Wealth and Wisdom: The life and legacy of Daniel Heaton

Among the decorative mausoleums at Maple Grove, one in particular demands attention. The Heaton Mausoleum. Daniel Heaton was a significant figure in the early 1900s Wichita. His life story offers a portrait of a man who helped shape the city’s early years.

Daniel Heaton
Courtesy: findagrave.com

Born in Illinois, Heaton’s journey brought him to Wichita around 1901. He spent his early years on a farm until 1875, after which he moved to Greenfield, Iowa. Wichita became his permanent home, where he established himself as a leading businessman. He owned the distilled and aerated water plant, showcasing his entrepreneurial spirit.

Heaton was also a stockholder in Wichita State Bank and Vice President of the Merchants State Bank in the Lawrence Block Building.

Beyond his business ventures, Heaton was actively involved in the community. He held shares in Wonderland Park and the fair association, contributing to the city’s cultural and entertainment development. His membership in the Elks and Masons demonstrated his commitment to civic and social life in Wichita.

Heaton was also a fisherman.  On April 5, 1906, the Wichita Eagle, ran a story about his adventure in California.  “While there he spent several days out on the ocean angling for tarpon and other ocean game fish of the larger varieties.  Mr. Heaton… brought home a 200 pound tarpon, which took several hours’ time before he conquered it.”

Heaton’s financial success was remarkable. He had property in Kansas and Iowa. His estate was valued at an impressive one million dollars, a considerable fortune during that era. His achievements in the business world made him one of the wealthiest individuals in Wichita, reflecting his strategic acumen.

The Heaton family lived at 421 North Lawrence (now Broadway).

Ella Meria Heaton, his wife, played a significant role in Wichita’s social circles. Renowned for her exceptional bridge-playing skills, she was popular among younger women in the city. She was also an active member of the First Presbyterian Church, where she found solace and community.  Ella was also a member of the Twentieth Century Club, which was organized in 1899. The object was the intellectual, moral, and social development of its members.

A poignant chapter in Heaton’s life was the tragic impact of his passing on a close friend, J.L. Evans. The loss of Heaton pushed Evans to the brink of insanity. According to The Wichita Eagle, “When he saw his friend cold in death, the chord of a perfectly balanced life snapped and he went home… a mental wreck.”

The Wichita Beacon did a story about the Heaton Mausoleum in Maple Grove Cemetery. According to the article on April 14, 1909, this impressive tomb was an architectural marvel, constructed with Vermont granite and adorned with marble trimmings from Baltimore.

Some of the granite pieces weighed close to ten tons, underlining the magnitude of the project. The construction costs reached approximately $16,000. The mausoleum became the final resting place for Mr. Heaton, preserving his legacy for future generations.