William G. Cutler's History of the State of Kansas


[TOC] [part 18] [part 16] [Cutler's History]


President Pierce, as early as June, 1854, made judicial appointments for the territory of Kansas. During the Territorial period, Samuel D. Lecompte, of Maryland, and John Pettit, of Indiana, held the position of Chief Justice of the Territorial Courts; Saunders W. Johnston, of Ohio, Rush Elmore, of Alabama, Jeremiah M. Burrill, of Pennsylvania, Sterling G. Cato, of Alabama, Thomas Cunningham, of Pennsylvania, and Joseph Williams, of Iowa, were Associate Justices. When Kansas became a State, the court consisted of Judges Pettit, Elmore and Williams. Isreal B. Donalson, of Illinois, was the first United States Marshall; Andrew Jackson Isacks, of Louisiana, was the first United States District attorney, and James Findlay, of Pennsylvania, was appointed Clerk. February 26, 1855, Gov. Reeder divided the Territory into three Judicial Districts; the First was assigned to Chief Justice Lecompte, the courts to be held at Leavenworth; the Second to Judge Elmore, with courts at Tecumseh; the Third to Judge Johnston, with courts at Pawnee. August 31, 1855, Charles H. Grover, H. A. Hutchinson and John T. Brady, were commissioned as District Attorneys respectively, for the First, Second and Third Districts. In 1858, Alson C. Davis became United States District Attorney; E. S. Dennis, Isaac Winston, Phillip T. Colby and William P. Fain were United States Marshals. Andrew J. Rodigue, E. Noel Eccleston, James R. Whitehead and Laomi McArthur were among the last of the Clerks of the Territorial Courts.

Marcus J. Parrott, Thomas B. Sykes and John Martin held the position of Reporters of the Court. The first attorneys admitted to practice in the Territorial Court were, Edmund Byerly, James Christian, Marcus J. Parrott and Richard R. Rees.

P. Sidney Post, of Wyandotte, and Richard Henry Weightman, of Atchison, were appointed United States Commissioners under the provisions of the fugitive Slave Act of 1850.


By an act of the Territorial Legislature, approved February 27, 1860, there were three judicial districts defined, with the times and places for holding therein the several courts. The divisions of the Territory into districts and the Judges for the courts are presented in the following:

First District - The counties of Doniphan, Atchison, Jefferson, Leavenworth, Wyandotte and Arapahoe, constituted this district, to which Chief Justice John Pettit was assigned. Section 10 of said act reads as follows:

The whole of the Delaware Indian reservation is hereby attached to the First Judicial District for judicial purposes, as well as all the Indian Territory lying and being within the boundary of Arapahoe County.

The county of Arapahoe was attached to the county of Leavenworth for judicial purposes, except that in the county of Arapahoe the process of subpoena issuing from Leavenworth county shall have no force or effect if served in said Arapahoe County. (This county embraced the Pike's Peak region, which became the prominent portion of Colorado with Denver as an objective point.)

Second District - Excepting nine counties in the eastern tiers the remaining portion of the territory was in the Second District, to which Rush Elmore, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, was assigned.

Provisions were made for holding courts at Burlington, Emporia, Council Grove, Junction city, Marysville, Hiawatha, Holton, Topeka and Lawrence. The counties of Osage, Woodson, Wilson, Greenwood, Godfrey (now Elk and Chautauqua), Butler, Hunter (now Cowley), Chase, Marion, Saline, Dickinson, Clay, Washington, Riley, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie and Nemaha were attached to their adjoining most contiguous counties for judicial purposes. The Pottawatomie, Kaw, Otoe, Chippewa and Ottawa, and Sac and Fox and Kickapoo Indian reservations were attached to this judicial district.

Third District. - The counties of Johnson Lykins (now Miami), Linn, Bourbon, Cherokee, Dorn (now Neosho,) Allen, Anderson and Franklin constituted the Third District, and Associate Justice Joseph Williams was assigned to it.

