Col James Boyer Runnion

Col James Boyer Runnion

Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, Indiana, USA
Death 6 May 1897 (aged 54)
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri, USA
Burial Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA
Plot Section D Lot 846 & 847 Grave 3
Memorial ID 81510187 · View Source
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Has Been Confined to His Room at the
Coates House Since April 12--
Some of His More Notable

James B. Runnion, associate editor of the Kansas City Star, died in his apartments at the Coates House at 11:15 o'clock last night. He had been delirious except at intervals since last Sunday. For nearly a month Mr. Runnion had been confned to his room, Bright's disease having made steady inroads upon his system for a long time. He was unconscious for nearly five hours before his death. His aged mother, who arrived from Chicago last Sunday, was given an affectionate greeting shortly before conciousness lapsed for the last time. She bade her son good night and retired to her room at 9:30 and was not aroused when the end came. She will not know of her son's death until this morning.
Only the attending physician, Dr. L. G. Taylor, and the nurses were at the deathbed. Outside the door anxious friends were waiting. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. T. W. Johnstone, August F. Seested and Alex Butts, of the Star, Timothy Cotter, Charles G. Baird, Henry Garland, Colonel D. W. Longwell, J. J. Williams, Joseph Glymm and Val Bicking. Mr. Runnion suffered very little during his last hours. Mr. Runnion's death is a great loss to the newspaper world, and his death will be keenly felt by a great number of friends both in and out of the profession.
The body will be taken to Chicago for interment, probably to-night, accompanied by Colonel and Mrs. W. R. Nelson and Alexander Butts. The interment will be at Graceland cemetery.
James Boyer Runnion was born in Lafayette, Ind., September 29, 1842. During his boyhood his parents moved to Cincinnati, later to St. Louis, and finally to Chicago, in 1856, where his mother still resides. His father, David Runnion, was a well known citizen of Chicago for many years prior to his death in 1881.
Mr. Runnion attended Racine college at Racine, Wis., and later went to Notre Dame, Ind. While at Notre Dame he met William R. Nelson, who was attending the same institution, and a friendship sprang up between them which has ever since continued.
Mr. Runnion graduated from Notre Dame in 1860, after which he took a degree at the University of Chicago and began the study of law. In 1862, when 20 years of age, he was sent abroad and spent two years in Europe, principally in Paris and Berlin. There he perfected an education in French and German which had been well grounded at Notre Dame.
Shortly after his return to America, in 1864, his father met with financial reverses. Young Runnion was made dependent upon his own efforts. He entered the field of newspaper work, and in 1866 he wrote an article for the Chicago Times which attracted the attentionof Wilbur F. Story, who made him dramatic editor of the Times.
This was the beginning of a brilliant career as a newspaper man. He remained with the Times until shortly after the Chicago fire, under a managment probably as exacting as ever directed a newspaper, and was early accounted a man of rare ability. During his connection with the Times he also adapted a number of plays for the McVicker stock company, and became a fast friend of John McVicker, as indeed of most of the noted members of the theatrical profession. Joseph Jefferson and W. J. Florence were his very close friends. He was also a very intimate friend of such newspaper men as Henry Watterson and Joseph Medill.
Just after the great Chicago fire he was prominently identified with the unsuccessful effort to revive the old Chicago Post, after which he became managing editor of the Chicago Tribune, which position he occupied during the Greeley-Grant campaign. He was managing editor of that paper for five or six years, when he became its associate editor, remaining in the latter position until 1884, when his health failed and he was compelled to take a rest.
For one year of the thirty-one since he entered the newspaper field, he was not connected with any paper. In 1885 he became associate editor of the Kansas City Star, retaining that position until his death. His associates on the Star regarded him with genuine affection. One of the strong points of his character was his devotion to his friends. He was punctilious in his civility toward everyone, but had a distinctive manner of treatment for his best friends.
Mr. Runnion's work was done with little effort. He seemed to know when he began writing just what he wanted to say and just how to say it. There was seldom an erasure. His manuscript was exceedingly neat and legible. His writings were always clear, terse and succinct, and the same qualities marked his conversation. He had charge of the editorial page of the Star, and when he desired an editorial wrtten, his directions embraced every phrase of he subject, and in language so plain that there was no mistaking his views. In conversation, as in writing, he never used an unnecessary word or omitted one which added clearness to a sentence.
Mr. Runnion had a fine sense of humor. A few days before his death he observed, of a large collection of flowers sent by friends, that he was shown all the consideration of a distinguished criminal. He was an accomplished French scholar. Several years ago he translated Lamartine's "Graziella." He also translated many plays and dramatized "Partners" from the French novel. He wrote "Mignon," which Lotta played with great success for many years, and he was the author of the social comedy, "Hearts and Diamonds," which had considerable success, and "A Hundred Wives," the latter in collaboration with Gilbert Pierce. It was in this comedy that DeWolf Hopper first starred. One of his plays, "Miss Manning," was revived a few years ago by Effie Ellsler, who produced it in Kansas City He wore a black pearl scarfpin which had been given him by Mary McVicker Booth, daughter of John McVicker and wife of Edwin Booth. The friendship between Mr. Runnion and Mr. McVicker was so close that when Mrs. Booth died in Europe and the remains were met by her father in New York, the funeral arrangements in Chicago were all made by Mr. Runnion.
Mr. Runnion was reticent in speaking of his work, and his best friends do not know all that he accomplished. He wrote the article on Chicago for the Encyclopedia Britannica. He had written many magazine articles and contributed largely to the literature of his time. He had a genuine pride in Kansas City, believed in the city and predicted it would have a great future. He rarely left Kansas City of late years except to go to Chicago for a feww weeks. He retained his membership in the Chicago Press Club, and spent much of his time there when in that city.
Mr. Runnion never fully recovered from his illness in 1884. Of late years he had suffered greatly and at different times had been dangerously ill. During his last illness he had been confined to his room at the Coates House since April 12.
The Kansas City Journal
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri
Fri 7 May 1897
Page 3, columns 1-2

