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Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Walter Roscoe Stubbs (1909-1913)

Creator: Kansas. Governor (1909-1913 : Stubbs)

Date: 1908-1913 Jan. 13

Level of Description: Sub-collection/group

Material Type: Government record

Call Number: See individual series

Unit ID: 310074

Restrictions: None.

Biographical sketch: 18th governor of the State of Kansas (Republican), 1909-13; of Lawrence.

Abstract: Correspondence received, petitions, and other records from the Walter Roscoe Stubbs administration includes subject files, general letters, official response letters from & letters concerning State agencies, and letters & related documents pertaining to vacant State positions; some proclamations are also included. Additional records of Governor Stubbs are in separate series common to several governors, described in the Contents section of this record.

Space Required/Quantity: 12 ft. (29 boxes + 1 oversize item)

Title (Main title): Records of the Kansas Governor's Office : administration of Governor Walter Roscoe Stubbs (1909-1913)

Titles (Other):

  • Records
  • Records of the Office of the Governor of Kansas : Walter Roscoe Stubbs administration (1909-1913)
  • Walter Roscoe Stubbs administration, Jan. 11, 1909-Jan. 13, 1913
  • Kansas Governor Walter Roscoe Stubbs correspondence
  • Kansas Governor Walter Roscoe Stubbs records
  • Petition from Union Pacific employees
  • Correspondence files

Part of: Records of the Kansas Governor's Office.

Language note: Text is in English.


Biog. Sketch (Full):

Walter Roscoe Stubbs, the eighteenth governor of the State of Kansas, was born 7 November 1858 near Richmond, Indiana. Walter Roscoe was the son of John T. Stubbs, a simple farmer, and Esther Bailey Stubbs. He grew up with twelve brothers and sisters. Five of his siblings died in infancy.

When Walter was just a small boy, his parents moved to Iowa to try farming there. But after a few years of drought, the parents were spent on farming and moved to the town of Hesper in Douglas County, Kansas, in 1869. There the Stubbs family was content with the crop production, and they permanently settled.

Walter was educated at the Hesper country school and later attended the University of Kansas Preparatory School in Lawrence but did not remain at the University to complete a college degree. Walter’s parents were of modest means, and he was compelled to work to help support their large family. Nevertheless, Walter was superbly ambitious with a ferocious "can do" attitude and thus became a "jack of many trades," among them clerking, farming, banking, and driving a mule team.

Walter was a man on a mission. His hard work and entrepreneurial spirit secured some large profits at age twenty. He bought a pair of mules and contracted with railroad companies to do railroad grading. He merged his efforts with another team of mules to double productivity and ended up making a sizable profit. The mule team was actually the beginning of a lucrative contract business which became the most reputable enterprise in the western United States. Walter Stubbs virtually became a self made millionaire. The Chicago, Rock Island and Pacific Railroad Company was soliciting contractors to construct a line from Saint Louis to Kansas City. When Stubbs got word of the bid, he independently drove over the entire proposed route collecting the cost details of the project. And when he was done he submitted his bid and secured a $3,000,000 contract. In the end, he successfully profited in the venture in excess of $250,000 after expenses were paid.

Walter's discipline to business management and work detail perhaps stemmed from his Quaker upbringing. And Quakers of the day were staunchly opposed to anything not genuine. Stubbs himself despised hypocrisy. That Quaker ethic was his inherited trait that led to a marked degree of leadership discipline. The Quaker line of connection in Douglas County also extends to the prominent Davis family of Lawrence. Samuel Hunt Davis married Walter Roscoe’s cousin, Emma Stubbs, in 1877. The children of Samuel and Emma Davis also attended Hesper Academy, and Friends University in Wichita, Kansas. Samuel’s brother, James Davis, founded Friends University through his gift of the University’s first buildings to the Society of Friends.

Walter Stubbs married Stella Hostettler on 21 September 1887; they had two sons and two daughters.

Walter Stubbs, at age forty-one years, decided to try politics. In 1902, he was nominated by the Republicans to represent a district in Douglas County in the lower house of the State Legislature, and he was elected. After a successful period in office and constituent satisfaction in 1904, he was reelected to office. At opening session of his second term, he was made speaker of the House of Representatives. His first order of business was to advocate reforms in the methodology and streamlining of State printing operations. Stubbs' resourcefulness and frugality also earned him accolades on the floor for efficiency and economy in addressing the unnecessary large numbers of employees doing legislative work. State Representative Stubbs was reelected to an uneventful third term in 1906. He was also the chairman of the State Republican Central Committee in his last four years as a State legislator. And so impressed were the Republicans of 1908, they nominated Stubbs for governor of the State of Kansas. He was the first governor to receive his nomination direct from the people under the direct primary law that he fought so hard to enact as a legislator. He won the governor's election in 1908 and was sworn in office on 11 January 1909.

