Elias Charles Disney (February 6, 1859 – September 13, 1941)
was the father of Roy and
Walt Disney and Herbert Arthur Disney and
Raymond Arnold Disney and Ruth Flora Disney.
The name "Elias" is a version of the name Elijah, the prophet. Elias
Disney was Canadian, and the son of Irish immigrants, Kepple Elias
Disney and Mary Disney née Richardson.
1 Early life
9 External links
Disney was born at the rural village of Bluevale, in what is now
Ontario, Canada, to Irish Protestant immigrants Kepple Elias Disney
(1832–1891) and Mary Richardson (1838–1909). Both parents had
Canada as children, accompanying their
He became a farmer and a businessman with little success. He moved to
California with his father in 1878 in hopes of finding gold. Instead,
Kepple was convinced by an agent of the
Union Pacific Railroad
Union Pacific Railroad to buy
200 acres (81 ha) of land near Ellis, Kansas. Disney was an
ardent socialist and a supporter of Eugene Debs.
In Ellis, Elias attempted to live as an orange grower and failed.
Elias' son, Walt, paid tribute to his father with a small sign on his
Main Street USA attraction at Disneyland which is still in place
today. It reads, “ELIAS DISNEY, CONTRACTOR, EST. 1895.”
Disney worked on his father's new farm until 1884, when he left to
find another job. He was hired in a railroad machine shop (one of his
co-workers was Walter Chrysler), then he joined the railroad crew
building the Union Pacific line through Colorado. After the railroad
contract was over, he became a professional fiddle player in Denver.
Again he was unsuccessful, and he returned to his father's farm. He
also worked for a short time as a mailman in Kissimmee, Florida, close
to the eventual site of
Walt Disney World. Disney did also attempt to
make a career as an orange grower in Florida, but he was unsuccessful
 As one can see[weasel words] from his attempts at being
self-employed, Elias had entrepreneurial tendencies—tendencies that
his son, Walt, later would inherit and develop.
He was a construction worker for the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition
in Chicago, an event which author Erik Larson cites as a source of
inspiration for his son Walt and the Disney kingdom he would
eventually create. He bought shares of O-Zell Company, a
jelly-canning factory that also produced apple juice in Chicago, where
Walt Disney worked before he joined the Red Cross Ambulance
Corps in World War I.
Disney married Flora Call on January 1, 1888, in Kismet, Lake County,
FL 50 miles (80 km) north of the land on which
Walt Disney World
would eventually be built and lived for a short time in adjoining
Acron, Florida. She was the daughter of his father's neighbors.
Soon after marriage, the Disneys moved to Chicago, Illinois, where
Elias met and befriended Walter Parr, St. Paul Congregational Church's
preacher for whom the Disneys' fourth son, Walt, was named.
The couple had five children:
Herbert Arthur Disney, born on December 8, 1888 – January 29, 1961.
Raymond Arnold Disney, born on December 30, 1890 – May 24, 1989.
Roy Oliver Disney, born on June 24, 1893 – December 20, 1971. (78)
Walter "Walt" Elias Disney, born on December 5, 1901 – December 15,
Ruth Flora Disney born on December 6, 1903 – April 7, 1995. (91)
By 1890, the Disney's lived at 3515 South Vernon Avenue in the Fourth
Ward. Elias worked as a carpenter. On October 31, 1891, Elias
bought a lot at 1249 Tripp. By 1892 he built a house on it. The
neighborhood was called Hermosa and had been settled by Scottish,
German, and Scandinavian immigrants. Their younger three children were
born there. 
By the turn of the century, Elias had become an active building
contractor. He built houses which he owned and then resold. He also
built the Saint Paul Congregational Church, a building dedicated on
October 14, 1900. Elias was one of the church's trustees and lay
preacher, while his wife was its treasurer.
According to some sources,[who?] Disney worried about the rising
criminality of the city. A neighboring family had two adolescent
children involved in a car barn robbery, and Elias feared that crime
would taint his own children. In 1906 he moved with his family to a
farm near Marceline, Missouri. Elias and his family settled there in
April, 1906. On March 5, he bought a 40-acre (16 ha) farm. Its
previous owner William E. Crane had died in November, 1905. Crane was
a veteran of the
American Civil War
American Civil War and his house predated the
foundation of Marceline. He bought the farm for $3,000 or $75 per
acre. On April 3, Elias bought an adjoining tract of about 5 acres
(2 ha) from Crane's widow. He paid an additional $450.
Marceline was probably[weasel words] chosen for being accessible
from Chicago, for its rural setting, and because his younger brother
Robert owned a 440-acre (180 ha) farm west of the city. The
Crane Farm had orchards of apples, peaches, and plums, and fields of
grain. The farm animals included pigs, chickens, horses, and cows.
