8 Wonders of Kansas people

An 8 Wonder of Kansas People

Frederick Funston, Iola

Address: 14 Washington, Iola, KS 66749
Phone: 620.365.3051
Website: www.kshs.org/portraits/funston_frederick.htm

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 in 1868.

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.

When Kansas 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 soldiers.

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 Francisco.  For 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 Army Service School in Leavenworth.

A heart attack took the life of the 51-year-old general on February 19, 1917.

Sources kshs.org/portraits/funston_frederick.htm and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Funston.


Funston Boyhood Home & Museum.




  • Funston Boyhood Home and Museum, located beside the Allen County Museum, 20 S. WashingtonOpen 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.