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Atchison County has always been particularly proud of the high order of talent that has graced its bench and bar. From the very earliest days of its history, the legal profession has been well represented here. Men who have reached a high order of distinction in the profession have had their beginning at the bar of this county.

In fact, this county has been somewhat unique in this respect, for there is perhaps no other county in Kansas that has furnished a greater number of distinguished representatives of this noble profession, who have shed their luster upon the fair name of the State. For a long period, indeed, Atchison seemed to be the Mecca towards which the best legal talent from all quarters of the country gathered, and it was the Atchison bar that furnished three chief justices of the supreme court of Kansas, one United States district judge, an attorney-general, a governor, a United States senator, and a general counsel for a large railroad system.

No attempt will be made in this chapter to give a complete roster of names of the many lawyers who have successfully practiced their profession here. The list is too numerous, but reference will be made to a number of conspicuous leaders, whose names stand out prominently in the history of the State, and whose careers have enriched the story of success and achievement.

Atchison County was one of the counties of the second judicial district, which composed, in addition to Atchison County, Doniphan, Brown, Nemaha, Marshall, and Washington counties. The first judge of the district was Hon. Albert L. Lee, who lived at Elwood, Doniphan County, and served from January 29 to October 31, 1861. He died in New York City on December 31, 1907. The second judge of this district was Hon. Albert H. Horton. Judge Horton was born in Orange County, New York, on March 12, 1837, and was educated at Farmers’ Hall Academy, in that county, and at Ann Arbor University. He was admitted to practice in the supreme court of New York, at Brooklyn, in 1859, and continued the practice of his profession at Goshen until 1860, when he removed to Kansas, locating at Atchison. His first public office here was city attorney, to which place he was elected in the spring of 1861, upon the Republican ticket, and the same year was appointed by Governor Robinson judge of the second judicial district, and held this office, by election, until 1866, when he resigned. He was a Republican presidential elector in 1868, and in 1869 was appointed a district attorney of Kansas by President Grant, which office he held until 1873 when he was elected a member of the House of Representatives from this county. Three years later he was elected to the State Senate and was also a delegate to the National Republican convention in June of that year, and in the same year was appointed chief justice of the supreme court of Kansas by Governor Thomas A. Osborn, to succeed Hon. S. A. Kingman, who was before that time a prominent practitioner in Atchison. In 1877 Judge Horton was nominated on the Republican ticket to the office of chief justice of the State, and he served in that capacity for seventeen years, at the end of which time he returned to Atchison and formed a partnership with Hon. B. P. Waggener. Judge Horton was an able jurist and lawyer, a strong argumentative and fluent speaker. He displayed marked ability as a parliamentarian while in the legislature, and was, altogether, a man of strong mental capacity, good judgment, coupled with executive ability, and much practical experience. After a number of years of practice here, following his resignation as chief justice of the State, he subsequently was reëlected to the same position. He died on the second day of September 1902.

Judge Horton was succeeded as judge of the district court of this district by Hon. St. Clair Graham on May 11, 1866. Judge Graham served as Judge until January 11, 1869, and was on the bench at the time that the celebrated Regis Liosel land contest was tried in Nemaha county, in which John J. Ingalls, another Atchison lawyer, represented some claimants to 38,111 acres of land in the counties of Nemaha, Marshall, Jackson, and Pottawatomie. It was one of the celebrated cases of that day. The litigation grew out of a French land grant, which subsequently was confirmed by an act of Congress in 1858.

Judge Graham was succeeded by Hon. Nathan Price, of Troy, Doniphan County, on January 11, 1869. Judge Price served until March 1, 1872. He practiced law in the district for a number of years thereafter and died in Troy on March 8, 1883. B. P. Waggener, who began his wonderful career as a lawyer during the administration of Judge Price, and who has been in the active practice in Atchison since that time, is authority for the statement that Judge Price was one of the most brilliant judges that ever adorned the bench. He is described by Mr. Waggener as being a man of a powerful personality, and thoroughly grounded in the principles of the law.

