Tombstones speak to history relevant today- who were the Fraziers?
It’s time again for the Kansas Oil Museum’s annual Cemetery Tours on Saturday and Sunday, October 28 and 29. These are guided walking tours through El Dorado’s oldest cemeteries, where attendees will hear stories of many fascinating people who played a part in El Dorado’s history. (Call for tickets 321-9333.) Not only spooky, but fascinating!
El Dorado has three cemeteries- Sunset Lawns south of El Dorado on both sides of the Southwest Trafficway, 38 acres, established 1872 south side (4 years after the founding of El Dorado), 1939, north side; Belle Vista in northeast El Dorado, 12 acres, established in 1887 (Did you know there are 49 Civil War veterans buried here?); Walnut Valley Memorial Park in west El Dorado, 15 acres, established in 1955.
On my own tour of the Bella Vista Cemetery, I noticed the family plot of the Frazier family, complete with a “mini mausoleum.” Who was this family with such a presence here in our cemetery? Research revealed an interesting biography of Nathan Frank Frazier, who died in 1907 and is buried there.
Born in Iowa in 1846, Frazier left home in his early teens to become a wage earner. He traveled with a circus for a couple of years, and then drove a stage coach in Nebraska. After returning home in 1863 to complete another term of school, he joined forces with his friend John Betts. He bought a wagon train which they loaded with goods and took off for the Pacific coast, selling the goods in San Francisco. They engaged in numerous provision freighting endeavors in the western and central United States, which included a stint in El Dorado.
In 1868 the two men sold their freighting equipment and located in El Dorado where they established a grocery business. The Osage Trust and the Diminished Reserve lands had just been opened, and settlers were flocking into the rich Walnut Valley. Various industries were springing up in El Dorado, and their business, being among the first on the ground, proved profitable beyond their fondest expectations.1
In 1880, at the age of 34, Frazier entered the banking business when he established the Bank of El Dorado with partner Gen. A.W. Ellet with a capital of $10,000. After a number of sales, organizations and acquisitions, Mr. Frazier became President of the Farmers and Merchants National Bank (at one time located at 101 N. Main in El Dorado). In 1899 he organized the Citizens State Bank of El Dorado, in which he was the dominant executive until his death in 1907, and it became the largest bank in deposits in Butler County. His sons R.E. Frazier and N.F. Frazier, Jr. continued to own controlling interest in the bank after his death.
Banking was not his only business endeavor. He had interests in lead and zinc mining in Missouri, large bodies of farm land, was president for many years of the Oklahoma Mortgage and Trust Company in Guthrie, Oklahoma, had valuable hay contracts with the Kansas City Stock Yards, to mention a portion of his activities. At the time of his death, he had accumulated one of the largest estates ever in Butler County.
Mr. Frazier was active in the community, serving as City Councilman in El Dorado, Postmaster and as auditor of Butler County.
This about Nathan Frank Frazier, Sr. from Vol P. Mooney’s History of Butler County:
“His interests were numerous and most extensive; he was an indefatigable worker; a man of indomitable purpose and courage; a stickler for fidelity and loyalty who made his word as good as a bond and required others to do the same; and was not only considered so by many, but was one of the shrewdest, keenest, boldest and safest business men and bankers that the State of Kansas ever produced.”2
Nathan Frazier’s brother Seth Frazier also came to El Dorado and established businesses. In 1886 he established a coal business with which he conducted a transfer and hack line, which proved to be a very profitable business. In 1905 he engaged in the retail lumber business, handling all kinds of builders' supplies, first at the corner of Pine and South Main, then moving to Ash and South Gordy (eventually Home Lumber?). He helped his brother Nathan Frank organize the Citizens State Bank, and served as a director there. He and his second wife Clara had two children, James and Frances3. All are also buried in Bella Vista Cemetery. Some of us may remember Frances who lived in El Dorado at the corner of Star and Olive Streets in the lovely Victorian house. She died in 1994.
The impact of the Frazier family is still felt in El Dorado today through still-existing businesses and even still-existing buildings. They made positive impact on the emerging community, and left a fine foundation on which subsequent generations could build.
For detailed and colorful biographies and history, visit the websites below.
2 History of Butler County by Vol. P. Mooney, pgs 288, 289; https://books.google.com/books?id=h3YUAAAAYAAJ&q=Nathan+Frank+Frazier#v=onepage&q=Nathan%20Frank%20Frazier&f=false
3 Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... , edited by Frank W. Blackmar; http://www.ksgenweb.com/archives/1912/f3/frazier_nathan_frank.html