The Ross Family in Kansas


Rossville Named for William W. Ross

      In the spring of 1855 William Wallace Ross was married to Mary Elizabeth Berry.  He and his wife started in a wagon drawn by an ox-team while pioneering into the Kansas Territory.  William and his wife settled down in Lawrence.  In December 1855 William and his wife moved to Topeka to assist John Speer in printing the Kansas Tribune, which was one of the first newspapers published in Kansas.  William sent a letter dated January 10, 1856, to his brother, Edmund Gibson Ross, asking Edmund's aid in procuring guns and ammunition to protect The Kansas Tribune against threatened attack by Pro-Slavery forces.  (This letter is in the Kansas State Historical Society Manuscript Collection.)   Edmund G. Ross led a wagon train to Kansas in May 1856, which included his wife and children and three of his siblings, Charles Ross, Walter Ross, and Julia Ella Ross.    Edmund G. Ross bought John Speer's interest in The Kansas Tribune on December 29, 1856.  They were still publishing The Kansas Tribune in Topeka, Kansas, in 1857, and William was a member of the Leavenworth Constitutional Convention (April 28-29).  On April 29, 1861 he was appointed government agent to the Pottawatomie Indians at St. Marys Mission he served for four years.  He made a treaty with the Indians, which opened up a thirty square mile territory in the richest part of the state set up for settlement.   A town was established near the Pottawatomie Indians and in 1862; they decided to name it Rossville in honor of William W. Ross.  He was elected mayor of Topeka in 1865.  William eventually lived in California, where he died of cancer in 1889.   He left behind two children, which he had with his first and second wife.


Edmund Serves in United States Senate

      Edmund is the most widely known of the Ross brothers.  He succeeded James H. Lane as U.S senator.  His famous vote was the deciding vote not to impeach president Andrew Johnson.  He was brutally abused, accused of graft and he was threatened never to come back to Kansas.  This was a very temperamental time because of the end of the fresh Civil War.  Of course today he is praised for his honesty and courage.  He eventually converted to a Democrat and President Cleveland granted him the new territorial governor of New Mexico.  Edmund was one of the people outlined in John F. Kennedy’s Profiles in Courage, because of his vote on the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson.


George Serves in the Military and the Kansas Legislature

      George Ross was married to Minerva Fox and lived near Dover, Kansas.  George arrived in Kansas at the age of fifteen and enrolled in the Eleventh Kansas Cavalry.  He served for three years and then was discharged at Fort Riley in 1865.  He also served as a member of the Kansas Legislature.


William Wallace Ross Family Timeline – Late 1800’s

1855 - When William Wallace Ross and his first wife, Mary Elizabeth Berry, came to Lawrence, Kansas in July 1855, they were accompanied by William's brother, George W. Ross, and sister, Nancy Amelia Ross, and her new husband Simon Peter Wemple (aka/Samuel Peter Wemple), whom she had married in Wisconsin in June 1855.  In October, William went to Topeka where he helped John Speer with printing for the Topeka Constitutional Convention.  William W. Ross joined John Speer in publishing The Kansas Tribune in December 1855, and, on December 10, 1855, William and John Speer removed The Kansas Tribune from Lawrence, Kansas, to Topeka, Kansas.

1858 - William W. Ross of Shawnee County, Kansas Territory, is made public printer.  William's first wife, Mary Elizabeth Berry, dies as a result of childbirth on September 29, and their son, William Ross dies October 30 in Glen Ross, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, where William's parents live.  William and Edmund discontinue publishing The Kansas Tribune in September.

1859 - On January 13, The Kansas Tribune reports that W. W. Ross and others have formed "[a] second Company...for the Kansas Gold Mines" and briefly mention S. R. Shepherd's familiarity with the route to be taken across the Plains to the mines and the date by when one should be outfitted to go.  William W. Ross is of Richardson County, Kansas Territory, in January, and is of Topeka, Kansas, in September.  William and Edmund begin printing the Kansas State Record in Topeka, Kansas, in September.

1860 - William W. Ross and Edmund G. Ross are running the Kansas State Record in Topeka, Kansas.  In April, William W. Ross is a delegate from Kansas to the Republican national convention in Chicago that nominated Abraham Lincoln for President.

1861-1864 - In April 1861, Private W. W. Ross is part of the Frontier Guard occupying the east room of the White House to protect President Abraham Lincoln during the first days of the Civil War (TRANSACTIONS OF THE KANSAS STATE HISTORICAL SOCIETY, 1907-1908, edited by Geo. W. Martin, State Printing Office, Topeka, 1908, Volume X, pages 418-422, and A HISTORY OF CALIFORNIA, Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California, 1915, Volume III, page 922 ("Hon. Meredith P. Snyder").  President Lincoln appointed Major W. W. Ross agent for the Pottawatomie Indians at St. Mary's Mission, Kansas, on April 29, 1861; William continued in that position until 1864.

1865 - W. W. Ross is Mayor of Topeka.  William W. Ross is enumerated with his second wife and three daughters on the State census as a merchant in Topeka, Kansas.

1866 - William's second wife, Julia, dies in January.  On February 15, the Topeka Weekly Leader reports that mayoral elections will be held next month. 

1867 - According to the Topeka Weekly Leader, of July 18, William had just returned from California, and the Kansas State Record reported in November that William was recovering from a bout of cholera in Jacksonville, Florida, where he had been working as a Light House Inspector.

May 1868 - William W. Ross was in Washington, D.C., with his brother, Edmund Gibson Ross, during the impeachment trial.  According to information given to Edward Bumgardner (The Life of Edmund G. Ross) presumably by Edmund's daughter, Lillian (Ross) Leis, William was offered a $20,000 bribe to tell how his brother Edmund would vote.

1868-1869 - William W. Ross was residing in Volusia County, Florida.

1870 - William W. Ross marries Sara S. Betts of Albany, New York, and they are briefly of Topeka, Kansas, in October 1870.  In November 1870, they are of Volusia County, Florida.

1871 - William W. Ross and his third wife, Sara S. Betts, are of Albany, New York; Sara dies October 9th.

1872-1877 - William W. Ross is of Washington, D.C., where the letterhead states he is a partner with James R. Cook in Cook & Ross, Attorneys and Solicitors, at No. 72 I Street, Northeast.  The letterhead states they "Practice in the U. S. Supreme Court and Court of Claims.  Prosecute Claims in all Departments of the Government."

1878 - William W. Ross is of Topeka, Kansas.

1879 - William W. Ross has a residence in Topeka, but is a miner in Colorado.

1880 - William W. Ross is a miner in Silverton, San Juan County, Colorado (census) and William W. Ross, builder, records building permits for the Ross Row House in Topeka, Kansas.

1881-1882 - The Ross Row House is still under construction, but William is in Silverton, Colorado, when his daughter, Kate Ross, dies November 8, 1882.

1885 - William W. Ross is of Topeka, Kansas.

1886 - William W. Ross' daughter, Mary Adelle (Ross) Gillam, widow of Francis J. Gillam, is of San Diego County, California, when she sells property in Shawnee County, Kansas.

1887-1888 - William W. Ross. Widower, is of San Diego County, California.

1889 - William W. Ross resides in Coronado, San Diego County, California, when his daughter, May Ross, marries Meredith Pinxton Snyder in February, but William dies in June while visiting at the home of his daughter May (Ross) Snyder, in Los Angeles, California.  After William's death, his only other surviving daughter, Mary Adelle (Ross) Gillam, marries her second husband, Lee Roberts Andrews, in November.