During this period in the history of the county, Atchison had one of the strongest bars in the State of Kansas. Among the able lawyers then in the active practice were: P. T. Abell, about whom much has appeared in this history; Gen. Benjamin F. Stringfellow, Alfred G. Otis, John J. Ingalls, George W. Glick, Samuel C. Kingman, J. T. Hereford, Gen. W. W. Guthrie, Albert H. Horton, Cassius G. Foster, S. H. Glenn, F. D. Mills and David Martin, and one of that number, Mr. Waggener, is also authority for the statement that Benjamin F. Stringfellow was the most brilliant. General Stringfellow was a brother of Dr. John H. Stringfellow, one of the founders of Atchison, and, like his brother, was a strong pro-slavery leader. He was famous before he came to Atchison, because of his widely known views with regard to the opening of Kansas as a slave State, and for the depth and force of his arguments upon the points then at issue. General Stringfellow was born in Fredericksburg, Va., September 3, 1816, and before coming to Kansas he was a resident of Missouri. He first located in Louisville, Ky., and then went to St. Louis, and from St. Louis to Huntsville, Mo., finally locating at Keytesville, where he settled down in his profession, and was recognized as being a young lawyer of fine ability. He declined the position of circuit attorney, but upon the earnest solicitation of the governor, he finally yielded and entered upon the duties of that office, and subsequently was elected without opposition, and held that office for a term of four years at a salary of $250 a year. He subsequently was elected to the legislature, with the largest majority ever received in a county, and immediately became a very active, popular and influential member of that body. Shortly thereafter the position of attorney-general of the State of Missouri became vacant, and General Stringfellow was appointed to that place. He held the office of attorney-general for four years. It was then that he formed a partnership with Hon. P. T. Abell, which continued until the fall of 1851, and they removed to Weston, Platte county, Missouri, in the fall of 1853.

At the opening of Kansas to settlement in 1854, General Stringfellow found the abolitionists preparing to get control of the country, and, in opposition to the formation of the Massachusetts Immigrants’ Aid Society, he took part in the organization of a pro-slavery organization at Weston, Mo., known as the Platte County Self-Defensive Association, of which he was secretary, and one of its most active members. General Stringfellow, foreseeing the conflict, insisted that the only means of preventing or deferring it, was to make Kansas a slave State, and thus retain sufficient power in the United States Senate to defeat aggression by the abolitionists on the rights of the South. General Stringfellow, with all the power and enthusiasm of his southern temperament, labored ceaselessly for the success of his cause. He was the active man of what was generally called “Atchison, Stringfellow & Company.”

When the pro-slavery forces finally succeeded, and the destiny of Kansas was fixed, General Stringfellow went to Memphis, Tenn., in 1858, but not liking the climate, and compelled by his financial interests to look after property in Atchison, he brought his family here and became a resident of Atchison county in the fall of 1859, and remained here during all the bitter conflict that followed, beloved and respected by friends and opponents alike. He submitted gracefully to the final decision, and, while never seeking office, and influenced in his political action by what he deemed the best interests of the people of the State, he cordially coöperated with the Republican party in Kansas, but he was preëminently a lawyer, although he had a large outside business interests during his residence here. He was active in the organization and construction of the Atchison & St. Joseph railroad, which was the first railroad connecting Kansas with the East, and was its first attorney. Shortly before his death he made a trip around the world. He died in Chicago in the early nineties.

A few years after General Stringfellow immigrated from Missouri into Kansas, there came another famous lawyer, who was also formerly an attorney-general of Missouri, Gen. Bela M. Hughes. General Hughes was also one of the brilliant lawyers of an early day, who remained in Atchison but a few years as general counsel for the Overland Stage Line. Before coming to Atchison, General Hughes was a resident of St. Joseph, where he was the president and general counsel for the Central Overland California & Pike’s Peak Express Company. When this line was sold, under a mortgage foreclosure, to Ben Holladay, in 1862, General Hughes came to Atchison. He served as general counsel for Mr. Holladay until the line was purchased by Wells, Fargo & Company. He was retained by this company as its general counsel, which continued to operate the overland stage line, until a railroad was built across the plains, meanwhile moving to Denver, where he was elected the first president and general counsel of the Denver & Pacific railway, the first railroad to enter Denver, in July, 1870, and he later became general counsel for the Denver & South Park railroad, and a member of the last territorial legislature of Colorado. General Hughes was born in Kentucky, educated at Augusta College, and removed with his parents at an early date to Liberty, Mo. He was a member of the Missouri legislature, prosecuting attorney, and receiver of the United States land office at Plattsburg, from which place he went to St. Joseph. In his early youth he was a soldier in the Black Hawk war, serving with the Missouri volunteers. He took up his residence in Denver in the late sixties, when the city had less than 5,000 inhabitants. He died in Denver in 1904, at the age of eighty-six years.

