Endemial Josephine "Endie" Drane Burch Polk

Endemial Josephine "Endie" Drane Burch Polk

Endemial was the second child of Rev. Thomas Jefferson Drane and his first wife Sussanh Keith.  They would divorce and each one would marry again and have second families.  From the research gathered, it appears that there was little communication between the half-siblings.  

Endemial was a hotel operator and prominent suffrage activist. Her obituary in the Daily Arkansas Gazette, a newspaper in Little Rock, AR, stated: "Mrs. Polk will be well remembered by the older residents of this city [Hot Springs, AR], where about twenty years ago she conducted the Josephine hotel, which her husband built. She was quite prominent in the woman's suffrage movement and was a delegate to the national convention of the association at Cincinnati in 1879." (See "Mrs. Endemial Polk Dead," Daily Arkansas Gazette, 07/04/1906, p. 2.)


Endemial Drane first wed a Prussian barber named Ferdinand L. Burch (1836-1919) on 08/20/1854 in Meade County, KY, and had three children with him, Eugene B. Burch (born c. 1856 in IN), Benjamin F. Burch (born 11/04/1857 in KY-d. 05/11/1946 in Orange County, CA), and Susan Burch Merrell (born in IN-d.12/24/1884 in El Paso, TX). (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Dodd, Jordan, comp. Kentucky, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001, accessed 03/30/2021.) Their marriage did not last, and Ferdinand Burch married again to Susan Burnette before 1879.

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The Arkansas Gazette (Little Rock)  Wed. Jul 4, 1906  page 2


Was Hotel Keeper in Hot Springs, Writer and Woman Suffragist

Special to the Gazette.

Hot Springs, July 3,--Word has been received here of the death at her home at Berkeley, Cal., of Mrs. Endimial Polk, wife of W.W. Polk, aged 73 years.  Mrs. Polk will be remembered by the older residents of this city, where about twenty years ago she conducted the Josephine Hotel, which her husband built.  She was quite prominent in the woman's suffrage movement and was a delegate to the national convention of the association at Cincinnati in 1879.  Her first husband was Ferdinand L. Burch of Meade county, who died in 1864.  As Mrs. Burch, she was a well-known and frequent contributor to the Waverly Magazine, the New York Mercury, and other periodicals.

Of her children by her first marriage, only one survives, Ben Burch,  who has an editorial position in the St. Louis Globe-Democrat.  She is survived also by her husband, W.W. Polk, an architect of San Francisco; her sons Willis and Daniel, both architects,  and her daughter, Miss Daisy Polk.  Daniel Polk, although an architect by profession, was for several years on the vaudeville stage.  He traveled with a partner named Collins and as Polk and Collins, they acquired the names of the Vanjo Kings of America.  They were considered as possibly the two best banjo players in the country. 

From Indiana, we know he briefly moved his family to Illinois, as that was the birthplace of his son Willis J. By 1870, Willis W. had returned to Kentucky with his family, where they were enumerated on the 1870 census at Lexington, and where son Daniel was born.

They soon moved again, this time to St. Louis, Missouri where daughter Daisy was born in 1874, and where son Trusten followed two years later. The family appears there on the 1880 census.

In 1887 there were found at Kansas City, Missouri where that year's directory show Willis and son Daniel in partnership as architects while son Willis worked as a draftsman for Van Brunt & Howe. Willis owned, worked, and resided in the Hotel Willard on the corner of 8th & May Streets; wife Endie was listed as its proprietor.

By 1900 they had moved again and Willis and Endie, along with Daniel and Daisy, were recorded on the census at San Francisco, living at 2121 Buchanan Street.

He and his wife soon purchased a home at 2907 Dwight Way in Berkeley, which is where Endie died in July 1906.

Willis died later that same year at the home of his son Willis J. Polk in San Mateo and was interred at this cemetery.(Birth data from his 1899 US Passport application and census records.)


--The San Francisco (California) Call; Sunday, 02 Dec 1906; pg. 42, col. 5


Body Removed From San Mateo, Where Death Occurred at Home of Son, Willia Polk

SAN MATEO, Dec. 1, -- The remains of Willis Webb Polk, the veteran architect, and builder, who died yesterday at the home of his son, Willis Polk, the architect and club man, were removed today to Oakland, where the internment took place at Mountain View Cemetery.  Funeral services were held at the residence of Willis Polk, and many friends of the veteran architect were present at the obsequies.

Polk was a native of Kentucky, and was at the time of his death, 69 years of age.  He served gallantly through the Civil War as a Confederate soldier and was related to Major-General Leonidas Polk.  After the war Polk married in Kentucky.  His wife died four months ago at her home in Berkeley.  Until twelve years ago the family lived in St. Louis.

Polk was a descendant of Robert Morris, who was one of President Washington's ablest financiers.  President Polk was a cousin of the deceased.  Four children survive, William, Willis, Daniel, and Miss Daisy Polk.



Berkeley Daily Gazette (Berkeley, California); Monday, 02 Jul 1906; pg. 1


Mrs. Enemial J. Polk Died at Her Home on Dwoght Way - Funeral Tomorrow at 2:30.

Mrs. Enemial J .Polf aged 73 years died this morning at her home, 2907 Dwight Way.  She was a native of Kentucky and the mother of Benjamin F. Burch, Willis, Daniel and Daisy Polk.  The funeral Services will be held at the home tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 o'clock 

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An architect, Willis Webb Polk was born on his father's first farm in Scott County, Kentucky. He left home in 1856, driving a herd of cattle in Sangamon County, Illinois, and afterward headed to Platte County, Missouri where his brother, David T. Polk, Sr. had relocated. Willis Webb was twice married. First, to Parthenia Frances Dye, on 14 Oct 1858 in Platte County, Missouri. They were the parents of two children: Sarah Ann and William Chinn Polk, and are enumerated with their daughter in Platte County's Green Township on the 1860 census, just prior to the birth of son William,  Willis lost his wife in 1866, and daughter Sarah two years later. He next married 'Endie' Burch in Knox County, Indiana on 01 Jan 1867. With her, he had additional children: Willis Jeffer-son and Daniel Polk, both of whom became architects; and daughter Daisy. Two other children, Endemial and Trusten, did not survive childhood.





