John Wiswell

HON. JOHN WISWELL, senior partner in the law firm of Wiswell & Lucas, of Columbus, Kansas, is one of the prominent members and old practitioners of the Cherokee County Bar. He was born in 1857 in Ashtabula County, Ohio, and is a son of James H. Wiswell.

James H. Wiswell was a well known citizen of Ashtabula County, where he owned property and carried on a large shoe manufactory which gave employment to a considerable number of workmen. He also owned a tannery and a large farm, and was one of the prosperous men of his locality. His death occurred in 1897. He married a Miss Woodruff, who died when the subject of this sketch was nine years of age. The other members of the family are,—Edward, an attorney at Moscow, Idaho and Mrs. Olive Pond, of Ashtabula County, Ohio. A half-brother, Edwin, is a contractor and builder at Cleveland, Ohio.

John Wiswell was mainly educated at the Grand River Institute in Ashtabula County, where he became instructor in writing and commercial branches. Later he attended the University of Wooster, at Wooster, Ohio, where he served in the same capacity for two years. He was associated with P. R. Spencer, Jr. the originator of the beautiful system of Spencerian penmanship. This favorable connection had to be broken on account of Mr. Wiswell's failing health which occasioned his coming to the West.

Mr. Wiswell reached Baxter Springs, Kansas, in the fall of 1879, where he immediately entered into educational work. He served as superintendent of public instruction there in 1880 and 1881, and resided there about four years. He removed then to Columbus and bought out Mr. Hampton's interest in the law firm of Cowley & Hampton, and the firm of Cowley & Wiswell remained in business until 1885. After practicing two years alone, Mr.Wiswell entered into partnership with Judge John N. Ritter, as Ritter & Wiswell; later, with N. T. Allison, and still later with W. H. Lucas, who is the present city attorney of Columbus. Mr. Wiswell was admitted to the bar on February 7, 1888, at Columbus where he has followed general practice, devoting especial attention to commercial law. Whether in practice alone or in combination with another able attorney, Mr.Wiswell has developed professional efficiency of a high order, and enjoys the esteem of the county bar and court officials, as well as that of his large clientage.

Mr. Wiswell has other important interests outside his profession. For the past 15 years he has been the largest breeder of Jack stock, in Kansas, and he also breeds Scotch collie dogs and fancy chickens, shipping to all parts of the United States. He owns several farms, probably aggregating a section of land, which is especially valuable on account of coal deposits. He is also the senior partner in a general mercantile concern conducted at Sherman City, Sheridan township, under the direct management of his daughter, Alice J. Wiswell, who is postmistress there,—the firm style being Wiswell & Company.

Mr. Wiswell's first marriage was to Jennie E. Bishop, in Ashtabula County, Ohio, in the winter of 1878. At that time she was a teacher in the Grand River Institute. She died in 1883, leaving two children—Alice J.; and Florence, who is now deceased. Mr.Wiswell married for his second wife, Martha McMillan, formerly a teacher in the public schools, who was born and reared in Harrison, Arkansas. Both Mrs. and Miss Wiswell are members of the Presbyterian Church.

Politically, Mr. Wiswell has been one of the zealous and influential Republicans of this section. The esteem and confidence in which he is held by his fellow citizens has been shown on many occasions, and upon four of these he was chosen for the city's highest municipal position his first election being in 1888. Mr. Wiswell takes pride in the fact that since his first election to the office of mayor, there has never been a saloon in Columbus. Since early manhood he has belonged to the Masonic and Odd Fellow bodies, becoming identified with them in Ohio. He has been very prominently connected with the growth and development of this city.


History of Cherokee County Kansas and its reperesentative citizens , ed. & comp. by Nathaniel Thompson Allison, 1904, transcribed by Bobby Lake, student from USD 508 Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, 11-22-96


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