive in his methods.