James Armstrong Troutman, ex-lieutenant-governor of Kansas and one of the best known members of the Topeka bar, was born at Kewanna, Fulton county, Indiana, Dec. 1, 1853, a son of William H. and Nancy (Smith) Troutman, natives of the Hoosier State. The paternal grandfather, John Troutman, was a native of Kentucky, and the maternal grandfather, John W. Smith, was one of Indiana's pioneer settlers. The Troutman family is of German extraction, the name having originally been spelled "Trautmann." William H. Troutman was born in Fountain county, Indiana, Sept. 25, 1822, and there grew to manhood, after which he located in Fulton county, where he became a prominent and influential citizen. In 1865, just at the close of the great Civil war, he came to Kansas with his family and located in Tecumseh township, Shawnee county, not far from the present town of Oakland. Here he continued to reside until about 1889, when he removed to North Topeka and there passed the remainder of his life. His death occurred Feb. 6, 1909. He was one of the founders of the Republican party, and in the campaign of 1896 was a member of the Old Republican Club of Topeka. His wife died Dec. 5, 1891. Four children survive the parents: John L. is a farmer near Berryton, Shawnee county; Mrs. H. L. Resing is a resident of Wichita; James Armstrong is the next in order of birth; and Viola was for many years a teacher of English in the Topeka High School and at the present time is field secretary of the Missionary Society of the Methodist Episcopal church.
The early education of James A. Troutman was acquired in the public schools. He then attended the normal school at Leavenworth a short time, after which he began his life's career as a teacher, studying law as opportunity offered. Subsequently, he entered the law office of Peck, Ryan & Johnson at Topeka, where he completed his legal training, and in 1878 was admitted to the bar. For about a year after his admission to practice he was associated with the late Judge John W. Day. The legislature of 1879 submitted to the people an amendment to the state constitution prohibiting the sale of intoxicating liquors in Kansas, and the question soon became an absorbing one in all parts of the state. Believing that the amendment should be adopted, Mr. Troutman laid aside his law practice to assume the editorial management of the "Kansas Temperance Palladium," the first number of which was issued at Topeka on Nov. 22, 1879. In January following, the publication office was removed to Lawrence, but Mr. Troutman continued to conduct its editorial columns and proved to be a potent factor in the campaign for the amendment, which was adopted by a substantial majority at the general election in 1880. In August of that year Mr. Troutman was elected secretary of the State Temperance Union, which office he held eight years, and for the four years thereafter was president of the organization. He also served as grand secretary of the Kansas Grand Lodge of Good Templars for three years and as Grand Worthy Chief Templar for two years. In his temperance work, as in everything else, Mr. Troutman was guided by the dictates of his conscience and judgment without regard to the effect his attitude might have on his personal and political fortunes. That his activity in behalf of prohibition did not injure him in either respect is evidenced by the fact that he has attained to a high position as a lawyer and rose to leadership in the Republican party. In 1892 he was chairman of the Fourth Congressional district committee and managed the campaign when Hon. Charles Curtis (now United States Senator) was elected to Congress. The same year he was elected to the lower branch of the state legislature, as one of the representatives of Shawnee county, and exerted a powerful influence to bring about a speedy and satisfactory adjustment of the turbulent scenes attending the opening days of Governor Lewelling's administration. In 1894 he was nominated by his party for lieutenant-governor, and his plurality was 5,205 greater than that of Governor Morrill, the head of the ticket. Two years later he was prominently mentioned as a candidate for governor. With regard to his candidacy and character, George W. Martin, secretary of the State Historical Society, in a communication to the "Topeka State Journal," of March 6, 1896, said:
"James A. Troutman is comparatively a young man, a fine lawyer and a brilliant stumper. * * * He served a term in the house of representatives and presided over the Populist senate with honor, dignity and favor. He is level headed and truthful, without any of the demagogue about him, with the courage of his convictions, and his canvass brought him more in touch with the people, showing that he is not an exclusive prohibition crank."
This tribute from one who has known Mr. Troutman practically all his life is not fulsome eulogy, but the expression of one honest man concerning another. When the state convention assembled at Topeka, in August, 1896, Mr. Troutman said: "Whether or not I am nominated for governor, I shall stand upon the St. Louis platform without evasion or apology, believing it to be the expression of the best thought and the purest patriotism of the American people." Such a statement at such a time shows the speaker to be a man whose political convictions are based on something broader and far above personal considerations, and, though he failed to receive the nomination, he was not a laggard in the Republican ranks in that memorable campaign that elected Mr. McKinley to the presidency. Four years after this campaign a number of Kansas newspapers urged the election of Mr. Troutman to the United States senate. The Emporia Gazette, of Sept. 8, 1900, says:
"As a United States senator from Kansas, Mr. Troutman would find his experience very little different from that of the average United States senators from the other American states. And he would have this advantagethat his career, public and private, in Kansas, has been absolutely honest and that his political ideals are of the highest and tempered by a sane intelligence. Troutman would also have another advantage over the majority of his fellow senatorshis good, clean, well-oiled, duplex and automatic courage. This courage has been tried by all the pitfalls and snares known to the intrigues of Kansas politics. At a time when prohibition was weakening in Kansas, Jim Troutman was president of the State Temperance Union. At a time when free silver and fiat money were epidemic in Kansas, Troutman stood in the school houses of Kansas for the existing gold standard six years before his national party cared to make it a national issue. Troutman's election to the United States senate, while it might not please more people than the election of any other man in Kansas, might develop a senator who by sheer force of statesman-like ability, would commend reëlection for a number of terms. For Troutman is decent, clean to the core."
As an orator, either before a jury or upon the hustings, Mr. Troutman is versatile, resourceful, forcible, logical, eloquent and convincing. His fame as a public speaker has gone beyond the confines of his adopted state. On Feb. 12, 1903, he was one of the speakers at the Lincoln birthday banquet of the Lincoln Club of Chicago, his subject on that occasion being "Six Years of Republican Achievement," and judging from newspaper comment no speech at that banquet aroused more enthusiasm or was more favorably received. For four successive terms Mr. Troutman served as mayor of Potwin, the Topeka suburb in which he resides, and would have been elected for a fifth term had he not positively refused. By the exercise of his fine intellect, his indomitable energy and a high order of executive ability he has succeeded in a financial way. Besides his law practice he owns and operates a large plantation of 5,000 acres near Jackson, Miss. He is a member of the Kansas State Bar Association, the Topeka Bar Association and the Topeka Commercial Club. His church affiliations are with the First Methodist Church of Topeka.
On Oct. 12, 1882, Mr. Troutman and Miss Marcia Gordon were united in marriage. Mrs. Troutman is a daughter of Col. John C. Gordon, a well known and honored citizen of Topeka, and she was born in that city. Mr. and Mrs. Troutman have two daughters: Allabelle, the wife of Dr. W. M. Mills of Topeka, and Anna, wife of W. D. Updegraff, a farmer near Topeka.Pages 718-720 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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