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Preston Bierce Plumb was born at Berkshire, Delaware county, Ohio, October 12, 1837. He died at Washington city, December 20, 1891. Plumb's parents were poor, and he was compelled to depend upon his own resources at an early age. When he was twelve years old he went to Kenyon College, at Gambier, Ohio, through which institution he worked his way, acquiring at the same time high efficiency as a printer.

At the age of fifteen he bought the plant of an abandoned newspaper in Marysville, Ohio, with the money which his parents secured by mortgaging their home. He took his plant to Xenia, Ohio, where he founded the Xenia News, a newspaper which exists to this day.

Plumb was much interested in the Kansas conflict, and early in 1856 Marcus J. Parrott visited Xenia and delivered an address on the conditions existing in Kansas. Plumb heard this address and determined to go at once to Kansas to do what he found possible on the free state side. He arrived at Leavenworth on the Fourth of July, 1856. He made a tour of the settled portions of the territory and returned to Ohio to bring out men and munitions to aid the freestate people. On his trip back he passed through Iowa City and came into Kansas over the old Lane trail, which was the "underground railroad" through Kansas. He arrived at Topeka on the 6th of September, 1856, bringing 250 Sharp's rifles, 250 Colt's revolvers, 250 bowie knives, 20,000 rounds of ammunition for the rifles and revolvers, and one brass twelve-pounder cannon. These arms were delivered to the free state authorities.

Plumb became foreman in the Herald of Freedom office late in 1856. The proprietor of the paper, together with a number of Lawrence people, laid out the town of Emporia early in 1857. Plumb was a member of this town company and entered into a contract to establish a newspaper at Emporia. The first issue of this paper, the Kansas News, is dated the 6th of June, 1857. It was a six-column folio, modeled after the Xenia News, from which it got its name. Emporia was at that time an outpost on the Great Plains. The News was one of the ablest newspapers in Kansas. Plumb became the real founder of the town of Emporia. When the success of the town was assured he sold the paper and entered the practice of law, which he continued until the beginning of the Civil War. In 1862 he helped organize the Eleventh Kansas, and was made major. He served till the close of the war and was mustered out as a colonel of the regiment, when he returned to Emporia to live.

In taking up life anew, Plumb resumed the practice of law, and engaged in various kinds of business the purchase and sale of cattle, building of railroads, dealing in land and in all of which he was very successful. He was always prominent in politics in Kansas, serving in the legislature two terms. On the 31st of January, 1877, he was elected United States senator from Kansas. In that office he distinguished himself and became one of the foremost statesmen of his time.

Facts about Preston B. Plumb: 

  • He is one of the Founders of Emporia, Kansas.
  • Plumb Hall at Emporia State University is named in his honor.
  • Plumb Was a United States Senator, representing Kansas.
  • He was an officer in the Union Army during the Civil War.