History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Historic People of Kansas - "L" - Page 2


Old West Mercantile

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Samuel D. LecompteSamuel D. Lecompte (1814-1888) - First Chief Justice of the Territory of Kansas, Lecompte was born in Dorchester County, Maryland on December 13, 1814. At the age of 16 he entered Kenyon College at Gambier, Ohio but remained only to the close of his sophomore year, when he went to Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, where he graduated there with honors in 1834. After leaving college he studied law with Henry Page, a distinguished lawyer of Maryland, and upon being admitted to the bar began practice in Carroll County, Maryland. In 1840 he was elected to the state legislature; was a candidate for elector for General Cass in 1848; was a candidate for Congress in 1850 as a Democrat but was defeated, the district being largely Whig. Early in 1854 he moved to Baltimore, and in October of the same year, he was appointed by President Franklin Pierce, Chief Justice of the Territory of Kansas, which position he held until March 9, 1859. As an ardent supporter of the Democratic Party, he  was seen by many as being a proslavery man. Upon retiring from the bench, he settled in Leavenworth and opened a law office. During the 1850s, Lecompte was also busy in several business enterprises including real estate and railroads. He was the president of the Lecompton Town Company and through his efforts, it became the state capitol. He also sponsored a charter for the establishment of a medical college in Lecompton, and worked with John Stringfellow to promote the establishment of a University of Kansas at Leavenworth. His railroad pursuits included the incorporation of the Kansas Central Railroad Company; the Leavenworth, Pawnee and Western Railroad Company; and the Leavenworth and Lecompton Railroad Company. After the close of the Civil War he renounced his political beliefs and became a Republican. Judge Lecompte took an active part in politics; served four years as Probate Judge of Leavenworth County; represented the county in the state legislatures of 1867-68, and on April 15, 1874, was elected chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee of the First District. In 1887 he went to Kansas City to live with his son and died there on April 24, 1888.


John W. LeedyJohn W. Leedy (1849-1935) - The 14th governor of the State of Kansas from 1897 to 1899, Leedy was born in Richland County, Ohio on March 8, 1849. His parents were members of the Dunkard Church, and his early years were passed under the strict discipline of that religious faith. While still a boy, he was required to go to work when his father died and he began his career as a farm hand. In 1864, when he was 15, he tried to enlist in a military company that was forming in his native county, but owing to his youth and the protests of his mother he was rejected. He followed the company to the front, however, and remained with it until the close of the war. In 1865 he went to Pierceton, Indiana, where he was employed as a clerk in a store for about three years. At the end of that time, preferring outdoor life, he went to Macoupin County, Illinois, and found employment on a farm near Carlinville. He remained there until 1880, when he moved to Kansas and engaged in farming near Le Roy in Coffey County. Somewhere along the line, he married Sarah J. Boyd of Frederickstown, Ohio and the couple would have three children.


Leedy was reared in a firm belief in the tenets of the Republican Party, with which he was affiliated until 1875, when he became a Democrat. When the Populist Party was organized in 1890, he again changed his party allegiance, and soon came to be recognized as one of the Populist leaders in Kansas. In 1892 he was elected to the Kansas State Senate, where he served until elected governor of the state in 1896. At the close of his two years' term as governor he became interested in mining operations in the vicinity of Galena, Kansas. In 1901 he went to Valdez, Alaska, where he served two years as mayor. Later, he moved to White Court, Alberta, Canada. He became a naturalized citizen of Canada and died there almost penniless. The Kansas Legislature donated $1000 to mark his grave and pay his funeral expenses. 


Lorenzo D. LewellingLorenzo D. Lewelling (1846-1900) -The 12th governor of the State of Kansas, he was born at Salem, Iowa on December 21, 1846. His father, William Lewelling, was a Quaker minister and died in Indiana in 1848 while engaged in missionary work in that state. His mother was accidentally burned to death in 1855, after which Lorenzo made his home with an older sister. He then worked at various jobs until the Civil War broke out in 1861, at which time, he enlisted in an Iowa regiment. This was contrary to the religious tenets of the Quakers, and the fact that he was not of legal age enabled his relatives to secure his discharge. However, he was with the Quartermaster's Department for some time, and later was employed with a government bridge building corps in Chattanooga, Tennessee. In 1865, just after the close of the war, he taught at an African American at Mexico, Missouri, employed by the Freedmen's Aid Society. Then, after attending a business college at Poughkeepsie, New York for a short time, he worked as a tow-path boy on the Erie Canal, as a carpenter in Toledo, Ohio, and as a section hand and bridge-builder for several railroad companies. He then returned to his native town and entered Whittier College, where he graduated about 1868. Upon finishing his schooling, he became a teacher in the Iowa State Reform School. On April 18, 1870, he married Angeline M. Cook, a teacher of Red Oak, Iowa. In 1872 he was made superintendent of the girls' department of the reform school, his wife at the same time being appointed matron, and this position he held for fourteen years. He then spent about two years in founding and editing the Des Moines Capital, an "anti-ring" Republican newspaper, at the end of which time he returned to the reform school. His wife died while matron of that institution, leaving three daughters, and subsequently Lewelling married Ida Bishop. In 1887 he moved to Wichita, Kansas, where he engaged in business and ceased to affiliate with the Republican Party. He was one of the pioneers in the organization of the Farmers' Alliance, and in 1892 was nominated by the Populist Party for governor. The Populist State Convention of that year was held in Wichita and Lewelling appeared as a private citizen to welcome the delegates to the city. W. J. Costigan, an intimate friend of Governor Lewelling, said: "Up to that hour scarcely a delegate in that convention had ever seen or heard of him. His address stirred the convention to its inmost fiber, and within the next 24 hours he was its candidate for governor." The Democrats endorsed his candidacy and he was elected. In 1894 he was re-nominated, but the platform declared in favor of woman suffrage, which alienated Democratic support, and this, together with the recollections of the stormy scenes attending the opening days of his administration, encompassed his defeat. In 1896 he was a delegate to the Populist National Convention and the same year was elected to the Kansas State Senate, which office he held at the time of his death. He died of heart disease at Arkansas City, Kansas on September 3, 1900.


David Lykins (1820?-1861) - A member of the first Territorial Legislature of Kansas, Lyins was born in Iowa about 1820 or 1821. He received a good education and became a physician. In early life he became interested in missionary work among the Indians and in 1845 came to Kansas to engage in missionary work among the tribes there. In 1853 he was connected with the Potawatomie mission, and two years later was made superintendent of the mission for the Wea, Piankeshaw, Peoria and Kaskaskia tribes. He was an ardent pro-slavery man and advocated the annexation of Cuba in order that the slave power might have more territory. At the first territorial election on March 30, 1855, he was elected a member of the legislative council from the 4th district. The present county of Miami was originally named Lykins in his honor. However, after the Free-State men took power in Kansas, Dr. Lykins gave up politics, left the territory and died in Colorado in 1861.



Compiled and edited by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated April, 2010.

About the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these pages is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.


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