Joseph G. Waters

JOSEPH G. WATERS, soldier, publicist, author of note, public speaker, lawyer, of Topeka, is an individuality out of the ordinary. As a soldier, his services were a credit to his country, and himself, and his five wounds received in action are witnesses of his activity. As an author his published utterances have been rarely seen outside his own family circle owing to the reticence and innate modesty of the writer, but throughout his writings, whether prose or poetry, forcefulness, pleasing diction and pathos of high order predominated. For three decades his services have been in demand as a public speaker covering a wide variety of subjects and including patriotic, political, economic and social questions. On the occasion of Queen Victoria's jubilee, he delivered the address in Topeka before those of English nativity or descent, and this was so highly esteemed by her majesty as to be one of six, out of thousands, to be selected as especially pleasing to the queen and worthy of being engrossed and placed in the English archives. For this Captain Waters received a grateful letter of thanks inspired by her majesty. For nearly half a century he has been one of the leading lawyers of Kansas and although past the three-score-and-ten years of life, he continues to be a conspicuous figure in the legals[sic] affairs of the state.

Captain Joseph G. Waters was born October 18, 1837, in Campbell County, Kentucky, and when young moved with his parents to Fort Madison, Iowa, and later to Keokuk, where his father died of cholera in 1862. He became a clerk in a dry goods store at Macomb, Illinois, later reading law with a brother, Louis H. Waters, who died at 89 years of age, and who until his death was an active legal practitioner at Kansas City, Missouri. Captain Waters was admitted to the bar in December, 1857, and since that time his occupation has been the practice of law. Early in 1862, he enlisted in Company A, Eighty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, his brother being colonel of the regiment. In March, 1863, was elected first lieutenant of his company. He was a participant in the battle of Stone River, Chickamauga, all the continuous fighting of the Atlanta campaign, Franklin and Nashville. In September, 1865 he was discharged from the service, but in February, 1866, was commissioned second lieutenant in the Fifteenth United States Infantry, was promoted to first lieutenant in the Thirty-third United States Infantry, and to captain of the Eighth United States Infantry. During the reconstruction period following the close of the Civil war, and in the absence of the major, he was in charge of sixteen counties in Georgia. In 1869, he was wholly retired with one year's pay and allowance. In September, 1869 he came to Topeka. From 1871 to 1881, he was attorney for the Santa Fe Railway Company. For about twenty years he was president of the Topeka Bar Association, but while a republican in politics he has never been an official aspirant. In 1860, he married Adelaide Updegraf who died in 1861 leaving one daughter, Elizabeth, the widow of Frank Farnsworth. To his marriage with Mary Hays, which occurred in 1866, seven children have been born, named, Mary, Rebecca, John C., Frederick R., Joseph Dean, Santa and F. Mrs. Waters died July 31, 19l4.


A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, copyright 1918; transcribed October, 1997.
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