1905 History of Crawford County Kansas


CHAPTER VIII.

HISTORY OF THE BENCH AND BAR OF CRAWFORD COUNTY.

BY J. A. SMITH AND ARTHUR FULLER.

It is with a feeling of hesitancy that we undertake the somewhat responsible task of writing even a brief history of the bench and bar of one of the foremost counties of the State of Kansas. Our ability to do justice to some of the characters we fear may be found inadequate and lack of time to make the research and inquiry necessary to enable us to give a full and complete historic sketch, we realize has handicapped us to a great extent.

The existence of the bar covers a period of about the average generation of the human race, and in said time it has furnished a state auditor, a congressman, a judge of the district court and many prominent officials.

Besides these there have always been in its ranks numbers of well-known attorneys, who have ever been recognized in the circles of the profession as talented lawyers.

While many of the older members have yielded to the inevitable law, which fixes the destiny of every man, or sought new fields for the practice of their chosen profession or of other more lucrative callings, other young lawyers in the prime of their physical and mental vigor have taken the places of those no longer here.

These young gentlemen, among whom are some very brilliant and well-cultivated minds, are maintaining an enviable reputation for the bar and making history that it is to be hoped will be hereafter written by one or more of them.

The present members of the Crawford county bar are as follows: E. W. Arnold, O. T. Boaz, O. O. Boudinot, Campbell and Campbell, Morris Cliggitt, T. W. Cogswell, Curran and Curran, Arthur Fuller, B. S. Gaitskill, W. J. Gregg, John L. Kirkpatrick, W. J. Watson, T. J. Karr, E. M. Mason, W. H. Morris, E. A. Perry, Sanford Pettibone, W. H. Ryan, D. F. Schock, James A. Smith, George H. Stuessi, J. L. Taylor, J. M. Wayde, Widby and Wheeler, D. H. Woolley, and Laura A. Wilson.

The members of the Crawford county bar met at Judge James A. Smith's home in Girard, Kansas, December 12, 1895, to attend a banquet given by himself, wife and daughter Helen, and at the close of the entertainment the Crawford County Bar Association was organized and Judge James A. Smith was elected president, W. J. Gregg, secretary, and Arthur Fuller, treasurer. After this annual meetings were held and a general good time indulged in. At the meeting held at Pittsburg, in December, 1896, Judge Smith responded to the toast, "The Crawford County Bar," which gives a correct history of the bar from its incipiency to that time, and we give it in full.

CRAWFORD COUNTY BAR.

The Crawford county bar, in its first inception, during the spring of 1866, consisted of one member, the respondent to this toast; but before the election in November of the same year there were added thereto J. Thomas Bridgens and Julius Sherwood. Mr. Bridgens—"Tom," as he was known to all of us—died within the present year. He will be remembered as an encyclopedia of legal information, and a most genial and able jurist. Julius Sherwood was a candidate for county attorney in opposition to myself, and was defeated at the first election of county officers on the organization of the Neutral Lands into a county in November, 1866, after which he left for Texas, and it is reported that he is not now living. In the spring of 1867 the legislature divided the Neutral Lands, which had been organized as Cherokee county, into three parts, giving to Bourbon county five miles and dividing the remainder into two counties, calling the northern half Crawford county, in honor of the then governor, Samuel J. Crawford, and Crawfordsville about two and one-half miles west of the present county seat was designated as the temporary county seat. Young Wallace, a son of the aged Dr. Wallace, an early settler and still living at Arcadia, was made first county attorney proper after the division alluded to, and your respondent was elected first county attorney of Cherokee county. Then came Frank Danford, a young lawyer of ability, who served till January, 1873. A. A. Fletcher followed, and served two years. He was a successful lawyer, but becoming the victim of varied misfortune died not long since in the insane asylum. Daniel Scott was next in order, serving one term. A man in advanced life, he was an able lawyer, one of the old-style common law practitioners, and often talked entertainingly of his early practice in Ohio, with such eminent lawyers as Tom Corwin, when they traveled in company on foot or on horseback with the judge around the circuit, before the modern facilities for travel arrived. Considered eccentric, he was merely dignified, with the old-time formal politeness, which caused him to be regarded as rather stiff in manner, but he was true, honest and cautious in his profession, and was generally respected and generally liked by the bar. He died in Girard some fifteen years since. John T. Voss was elected for two terms, serving until January, 1881. He located in Crawford county in 1867, where he remained until a few years since, when he moved to Colorado, where he still practices law, and is also engaged in the more lucrative business of mining. He is what is termed a sledge-hammer lawyer, ever active, persistent, vigilant, in his client's interest, fighting in his behalf to the bitter end. He has since died. C. Dana Sayrs succeeded him for two terms, ending in January, 1885. He located in the county in 1868, and continued to practice here till '86, when he removed to Chadron, Nebraska, where he prosecutes law and farming. He is one of those whole-souled Virginians, who love to talk of Washington "Vauginia," and the F. F. V.'s, and had the rare gift of winning and keeping friends. His practice commenced in the early days of a new country, and he labored under difficulties belonging to such conditions, as did all young men similarly situated. John Rankin came next, and served one term. He is also of those who have joined the "innumerable caravan." Ed. Van Gundy followed, serving one term, and all violators of law feared him more than any prosecutor the county ever possessed. His ever vigilant and active enforcement of the law undoubtedly defeated him in the next election. Studious and hard-working, he promised to become a most able and brilliant attorney, but death interrupted—for this world. B. S. Gaitskill succeeded him for two terms. He is with us in flesh tonight, and, not to be fulsome in flattery, but honestly truthful, he was an active and faithful prosecutor, and turned more money into the school fund from fines collected than any of his predecessors, and now stands in the front rank of lawyers of this bar. We are not reviewing the absent or gone before it seems at this juncture, for W. H. Morris, our present county attorney, serving his second term, still survives the "sling's and arrows of outrageous fortune" pertaining to the position, and adds to the good fellowship of this occasion.

