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Benjamin F. Endres, son of the late John Adam Endres, whose career is sketched elsewhere, had been a successful lawyer of Leavenworth, and had also figured in public affairs, being now in his second term as a member of the State Legislature.
He was born at Leavenworth, January 27, 1875, was educated in the public schools, read law under Thomas P. Fenlon and John H. Atwood, and was admitted to the bar on his twenty-first birthday. Since then, for twenty years, he had been in the active practice of his profession. In 1903 he was elected police judge of Leavenworth and served in that capacity until 1907.
Judge Endres had a vision and comprehension of public problems equal to his public spirit. In 1908 he was the first to advocate the adoption of the commission form of government for Leavenworth. In 1909 Mayor Omar Abernathy appointed him city attorney, and he filled that position until his resignation in May, 1913. In 1914 he was elected from the Fifth Legislative District to the Kansas State Legislature. During the following session he was chairman of the Judicial Apportionment Committee and a member of other important committees, and proved a leader in the House. Among the measures which he championed was a bill introduced by him authorizing cities of the first and second class to issue bonds to assist the worthy to purchase homes. This was a measure, one of the first of its kind to be introduced in any state legislature, and a part of the great program now widely supported and gaining constant increase of prestige for the gradual amelioration of conditions from which the poorer classes have hitherto suffered in their struggle to attain homes for themselves. It was due to the efforts of Mr. Endres that the sum of $2,000 was appropriated by the Legislature for the purpose of securing appropriate quarters for the preservation of relics of the Spanish war veterans in the Memorial Hall at Topeka. Without reviewing Mr. Endres’ legislative record in detail it will suffice to quote an estimate and recommendation given by Governor Capper to his candidacy for a second term:
“B. F. Endres, who represented this city in the Kansas Legislature two years ago, was one of the members that I could rely on. He helped me knock out almost two million dollars in appropriations that the Democratic senate wanted to saddle on the taxpayers of this state. Mr. Endres was actively opposed to the ‘pork-barrel’ methods of certain members of the legislature. He is one man that I know I can get long with, and I hope the people of Leavenworth will send him back to the legislature by a large majority.” The wishes of Governor Capper were granted in November, 1916, when Mr. Endres was re-elected.
On January 20, 1904, he married Miss Blanche Margaret Failor of Newton, Iowa.
For a more comprehensive view of his public career attention is directed to a few quotations made from a recent issue of the Kansas Trades Unionist, as to Mr. Endres’ work as a judge and legislator. A few of the facts already given are repeated, but on the whole the quotation gives perhaps a better view of Judge Endres than anything else that had been written.
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“He was born and brought up in Leavenworth, one of sixteen children, and he fought his way to the front, unaided and alone, at one time selling papers and blacking shoes in the public street in order to make a livelihood, but learning at the same time the most important lessons of life, self-reliance, industry and the value of character. He attended the common and high schools of his native city, studied law in the offices of Thomas P. Fenlon and John H. Atwood, masters of forensic eloquence and deeply learned in the law, their repute extending from coast to coast. Judge Endres learned much from the able gentleman and great democrats, but remained a republican nevertheless. He served four years as police judge and four as city attorney, and was very successful in dealing with those most despicable of all law-breakers–the parasite on women, the wife-beater, and the toter of deadly weapons. He had enough courage to fine a contemptible coward who assaulted his wife two hundred fifty dollars, and the judge earned a reputation which made him widely and favorably known throughout the state. He showed considerable tact, force and originality in handling the cases which came before him and believing that it was necessary to prevent as well as to punish crime he did much in patching up differences and harmonizing before proceeding to the law’s penalties. The judge was one of the strong men in the 1915 House, served on the Judiciary and other important committees and did yeoman work in the bulk sales law, mother’s pension and child hygenic measures. He was always found in the voting on the side that spoke for justice and the interests of the producing classes, especially the farmer and the laborer.
“The judge is the author of the act to authorize cities of the first and second classes to assist worthy persons to purchase a home. It attracted much favorable attention in the 1915 session and some who first scoffed are now among its most earnest supporters. The cash and credit of the city, the county, state and nation are often used to benefit individuals who have not nearly as good a claim as the honest, industrious working man, and it seems to us that there is just as much reason to aid them in their honorable endeavors to secure a home as it is to aid the agricultural classes. ‘A nation dwells in its cottages,’ a great English orator said, and we do the best of work benefiting all classes when we assist a worthy person to own a home, the sweetest word in all the vast vocabulary of man. Judge Endres is the only legislator in these United States who had the foresight, the courage, the sense of justice to introduce a bill of this character and some day it will surely pass and every working man in this fair land should ‘rise up and call him blessed’ for his splendid efforts in this noble, beneficent cause. Judge Endres also introduced a bill to protect the home owner and the lumber man against the dishonest contractor, and this will no doubt be enacted into law. He is a forcible, persuasive speaker, impressed by his sincerity and logic, and the judge votes for bills on their merits alone, unbiased by partisan consideration. He is a veritable Hotspur in debate, and the interests of the public, the interests of the farmer, the laborer, the producer, find in him always an ardent and effective champion. The judge is on several of the big committees and he is a striking figure and highly efficient member of the Lower House.”