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4 scrapbooks.

Creator: Hutchison, William E.

Date: 1930-1952

Level of Description: Coll./Record Group

Material Type: Manuscripts

Call Number: Unavailable

Unit ID: 48578

Biographical sketch:

William Easton Hutchison was born July 14, 1860, outside the town of Oxford, Chester County, Pennsylvania. His father was William Gustavus Hutchison and his mother was Ann Eliza (Campbell) Hutchison. Both of his parents were born in Pennsylvania also and both were of Scottish-Irish extraction. William Easton Hutchison's parents had three other children. His older sister, Sarah Fulton Hutchison, was born July 14, 1855, and died in June of 1857, before William Easton was born. William Easton had one older brother, Ross Alexander, born August 25, 1857. Ross contracted tuberculosis and died December 20, 1885, at the age of 28. A younger brother, Joseph Cooper, was born July 1, 1863.

William Easton Hutchison moved twice during his childhood. In 1868 he moved to a new house only two farms down, for his father wanted to farm a larger plot of land. The family again moved in 1878 to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, where he lived for a year before attending Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. During the years of 1867-1878, William Easton Hutchison attended New Prospect School in Chester County where he studied in a separate classroom from the majority of students under the tutelage of a teacher who taught more advanced subjects and was hired and compensated by William Easton Hutchison's parents and other parents of children attending the school.

In 1879, Easton (he went by his middle name) moved with his family to Easton, Pennsylvania, and he and his brother, Ross, enrolled in Lafayette College. He attended Lafayette undergraduate school for four years, graduating in 1883. He then received his masters degree from Lafayette in 1886 after studying law for three years in Easton under the direction of Judge W.S. Kirkpatrick. From the years 1883 through 1886, William Easton also became involved in Republican politics (although he was somewhat active in Republican politics in college as a member of the Lafayette College Republican Club and also in the College Republican Marching Club in 1880). Mr Hutchison went to work for the Easton "Free Press" reporting on political meetings in the 1884 presidential campaign. He was also a Republican ward committeeman of the 3rd ward of Easton from 1883 until 1886, in Northampton County, Pennsylbania. He was admitted to the bar there on October 19, 1886.

Soon after passing the bar, he headed west, arriving in Anthony, Kansas, on February 12, 1887. He stayed in Anthony for four months, setting up a small law office for a very brief period of time. In July of 1887, he decided to move to Shockeyville, Grant County, Kansas, where he entered into a business agreement with a real estate and insurance agent. This business arrangement soured quickly and was quite brief.

As a result of this poor business agreement and a desire to move on, William Easton Hutchison then moved to Surprise, Grant County, Kansas, on November 6, 1887. He worked for the town company of Surprise when he first arrived and also immediately became involved in civic affairs. He taught Sunday school and was deeply involved in trying to help Surprise be named the county seat. In early 1888, largely as a way of trying to obtain the county seat, the towns of Cincinnati and Surprise merged into the town of Appomattox, thereby making their bid for the county seat a more formidable one. Their efforst went unrewarded, however, when Ulysses was selected the county seat in 1888. Shortly thereafter, in the county's first general election, Mr. Hutchison got his first taste of the electoral process. He was nominated for the office of County Attorney and was elected by a fairly large margin. Shortly after his election as County Attorney, he made the decision to move to Ulysses. He felt that he could be most effective in his performance of his duties if he lived at the new county seat. He ran for reelection in 1890, but was soundly defeated by a candidate from the new Populist Party.

Hutchison was deeply involved with many aspects of the Republican Party. After the year 1888, he attended most Kansas Republican conventions (with the exception of one state convention) whether it was a convention for his county, the district, or state-wide. Mr Hutchison frequently made campaign speeches on behalf of Republcan candidates and regularly attended Republican rallies. He was instrumental in getting Clifford Hope, who went on to a long and respected career in Washington, elected to Congress. Mr. Hutchison was a candidate for nomination to the State Senate in 1892 but was defeated at the Republican convention by Milton Brown by one vote. He was also a candidate for Congress in 1906, but again didn't receive the party's nomination at the Republican State Convention.

After his defeat as County Attorney in 1890, Mr. Hutchison returned to a private law practice in Ulysses. His private practice was short-lived, however, for on October 19, 1892, he was appointed District Judge of the 32nd Judicial District by Governor Lyman Humphrey. Mr. Hutchison was elected on the Republican ticket three times after his appointment by Governor Humphrey; the first time being in 1893, the second in 1897, and the third in 1902.