Willis Webb Polk (1836-1906),  operated an architectural practice, called various names in various cities. (In times where no work was in the office, the elder Polk worked in carpentry.) (For more on the family life of Willis J. Polk, see Richard Longstreth, On the Edge of the World, [Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998], p. 51-56.)

W.W. Polk married for a second time to Willis J. Polk's mother Endemial Josephine Drane (born 1833 in KY-d. 07/02/1906 in Berkeley, CA) on 01/01/1867 in Knox County, IN. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Knox County, Indiana; Index to Marriage Record 1854 - 1920 Inclusive Vol, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk's O; Book: G-; Page: 50, accessed 03/30/2021.)

Willis Webb Polk and Endemial J. Drane had five children: Willis Jefferson Polk, Daniel W. Polk (born c. 1869 in KY), Endie J. Polk (born c. 1872 in KS), Daisy Polk De Buyer-Mimeure (born 04/23/1874 in Saint Louis, MO-d. 01/20/1963 in Paris, France) and Trusten Polk (born 1876 in Saint Louis, MO-d. 1877).

Endemial was a hotel operator and prominent suffrage activist. Her obituary in the Daily Arkansas Gazette, a newspaper in Little Rock, AR, stated: "Mrs. Polk will be well remembered by the older residents of this city [Hot Springs, AR], where about twenty years ago she conducted the Josephine hotel, which her husband built. She was quite prominent in the woman's suffrage movement and was a delegate to the national convention of the association at Cincinnati in 1879." (See "Mrs. Endemial Polk Dead," Daily Arkansas Gazette, 07/04/1906, p. 2.)

Endemial Drane first wed a Prussian barber named Ferdinand L. Burch (1836-1919) on 08/20/1854 in Meade County, KY, and had three children with him, Eugene B. Burch (born c. 1856 in IN), Benjamin F. Burch (born 11/04/1857 in KY-d. 05/11/1946 in Orange County, CA), and Susan Burch Merrell (born in IN-d.12/24/1884 in El Paso, TX). (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Dodd, Jordan, comp. Kentucky, U.S., Compiled Marriages, 1851-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2001, accessed 03/30/2021.) Their marriage did not last, and Ferdinand Burch married again to Susan Burnette before 1879.  (Editor's Note:  They look to have had four children - William  Burch who died as an infant in 1862 - listed on the 1860 census as being 2 months old.)

Susan Burch Merrell wed Thomas A. Merrell on 09/16/1883 in Garland County, AR, and died at age 22 in El Paso, TX, on Christmas Eve, 1884, when she and her husband were murdered. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. Arkansas, U.S., County Marriages Index, 1837-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011, accessed 03/30/2021.)

In 1888, Willis W. Polk made a probate filing for Endemial, although it is not clear if it was made with or without her consent. It read: "To all whom it may concern—but most especially to Willis J. Polk, Dan W. Polk, Endie J. Polk and Daisy Polk, minor children, and heirs at law of Endennial [sic] J. Polk by Willis W. Polk, her husband, you are hereby notified that I, Willis W. Polk, guardian of the estate and persons of said minor heirs of Endennial J. Polk aforesaid did on the 17th day of March A.D. 1888, file a petition in the Probate court of Woodson County, Kansas, praying that I might be authorized and empowered to sell the following described land for the purpose of educating and supporting said minor children and for the reason that the same was unproducing and liable to waste, to-wit: The northeast quarter of Section 35 in township 25 south of Range 14 east of 6th P.M. except 20 acres off the north end of the northeast quarter of said northeast quarter, and said petition will be heard at the office of the Probate Judge of said county on the 7th day of April A.D. 1888 at 10 o’clock a.m. of said day, at which time and place each of you, and all others interested are notified to be present and show cause, if any you have, why an order of sale as prayed for, should not be granted. Dated this 19th day of March A.D. 1888. Willis W. Polk, Guardian.” (See "Notice to Miners" [sic], Woodson Democrat, 03/23/1888, p. 1)

In 1885, Willis Webb Polk opened W.W. Polk and Sons, in Kansas City, MO, with his sons Willis J. and Daniel. In San Francisco, CA, the firm was known as "Polk and Polk," with Willis Jefferson specializing in design, Daniel in drafting, and Willis Webb supervising construction.

Both Endemial and Willis Webb both died in 1906, and were buried at the Mountain View Cemetery in Oakland, CA. Reverend Joseph Worcester presided over the funeral of Endemial. (See "Funeral of Mrs. Polk," Saint Louis Post-Dispatch, 07/04/1906, p. 4.)

First Marriage:

Willis Webb Polk and Parthenia Frances Dye

On October 14, 1858, in Platte County, Missouri Willis married Parthenia Frances Dye, the daughter of John Kenneth Dye and Parthenia Frances Gow.  He was 20 and she was 18.  They would have two children.  Parthenia died on April 9, 1866, at the age of 25. On January 1,  1867, Willis married Endie Drane Burch.  


!.  Sarah Ann Polk

BIRTH OCT 1859 • Weston, Platte, Missouri, USA

DEATH DEC 1868 • Weston, Platte, Missouri, USA

Died at nine years of age.


2.  William Chinn Polk


The Kansas City Star 11 Nov. 1949  Fri  page 34



Illness of a Year Proves Fatal to the Former Weston Banker and Native of Platte County.

William C. Polk, 88 years old, Weston, a native of Platte County. died today at St. John's hospital in Leavenworth, Kas.  He had been in ill health for about a year.