Then there was Ben Pursal, now of Kansas City, one of the best lawyers that ever belonged to the bar, who always says when the court rules against him: "Don't it beat hell?" And then Sol Smith, a cousin of Daniel Webster, with his tongue tied in the middle, who forgets to take off his napkin when going from his meals to court and who is now judge of one of the superior courts in Washington, and Frank Playter, an early settler, a rustler of whom you all know, and D. B. Van Syckle, J. M. Voss, A. Burns, Miller and Lewis, all gone away; James F. St. Clair, now dead, of whom many things might be said; and then there was William Wells, almost brought up in this county, a brilliant young man, who died last year, and James Brown, who has gone to Parkville, Missouri, and Col. C. G. Hawley, who came in 1868, and who served the county four years as probate judge. And Thos. Ping, who was also probate judge for two years, and his son P. I. B. Ping, who was state senator from this county four years, both dead. Then there is Thos. W. Wells, an old settler, who first settled in Osage township, and who has been, and is now, a successful practitioner, and also his two sons, Henry J. and Edwin E. Wells.

And Arthur Fuller, a young man, and also one of the best and ablest members of our bar, who has attained that prominence by his energy, studiousness, and close attention to his business and profession. And John Randolph, his partner, a ripe schoiar, who bids fair to surpass his namesake of Roanoke (and who died at Pittsburg, Kansas, 1901).

There are D. H. Woolley and P. P. Campbell, who have been properly designated the orators of the bar. And O. T. Boaz and Morris Cliggitt, both scholars and leading lawyers.

Then there are J. M. Wayde, John J. Campbell, M. F. Bussell, W. J. Gregg, Lyngar & Wheeler, Arnold & Phillips, Brayman & Hill, D. F. Schoch, W. J. Watson, O. W. Mitchem, A. C. Mellette, Mr. Miliken, C. W. Butterworth, T. J. Widby, deputy county attorney, and T. T. Perry and E. A. Perry both old settlers. And there is E. M. Mason, one of the most scholarly and able talkers and at a recent meeting of the bar designated its poet. And there is O. S. Casad, late postmaster and now justice in Pittsburg. And last but not least, comes Tom Cogswell, now assistant attorney general of the state of Kansas for this county. And I came nearly forgetting Col. H. R. Thurston, who was once what might be called the typical police judge of your city and who is now practicing law at Guthrie, Oklahoma.

We have frequently with us such eminent lawyers as Hon. Chas. W. Blair, Hon. H. G. Webb, W. R. Cowley, J. N. Ritter, W. C. Perry, Col. J. R. Hallowell, A. Danford, J. D. Hill, Mart. V. Voss and others.

