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Albert Arthur Hurd. The professional intimates of the late Albert Arthur Hurd unhesitatingly place him among the most able corporation lawyers who ever graced the Topeka bar. The reputation of men who gain eminence in this branch of the law is not made in a day. Such a reputation requires not only natural talent, but the most thorough preparation and strenuous, continuous and intense application and industry. That he became recognized as one of the best railroad lawyers in the United States was due to the possession of exceptional ability and character, and also to the fact that he was continuously identified with the Santa Fe Railway Company for a period of forty years. He entered the service of the company in 1875, in 1905 was made special counsel, and that appointment and the duties connected therewith were a splendid recognition of the strength and breadth of his influence upon the general progress of the corporation.
Albert Arthur Hurd was born at Lafayette, Illinois, September 27, 1849, a son of Theodore F. and Catherine (Driscoll) Hurd. He belonged to a family which was entitled to use a crest. His first paternal ancestor in America was John Hurd, a native of Somersetshire, England, who came to America before the year 1640 and settled at Windsor, Connecticut. From him the line of descent is traced down through his second son, Adam Hurd, and his wife, Hannah Bertrand; John Hurd and Johanna Judson; Ebenezer Hurd and Sarah Pickett Lane; Josiah Hurd and Phebe Buell; Josiah Hurd and Hannah Brown; Dan Hurd and Phoebe Conger; Stephen Hurd and Nancy Hinchman, and Theodore F. Hurd and Catherine Martha Driscoll. Two brothers, Josiah and Dan Hurd, fought as soldiers of the Continental line during the war for American independence, and their descendants are thus entitled to membership in the Sons and Daughters of the American Revolution. The father of Albert Arthur Hurd was a prominent and influential citizen of his day in Stark County, Illinois, and represented that county in the Illinois State Legislature in 1860.
The late Mr. Hurd was educated in the public schools of Galva, Illinois, later was a student at Northwestern University, and following his graduation there entered the law department of the Iowa State University. He was graduated with his degree in 1870, and in the same year was admitted to the bar of Kansas at Junction City. He soon afterwards settled at what was then the great center for the cattle trade of the entire Southwest–Abilene. Here he soon had all the legal business he could attend to, and enjoyed the confidence as well as the patronage of some of the prominent early time citizens. The young lawyer was elected the first city clerk of Abilene. Two other men prominent in history were connected with the city administration at the same time. One of them was Joseph G. McCoy as mayor, and the other was William Hickok, better known as “Wild Bill,” who was marshal.
From Abilene Mr. Hurd removed to Newton, and there had his first experience in railroad work. Soon afterward he went to Great Bend and was there in time to become the first mayor of the city, a position which he filled with distinction. He continued in general practice until 1875, in which year he came to. Topeka and was made assistant attorney with the Santa Fe Railway Company. Six years later he was advanced to the office of solicitor for the State of Kansas, and that was his position until 1905, when he was made special counsel, the post which he held at the time of his death.
Executive ability was one of the chief causes for his continuous advancement. He had the power to manage varied and complicated interests successfully, without friction and without confusion. The task of special counsel of a railway is one of great delicacy and of harassing difficulties. For handling the various and unending negotiations which arose, Mr. Hurd possessed the experience, mental poise and skill in an admirable harmony. He was a glove of velvet covering the railway’s hand of iron; not only covering it, but guiding it; restraining its grasp within reasonable bounds. As is naturally the case with an able “specialist,” he knew about all the other side had to say, yet he listened and weighed all that was offered, and having made up his mind what was best to be done, he had the needful weight to make his pertinacious and resolute client acquiesce in his views.
In politics Mr. Hurd was a republican, but never a politician. He was a supporter of everything that promised to be good for Topeka, and his strong character and broad mindedness lent force to each enterprise with which he was identified. Although not what is known as a “mixer,” he attracted men to him, and the friendships he made were sincere and lasting. A lifelong student, he was fond of literature and was a great leader both in and outside his profession. While not a church member, he was a believer in religion of a practical sort, and his charities were many, though they were often hidden from the general view. Mr. Hurd was not a fraternalist, but belonged to a number of social organizations, including the Country Club and the Topeka Club, and, of course, he was a valued member of the various organizations of his calling, including the Kansas State and American Bar associations. As a business man he was remarkably successful and accumulated a large amount of property in and around Topeka. One of his valuable estates is Sommerheim Farm, a tract of 250 acres in Shawnee County, the improvements on which made it an ideal country home. The amusements in which a man engages are a gauge of his temper and character. Some tread the weary rounds of business or professional endeavor with ceaseless devotion, never realizing that there lies about them in field and forest, in woodland stream, in shimmering lake, a store of wholesome and refreshing recreation which would take from the round of care many of its burdens, and, while invigorating the physical powers, infuse into the spirit the sweet and elevating influence which come from contact with nature in her wild and rustic beauty. Mr. Hurd was never insensible to these rural pleasures; he always loved to get away from the city’s noise and competition and be among his plants and flowers, and he made of horticulture something more than a hobby.
After suffering from bronchitis two weeks Mr. Hurd died at his home, 1134 Tyler Street, Topeka, December 20, 1915. In speaking of Mr. Hurd the officiating minister, Dr. Benjamin F. Young, said in part as follows: “The numbers of friends that are here today are evidence of the respect and love with which Mr. Hurd was regarded in his community. He was a man of usefulness in his day, serving faithfully in the office he held, keeping before him a lofty ideal of devotion to duty. That sense of duty and that lofty ideal were taught him early by his parents, who were devoutly religious people. He was intensely devoted to his home and found it always the loveliest place in the world. The mysteries of life and death appall us, when we see a man in the midst of the duties of a useful life cut off from the world, but we refuse to believe that a mound of earth on the hilltop is the end of this man of affairs, this man of wide sweeping intellect, of firm grasp on problems of the time, of generosity and ability.”
December 22, 1885, Mr. Hurd was married to Miss Theodosia E. Woosley of Erie, Kansas, daughter of Alexander Jones and Mary Elizabeth (Sturdivant) Woosley. Mrs. Hurd survives her husband, as does also his brother, G. W. Hurd, an attorney of Abilene, Kansas.