Walter J. Costigan.In Ulster county, New York, and situated on the Hudson, is West Park, the location of the old Abraham Frothingham estate, one of the earliest established among those beautiful homesteads that are to be found along the Hudson. Here Walter J. Coctigan[sic] was born on Jan. 23, 1854. His parents were Patrick and Julia (Burgoyne) Costigan. His father was a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland, and his mother was born in Queen's county, Ireland. Although natives of different counties, they were born and reared in the same vicinity, and married in their native land, coming soon after their marriage to the United States. During his first few years in this country the father was a common laborer on the above referred to Frothingham estate, and then for twenty years the superintendent of the estate. In 1877 he came to Kansas, and located on a farm about seven miles northwest of Ottawa, where he resided and followed farming until his death, which occurred in 1911. He lacked only a few weeks of being eighty-eight years of age at the time of his death. His wife died some twenty years earlier. She was an educated and cultured woman, possessed of sterling qualities of heart and mind, a devout member of the Roman Catholic church and reared her family in that faith. She was amiable and faithful as a friend and mother, and the force of her character left its impression not only upon her children but also upon those who came in touch with her exemplary life. She was the mother of eight children. John, a supereminent character, who became a page in the New York legislature, serving as such until really too old and large to longer hold the position, later becoming a proficient bookkeeper and manager in New York City. On account of failing health he left New York City, and came to the parental home in Kansas, where he died and was buried. Michael Costigan died in New York state at the age of twenty-three years. Walter J. is the subject of this sketch. Solomon P. Costigan preceded the family to Kansas, coming to this state in 1874, and settling on a farm in Franklin county, where he has since resided, following successfully agricultural pursuits, and serving with distinction as sheriff of the county for two terms. Richard T. Costigan is a prominent farmer of Franklin county. Eliza Costigan became a member of the order of the Sisters of Mercy, and died at the age of twenty-three years while in the service of the order at Pittsburgh, Pa. Mary Costigan became the wife of O. C. Bodley, a former banker of Ottawa but now of Kansas City, Kan., and she died when only twenty-one years of age. Julia Costigan, the youngest of the family became the wife of Thomas McCarty, a prominent farmer of Douglas county, Kansas, and died only recently.
Walter J. Costigan was reared at West Park, New York, was educated in the local schools, in the New York State Normal School at Albany and under private tutors. Early in life he obtained a teacher's license, but never taught school. He was, from his boyhood, frail in body because of which his mother, brothers and sisters sacrificed much that his health, education and happiness might be best conserved. He was educated to become a civil engineer, a calling he did not long follow. He then learned the printer's trade, his purpose being to gain the educational training it would afford, and to the period of four years devoted to it Mr. Costigan points with considerable pride. Throughout life he has continued a fondness for setting type. After serving at the trade four years, never intending to follow it, he gave it up and came to Kansas with the family in the fall of 1877, has since resided in the "Sunflower State." He soon drifted into the newspaper work, in which he gained an enviable reputation as an editor and writer. He began his newspaper career on the "Ottawa Journal," owned and published by E. H. Snow, who afterward served two terms as state printer at Topeka, where, during his service as state printer he published what was at first known as the Topeka edition of the "Ottawa Journal," and later as the "Topeka-Ottawa Journal," an issue which did much to promote Populism in Kansas. Mr. Costigan had a great deal to do with the editing of this paper, and in shaping the political sentiment of the people during the time. He took exception to the politics and administration of Governor Leedy, and for ten weeks in 1898 published at Ottawa "Costigan's Weekly," mainly for the purpose of opposing Leedy and Leedy's politics. He then quit politics and began the practice of law at Ottawa. He was reared a Democrat, but espoused the cause of the Greenback party, and still believes in the principles it advanced. He became a potent factor in the Populist party as a newspaper man. He now trains with the Democratic party, but has voted for many Republican candidates for office. At Ottawa and in the law office of A. W. Benson and C. A. Smart, the former now a judge of the Kansas supreme court, and the latter a district court judge, Mr. Costigan studied law, and in 1898 he was admitted to the bar. He has won an enviable reputation as a lawyer. While his practice has been general, and extended to many counties in the state, Mr. Costigan has been retained on the defense in many of the most noted criminal cases in Kansas. He is now devoting his time almost exclusively to the civil practice, quitting the criminal practice, owing not so much to the expressed law in the statutes of the state, as to the rulings of the courts which render conditions in the district courts unfavorable to the practice of criminal law, especially in reference to the change of venue. Never taking a case in which he believes the accused guilty, or in which he believes his client has not a just cause, he enters into his work with an earnestness and fidelity as if his client's cause were his own. Fearless, and prompted by a deep sense of right and justice, Mr. Costigan does not hesitate to denounce unfairness on the part of either opposing counsel or the court. For this reason he is perhaps not what might be termed a popular lawyer with his professional brethren. But his keen sense of justice, together with his fidelity to any cause he may espouse, has gained for him not only public popularity, but a confiding and constantly increasing clientage. He has frequently rendered, without fee, professional service in behalf of the poor and unfortunate, whose cause he believed to be worthy. Generous of heart he has been a liberal contributor to charity. He is happiest when he can contribute to the happiness of others. He is an ardent and strict adherent to the faith of the Roman Catholic church, but is not a church bigot. His only fraternal relations are with the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. He enjoys life, and his life has been an exemplary one. Mr. Costigan has never married.Pages 1051-1053 from volume III, part 2 of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed December 2002 by Carolyn Ward. This volume is identified at the Kansas State Historical Society as microfilm LM195. It is a two-part volume 3.
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