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Judge Robert C. Heizer. For fourteen years Judge Robert C. Heizer had been on the district bench at Osage City, and the dignities and honors of his later years are a merited tribute to a man who had always relied upon the principle of self help and endured many of the vicissitudes and hardships of early life in Kansas.
He was brought to Kansas in 1858, when two years of age. He had been born at Vermont in Fulton County, Illinois, in 1856. On coming to Kansas his parents located on a quarter section of land along the Santa Fe Trail in Osage County, in the vicinity of what is now Scranton. It is interesting to note that this old homestead is still owned by the family.
While growing up in that rude and simple community Judge Heizer obtained his early education by walking four miles a day to and from the schoolhouse. Subsequently he was sent back to Illinois to attend the common schools, and also had the advantages of the State Normal. For a time he taught, and following the leading of his ambitious for a legal career he spent two years of reading under Judge William Thomson. He was examined and passed the state bar examination under the old law, and for the past thirty-five years had been a successful attorney.
Judge Heizer had three brothers, but all of them are now deceased. His parents were Samuel and Elizabeth A. (Kirkpatrick) Heizer, his father a native of Kentucky and his mother of Missouri. The family were slave holders before the war, but afterward released their negroes and they came to Kansas as free state people. In religion the parents were old-school Presbyterians. For a time Samuel Heizer conducted a general store in Illinois, and meeting business reverses he sold out and came to Kansas, making the journey by boat as far as Kansas City and thence by wagon to Osage County. By trade Samuel was a tanner and currier.
Kansas was still a territory when the Heizers became identified with the country around Scranton. It required the hardest kind of work to make a home, and the acres of prairie were broken up with horses and oxen, and the first home was built from native lumber, which was used when still green and when it shrunk there was ample ventilation without the need of opening windows or doors. The family also endured the plague of grasshoppers and the many sucessive drouths during the decade of the ’70s. In spite of it all Judge Heizer’s father prospered, and he acquired considerable other land besides his homestead. He finally returned to Kentucky and engaged in merchandising, but soon found that the weight of years was bearing upon him and he returned to die in Kansas. He was a most devout Christian and held Scripture reading and prayer every might in his home. He had an implicit belief in a fixed division between right and wrong, and he guided his life according to what he believed. was right. He was a republican but never held any offices. He died in 1889, and his wife in 1901.
From 1882 to 1886 Judge Heizer held the office of county attorney. The duties of that office were exceedingly burdensome and difficult at the time, since it was the period of whiskey troubles, and Judge Heiser had to lead the forces of law observance, and after a hard fight they won.
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On February 2, 1882, he married Minerva E. Whitman, a daughter of Professor J. F. Whitman. Professor Whitman was a noted educator in Kansas, at one time was professor of science of agriculture in the College of Pennsylvania, and later came to Kansas and was identified with Baldwin University and with the Agrieultural College of Kansas. He was a native of Pennsylvania. Judge and Mrs. Heizer have four children: Florence M., who is a talented young woman, possessing a fine contralto voice, and is teacher of music and English in the high school of Manhattan; Robert S. is a practicing lawyer at Topeka; Crane is a graduate of the University of Michigan; Margaret lives at home; and Charles is now attending school at Emporia.
Only a few friends of Judge Heizer are aware that his earliest ambitious as a youth were to become an actor and make a figure on the dramatic stage. Eitber he had no opportunity to follow such a career or his plans changed, and anyway he had made a most successful lawyer. He had been a resident of Osage City since 1879. He was attorney for the Osage City Savings Bank, which later failed, and he had much to do with winding up its affairs. He had always been active in republican politics.
Governor Stanley appointed him judge of the Thirty-first District Court over the counties of Osage, Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee. He had been re-elected to this office four times without opposition, and had administered his office with an impartiality and dignity that do credit to the bench of the state. He had been consistently a worker for the benefit of his home city and county, and he helped organize the electric light plant at Osage. In a business way he had prospered, and besides owning the 160 acres of the old homestead he had about a thousand acres of farm land and considerable town property.
Judge Heizer is not affiliated with fraternal orders or with any church, but Mrs. Heizer is active in the Presbyterian Church, as are her children.