William F. Schoch, state senator and former probate judge of Shawnee County, is one of the prominent lawyers of Kansas and had practiced his profession in Topeka for over twenty years.
One of the cardinal rules of his life had been that whatever is worth doing at all is worth doing well. Whether as school teacher, farmer, lawyer, political leader, public official, or in the prosecution of his various other interests, Mr. Schoch had applied this rule so faithfully and with such results that he had long stood among the leaders of the bar and in citizenship in Kansas.
Practically his entire adult life had been passed in Kansas, and such success as he had attained had been entirely through his own exertions. Born on a farm in McLean County, Illinois, January 5, 1859, William Franklin Schoch is the oldest of seven children, whose parents were David H. and Eunice Ann (Abbott) Schoch. Both his parents were natives of Ohio. In 1871 the family moved to Jefferson County, Iowa, and thence to La Bette County, Kansas, in 1877. Thus they were among the early settlers of Southeastern Kansas, where the parents spent the remainder of their lives.
While living in Iowa, William F. Schoch, besides doing his part in the work of the home farm, attended school and also taught one term at Akron, Missouri. He was eighteen when he came to Kansas and completed his literary education at the Parsons High School. He then turned to teaching, taught several terms in the country districts, but this was only a temporary expedient to enable him to carry on his studies toward the profession which had already become his fixed ambition in life. He was a law student in the office of Cory & Simons at Parsons, and later with Perkins, Morrison & Bowman at Oswego.
July 25, 1883, Mr. Schoch was admitted to the Kansas bar and for six years practiced his profession at Mound Valley and for the following six years at Oswego. He gained a large following as a lawyer, and in 1895, when he removed to Topeka, he soon had a highly creditable practice. For a number of years he practiced alone. His first law partnership was with Judge Lee Monroe, the firm being known as Monroe and Schoch. Then following this he became a member of the firm of Schoch, Hotchkiss & Wilson. At the present time he is senior member of the firm of Schoch & Rankin.
From a political standpoint he had always been identified with the republican party and from early manhood had taken a commendable share in public affairs. At numerous times he had been a delegate to county, judicial, congressional and state conventions, and more than once his influence counted in the shaping of policies and campaigns. In 1908 he was elected and served four years as judge of the Probate Court of Shawnee County. By virtue of his office he was also juvenile judge, and made that branch of the local courts an instrument for an effective reform and beneficial service to the many youths who appeared before him.
In the spring of 1916 Judge Schoch’s announcement of his candidacy for the republican nomination for the State Senate aroused more than the routine attention given to such announcements. This was due not only to his unusual qualifications for the office, but also for the fact that he specifically refused to make his candidacy subject to the much abused practice of circulating a petition, which, as he said and as is a matter of general knowledge to the public, is practically worthless so far as representing the sentiment of the voters. While claiming a substantial loyalty to the republican party and introducing facts that showed he had always been a leader, Judge Schoch also announced that his conduct if elected would make the best interests of the state superior to mere partisan advantage. He announced himself as an advocate of good roads, and that he would work for such a system of taxation as would be adequate, yet not burdensome, for giving Kansas the best possible system of roads and saving the vast sum wasted by inefficient road making. Out of his experience as a judge of the Juvenile Court he promised interest in behalf of such legislation as would make the Juvenile Court system more effective. He said: “It is time Kansas was placing the interest of the helpless and poverty stricken infant in a class above the beef steer and his sister.”
His election followed and at the first session of the Senate in January thereafter he soon became one of its acknowledged leaders. He was the author of many important measures and was successful in securing the enactment of as many bills into laws as any other member of the Senate. Reducing the time of contesting wills from three years to two; extending the period of majority for girls from eighteen to twenty-one years; the child labor law; the mother’s pension law, and the hard surface road law are among the many measures introduced and advocated by him, which are now a part of the statutes of the state.
Judge Schoch is a lover of literature, of nature and outdoor life, and is known to write vigorously and with considerable literary grace. More than once he had used his pen to forward matters in which he had particular concern. He is known as an advocate of the Good Roads Movement as well as of everything else that is essential to the progress of Kansas. Among articles from his pen which have appeared from time to time in the public press, one of the lighter vein which attracted considerable notice at the time was a description of an automobile trip which he made to San Francisco and down the Pacific coast to San Diego. Mr. Schoch is a member of the Episcopal Church, is a Knight Templar York Rite and a thirty-second degree Scottish Rite Mason, is past worthy patron of the Eastern Star and is also affiliated with the Ancient Order of United Workmen, the Knights of the Maccabees, the Sons and Daughters of Justice, and is a life member of the Kansas State Historical Society.
On February 12, 1884, Mr. Schoch married Miss Katherine Bates, daughter of Thomas and Elizabeth (Robinson) Bates, of La Bette County. Mrs. Schoch died at their home in Topeka August 7, 1912.