The Disneys had a telephone connection by 1907. Herbert and
Raymond Disney never liked life on the farm. They moved out around the
fall of 1908, heading back to Chicago. They found work as clerks.
In 1907, Elias convinced some of his fellow farmers to join the
American Society of Equity, a farmer's union aiming to consolidate the
members' buying power.
Disney family sold the farm on November 28, 1910, as Elias Charles
fell ill. He was suffering from typhoid fever, followed by
pneumonia. The Disney's lived in a rented house in Marceline,
probably at 508 North
Kansas Avenue. Until 1911, when they moved to
Kansas City, Missouri. They lived in a rented house at 2706 East
Thirty-first Street. They stayed there until they bought their own
modest home in September, 1914. It was situated at 3028 Bellefontaine
On July 1, 1911, Elias Charles Disney purchased a newspaper delivery
route for The
Kansas City Star. It extended from the Twenty-seventh
Street to the Thirty-first Street, and from Prospect Avenue to Indiana
Avenue. Roy and Walt were put to work delivering the newspapers. The
Disneys delivered the morning newspaper
Kansas City Times to about 700
customers and the evening and Sunday The
Kansas City Star to more than
600 customers. Their customers increased with time. Elias also
delivered butter and eggs to his newspaper customers. They were
imported from a dairy farm in Marceline.
Elias sold the paper route on March 17, 1917. He had been investing in
the O-Zell Company of Chicago since 1912 and moved back to the city in
1917 to take an active role in its management. The Disney's rented
a flat at 1523 Ogden Avenue.
He retired from management work in 1920 and moved back to
He was again listed as a carpenter. He moved to Portland, Oregon
by the fall (autumn September–October) of 1921. His son Herbert had
earlier moved to this city.
Elias Charles Disney was a religious and strict Christian man, with a
sense of honesty and decency. He was a member of the Congregational
Church and often preached stern sermons on Sundays in this church. His
son, Walter Elias Disney, was named after a Congregationalist minister
named Walter Parr. Walt's middle name was after his father, Elias
Charles Disney. His grandson, (the son of Raymond Arnold Disney) is
Charles Elias Disney, was named after Elias. Elias and Walt had a
tense relationship as Elias never saw Walt's profession as an artist
as a real job. Elias never drank alcoholic beverages and rarely
smoked. According to biographical accounts, Disney was a stern man
who could have a strong temper at times, and would take the money
his sons earned for "safekeeping", considering them too young to know
the value of money. If his children misbehaved, Elias would not
hesitate to punish them with a switch.
Elias Charles Disney would talk socialism with strange characters and
bring them home. While he was strict, Elias Charles was a good man
with a loving heart. He was a fiddler himself and would bring home
anyone else who could play an instrument.
Elias Charles Disney passed away on September 13, 1941 in Hollywood,
California. He is entombed next to his wife
Flora Call Disney in the
Great Mausoleum in The Sanctuary of Truth in Forest Lawn Memorial-Park
in Glendale, California.
Elias Disney (1859-1941) Grave Site BillionGraves".
BillionGraves. Retrieved 2017-08-13.
^ a b Barrier (2007), p. 12
^ Schlosser. Fast Food Nation. p. 36
^ a b c d Barrier (2007), p. 13
^ Barrier, Michael (2007). The Animated Man. Los Angeles, California:
California Press. p. 12 of 393.
^ Larson, Erik. "The Devil In The White City". Random House. Retrieved
^ Barrier, Michael (2007). The Animated Man - A life of Walt Disney.
Los Angeles: University of
Los Angeles Press. pp. 19–22.
Walt Disney by Neal Gabler - eBook -
Random House at
^ a b c d e f Barrier (2007), p. 9-10
^ "Home - The
Walt Disney Birthplace". The
Walt Disney Birthplace.
Retrieved May 31, 2015.
^ a b Barrier (2007), p. 11
^ a b Barrier (2007), p. 14
^ a b c Barrier (2007), p. 16-17
^ "Disney, Walt, House and Garage" (PDF). dnr.mo.gov.
^ Barrier (2007), p. 18
^ a b Barrier (2007), pp. 19-20
^ Barrier (2007), p. 21
^ Barrier (2007), p. 27-28
^ Barrier (2007), pp. 29-30
^ a b Thomas, Bob (1998). Building a Company (First ed.). New York:
Hyperion. p. 15 of 359. ISBN 0-7868-6200-9.
^ Barrier (2007), p. 15
Barrier, J. Michael. (2007), "The Pet in the Family: On the Farm and
in the City, 1901-1923", The Animated Man: A Life of Walt Disney,
California Press, ISBN 978-0520241176
Elias Disney at Find a Grave
Biography of the
Disney Family in Canada
Elias Charles Disney on
IMDb (documentary footage)
Windows on Main Street, U.S.A., at Disneyland Park: Elias Disney