Mr. Polk, a lineal descendant of James K. Polk, former President of the United States, left Platte County in 1889 and moved to the panhandle area of Texas where he was a pharmacist in Mobeetie, Tex.  In 1893 Mr. Polk returned to Weston and in the following years served as a teller, cashier, and vice-president of the Bank of Weston until 1923 when he sold his interest in the establishment.

His father, Willis Polk, an architect, designed the old Liberty college and the Broadway Baptist Church, fortieth street and Broadway.  He leaves a sister, Countess de Buyer, the former Miss Daisy Polk of France; two nieces, Mrs. R.A. Bywaters, 5511 Chadwick road, Johnson County, and Mrs. Maurice Chastain, Smithville, and a nephew, Albert F. Hillix, 450 West Fifty-first Street.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 o'clock Sunday at the Vaughn chapel in Weston,  Masonic graveside services will be conducted at the Laurel Hill cemetery.




--Platte County, Missouri Historical Society; 09 Jun 1874; pg. 580.

He was a member of the Weston Christian Church and of the Masonic Lodge. 

Minnie H., daughter of Henry Hillock Hillix, was born 22 Apr 1867 in Platte County, Missouri and died 17 Oct 1947 in Weston, Platte, Missouri.  She married William Chinn Polk 16 Sep 1891 in Weston, Platte, Missouri.  He was the son of Willis W. Polk and Parthenia Dye, born 23 Nov 1860 in Platte County, and died there at Weston in 1949.

Dorothy Mae Hillix-Bywaters, the niece of William and Minnie, compiled much of the family history with information from her uncle.  He was a relation of James K. Polk, 11th President of the United States, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Governor of Tennessee.  James Polk was the signer of many of the original land patents of Platte County, Missouri.

Cemetery Records of Platte Co., Mo., Vol II published by the Platte County Historical Society confirm the burials of Minnie and William Polk.

The short biography below of William C. Polk is from a booklet that was published by the newspapers in Weston and Platte City, Missouri:

William C. Polk was born in 1860 near Flintlock Church, the first little log church in Platte County, MO.  His parents were Willis and Parthenia Francis Dye Polk, who lived on a farm near the historic post of the Unity Baptist Church.

Mr. Polk was educated in the public schools of the county and at Gaylord College in Platte City, after which he took a commercial course in St. Joseph, MO.   In 1880 Mr. Polk went to the Panhandle in Texas, working in a commercial store.  He liked Texas and took advantage of the opportunities open to an eager young man, establishing an investment fund which later he used for the purchase of stock in the Bank of Weston [of which bank he was also assistant cashier, while his wife’s relations Allen A. and Charles Hamilton Hillix, were president and head cashier, respec-tively.

Back in Missouri during eleven (11) years of his stay in Texas, lived a petite little miss with black hair and dark sparkling eyes.  And back to Missouri in 1891 came Mr. Polk to claim Miss Minnie Hillix as his bride. Though they both liked Texas, the change in 1893 brought Mr. and Mrs. Polk back to Weston, where Mr. Polk took an active place in the Bank of Weston.

He sold his interests there in 1923, served one year as a Vice-president at Railey & Bro. Banking Company, and has retired from active business (Nov. 1929).  Mr. Polk’s greatest financial success perhaps was the handling of the estate of the late George Berry of Kansas City. Mr. Berry was at one time an orphan in the Panhandle of Texas.  Mr. Polk befriended him several times, and though they had not seen each other for years, there came a time when the friendship was renewed and Mr. Berry, realizing his death was imminent, asked Mr. Polk's guidance of his youthful son and direction of the estate. Some of the biggest rental and lease deals in Kansas City were executed by Mr. Polk on behalf of Mr. Berry, junior.

Mr. and Mrs. Polk, who live in Weston, have one daughter, Miss Ellen, who is quite an accomplished pianist.


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Parthenia F. Dye

Wife of  W.W. Polk

July 30, 1840

April 8, 1866

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William Chinn Polk

through the years

Golden Anniversary  1941

Minnie Hillix and

William Chinn Polk

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Minnie Hillix  1917

William and Minnie had one daughter


Ellen Rebecca Polk

BIRTH 31 DEC 1902 • Weston, Platte County, Missouri, USA

DEATH 10 DEC 1934 • Kansas City, Jackson, Missouri, USA

Died of appendicitis which developed into gangrene at age 32

Married:  14 Jun  1930, Weston, Missouri, USA

George Harrell Calvert

BIRTH 27 JUN 1904 • Weston, Platte, Missouri, USA

DEATH 3 MAR 1983 • Missouri, USA

After the death of Ellen, George would marry Alice Page.


The Kansas City Star, 5 Mar 1983  Sat  page 31

George H. Calvert

George H. Calvert, 78 of 7417 Fontana Road, Prairie Village, a former teacher, died Thursday in a nursing home at 9701 Monrovia St, Lenexa.

Mr. Calvert taught chemistry at Northeast High School from 1931 until he retired in 1969.  He graduated from the Univer-sity of Missouri-Columbia and received his Master's degree from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.

He had been a board member and Treasurer of Wayside Waif's Inc.  He was a member of the Friends of Art and English Speaking Union.  He was a member of St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.  He was an Army veteran of World War II.

He was born in Weston in Platte County and lived in this area all of his life.

He leaves his wife, Mrs. Ann Page Calvert of the home.  Memorial services will be at 2 p.m. Sunday at the church; cre-mation.  The family suggests contributions to Wayside Waifs Inc. or the church.

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The Kansa City Star  2 Jul.  1938  Sat  page 7


Weston, Mo. July 1--A large painting of the Christ Child in the Temple, was hung this week in the Christian church here, a gift in memory of Mrs. Ellen Polk Calvert who died in Kansas City in December 1934.  She was the wife of George Calvert, an instructor in Northeast high school, and a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. W.C. Polk of Weston.  The picture is the gift of twelve members of a social club, of which Mrs. Calvert was a member before her marriage.  It will be dedicated sometime in July.