Our presiding judges have been Hon. D. P. Lowe, W. C. Webb, H. G. Webb, B. W. Perkins, Geo. Chandler, C. O. French, S. H. Allen, and our retiring judge, J. S. West, who has served with great honor and credit to himself and to the public. We all regret to lose him, and wish him all the success and prosperity that a deserving man is entitled to in all his future ventures.

And we believe Walter L. Simons, our judge-elect, will faithfully and impartially carry out the trust imposed in him, if his past life and conduct and great ability are any criterion to guide us.

In responding to this most suggestive toast you will perhaps pardon me—the more especially since you recently by your vote honored me by bestowing upon me the title of the Father of the Crawford county bar—you will pardon me if I become reminiscent. It seems to me much akin to magic—like a fairy-tale—that thirty years ago your respondent, in October, 1866, followed the Indian trail then traveled from Fort Scott to Fort Gibson, during the organization of this county, the bluestem grass tops waving a foot higher than the rider's head, finding few settlers along the timber skirting the streams and none at all on the open prairie. Like magic in truth, does it seem to contrast the conditions of that time to this. The same tract, now gridironed with railroads, honey-combed with mines, columns of smoke attesting the resulting industries; farmhouses, cities, hamlets overruning into each other, churches, electric cars and lights, water works (and bonds), all the evidences of modern life, force me to recall that on that trip I called at what was then known and afterwards recognized by the United States postoffice department as Iowa City, the only inhabitant, now dead, being Geo. Hobson. His prophecy, then uttered, that he had located the future city of the Neutral Lands at the Cow Creek crossing (just below the Broadway of your city) has been fulfilled, and he lived to see it fulfilled. Near the dividing line between the two counties formerly composing the Neutral Lands, Pittsburg has become the commercial center of the two. Its columns of smoke, ascending unintermittingly, may be seen from the farthest boundaries of both counties. Its industries and its trade, its advantages of every kind, are a source of pride to all who have a proper pride in the peculiar advantages possessed by the section of country in which they live. If Geo. Hobson's prediction now seems to have been reasonable, it is no greater prophecy to assert that in the not remote future the greater half of Crawford county will be united in one city.

[Reply to toast by Jas. A. Smith, of Girard, at the recent attorneys' banquet at Pittsburg.]

OLIVER T. BOAZ.

The subject of this sketch is a man of excellent natural ability and is a college graduate and possesses literary attainments seldom found in western lawyers. He has a sunny disposition, always seeing the humor in things and is courteous in his association with members of the profession and others. He is thoroughly well versed in the law and his arguments to the court and jury are not only logical and convincing but are models of rhetoric and eloquence. He came to Crawford county about 1880 and soon thereafter became associated with A. A. Fletcher in the practice of law under the firm name of Fletcher and Boaz, at Pittsburg, and has been engaged in the practice since that time, but has devoted a considerable portion of his time to outside business affairs.

HON. P. P. CAMPBELL.

P. P. Campbell came to Neosho county, Kansas, while a small boy with his parents and lived upon a farm until he attained his majority. He attended the district school while at home and afterwards attended the Kansas State University at Lawrence, where he attained quite a reputation for oratorical ability, having been chosen to represent his state at an interstate contest for oratory and receiving the first prize. He afterwards studied law and was admitted to the bar in Wilson county, Kansas, in October, 1889, and immediately came to Pittsburg, where he became associated with T. W. Cogswell, under the firm name of Cogswell and Campbell. Afterwards the firm was dissolved and he formed a partnership with his brother, John J. Campbell, under the firm name of Campbell & Campbell. In 1902 he was elected congressman from the Third congressional district of Kansas, and re-elected to said position in 1904. Since being in Congress he has attained a national reputation as an orator and statesman. He has been specially recognized by the speaker of the House in being called to preside over that body, a distinction seldom given to so young a member or so young a man. He has been also recognized by the president as a man of ability and been entrusted with affairs of importance.

One of the most important things he has done was the introduction of a resolution calling for an investigation of the Standard Oil trust. Mr. Campbell gave up a lucrative law practice to enter the political field, where he is already recognized as one of the strongest young men of the nation.

JOHN J. CAMPBELL

Is a brother of Hon. P. P. Campbell and successfully carries on the law business of the firm. He is recognized as one of the ablest young lawyers of southeastern Kansas, and was earnestly solicited by his friends and admirers to become an applicant for the judgeship in the new 38th judicial district but declined this honor for various reasons.

He served one term as county attorney of Crawford county and refused to be a candidate for renomination. He is now city attorney of Pittsburg and takes an active interest in social and political affairs.

