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“Biographical Sketch”


(Familiarly Known as “B. R.”)

Written By

Daisy Ferguson Grimes

(Mrs. B. R.”)



William Bradford Grimes, only son, of Captain Richard, or more familiarly called Captain Dick Grimes, was born in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, September 15, 1825; died in Great Bend, Kansas, February 2, 1904. He is buried in the Grimes family lot, Forest Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri. He married December 18, 1855, Maria Louise Robbins, daughter of Philemon Robbins of an old family of merchants, of Hartford, Connecticut. She was born February 23, 1837 in Hartford; died on the Tres Palacios ranch, Texas, August 29, 1876; and is buried in the family cemetery on the ranch.

William Bradford Grimes, already established in the Texas country, found a willing and loyal companion in this gentle, city bred girl. Unused to hardships she went with him, far from family and friends to share the life of the Pioneer Texan.

The journey, at that time, was made by steamer down the Atlantic and across the Gulf to Galveston; or by rail to Cairo, Illinois, a river boat to New Orleans, by steamer to Galveston and Indianola, (a town later wiped out in a tropical storm) and finally by a sail boat up the Tres Palacios river, some fifteen miles to a landing on the ranch.

They were the parents of thirteen children all born on the Texas ranch. Their birth and baptismal records may be found in the old church book of records, of Christ’s Episcopal Church, Matagorda, Texas, or from the priest in charge at St. Mark’s, Bay City, Texas.

Of the thirteen children, of Marie Louise Robbins and William Bradford Grimes, five died as infants and were buried in the family cemetery on the ranch. The others are:

  • Bradford Robbins-born September 29, 1857. Married Daisy Ferguson, Emporia, Kansas, March 11, 1908. Present home Ashland or Emporia, Kansas.

  • Fanny Louise-born November 10, 1860. Married in Kansas City, Missouri, Thomas Jefferson Poole, son of Mrs. Irene Poole, on October 13, 1881. Died November 7, 1888. Buried on the Tres Palacios ranch in Texas.

  • Charlotte Malvina-Born December 27, 1863. Married John Tevis Hardwood in Kansas City, Missouri, November 21, 1888. Died July 2, 1926 in Baltimore, Maryland. Buried in Great Neck, Long Island.

  • William Bradford Jr.-Born February 20, 1866. Married Lena Blanche Lackey, Ashland, Kansas, August 24, 1897. Present home, 1244 Ohio, Lawrence, Kansas.

  • Richard-Born April 14, 1868. Married Katherine Thomas, Palmyra, Missouri, September 11, 1889. Died July 30, 1944. Buried at Santa Ana, California.

  • Emily Charlotte- Born December 11 1869. Married Edward Green in Kansas City, Missouri, April 27, 1892. Present home 312 Leicester Road, Kenilworth, Illinois.

  • George- Born January 30, 1874. Died February 15, 1886, in Kansas City, Missouri. Buried in the Grimes lot, Forest Hills Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri.

  • Louise Robbins-Born August 25, 1876. Present home Long Beach, California, or Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Mr. Grimes married a second time. Mrs. Irene Poole –Born November 25, 1835. Died September 1896. Buried in Forest Hills Cemetery, Kansas City, Missouri. From this marriage there was one child.

  • Grace Irene-Born December 5, 1881. Married James E. Wilson. Home Estes Park and Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Mr. Grimes married a third time on October 24, 1900 to Miss Lillian Cornell who survives him and lives in the Bradford home, Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Christ’s Episcopal Church, Matagorda, Texas from whose records this genealogy was obtained is historically interesting. It was the first protestant church in Texas of an organized group. Its organization came from the missionary efforts of the Episcopal Church of the United States in the then Republic of Texas. The organization was completed January 27, 1839; the corner stone laid November 1840; cons created 1844 by Right Reverend Bishop Polk of Louisiana. He was known as the fighting Bishop, having been active in the war with Mexico, and later a general in the Connecticut army.

The church has been three times destroyed by a tropical hurricane and salvaged each time. The altar, chancel, and pews are of massive black walnut. A window of beautiful Florentine glass shreds its glow over the altar.

William Bradford Grimes was a man of distinguished appearance and courtly manner. One of indomitable will, yet an unassuming natural leader in the fields of church, business and social relations.

His Texas holdings expanded into thousands of acres and cattle. To the ranch on the Tres Palacios was added to another in West Texas and later on in Dakota and one in the Indian Territory. He also, owned slaves, who in loyalty remained on the Texas ranch, following emancipation. Several now rest in the family cemetery.

During the Civil War and the Southern blockade, with no outlet for their cattle, the natural increase was tremendous. Texas cattlemen faced untold hardships. Ones wealth was not measured in greater numbers, but in fewer. Cattle were slaughtered for hides and tallow. The carcasses left rotting on the prairie or food for coyotes.

At this time, Mr. Grimes, built a small packing plant on the ranch. The main building was a two-story frame structure as modern as could have been built at that time. Two hundred beeves was the average slaughter per day. This was before the time of refrigeration. The little that could be saved was from a small amount canned, and the hides and tallow.

Following the Civil War’s end and the lifting of the blockade, marked the beginning of that spectacular epic in United States history, known as the Trail movement. First, a few drives out of Texas to New Orleans, Mobile, Shreveport, or St. Louis on the Mississippi. The big drives came later into Kansas when rails began pushing out from the Missouri river across the plains of Kansas. Mr. Grime’s outfit followed the trails throughout their years of life. His herds were driven from the Texas ranch to Abilene, and Ellis on the Kansas Pacific; later to Newton, Wichita, Great Bend and Dodge City on the Santa Fe.

Contact in business at these points with buyers from the thriving town of Kansas City; their interest in him; his recognition of tremendous opportunities, there, and with his wife having died and with a family to educate, he moved from the Texas ranch to Kansas City, Missouri, 1879. The family home was at 1229 Locust, now a part of the site of the Jackson County courthouse.

He continued in the cattle business with his eldest son, Bradford Robbins, in active management. However, he began a civic career. He built the five story Grimes block at 516 Delaware and opened a wholesale dry goods store. He organized and was president of the American National Bank; had large real estate holdings and, at one time, was president or director of fourteen business enterprises. He was the first president of the Kansas City Commercial Club now known as the Chamber of Commerce. In his memory, an oil painting of him, hangs on the Chamber of Commerce walls, a testimony to his moral, civic and financial leadership.

At the time of the eldest daughter’s marriage, he gave her the Texas ranch home surrounded by two thousand acres. Following her death, it became the property of her small son and daughter, and was later sold to divide their estate.

Unable to combat the panic of the late 80’s and early 90’s the greater part of his holdings were given up. However, with his characteristic ability- Mr. Grimes took a new hold on business only to have his life suddenly ended with pneumonia, February 2, 1904.


Copyright 2007 - Present by the Grimes Family
All rights reserved

Oct. 25, 2007
Oct. 25, 2007