Mr. Hutchison was married on August 6, 1895, to Miss Reba Anderson in New York City. She was the daughter of Reverend David Anderson of Buffalo, New York. The couple lived in Ulysses, for a brief time and then, in February of 1896, moved to garden City, Kansas, which had been added to his district immediately before his departure from Ulysses. He felt it imperative to move to Garden City, for it was a more prosperous business center than Ulysses and more densely populated.

Mr. Hutchison served as Judge until January of 1907, when he returned to private law practice in Garden City with the firm of Hutchison, Hope, and Fleming. He was also appointed the president of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce for the year 1907. While in Garden City, he was active in championing economic growth for the city. He served as president of the State Bar Association in 1911 and also as chariman of the Kansas delegation to the American bar Association in 1911.

On July 9, 1912, William Easton's brother, Joseph Cooper, and Cooper's wife were killed in a car accident in the mountains southwest of Denver, Colorado. Shortly thereafter William Easton and Reba Hutchison adopted the three children of his brother: Ralph C., then 14; James E., 8; and Marian K., 4 years old. Ralph later went on to become president of Washington and Jefferson College, and then president of Lafayette College, the same college from which William Easton Hutchison and many members of his family graduated.

Mr. Hutchison maintained his private practice in Garden City until May 12, 1927, when he was appointed to the Kansas Supreme Court by Governor Ben S. Paulen. He succeeded Justice Henry F. Mason, who died earlier that year and filled his unexpired term as an Associate Justice. There were many reasons that William Easton Hutchison was appointed to the bench of trhe Kansas Supreme Court. First and fore most was his exemplary record as a frontier judge in the 32nd District, later renamed the 37th District. Second was his devotion to Republican politics, as Governor Paulen was also a Republican. Third, while still living in Garden City, William Easton Hutchison served as Execution and Pardon Attorney to Governor Paulen starting in 1926.

Shortly after his appointment to the Kansas Supreme Court, Mr. Hutchison moved to Topeka. Easton was elected Associate Justice No. 5 on November 6, 1928, and re-elected in November, 1932. He was a well respected member of the Kansas Supreme Court and did his utmost to fulfill the duties of his position.

William Easton Hutchison decided to voluntarily retire from the court December 9, 1938. On his final day as Supreme Court Justice, January 9, 1939, he administered the oath of office to the newly elected Chief Justice of the Kansas Supreme Court, John Dawson. It was a fitting culmination to his years of service on the bench.

After his retirement from the bench, William Easton Hutchison made the decision to return to Garden City and resume private practice with his old firm. The title of the firm was changed Hutchison, Varce, Hope, and Fleming. He returned to Garden City early in 1939 as a widower. His wife Reba had died on January 1, 1929. She was buried in the Garden City Cemetery. Mr. Hutchison lived in Garden City and practiced law until his death on April 5, 1952.

It has been stated earlier that Mr. Hutchison was involved deeply in Republican politics. He was also involved with a multitude of other organizations, and devoted equal verve to these as he did t Republican politics. Mr. Hutchison was extremely dedicated to Masonic organizations. He belonged to twelve masonic groups located in seven different cities. He ascended to 33rd degree Mason, a level that is reached by only a select few. He served in various capacities during his long membership in Masonry. His offices included Grand High Priest of Grand Lodge Royal Arch, Grand Commander of Masons (1928), and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Kansas, and many others too numerous to mention.

Mr. Hutchison had lifetime memberships in the following organizations: American Bar Association, Kansas State Historical Society, Masonic Past Grand Masters' Association, 33rd Degree Group of Masons, and also the Hi-12 Club. Mr. Hutchison was a member of the Garden City Chamber of Commerce for nearly 40 years and was president in 1907. He was also a member of the Topeka Chamber of Commerce from 1927-1939. Mr. Hutchison held membersips in four bar associations: the American Bar Association, the Kansas Bar Association, the Southwestern Kansas Bar Association, and the Finney County Bar Association. Mr. Hutchison served as president of the Kansas Bar Association in 1911 and president of the Southwestern Kansas Bar Association in 1945.

Mr. Hutchison was a deeply religious man and was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Garden City, serving as an elder there for 27 years. He also belonged to the following organizations: The Odd Fellows (he served as Grand Noble); Elks Lodge; Kansas Day Club; Wichita Consistory; Grand Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Grand Council of R&S Masters; Grand Commander of the Knights Templar; Garden City Rotary Club; Ancient Order of United Workmen; and Knights of Pythias (Chancellor Commander, 1894). In addition, he served as director of two irrigation companies: the Garden City Irrigation Power Company, and Ark Valley Irrigation Company.