Will of the Late J. B. Runnion
The will of the late Colonel J. B. Runnion was filed for probate yesterday. Personal property valued at $3,000 is left to his mother, Eliza Ann Runnion, of Chicago, and at her death to Colonel W. R. Nelson, of this city. He mentions his three children, Grace, William Nelson and Helen Runnion, but states that in view of the fact that he placed the bulk of his property in trust for them several years ago, he desires to make no further provision for them. The will was dated June 12, 1895.
The Kansas City Journal
Kansas City, Jackson County, Missouri
Fri 4 Jun 1897
Page 8, column 1

CLASS OF 1860.

James Boyer Runnion was born in the City of Lafayette, Indiana, September 29th, 1842. When about two years of age, his parents removed to St. Louis, Mo., where they remained till 1856, during which interval Mr. James Runnion attended school regularly, preparatory to entering College. In 1856, the family removed to Chicago, 111., where they reside at present. Shortly after the removal of his family to Chicago, Mr. James Runnion began his collegiate course at Racine College, Wisconsin. In the second year of his course, (1857) he came to Notre Dame University, where, by dilligent study, rendered fruitful by a more than ordinary degree of native talent, he completed his collegiate studies in three years, and obtained the honors of the baccalaureate at the Annual Commencement in 1860, being still in his eighteenth year, though developed in mind beyond what his age would indicate.
Believing himself still too young to enter upon the study of a profession, Mr. Runnion entered the University of Chicago, where he remained for one year, receiving at the end of that time, the honorary degree of Master of Arts. This was one of the first degrees conferred by that University; Major Charles "W. Scaramon, of Chicago, and Gen. Thos. M. Hyde, of Maine, receiving the degree of A. B. at the same time.
Soon after this, Mr. Runnion entered the army of West Virginia, to fight for the Union, then in danger. He was tendered a Majority in a volunteer cavalry regiment, but declined, hoping to secure a position in the regular army and adopt for life the profession of arms. Failing in this, he resolved to travel in Europe, and being seconded in this by his father, David Runnion, Esq., he set sail from New York, two weeks after he had first determined upon this course.
Mr. Runnion remained in Europe about two and a half years, visiting some of the principal cities of England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Germany, before proceeding to Berlin, at whose famous University he spent one year, taking out a diploma in the law department on his departure thence. After this, he made another tour through Central and Southern Germany, and so familiarized himself with the language of the country, that he readily passed for a native "Berliner," a state of affairs which he found both pleasant and economical. This second tour he wound up in Paris, where he remained nearly one year with a view to perfect his knowledge of the French language. He also attended, during his stay in Paris, a course of lectures in the University of France.
From Paris, Mr. Runnion made a third tour, through the south of France, visiting all places of note in that region; passing thence into Italy, he traveled on with a sense of growing pleasure, as he saluted the renowned places of that classic laud, till he reached Rome, and gazed upon those historic scenes which had often painted themselves to his youthful imagination, as he pored over the pages of Livy and Horace. From Rome, Mr. Runnion returned through Switzerland to Paris, and soon after, took passage from Havre for New York. One of the first things he did on his return home, was to deliver an address to the students of the University of Notre Dame, at the Annual Commencement, in response to an invitation from the President. In this address, Mr. Runnion showed that he had not traveled in vain his mind, naturally brilliant, and, moreover, prepared by systematic training, had seized upon and classified the varied objects of interest which came within his observation, and made them a treasure from which he can draw at will. On this occasion he received from his Alma Mater his second honorary degree of Master of Arts.
After this, Mr. Runnion devoted something more than a year to the study of law, but finally abandoned it for journalism, which, with the profession of letters, will probably be a life-long pursuit. Previous to entering upon his present calling, he had contributed to both English and American periodicals and magazines, and felt that literature was the vocation most congenial to his tastes, a fact first discovered, no doubt, when as a student at Notre Dame, he was one of the original Editors of The Progress, a manuscript college paper read semi-monthly in the study hall. Mr. Runnion has been for upwards of two years, Associate Editor of The Chicago Times, having charge of the Literary and Fine Art departments. About the time that he assumed his present responsibility as Associate Editor, Mr. Runnion married Miss Ellen S. Conkey, an amiable and accomplished Chicago lady, possessed of an unusual talent for music; a talent which the wife of Mr. Runnion ought to possess; for we know that he, like most men of cultivated minds, has an appreciative taste for music. With his abilities and under the influence of domestic harmony, it will be surprising if Mr. Runnion does not attain an enviable reputation in the domain of Literature.
Silver Jubilee of the University of Notre Dame
Published by the University of Notre Dame
23 Jun 1869

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From cemetery records:
~ Age: 54 years, 7 months, 7 days
~ Burial: 9 May 1897

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  • Created by: J F-B
  • Added: 4 Dec 2011
  • Find a Grave Memorial 81510187
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Col James Boyer Runnion (29 Sep 1842–6 May 1897), Find a Grave Memorial no. 81510187, citing Graceland Cemetery, Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, USA ; Maintained by J F-B (contributor 47283216) .