JUDGE WILLIAM HOOVER is in many respects the most distinguished character of Cimarron and Gray County, where he is now living retired from his profession as a lawyer and where he settled in April, 1879.
He was born in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, May 8, 1836. His grandfather, Peter Hoover, was born in one of the German states of Europe and came to America about the time of the Revolutionary war. His children were: Peter; John; Jacob; Frederick; George; Elizabeth, who married Peter Crotzer; Nancy, who married Benjamin Warren; and Mary, who married Andrew Compton.
Frederick Hoover, father of Judge Hoover, was born near Hagerstown, Maryland, in 1787 and went as a child with his parents to Indiana County, Pennsylvania. He died near Georgeville, Pennsylvania, in 1849. He married Susanna Weston, a daughter of Thomas Weston, of Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Their children were: Mary, who became the wife of Joseph Mauk following the death of her younger sister, Nancy, who was Mr. Mauk's first wife; Sarah, who died in childhood; Judge William; Elizabeth, who married Luther McGary; Thomas W., who died in Portland, Oregon; and George, whe[sic] became a minister, worked with the Rock River Methodist Conference in Illinois and died in Chicago.
Judge Hoover married September 9, 1869, Eunice Augusta Pontius, who was born November 21, 1839, daughter of Elias and Patience Elsie (Miller) Pontius. Her great-grandfather, Jacob Pontius, was a native of Germany and established his family in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, where he followed farming. Jacob Pontius married Susanna Lais, who bore him five sons and six daughters. The children of Elias Pontius and wife were: Mrs. Elizabeth Warren; Mrs. Patience Carpenter; Mrs. Hoover; Curtis, who was a soldier in the Fourteenth Pennsylvania Cavalry during the war; Dallas, who died at an early age; Mrs. Virginia Weatherly; Narcissa, who died unmarried; Samuel, who died in Marshalltown, Iowa; and Frank, of Toledo, Iowa. Judge and Mrs. Hoover have no living children. Their daughter, Mary Eldorado, grew to young womanhood, married Ellis Garten, founder and editor of the old Gray County Sentinel, and she died at Cimarron leaving no children. Lillian Winona, the second daughter, died at LaGrange, Illinois, in childhood.
Back in Pennsylvania William Hoover followed the vocation of farming and that was his first occupation in Kansas. His first work in Gray County was as section foreman on the Santa Fe at Cimarron. For seven years he spent his time in this work, trying to make a railroad out of the roadbed and iron first laid. He schooled his section gang to become so skilled in their work that the roadmaster frequently called upon him for efficient men for special work on track elsewhere.
On leaving the employ of the railroad Mr. Hoover gave his time to working his homestead claim and raising stock and farming in a small way. The house he built on his homestead was a small frame of four rooms and pantry, but he used it only a short time, until he built on the Cimarron townsite, his being one of the first houses there and he and his good wife still occupy it. It was the first house in town to have plastered walls. Finally Judge Hoover disposed of his lands and stock to devote himself to professional work.
When Judge Hoover came to Gray County it had a voting population of thirteen. At that time the county was attached to Ford County for judicial purposes. He had been here about eight years before the county received a separate organization. In the fall of 1879 he was elected justice of the peace, and with the exception of four years while he was county attorney and still another period of two years he has been justice of the peace to the present time. In this way he became actively connected with legal matters and decided to fit himself for the law. The study of law was largely by actual contact, with trials and cases in the courtroom, and from this experience and private study he was admitted to the bar in the early '90s by Judge Abbott, after examination by a committee.
Judge Hoover's first case was a civil suit for damage, J. D. Johnson vs. Mrs. Thorn. Mrs. Thorn was pasturing a cow for Johnson, and while in the pasture the cow strayed to a patch of young kaffir corn, over-ate and diedhence the suit for damage. The plaintiff lost his case. Judge Hoover has handled a general practice and has almost universally been the choice of the bar of the county to sit as special judge when occasion required. While Judge Hoover has lived in Cimarron thirty years, his civil jurisdiction has been successively Foot County, Foot Township of Ford County, and finally Gray County.
He had commended himself to the voters as a man of legal qualifications before he was admitted to the bar. During the '90s he was elected county attorney. In those days it was most difficult to secure competent officials for that office who had legal training, and the choice several times fell upon a candidate who was not a member of the legal profession. During the first two years of his term of office not a criminal case was tried, while the following two years were of almost the same peaceful and quiet character. Judge Hoover succeeded Mr. McDowell as county attorney and was succeeded by Mr. Eby. For a number of years Judge Hoover has had charge of Cimmarron's legal affairs as legal adviser. He was chosen a member of the counsel elected by Cimarron to negotiate terms of compromise with the creditors of the city at the collapse of the boom in this region, which left Cimarron saddled with a debt of about $10,000. Through Judge Hoover's instrumentality the creditors agreed to accept 20 per cent of the debt and release the corporation. This sum was finally paid.
Judge Hoover cast his first presidential vote for Abraham Lincoln in 1860, and he also supported the great war president in 1864. He has never missed voting at a presidential election in the past fifty-six years, and in that time only three of his candidates have failed of election. He was a delegate to the State Republican Convention which named Governor St. John for a third term and has frequently been a delegate to judicial conventions.
Of all his interests and activities Judge Hoover doubtless finds greatest satisfaction in his affiliations with the Methodist Church. His wife has been active in church affairs since she was twelve years of age and she and Judge Hoover together have a church experience exceeding that of any couple in this locality and in the aggregate comprises 138 years. Judge Hoover grew up from childhood in the Methodist Church. His parents were strict followers of that doctrine. Judge Hoover became a prime mover in the organization of the Methodist Episcopal Church of Cimarron. The first meetings of the congregation were held in the school house and he was elected one of the first board of officials and has continued either as trustee or steward of the church ever since. He spent many years as superintendent of the local Sunday school, and was recently elected superintendent of the school "during his natural life," a striking and unusual honor. He was a member of the building committee for the erection of the church and in the recent co-operation of the Methodists with the Presbyterians he urged and favored the arrangement entered into for the working of the congregations together so long as it was mutually agreeable.
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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