Judge Samuel C. Kingman was born in Worthington, Mass., June 6, 1818. He attended a common school and academies of his home town, and became proficient in higher mathematics and Latin, but his regular attendance at school ended when he was seventeen years old. He was always a sickly man, and at times during his life was compelled to lay aside all study and attention to active affairs. At the age of twenty he drifted to Kentucky, where he remained eighteen years, teaching school, reading law and practicing as an attorney. He held offices as county clerk and county attorney in Kentucky, and was a member of the legislature of that State in 1850. In 1856 he came to Iowa, and in the following year moved to Brown county, Kansas, where he lived on a farm for a year, and then opened a law office in Hiawatha. Judge Kingman was a member of the Wyandotte Constitutional convention, which framed the constitution of the State, and the same year was elected a judge of the supreme court, taking his seat upon the admission of the State into the Union in 1861, holding his office for four years. In 1866 he was elected chief justice, and reëlected in 1872, but because of ill health he resigned in 1877, and retired from active professional life. Judge Kingman was for a time a resident of Atchison and a law partner of John J. Ingalls. He died in Topeka September 9, 1904.

Cassius G. Foster, another one of the brilliant galaxy of lawyers, who practiced in Atchison during the term of Judge Price on the bench, was born at Webster, Monroe county, New York, June 22, 1837. He was brought up on a farm until he was fourteen years of age, and having only the advantages of a common district school, he attended high school at Palmyra, N. Y., after which he went to Michigan, where he lived on a farm near Adrian, where he worked for his uncle. Meanwhile, he attended school at the academy in Adrian. He studied law with Fernando C. Beaman, of Adrian, and afterwards removed to Rochester, N. Y. In June, 1859, he came to Kansas, having previously been greatly interested in the Free State struggle, and upon arriving in Atchison, he formed a partnership with Judge S. H. Glenn, and immediately won for himself a high position at the bar of the State and Federal courts. He was elected State senator from Atchison county in 1862, and was mayor of Atchison in 1867. He practiced law here until 1874, when he was appointed United States district judge of Kansas.

Hon. P. L. Hubbard, of Atchison, succeeded Judge Price on the bench March 2, 1872, and served until January 8, 1877, and following Judge Hubbard, Hon. Alfred G. Otis was elected judge of the second judicial district January 8, 1877, and served until January, 1881. Judge Otis was born in Cortland county, New York, December 13, 1828, and came to Kansas in October, 1855, and immediately became engaged in land litigation, which at that time was very active here. During the early career of Judge Otis in Atchison county, and for many years thereafter, land litigation was the chief source of revenue for lawyers. There were no great corporations then as now; no railroads for clients, and aside from land litigation and a general practice of the law, including criminal cases, there was but little business for lawyers. At that time the criminal practice was not looked upon with the same disapprobation on the part of the profession as it is in these days. A good criminal lawyer then was an ornament to the profession, and a good criminal advocate was in constant demand and his services brought him large remuneration. Judge Otis was a Democrat, but a Union man, and in addition to his activities in his profession, he was also prominent in the business affairs of the town, and for a long time took an active part in the management of the Atchison Savings Bank, of which he was for many years president. Judge Otis died in Atchison May 7, 1912.

