Harvey W. Ide was one of the men who bore a conspicuous part in the early history of that section of Kansas around Leavenworth. He arrived when Kansas was a territory, and at the height of the epoch-making struggle over the slavery question. He was long distinguished as a lawyer, for many years was judge of the district bench, and a leader possessing not only brilliant intellectual qualities but that moral stability which is the expression of a strong character.
He was born in Saratoga County, New York, April 19, 1833, and fourteen years later, in 1847, his father, Rodman Ide, moved to the Territory of Wisconsin, locating on a raw tract of land near Janesville in Rock County. His father was engaged in improving and cultivating his pioneer farm in Wisconsin until his death in 1872. Rodman Ide married Elvira Herrick, whose grandfather, Thomas Herrick, aided the colonies in their struggle for independence during the Revolution.
It was in the environment of a Wisconsin homestead that the late Judge Ide came to manhood. To a sound intellect and sound body he brought, largely by his own exertions, a sufficient training and wherever possible he associated himself with men and books and other influences which would elevate and strengthen his capacity. He finished his education at Milton Academy, now Milton College. At the age of seventeen he was teaching school near Rockford, Illinois, just across the state line from his home county in Wisconsin. For several years he continued teaching, and in the meantime read law. In 1856 before Judge J. R. Doolittle, who later became a United States senator, he was admitted to the bar at Janesville. During the remainder of that year he engaged in practice at Janesville.
It is difficult for the American of the present time to adequately picture the political conditions of the country at the time Judge Ide was admitted to the bar. Only a few years before Stephen A. Douglas had announced his remarkable principle of squatter sovereignty as a means of settling the long drawn out issue between the North and South. He had also secured the repeal of the Missouri Compromise Law, and had thus opened all the territories of the West to the introduction of slavery and had thus transferred the real vital struggle from the halls of Congress to the plains of Kansas and Nebraska. The soil of Kansas was already being trampled in the factional contentions of the pro-slavery advocates and the free soil men, and the attention of an entire nation was focused upon bleeding Kansas. In fact Kansas was the battleground of the nation, though in a short time it was destined that that battleground should spread over the entire country.
Every man of intelligence and spirit was fired by the problems and conditions of the time, and it is not strange that Harvey W. Ide determined to cast in his lot with those who were determined to make Kansas a free state and wrest it from the control of the slavery propagandists. Thus in 1857 he landed in the frontier town of Leavenworth. The exact date of his coming was the 16th of April. Leavenworth as a town had been founded scarcely three years, and its importance as yet was largely due to its position as a frontier outfitting post, where the great plains of the West met the banks of the Missouri River, which was then the one great artery of traffic between the prairies and the older settled portions of the East. No railroad had yet been built as far west as the Missouri River. Merchandise was shipped by boat, and hardly a day passed when some caravan, outfitted in the stores at Leavenworth, did not start, with wagons carefully guarded, for Colorado, Wyoming, Utab and other points. In this pioneer village Judge Ide began practicing law. In a short time his position as an attorney of ripe judgment and mature intellect was assured, and for many years he stood as one of the foremost lawyers of the state.
In 1861 he was elected city attorney and served one term. In 1863 he was elected a member of the lower house of the Kansas State Legislature. He did much in carrying forward a well considered plan of constructive legislation and helped write some of the first statutes on the law books of Kansas. For several years Leavenworth and Wyandotte counties composed the First Judicial District. He was elected district attorney under those conditions, and later when each county was made an independent district he was elected attorney of Leavenworth County. Hon. David J. Brewer, who later became a justice of the United States Supreme Court, was judge of the District Court when Mr. Ide was prosecuting attorney. Then in 1868 Mr. Ide was elected to the bench, while Mr. Brewer in turn became prosecuting attorney. Judge Ide gave a dignified, broadminded and impartial administration as a member of the Kansas bench until 1877. Thereafter he looked after his large general law practice at Leavenworth.
During the war, when Price invaded Kansas, Judge Ide joined the State Militia and was commissioned a lieutenant. Both morally and intellectually he was a man far beyond the average. With his spirit and attainments it is no wonder that he took high rank in the early destinies of Kansas. His honesty and integrity were never questioned, and both in public and private life he commanded universal respect.
He lived wisely and well, enjoyed length of years, and passed away at his home in Leavenworth November 5, 1910, in his seventy-eighth year. Judge Ide was three times married. His first wife was Mary Johnson. The four children of that union were: Lizzie V.; Mary A.; Hattie, who died in infancy; and Harvey J., who died in early childhood. His second wife, Ella Catlin, who died in 1879, was the mother of one daughter, Ella C. On July 22, 1886, Judge Ide married Mrs. Lottie G. (Giltner) Phillips of Chillicothe, Missouri. She survives her honored husband and still resided in Leavenworth. Of Judge Ide’s children, Lizzie V. married the late Lorenzo A. Knox, and is still living at Leavenworth. Mary A. is the wife of Charles J. Schmelzer and lives in Kansas City, Missouri. Ella C. is the wife of Fred H. Anderson. Mrs. Judge Ide by her first marriage to Simeon Phillips had one daughter, Grace G., who is the wife of E. D. Lysle of Leavenworth.