Aretas Allen Godard, of Topeka, a lawyer of distinguished ability and extensive practice, and an ex-attorney-general of the State of Kansas, has an honored record of most efficient service in both official and professional circles, a record won not by chance or advantage, but by his own indefatigable industry and honesty of purpose. His paternal lineage is traced back to Puritan and Revolutionary New England ancestors. The Godard family moved from Connecticut to Bradford county, Pennsylvania, about the year 1800, and there became mill owners, storekeepers, and people of prominence and influence in their community. His mother was Priscilla M. Sherwood, a descendant of that sturdy old Knickerbocker stock, which thrifty people are so charmingly described by our great writer, Irving, in his "Knickerbocker History of New York," and to which people the best families of New York are proud to trace their ancestry.
The youth of Aretas A. Godard was spent on the farm of his father, Emory A. Godard. He was a high school student at Troy, Pa., and afterward at Waverly, N. Y., where he graduated. Later he attended the University of Syracuse, N. Y., but did not complete the college course. In 1878 he came to Kansas, having earned the necessary money by farm work, and at the age of twenty-two began the study of law at Holton. He was wholly dependent on his own resources, and earned his living expenses by teaching and in other ways, until admitted to the bar. Immediately upon his admission he became an active practitioner at the bar as a member of the law firm of Harkness & Godard, at Clay Center, Kan., where he soon took a prominent place in his profession and in the business of the town, and became president of the Clay Center Waterworks Company, and a director of the Republican Valley Bank. He also became a prominent member of the Masonic circles, being a Master Mason and a Knight Templar. He decided, however, that the advantages for a lawyer were greater in Topeka than in Clay Center, and accordingly removed to the former city in 1893, where he formed a law partnership with Judge Daniel M. Valentine and his son, Harry E. Valentine, under the firm name of Valentine, Godard & Valentine, one of the most successful firms in the state. However, since the death of Judge Valentine, on Aug. 5, 1907, the firm name has been Godard & Valentine. In 1898 he was nominated on the Republican ticket for attorney-general and was elected over a strong opponent on the Fusion ticket. In 1900 he was reëlected by a largely increased majority, and during his two terms in that position, which closed in 1903, he proved an official faithful, prompt and capable, one who discharged his duties with a sense of conscientious obligation. Upon the expiration of his two terms as attorney-general he retired from office as he had entered it, with the confidence and good will of the general public, and resumed his practice of law. For the past twelve years, or since 1898, he has been a member of the National Commission on uniform state laws, receiving his appointment as such from several different governors of Kansas. Possessing a broad and comprehensive knowledge of legal jurisprudence, he has embodied his knowledge in a book entitled, "Kansas Laws Made Plain," a book which consists of a digest of the state statutes prepared for popular use and which has reached its second edition.
Since Mr. Godard's retirement from the attorney-general's office, in addition to taking care of a large and lucrative law practice, he has been interested in various important business enterprises. He was one of the chief promoters of the Topeka Independent Telephone Company, and at the present time is chairman of its board of directors and is one of its heaviest stockholders. He is also one of the directors of the Young Men's Christian Association at Topeka. In 1898 he was elected president of the State Savings Bank of Topeka, and retained that position until July 1, 1909, when he resigned. Though not actively engaged in the banking business since that time, he is still a member of the board of directors of that bank, the deposits of which had reached $200,000 on July 1, 1909. His broad interests include not only business and professional affairs, but also the welfare of the people, which is shown by his position as president of the Topeka Association for the Study and Prevention of Tuberculosis, which maintains an outdoor camp for all persons in Topeka afflicted with tuberculosis.
Mr. Godard was united in marriage with Miss Eva Valentine in 1885. She, too, is a descendant of Revolutionary ancestors, and is the daughter of the late Judge Valentine, who sat as one of the supreme judges of the State of Kansas for the long period of twenty-four years and who was the senior member of the firm of Valentine, Godard & Valentine. Mrs. Godard is an active member in both social and church circles, and is now president of the Topeka Federation of Women's Clubs, an organization composed of about thirty various women's clubs of Topeka. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Godard. The elder, Miss Guenn Priscilla, is an accomplished young lady, and a graduate of Vassar College. The son, Daniel Valentine, was prepared for college at the Western Millitary[sic] Academy of Upper Alton, Ill. He completed, with marked success, the freshman and sophomore years at Washburn College, and is now finishing his education in the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, at Troy, N. Y. Mr. Godard is much interested in floral culture, and the complement of his beautiful residence, which is of his own design and is located at 1601 Boswell avenue, near the outskirts of the city, is the flower garden in which he delights. Mr. Godard propagates the plants for this garden himself. Mr. and Mrs. Godard are members of Central Congregational Church at Topeka. Mr. Godard is a member of the Commercial, Elks, Topeka, and Country clubs. He was one of the original founders of the Country Club and is one of its most active supporters. He is also a member of the Shawnee County Bar Association, and of the Kansas State Bar Association. As a lawyer Mr. Godard ranks among the ablest in the state; as a citizen he is honorable, prompt and true to every engagement. His characteristics are modesty of demeanor and entire absence of all parade and ostentation, together with a simple dignity born of inate virtue and self-respect.Pages 706-708 from volume III, part 1 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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