HON. SAMUEL I. HALE, of LaCrosse, is a marked illustration of character-building in the United States, brought about by the education and early influences of an old and settled community, with the inherited traits of sturdy British blood as the basis of that personality, and all centered in an able and ambitious young man determined to exert himself to the utmost in the splendid work of developing a new country of the Western empire. When he arrived in LaCrosse, thus equipped and endowed, he was an Ohio lawyer of about thirty. He has just entered his sixty-seventh year, the senior member of the Rush County bar, and with the exception of G. Polk Cline and W. H. Vernon, of Larned, the oldest practicing lawyer in the district. But, as in the days of his young manhood, he is still active and independent, and now an acknowledged leader of the state bar and a figure in politics which has attained national scope.
Mr. Hale is a native of Monroe County, Ohio, and lived chiefly in Athens until he came to Kansas. After completing his literary education at Bartlett Academy, Washington County, in that state, he taught school for fourteen years in Athens and Morgan counties. He studied law in the midst of this work, and in 1878 was admitted to the bar, his circumstances making it impossible for him to obtain a collegiate education. But reviewing his career, it is impossible to see where he would have greatly gained by possessing a collegiate education; in fact his education and above all, his experience in Ohio, peculiarly fitted him to meet men and women in the every-day affairs of life. He also had a good training in the stern problems of self-support and self-development.
He came to Kansas the year after he was admitted to the bar, first locating in Shawnee County, and teaching a country school near Rossville. In 1881, about 1 1/2 years afterward, he became a resident of LaCrosse, and has remained there. His first case was tried near his home town before a country justice of the peace, Mr. Hale representing the county attorney in the prosecution of a man charged with adultery. After being assured that such was the case, the Squire asked the young attorney if he desired a jury trial. Mr. Hale said he did not know, at which the justice of the peace added: "You can have a jury if you want one, but if you try the case before me the defendant will be found guilty, for he is as guilty as hell!" Polk Cline represented the defendant, and when the case was finished he was greatly elated to hear the justice remark: "I think I shall take this case under advisement, as I have the right to do. I shall hold it for three days, and then decide the case in favor of the plaintiff." So Mr. Hale won his first case without serious effort.
He practiced alone until he formed a professional partnership with his wife, who commenced the study of law after their marriage in 1885, and in 1916 Harry W. Hanson became a member of the firm of Hale & Hanson. Although the senior partner has been a general practitioner, he has preferred criminal law and as the attorney for the defense. Perhaps the most noted of his criminal cases was the defense of Al. Start for the murder of Peter Herman. It was tried five times before a favorable decision for his client was finally rendered in the State Supreme Court.
Mr. Hale cast his first vote for General Grant in 1872, being at that time a resident of Athens, Ohio. His first office was that of county superintendent of Rush County, which he held for one term. He was elected to the Lower House of the Kansas Legislature in 1892, as a member of the republican party. He was one of its members who broke into the Populist House with a sledge hammer, and was the only man who captured a Populist carbine. He retains the gun, and says he does not know the owner and has never tried to find him. The Judge did his share in trying to restore order in that historic legislature. In 1896 he went over to the Free Silver Republicans and supported Bryan for president. When the Kansas Legislature passed the anti-fusion law that measure made him a democrat "by statute," he says, and in 1903 he was sent to the Lower House as a member of that party. While thus serving he assisted in getting the bill through the Lower House of the Legislature which increased the salaries of the state supreme judges from $3,000 to $5,000 per annum, and because of this he was defeated for another term.
In 1892 Judge Hale went to Minneapolis as a Kansas delegate to the National Republican Convention which nominated Benjamin Harrison for a second presidential term, and in 1904 served as a member of the democratic convention which nominated Judge Parker for the presidency. He was also a member of the first State Textbook Commission, being appointed by Governor Leedy soon after the enactment of the law, and reappointed by Governor Bailey. Further, he is a member of the State Board of Law Examiners, by appointment of the Kansas Supreme Court.
In the Masonic order, Mr. Hale is a Master Mason, for a number of years head of the LaCrosse Lodge, and is a member of the Wichita Consistory at Wichita, and Shrine, at Salina. While not a church member, his leanings are toward the Christian denomination, with which his parents were affiliated.
Judge Hale's father was Simeon Hale a Pennsylvania farmer and cooper. His forefathers came from Wales, but his wife was of English ancestry. He married Nancy Timmons, daughter of Levi Timmons, an English farmer. Mr. and Mrs. Simeon Hale passed away in Morgan County, the parents of ten children.
Judge Hale, of this notice, married first, in Athens County, Ohio, Miss Artensia Franklin, who died at Rush Center, Kansas, in 1884, leaving the following children: J. Merkle, now a married son of Alameda, California, who served in the Philippines with the Eighteenth Regiment of United States troops; Richard Elson, of Pine Bluff, Arkansas, who is a civil engineer, and, by his marriage to Bertie Sullivan is the father of Mattie Lee.
Judge Hale's second marriage, in September, 1885, was to Miss Mattie Britt, daughter of William Britt, a native of Kentucky, and Bessie (Belson) Britt, a native of England. Mrs. Hale was born and educated in Marshall, Missouri, and taught school in Rush County before her marriage. Afterward she became interested in the law, studied it, and was admitted to practice. She is a direct descendant of a Revolutionary patriot and soldier, and is a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution and of the Daughters of 1812. The issue of Judge and Mrs. Hale is a son, Fred B., who was educated in the LaCrosse High School and is a railroad engineer at Salt Lake City, Utah.
As matters worthy of note, outside of his professional and political activities it may be stated that Judge Hale organized the LaCrosse State Bank, was its first president and subsequently disposed of his stock. He was one of the organizers of the State Bank of Liebenthal, Rush County, now in a flourishing condition.
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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