Pages 843-844, transcribed by Carolyn Ward from History of Allen and Woodson Counties, Kansas: embellished with portraits of well known people of these counties, with biographies of our representative citizens, cuts of public buildings and a map of each county / Edited and Compiled by L. Wallace Duncan and Chas. F. Scott. Iola Registers, Printers and Binders, Iola, Kan.: 1901; 894 p., [36] leaves of plates: ill., ports.; includes index.




Kansas has always been distinguished for the high rank of her bench and bar. Perhaps none of the newer states can justly boast of abler jurists and attorneys. Many of them have been men of national fame, and among those whose lives have been passed on a quieter plane there is scarcely a town or city in the state but can boast of one or more lawyers capable of crossing swords in forensic combat with any of the distinguished legal lights of the United States. While the growth and development of the state in the last half a century has been most marvelous, viewed from any standpoint, yet of no class of her citizenship has she greater reason for just pride than her judges and attorneys. In Mr. Holcomb we find united many of the rare qualities which go to make up the successful lawyer. He possesses perhaps few of those dazzling, meteoric qualities which have sometimes flashed along the legal horizon, riveting the gaze and blinding the vision for moment, then disappearing, leaving little or no trace behind, but rather has those solid and more substantial qualities which shine with a constant luster, shedding light in the dark places with steadiness and continuity. His mind is analytical, logical and inductive. With a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of fundamental principles of law, he combines a familiarity with statutory law and a sober, clear judgment, which makes him a formidable adversary in legal combat.

Mr. Holcomb was born in Gallia County, Ohio, January 7, 1857, and is a son of John E. Holcomb. The grandfather, Samuel R. Holcomb, was born in New York and served his country in the Black Hawk war, thus becoming known as General Holcomb. He became a resident of Ohio, made farming his life work, and died in 1867, at the advanced age of ninety-one years. John E. Holcomb was born in the Buckeye state in 1817, became merchant of Gallia, and during the time of the Civil war served as provost marshal. In 1865 he left Ohio for Missouri, and spent his remaining days in the latter state, dying in Butler, Missouri, in 1889. In politics was a staunch Republican. He wedded Mary Matthews, who was born in Gallia County, Ohio, and died in 1894. Their children are: P. H., a lawyer of Bates County, Missouri; A. T., an attorney of Portsmouth, Ohio; Eliza, wife of Richard Wilcox, of Bates County, Missouri; Sarah, wife of John Bybee, of Cass County, Missouri; Charles M., of Greenwood County, Kansas, and Sumner.

The last named was a lad of nine years when his parents removed to Missouri. He acquired a good English education in the schools of Butler, that state, and there took up the study of law under the direction of his brother, being admitted to the bar before Judge Foster P. Wright, in 1880. He began practice there, remaining a member of the bar of Butler for three years after which he came to Woodson County, settling in Toronto in 1885. There he continuously engaged in practice until elected to the office of county attorney. His reputation as a lawyer of ability has been won and strengthened in his conduct of many important cases. He is regarded by


his fellow members of the bar as a conscientious and painstaking attorney whose thoroughness is manifest in all litigation with which he is connected. He practices in all the state courts in a general way and has a large clientage. In 1898 he was elected county attorney on a Fusion ticket, and in 1900 he was nominated by the Democracy, winning the election by a majority of one hundred and seventy-nine, although McKinley carried the county by three hundred votes. Such an election is unmistakable evidence of his popularity and his high standing among those who know him best.

In Woodson County, in August, 1892, Mr. Holcomb was joined in wedlock to Miss Margaret Truman, a daughter of Jehu Truman, who came from Virginia to Kansas. They now have two children, Lydia G. and Sumner C., Jr. Mr. Holcomb is a member of the Order of Red Men and the Modern Woodmen of America. He cast his first presidential vote for General James A. Garfield in 1880, but left the Republican party in 1892. He has never taken a particularly active part in politics, and his election to the office of county attorney has come to him as a merited tribute to his ability. In demeanor he is quiet and unostentatious, in manner is pleasant and genial—an approachable gentleman who enjoys the friendship of a select circle of acquaintances.

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