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Hotel Josephine.  Note from Willis Jefferson Polk to (Half-brother) William "Willie" Chinn Polk  1884


By Ferdinand Leonard Burch

1.  Eugene B. Burch

2.  Benjamin Franklin Burch

3.  William Chinn Burch

4.  Susan Louise Burch

By Willis Webb Polk

5.  Willis Jefferson Plok

6.  Daniel Polk

7.  Endenial "Endie" Polk

8.  Daisy Polk

9.  Trusten Polk

1.  Eugene B. Burch

BIRTH 1855 • Indiana, USA

DEATH Unknown

Virtually nothing is known about Eugene.  He is listed in the Lexington, Kentucky City Directory as a painter in 1875.  In his mother's obituary dated 1906, he is not mentioned as a surviving son so he was probably deceased at that time

2.  Benjamin Franklin Burch

BIRTH 4 NOV 1857 • Kentucky, USA

DEATH 11 MAY 1946 • Orange County, California, USA

Married:  02 Nov 1881 • Bond County, Illinois, USA

Rosa Bonheur Merry

BIRTH 12 DEC 1860 • Bond County, Illinois, USA

DEATH FEB 1934 • St Louis, Missouri, USA

Died of vascular heart disease

Daughter of James Crawford Merry and Sarah Ann Ingels


St. Louis Post-Dispatch  12 May 1845  Sun  page 3


Benjamin F. Burch, 88 years old, former night editor of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, died yesterday in Tustin, Calif.

He retired from newspaper work in St. Louis in 1931, after 20 years in the night editor position.  He is survived by a daughter, Mrs. H.D. Jolley of Omaha.  The body will be taken to Greenville, Ill. for burial.

Ben and Rosa had one daughter:

Hazel Olive Burch

BIRTH 2 NOV 1891 • Greenville, Bond County, Illinois, USA

DEATH 17 FEB 1987 • Milwaukee, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA


Harold Dean Jolley

BIRTH 30 OCT 1890 • Saint Louis, St Louis City, Missouri, USA

DEATH DEC 1983 • Albuquerque, Bernalillo, New Mexico, USA

Son of Edwin James Jolley and Emily Dean


St. Louis Globe-Democrat  1 May 1017  Tue.  page 13


Miss Hazel O. Burch, daughter of B.F. Burch, 3734 Arsenal Street, a newspaperwoman, and Harrold Dean Jolley, son of Edwin T. Jolley, 710 Bayard avenue, were married last night at 8 o'clock at the home of the bride.

The romance began when Jolley and his bride attended Washington University together in 1911.  Jolley was graduated in civil engineering, and after experience at St. Louis, went to Omaha, where he is now connected with a concrete company as an engineer.

3.  William Burch

BIRTH 23 DEC 1860 •  USA

DEATH 1862   USA

Listed on the 1860 Census as an infant two months old.  No further information


Household Members     Age

Ferdinand Bersch            26

Endemial Bersch              26

Eugene Bersch                    4

Benjamin Bersch               2

William Bersch                  2/12

4. Susan Louise Burch

BIRTH 16 SEP 1862 • Kentucky, USA

DEATH 24 DEC 1884 • Rio Grande Valley, Texas, USA

Married: 16 Sep 1883 • Garland, Arkansas, USA

Thomas A Merrell

BIRTH 23 SEP 1849 • Dallas, Collin, Texas, USA

DEATH 24 DEC 1884 • Rio Grande Valley, Texas, USA


Fort Worth Daily Gazette, 29 Dec. 1884  Mon.  page 1


Thomas Merrell and His Wife Fall Victim to the Axe of the Cowardly Assassin.

The Head of the One is Cleft Ope, While That of the Other is Literally Severed from the Body.

The State Rangers Are Out, but the Murderers Are Believed to Have Fled to Mexico


Special to the Gazette.

Sierra Blanca, Tex., Dec. 25--Mr. James Oxner has just arrived from Merrell and Marley's ranch on the Rio Grande, where he left the bodies of Mr. Thomas Merrell and his wife, who are supposed to have been murdered about the 24th last.  Mr. Merrell had two Mexicans at work for him, making adobe bricks, for some days past.  On or about the 23rd, he and his wife were left alone at the ranch with the two Mexicans.

When a Mr. Smith returned to the ranch on the 27th he found them murdered and the Mexicans gone.  Mr. Merrell was found near the table, as though he had been killed with an axe while eating a meal.  His wife was found in a kneeling position behind the bed with her head severed from her body.

Capt. Tunbo of the Texas Rangers has been notified and will doubtless be on the scene tomorrow.  It is about fifty miles down the river from here to the scene of the murder.

Another Account

Special to the Gazette

Van Horn, Tex., Dec. 25-- News has just been received of a most horrible murder committed thirty-five miles south of here on the Rio Grande, the victims being Mr. Thomas Merrell and wife, who were on a ranch owned by Capt. M.D. Marley of Fort Worth.

Some time ago Mr. Marley purchased the ranch, and Mr. Merrell, who had an interest in the stock, moved there to take charge of the place.

During the winter months, Mr. Merrell had employed a number of Mexicans, and together with some Americans, he engaged in making the soft adobe brick.  On Monday the Americans and several of the Mexicans came up to Van Horn to remain over Christmas and have a good time.  Yesterday one Smith, with several others, returned to the ranch when the horrible tale was revealed.

At a small table in the center of the room sat Mr. Merrell with his head split open.  He had evidently been struck from behind while at his evening meal.  On lighting a lamp a still more ghastly scene presented itself.  In a kneeling posture behind the bed was found the decapitated body of Mrs. Merrell, her head lying in a pool of coagulated gore on the coverlet.

The Mexicans had fled and are probably in Mexico by this time.  Capt. Tunbo of the state rangers was notified, and at once proceeded to the scene of the murder.

