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A distinguished jurist has said: “In the American state the great and good lawyer must always be prominent, for he is one of the forces that move and control society. Public confidence has generally been reposed in the legal profession. It has ever been the defender of popular rights, the champion of freedom regulated by law, the firm support of good government. In the times of danger it has stood like a rock and breasted the mad passions of the hour and finally resisted tumult and faction.” A review of the history of Julius Spencer Waters shows that his life is largely an exemplification of this statement; that as an individual he has shared in the work thus attributed to the class, and through many years has labored for the good of the nation, advocating every measure intended to advance the welfare, prosperity and happiness of his people. His ancestors were among those who fought for American independence, his grandfather, Walter Waters, and his brothers all serving in the colonial army. His father, William Waters, was born in Monroe County, New York, in 1795, and was a soldier in the war of 18 12, participating in tire battle of Lundy’s Lane under General Scott. He was one of the pioneers of the western reserve of Ohio, locating in Ashtabula County. In 1837 he removed with his family from Ohio to Boonville, Warwick County, Indiana, and when his son Julius was eight years of age went to Iowa, taking up his abode near what is now Mount Pleasant, Henry County.
About this time the family was bereft by death of the wife and mother. Julius S. Waters was born in Warwick County, Indiana, March 25, 1838, and although now in his ninth year had had no opportunity to secure an education, having always lived in a wild frontier district, having no knowledge of what was going on in the great busy world outside. Soon after the death of the mother the family became scattered and the subject of this sketch, although a mere lad, was thrown entirely upon his own resources. He has thus indeed been the architect of his own fortunes and has builded wisely and well. He early gave evidence of the elemental strength of his character in the self-reliance, energy and true pluck which he has displayed, qualities which have marked his entire career and have brought to him a well merited success. Under many and diversified circumstances they have enabled him to conquer obstacles and advance to a position of prominence in the professional and political world. Left alone, he began seeking a way whereby he might earn his own living, and soon secured work at driving oxen in breaking prairie sod. his wages being four dollars per month and board. He eagerly accepted this opportunity of earning his livelihood, and after four months of constant hard work he was able to boast of being the possessor of sixteen dollars cash, which he expended for such warm but cheap clothing as would protect him from the cold during the coming winter. It was in that winter of 1850 that he first attended school, pursuing his studies for three months, during which time he lived with an old friend of his parents, working nights, mornings and Saturdays in order to pay for his board. The following summer was spent as the former one, save that he received five dollars for his ser-vices, and again in the winter he attended school for three months, his wages being expended for books and clothing. At this time he could only spell and read a little, even the simpler mathematics being to his mind as enigmatical as the characters on a tea chest.
In the fall of 1852 he began to have aspirations for something a little higher in the scale of manual labor than driving oxen and decided to learn a trade. A young acquaintance gave him such glowing accounts of the rising town of Galesburg, Illinois, that he decided to remove thither, and with his little bundle of clothing swung on a stick over his shoulder, and only three dollars in his pocket, he started on foot for Burlington, Iowa. After a tedious and laborious journey through the then wild country he arrived at Burlington in the evening and at once boarded a steamboat and paid fifty cents for his fare to Oquawka. Much of the remainder of his small capital went for food, crackers and cheese. He walked from Oquawka to Galesburg in a day and a half, and as he made his way through the streets of the town he passed a harness and saddle shop. Thinking he would like to learn that trade he entered and making his wishes known to the proprietor. D. M. Chapin, he entered upon an apprenticeship, during which time he not only received instructions in the business but also was given much valuable advice which he has profitably followed in late years, his employer proving to him a good friend.
