POLITICS AND POLITICIANS
Politically, Lyon County and Emporia have enjoyed variety. The Republican party, usually in the lead, has been
compelled on numerous occasions to give way to other parties. In the early seventies, the Greenbackers caused the
Republicans much uneasiness, and in 1873 the farmers nominated the only ticket in the field for the county election.
For a majority of the offices there were two, and sometimes three nominees. The Union Labor party in the eighties
gave the Republicans another bad turn, and when, in the nineties, the Populists elected county officers and members
for the legislative and judicial districts, and helped to elect a couple of governors of the State, a United States
senator and congressman, the Republicans were convinced that Lyon County had gone to the dogs. The Bull Moosers,
the first decade and a half of the present century, again caused the Republicans to squirm, and kept them busy,
after several elections, as had the Populists, explaining how and why, in a "county normally Republican,"
it was possible for any other party to win a victory.
But the real how and why is that Lyon County people exercise their God given right to vote as they please, to split
their tickets at any time they wish to do so, and to bolt their party if they choose. In a "county normally
Republican," no doubt it is good for the souls of members of all parties that no party is continuously triumphant,
but that each must keep "on its toes" in an effort to escape the criticism of the other. Politics in
Lyon County becomes each year more a pleasurable game and less a deadly serious proposition. Because, deep in his
consciousness, each voter knows that, in all probability, the candidates of both parties are honest men and women,
ready to do their duty by their friends and neighbors if elected to office.
Always the political reform movements and all parties in opposition to the Republicans have had as their leaders
some of the strongest men in the county, who have put the best that was in them into the fight. Among the early
day Democrat leaders were Robert M. Ruggles,* appointed district judge in July, 1861, to fill the place of Judge
O. A. Learnard, who had enlisted in the Civil War. Ruggles was elected to this position at the general election
in the autumn of that year. Perry B. Maxson was a state senator, elected in 1862 without opposition, and again
in 1866 with but sixty eight votes polled against him. He became an ardent Greenbacker in the seventies, and represented
that party in the lower house of the State Legislature. When the Populist party grew out of the Farmers Alliance,
Mr. Maxson took up that cause with all his old time fervor. He was an able and conscientious man, firm in his convictions
and ready to fight for them as long as he lived.
In 1871 and again in 1876 the Democrats elected E. B. Peyton as district judge, and he was a leading attorney in
this county for many years. Levi Dumbauld, of Elmendaro Township, a successful farmer and stock raiser, became
a leader in the Populist upris ing, and was elected by that party to the State Senate in 1892. He has lived for
many years at Las Animas, Colo. William E. McCreary served the Populist party faithfully and well, without thought
of personal reward. M. A. Coppock and J. V. Randolph were wheel horses in every political reform movement. P. F.
Yearout led the Populist party in Lyon County - and his influence extended over the State - from the date of his
purchase of the Emporia Times in 1895, and after the dissolution of the Populist party, gave his personal influence
and the influence of his paper to the Democrats until he sold the Times, in 1906.
R. T. Snedeker, of Hartford, a highly educated and able man, an adherent of Henry George, preached Single Tax in
season and out of season for many years in Lyon County and over the State. He advocated other lines of political
reforms, but Single Tax was his hobby. Hartford long was the Single Tax center for Kansas, and was known all over
the United States for the devotion of its followers.
William C. Harris, Democrat, served three terms - twelve years - as district judge, having been elected in 1912,
and twice reelected. W. M. Price, elected to the State Senate from the Lyon Greenwood district in 1912, since that
time has held the leadership of the Democrat party in this county and judicial district. Lon C. McCarty, who served
three terms, 1916-1918-1920, as county attorney, in 1928 was elected district judge by a large majority. Many other
Democrats and reform party men and women have held office in Lyon County.
In the Progressive movement of the early part of the present century, W. A. White was national committeeman for
the Progressives, and among other leading Lyon County men of this political faith were J. H. Glotfelter and C.