Capt Marley was telegraphed at Fort Worth to procure a coffin for the body and start for the ranch at once.  Great excitement reigns in the neighborhood, but no trace of the murderers has yet been found.

5.  Willard Jefferson Polk

BIRTH 3 OCT 1867 • Jacksonville, Morgan, Illinois, USA

DEATH 10 SEP 1924 • San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA

Married:  25 Apr. 1900  Santa Clara, California, USA

Christine Barre

BIRTH 24 NOV 1869 • Rhode Island, USA

DEATH 25 JAN 1952 • San Francisco, San Francisco, California, USA

No Children



Willis Jefferson Polk (October 3, 1867 – September 10, 1924) was an American architect best known for his work in San FranciscoCalifornia. For ten years, he was the West Coast representative of D.H. Burnham & Company. In 1915, Polk oversaw the architectural committee for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition (PPIE).

He was born October 3, 1867, in Jacksonville, Illinois to architect builder Willis Webb Polk (1836-1906). He was the eldest of four children, in 1873 the family moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, and again by 1881 to Hope, Arkansas. He began his architectural training with his brother Daniel in his father's office.

He was born October 3, 1867, in Jacksonville, Illinois to architect builder Willis Webb Polk (1836-1906).  He was the eldest of four children, in 1873 the family moved to Saint Louis, Missouri, and again by 1881 to Hope, Arkansas.  He began his architectural training with his brother Daniel in his father's office.

In 1885, Polk moved to Kansas City with his family. His father served as a founding member of the Kansas City Architects Association and introduced him to Adriance Van Brunt principals of the firm Van Brunt & Howe to gain more experience as a draftsperson. Van Brunt & Howe of Boston had just established a branch office there. He left Kansas City to seek his future a few years later studying under former Van Brunt asso-ciate William Robert Ware at Columbia Univer-sity in New York City.

Willis Polk's early career included work with McKim, Mead & White, as well as Bernard Maybeck.  In 1889, Polk joined the office of A. Page Brown in New York and moved with Brown's firm to San Francisco, subsequently taking over the Ferry Building project following Brown's death. Though his own career was inconsistent during these years, Polk became an active and outspoken advocate for the architectural profession and the standards of good design. During 1890-91 he published three issues of the Architectural News, conceived as an alternative to the conservative California Architect and Building News. In addition to Polk, John Galen HowardErnest Coxhead, and Bertram Goodhue were contributors to the News. In 1894, Polk led the Guild of Arts and Crafts, an organization of artists and architects, in an effort to create a Board of Public Works that would approve the design of all municipal projects. Polk also wrote a series of short critiques for The Wave, a San Francisco weekly review, between 1892 and 1899. At times harsh in his criticisms, Polk often alienated colleagues and former associates with his comments.

After much dissatisfaction with their logo, The Sierra Club adopted a design by Willis Polk, in the Spring of 1894. It was used as their logo with small changes until 1998.

He struggled to earn commissions, and in 1897 he declared bankruptcy. However, an opportunity presented itself in 1899. Francis Hamilton, of the local firm Percy & Hamilton, died, and George Washington Percy asked Polk to be his new partner. Polk was primarily in charge of design and employee management, while Percy focused on the business end. The partnership gave Polk relief from his debt and the opportunity to work on large-scale commercial structures. The partnership designed five buildings, including One Lombard StreetAddison Mizner was one of his appren-tices.

In 1901, Polk went on a tour of Europe and Chicago. In Chicago, he met prominent architect Daniel Burnham. From 1903 to 1913, Polk was the West Coast representative of D.H. Burnham & Company. Polk designed several of his most notable structures while associated with the firm, including the  Merchants Exchange Building, the tallest building in San Francisco upon its completion in 1903. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake opened up numerous opportunities for Polk to design Burnham structures. He was a member of Mayor Eugene Schmitz's Committee of Fifty leaders who undertook ambitious plans to rebuild a world-class city. Polk was tasked with convincing city officials to adopt Burnham's 1905 Plan of San Francisco.

By 1910, Willis Polk was recognized as one of the most influential architects and urban planners in the city. Polk was again credited for designing the tallest building in San Francisco when his Hobart Building was completed in 1914. In 1915, Polk was appointed the chair of the architectural planning committee for the Panama–Pacific International Exposition. When the exposition concluded, Polk led the effort to preserve Bernard Maybeck's Palace of Fine Arts. One of Polk's most influential commissions came in 1916 when he was tasked to design the Hallidie Building. Its glass curtain facade was a precursor to modern skyscraper development. It has been argued to be the most important building in San Francisco. Polk was a versatile architect, with particular skill in combining classical styles with environmental harmony. He was regarded for his elegant residential work, mainly in mansions and estates, in the Georgian Revival style for wealthy and prominent San Francisco residents.

After World War I, Polk's productivity declined. He oversaw the design of the War Memorial Opera House and Veterans Building, part of the planned Civic Center. In 1917, Polk designed but was not involved in the construction of the single-family homes at 831, 837, 843, and 849 Mason Street in the exclusive area of Nob Hill in San Francisco at the intersection with California Street opposite the Mark Hopkins Hotel building. 849 Mason Street was redeveloped into four luxury apartments called Four at the Top in 1983 by the restaurateur and winemaker Pat Kuleto.

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Polk died at home in San Mateo, California on September 10, 1924, at the age of 56. He is buried in Santa Clara Mission Cemetery in Santa Clara, California. After his death, his stepson Austin P. Moore ran his business Willis Polk & Co. into the 1930s.

Some of his papers are held at the University of California, Berkeley, and scrapbooks are held at the California Historical Society and on microfilm at the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.



Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, 25 Apr. 1900

Marriage of Willis Polk

San Francisco, April 23--Willis Polk, the architect, and Mrs. Christine Moore, daughter of Mrs. F.L. Barreda and widow of the late Charles A. Moore, were married here today in the parlors of St. Ignatius cottage.  Mr. Edward J. Pringle acted as best man, and the only others present aside from the contracting parties were the relatives of the bride.