For judicial purposes Cherokee County was attached to Bourbon; Dorn to Allen, and the New York Indian reservation was attached to this district for judicial purposes.

In Section 9 of this act, it was provided "where a county is attached to another for judicial purposes, the jurisdiction of the county to which it is attached shall be the same as if it formed part thereof, unless the county attached has an organization and officers of its own."


At the election of the State officers, held December 6, 1859, under the Wyandotte constitution, the Supreme Judges chosen were as follows: Thomas Ewing, Jr., Chief Justice, term six years; Samuel A. Kingman, Associate Justice, four years; Lawrence D. Bailey, Associate Justice, two years. Judge Ewing resigned his position as Chief Justice, September 13, 1862, having command of the Kansas Eleventh; and Gov. Robinson appointed Nelson Cobb, to fill the vacancy. Robert Crozier was elected November 3, 1863, the term expiring January, 1867. Samuel A. Kingman was elected as his successor. He was re-elected November 5, 1872, and resigned his position in December, 1876, to take effect on the 31st. Gov. Osborn appointed Albert H. Horton; he was elected in November, 1877, for the unexpired term, and for a full term of six years, in November, 1878. The Supreme Court has been made up as follows:

Chief Justices. - 1861-62, Thomas Ewing, Jr.; 1863, Nelson Cobb; 1864-66, Robert Crozier; 1867-76, Samuel A. Kingman; 1877-83, Albert H. Horton.

Associate Justices. - 1861-64, Samuel A. Kingman; 1865-70, Jacob Safford; 1871-87, David J. Brewer; 1861-68, Lawrence D. Bailey; 1869-85, Daniel M. Valentine.

Judges Bailey and Horton have been twice elected; Judges Kingman, Valentine and Brewer, have been thrice elected. The Clerks of the Court have been Andrew Stark, E. B. Fowler, A. Hammatt and Channing J. Brown. Its Reporters have been Preston B. Plumb, Louis Carpenter, Elliott V. Banks, William C. Webb and A. M. F. Randolph. The Supreme Court first convened October 28, 1861.


Under the Wyandotte Constitution, five Judicial Districts were formed, and at the first election under it, December 6, 1859, Judges were chosen:

First district - Wyandotte, Leavenworth, Jefferson and Jackson Counties, constituted this district, and William C. McDowell was elected Judge. Jefferson and Jackson Counties became a part of the Third Judicial District in 1864; and David J. Brewer was elected Judge; in 1868 and in 1872, Harvey W. Ide; in 1876 and in 1880, Robert Crozier. In 1869, Wyandotte County became a part of the Tenth Judicial District, in 1862, a Criminal Court was established for Leavenworth County, and David J. Brewer was appointed Judge. Peter McFarland succeeded Judge Brewer; Barzillai Gray followed Judge McFarland, and Byron Sherry was the successor of Judge Gray. This court terminated its existence in 1875, its docket having been transferred to the First District Court. Leavenworth, Jefferson and Jackson Counties constituted the First Judicial District in 1881, and it so remains in 1883.

Second District - The counties of this judicial district were Atchison, Doniphan, Brown, Nemaha, Marshall and Washington. The counties of Washington, Republic and Shirley (now Cloud) were attached to Marshall for judicial purposes. In 1872, Marshall and Washington were made a part of the Twelfth Judicial District, Albert L. Lee, the Judge, elected December 6, 1859, receiving a commission in the Kansas Seventh in 1861, he resigned, and Albert H. Horton was appointed his successor. He was elected in 1862 and 1864. He resigned in 1866, and Robert St. Clair Graham was appointed, who also was elected in 1866. Nathan Price, elected in 1868, resigned in 1872. Perry L. Hubbard was appointed to succeed him, and he was elected in 1872. Alfred G. Otis was elected in 1876, and David Martin, in 1880.

