Ezra King Longley was one of the very early members of the bar of Elk County. He had not resided continuously in Elk County since he first went there more than forty-five years ago, but in recent years he had given all his time to his general practice as a lawyer with offices at Howard.
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Mr. Longley is now seventy years of age. Few men of that age have had such opportunities to know American life at the fountain head and have had experiences covering so many different and varied scenes and bringing them into closer contact with the men and affairs of the time.
Mr. Longley inherits the traits of a very worthy ancestry. His Longley ancestors were Scotch-Irish people who settled in Massachusetts in colonial days. His great-grandfather, Colonel Longley, was a gallant officer in the Revolutionary struggle. His grandfather, Capt. Edmond Longley, who died at Hawley, Massachusetts, in 1853, was a farmer by occupation, and at one time served as captain in the Massachusetts state militia.
Ezra King Longley was born at Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, March 4, 1846. Wisconsin was still a territory when he was born. His father, Abner T. Longley, was born at Hawley, Massachusetts, November 26, 1821, and died at Washington, District of Columbia, February 23, 1896. After growing up at Hawley, where he had some experience as a school teacher, he married and soon afterward moved west and went into the wilderness of Southern Wisconsin, locating on a farm near Fort Atkinson. Besides farming he also was principal of the schools at Fort Atkinson and was employed in a store. He then transferred his mercantile interests to Newport in Sauk County, Wisconsin. For the purpose of witnessing the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln as President he went to Washington, District of Columbia, in the spring of 1861, and while there was appointed by Mr. Lincoln as deputy warden of the United States Penitentiary. He filled that office until the Federal penitentiary was removed to make room for the United States arsenal. When the bureau, later the department, of agriculture was organized he was appointed to a clerkship by Isaac Newton, first commissioner, and remained in the same department, with the exception of four years from 1887 to 1891, holding various positions of trust and honor until his retirement from the Government service, at which time he was superintendent of the folding division. While out of office he engaged in the real estate business.
Abner Townsley Longley was a very active republican, a member of the Congregational Church, and was long prominent in Masonry, having attained the thirty-third and supreme honorary degree of the Scottish Rite. He was buried at Washington with the Masonic ritual, and his was one of the largest funerals accorded to a private citizen ever held at Washington. He took his York Rite degrees in Washington Centennial Lodge No. 14 in 1861, and filled the various offices, including worshipful master, during the period of the Civil war. In 1863 he took the Capitular degrees in Washington Royal Arch Chapter No. 16 and was elected its high priest in 1867. He was created a Knight Templar in Columbia Commandery No. 2 in 1865 and served the commandery for seventeen years as recorder, four years as treasurer and one year as eminent commander. In 1884 he became a member of the Royal Order of Scotland, and in 1886 received the degrees of the Mystic Shrine. He took the degrees of the Scottish Rite during the years 1867-68. In 1882 he was elected member of the Masonic Veteran Association of the District of Columbia, and in 1887 was elected secretary of the association.
Abner T. Longley was married in 1845 to Abbie King. She was born at Hawley, Massachusetts, February 23, 1823, and was a direct descendant of the Rev. John Robinson, who sent half of the people of his church congregation to America on the Mayflower. Immediately after their marriage Mr. and Mrs. Abner Longley went to the Territory of Wisconsin. In their community near Fort Atchison they were active in organizing a Congregational Church and later in establishing a district school, Mr. Longley being the teacher. Mrs. Longley’s experience in frontier life was full of dangerous and exciting adventures with Indians and wild animals, but her undaunted courage carried her through in safety. After her husband’s appointment to a Government position in Washington she and her children went to the capital and rode on the first train that passed through Baltimore after the riot. In 1906 Mrs. Abbie Longley, being in poor health, sold her home in Washington and came to Kansas, residing with her daughter, Mrs. S. J. Bascom, until November 1, 1911, when she went to live with her son, E. K. Longley, where she remained until the day of her death, September 18, 1915. Her remains were taken back to Washington and laid beside those of her husband in the Congressional Cemetery. At the time of her death she was ninety-two years six months twenty-five days old. Ezra K. was the oldest of her four children. Olive J. married S. J. Bascom and they reside on a farm at Howard. Fred W., whose home is at Tacoma Park, in the District of Columbia, is now a carpenter, but for many years was employed in the postoffice department at Washington. Edmond Eugene is a letter carrier at Washington, District of Columbia.
