JUDGE DANIEL A. BANTA, judge of the Twentieth District of Kansas, is one of the veteran members of the Kansas Bar, and both as a lawyer and citizen his career has been one of tremendous influence and benefit to the state.
He was born at Union City in Darke County, Ohio, September 9, 1851, and comes of a family of business men and farmers. His grandfather moved to Ohio in early days from the vicinity of Lexington, Kentucky, first settling in Warren County, Ohio, and later in Preble County. Grandfather Banta owned a farm on Twin Creek, near what was known as Banta Fork. He died there, and his widow passed away at Union City. They had three sons and three daughters.
Albert Banta, youngest son, was born in Ohio in 1819, and spent a quiet and uneventful life. In his neighborhood he was regarded as a genius in anything connected with mechanics or machinery. Three times he tried to enlist in the Union army, being rejected for physical reasons. He consoled himself with the thought that two of his brothers were soldiers in that war. He and his brothers were all republicans and Albert and his wife were members of the Christian Church. Albert Banta married Hannah Allen. She died at Lyndon, Kansas, at the age of fifty-six, while Albert passed away at Perry, OkIahoma and was laid to rest at Topeka. Their children to reach mature years were: Allen M., of Frederick, Oklahoma; Judge Daniel A.; Sarah, widow of Robert R. Irvin, living at Topeka; Alice, who lives at Los Angeles, widow of William Wright; and George W., of Topeka. Albert Banta by his first wife had a daughter, Mary, who became the wife of Hosea Blossom and died at Germantown, Ohio.
Judge Banta spent much of his early youth on a farm and had only a common school education. He left the farm to learn the trade of house painter, and left that trade when invited to study law at Marion, Indiana, in the office of Steele & St. John. He began reading law in the latter part of 1875, and was admitted to the bar from the office of his preceptors. As was the custom of the time he was examined by a committee of the whole bar with the circuit judge in attendance. Judge Banta had a thorough oral examination and was admitted in 1879. In the meantime he had practiced in the local or township courts of Grant County, handling collections for his firm. When he became a full-fledged lawyer he had his office with that of Colonel Steele at Marion. Colonel Steele was the father of George W. Steele, the first territorial governor of Oklahoma, and afterward commander of the Military Home at Marion, Indiana. Another lawyer who was admitted at the same time as Judge Banta was Willis Vandevanter, who is now an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court. Both these young lawyers were once candidates for prosecuting attorney of their judicial circuit, and both were defeated in the convention.
Judge Banta was a well informed and experienced lawyer when he came to Kansas. He located at Great Bend, and for twelve years practiced as a member of the firm Diffenbacher & Banta, and continued the work of the firm on the retirement of his partner. He continued to handle a large and important practice until his elevation to the bench. This practice extended over practically the western half of Kansas. Judge Banta became particularly well known as a defender in criminal cases. One noteworthy cause in which he was associated with Colonel Hopkins and Mr. Hoskinson of Garden City was in defense of the Coronado parties who were charged with the murder of several persons at Leoti as a result of county seat troubles.
During these years he manifested a normal interest in local politics and about 1890 became interested in state politics. He canvassed the state in almost every campaign until he went upon the beach. He was brought up as a republican and he drew much of his political inspiration from his old preceptors in Indiana. In 1910 Mr. Banta was nominated for district judge and was elected over C. F. Foley of Lyons to succeed Judge Brinckerhoff of Lyons. He was re-elected in 1914 without opposition and was chosen for the third term in 1918. He has eminent qualifications for the bench, having the temperament of a judge, a wide experience with men and affairs, and the ability and courage of decision.
Judge Banta has for many years been interested in the advancement of temperance and at different times has responded to invitations to address local gatherings on that subject. In the early years of his practice in Kansas, when the sentiment on the question of prohibition was closely divided, Judge Banta felt it to be his duty as a lawyer to represent many of the law violators in the courts. He was employed in many of the cases of that kind in Barton County. He has long been one of the working members of the Methodist Church, and for many years has been president of the adult Bible class of the Sunday school. This has become one of the largest Bible classes in Central Kansas.
Judge Banta has a most interesting family, and as a thoroughly patriotic American nothing has afforded him more satisfaction than the record made by his sons in the great war. While a resident of Grant County, Indiana, he married Miss Cassie Jennings, who died at Jonesboro, Indiana. She left no children. In April, 1885, in Pawnee County, Kansas, Judge Banta married Mabel C. Day. She is a daughter of Samuel J. and Sarah Louise (Scranton) Day. Her father, a native of New York, went as a young man to Illinois, taught school there, served with an Illinois regiment in the Union army, moved to Missouri, and from there became a pioneer member of the Barton County bar. Late in life he moved to Wisconsin, where he died. For two terms he was county attorney of Barton County. His wife died in Great Bend. Mr. and Mrs. Day had the following children: Mabel C., Mrs. Banta; Lula, who died in Oklahoma; Ella, of Anadarko, Oklahoma, wife of Andrew Livesay; Marjorie, who is married and living in Texas; and Charles, foreman in the Democrat office at Lyons, Kansas.
The children of Judge and Mrs. Banta are Dan Worth, Arthur C. and George. Dan is a graduate of the Great Bend High School and the Strasburger Conservatory of Music at St. Louis. Arthur is also a graduate of the Great Bend High School, of the Law Department of Washburn College, and was admitted to the bar by the Kansas Supreme Court in 1911. George left school before graduating and took up automobile work and became an expert mechanic in that line. Dan W. and George were both members of Company C of the Second Regiment, Kansas National Guard, and went with their command to the Mexican border. They remained until the company was mustered out at Fort Riley, at which time both were honorably discharged. Upon the declaration of war against Germany both entered the officers' training school at Fort Sheridan, Illinois. Dan received a first lieutenant's commission and George a captain's commission. The latter was immediately ordered on overseas service, sailing from New York December 24, 1917. He was made division ordnance office of the Thirtieth Division, now in France. His command was brigaded with the British troops which broke the famous Hindenburg line. It was his duty during the tremendous fighting of the summer of 1918 to keep the front line supplied with ammunition, and that he performed this duty most efficiently is now a matter of record.
On leaving the officers' training school Dan Banta was ordered to report to Camp Greene near Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was placed in command of Company A of the Fifty-Ninth Regular Infantry. He had that command until the beginning of the second battle of the Marne near Chateau Thierry, and led his company in that pivotal battle of the great allied advance. August 3, 1918, he was wounded by a high explosive shell, and for six months has been in a base hospital in France. He was recommended for a promotion to a captaincy. After he sailed for France he was admitted as a member of the Barton County bar. Dan Banta married Marguerite Spruill. Arthur C. Banta married Florence J. Hunt, and through them Judge Banta has three grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth, John and Florence Ellen.
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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