Oakland Tribune  12 Sep 1924,  Fri  page 2


SAN FRANCISCO, Sept. 12--  Private funeral services for Willis Polk, architect, who died at his home in San Mateo Wednesday night, was held today at the Santa Clara University Chapel at Santa Clara.  He was buried in the Santa Clara cemetery.

Polk was a native of Kentucky and lived in San Francisco and San Mateo since 1886,  His death occurred during his convalescence from an attack of influenza, and was caused by heart failure.  He is survived by a widow, Mrs. Christine Barada Polk; a sister, Madame de Buyer of Paris, and a cousin, Charles Polk, a San Francisco broker.

Polk was one of the designers of the Ferry building.  He also designed the Hobart building, the Merchant's Exchange, the First National Bank, and the Pacific Union Club, all in SanFrancisco; the water temple at Sunol, and the Union Station in Washington, D.C.  He regarded the Sunol water temple as his masterpiece.

Folk never went to school but was tutored by his father, a colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War.  He took up the study of architecture by himself.  When he was only 15 years old he won an open competition among architects for the designing of a school in Arkansas. 





Polk had no children of his own. His stepson, Austin P. Moore, operated Willis Polk and Company after his death.



Biographical Notes

In 1887, Willis Polk, John Galen Howard, and Ernest Coxhead all had become acquainted with one another in Los Angeles, CA. Polk was known to be traveling in Northern California for the first time sometime in 1888.

San Francisco voter records indicated that Willis J. Polk was Caucasian with a fair complexion, stood 5-feet, 6-inches tall, and had blue eyes and brown hair. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation California State Library; Sacramento, California; Great Registers, 1866-1898; Collection Number: 4-2A; CSL Roll Number: 90; FHL Roll Number: 977609, accessed 03/30/2021.)

Polk took a grand tour through Europe in 1903 with his wife lasting three months. A passenger manifest has them returning aboard the Compagnie Générale Transatlantique steamship, S.S. La Savoie, leaving from Le Havre, France, and returning to New York, NY, leaving on 09/05/1903. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1903; Arrival: New York, New York, USA; Microfilm Serial: T715, 1897-1957; Line: 11; Page Number: 69 Source Information: New York, U.S., Arriving Passenger and Crew Lists (including Castle Garden and Ellis Island), 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, accessed 03/29/2021.)

Ten years later, Christine and Willis again traveled to Europe. They sailed from Cherbourg, France, to New York, NY, between 09/03/1913-09/09/1913 aboard the North German Lloyd liner S.S. Kaiser Wilhelm der Grosse. (See Source Citation: Year: 1913; Microfilm serial: T715; Microfilm roll: T715_2173; Line: 14; Source: Ancestry.com. New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2006.)




1015 Vallejo Street, San Francisco, CA 94133$3,299,000

Famed architect Willis Polk built this in 1893 for himself.

On top of Russian Hill,an oasis of natural beauty

w.natural materials such as redwood throughout.Dazzling

views from all windows seemingly unchanged by

time.Approx.4076sqft.5br/3b,familyrm w.vaulted ceilings.

Guest quarters,3-car deed parking.Very rare.balconies,

numerous decks.4woodbr/gas fireplaces.

1015 vellejo st 3299000.jfif

6.  Daniel Polk

BIRTH 25 MAY 1869 • Weston, Platte, Missouri, USA

DEATH 1909 • New York, New York, USA

Married:  22 Dec 1897 • Brooklyn, Kings, New York, USA

Alice Amelia Grim

BIRTH 12 SEP 1872 • Pennsylvania

DEATH 2 MAY 1943 • Los Angeles

Daughter of Charles Alfred K Grim and Ellen Mary Kistler




Daniel Polk (Architect)

Portrait of Daniel Polk and an article on his banjo playing, San Francisco, CA, 1898. From "Merrily Twangs the Banjo," San Francisco Examiner, 05/21/1898, p. 8

Presentation drawing of the David B. McMechan House, Kansas City, MO, 1886. From "Residence of D.B. McMechan, Penn St near 14th Kansas City," Inland Architect and Builder, vol VII, no. 7, 05/1886, unnumbered plate

Male, born 1869-05, died 1908

Associated with the firms network

Polk and Polk, ArchitectsPolk, W.W. and Sons, Architects

Partner, Polk, and Polk, Architects, San Francisco, CA. Around 1895, Daniel Polk left the firm of Polk and Polk.

Co-founder, School of Fine Arts, Los Angeles, CA, 1895. The Herald of Los Angeles said of Daniel Polk's new school of fine arts in 1895: “Mr. Jules Mersfelder and Daniel Polk, artists who are well known in New York and San Francisco, will open their new school of fine arts the coming Monday, Studio, Wilson block.” (See “City News in Brief,” The Herald (Los Angeles), 07/14/1895, p. 11.) A 07/16/1895 classified advertisement in the Los Angeles Times read: "New School of Fine Arts, Third floor, Wilson Block. Art students' day and night school. Jules Mersfelder, Daniel Polk." (See Classified ad, Los Angeles Times, 07/16/1895, p. 4.)

Architect, McKim, Mead and White, Architects, New York, NY, 1902.

Architect, New York, NY, 1903-1905.


Coursework, Washington University, Saint Louis, MO.



Daniel Polk lived with his family at the Hotel Hunt in Saint Louis, MO, an establishment managed by his mother. The family resided at this hotel, located on the northeast corner of Chestnut Street and 9th Street in Saint Louis, MO, during 1880 and 1881. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1880; Census Place: Saint Louis, St Louis (Independent City), Missouri; Roll: 717; Page: 149B; Enumeration District: 006, accessed 03/30/2021.)

In 1892, voter records indicated that Daniel lived with his brother Willis J. Polk at 1015 Vallejo Street in San Francisco, CA. Their father Willis W. Polk lived doors away at 1005 Vallejo.

