JUDGE JAMES ELLIOTT ANDREWS. It was about twenty years ago that Judge Andrews was on the district bench of Western Kansas. He is a pioneer lawyer of Rush County and has a host of associations with the business, professional and civic life of that community, but as long as memory of early day conditions remain he will be distinguished and gratefully given recognition for the part he played as a sturdy and upright judge who successfully fought a condition of lawlessness such as perhaps had no precedent in all Kansas.
Judge Andrews has spent about half his life time in Kansas. He was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, December 27, 1851. His grandfather, Frank Andrews, was one of three brothers, the other two being Alexander and John, who came out of County Antrim, Ireland, toward the end of the eighteenth century and settled in Pennsylvania. So far as known the pursuits of Frank Andrews were those of a quiet and industrious farmer, and he lived in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, near Mount Pleasant. He married Miss McCammon, also of Irish stock.
The father of Judge Andrews was John Andrews, who was born in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, in 1809, had only the advantages of such schools as existed in the early part of the last century, was a farmer all his life, and died in 1879, in the same locality where he was born. In the early days he served in the State Militia, when in lieu of real fire arms the militiamen paraded manual of arms with corn stalks. He was a member of the United Presbyterian Church. He married Hannah Carnahan, who died in 1865. They had eight children: Mary, who married Alexander Miller and died in Westmoreland County; Louisa, who married R. K. Hissam and died in Pennsylvania; Frank M., still living in Westmoreland County; John C., a farmer at Bellingham, Washington; Talitha Cuma, who died in her native county as Mrs. Abner Evans; Judge James E.; David C., who spent his life in Pennsylvania; Charlotte R., wife of M. M. Byers and living on the old Andrews estate in Pennsylvania.
While Judge Andrews has given his best years to the legal profession he has always lived close to the soil and has been grateful that his early life was spent in a rural environment. He lived at home in Pennsylvania until about twenty-two years of age. Besides the local schools he was graduated in 1878 from the Pennsylvania State Normal at Indiana, and for eight years was a teacher. His last position was principal of the Mount Pleasant School. He also did county normal work and prepared many teachers for their profession.
He left school to begin his diligent preparation for the bar. During 1879-80 he attended the University of Michigan Law School, and then went west to Iowa, where his studies were directed by the firm of Stivers & Louthan in Toledo until his admission to the bar. Having qualified for practice, he located in Adair County and carried on a general practice until his removal to Kansas.
Judge Andrews came to Rush County in June, 1886. He was at the time a lawyer of six years' experience and had already established some influential connections. He explored the Western Kansas region with some friends who were seeking a good point at which to engage in banking. They selected LaCrosse, and Judge Andrews and his associates established the Citizens Bank, which subsequently became the First National and is now the Farmers & Merchants Bank. After helping get this institution started Judge Andrews began active practice, and after three years formed a partnership as Andrews & Anderson, which continued until Judge Andrews' elevation to the bench. The law practice of early days was largely confined to neighborhood disputes and of course matters of land and homestead titles. But the chief litigation that engaged the attention of lawyers and the public was the county seat contest between LaCrosse and Rush Center. This litigation continued for a number of years. It amounted almost to a factional feud between the two rival parties in the county, and there is not an old settler who did not have some interest or participation in the matter. The state Supreme Court finally passed judgment and decided that the majority of both favored LaCrosse and a judicial order was issued making LaCrosse the seat of justice and the place of county records. But the finishing touch was put by Judge Andrews, who about that time was sent to the Legislature and secured the passages legalizing a certain county seat election. That quieted the title to the Court House probably for all time.
It was in the fall of 1888 that Judge Andrews was elected to the Legislature. The dispute over the county seat resulted in the classification of the voters among two parties regardless of the usual national party lines. Thus Judge Andrews was elected by both republicans and democrats from the "north side," while his opponent was supported by republicans and democrats from the "south side." He was in the Legislature during Governor Humphrey's administration and while Henry Booth was speaker. Though himself a democrat he voted for Preston B. Plumb for the United States Senate.
A few years later populism broke up party lines again, and in 1893 Judge Andrews was nominated on a fusion ticket of democrats and populists for district judge. He defeated J. S. Caldwell of Leoti. Judge Andrews succeeded Judge Grinstead on the bench. His district at that time extended from Rush County west to the state line. In 1896 he was again a candidate, and this time his opponent was former Judge Grinstead. He served another four year term, and his successor on the bench was Judge Charles Lobdell. Among the famous cases that came up before him as district judge was the Start murder case, one of the most noted in Kansas judicial annals. It was tried five times before a conviction was announced.
During his first term as district judge three other counties were added to his district. This was the result of the legislative act by which the "Vandiver District" was abolished and added to the jurisdiction of Judge Andrews. A more unwelcome addition to judicial responsibilities perhaps never was made, and in quieting the reign of terror in the Vandiver district Judge Andrews performed a duty requiring the rarest fortitude, patience and courage.
Since retiring from the bench Judge Andrews has steadily looked after his growing private law practice and has also from time to time acquired extensive real estate and business interests in Rush County. He has farming lands, is a Kansas wheat raiser, is one of the stockholders of the Opera House, of the Farmers Elevator and the Farmers & Merchants Bank of LaCrosse, has been vice president for twenty-nine years of the Bank of McCracken, and is one of the organizers and a director of the Bank of Liebenthal.
Judge Andrews for many years has been one of the foremost figures in the democratic party in Western Kansas. Except for the convention which nominated Chief Judge Parker for president he has attended every national convention of his party since Mr. Cleveland was first nominated in 1884. At that convention he was an alternate delegate from Iowa. As a delegate at large to the Denver convention of 1908 he assisted in nominating Mr. Bryan. He also took part in all the state conventions until nominations were turned over to the primaries, and has assisted in naming several candidates for governor, including Governor Hodges. Judge Andrews is a member of every lodge in LaCrosse except one. He is a Master Mason, is a member of the Chapter and of the Knights Templar Commandery, has the gold medal awarded to twenty-five years of faithful membership in the Odd Fellows, and is a Knight of Pythias and a member of the Ancient Order of United Workmen. Like all his family, he is a member of the United Presbyterian Church.
Judge Andrews was married October 17, 1894, in Rush County, to Miss Mary Hain. They have five children: Luella, Wilda, Ruth, James E., Jr., and Ada. Luella is a graduate in elocution of the Horner Institute of Kansas City, Missouri, and from Cooper College of Sterling, Kansas. Wilda is a student at the Emporia State Normal School.
Transcribed from A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans, written and compiled by William E. Connelley, Secretary of the Kansas State Historical Society, Topeka. [Revised ed.] Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1919, c1918. 5 v. (xlviii, 2530 p.,  leaves of plates): ill., maps (some fold.), ports.; 27 cm.
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