The earliest recollections of Ezra King Longley are of the old home at Fort Atchison, Wisconsin, when all that district was practically on the frontier of civilization. He attended his first school at Fort Atchison and afterwards continued his education at Newport, Wisconsin. When his father removed to Washington the son was employed as a messenger in the Federal Penitentiary at a salary of $55 a month. He resigned that position and on October 24, 1862, was enrolled at Alexandria, Virginia, in the Sixteenth Regiment of Virginia Infantry for service in the Union army. Before he had been in the army thirty days he was promoted to second lieutenant, soon afterward was made first lieutenant and finally became acting captain of the company. All his service was rendered before he was twenty years of age and his duties were principally as a scout. At the end of two years he was mustered out and given his honorable discharge at Washington in 1864.
On leaving the army Mr. Longley returned to Wisconsin and in 1866 graduated from the Baraboo Collegiate Institute. The following year he taught school near Baraboo, and returning to Washington, District of Columbia, was principal of a public school in that city for four years. In the meantime he studied law in Columbian College and was admitted to the bar in 1869. He had considerable experience in practice during a year spent in the office of his uncle, H. R. Warriner.
It was in September, 1870, when Mr. Longley arrived in what was then Howard County, but now Elk County, Kansas. In the following year he went to Howard and began practice as a pioneer lawyer of the town. He was making favorable progress in his profession until 1873, when, being bitten by a mad dog, he went to Washington, District of Columbia, to be treated. While there he was appointed assistant doorkeeper of the Senate on January 1, 1874, and held that office until he resigned in July of the same year. He then returned to Howard and resumed his interrupted practice, and built up a substantial clientage.
In 1892 Mr. Longley returned to Washington, District of Columbia, and accepted the position of secretary of the Carolina Mica Company. Later, for eight months, until he resigned, he was assistant commissary of subsistence at the National Soldiers’ Home at Hampton, Virginia. Again coming west, he pioneered into Dakota Territory, and in what is now the State of South Dakota, and at the opening of the Rosebud Reservation he took up some land, though he never homesteaded it. After his Dakota experience Mr. Longley lived for a time in the Old Soldiers’ Home at Leavenworth, Kansas, but in October, 1907, returned to Howard, Kansas, and is once more in practice and had a good business both in the civil and criminal branches of the law. His offices are in the Howard National Bank Building. He owned his residence at the corner of Oak and Elk streets.
Mr. Longley at one time served as county surveyor of Elk County for one term, and was also county surveyor of Gregory County in South Dakota. At the request of his many friends Mr. Longley became a candidate for the nomination in 1914 for the office of probate judge. He was defeated by a woman, and in passing it may be mentioned that the woman candidate was the only person on the republican ticket defeated that year in Elk County. Mr. Longley is a republican and an active member of the E. M. Stanton Post No. 23, Grand Army of the Republic, at Howard. He was formerly affiliated with John A. Rawlins Post No. 1 at Washington, District of Columbia. All his Masonic affiliations are in Washington, where he is a member of Centennial Lodge No. 14, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Washington Chapter No. 12, Royal Arch Masons, and Columbia Commandery No. 2, Knights Templar.
Captain Longley was married at Howard, Kansas, June 24, 1875, to Miss Carrie May Hall, daughter of David and May (Rutter) Hall. Both her parents are now deceased, and her father was at one time a lawyer and a judge at Princeton, West Virginia. Captain Longley had three children: Abbie May is the wife of John G. Bender, an accountant, and they live in Cleveland, Ohio. Roy H. had charge of the Wichita business of the Burroughs Adding Machine Company. Olive Joy is the wife of Chauncey W. Wright, an auditor living at Cleveland, Ohio.