The foremost Republican of the first three and one half decades in town and county was Preston B. Plumb who, after
serving his community and State in numberless ways, and his country during the Civil War, in 1877 was elected to
the United States Senate, holding that high office until his death in 1891. L. D. Bailey was elected an associate
justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, one of the group at the first election under the Wyandotte Constitution. He
was nominated at Osawatomie, at the convention which met to organize the Republican party in Kansas, to which Oliver
Phillips, J. M. Rankin and David Swim were delegates from Lyon County.
Other early day Republican leaders were Jacob Stotler, Charles V. Eskridge and E. P. Bancroft, all of whom represented
their districts in both branches of the State Legislature, and Eskridge was elected lieutenant governor in 1868.
Gov. Samuel J. Crawford** lived in Emporia in the sixties, and took an active part in Republican politics. William
Martindale, from the time he was elected a representative to the lower house of the Kansas Legislature in 1865,
reelected in 1866, and later elected to the State Senate, for almost half a century was a power in county, district
and State politics. Lyman B. Kellogg, following his great service to the State as president of the Normal School,
in 1876 was elected a representative to the State Legislature, then served Lyon County three terms as probate judge
and before the expiration of the third term, was elected to the State Senate. In 1888 he was elected attorney general
of Kansas. I. E. Lambert, for twenty years preceding his death in 1913, was active in County and State politics,
and wielded a wide influence. George Plumb has given, for many years, freely and unselfishly and without partisanship,
of his time and talents for the good, not of his party, particularly, but of the people whom he served.
William Martindale settled in Greenwood County, near Madison, in 1857, where until 1899 he owned the largest farm
and cattle ranch in that county. He was interested in banking and milling, as well as in politics and ranching,
and was known as one of the shrewdest stockmen and financiers in the State. The Martindales moved to Emporia in
1889, and the youngest son, Chester Martindale, with his family, lives in the home built by his father and mother
at 811 Constitution.
E. W. Cunningham in 1903 was appointed by Governor E. W. Stanley to a position on the Supreme Court bench of the
State, an additional place in that body having been created by the Legislature. Charles B. Graves, who was elected
district judge in 1876, was appointed by Governor Stanley to fill the place made vacant by the death of Judge Cunningham.
W. L. Huggins, in 1892 elected county superintendent of public instruction, served the community in this office
two consecutive terms, then for twenty two years practiced law in Emporia uninterruptedly. In 1919 he was appointed
a member of the Kansas Public Utilities Commission by Governor Henry J. Allen, and a year later was appointed by
Governor Allen as presiding judge of the Kansas Court of Industrial Relations.
James Evans, of Hartford, was one of the keenest minded leaders of the Republican party in this county. For several
decades he was high in its counsels, and his great regret in leaving Lyon County to live in California was that
the move compelled him to give up his favorite diversion - politics in Kansas. He was appointed postmaster for
Hartford about 1895, and held the office three consecutive terms. The fact that he was blind several years did
not interfere with his political activities. He died at his home in Hollywood, Calif., a few years ago. Charles
Johnson, of Hartford, was another Republican leader who could be depended upon to "vote'er straight,"
or to render any other service in the interests of his party.
*Robert M. Ruggles, attorney, settled first at Americus, where with T. C. Hill as publisher, he started the Americus
Sentinel, and as its editor put up a hard but losing fight to retain the county seat at Americus. The Sentinel
appeared first September 26, 1859. After the election of 1860, at which time by vote of the people, the county
seat contest was decided in favor of Emporia, Judge Ruggles moved his law office to Emporia. Here he formed a partnership
with P. B. Plumb, and the firm of Ruggles & Plumb became one of the ablest in the state. On the Ruggles farm,
on the east side of the Americus road immediately south of the Ruggles bridge across the Neosho, Judge Ruggles
bred registered Durham cattle, and Mrs. Ruggles - who was Susannah Spencer before her marriage - was considered
as successful a cattle raiser and as competent a judge of livestock qualities as was her husband. This farm long
was one of the show places of the county. W. S. Ruggles, sr., of Emporia, is a son of Judge and Mrs. Ruggles.
**Samuel J. Crawford lived in Emporia at the time of his election as governor of Kansas, in 1865. The Crawford
home was at Ninth and Union, the house built by the Crawfords having been for many years the home of the Samuel