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Biography of Lewis Corbin True, Col.
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Col. Lewis C. True. Some interesting distinctions belong to this veteran soldier and lawyer who now lives retired at Kansas City, Kansas. He came to Kansas soon after leaving the army, and spent several years combating the hardships and plagues which afflicted the farmers in that period in Franklin County. Unable to make progress as a farmer, he took up the study of law, and in 1871 was admitted to practice in Cherokee County. He spent five years in general practice at Chetopa, and was then elected county attorney of Labette County.
Kansas had just enacted its state wide prohibition law. Colonel True went into office committed to the duty of upholding the laws of the state and as a gallant soldier he could see no other course before him but to perform his duty. Personally he has always been a stanch advocate of prohibition, and he at once proceeded to employ the instrument of public office to carry out and enforce the state law. Though the law imposed equal obligations upon every county attorney in the state, Colonel True was the only incumbent of such an office during the first two years who rigidly applied the provisions of the new laws. It was a most ungrateful task, but he was not deterred by any of the difficulties or the dangers attending prohibition enforcement. His enemies burned his house and set in his path every other possible obstacle, and at at the end of his first term they succeeded in defeating him for re-election. That defeat is really one of the greatest tributes ever given to Colonel True. It should be recalled that he shared defeat along with Governor St. John, who had been re-nominated on the prohibition ticket.
Since 1882 Colonel True has been a prominent member of the bar of Kansas City, Kansas, and practiced actively there until a few years ago. He was the first city attorney of Kansas City after the consolidation of several towns under a city charter.
Lewis Corbin True was born on a farm in Coles County, Illinois, April 4, 1842. He was one of the six children of Frederick G. and Cynthiana (Wigginton) True. His brothers and sisters who are still living are: J. F. True of Topeka; J. W. True of Eureka Springs, Arkansas; Mrs. Ollie Gould, wife of George Gould of Mattoon, Illinois. His parents were both natives of Frankfort, Kentucky. His grandfather John W. True was born in Virginia. Colonel True’s mother died when he was a child. His father was an active leader among the abolitionists of Illinois and was one of the sympathizers with the underground railway. He was a successful and prosperous farmer, having acquired his land by direct purchase from the Government in Coles County, and he subsequently secured a section of railway land, giving him altogether 800 acres, which he devoted to general farming and cattle raising.
The old farm in Coles County was the environment in which Colonel True spent his early years. He attended the common schools, worked in vacations on the farm, and at the age of eighteen entered Illinois College at Jacksonville, where he remained about a year. At the outbreak of the war in 1861 he enlisted as a private in Company E of the Thirty-eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In the fall of 1862 he was transferred to the Sixty-second Illinois Infantry. It was with that regiment that he made his splendid record as a soldier. On the basis of merit he was promoted successively to the positions of adjutant, captain of Company D, major, lieutenant colonel, and when the regiment after three years of service veteranized and re-enlisted he became colonel. While lieutenant colonel he was placed in command of the Third Brigade in the Department of Arkansas, and the record of this command is a part of the official records of the War of the Rebellion, found in Volume 48, page 266, Series 1, part 2. Colonel True participated in several of the important campaigns by which the country on both sides of the Mississippi River was conquered from the Confederacy, and he was in a number of notable engagements. At the close of active hostilities he remained in the service with his veteran regiment performing duty largely in Indian Territory, and was granted his honorable discharge in August, 1866. He was the youngest officer of his rank among the entire armies of the Union.
After the war he determined to make Kansas his home, and locating in Franklin County he became associated with his brother James F. True and also with that famous Kansan, Hon. E. D. Coburn, in conducting a livestock ranch. The operation of a Kansas farm is a simple matter now compared to what it was fifty years ago, and Colonel True soon left the farm and going to Chetopa engaged in the study of law under William P. Lamb. He is now one of the oldest attorneys in the state. After removing to Kansas City, Kansas, his private practice was un-interrupted except for the time he served on the bench as judge of the Common Pleas Court, and one term as judge of the second division of the District Court of the Twenty-ninth Judicial Circuit. Seven years ago he gave up his office and practice, and now spends practically all his time at his comfortable home at 563 Freeman Avenue.
In November, 1865, before leaving the army, Colonel True married Miss Annie Keeler of Pine Bluff, Arkansas. Her father George Keeler was a well known planter in Arkansas where Mrs. True was born. They have two living children: Frederick G., of Peoria, Illinois, and George L., of Amarillo, Texas.
Colonel True has always been an active republican, has taken part in a number of campaigns, and has always been a fighter for prohibition and temperance. He and his wife are members of the Presbyterian Church and Mrs. True is a member of the Ladies Aid Circle No. 86 of Kansas City, Kansas. Twice Colonel True has served as commander of Burnside Post No. 28, Department of the Grand Army of the Republic; and the Sons of Veterans organization at Kansas City, Kansas, bears his name.
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