MORRIS CLIGGITT.

Mr. Cliggitt graduated at the Union College of Law of Chicago, Illinois, in June, 1883, and was admitted to the supreme court of the state, June 7, 1883.

In January, 1890, he located in the city of Pittsburg and began the practice in this county. A short time thereafter he associated himself with Ed VanGendy under the firm name of VanGendy & Cliggitt, which partnership continued until the death of Mr. VanGendy. Mr. Cliggitt was appointed assistant United States District attorney for Kansas under the Cleveland administration and served from December, 1892, until July, 1893, when he resigned. Mr. Cliggitt is one of the ablest lawyers in the state of Kansas and so recognized by the profession. He is a close student, an untiring worker and strictly honest and reliable. He makes his clients' cause his own and while he treats his opponent with courtesy and respect he uses every honorable means to serve the interest of his client. His opinions are quoted by other members of the bar and always have weight with the court not only because of his ability and industry in briefing his cases but on account of his honesty in his positions. Mr. Cliggitt is not only a good lawyer but he is a public-spirited gentleman. He takes deep interest in all public affairs, and has done as much toward the upbuilding of the city of Pittsburg as any resident of the city; especially is this true along educational lines. Schools and the public library are matters of deep interest to him. He also devotes considerable time to literature. His library in his home is perhaps one of the best private libraries in the state, and his general reading has covered a wide range.

He is a lover of good music and fine pictures and possesses musical instruments and the walls of his home are adorned with fine pictures.

He enjoys perhaps the most lucrative law practice in the county consisting largely of corporation practice.

T. W. COGSWELL

Was admitted to the bar in the state of California, in 1861, came to Kansas in 1869 and located in Osage Mission (now St. Paul), Neosho county, where he practiced law for a number of years. He served as county attorney of that county in 1878 and 1879. Afterward he located in Pittsburg, this county, and was the senior member of the firm of Cogswell & Campbell. He was appointed assistant attorney general, but served only a short time.

After the firm of Cogswell & Campbell dissolved he formed a partnership with W. J. Gregg under the name of Cogswell & Gregg. Some years later he quit the practice of law and lived on a farm east of Pittsburg. He is now holding the office of justice of the peace in the city of Pittsburg.

While in the active practice he was attorney in some very important cases in both Neosho county and Crawford county. Among those in Neosho county was the case of State of Kansas vs. Willie Sells, in which defendant was charged with the murder of his father, mother and brother. At the time the defendant was about fourteen years of age. He was convicted and is now serving a life sentence in the penitentiary. The case attracted the attention of the whole county for a long time on account of the youth of the defendant and the heinous nature of the crime.

The case of the State vs. Frankie Morris is another murder case in which Mr. Cogswell made an able defense, and succeeded in having the case dismissed. His client was charged with administering poison to her mother and causing her death in order to collect the insurance on her mother's life. Mr. Cogswell was identified with the early settlement of Neosho county and took an active part in the litigation of that day. He has enjoyed the reputation of being a good lawyer and a good citizen wherever he has lived. His knowledge of law makes him an exceptionally good justice of the peace and few cases are appealed from his court.

CURRAN & CURRAN.

This firm of attorneys is composed of John J. Curran and Andrew J. Curran, brothers. They began the practice of law in Pittsburg in the year 1895. Andrew J. Curran is a graduate of the celebrated Michigan University at Ann Arbor and John J. attended the law school at Lawrence, Kansas.

Through their industry and careful attention to business this firm has established a lucrative law practice and are regarded as able young lawyers. They have been engaged as attorneys in some important litigation and represent some of the substantial business concerns of the city and county.

BENNETTE S. GAITSKILL.

The subject of this sketch is a native of the state of Kentucky. Attended the University of West Virginia, where he took a law course. He came to Crawford county in 1882, and was associated with C. Dana Sayers under the firm name of Sayers & Gaitskill. He was elected to the office county attorney in 1888 and served two terms. In 1898 he was again elected county attorney and served one term. At the latter date he was nominated by the Republican party, although he had been a lifelong Democrat. He also received the Democratic nomination and by the united vote of both parties was elected over the candidate of the Populist party. Mr. Gaitskill has made a specialty of the criminal practice and has for the last fifteen years been retained in nearly all of the important criminal cases in the county. He is a resourceful trial lawyer and an effective speaker and is regarded as one of the foremost criminal lawyers of the state. He has a genial disposition and is well liked by all who know him. He received the Democratic nomination for judge of the Sixth judicial district at the last election, and made a hard fight during the campaign, but with his party was defeated.