Governor Stubbs was a staunch activist in the Kansas Republican progressive wing. It was he who brought Prohibition back to the center as the law of Kansas. The relaxed policies of previous governors on Prohibition enabled drug stores across the state to sell liquors inconspicuously, and Stubbs, determined to enforce the law to its fullest, nearly brought the illegal sale of alcohol to its end. Governor Stubbs was known as a man of his word. His messages to the general assembly were consistent but stern. The governor had no problem with calling out unworthy or incompetent public officers. Walter was a 32nd Degree Freemason, a very public-spirited citizen, and one of stern civic responsibility. He had an individualistic personality made of heavy steel which had a lasting impression in Kansas’ political affairs.

Governor Stubbs was the first to authorize a public utilities commission. The policies of managing state charities were also improved. Regulatory restrictions were implemented upon Kansas insurance companies. Railroad rates were tightly controlled, and the need for better roads was addressed. A new law prohibiting the consumption of intoxicating liquors on trains only passing through Kansas was enacted and sternly enforced.

During Stubbs’ first term, the Legislature passed laws setting the standard of weights and measures for staple products. The year 1911 also brought forth many interesting legislative acts in the public interest. Among them was State Senator J. N. Dolley’s “Blue Sky” Law that provided for strict regulation of investment companies. The Kansas “blue sky” law was the first in the United States to regulate the offering and sale of securities to protect the public from fraud. Stubbs was an early twentieth century political mover and shaker with progressive polices. He pushed for campaign expense laws and comprehensive high school teacher training programs as well as civil service reform.

Walter Stubbs did not run for a third term of office, but instead decided to run for election to the United States Senate. He won the primary of 1912 but lost in the general election to William Howard Thompson.

Walter Stubbs retired from public life in 1925 to return to farming and irrigation maintenance management work near the Arkansas River Valley near Fowler, Colorado. He also oversaw his cattle ranches in Kansas, Texas, Colorado, and New Mexico. His home was at Wind Hill near the University of Kansas in Lawrence.

Later in life Walter Stubbs developed undiagnosed severe heart ailments. He was reported in critical condition in the last days leading up to his death of heart failure in Topeka, Kansas, on 25 March 1929. Funeral services for the former governor were directed by Dr. Charles M. Sheldon of Topeka and held at First Methodist Church in Lawrence. He was interned at Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence.

Administrative History

Administrative History:

The Wyandotte Constitution of 1859 established the office of the governor of the State of Kansas. The first to serve in the office of governor of the State of Kansas was Charles Robinson who succeeded the last territorial governor, George Monroe Beebe.

Some of the more important duties, functions, and responsibilities of the governor are to see that the laws are faithfully executed, to require written explanations from other executive officers—at that time the lieutenant governor, secretary of State, auditor, treasurer, attorney general, and superintendent of public instruction—upon any subject relating to their respective duties, convene by the Legislature by proclamation on extraordinary occasions, communicate in writing such information as the governor may possess in reference to the condition of the State at the commencement of every legislative session, recommend such measures as he/she may deem expedient, and commission officers of the State.

No formal qualifications for the governor have been legislated, aside from the provision that no member of Congress or officer of the State, or the United States, can serve. The governor is elected by a plurality, not necessarily a majority of votes cast. The governor takes office the second Monday in January following election. The governor is authorized to hire a private secretary, pardon attorney, and other staff as appropriations permit.

At the beginning of Walter Roscoe Stubbs' term, the governor had the power to appoint Militia officers; members of part-time boards of directors, trustees, regents, or directors of a large number of State penal, educational, medical, custodial, and mission specific agencies and commissions. The governor was also an ex officio member of other boards, commissions, and committees.

During the four years of Governor Stubbs' administration, the Board of Examiners in Optometry, three members appointed by the governor, was established in 1909. In 1911, the Tribune Branch of the Agricultural Experiment Station, Manhattan; the Larned State Hospital; and the Kansas Sanatorium for Tuberculosis Patients, Norton, were created; also that year a Board of Trustees of Pawnee Rock Park consisting of eleven members appointed by the governor was established.

Scope and Content

Scope and content:

Governor Walter Roscoe Stubbs' records consist of two series: Correspondence Files, 1908-1913, and a Petition of Union Pacific Railroad Company Employees, 1910.

The Correspondence Files consist of 256 folders in twenty-nine boxes. The files are divided into four sub-series: a General File; State Departments files; and Applications, Recommendations, and Endorsements.

Items in the series are primarily letters received by Governor Stubbs; however the series also may contain proclamations, reports, copies of letters sent, and other types of documents in addition to the letters received. Some proclamations may also have been interfiled with other items received relating to the subjects of the proclamations.

