JOSEPH PFEIFFER, a retired capitalist of St. Joseph,
has been for about twelve years largely interested in, and is
vice-president of the Pfeiffer Stone Company, which owns quarries at
Warrensburgh and Rockwell, Mo., and in Ft Scott, Kans., and controls a
large business in the surrounding States of Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. As
a business man our subject was remarkably successful and is a monument to
what qualities of industry and strict attention to business can do for a
man determined to succeed. He is a native of Bingen, Hohenzollern,
Sigmaringen, Germany, his birth having occurred March 23, 1817. He learned
stone cutting and carving in the Fatherland and was successfully engaged
in business there for many years.
After serving an apprenticeship at
his trade, our subject spent two years in a practical school of drawing
and was engaged in business in his native town from 1842 until 1848. The
latter year being that of the Revolution he concluded to leave Germany and
try to make his way in the New World. Upon landing in New York City he
engaged in business there for about a year and a half, thence going to
Philadelphia, where he worked for three years, subsequently making his
home for five years in Chicago. In 1860 he landed in this city, his first
work being for Donnell & Saxton, on the
State National Bank, which
was-finished that fall. Little building being done during the troublous
and unsettled conditions of war times, he was not very successful in those
years and turned his hand principally to marble cutting. It is now,
however, many years since the successful climax of his business career was
at all doubtful, for he steadily advanced both financially and in the
estimation of his fellow business men.
In Germany occurred the
marriage of our subject and Miss Lucy Waldschutz, their wedding being
celebrated February 13, 1844. To them have been born the following
children: Pauline, who is the wife of Frederick William Gensen; Charles
A., who is now President of the Pfeiffer Stone Company, and John J., who
is also a member of the same concern. They have lost two children, who
died in infancy. The home of Mr. Pfeiffer is at the corner of Twentieth
and Duncan streets, in a beautiful and picturesque portion of the
southeast portion of the city. The house, which was erected at a cost of
about $10,000, is made of cut stone and is situated on an eminence,
commanding an extensive view of the Missouri river and overlooking much of
the city. Both house and grounds are well kept and the place is considered
one of the finest in this city of beautiful homes.
Mr. Pfeiffer who is
not a politician, however, is an earnest Republican and for many years has
been a member of the Catholic Church. He has a fine and well chosen
library where can be found the choicest classics in both the German and
the English languages, as well as books on scientific, historical and
miscellaneous subjects. After a brief conversation with Mr. Pfeiffer, who
still possesses much of the enthusiasm of youth, one readily perceives
that his library is his special pride and delight, and the effects of his
many years of close study are made manifest in his speech, which bespeaks
him a gentleman of intellectual attainments thoroughly posted on all the
important questions of the day, as well as a student of the history of
(Source: Portrait and Biographical Record of Buchanan and
Clinton Counties, Missouri. Publ. 1893. Transcribed by Charlotte
Emory M. Platt; Probably no
educational institution in the City of St. Joseph has a more practical
relation to the business community and the individual welfare of many
young men and women than the Platt Commercial College, which was an
outgrowth of experimental instruction by Mrs. Platt to a few pupils in her
home some years ago, and which Professor Platt has brought to large and
successful proportions, so that now several hundred young men and young
women each year avail themselves of the facilities and opportunities
presented in the school to secure a practical training for business life.
The proprietor of the institution has had excellent success as an
educator, his success being based on a very extended experience in
Emory Melzar Platt, who was born at Manhattan, Kansas,
November 4, 1865, belongs to a family of professional people, and it has
an interesting record in both the East and West. His father was Rev.
Jeremiah Evarts Platt, who was born at Plymouth, Connecticut, May 2, 1833.
Grandfather Jirah Platt was a native of Connecticut, spent his early life
in that state, but in 1833 took his family to Illinois and was one of the
very early settlers in Adams County on the Mississippi River. Years
elapsed before the first railroad was completed through that section of
Illinois, and when the Platt family came west it made the journey partly
by water route, but the greater distance was by wagon conveyance and with
ox teams to draw these vehicles.
Grandfather Platt bought land near
Mendon, improved a farm out of the wilderness, and continued a resident in
that vicinity until his death. He married Sarah Dutton, who survived him
for some years and spent her closing days with a daughter in Kansas, dying
at a good old age. She also was born in Connecticut, and her brother,
Henry Dutton, was at one time professor of mathematics at Yale College and
also filled the office of governor of his state. In the family of the
grandparents were four sons and one daughter—Henry, Enoch, J. Evarts,
Luther and Martha. Henry and Luther both became preachers in the
Congregational Church. Enoch was a farmer near Wabaunsee, Kansas. Martha
married Amos Cottrell, and lived as farming people near Wabaunsee.
Jeremiah E. Platt was an infant when the family came west and located in
Adams County, Illinois, where he grew up, attended the primitive country
schools of the time, and later was a student in the Jacksonville College.
His career began as a teacher in the district schools, and he made a
remarkable record as an educator and as a churchman. In 1856 he became one
of the early educators in the Kansas country, taught at Topeka, and
organized the first graded school system of that city. After a year he
returned to Illinois, continued his work in the schoolroom, but in 1858
went back to Kansas and bought land near Wabaunsee and took up farming.
