Charles William Trickett. That Kansas City, Kansas, can claim distinction of being the largest city in the United States without a saloon or commercialized vice district is due more to the fearless and strenuous efforts of Charles William Trickett than to any other one man. The people of an entire state committed to the cause of prohibition followed with a great deal of interest and admiration his remarkable campaign, made some years ago while assistant attorney general, for rigid law enforcement and the driving out of the saloons and other commercialized forms of vice which had hitherto enjoyed immunity in the Kansas metropolis.
Mr. Trickett, who has lived in Kansas since early childhood was a banker and business man before he took up the law, began practice at Kansas City, Kansas, in 1896.
On June 8, 1906, Attorney General C. C. Coleman appointed him as assistant attorney general with special jurisdiction in Wyandotte County. The appointment in ordinary circumstances might have had no special significance. When Mr. Trickett consented to accept the office it was with the avowed determination and purpose of inaugurating a program of strict law enforcement and overturning the old regime under which Kansas City, Kansas, had been a wide open town with saloons flourishing in open violation of the state laws. The day he began his official duties opened the fight on the local liquor traffic. It was a war to the finish. Either the saloons had to go or the attorney general had to acknowledge complete defeat and get out of the town himself. The leaders of the liquor traffic had many sinister ways in which to undermine a public official’s career and pervert his active influence. It was not a case in which he stood as the open champion for well organized and solid public sentiment. The city was well divided over the liquor question. He had the state law behind him, but he constantly had to run counter to public opinion and overcome an active and vigilant opposition. He actually took his life in his hands. He and his family were threatened by varied forms of persecution. A threat was made to dynamite his house. Some of his property was actually burned. Danger and intimidation had no effect upon his resolute course. As part of his general program he brought about the election of Doctor Gray on an independent ticket as mayor and committed to a law enforcement platform. Mr. Trickett and his lieutenants worked from 8 o’clock in the morning until 1 o’clock the next morning day after day in dislodging the saloon faction, and finally they put padlocks on the doors of all the saloons, and only then did the saloon men retire from the field. He confiscated and burned upwards of $5,000 worth of liquor and various other property connected with the traffic. Along with the saloons he made equal war on gambling and commercialized vice, and for nearly ten years he continued the fight and brought about the wholesome conditions which now prevail in the city.
Mr. Trickett accepted the office of assistant attorney general temporarily, but once in the fight he continued until victory. He had previously refused such an office again and again, and he was under no illusions as to the difficulties and dangers confronting him when he finally consented to serve. As already stated his first appointment came from Attorney General Coleman, and the succeeding Attorney General Jackson made his first official act the reappointment of Mr. Trickett in 1907. He was again reappointed in 1911 by Attorney General Dawson. He continued in the office until 1913.
In the meantime Governor Stubbs had appointed him special counsel and he was commissioned to assist in the general campaign for the overthrow of the liquor forces throughout the state. In this position he also made a special fight against gambling in Kansas City, Kansas, and succeeded in clearing out about 200 notorious gambling places. Another service which he rendered was the prosecution of the various packing plants of Kansas City, Kansas, as a result of which $178,000 were returned to the county in the shape of unpaid taxes and other sums which the packing companies had unjustly held.
Charles William Trickett was born on a farm in Scotland County, Missouri, February 2, 1861, and came to Kansas in 1866 with his parents Charles Marshall and Martha Ann (Walker) Trickett. He was the third in a family of nine children, two of whom died in infancy, and six are still living. His father was a native of Virginia and his mother of Illinois, and the former followed farming all his active career. The Trickett family goes back to colonial days in the history of this country. Originally there were four brothers, Frenchmen, who emigrated to England, and later one of these brothers or his son came to Virginia. He was a ship owner, and after coming to America the name was changed in spelling from Trickette to the present form. This first ancestor in America was connected with Washington’s staff in some capacity during the Revolutionary war, and it is known that he was present at the final battle and surrender of the British forces at Yorktown.
Charles M. Trickett came from Virginia overland and located in Scotland County, Missouri, where he married, and at the close of the war he sold his farm there and after a year spent in Nebraska with his brother-in-law came to Kansas, locating at Louisburg in Miami County. He lived in that town and rented his farm. He was in poor health after he came to Kansas and his sons assumed the responsibilities of looking after the farm. He died in 1878. After coming to Kansas he served as justice of the peace, as overseer of roads and streets, and was an active republican. He was a Methodist and his wife a Baptist.
The common schools of Louisburg furnished Charles W. Trickett his early education. At the age of fifteen he was working for the firm of Reed & Wright, grain and general merchants. For a time he had charge of the grading and price making in their elevator. He remained with that firm until 1880, and the company then buying an elevator in Paola placed Mr. Trickett in charge. In 1882 he resigned his position to enter the Miami County National Bank at Paola, and soon afterwards was made teller and later assistant cashier. In 1887 Mr. Sponable, president of the Miami County Bank, organized the Wyandotte County National Bank of Kansas City, Kansas, and Mr. Trickett became cashier of the new institution. During the panic of 1893 this was the only bank in Kansas City, Kansas, that successfully weathered the storm of financial reverses, and Mr. Trickett shouldered many of the heavy responsibilities at that time and remained with the institution until its resources were thoroughly reorganized when the panic had passed.
An ambition to become a lawyer was one of the early desires of Mr. Trickett. While living at Paola he read law for five years under Maj. Benjamin Simpson. Major Simpson subsequently served as United States marshal of Kansas, later as Supreme Court commissioner, and was one of the ablest lawyers the state ever had. In 1896 Mr. Trickett was admitted to the bar, and selling his interests in the bank he opened an office and began general practice. In 1903 he formed a partnership with Mr. Keplinger, and this firm is still in existence, commanding a large and representative clientage and with offices in the Holmes Building. From 1908 to 1913 in addition to his other heavy public responsibilities, Mr. Trickett served as attorney for the drainage board district and had active charge of all the litigation of that time. In 1913 he became Kansas attorney for the Kansas City Stockyards Company, and still retains that position. Mr. Trickett has always been identified with the republican party. While living in Paola he served on the board of education, resigning from that position when he removed to Kansas City, Kansas. December 23, 1880, he married Miss Lillie B. Essex of Paola. Her father J. S. Essex was at the time of their marriage foreman of construction on the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway. Mr. and Mrs. Trickett have four children: Nellie is the wife of John Stewart, salesman for the Redenour-Baker Grocery Company of Kansas City, Kansas. Pearl is the wife of John Juhlin, of Kansas City, Missouri, traveling solicitor for the Kansas City Stockyards Company. William E., who married Besse Woolsey of Kansas City, Kansas, is managing his father’s real estate interests. Lawrence G. is in the office of the Kansas City Stockyards Company. All these children have been given the comforts of a good home, the inspiration of high ideals and a liberal education. Lawrence and Pearl are both graduates of the University of Kansas. Mr. and Mrs. Trickett are active members of the Congregational Church, and for seventeen years he served as superintendent of the Sunday school, was for a number of years chairman of the board of trustees and was superintendent of the building of the present edifice occupied by the congregation.