Roswell Leonard King

ROSWELL LEONARD KING, who is now serving his tenth year of consecutive service as judge of the eighth district of Kansas, which is comprised of the counties of Marion, Dickinson, Geary and Morris, was appointed by Governor Bailey in 1904 to fill a vacancy on the bench of the eighth district, and has since been elected three times judge of that district, the last time, in the election of 1916, being elected on the republican ticket without opposition by any candidate upon any other ticket. His record since being upon the bench, tested by the few reversals of his decisions of the Supreme Court, will compare favorably with any other district judge of the state.

He was admitted to the bar in Clark County, Missouri, in 1879, and was engaged in practice there until 1884, during which time he was deputy or assistant prosecuting attorney for "Dap" Reed, who was then prosecuting attorney of Clark County, Missouri. He was elected on the republican ticket in 1880 public administrator of Clark County, Missouri, and served for four years in that office. He moved to Kansas in 1884 and located at Marion, Marion County, and engaged in the practice of law and served as city attorney and mayor of Marion and three terms as county attorney of Marion County, Kansas, resigning the office of county attorney to take the appointment as judge of the eighth judicial district.

Roswell L. King was born at Croton, Iowa, February 19, 1851, a son of Charles Edwin and Mary Jane (Smith) King. His father was a native born American, having been born in one of the eastern states, the particular one not being definitely known, and took up his residence in Iowa at an early period in the history of that state. He was a stone cutter by trade, a merchant, and also engaged in contract work in doing railroad grading and the building of levees in Lee County, Iowa, and Clark County, Missouri. He died in Clark County about 1858. In about 1848 Charles E. King married Mary Jane Smith, she having been born in Ireland and came to this country when she was about nine years old .Her death occurred in Clark County, Missouri, in 1865. There were six children born of this marriage, three sons and three daughters. The daughters are now deceased. The sons are Judge King, William A., of Portland, Oregon, and Charles Edwin of Keokuk, Iowa.

Judge King at the age of thirteen years was thrown upon his own resources, his parents both having died before he reached that age. He is self-educated, attended the public schools until he could qualify as a teacher. Also attended the Iowa Wesleyan University at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and afterwards taught for eight years in Lee County, Iowa, and Clark County, Missouri, during which time he served as principal of the public schools at Saint Francisville, Alexandria and Kahoka, in Clark County. He read law during the time that he was engaged in teaching school.

Judge King has been twice married, first in 1875 to Miss Margaret Layport, she having been born in Clark County, Missouri, in 1854. She was a daughter of David and Margaret (Scott) Layport. There were three daughters born of this marriage, two dying in infancy. The surviving daughter is Mrs. Amy Fox, of Clark County, Missouri. In 1884, Judge King was married to Vina Nichols, of Clark County, Missouri, a native of Illinois. They are the parents of four children: Ruth, now the wife of C.C. Brooker, of Marion, Kansas, Roscoe, a graduate of the University of Kansas and now county attorney of Marion County, Kansas; Bessie, the wife of Charles Casidy, of Wichita, Kansas; and Cassius Willard, the youngest, also a graduate of the law course of the University of Kansas and now attending the Wichita Business College, not having yet located or commenced the practice of the law.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, 1918, transcribed by Seth Godfrey, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, October 21, 1999.

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