Charles Stephens

CHARLES STEPHENS. The history of Kansas can best be interpreted by the careers of the men who have made the state what it is and also by those careers which have been largely shaped and moulded by Kansas influences.

A resident of Columbus almost continuously since 1872, and a widely known lawyer in Southeastern Kansas, Charles Stephens is a man who has practiced the principles that self-help is the best means of realizing all the resources of an individual character and advancing one's self to a worthy station in the world. As an orphan youth he had experience in farming, was a broom maker, repaired stoves over the country, and by consistent hard work, together with an endowment of natural ability, finally entered the profession which had long been his ambition.

In June, 1893, he graduated from the Kansas University Law School where he secured his Doctor of Laws degree. He had to live on slender means while in the university at Lawrence, and he cooked his own meals and cared for his own room. In July, 1893, he began his practice at Fort Scott, where he remained three years. He also taught commercial law in the Kansas Normal College at Fort Scott with about one hundred pupils under him, and while there he also took a full course in the Kansas Normal College and graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Oratory. For one year of his residence at Fort Scott he was venerable counsel of the Modern Woodmen of America.

Returning in 1896 to Columbus, where he had spent most of his early years of trial and testing, he was nominated for the office of county attorney in July of the same year, and was elected and served two terms. During the latter part of his second term he secured fifty-six convictions out of fifty-eight cases in the district court. On the expiration of his second term he went to the Columbian University at Washington, D. C., and at the end of his post-graduate studies received the degree of Master of Laws. There were 700 students in the school, and a special honor was paid Mr. Stephens when he was chosen by his class as its representative in the final public debate.

After returning from Washington Mr. Stephens practiced at Columbus until July, 1905, when a little daughter's health took the family west, where he spent the greater part of four years until his child was cured. After he came back to Columbus he was appointed to fill an unexpired term as county attorney, an office from which he resigned in February, 1912, to devote himself to private practice. It is said that Mr. Stephens was the second man in the history of Cherokee County to fill the position of county attorney three terms. He is a successful lawyer, and a man of public spirit in all that concerns the best interests of his town, county and state. Politically he is a democrat and has given much of his time on the stump.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written & compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed November 11, 1998.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward
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