JUDGE WILLIAM EASTON HUTCHISON has been one of the distinguished lawyers and men of affairs in Western Kansas for over thirty years. He is now established in law practice at Garden City and from that point handles many problems of business and legal administration connected with his own interests and those of a large clientage.
Judge Hutchison was born in Chester County, Pennsylvania, July 14, 1860. He was a son of substantial farming people, and up to the age of eighteen he lived on the farm and became acquainted with its duties, and also attended school. At that time he entered Lafayette College at Easton, Pennsylvania, graduating A. B. in 1883, and three years later was given his master's degree. Before finishing college he had determined upon the legal profession and he studied law with W. S. Kirkpatrick at Easton. Before a board of examiners he was admitted to the bar in October, 1886.
Soon afterwards, without having had the experience of a single lawsuit, Judge Hutchison came West. He was young, unmarried and filled with ambition to make for himself a place in the West. In July, 1887, he established himself in Grant County. For a brief time his home was at Shockey, but he moved to Ulysses when it was established as the permanent county seat. As a result of boom times that region was then well populated and a large number of homesteaders were developing the country. Judge Hutchison was elected county attorney of Grant County, being the first to fill that office. During his nine years there he was also district judge. He was appointed to that office in October, 1892, as the successor of Theodosius Botkin. He was three times elected to the same office. His district comprised the counties of Finney, Kearny, Hamilton, Stanton, Grant, Haskell, Seward, Stevens and Morton. The last six named counties comprised the original thirty-second judicial district, the other three being added by the legislature from a district presided over by Judge Abbott. During his service of nearly fifteen years on the bench Judge Hutchison had many interesting experiences. He held court in frontier communities, and cases before him involving many distinct departures from law and order of more modern times. He exerted every effort to bring about a peaceful and harmonious condition, and the chief of all his trouble as judge was due to the numerous county seat contests. During these struggles for the location of county seats many murders were committed, and besides such criminal cases there was often a complicated tangle of legal difficulty to unravel in the proper settlement of rival claims.
As a lawyer Judge Hutohison has always practiced alone. On retiring from the bench in January, 1907, he moved to Garden City and resumed private practice. He is a recognized authority on real estate and corporation law and his clientele chiefly consist of large corporate and banking interests. Some of his most noted cases have grown out of the use of the water of the Arkansas River for irrigation. He was one of the counsel in handling the suit of the Garden City Irrigation Company against eighteen ditch companies in Colorado. This was a case that attracted notice all over the West, was before the courts for six years, and was finally compromised to the advantage of the Kansas litigants. In his earlier years in Western Kansas Mr. Hutchison was one of the attorneys for the defense in the impeachment trial of Judge Botkin. This case was tried before an adjourned session of the State Senate and after five weeks a judgment was pronounced in favor of the defendant, who was acquitted. Nearly all the western counties of Kansas are acquainted with the work and success of Judge Hutchison as a lawyer and judge.
A distinction that he prizes was his election as president of the Kansas Bar Association in 1911. In 1912 he was chairman of the Kansas delegation to the meeting of the American Bar Association. He is a member of the Board of Law Examiners of the state and served as its secretary five years.
His interests as a lawyer, business man and citizen present a variety of affairs. He was president of the Garden City Building and Loan Association and is general attorney for the Garden City Western Railway Company. He drew up the corporate papers for both of these organizations. The railroad is an exclusively freight road owned and controlled by the Sugar Beet Company of Garden City. Judge Hutchison is a director in and organized the Garden City Irrigation and Power Company, operating a power line in this and adjoining counties. He is a director of the Kansas Casualty and Surety Company of Wichita and for a dozen years has been active in the Garden City Industrial Club.
He has long been a power in republican politics in the western part of the state. It is said that he has not missed a republican state convention since 1888, has helped nominate all the republican governors since that time, and attended several national republican conventions. He was candidate for the congressional nomination from the Seventh District in 1906 against Hon. Ed Madison.
Judge Hutchison is an official member of the Presbyterian Church, and is one of the prominent Masons of Kansas. He is a director of the Kansas Masonic Home at Wichita, was Grand Master of the State Grand Lodge in 1912, has taken all the degrees in the York Rite and up to and including the thirty-third in the Scottish Rite, being a member of the Consistory and the Shrine at Wichita. He was chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee of the Grand Lodge for five years, for several years was on the Special Committee of the Grand Lodge, and is now chairman of the Jurisprudence Committee of the Grand Commandery, the Grand Chapter, and of the Grand Council.
Judge Hutchison's ancestry goes back through four generations of Pennsylvanians who lived on the farm in Chester County which the first Hutchison had acquired direct from the sons of William Penn. His great-grandfather, James Hutchison, of Scotch ancestry, served as a soldier of the American Revolution. His grandfather was Fulton Hutchison. In the maternal line his grandfather, Ross Alexander Campbell, was the son of a Revolutionary soldier and also of Scotch ancestry. Another great-grandfather in the maternal line was William Barclay, a Pennsylvania soldier of the Continental line. Thus Judge Hutchison is eligible to membership in the Sons of the American Revolution by three distinct claims.
His father, William G. Hutchison, was born and reared, like his forefathers for several generations, in Chester County, Pennsylvania. He was crippled and incapacitated for service in the army during the Civil war. He followed farming, but he had the education of his sons close to his heart and finally sold his farm and moved to Easton in order that his sons, including the judge, might have the advantage of the well known institution of higher learning there. William G. Hutchison was a republican and a member of the Presbyterian Church. His death occurred at Easton in 1893, at the age of sixty-seven. He married Eliza Campbell, whose ancestry has already been mentioned. She died in 1886, at the age of sixty. Their three sons were Ross A., Judge William E. and Dr. Joseph C. Ross died in 1885, when just ready to enter the ministry of the Presbyterian Church. Dr. Joseph, with his wife, was killed in an automobile accident at Denver.
Judge Hutchison married at Mumford, New York, August 6, 1895, Miss Reba A. Anderson. Her father, Rev. David Anderson, was a Scotch Presbyterian minister and a native of Scotland. Judge and Mrs. Hutchison have no children of their own, but are giving their means and their affection to the appropriate training of the three children of his deceased brother, Doctor Hutchison. These children in their home are Ralph C., James E. and Marian K.
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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