Henry C. Loomis was the son of Bliss and Betsey Loomis, of the township of Otto, in Cattaraugus County, New York, where he was born in a log house on March 16, 1834. His grandfather was an officer in the revolutionary war, and from him he inherited a love for military life.
While still a boy, he became a member of a local military company and served in it seven years when the Civil war broke out. The company was absorbed into the 64th New York Infantry. He had the rank of first Lieutenant. He commanded the company at the battle of Fair Oaks. He was shot twice, once through the leg and once through the arm, while leading a charge against the Confederates.
Lieut. Loomis, while at home recuperating after the sickness resulting from his wounds, assisted in organizing the 154th New York infantry. He became Lieutenant Colonel of this new company. He served gallantly through the remainder of the war, a fact which has been recognized by different Grand Army organizations. Loomis served as local G. A. R. post commander for some years, and as department commander of the state in 1903.
After the war, Col. Loomis went to the oil fields of Pennsylvania for a short time. He then became interested in the rafting of logs and lumber down the Ohio River. This not being to his taste, he next landed in Topeka, Kansas, where for several months he was connected with the Santa Fe. He helped to build the railroad from Topeka to Emporia, a distance of forty miles.
Colonel Loomis came to the valley of the Walnut in 1868 as a bridge builder. He saw the future of that country and in 1869 squatted on a piece of Osage land and held it until the government came in possession of it. He homesteaded the land between 12th and 19th, and Main Street and Courier Street. He farmed this land for a number of years, until it became more valuable for town lots than for agriculture. He donated to the City of Winfield, for school use, the square block of land that Lowell school is on. He helped to organize Cowley County and was elected as the first county clerk May 2, 1870. In July 1871, he was appointed one of the townsite commissioners of the town of Winfield to set off the lots belonging to each settler. Col. Loomis was independent since his land had nothing to do with the original town. He held no other civic office until he was elected Mayor in 1896 and reelected in 1897.
Winfield Messenger, Friday, July 19, 1872.
The Agricultural Society has been successful in obtaining grounds from H. C. Loomis and A. Meanor. Mr. Meanor has truly shown the proper spirit toward the Society by giving 3 and 6/10ths acres for a nominal price, believing that his valuable land will be made more valuable by the liberal terms given the Society.
Colonel Loomis was made a Master mason in 1862 in New York state. He continued his Masonic career in Winfield, being a charter member of Winfield Lodge number 58 and the Lodge’s first Worshipful Master. He remained a consistent member for forty-three years, during which time he advanced to the thirty-third, or highest, degree.
He was a loyal worker in the Grand Army of the Republic, Siverd Post No. 85, serving as commander. In 1902 He was elected Kansas Department Commander.
He was also a willing worker in the B. P. O. E. lodge 732 in Winfield and also in the Redman lodge.
On December 25, 1897, at six o’clock in the evening, Henry C. Loomis (age 63) married Ida Maria Houck (age 40) at her home in Wichita. In addition to a few immediate relatives, only a half-dozen intimate friends of the bride and groom were present. He was serving his second term as Mayor of Winfield. The Winfield Courier newspaper article stated “they will reside at her residence at 306 East Central in Wichita.”
Ida Maria Houck was the widow of Samuel Houck who had died in 1895. Samuel Houck had owned and operated a successful hardware store (I. M. Houck, Hardware) at 116 East Douglass in Wichita. They had two children, Adrian S. Houck (who later became a Wichita Lawyer) and Marie E. Houck, who attended the Lewis Academy in Wichita. Ida Maria Houck inherited and operated the store. The wedding party included Mrs. Loomis’s children by her first marriage. Mrs. Loomis is referred to as follows: “Mrs. Loomis occupies an exalted position in society accorded her not so much on account of her wealth as on account of her many noble qualities of mind and heart.”
Mr. and Mrs. Loomis left on an evening train for Excelsior Springs, Mo., for a two week honeymoon.
Interestingly the wedding was reported in the Wichita Beacon but not in the Wichita Eagle.
Col. Loomis closed his house in Winfield and moved to Wichita. Later he and his wife were divorced but not in Cowley County. (After the divorce her address changed to 508 North Lawrence in Wichita.) He moved back to Winfield and took a room in the Dawson building. This was prior to March 4, 1904, when he made his will where he acknowledged that he had no kith or kin.
Col. Henry Champney Loomis died Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m., October 14, 1905, in Saint Mary’s Hospital in Winfield, Kansas. His death was the direct result of the amputation of his right leg just below the knee, made on account of a gangrenous condition setting up from a slight injury and inflammation of the joint of the great toe. The slow spread of the disease would not yield to medical treatment, and the patient was dying at the rate of about a sixteenth of an inch a day. Hence his surgeons deemed that the only chance, and it a narrow one, was to cut off the member. To this he consented, preferring the risk of quick demise to the horror of lingering death, accompanied by long drawn-out suffering.
He was taken to Saint Mary’s Hospital from his rooms in W. H. Dawson’s building, on Tuesday, October 10th, and the operation was performed Wednesday forenoon. He came through the ordeal in good shape and rallied with remarkable vigor, giving renewed hope for his complete recovery. But diabetes had afflicted him for a long time, and this condition having permeated his system together with his age, was against him and he slowly sank until the end came. Before the operation he made all the arrangements for his funeral because he realized that he had about run his race. He told his physicians that he had lived his life to suit himself and that he was perfectly satisfied. After the operation, he refused to take food and died October 14, 1905.
At midnight, Tuesday, October 17, began the first solemn rites in the disposal of the remains of Col. Henry C. Loomis, 33, a brother in the Wichita Consistory. The Scottish Rite was held at the Grand Opera House with nearly a thousand in attendance.
On Wednesday afternoon, October 18, at 2 o’clock, the final funeral services were held at the opera house. The sermon was by Rev. T. W. Jeffrey. Burial took place at the Union-Graham Cemetery.
His will was made and witnessed March 21, 1904. He died without kith or kin so he selected his monument to be erected on the lot in the Union Graham cemetery where his remains were to be buried. He made a number of specific bequests with the balance of his large estate going to James H. McCall of Wichita and O. H. Coulter of Topeka, equally. Mr. McCall was in the wedding party when Col. Loomis was married in Wichita in 1897.
Two nephews, M. C. Loomis and Guy B. Loomis, came from Loomis’ Corners, Otto Township, Cattaraugus County, New York, for the funeral. Their father and grandfather were both born there and their great-grandfather lived a great part of their lives there.