Edward J. Fleming is one of the men who apparently realized early in life that the only help for them in attaining success is through their individual efforts. About twenty years ago Mr. Fleming was clerk in a store at Arkansas City. Not long afterwards, and before he reached his majority, he was running a small business of his own at Anthony. The chief comment made by his associates in those early days was that he was a hard worker and willing to earn a little more than his wages. About that time his ambition to become a lawyer took definite form, and after a year or so of hard application to his studies he was admitted to the Kansas bar. He had been one of the useful and prominent members of the Cowley County bar for the past fifteen years and is at present deputy county attorney.
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Whether in his profession or in other lines of experience he had been a hard fighter. He gets this quality naturally. His grandfather, John Fleming, was born in County Cork, Ireland, in 1814, and in 1851 brought his family to America, arriving after a voyage of fourteen weeks by the old slow-going sailing vessels. He settled at Washington Court House in Ohio, and followed farming there until his death in 1884. His son Thomas, father of the Arkansas City lawyer, was born in Cork, Ireland, in 1845, and was six years of age when he came to the United States with his parents. He grew up on his father’s farm in Ohio, and his first great experience in life was, when following the promptings of patriotism, he enlisted at the age of seventeen, in the latter part of 1862, for service in the Union army. He went out with the One Hundred and Fourteenth Ohio Infantry. From that time on he was a good and faithful soldier until the flags were furled and hostilities closed with all the states reunited in perpetual union. The first great battle in which he took part was Stone River early in 1863. He was with Sherman in the first attack of the Union armies against Vicksburg, and afterwards was with Grant in the determined siege and capture of that Mississippi stronghold. Subsequently he was sent with the troops under Gen. A. J. Smith to rescue Banks’ Red River expedition, and assisted Banks’ forces in getting down the river. Three days after Lee surrendered he participated in the siege and storming of Mobile, Alabama.
Following the war, a youthful veteran of twenty years, he returned to his old home at Washington Court House, Ohio, spent a short time at Indianapolis, Indiana, and in 1866 arrived in Kansas. His first location in this state was at Emporia. He was with the construction department of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad while that line was being built south from Kansas and until it was completed across Red River to Denison, Texas. While helping build the railroad he took up a homestead of a quarter section in Labette County, Kansas. He lived at Denison, Texas, for some time, and was roadmaster until the Missouri, Kansas & Texas went into the hands of a receiver. For eighteen months he ran a construction train employing several hundred men with the Denver & Rio Grande Railway Company. For another year he was section foreman for the Frisco Railroad at New Albany, Kansas, then became roadmaster of the Frisco, removing to Fredonia, and for two years had supervision of the right of way from Oswego to Wichita. In 1884 Mr. Fleming bought a farm in Greenwood County, six miles from Fall River, and spent two years on it. In 1887 he became section foreman of the Frisco at Fall River and after a year came to Arkansas City as roadmaster. He was thus employed by the Frisco until the line from Anthony to Arkansas City ceased to be a Frisco branch and was taken over by the Kansas Southwestern Railway Company. Mr. Fleming was in the service of the Kansas Southwestern until his death, which occurred at Ashton, Kansas, March 18, 1910. He was a republican in politics and a member of the Catholic Church.
Thomas Fleming married Mary Burns. She was born in County Donegal, Ireland, in 1856, and is now living at 412 North First Street in Arkansas City. They had the following large family of children: Edward J.; John, a baker by trade, living at Bellingham, Washington; Charles T., who is telegraph operator with the Santa Fe Railroad at Portland, Kansas; Nelle, the widow of James Fitzmaurice, who was a farmer at Fall River, Kansas, resided with her mother; Margaret, wife of Hugh Coughlin, a traveling salesman for the Ranney-Davis Wholesale Grocery Company of Arkansas City, their home being at Wellington, Kansas; Robert F., a motorman on an interurban railway living at Bellingham, Washington; Marie and Thomas, the former residing with her mother. Thomas is a member of Company H, Second Regiment Kansas National Guards.
It was during the residence of his parents at Denison, Texas, that Edward J. Fleming was born on March 18, 1880. Most of his life, however, had been spent in Kansas. He attended the rural schools near Fall River, spent one year in the public schools of that town, and during 1892 was a student in the parochial school at Axtell. After that he continued his education in the Arkansas City schools until 1896.
At the age of sixteen, in 1896, Mr. Fleming began clerking in a dry goods and clothing store at Arkansas City. In September, 1892, he went to Anthony to take charge of a confectionery, ice cream and cold drink cafe which his father had bought. He conducted this establishment for his father until 1899, and then sold out. Returning to Arkansas City he worked a few months with the Pottle Dry Goods Company, and after this experience was qualified for a position on the road, and for a year sold goods for the Smith-Hron Wholesale Notion Company of Arkansas City.
After deciding to become a lawyer Mr. Fleming left nothing to be desired in the way of diligence and enthusiasm in his application to his studies, and after a course of preparation in the office of William Blake and C. T. Atkinson of Arkansas City he was admitted to the Kansas bar in October, 1902. For six months during 1903 he lived at Kaw City, Oklahoma, but then returned to Arkansas City and was in the law offices of C. T. Atkinson for 2½ years. After that he was alone in practice and built up a splendid reputation as an able advocate and attorney in both the civil and criminal branches. In 1906 Mr. Fleming was elected county attorney of Cowley County, serving two terms or four years. During this official term he lived at Winfield, and continued to practice law there for two years afterwards. In 1913 he returned to Arkansas City and had law offices in the Zadie Block on South Summit Street. In the spring of 1905 he was elected police judge of Arkansas City, and filled that position until he entered upon his duties as county attorney in January, 1907. Mr. Fleming is now deputy county attorney, having been appointed in January, 1915, and reappointed in January, 1917, by J. A. McDermott, county attorney.
On May 1, 1917, Mr. Fleming formed a law partnership with Judge C. L. Swarts, of Winfield, the latter removing to Arkansas City. The new firm had quarters in the Home National Bank Building under the name of Fleming & Swarts. A complete sketch of Judge Swarts appears elsewhere in these volumes.
Mr. Fleming resided at 318 North Fourth Street. He had some farm interests at Ashton in Sumner County, but seldom allows anything to interfere with his main work as a lawyer. He is a republican and a member of the Catholic Church, and his fraternal affiliations are with Ponca City Council, Knights of Columbus; Lodge No. 596, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, Arkansas City; Arkansas City Aerie No. 909, Fraternal Order of Eagles; Winfield Lodge of the Loyal Order of Moose; Arkansas City Lodge No. 89, Ancient Order United Workmen; Inaugural Camp No. 867, Modern Woodmen of America; and Welcome Homestead No. 1277, Brotherhood of American Yeomen.
Mr. Fleming was married at Arkansas City in February, 1908, to Miss Ethel Sadil, daughter of B. F. and Lena (McKisson) Sadil. Her parents now reside at Wichita, her father being a partner in the Sedgwick County Abstract Company. Mr. and Mrs. Fleming have two children: Francis, born April 10, 1910; and Betty Virginia, born May 10, 1916.