Third District - The counties of Shawnee, Wabaunsee, Pottawatomie, Riley, Davis, Dickinson and Clay constituted this district. Clay, Dickinson, Ottawa and Saline were attached to Davis for judicial purpose. Jacob Safford was its first Judge. In February, 1865, Ottawa and Saline Counties were a part of the district. Jackson and Jefferson Counties became a part of the district, in 1864, and in 1881, they were transferred to the First. In 1867, Riley, Davis, Dickinson, Clay, Ottawa and Saline Counties became a part of the Eighth District, and in 1881 Riley became again a part of the Third. Charles K. Gilchrist was elected Judge in 1864; John T. Morton, in 1868, 1872, 1876 and 1880. Judge Morton having resigned February 1, 1883, John Martin was appointed. There will be an election in November, 1883, to fill the vacancy.

Fourth District - Douglas, Johnson, Lykins (now Miami), Franklin, Anderson, Linn, Bourbon and Allen Counties, made the original territory of this district. Solon O. Thacher was the first Judge of the district. Judge Thacher resigned, and David P. Lowe was appointed September 12, 1864. In 1864, Daniel M. Valentine was elected, and Neosho County then was a part of the district; Owen A. Bassett was elected in 1868 and in 1872; N. T. Stephens, in 1876 and in 1880. In 1867, Miami, Linn and Bourbon became a part of the Sixth District; Allen, Anderson and Neosho, a part of the Seventh; in 1869, Johnson a part of the Tenth District. Anderson was made a part of the fourth in 1869, and Douglas, Franklin and Anderson in 1883 constitute the Fourth District.

Fifth District - The original territory of this district was the counties of Osage, Breckenridge, Morris, Chase, Madison, Coffey, Woodson, Greenwood, Butler and Hunter counties, and the unorganized counties in the "southwest." In 1862, Madison was blotted out; the south part became the north part of Greenwood, the north part became the south part of Breckenridge, and the name of Lyon was given to Breckenridge. The name of Hunter was changed to Cowley. O. E. Learnard, the first Judge, resigned July 21, 1861, and Robert M. Ruggles was appointed as his successor. Judge Ruggles was elected in November, 1861; John H. Watson in 1864 and in 1868; E. B. Peyton in 1872 and in 1876; Charles B. Graves in 1880. Wilson, which had been attached to Allen, was in this district in 1864. In 1867, Morris, Chase and Butler became a part of the Ninth Judicial District; Woodson and Wilson became a part of the Seventh. In 1872, Morris was a part of the eighth District; Greenwood was in the Thirteenth. Since then it has become a part of the Fifth, and the counties of the district in 1883 are Osage, Coffey, Lyon and Greenwood.

Sixth District - This district was created in 1867, comprising the counties of Miami, Linn, Bourbon, Crawford and Cherokee. In 1869, Miami became a part of the Tenth District; in 1870, Crawford and Cherokee, a part of the Eleventh. David P. Lowe was appointed Judge, March 4, 1867, and was elected in November, 1867. In 1870, he was elected to Congress, and J. F. Broadhead was appointed as his successor, In 1871, M. V. Voss was elected; died while in office; W. J. Bowden was appointed as his successor on November 7, 1874; in 1872, James D. Snoddy was elected but did not serve; W. C. Stewart was elected in 1874 and in 1875; in 1879, Judge Lowe was again elected, and, dying in 1882, Cyrus O. French was appointed as his successor, and was elected in November, 1882.

Seventh District. - This district was created in 1867, composed of the counties of Allen, Anderson, Woodson, Wilson, Neosho and Labette, and William Spriggs was appointed Judge. John R. Goodin was elected in 1867 and in 1871. He was elected to Congress in 1874, and was succeeded as Judge by Peter Bell, who was elected November 2, 1875, to fill the vacancy. Henry W. Talcott was elected in 1875 and in 1879, to fill regular terms. Anderson County was restored to the fourth District in 1869; Labette became a part of the Eleventh in 1870.