On completing his apprenticeship, Mr. Waters began business in Burlington, Iowa, and later returned to Mount Pleasant, where he carried on operations in that line. In 1857 he returned to Indiana to visit the old family homestead and renew the acquaintances of former years, and among the hallowed scenes of his childhood he decided to remain and devote as much time as possible to such studies as would fit him for the practical duties of life. His new home, too, was situated on the banks of the Ohio, the division line between the free and slave districts, and there developed the strong anti-slavery views and tendencies which were so manifest in later years. The Abolition party, then well organized, found in him an ardent and energetic advocate, and in the fall of 1858, although not yet twenty-one, he was nominated as the Abolition candidate for the legislature. Such was his popularity in the County that he received four hundred votes, when only thirty-seven votes had been cast for John C. Fremont two years before. The County was strongly Democratic, and during the canvass made by the youthful candidate, which was very thorough and vigorous, he was frequently brutally treated and almost constantly threatened with violence by the opposition. After the fall election of 1858 he at once began to organize his County for the coming contest in i860, and so well did he succeed that the Republicans had a small majority. During that campaign Mr. Waters was a delegate to the state convention which nominated Henry S. Lane for governor and O. P. Morton for lieutenant governor, while the name of Benjamin Harrison appeared at the foot of the ticket in connection with the office of reporter of the supreme court. Thirty-two years later, in 1892, he was one of the Harrison presidential electors for Idaho.
During all these years of great political strife Mr. Waters applied himself closely to the study of law and was admitted to the bar, since which time he has successfully engaged in practice. At the breaking out of the great civil war he devoted himself assiduously to promoting the cause of the Union and of human freedom, and never during the darkest hours did he doubt the final triumph of the northern arms. In 1865 he removed to Labette County, Kansas, becoming one of its pioneer settlers. He was one of the organizers of the Republican party there, and by his efficient labors contributed materially to its great success, attending most of the state conventions and presiding as chairman at many of the County and district conventions. He was admitted to the bar in 1867, was elected to the office of County attorney in 1869, and was re-elected in 1870, 1876, 1878 and 1880. In 1882 he was chosen to represent his district in the state legislature, and in 1883 was appointed by President Arthur receiver of public moneys in the United States land office, at Hailey, Idaho, at which time he removed with his family to that place, filling the position for four years, at the expiration of which period he was elected on the Republican ticket to the office of district attorney of Alturas County for a term of two years. In 1892 he was a delegate to the Idaho Republican state convention, and was there nominated as one of the Idaho presidential electors. He came to Shoshone in 1896, and in 1898 was elected County attorney for Lincoln County, in which office he is now acceptably serving. At the bar he has attained prestige by reason of ability, comprehensive understanding of the principles of jurisprudence and his accuracy in applying these to the points in litigation. He prepares his cases very carefully, looking up the authorities and precedents and fencing his argument about with logical reasoning that is generally incontrovertible.
In 1860 Mr. Waters was united in marriage to Miss Glenn, of Indiana, but she was spared to him only a short time, her death occurring during the war. In 1870, in Labette County, Kansas, he wedded Mrs. Amy Myers, a native of Spencer County, Indiana. They have one daughter, Maude, an accomplished young lady, who is skilled both in instrumental and vocal music. The family occupy a very prominent position in social circles and their pleasant home is celebrated for its hospitality. In 1869 Mr. Waters became a Master Mason, and the following year took the Royal Arch degrees. He has been master of the blue lodge, high priest of the chapter and eminent commander of the commandery. During a large portion of his residence in Kansas he was a member of the Press Association, being editor of the Oswego Independent, one of the leading newspapers of Kansas. Mr. Waters now occupy a position of distinction in connection with the bar and the political interests of Idaho. Starting out in life for himself ere he had attended school for a day, working at the breaking plow for several seasons, and then becoming imbued with a laudable ambition to attain something better, he has steadily advanced in those walks of life demanding intellectuality, business ability and fidelity, and today commands the respect and esteem not only of his community but throughout the state. Over the record of his public career and his private life there falls no shadow of wrong, for he has ever been most loyal to the ties of friendship and citizenship, and his history well deserves a place in the annals of his adopted state.