From his farm he was called to Manhattan to become teacher of mathematics
at the newly organized State Agricultural College. The agricultural
college at Manhattan had originally been a Methodist institution, and he
was the first to occupy the chair of mathematics after the state took
control and converted it into a college for the special training of young
men and women for agricultural and technical vocations. His work as
teacher of mathematics there continued for about twenty years. Then
ordained to the ministry of the Congregational Church, he found a new held
of work when the National Sunday School Association appointed him state
superintendent of Sunday schools in Kansas. Later, about 1890, he was
appointed superintendent of Sunday schools for Oklahoma when that
territory was opened to white settlement. Locating at Guthrie, he had an
experience which brought him a thorough familiarity with Oklahoma during
its territorial period.
There were only two or three railroads across
the state when he first settled there, and as his work required his
presence in communities all over the territory, he had to depend upon not
only railroads, but upon carriage, horseback, and every other available
means of transportation, and very frequently walked to his appointments.
Necessarily, in view of his advancing years, this work entailed a great
deal of hardship and exposure, and he finally contracted typhoid pneumonia
and died at Guthrie, April 16, 1899.
Reverend Platt married Jennie
Smith, a daughter of Samuel Smith, who was born at East Haven,
Connecticut, a son of Thomas and Desire (Thompson) Smith, who were natives
and life-long residents of East Haven, Connecticut. Samuel Smith for many
years followed the sea, and after retiring moved west and settled in
Kansas, near Manhattan, where his last days were spent and where he died
at the age of ninety-four. Samuel Smith married Mary Ann Trego, who was
born in Maryland. Her father, Levin Trego, who was a soldier in the War of
1812 and who died in Maryland, married Sally Brommell, who lived to the
remarkable age of one hundred years. Mrs. Jennie Platt, the mother of
Professor Platt, is still living, her home being in St. Joseph.
the mother of four sons: George, who died at the age of seventeen while a
student at Oberlin College; Henry Augustus, Emory Melzer, and Edward Leon.
The son, Henry A., after an education in the Manhattan State Agricultural
College and at Oberlin College in Ohio, located in Wichita County, Kansas;
served as county clerk for some years, and finally moved to Guthrie,
Oklahoma, where he was manager of one of the early daily newspapers. On
the breaking out of the war with Spain in 1898 he was commissioned first
lieutenant of his company and later made quartermaster of the regiment.
The regiments rendezvoused at San Antonio, Texas; from there went to
Bowling Green, Kentucky, later to Macon, Georgia, and finally to Florida,
where it was stationed at the time the war closed. While at Bowling Green
his horse fell, and he received injuries from 'which he never recovered.
His death occurred at Phoenix, Arizona. Henry A. Platt married Mollie
Smith, of Bowling Green, Kentucky, who survives with two children, named
Henry Augustus and Lucile. The son, Edward L. Platt, who was also a
student at Manhattan and later at Washburne College in Topeka, is now vice
president of the American Electric Company at St. Joseph, Missouri.
Professor Platt spent most of his youth at Manhattan, where he
attended the public schools, was a student for two years in the
agricultural college, and finished his literary education with three years
at Oberlin College. In the meantime he had followed the line of his
special talent and had become a student of music, and took considerable
instruction in that art at the conservatory in Oberlin College. At the
close of his college career he spent one year as a teacher of music. This
was followed by a tour of the country, which gave him a first hand
acquaintance with many states and cities. He went to the Pacific coast,
visited all the points of interest in the western states, finally reaching
Victoria, British Columbia, from which point he turned east and by way of
Winnipeg finally arrived at Kansas City and thence home to Manhattan. In
that city he was engaged in the grocery business for one year, then moved
to Topeka and attended the Standard School of Shorthand and Typewriting.
With this technical training for business, he became a court reporter, and
also did work for different members of the State Legislature.
Mr. Platt came to St. Joseph to take charge of the local offices of the
Remington Typewriter Company, but at the end of three years resigned to
establish the Platt Business College. While he was looking after the sale
of the Remington machines in St. Joseph, Mrs. Platt was teaching a few
persons typewriting and stenography at her home. As more applied for
instruction than she could accommodate, they then rented a room in the
Ballinger Building, put in four machines and began the college in a formal
way with four pupils. At the present time the Platt Business College turns
out from three hundred and fifty to four hundred graduates each year. The
college has a complete equipment, uses eight rooms, and has a faculty of
On August 8, 1891, Mr. Platt married Mrs. Elizabeth
(Landon) Healey. To their union has been born two children: Emory M., Jr.,
and J. Evarts. Emory M., Jr., married Chloe Morris, and has one son, Emory
M. III. Mrs. Platt has three children by her first marriage, namely: Fairy
Louise, Helen P., and Landon. Fairy L. married Leslie F. Hauch and has two
children, Elizabeth and Gene. Helen P. married Walter Closson, and has a
daughter, Helen Dunbar, and a son, Walter H., Jr. Landon married Florence
Newman and has a son, Landon Prescott. Mr. Platt and wife are members of
the Congregational Church, and fraternally he is affiliated with St.
Joseph Lodge No. 22, Knights of Pythias, and St. Joseph Lodge No. 40, B.
P. 0. E.
[A History of Northwest Missouri, Volume 2; edited by
Walter Williams; Publ. 1918; Donated and Transcribed by Andrea Stawski
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