Eighth Distirct. - Originally composed of the counties of Riley, Davis, Dickinson, Clay, Cloud, Ottawa and Saline; James Humphrey was appointed Judge, March 4, 1867, and elected in November, 1867. He resigned in 1870, and was succeeded by William H. Canfield, who was elected to fill the vacancy in 1870, and for a full term in 1871. James H. Austin was elected in 1875 and in 1879. In 1870, McPherson, Ellsworth, Mitchell, Jewell and Republic Counties were included in this district; in 1871, Lincoln, Rice, Ellis and Wallace. In 1871, Clay, Cloud, Republic, Jewell and Mitchell were made a part of the Twelfth District. In 1872, Rice became a part of the Ninth; McPherson, Saline, Ellsworth, Lincoln, Russell, Ellis and Wallace, a part of the Fourteenth.

Ninth District - Chase, Marion and butler - organized - Counties constituted this district in 1867. Howard (Elk and Chautauqua), Cowley, Sumner, Sedgwick, Reno, Harvey, McPherson, Rice and the whole country southwest was in this district. Samuel N. Wood was appointed Judge; William R. Brown was elected in 1867 and in 1872; in 1874, Judge Brown was elected to Congress, who was succeeded as Judge in 1875 by Samuel R. Peters, who has ever since been Judge, and who was elected as one of the four Congressmen-at-Large in 1882. In December, 1882, Judge Peters resigned his Judgeship, and L. Houk was appointed January 1, 1883. In 1872, Butler made a part of the Thirteenth District, and Harvey, Reno and Rice were a part of the Ninth. In 1879, Kingman, Barber, Pratt, Stafford, Edwards, Ford, Pawnee, Ness, Rush and Barton were a part of the district which was abridge in 1881, and the district in 1883 contains the counties of Chase, Marion, Harvey, Rice, Reno and Harper.

Tenth District. - Wyandotte, Johnson and Miami form the counties of this district. It was created in 1869, and John T. Burris was appointed Judge. Hiram Stevens was elected Judge in 1869, 1873 and 1877. William R. Wagstaff was elected in 1881 for a term of four years. Linn County became a part of the Tenth District in 1874; in 1876, it was restored to the Sixth.

Eleventh Distirct - This district was created by the Legislature of 1870, and William C. Webb was appointed Judge. Henry G. Webb was elected in November, 1870; resigned February, 1873. Bishop W. Perkins was appointed Judge March 5, 1873, and so remained until January, 1883. George Chandler was elected Judge in November, 1882. Judge Perkins was elected to the Forty-eighth Congress in November, 1882, as one of the four Members of Congress-at-Large. The district contained Crawford, Cherokee, Labette, Montgomery and Howard Counties. In 1871, Howard (now Elk), and Chautauqua Counties, became a part of the Thirteenth District.

Twelfth District - The Legislature of 1871 created this district and on March 19, 1871, Andrew S. Wilson was appointed its Judge, and has remained as such since that time. The counties in the district were Marshall, Washington, Clay, Cloud, Republic, Jewell, Mitchell, Osborne, Smith, Phillips and Norton. The six last named counties are a part of the fifteenth district, organized in 1873.

Thirteenth District - The counties of Butler, Greenwood, Howard (no Elk and Chautauqua), (Cowley, Sumner and Sedgwick) were formed into the thirteenth District March 6, 1872, and W. P. Campbell was elected Judge in 1872 and in 1876; E. S. Torrance in 1880. In 1876, Greenwood became a part of the fifth District. In 1863, Sedgwick and Sumner became a part of the Eighteenth District.

Fourteenth District - March 6, 1872, the counties of McPherson. Saline, Ellsworth, Lincoln, Russell, Barton, Ellis and Wallace, were made into the Fourteenth District. Since its existence J. H. Prescott has been its Judge. Ellis, Trego, Gove, St. John and Wallace Counties in 1881, became a part of the Seventeenth Distirct.

Fifteenth District - The Legislature of 1873 organized this district from the counties of Mitchell, Jewell, Smith, Osborne, Rooks, Phillips and billings (now Norton), Graham, and the counties west, March 13, 1873. A. J. Banta was appointed Judge, and in November, 1873 and 1877, Joel Holt was elected. In 1881, Clark A. Smith was chosen. Rooks, Phillips, Graham and Norton Counties, and the western counties, became a part of the Seventeenth District in 1881.