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He moved to Los Angeles, CA, in 1895, where he worked on the interiors of the Press Club there and attempted to open a fine arts school. Both the Press Club interior and the unsuccessful art school were located in the Wilson Building. The Herald newspaper of Los Angeles noted in 07/1895: “Mr. Jules Mersfelder and Daniel Polk, artists who are well known in New York and San Francisco, will open their new school of fine arts the coming Monday, Studio, Wilson block.” (See “City News in Brief,” The Herald [Los Angeles], 07/14/1895, p. 11.)

Daniel relocated from San Francisco to New York, NY, by 1896 or so. At this time, he became part of a banjo-playing duo, Polk and Collins, "Banjo Kings of America," that appeared on the Keith Vaudeville circuit in the Eastern US. Prior to joining the vaudeville circuit, Daniel had entertained friends with his banjo skills at parties and other high society functions. He was able to translate classical musicals into banjo instrumentation.

After his marriage on 12/1897, he and his wife Alice resided in New York City primarily between this time and his death.

The US Census of 1900, found Daniel and Alice Polk living at 332 East 14th Street in the Borough of Manhattan. He was listed as a musician in the census, and she worked as a dressmaker. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Year: 1900; Census Place: Manhattan, New York, New York; Page: 8; Enumeration District: 0322; FHL microfilm: 1241096, accessed 03/30/2021.) The 1905 New York State Census, however, listed him as an architect. 

Probate paperwork for his father of 1907 indicated that Daniel Polk lived in Kansas City, MO. (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation Probate Files, 1880-1961; Author: California. Superior Court (Alameda County); Probate Place: Alameda, California, accessed 04/01/2021.)


His father was the architect, Willis Webb Polk, and his brother was the well-known San Francisco architect, Willis J. Polk (1867-1924).

Daniel's mother was the hotel innkeeper and suffrage activist, Endemial Josephine Drane (born 1833 in KY-d. 07/02/1906 in Berkeley, CA)


He wed Alice Grim (born c. 05/1875 in PA) on 12/22/1897 in Brooklyn, NY. (See Ancestry.com, Source Information Ancestry.com. New York, New York, U.S., Extracted Marriage Index, 1866-1937 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2014, accessed 03/30/2021.)

In 1912, the widowed Alice Polk worked as a dressmaker in New York, NY, and lived at 57 West 111th Street. (See New York, New York, City Directory, 1912, p. 1236.)

By 1931, Alice had employment as an actress in Hollywood. The Beverly Hills, California, City Directory, 1931, (p. 185) indicated that her daughter Endymial Polk was also an actress.


He and Alice had two daughters, Endemial E. Polk, (born c. 1901). and Alice Polk Kegley (born c. 1906-d. 1960) (See Ancestry.com, Source Citation The Episcopal Diocese of New York; New York, New York, accessed 03/30/2021.) Endemial was named for Daniel's mother Endemial J. Polk.

Endemial became the salutatorian of the Hempsted, Long Island, High School Class of 1920, while her sister Alice, was the valedictorian. (See "Hempstead High School," Brooklyn Daily Eagle, 06/25/1920, p. 10.)

Biographical Notes

San Francisco voter records indicated that Daniel Polk was Caucasian with a dark complexion, stood 5-feet, 8-inches tall, and had brown eyes and black hair. 

In 1894, Polk was rumored to have been engaged to Rose Splivalo. The San Francisco Call and the San Francisco Examiner later denied the report, the latter saying: "The reported engagement of Dan Polk, the architect, and Miss Splivalo, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. A.D. Splivalo, is authoritatively denied." (See "Entertainments This Week," San Francisco Examiner, 08/05/1894, p. 17 and "Betrothals," San Francisco Call, 08/06/1894, p. 7.)

Daniel Polk gained fame as a teenage virtuoso on the banjo. An article in Little Rock's Arkansas Daily Gazette said of him in 1884: “Daniel Polk, the champion boy banjo picker of the United States, only 15 years old, is to travel with the ‘Little Twins,’ who will visit Little Rock soon. They are to appear in St. Louis next week.” (See “Theatrical Talk,” Daily Arkansas Gazette, 10/21/1884, p. 4.) Polk continued to perform with the banjo during the early-to-mid-1890s. He entertained at various Bay Area social events and some society charity events. (See, for example, "Helping Orphans: Charity Concert at the Goad Mansion," San Francisco Call, 03/29/1894, p. 7.)










Portrait of Daniel Polk and an article on his banjo playing, San Francisco, CA, 1898. From "Merrily Twangs the Banjo," San Francisco Examiner, 05/21/1898, p. 8 



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7.  Endemial "Endie" Polk

BIRTH 15 NOV 1872 • Weston, Platte, Missouri, USA

DEATH 20 MAY 1890 • Paris, Île-de-France, France

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There is not much known about Endie.  She was never married.  She, like some other members of the family, was musically inclined.  She was an excellent singer and went abroad to study music.  

She died at the age of twenty-seven in Paris.  She died of an acute appen-dicitis attack shortly before her scheduled operatic debut

(L - R)  Daisy and  Endemial "Endie" Polk

8.  Daisy Polk

BIRTH 23 APR 1874 • Saint Louis, St Louis Missouri, USA

DEATH 22 JAN 1963 • Paris, Paris, Île-de-France, France

Married: 12 Sep 1917 • Vitrimont, Meurthe-et-Moselle,                            Lorraine, France

Robert Louis Marie Joseph de Buyer-Mimeure

BIRTH 24 SEP 1855 • Bonnay, Doubs, Franche-Comté, France

DEATH 13 DEC 1919 • Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle, Lorraine, France

No children



Daughter of architect Willis W. Polk and his second wife, Endemial Drane, it was Daisy rather than her brothers who served as Administrator for the estates of her parents, both of whom died in 1906.

