James Humphrey, as lawyer, editor, judge and state official, firmly established his position throughout a period of half a century as one of the ablest and most popular citizens of Central Kansas. He was born in Nottinghamshire, England, March 8, 1833; came to New England in 1854, and during the succeeding three years was a resident of Fall River, Massachusetts. There he became interested in the Kansas agitation for free statehood and in April, 1857, reached Manhattan. His first employment in connection with the shrievalty was a good test of his pluck, and he so arose to the occasion that he was afterward elected mayor. In 1859 and 1860 he served as assistant county treasurer and in 1861 was head of the office. He also served as justice of the peace, and his trial of the cases brought before him brought so much commendations from the lawyears of both sides that he decided to study law. He was admitted to the bar in 1863. He has previously broken into journalism by editing the Manhattan Express in the absence of C. F. DeVivaldi, who was serving abroad as consul to Brazil. After the Civil war Mr. Humphrey established a large practice, and handled it with such ability that in the spring of 1867 he was appointed judge of the Eighth Judicial District. In the fall of that year he was elected to that bench by a large majority. He continued his residence in Manhattan until 1870, when he resigned from the bench to enter the practice at Junction City. He continued to be associated with Capt. James R. McClure for thirteen years, and the firm became widely known. In 1883 Judge Humphrey was elected a member of the first State Board of Railroad Commissioners, and thus served by repeated elections for eight years, retiring in 1891 to resume his law practice. In that year he was re-elected judge of the Eighth District, declining a second term. During that period and afterward he was a lecturer before the law department of the State University, of which he had served as a regent and with which he was always closely identified. Four of his five children have graduated from that institution, so that he ever evinced a special affection for it. Judge Humphrey’s last public service was rendered in 1907, as chairman of the newly created State Tax Commission; but it was only of two months’ duration, as death claimed him on September 18th of that year.
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