Hayden D. McMeekin was born in Nelson County, Kentucky in 1822. He worked in his family's dry goods store in Shelbyville, Kentucky until 1850 when he and his wife moved to Platte County, Missouri. [Cutler, History, Pottawatomie County] McMeekin opened a store in Weston and was modestly successful. He obtained a license to trade with the Pottawatomie tribe and built a trading post near the site of Rossville, Kansas. In 1853, he was given an additional license to trade with the Mississippi Sac & Fox by J. R. Chenault and F.W. Lea, Indian Agents. [Barry, Annals, April 1853]
Tefft House Hotel
When Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854, McMeekin made a claim in Leavenworth County and was a member of the pro-slavery Salt Creek Squatters' Association. In 1855, he moved to Leavenworth City, building the fourth house in the town. Apparently his Weston business had not been going well and it was time for a fresh start. Leavenworth lawyer H. Miles Moore wrote that MeMeekin moved to Kansas "poor but honest." [Moore, Leavenworth, 71] McMeekin kept his Pottawatomie trading post open until 1856, but in the meanwhile found other interests. In 1856 and 1857, during the border war, he was Deputy United States Marshal under Marshal I. B. Donalson. He also served four years as Deputy Sheriff of Leavenworth County. In 1864, in partnership with James M. Karr, he contracted with the government to furnish beef for Kansas and Colorado forts. From 1868 to 1873 he was a clerk for Hensley, Russell & Company, wholesale grocers of Leavenworth, and later for M. Hageman & Company. Along the way he became a partner in the Planters Hotel in Leavenworth.
In 1868 he became proprietor of the Tefft House in Topeka, the best hotel in the capital city. He stayed at the Tefft House until 1880, when he moved to Wamego, where he ran the Merritt House hotel until his death. He was eulogized as the "Prince of Kansas Landords." [Cutler, History, Pottawatomie County]