She was a grandniece of former U.S. President Polk; a close relation of Frank Polk, a counselor with the U.S. State Department; and related by marriage to France's Marquis de Charette.

Active in French relief efforts during World War I, Daisy had the support of U.S. President Hoover in her work. After the war, Mrs. W. H. Crocker of San Francisco used her personal funds to rebuild the village of Vitrimont which had been nearly destroyed. She put Daisy in charge of the project and sent her to France. Daisy's brother, San Francisco architect Willis J. Polk, also helped by drawing up plans.

While at Vitrimont, Daisy's car broke down, and General de Buyer, who lived nearby at Nancy, happened to be passing and lent assistance. From this chance meeting, romance bloomed and the couple married the following year.

For her relief and rebuilding work, Daisy was awarded the Medaille de la Reconnaissance Francaise (Silver) in September of 1919, and the following year was created a Chevalier in the Order of the Legion of Honor.

After her husband's death, Daisy removed to Paris which became her principal residence, although she retained her U.S. citizenship. She traveled to America frequently to visit friends and relations.

Countess de Buyer died of old age in Paris and was buried in her husband's family cemetery at Besancon. Her nephew, Amaury de Buyer, was the executor of her estate. She had no known issue from her marriage.

Comte (Count) Robert Louis Marie Joseph de Buyer-Mimeure was a younger son of Marquis Ferdinand de Buyer-Mimeure by his wife, Marie Louise Caroline Ferdinande Jouffroy d'Abbans.

Trained at l'Ecole de Cavalerie (Cavalry School) at Saumur, he was a cavalry officer and a General during the first World War. He was commander, first, of the 6th Light Armored Brigade (Cuirassiers), then the 3rd Cavalry Corps, and, later, the 2nd Army Corps.

Retired just after his wedding in 1917, he was created a Commander of the Legion of Honor in 1916, and also awarded the Croix de Guerre.


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He married at Vitrimont on 12 Sep 1917, Miss Daisy Polk. A relation of the former American President Polk, she had been put in charge of a project to rebuild that town after the war. A resident of Nancy, General de Buyer died at his home there of his war-related injuries. In 1998, a book of his war-time letters was published, Lettres De Guerre: 1915-1916. He was undoubtedly buried at his family's plot at Besancon, where his wife was later laid to rest.




The story of Daisy’s life would make a great movie.  She was trapped in Europe at the outbreak of WWI [figure 4] and became active in French relief efforts including working with future president Herbert Hoover on Belgian Relief.   After the war, Mrs. W. H. Crocker of San Francisco used her personal funds to rebuild the village of Vitrimont which had been nearly destroyed, and put Daisy in charge of the project. [fig 6 -postcard]. While at Vitrimont, Daisy's car broke down, and General de Buyer, who lived nearby at Nancy, happened to be passing and lent assistance. From this chance meeting, “romance bloomed” and the couple married the following year.  For her relief and rebuilding work, Daisy was awarded the Medaille de la Reconnaissance Francaise (Silver) in September of 1919, and the following year was created a Chevalier in the Order of the Legion of Honor. She was known as Un Ami de France. Following her husband’s death after only two years of marriage, Countess Daisy de Buyer relocated to Paris which became her principal residence.  She wintered in Paris, traveled, and spent her summers in the family chateau in Nancy. She is buried in her husband's family cemetery at Besancon.

Daniel Polk had a daughter Alice (1907-1960) who remained close to her aunt Daisy.  One of the news articles reports that Daisy gave her niece a trunk of family photographs and papers! Sadly, Alice Polk Kegley was killed in a car accident after which her husband Charles (Carl) Smith Kegley (1897–1979) moved to Fresno. This is one example of how historical treasures can arrive at the archives through a roundabout route and add to existing collections at the Environmental Design Archives.





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                An accomplished violinist

- 16-18 years old

Le General and Madame "La General"  Wedding - 1917

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Daisy about 1886

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One final note:



Daisy's mother Endemial Josephine Drane Burch Polk, like her father Willis Webb Polk, came from a family who could trace their colonial roots back to Maryland in the 1600s. James Anthony Drane arrived with the Baltimore party on "The Ark and Dove" from England, landing on the St. Mary's River, Maryland, on March 25th, 1634. Lord Baltimore's wife was a Keith, and Daisy's Maternal Grandmother Susan Keith's family also arrived on the same ship. ​  (Editor's note: A family tradition that has been disproven, but makes for a good story anyway.)

EJ was the daughter of Reverend Thomas Jefferson Drane (ordained Bethel Church KY October 11, 1846) and Susan Keith (March 11, 1815). They were married on March 12, 1831, by Simeon Buchanan. Both Keith and the Drane families also left the Baltimore Colony and settled in Kentucky, like the Polk's.

TJ as he was known, was pastor of the Baptist Church at Nicholasville and Shelbyville, and pastor of the East Street Baptist Church, Louisville, KY around 1856, and Pastor of First Baptist Church in Memphis TN about 1858. He held the chair of Theology at Baptist Female College at Shelbyville, KY in 1854. He served on a Committee for revision of the St. James Version of the Bible, (I Book of Job) with ministers J. R. Graves, John L. Waller, Robert Larue, Robert Thurman, Vaughn, and John Broades, all leading theologians of their day. TJ also served as Chaplin for several companies in Memphis TN, during the Civil War. TJ was a Mason and officiated at the burial of Henry Clay.

It's unlikely Daisy had much if any interaction with her Maternal grandfather, but her connections to Kentucky trace back in both her family lines.

9.  Trusten Polk

BIRTH 18 SEP 1876 • Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

DEATH 20 NOV 1877 • Saint Louis, Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

Died of Diptheria per St. Louis Death Record

Buried at Bellefontaine Cemetery

Saint Louis, St. Louis City, Missouri, USA


James Hancock


The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

Vol. 67, No. 3 (July, 1969), pp. 232-236 (5 pages)

Published by: Kentucky Historical Society

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