Documents that may have been addressed to Governor Stubbs but dated or pertaining to the time period after his term expired in 1913 may be filed with the records of his successor, Governor George H. Hodges.

Detailed information about the Correspondence Files may be found at http://www.kshs.org/archives/193426

The Petition from Union Pacific employees, 1910, requests that regulated transportation rates be increased; additional information is at http://www.kshs.org/archives/195747

Additional files that record the actions of the Stubbs administration may be found in a number of series containing records of multiple governors. These are listed in the "Contents" section of this record.

Selected records from Governor Stubbs' administration have been posted on Kansas Memory, the Kansas Historical Society's digital archives. These can be found at http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-4899&

Records of other offices of Kansas’ government—particularly the secretary of State, Record Group 622, and attorney general, Record Group 82—will give additional information about State activities during this period. Papers of other prominent political figures of the time, most of which are held by the Kansas State Historical Society, may also offer insights about Kansas politics and government during the Stubbs administration.

The Kansas Historical Society has a one folder W. R. Stubbs miscellaneous collection containing an essay written about April 1909 by an unknown person describing and saluting Governor Stubbs' efforts to apply business principles and practices to State government administration and his appointments to State positions. A description of the collection is at http://www.kshs.org/archives/43974


Records specific to this administration:

Records that include this administration:

Portions of Collection Separately Described:


Locator Contents
027-06-06-04 to 027-07-02-04  Correspondence files 
072-05-08-01  Petition of Union Pacific Railroad employees, 1910 
079-03-01-03  Letter from Charles Curtis (1 oversize folder) 

Related Records or Collections

Related materials:


Finding Aid Bibliography:

Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1918; Open Library website; https://archive.org/details/standardhistoryo00conn (viewed 23 July 2014).

Drury, James W. The Government of Kansas. 3d ed. Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, ©1980. Available in the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS) Reference Room: Call no. K 350.7 D845 1980.

Harder, Marvin A. The Governor of Kansas: An Analysis of Decision-Making Opportunities, Constraints, and Resources. Topeka, Kans.: Capitol Complex Center, University of Kansas, 1981, ©1982. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: Call no. SP 378 Z C172 pam.v.1 no. 1.

Socolofsky, Homer E. Kansas Governors. Lawrence, Kans.: University Press of Kansas, ©1990. Available in the KSHS Reference Room: Call no. K BB So13.

Index Terms


    Kansas. Governor (1909-1913 : Stubbs) -- Archives
    Kansas. Governor (1909-1913 : Stubbs) -- Records and correspondence
    Kansas Legislature
    Republican Party (Kan.)
    Kansas -- Officials and employees
    Kansas -- Politics and government -- 1865-1950
    Stubbs, Walter Roscoe, 1858-1929
    Governors -- Kansas -- Archives
    Governors -- Kansas -- Records and correspondence
    Civil-military relations -- Kansas
    County government -- Kansas
    Criminal justice, Administration of -- Kansas
    Criminals -- Kansas
    Government correspondence -- Kansas
    Justices of the peace -- Kansas
    Patronage, Political -- Kansas
    Public institutions -- Kansas
    Public lands -- Kansas
    Public officers
    Public records -- Kansas
    Public welfare -- Kansas
    State-local relations -- Kansas

Creators and Contributors

Agency Classification:

    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations. Stubbs, Walter Administration.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon Attorney.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office. Pardon and Extradition Attorney.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Main Office.
    Kansas State Agencies. Governor's Office. Specific Administrations.

Additional Information for Researchers

Restrictions: None.

Use and reproduction:

Notice: This material may be protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). The user is cautioned that the publication of the contents of these records may be construed as constituting a violation of literary property rights. These rights derive from the principle of common law, affirmed in the copyright law of 1976 as amended, that the writer of an unpublished letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contents thereof unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; the right descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of a user or his or her publisher to secure the permission of the owner of literary property rights in unpublished writing.

Most documents created by governmental entities, including the State of Kansas, are considered in the public domain, although copyright to documents found in public records that were written by individuals or organizations and sent to government agencies may be owned by the writers or their heirs.

Add'l physical form: Selected items: Also available on Kansas Memory, electronic resource. Topeka, Kan. : Kansas State Historical Society, c2007-14; http://www.kansasmemory.org/locate.php?categories=4894-4796-4899&

Cite as:

Note: [document description], Walter Roscoe Stubbs administration (1909-13), Records of the Kansas Governor’s Office, Record Group 252, State Archives, Kansas Historical Society.

Bibliography: Kansas, Governor’s Office, Walter Roscoe Stubbs administration (1909–13), Record Group 252, State Archives, Kansas Historical Society.

Action note: Inventory written by David F. Manning, volunteer, 2009.

Accumulation/Freq. Of Use: No additional records are expected.

Holder of originals: State archives, Kansas Historical Society (Topeka).