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William S. Hyatt is one of the leading corporation attorneys of Southeastern Kansas, and has handled a large and profitable practice at Parsons for the past thirteen years. He is a native of Kansas and his family have been identified with the state since the early days. The Hyatts were of Scotch descent but came from England to North Carolina in colonial times. One or more of them served with the army of the noted “Swamp Fox” of the revolution, Francis Marion. Mr. Hyatt’s grandfather, Benjamin A. Hyatt, was born in South Carolina in 1820. He grew up in that state, was married in Knoxville, Tennessee, and before the Civil war moved to Shoal Creek in Jasper County, Missouri. Like many southerners he was an ardent admirer of racing horses and enjoyed that sport. In Missouri he raised horses for racing purposes. At the outbreak of the war, being a Union sympathizer, he was compelled to leave Shoal Creek, and while his family refugeed into Kansas he went north to Minnesota and Michigan, taking his horses, and did not get in touch with his family again until they had located at Lawrence. After the war he settled in Labette County, Kansas, and was a farmer and stock raiser, chiefly horses, until his death in Hackberry Township of Labette County in 1889. Politically he was a republican. Benjamin S. Hyatt married Melinda Tipton, who was born in Tennessee and died in Labette County. Her ancestry were identified with the very beginning of the revolutionary war. William Tipton was a commissioned officer in the Patriot army, and in one battle had a leg shot off. Later he rode all the way from North Carolina to Washington to present his claim for a pension. This was granted, perhaps by a special act of Congress, in the administration of Thomas Jefferson. Besides the pension he was also repaid for a large quantity of provisions he had furnished the Patriot army during the war. Of the children of Benjamin S. Hyatt now living mention is made as follows. Nathaniel Kenner, who is owner of a silver mine at Butte, Montana; John, a merchant at Miami, Oklahoma; William S. Hyatt, Sr., the oldest of the children; Laura, wife of George W. Johnson, a farmer in the Province of Alberta, Canada; Clementine, wife of Chandler Chronaster, who is a farmer in Colorado and assisted in forming an irrigation company there; Sherman, a mechanic living at Vinita, Oklahoma.
William S. Hyatt, Sr., father of the Parsons attorney, is still living on his old farm in Hackberry Township in Labette County. He has had a long and interesting career. He was born May 11, 1845, on Shoal Creek in Jasper County, Missouri. He grew up there, but when his father’s farm was sacked by the Confederates in 1862 the responsibility devolved upon him as the oldest son of taking his mother and the other children out of the country. He went with them to Lawrence, Kansas, and soon afterward, following the Quantrell raid against Lawrence, he joined Company G of the Sixteenth Kansas Cavalry. He was in active service until mustered out in 1865, and much of the time was engaged in opposing the Indians on the northwest frontier. He took part in the battles of Little Horn and Big Horn in Montana, and while on duty with the scouting branch of the army had many brushes and skirmishes with the Indians. In 1864 he was with the Kansas troops engaged in opposing the advance of General Price into Kansas.
Following the war he located at Lawrence, and in 1866 returned to Shoal Creek in Jasper County, Missouri, where he found his father’s farm in a state of complete devastation, the fences all down and the houses and barn burned. Not long after that he and his brother Keener rode on horseback into what is now Labette County. The Indians were still occupants there, and the surveys were just being made preparatory to the opening of the country to settlement. He and his brother staked claims in Hackberry Township, and after camping there a week returned to Lawrence. They then brought all the family to Labette County, and William S. Hyatt, Sr., received a patent from the Government to 160 acres. He has farmed that place ever since, but in the meantime his prosperity has been measured by increased holdings of land until now his estate comprises 720 acres. He has been a diversified farmer and raises a large amount of stock and is still in the harness. Politically he is a democrat, and in the early days in Labette County served as constable.
The wife of William S. Hyatt, Sr., was Susan M. Clark. She was born at Crystal, Indiana, September 19, 1855, and is still living. Their family of children are: William S. Jr.; Emily May, wife of Edward Switzer, owner of a printing plant in Webb City, Missouri; Francis Marion, a farmer in Hackberry Township of Labette County; Isabelle, wife of J. C. Crane, a farmer in Hackberry Township; Martin Luther, a farmer in Hackberry Township; Mary Ellen, wife of J. Cox, a farmer at Bartlett, Kansas.
Thus it is seen that William S. Hyatt comes of some very sturdy stock. He was born on his father’s farm in Labette County July 29, 1876. As a boy he attended the district schools there, and was graduated from the Labette County High School in 1895. The first twenty-one years of his life were spent on his father’s ranch. His professional training was acquired in the law department of the Kansas State University, where he graduated LL. B. in 1899. Mr. Hyatt distinguished himself while in university as a debater and there are few attorneys in Kansas with a better command of language, with more practical logic, and with more versatile ability whether on the stump or in pleading a cause before a jury. While in university he took part in a number of inter collegiate debates. He was in the Missouri-Kansas contest in 1898, in the Kansas-Nebraska oratorical contest of 1899, and in 1900 represented the State of Kansas in an oratorical contest at Denver. Preparatory to these debates there occurred a series of elimination contests, and thus Mr. Hyatt had to prove his superiority over a number of debaters in his home state before representing the state in an interstate contest. On two of the interstate contests he came out victor.
Before leaving university he was nominated on the democratic ticket for the office of county attorney of Labette County and was elected in 1900 and gave one term of efficient service. In the fall of 1900 he moved to Oswego, Kansas, but since 1903 has had his home and office at Parsons. In that time he has handled a large general civil and criminal practice. During his first five years at Parsons he was attorney for a number of gas and oil companies around Parsons and in Shrevesport, Louisiana, and since then has been the principal attorney for the Albert Emanuel Syndicate, and the Kansas Electrical Utility Company. His offices are in the First National Bank Building. On two occasions he was appointed assistant attorney general under republican administrations for the trial of special cases.
Mr. Hyatt owns his home at 1516 Corning Avenue, also a fine farm of 160 acres in Hackberry Township, and considerable city real estate at Parsons. He is an active member of the Parsons Chamber of Commerce, belongs to the County, State and American Bar associations, and is affiliated with Parsons Lodge No. 117, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, Parsons Chapter No. 39, Royal Arch Masons, Parsons Lodge No. 527, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and Parsons Lodge No. 1 of the Ancient Order of United Workmen.
In June, 1911, at Parsons he married Miss Reba Jones, daughter of W. W. and Rebecca (Highfield) Jones. Her parents reside at 1415 Corning Avenue in Parsons, and her father is passenger conductor for the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railway. Mr. and Mrs. Hyatt have two children: William S., Jr., born February 14, 1914; and Maurine Rebecca, born March 20, 1916.