Judge Otis was succeeded by Hon. David Martin in January, 1881. Judge Martin served until April, 1887, and was one of the eminent members of the Atchison county bar. In personal appearance he was unique among his fellows, and in physical appearance was the counterpart of Dickens’ famous Mr. Pickwick. He was a partner of B. P. Waggener for a number of years, and was subsequently elected to the position of chief justice of the supreme court of Kansas, where he served with great distinction. He was a thorough lawyer and a scholar. He died at Atchison March 2, 1901.

It was between the terms of Judge Price and Judge David Martin that the bar of Atchison county reached its greatest eminence, and, while there have been good lawyers here since that time, there never has been a period in the history of the county when there were so many brilliant practitioners at the bar. During several years following Judge Martin, the second judicial district, which constituted Atchison county alone, was torn by internal dissension, and upon the resignation of Judge Martin, Hon. H. M. Jackson was elected to the bench, April 1, 1887, and served until January, 1888. There never was a more conscientious or painstaking lawyer a resident of Atchison than Judge Jackson. He was not only a fine lawyer, but he was a good citizen, useful to clients and the public alike. At his death, May 7, 1912, he left a large practice, which has since been conducted by his son, Z. E. Jackson. Following a bitter contest, Hon. W. D. Gilbert succeeded Judge Jackson in January, 1888, and served until 1889, and then came Hon. Robert N. Eaton, whose term began in January, 1889, and ended in January, 1893. Judge Eaton was succeeded by Hon. W. D. Webb, who in turn was succeeded by Hon. W. T. Bland, who served from January, 1897, to January, 1902, and resigned to go into the wholesale drug business. Hon. Benjamin F. Hudson, one of the oldest practitioners at the bar, succeeded Judge Bland and served until October 11, 1909, and was succeeded by Hon. William A. Jackson, the present judge, a sketch of whose career appears in another part of this history.

During the turbulent years that followed the organization of the second judicial district, down to 1916, there was no greater lawyer at the Atchison county bar than B. P. Waggener, about whom there appears an historical sketch in another part of this history. Mr. Waggener, in addition to being a native genius, inherited or acquired a faculty for unremitting toil. These qualifications make him stand out in 1916 as a brilliant leader of his profession in Atchison county. He has been associated as a partner with many men who have been preëminent in their profession at different periods in his career, Horton, Martin and Doster, all of whom served as chief justices of the State, were his partners, and in addition to these, Aaron S. Everest was at one time a partner under the firm name of Everest & Waggener. In January, 1876, this firm was appointed general attorneys for northern Kansas of the Missouri Pacific and the Central Branch railroads, and from that date to 1916 Mr. Waggener has been in the constant service of this road, first as general attorney and later as general counsel for the states of Kansas, Nebraska and Colorado.

Col. Aaron S. Everest was an interesting member of this bar. He was a native of Plattsburg, N. Y., and located in Kansas in 1871. His first partner was A. G. Otis, and when he and Mr. Waggener were associated, they were not only attorneys for the Missouri Pacific Railway Company, but for the Pacific Express Company, the Western Union Telegraph Company, three Atchison banks, the Atchison Bridge Company, and the firm was also connected with the Union Pacific Railroad Company. Mr. Everest retired from active practice a number of years before his death, having acquired a comfortable fortune in the practice of law and in business operations. He died in St. Louis a number of years ago.

The present membership of the Atchison county bar is composed of lawyers of fine abilities, and the active members are as follows: James W. Orr, for many years a partner of Mr. Waggener, and now special counsel for the Government in important litigation against the Central Pacific railroad; W. P. Waggener, general attorney for the Missouri Pacific Railway Company in Kansas; J. M. Challiss, former county attorney, and a member of the firm of Waggener, Challiss & Crane, of which A. E. Crane is the other member; W. A. Jackson, district judge; Charles J. Conlon, county attorney, C. D. Walker and T. A. Moxcey, both of whom were former county attorneys; W. E. Brown, city attorney; Z. E. Jackson, of the firm of Jackson & Jackson; Judge J. L. Berry. P. Hayes, Hugo Orlopp, E. W. Clausen, Ralph U. Pfouts, Charles T. Gundy, judge of the city court, George L. Brown, William Q. Cain, and Andrew Deduall.