Frederick Funston was the youngest brigadier general at age 35, a
Medal of Honor recipient, and the "Man Who Saved San Francisco" after the earthquake and
fire of 1906. 1865-1917.
Colonel Frederick Funston in 20th Kansas uniform. Photo courtesy Kansas Historical Society
Born in Ohio
in 1865, Frederick Funston moved with his family to a home north of Iola, Kansas
Funston's adult life was
one of unbelievable adventure. In the early 1890s he participated in scientific
expeditions in the Dakota Badlands, Death Valley, and in Alaska. In 1896, Funston was inspired to
join the fight for Cuban independence and joined the Cuban Revolutionary Army.After almost two years of fighting, Funston
was granted permission to return home, was captured, but swallowed his pass and
claimed he was deserter, avoiding execution by the Spanish.
answered the call for troops for the Spanish-American War, Funston was
appointed Colonel of the 20th Kansas, which
was sent to the Philippines.
Here, Funston earned the Congressional Medal of Honor for a daring crossing of
the Rio Grande de la Pampanga River, while under heavy fire from Philippine
Funston then won greater
acclaim by capturing the President of the Philippine Revolutionary Government,
Emilio Aguinaldo.The capture of
Aguinaldo made Frederick one of the most popular
men in the United States.At age 35, Funston became the youngest man in
the U.S. Army to be promoted to the rank of Brigadier General.
In 1906, Funston found
himself in the middle of the great earthquake of San Francisco.Funston brought his troops out of their
barracks and worked tirelessly to fight fires, set up rationing stations, and
generally keep law and order in San
his efforts, he was known as "The Man Who Saved San Francisco."
Rafts crossing the Rio Grande River in the Philippines. Col. Frederick Funston is standing at the right on the raft. Photo courtesy Kansas Historical Society
In 1914, Funston occupied
the Mexican city of Vera Cruz
and managed to preserve the peace.Funston
was then promoted to Major General and appointed as Commander of the Southern
Department during the hostilities with Pancho Villa.
At the time of his death on
February 19, 1917, future generals, John Pershing, George Patton, Dwight
Eisenhower, and Douglas McArthur were all under Funston's command. It is believed that Funston would have been
the commander of the American Forces during World War I had he survived.
He also served two years
as Commandant of the ArmyServiceSchool
A heart attack took the
life of the 51-year-old general on February 19, 1917.
POINTS OF INTEREST ABOUT FREDERICK FUNSTON IN KANSAS
Boyhood Home and Museum, located beside theAllenCountyMuseum,
20 S. Washington. Open May 1-September 30, Tuesday-Saturday
12:30-4:30 p.m.; October 1-April 30, Tuesday-Saturday 2-4 p.m.A life-sized bronze statue of the 5'4",
120-pound Frederick Funston stands in front of the boyhood home.A 25-minute film details the life of Funston.