James Lawrence, of Wellington, Kan., a prominent member of the Sumner county bar, is the descendant of a family, members of which for a century and a half have held prominent places in the legal profession of our country as lawyers, jurists and supreme court justices, their identification with that profession being principally in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and dating back to 1767. Judge Lawrence is an Eastern man, a native of Monmouth county, New Jersey, where he was born Aug. 8, 1844. He is the third son of James N. and Annie (Potts) Lawrence, both of whom were natives of Monmouth county, New Jersey, the former born Dec. 31, 1810, and the latter March 19, 1815. The father, James N. Lawrence, was a sea captain early in life and visited many foreign parts, having made four voyages to the East Indies via Cape Good Hope. Later he became a civil engineer. Both the paternal grandfather and great-grandfather of Judge Lawrence were born in Monmouth county, New Jersey. The former, Joseph Lawrence, was a judge of the court of common pleas in New Jersey forty years prior to his death in 1840. The father of Judge Lawrence was a first cousin of Capt. James Lawrence, the American naval hero, who in 1813 commanded the "Chesapeake" in the engagement with the British frigate "Shannon" off Boston in the war of 1812, and was killed in action; his last words were: "Don't give up the ship." Captain Lawrence is the only man that has ever been buried by act of Congress and his funeral expenses were paid by the United States government. An appropriation by act of Congress provided the monument erected to his memory in the Trinity Church, New York City. The father of Judge Lawrence died Dec. 24, 1909, at Monett, Mo., being preceded in death by his wife, who died on July 28, 1901. They were the parents of ten children, five sons and five daughters, viz.: William B., born Nov. 8, 1835, died Aug. 2, 1901, at Bloomington, Ill.; Milton S., born Nov. 15, 1837, died in April, 1881, at City Point, Va.; James of this review; Anne, born April 19, 1847, is the wife of Dr. S. B. Mount, of Asbury Park, N. J.; Charles P., born Nov. 8, 1849, is a retired sea captain now residing at Norfolk, Va.; Eliza N., born in November, 1850, is the wife of Dr. Samuel Shunk of Orange, N. J.; Carrie, born in April, 1852, died in 1853; Carrie II, born in January, 1854, is the widow of Benjamin Haworth and resides in Kansas City, Mo.; Abraham Lincoln, born in December, 1856, was accidentally drowned June 20, 1867, in the Delaware river at Burlington, N. J.; Adena, born in January 1859, is the wife of Rev. Francis C. Orr, of Buffalo, N. Y.
Judge Lawrence acquired his education in the public schools of New Jersey. He had as one of his teachers Clara Barton, the noble woman of world-wide fame as the founder of the Red Cross Society. He had not yet reached his majority when he enlisted on Feb. 23, 1863, as a private in Company G, Eleventh New Jersey infantry, with which he served until the close of the war in the Army of the Potomac. He was in the ranks at the battle of Gettysburg and was wounded; at the battle of Cold Harbor in June, 1864, he was seriously wounded in the left leg, necessitating his removal to the hospital at Washington, D. C., where he remained six months; and he was in the trenches in front of Petersburg just at the close of the war. Though his service extended through but the last half of the war, he probably saw harder service than did many veterans who served throughout the whole war. At the cessation of hostilities he went to Philadelphia, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar May 6, 1871, in Old Independence Hall. He practiced his profession in that city until June 22, 1877, when he came to Wellington, Kan. Since that time he has there given his whole attention to law except from 1898 to 1901, when as the successful Republican candidate he represented Sumner county in the state legislature. His services there were of a high order. He was the author of the bill passed amending important features of the Australian ballot system in Kansas and in other ways took a prominent and active part in the proceedings of the legislature during his term of service. In January, 1902, he was appointed judge of the Nineteenth Judicial District by Governor Stanley, which office he held until the next regular election. Since then he has been special judge of the same district on numerous occasions.
On Sept. 9, 1869, at Burlington, N. J., Judge Lawrence married Miss Anna Girton; a daughter of Robert Girton and his wife, Rebecca (Stradling) Girton. The parents of Mrs. Lawrence were natives of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, and were descended from Quaker ancestors who accompanied William Penn to America on his third voyage. They have both passed away, the mother's death having occurred in 1867 and the father's in 1877. To Judge and Mrs. Lawrence have been born four children, viz.: Lillian, who was born May 25, 1872, and died Nov. 15, 1908; Ralph, born Dec. 23, 1875, who died June 22, 1878; Clara Barton, born Feb. 19, 1884, who is now a teacher in the Wellington City schools; she was named by and for Clara Barton, the founder of the Red Cross Society; Lucile, the youngest daughter, was born Dec. 16, 1891. Judge Lawrence is a Republican in politics and is an active worker for his party in both county and state affairs. Fraternally he is a Knights Shrine. He is also a member of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks. Mrs. Lawrence is a member of the Methodist church and Judge Lawrence is a communicant of the Episcopal church.Pages 1464-1466 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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