William Easton Hutchison lived a long and prosperous life. He was deeply devoted to many causes and was considered one of the most prominent Kansans of his time. His contributions leave an enduring legacy, not only to the cities in which he lived, but to the entire state as well. He helped to shape Kansas law both as a frontier judge and as a member of the Kansas Supreme Court.

Summary: Kansas Supreme Court justice, attorney, Southwestern Kansas Bar Association president; of Topeka, Garden City, Kan. The scrapbooks contain information about family genealogy, reminiscences about his early life on the Kansas frontier, and photographs & clippings pertaining to his service as a justice.

Space Required/Quantity: Microfilm

Title (Main title): 4 scrapbooks.


  • MS 67: v. 1--4 (part)
  • MS 68: v. 4 (part)

Related Records or Collections

Finding Aids:

This microfilm contains four scrapbooks of the life of William Easton Hutchison. These include a family genealogy, reminiscences of early life on the Kansas frontier, and many photographs and clippings detailing his life and career as a Supreme Court judge in Kansas. The originals were loaned to the Kansas State Historical Society by Dr. William R. Hutchison for microfilming in 1991.

William Easton Hutchison was a lawyer who came to Kansas in 1887. He served the state in many offices as a lawyer and eventually became a justice for the Kansas Supreme Court. The collection is divided into four volumes.

VOLUMES 1 & 2 (microfilm reel MS 67)

Part 1: Genealogical information
A. Ancestors
B. Siblings

Part 2: Reminiscences (40 typed pages)
These describe his boyhood experiences, events related to his college years, his activities in Grant County when it was still a frontier, detailed accounts of his dealing with Samuel Woods and Theodocius Botkin--two prominent Kansas men of the time--his service as county attorney and district court judge and life in Garden City. Photos are interspersed with the reminiscences.

Part 3: Photographs
A. Ancestors
B. Siblings
C. Places of resident (as a child, college student)
D. Places of residence while living in Kansas (including many interior photos of home in Ulysses)
E. Lafayette College

Part 4: Complete school reocord

Part 5: Certificates of Achievement
A. Undergraduate and graduate degrees from Lafayette College
B. Documents stating qualifications to practice law in various places
C. Certificates of election to the bench

Part 6: Records and articles pertaining to his involvement in the Kansas Mason Society, including biographical sketches of William E. Hutchison by Mason members.

Part 7: Death, 1952
This volume deals with the passing of William E. Hutchison at the age of 91. There are numerous articles and obituaries noting the death of this prominent Kansan. Also inclused in this volume are materials frmo his memorial service, such as the funeral register and a written recording of his memorial service. Other materials include letters of sympathy written to his adopted son, Ralph.

Biographical sketches and photos of his wife and adopted children are also present in this volume. This volume also contains some scattered correspondence from William E. Hutchison to his adopted son Ralph and various other family members.

VOLUME 4 (begins on MS 67; is continued on reel MS 68)
Contained in this volume are a variety of newspaper articles from various cities and counties in Kansas. There are also quite a few articles from newspapers printed in other U. S. states.

Many of the articles and tributes in this volume pertain to Williams E. Hutchison's retirement from the Kansas Supreme Court in late 1938. Other clippings look back on his entire life and career and are written in such a manner that pays homage to a man who was a very influential and prominent Kansas citizen.

David Friedlander, volunteer
Summer 1992

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NOTICE: This material may be protected by copyright law (title 17, U.S. Code).
The user is cautioned that the publication of the contants of this microfilm may be construes as a violation of copyright. Copyrigh derives from the principle of common law, affirmed in the 1976 copyright act, that the writer of an unpublichsed letter or other manuscript has the sole right to publish the contants thereof for the duration of the copyright unless he or she affirmatively parts with that right; copyright descends to his or her legal heirs regardless of the ownership of the physical manuscript itself. It is the responsibility of an author or his or her publisher to secrue permission of the owner of copyright in unpublished writing.

The Kansas State Historical Society does not own the copyright to these records. Copyright to documents created by William Easton Hutchison is presumed to be owned by his heirs or assigns in this case. Copyright to documents created by others is owned by the creator, his/her heirs, or assigns.