J. W. DANA was born at Humboldt, Allen county, Kansas, on December 14, 1874. He is the eldest son of Alfred and Christina Dana, both natives of the Buckeye state. Alfred Dana was summoned "To come up higher" in April, 1903, full of years, and a profound faith in his Heavenly Father. His wife still survives him and resides at Kansas City, Kansas. The father was one of a long line of Danas who was bred to the law and learned in the profession. He practiced law in the formative period of the state's history in Allen county, Kansas.
At the age of thirteen, J. W. Dana became dependent upon his own resources. His common school education was obtained through difficulty and his own personal efforts in the public schools of Humboldt, Iola and Ottawa. His collegiate education was secured in the Baptist college at Ottawa University and at the State University of Kansas, where he devoted most of his studies to the natural sciences, higher mathematics, political economy and public finance. He later matriculated and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws from the Kansas State University as a member of the class of 1901.
Dana says he drew "salary" as school teacher for three years, but devoted most of his time to studying human nature and reading Blackstone. He also devoted all his spare time while securing his education as agent for books, views, nursery stock, school charts and other articles, and says that he believes he can sell anything that has any merit to it, but claims that his greatest remuneration for that labor aside from sustaining life at the time consists of learning to know men and empanel juries.
He located in Kansas City, Kansas, in the spring of 1902 and immediately "was willing" to practice law, and soon built up a paying practice and became recognized as a safe counsellor and tactful trial lawyer.
In the municipal campaign of 1903 he took an active part and was elected chairman of the Republican City Central Committee where he distinguished himself as an organizer and leader of no mean ability, conducting to ultimate victory some of the most bitterly contested political campaigns known in the history of the city and county. From that time on he has been in close touch with the political problems of his party, in city, county, state and national politics serving at various times as committeeman on the county, state and congressional Republican Central committees, and is recognized as a prominent factor in his party.
He was appointed head of the legal department of the city of Kansas City, Kansas, in the spring of 1903, while the city was submerged in the "great flood" of that year. By reason of the flood conditions resulting in the tearing out of all the bridges and viaducts spanning the Kaw river he was thrown into immediate contact with every public service corporation, railroad and big business industry within the corporate city. The rights of the street railways over viaducts and their duties to rebuild the same and the rights of railroads over public streets and their duties to viaduct the same, the rights of the packing houses and stock yards to land accretions along the Kansas river, pipe line, telephone, telegraphic and railway franchises and right-of-way, tax litigation, city financial embarrassment, complications with the jurisdiction of the county and a special session of the legislature to relieve the situation all rolled in upon his office with irresistible force as the great flood itself. His ability in handling these problems, both in a legal and business way, is recognized by all familiar with the situation. Largely through his efforts the viaducts were rebuilt at the cost of the street railway and railroad companies and the bridges were rebuilt by the county at large, whose financial credit was much better in the bond markets than that of the city, securing a low rate of interest on the bonds. The city came out of the disastrous flood with its viaducts rebuilt and its new ones added and its bridges rebuilt with much better structures and an inter-city viaduct added, without increasing the bonded indebtedness of the city but slightly for cleaning up the streets of Armourdale.
While city counsellor, Mr. Dana also put an end to a great flood of damage suits against the city by tearing up and burning in the public streets many miles of old board sidewalks, saving to the city untold sums in damage suits. He also obtained a judgment in the Supreme Court securing to the city title to 108 acres of land at the foot of Minnesota avenue estimated at over a million dollars in value.
After Dana's term of office expired as city counselor he was retained specially by the city to litigate the city's rights to relevy and reimburse itself for special assessments thrown on the city at large. He prosecuted some thirteen suits in the lower courts and five or six suits in the Supreme Court of the state of Kansas, all resulting in victory and securing to the city approximately $100,000 of back special assessments, for which he received a fee of about $15,000. He is now retained regularly by some of the largest interests in the state, including The Welsbach Street Lighting Company, The Kansas City Pipe Line Company, The Wyandotte County Gas Company, the Kansas Bitulithic Company and The United Gas Improvement Company, by whom he is rated as a safe trustworthy counselor. In spite of his substantial clientage he still exhibits as keen an interest and activity in a just cause of a poverty affidavit as he ever did.
Dana was at the "Siege of Troy" (Kansas), and carried away a wife in the person of Edna Parker, when he was twenty-two years old. He named his oldest daughter Jessie, after the sweet scented Jessamine; his only son Marshall after the United States Supreme Chief Justice of that name because he was incarnate reason; and one daughter Helen in recognition of the purest soul that walks the earth bearing that name.
He believes in a professional man keeping in touch with nature and the business world. He therefore owns and operates a farm in Ray county, Missouri, known as the Pea Fowl ranch, where he raises thorough breds and high grades of roadster and draft horses, mules, short horn cattle, Poland China hogs, Shropshire sheep, Angora goats, white Holland turkeys, Wyandotte chickens, Pea fowls and guineas. He is now devoting special attention to growing alfalfa.
He believes in the doctrine of the "Brotherhood of man" and is therefore a member of the Baptist church, a Thirty-second Degree Mason and Shriner, belonging to Kaw Lodge No. 272, Caswell Consistory No. 5, and of Abdallah Temple at Leavenworth. He is also a member of Wyandotte Lodge No. 440, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Granite Camp Woodmen Lodge, and a Pythian Knight, and member of the Business Men's Mercantile Club.
He claims as his crowning virtue "fidelity to friends," and is accorded the unqualified confidence of the business and professional men of influence in the community in which he lives.
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