William Henry Mize certainly helped put Osborne County on the map in its early days. William was born March 28, 1846, in Proctor, Owlsley County, Kentucky, to William and Caroline (Jacobs) Mize. There he grew to manhood and in 1861 he enlisted in the Union Army at the outbreak of the Civil War. Once he was captured by a unit of Confederate soldiers, which included some of his cousins. “It’s good to see you, Willie,” one of them told him, “but not in the company you keep.”
After being mustered out of service at the war’s end William moved to Kansas. At Junction City he met and married Louisa Ann Panton on January 3, 1872. They had five children, William, Walter, Granville, Mabel, and Ethel. In 1882 William relocated his family to Osborne, Kansas, where his parents had already settled. The Mizes first bought a farm southwest of town but soon moved into Osborne and rented out the farm.
Early in life William became a member of the Methodist Church and upon his arrival in Osborne he became a valuable layman in the church there. He is credited with rebuilding and thus saving the history of the church’s early years after the original records were lost in a fire. He worked as a farmer and later in Osborne he became an insurance agent and land speculator. One of his passions was writing. While many of his manuscripts never saw publication some did; the most notable was Gold, Grace, and Glory, which was published August 8, 1896, by G. W. Dillingham Publishers of New York, New York. The novel tells the tale of Methodist Church youth and their social lives as they traveled to various points in the Osborne County area.
From 1903 through 1906 William served two terms as Osborne County Clerk. His deputy was his daughter Mabel. But he achieved his greatest fame as a loyal and accomplished member of the Masonic fraternal organizations. At this point in time membership in the ancient Masonic movement was highly prized and essential for furthering any careers in business or politics. The local Masonic Lodge was often the catalyst for new ideas and needed improvements in the smaller towns and cities across America. William Mize joined the Masons in 1868 and remained a member for fifty-two years, carrying over his membership wherever he later moved to. He joined Saqui Lodge, Number 160, in Osborne in 1884 and rose to the highest positions available within the Masonic fraternity ever achieved by an Osborne County citizen. He advanced in all degrees except the Scottish Rite, and only failed there because in his time the rite could only be conferred upon a candidate in Scotland itself. William served every office and capacity and three times served as Illustrious Grand Master of the Grand Council of Kansas, the head of all Masonic activities in the state. The DeMolay Lodge for Masonic Youth in Osborne was founded by Mize and was later renamed for him. His influence in Masonic matters reached beyond Kansas across the Midwest and in doing so further enhanced Osborne County as a notable place to live and work.
William Mize died April 12, 1920, in Osborne. An elaborate Masonic ceremony accompanied this most distinguished Mason to his final resting place in the Osborne Cemetery.