St. John, John Pierce, 8th governor of the State of Kansas, was born at Brookville, Franklin county, Ind., Feb. 25, 1833, a son of Samuel and Sophia (Snell) St. John, the father a native of Orange county, N. Y., and the mother of English extraction. He was educated in the log school house of that period, and in 1852, at the age of nineteen years, crossed the plains to California. There he was engaged in various pursuits from mining to merchandising, and participated in the wars with the Indians in northern California and southern Oregon in the years 1853-54, being twice wounded. He then visited the Sandwich islands, Mexico, Central and South America. While working as a miner in California he decided to study law, and after his travels as above menhoned entered the office of Starkweather & McLain, of Charleston, Ill., in 1860, where he completed his studies, being admitted to the bar the following year. At the breaking out of the Civil war he enlisted as a private in Company C, Sixty-eighth Illinois infantry, and served with that regiment in Virginia until it was mustered out in Nov., 1862. He was then commissioned captain and placed in command of troops rendezvoused in camp at Mattoon, Ill., until the One Hundred and Forty-third Illinois infantry was organized, when he was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the regiment and continued to serve with that rank until the close of the war. Returning to Charleston, he formed a partnership with Judge McLain, the surviving partner of the old firm with which he had studied, but a few months later removed to Independence, Mo., where he opened a law office and made his debut into the political arena. In May, 1869, he located at Olathe, Kan., where he formed a partnership with M. V. B. Parker for the practice of law, under the firm name of St. John & Parker. This association lasted until 1875, when it was dissolved by mutual consent. In 1872 Mr. St. John was elected to the Kansas state senate, but declined a nomination for a second term. On May 3, 1876, the state temperance convention tendered him the nomination for governor, but the Lawrence Journal says that "On account of his unsatisfactory acceptance of the honor nothing was meant to be said about it until some action could be taken by the state central committee. He was a candidate before the Republican state convention for governor the same year, but was defeated by George T. Anthony. In 1878 he was nominated for governor by the Republican party and was elected; was reëlected in 1880, and was nominated for a third term in 1882, when he was defeated at the polls by George W. Glick. Gov. St. John was an ardent temperance advocate and was the Prohibition candidate for president in 1884. The amendment to the Kansas constitution, prohibiting the manufacture, importation and sale of intoxicating liquors within the state, is probably due as much to his influence as to that of any other one person. It is said that in sixteen years he traveled 350,000 miles, made 4,000 speeches, mostly on the subject of the liquor traffic, and never missed an appointment. Upon retiring from the office of governor he became interested in mining operations in Missouri. In 1900 he supported Mr. Bryan for president.Pages 621-622 from volume II 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 July 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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