BENJAMIN F. STOCKS, of Garden City, is dean of the legal profession in the Thirty-second Judicial District. His career as a lawyer has been continuous in Finney County since the month of October, 1885. From the first his activities have never been confined strictly within the limits of the legal profession. He is a business man, and above all else is an enthusiastic factor in the development of the possibilities of Southwestern Kansas. Many would be found to say that he has probably done as much as any other individual to boost this section of country and to afford the practical demonstration of its resources.
Mr. Stocks was born in Morgan County, Ohio, June 21, 1851. His father, George Stocks, was a native of Yorkshire, England, and came to the United States in 1850. For a number of years he lived in Ohio, and afterward went to Illinois and died in Moultrie County of that state in 1889, at the age of sixty-five. Miriam Hepworth was also a native of England and embarked for America on the same vessel as George Stocks. They became acquainted during the voyage, and this acquaintance was followed by their marriage. She died in 1886. Their children were: Benjamin F.; Joseph R., who died in Illinois in 1909; James C., of Decatur, Illinois; Mary E., who died in Illinois in 1913, the wife of William Wilt; Silas D., a lawyer in Mexico, Missouri; and Samuel B., of Peoria, Illinois.
In 1863, when Benjamin F. Stocks was twelve years of age, his parents moved to Decatur, Illinois. He spent the first eighteen years of his life on his father's farm, and secured the advantages of the country schools. At the age of eighteen he became a student in the local academy and a year later entered the Illinois State Normal University at Normal, where he graduated in 1879. During his early life Mr. Stocks had a successful career as a teacher. He was also superintendent of several graded schools in Eastern Illinois. While teaching he read law as opportunity offered and spent one year in the law department of the Illinois Wesleyan University. After examination before the Supreme Court of Illinois he was admitted to the bar in 1882. He then located at Sullivan, the county seat of Moultrie County, where he was principal of schools for two years.
It was largely to get away from teaching and to identify himself with the new and promising country that Mr. Stocks came to Kansas and selected Garden City as his permanent home.
He began practice there as an individual lawyer, and almost from the first entered the real estate field as a buyer and seller on his own account. In the course of thirty years he has handled an immense volume of land transactions, and with the prosperity which has spread over the country in recent years his own success has been multiplied. Nothing affords him greater pride than the development of Southwestern Kansas. He has not been merely a dealer in lands but has many times developed tracts for farming purposes and has induced substantial farmers to come in and locate. He has been a stockholder in the various irrigation ditches in and around Garden City, and has encouraged industrial progress along every line. He is an active member of the Garden City Industrial Club. Now and for ten years past Mr. Stocks has been extensively engaged in cattle raising and dealing, and in that business he has a capable partner in his son. As already stated, he is the oldest lawyer in continuous service in Finney County, and the dean of the local judicial district bar. He has handled all branches of law practice and has been connected with a number of important cases. Clients have come in great numbers to his office for every form of legal advice and transactions of general business, and his office has also been the medium for making loans and abstracts. His son Ralph C. has been associated with him much of the time, but he entered Over Sea work in the Young Men's Christian Association in 1918.
In politics Mr. Stocks has always been a republican. In Finney County he was elected county attorney and filled that position four years. His vigorous enforcement of the laws while in that office was responsible for putting an effectual stop on the illicit liquor traffic in Garden City for the first time since it had become the home of white men. Mr. Stocks was chairman of the first board of education of Garden City after the schools were organized under a city of the second class, and his influence had much to do with building up the present educational system. For some years while in the council he afforded a valuable service in straightening out the municipality's finances and putting the town on a safe and sound basis. In 1914 Mr. Stocks was republican nominee for district judge of the Thirty-second District, but owing to the confused condition of politics was defeated. While in active politics he was a frequent delegate to state and congressional conventions and came to know all the prominent leaders of the party. Some years ago the governor of the state sent him as a delegate to the irrigation convention at Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Through his own means and the capital controlled by him Mr. Stocks has erected many residences in Garden City, and in this way also he has contributed toward the growth of the place. He has always been an active Methodist, and almost ever since coming to Garden City has been a trustee of the local church and was one of the builders and one of the chief contributors to the fine new house of worship. For years he has been a teacher in the Sabbath school. Mr. Stocks is a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason and prominent Odd Fellow, and has sat in Grand Lodges of those bodies. He is a member of the Lodge and Chapter at Garden City and the Wichita Consistory and the Selina Temple of the Mystic Shrine. He has done all the work of Odd Fellowship, including the Canton, and took up the fight with the "regulars" for the Odd Fellows Home at Ottawa, but lost the battle in the Wichita session.
At Bethalto in Madison County, Illinois, December 25, 1876, Mr. Stocks married Miss Martha Alice Pargeon, whose mother, Mrs. Rachel Pargeon, at the time lived at Monticello, Illinois. Mrs. Stocks was born in Ohio in 1854. Their children are Herbert G., Ralph C., Edith, Brainard R., Ruth E. and Mary, Belle, the two, youngest still being in the home circle. Herbert G. lives at Newkirk, Oklahoma, and he and his wife, Josie, have one child, Maxine. Ralph C., a resident of Garden City, is married and has a daughter, Rose Mary. Edith is the wife of A. A. Gillis, of Seattle, Washington, and a mechanical engineer in the Government shipyards. Brainard, a resident of Kansas City, married Reba Zimmerman.
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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