George R. Stephenson, a prominent and successful attorney of Yates Center, Kan., is a descendant on the paternal side of an old New York family, while his mother's people, the Nortons, originally came from England. Mr. Stephenson has a complete record of the direct line of his descent in that family back to 1500 A. D. He was born Jan. 26, 1851, in Geauga county, Ohio, a son of James E. Stephenson and Lavinia Norton. The father was born on Staten Island, N. Y., in 1819, and accompanied his parents to Ohio when a lad. Earlier in his career he was a clerk in a store and engaged in general merchandise business later, and was also engaged in farming some time, but later took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1864, when forty-five years of age. He devoted the remainder of his life to the legal profession. In earlier years he was a Whig, but upon the organization of the Republican party he joined its ranks and remained a stanch supporter of its policies. During the Civil war he was in the government service as an enlisting officer and as a drafting commissioner. He died in Ohio, in 1906, when eighty-seven years of age; his wife, who was born in Geauga county, Ohio, April 9, 1819, preceded him in death, her demise having occurred at Chardon, Ohio, April 27, 1891. Both were active and consistent members of the Baptist church and the father was frequently a representative in the Baptist associations. He was a personal friend of John D. Rockefeller. The grandparents of George R. Stephenson were Thomas B. and Hannah Stephenson, the former of whom was born on Staten Island, N. Y., and became one of the early settlers of Geauga county, Ohio. He was a Baptist minister and had been sent to Geauga county by his denomination as a missionary. He died in 1861. Lebbeus Norton, maternal grandfather of George Stephenson, was born in Killingworth, Middlesex county, Connecticut, Dec. 1, 1788, and died at Chester, Ohio, Dec. 3, 1873, at the age of eighty-five years. He was a soldier in the war of 1812 and removed to Ohio in a very early day. He was a son of Aaron Norton, born July 5, 1751, and died at Hartwick, N. Y., Feb. 20, 1813, and from whom the ancestry of the Norton family can be traced back directly to 1500 A. D.
George R. Stephenson was reared in Ohio and received his elementary education in the common schools of that state. Later he attended the Geauga Seminary, the school where James A. Garfield, who later became President of the United States, began his education. Previous to taking up the profession he has made his life work Mr. Stephenson clerked in a store for some time and also taught school a few years. His preparation for law was made while he was a teacher, pursuing his legal studies during the summers and teaching school during the winters. He was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1878 and began the practice of his profession as an associate of his father. In 1879, seeking a newer and broader field in which to carve a career, he came to Kansas and located in Yates Center, where he has been engaged in the practice of law continuously for thirty-two years, and is one of the best known member of the Woodson county bar. He was associated with W. E. Hogueland eight years, but since the dissolution of the firm he has practiced alone. He is admitted to practice in all the courts of the state and in the Federal courts.
In 1878 Mr. Stephenson wedded Miss Mariah L., daughter of Edward Peter of Guadenhutten, Ohio, a locksmith by trade and also a farmer, who died there. Of this union three children were born: Bertha S. married George R. Major and resides in Colorado; James E. is associated with the General Railway Signal Company and is located at Rochester, N. Y.; and Oliver H. resides in Duluth, Minn. The mother of these children died in 1887; she was a member of the Moravian church.
In 1888 Mr. Stephenson married Mrs. Laura A. Carpenter, widow of George D. Carpenter. Mr. Carpenter was a well known and prominent citizen of Woodson county, where he served six years as clerk of the court and was president of the Woodson National Bank. He died in 1885, leaving to his widow a large estate. Mr. and Mrs. Stephenson have a son, George E., who resides with his parents. Mrs. Stephenson is a member of the Baptist church. Mr. Stephenson is a Republican in politics, he served as county attorney of Woodson county from 1885 to 1889, and was appointed a justice of the peace by Governor Glick. Thirty-two years of an upright and useful life have made Mr. Stephenson one of the best known and most highly respected citizens of Yates Center.Pages 541-543 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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