He has always taken an active part in politics and is well known over the entire state.

THOMAS J. WIDBY

Is a graduate of the Union College of Law of Chicago, Illinois, and was admitted to practice in the supreme court of the state of Illinois in 1879. He came to Kansas in 1879 and located at Burlington, Coffey county, where he practiced law until 1885, when he located in Girard. While living at Girard he held the office of city clerk and city attorney respectively, and in 1896 was elected to the office of county attorney on the Populist ticket, which office he held for one term.

In 1899 he located in the City of Pittsburg and continued the practice of law. He was appointed city attorney by Mayor Hunter and served for one term, when a change of administration occurred and his successor was appointed.

Mr. Widby is a hard-working and painstaking lawyer and a successful practitioner. He is associated with Frederick B. Wheeler under the firm name of Widby & Wheeler.

FREDERICK B. WHEELER

Graduated from the law department of the State University in 1895 and immediately began the practice of law at Pittsburg, where he has remained ever since. In 1898 he was elected representative of the twenty-fourth representative district of the state of Kansas by the Populist party and served one term. He is associated with T. J. Widby in the practice of law and insurance business. He is an energetic young lawyer and a successful business man.

T. J. KARR

Graduated from the law department of the Kansas State University and began the practice of law at Girard about 1900.

He is a young man of considerable literary attainment and has a good knowledge of the law. He is of studious habits and is strictly honest and reliable.

E. M. MASON

Read law in the office of VanSyckel & Wells in 1888 and was admitted to the bar of Crawford county in 1889. Mr. Mason has a college education and is a natural student. He followed the vocation of teaching until late in life he took up the law. He is a man of good natural ability and of fine attainments, has held the office of justice of the peace in the city of Girard and has taken an active part in politics. Now holds the office of deputy district clerk and his knowledge of law makes him exceptionally well qualified for the duties of the office. He is one of the best stump speakers in the county and is thoroughly familiar with the political history of the country.

ARTHUR FULLER

Arthur Fuller, born in Macoupin county, state of Illinois, is now forty-six years old. He received a common school education and attended the high school at Springfield, Illinois. He came to Crawford county, Kansas, and at the age of eighteen years commenced teaching school and continued for four terms, after which he commenced reading law with D. B. VanSyckel in the city of Girard, Kansas, and was admitted to the bar to practice law by Judge B. W. Perkins at the fall term of Crawford county court in 1882, and was admitted to the supreme court of Kansas in 1885. Immediately after his admission to the bar he formed a partnership in the practice of law with John T. Voss, then considered the ablest lawyer in Crawford county. Afterwards, John T. Voss leaving for Colorado, Mr. Fuller formed a partnership with John Randolph, which continued until the death of John Randolph, which was in 1901; since that time he has continued the practice by himself.

Arthur Fuller was the attorney for the First National Bank of Girard for fifteen years, and attorney for the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe Railway Company since 1886. Mr. Fuller was employed as one of the attorneys in the Frontenac explosion cases, said explosion occurring in 1888 at Mine No. 2 of the C. & P. C. & M. Co., which resulted in the death of fifty miners, and the said company was sued by the heirs at law of said miners in sum of about $10,000.00 each, and said cases were vigorously prosecuted in courts of this county for ten years, when they were all settled and adjusted by compromise.

Mr. Fuller has been employed in a great deal of railroad litigation and other important civil and criminal cases. He is considered one of the best corporation and criminal lawyers in southeastern Kansas. He has attained this eminence by his studious and energetic efforts to place himself at the head of his profession, and upon the recommendation of the bar of Crawford county, the Republican central committee of Crawford county, all the county officials, nearly all of the business men of Girard and Pittsburg and many of the citizens of the county, he was appointed by the governor, the first judge of the Thirty-eighth judicial district, just established by an act of the legislature in March, 1905.

Pages 161-175 from A Twentieth century history and biographical record of Crawford County, Kansas, by Home Authors; Illustrated. Published by Lewis Publishing Company, Chicago, IL : 1905. 656 p. ill. Transcribed by Ezekiel Menneke, Heidi Cottrell, Alisha Bryant, and Stormie Gregory, students at Baxter Springs Middle School, Baxter Springs, Kansas, in November, 2002.


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