Sixteenth District - this, the southwestern Judicial District of Kansas, was created by the Legislature of 1881. J. C. Strang was appointed Judge and was also elected in November, 1881. The organized counties of the district in 1883, are Barton, Stafford, Pratt, Edwards, Pawnee, Rush, Ness, Hodgeman and Ford. Lane, Scott, Wichita and Greeley are attached to Ness; Hamilton, Finney and Seward, for judicial purposes, to Ford.

Seventeenth District - This Northwestern Judicial District was formed March 5, 1881, comprising, of organized counties, Ellis, Rooks, Phillips, Norton, Graham, Trego, Sheridan, Decatur and Rawlins. For Judicial purposes, Gove, St. John and Wallace Counties are attached to Trego; Thomas and Sherman to Sheridan and Cheyenne to Rawlins, for judicial purposes. DeWitt C. Nellis was appointed Judge, and in November, 1881, W. H. Pratt was elected.

Eighteenth District - This district was created by the Legislature of 1883. It embraces the counties of Sedgwick, Sumner, Kingman, Harper, Barber and Comanche. The county of Comanche is attached to Barber for judicial purposes. Hon. Amos Harris was appointed Judge of the newly created district, February 12, 1882. His term will expire in January, 1884.

During the first ten years of the existence of Kansas as a State eleven judicial districts had been formed; in the following ten years seven had been created.

The following table presents the names of the Judges in the several judicial districts in January, 1883.

DISTRICT.      Names of Judges.     Term Expires.      Post Office
First........  Robert Crozier.      January, 1885.     Leavenworth.
Second.......  David Martin.        January, 1885.     Atchison.
Third........  John T. Morton.      January, 1885.     Topeka.
Fourth.......  N. T. Stephens.      January, 1885.     Lawrence.
Fifth........  Charles B. Graves.   January, 1885.     Burlington.
Sixth........  Cyrus O. French.     January, 1885.     Fort Scott.
Seventh......  Henry W. Talcott.    January, 1884.     Iola.
Eighth.......  James H. Austin      January, 1884.     Junction City.
Ninth........  Samuel R. Peters.    January, 1884.     Newton.
Tenth........  William R. Wagstaff  January, 1886.     Paola.
Eleventh.....  George Chandler.     January, 1887.     Independence.
Twelfth......  Andrew S. Wilson.    January, 1885.     Washington.
Thirteenth...  E. S. Torrance.      January, 1885.     Winfield.
Fourteenth...  J. H. Prescott.      January, 1885.     Salina.
Fifteenth....  Clark A. Smith.      January, 1886.     Beloit.
Sixteenth....  J. C. Strang.        January, 1886.     Pawnee.
Seventeenth..  W. H. Pratt.         January, 1886.     Phillipsburg.
Eighteenth...  Amos Harris.         January, 1884.     (Blank)

Other Court Officers, since Kansas became a State, have been as follows:

Attorney Generals - 1861, Benjamin F. Simpson, Charles Chadwick; 1862, Samuel A. Stinson; 1863-64, Warren W. Guthric; 1865-1866, Jerome D. Brumbaugh; 1867-1868, George H. Hoyt; 1869-1870, Addison Danford; 1871-1874, Archibald L. Williams; 1875-1876, A. M. F. Randolph; 1877-1880, Willard Davis; 1881-1885, William A. Johnston.

Clerks Supreme Court - 1861-1867, Andrew Stark; 1868-1870, E. B. Fowler; July, 1870 to July, 1870, A. Hammatt; 1879, Channing J. Brown.

Reporters - 1861-1862, Preston B. Plumb; 1863, Louis Carpenter; 1864-1871, Elliot V. Banks; 1871-1878, William C. Webb; 1879, A. M. F. Randolph.

[TOC] [part 18] [part 16] [Cutler's History]