CHARLES STEPHENS, of Columbus, was born at Fort Wayne, Indiana. February 28, 1870; and he was first brought by his parents to Cherokee County, Kansas, when he was two years old. While a boy he lived on a farm, and made brooms that he might support his widowed mother and her younger children. Later he went into the business of repairing stoves, journeying from house to house. He saved a little money in this way, enough to enable him to take some time for reading law, which he did in the law office of C. D. Ashley, of Columbus, where he had the best care and direction. This took up the years 1891 and 1892, after which he entered the law department of Kansas University, from which he was graduated in 1893. While in the University he "bached," did chores, ran errands or any other honorable thing that would enable him to add to his expense funds. By such economy he had saved enough, by the end of the school year, to pay his expenses to the World's Fair, at Chicago, from which he came back to Kansas, with his diploma and 85 cents. After stacking wheat in Cherokee County through the summer of 1893, he opened a law office in Fort Scott, Bourbon County. Having a turn for politics, and seeking the nomination, he was chosen as a candidate for the office of county attorney; but he failed of being elected, being a Democrat in a county which gave a Republican majority for the entire ticket. While in Fort Scott, he taught commercial law in the Kansas Normal College, and from that school he received the degree of Bachelor of Oratory. He was also venerable consul of the Modern Woodmen of America, while there.
In 1896, Mr. Stephens returned to Cherokee County, and was that year elected county attorney. He was reelected to the office in 1898, serving, in all, four years in the office. Of nearly sixty cases which he tried in the District Court, in the latter part of his term of office, there were but two acquittals.
On April 27, 1896, Mr. Stephens was married to Emma C. Stump, of Manhattan, Kansas. They have two daughters; the older six and a half years old, the younger four years old. In 1901, at the close of his term of office as county attorney, Mr. Stephens, with his family, went to Washington. D. C., where he entered the law department of the Columbian University. While there he was chosen by his class to represent it in public debate, which was considered an honor, as there were about 700 students in the law department of that school. At the close of his term in the school, he was given the degree of Master of Laws, after which he returned to Columbus and entered upon the general practice of his profession. He had, while in office, become interested with others in mining operations on a large tract of land 12 miles east of Columbus, and while in Washington he negotiated the sale of 40 acres of the land, at the enormous price of $900 an acre. Since returning to Columbus he has given much of his time to his mining interests, which have brought and are yet bringing him a very remunerative return.
Mr. Stephens, besides attending carefully to his business interests, finds time
to devote some attention to subjects of science, and he has evolved a number of
theories in geology and in astronomy, as also in electrical science, which, in
the opinion of the writer, may be brought into wide discussion when made known
to the public.
--N. T. ALLISON.
History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Lacey Myers, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 03/06/97.
Tom & Carolyn Ward
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