AL F. Williams

AL F. WILLIAMS, county attorney of Cherokee County, was born at Appleton City, St. Clair County, Missouri, in 1876, and is a son of L.A. and Jennie (Wylie) Williams.

The father of Mr. Williams, who was descended from Irish and Welsh ancestors, was born in Illinois, and reared near Cairo. He removed to Missouri where he married, and finally located in Columbus, Kansas, where he was engaged in the grocery business with his son-in-law, C. W. Van Zandt. He continued thus until about two years prior to his death, in May, 1901, at age 52 years. His wife still survives, and is a resident of Columbus. She has one daughter, Mrs. Edith Van Zandt, who is a singer of note, and has taught and studied music extensively. Mrs. Van Zandt has had the advantages of being a pupil of Madam Clagett, who studied under Patti.

When our subject was a child, his parents located at Lamar, Missouri, and there he graduated from the high school and subsequently taught a term of school in Barton County. Then he went into the newspaper business at Mountain Grave, Missouri, where in 1894, he conducted a paper for seven months. He returned to Lamar in 1895, and was on the editorial staff of the Barton County Republican for 12 months. He also spent some months in the law office of Thurman & Wray at Lamar, and later was in the office of C. D. Ashley, of Columbus, Kansas. On October 10, 1896, he located at Columbus, and was admitted to practice in 1897, in which year he was employed in the offices of the county clerk and county treasurer.

On May 2, 1898, Mr. Williams enlisted for the Spanish-American War as 1st lieutenant of Comany F, 22nd Reg., Kansas Inf., U.S. Vols., and accompanied the regiment to Topeka and to Leavenworth, and to Camp Alger, Virginia. He crossed the mountains into Pennsylvania, returning six months later as regimental quartermaster on the staff of Col. H. C. Lindsay, of Topeka. He then began his law practice at Columbus, and in April, 1899, was elected city attorney, on the Republican ticket. He was reelected in the spring of 1900. Soon afterward he formed a law partnership with C. A. McNeill, under the firm name of McNeil & Williams, which continued until he became county attorney of Cherokee County. To this office he was elected on the Republican ticket in November, 1902, by a majority of 252, indicating a change of more than a thousand votes, as compared with previous elections. He is without doubt the youngest prosecuting attorney in the State, and his county furnishes more criminal litigation than any other in the State, with the possible exception of two. In July, 1902, Mr. Williams opened a branch office at Weir City, which is now really his home.

In addition to his successful practice of the law, Mr. Williams has shown unusual business ability and is one of the leading spirits in a prosperous enterprise which has its headquarters in Columbus. This is the Western Cigar & Tobacco Company of Columbus, incorporated December 19, 1902, by C. A. McNeill, Al. F. Williams and W. W. Bowers, with a capital of $2,000. In January, 1904, the business was reincorporated with a capital of $5,000. While the controlling interest is held by Mr. McNeill and Mr. Williams, there are now about 40 stockholders, and its board of officers is as follows: C. A. McNeill, president; Dr. C. S. Huffman, vice-president; Al. F. Williams, secretary and treasurer; and W. W. Bowers, general manager. The traveling representative is W. M. Frogue, who covers Southeastern Kansas, Oklahoma and a part of Missouri. The company employs 40 people and turns out 125,000 cigars monthly, the leading brands being the "Hoo-hoo," a five-cent cigar, and the "American Dignitaries," a 10-cent cigar. The success of this business has been almost phenomenal, and reflects the greatest credit upon the foresight, energy and ability of its founders. Fraternally, Mr. Williams belongs to the Grand Lodge of Kansas Knights of Pythias, the Odd Fellows, Elks, Eagles and Woodmen of the World. Religiously, he favors the Methodist Episcopal Church.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its representative citizens, ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Emily Adams, student from USD 508, Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 1-21-97.


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