Born in Astoria, Illinois, in January 7, 1846. Engineer. Scientist.
Farmer. Financier. Lawyer. Poet. The first graduate of the University
of Kentucky, Bachelor of Science, 1869. Died, February 6, 1930.
The first graduate of the University of Kentucky came to Lexington
partly because his mother was a Kentuckian. He had attended the
county schools of Fulton County, Illinois, and received a year
of college at Abingdon, Illinois. With his brother, Thomas, he
had taught in the schools near his family farm birthplace of Astoria,
before journeying to the Bluegrass state (again, with his brother)
to finish the four-year program (with some additional work) in
A student of engineering, he also taught on campus and labored
at odd jobs on Saturdays and during vacation periods. It was as
a laborer that he began his career, with the Rockford, Rock Island
and St. Louis Railway in Central Illinois, but he soon was promoted
to the survey corps at a salary of $100 a month. He quit the railroad
to enter business, furnishing piling and bridge timbers to the
railroad. By 1871, he was in Texas, surveying and locating land
for railroad expansion near Sherman. He began the study of law
and was admitted to the Texas Bar.
While locating a site for a terminal for the Missouri, Kansas
and Texas Railroad, he became interested in the area around Denison
(which was selected as the site for the terminal). He settled
there to engage in the practice of law and as a real estate agent.
In 1883, he was joined by his brother Thomas, and together they
formed the firm of Munson Realty Company, which endured until
1915. Early in his Texas career, he also engaged in the cattle
business, and talked often of his experiences with the Indians
and rough characters of the Texas Panhandle area.
Pioneering continued to rule his spirit. He organized and headed
the Southwestern Coal and Improvement Company, and opened coal
mines at Coalgate, Oklahoma. In 1905, he organized the Denison
Cotton Mill Company, and served as its first President. He organized
the Southwestern Surety Insurance Company, and was its first President.
He organized and was President of the Denison Light & Power Company,
and was instrumental in building two bridges across the Red River
between Denison and Oklahoma. He also founded and was the first
President of the Eastland (Texas) Power & Light Company.
He was President of the First National Bank of Denison, President
of the Denison and Washita Railroad Company, and of the Sherman
and Southern Railroad Company.
He wrote extensively for a newspaper edited in Mississippi and
wrote considerable poetry. At one time he owned 75,000 acres of
land and had a quarter of a million more acres under lease. With
his brother and partner, he donated more than 200 acres of land
to Denison for parks and later spent $20,000 in improving the