Fry W. Giles
One of the signers of the town charter, Fry Giles also was the source of most of what we know about early Topeka. His book, “Thirty Years in Topeka, 1854 to 1884,” is a first-person account of the birth and early growth of the capital city.
Giles was born in Littleton, New Hampshire, May 30, 1819. He was in the mercantile business there and dealt in real estate.
But the reports of border ruffians trying to turn the new Kansas Territory into a slave state made Giles want to head west to join free-staters in their cause. He arrived at Westport in late November 1854 and made the two-day walk from there to Lawrence with several other men, including some who would be co-signers of the Topeka charter.
He did not linger in Lawrence, but continued west to what would become Topeka. He busied himself with the business of creating a city. He was Topeka’s first postmaster. As secretary of the Topeka Town Association, he recorded deeds and land transfers. As a notary public, he was constantly busy handling paperwork for land deals, estates and, after the war, soldiers’ claims.
He helped with a survey for town sites, which the town association laid out with the assistance of a cheap compass for direction and ropes for measurement. His own home was a farm site on the Shunganunga, apart from the burgeoning business district along Kansas Avenue. He operated a freight and stage office in town.
Once the war was over, Giles settled into the banking business, becoming Topeka’s first banker. In his spare time, he recorded the development not just of Topeka, but of the surrounding townships.
Giles was married to Caroline A. Fellows, of Salisbury, New Hampshire. She is buried with him in Section 9, as is Giles’s brother, Aaron.