Biography of Alexander E. Mayhew

The rewards of purity in public life are many, but one of the most important and apparent is continuance in public life. This is true everywhere, and of course it is true in Idaho, where the fact is emphasized and illustrated by the career of Judge Mayhew of Wallace, Shoshone County, Idaho. At least he lives at Wallace, but he is a man of the west and for the west, and his influence is active and far-reaching.

Alexander E. Mayhew, son of Samuel and Elizabeth (Conklin) Mayhew, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 31, 1830. His father, a native of Philadelphia, was for many years a merchant of that city, but died in New Jersey in 1871, and his mother, born in Philadelphia, died in New Jersey, in 1887.

The boyhood days of Judge Mayhew were passed in Philadelphia, where he attended the public schools and was graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, with the class of 1852. He read law under the preceptorship of William D. Baker, one of the leading Philadelphia lawyers of his time and one of the most successful in the country, and in 18c; q he located at Atchison, Kansas, where he continued his legal studies in the office of Abel & Stringfellow, being admitted to the bar in 1856. He entered upon the practice of his profession in Atchison and served one year as city attorney. In 1859 he went to Pike’s Peak, Colorado, where he practiced law and was connected with mining interests, and there he remained until 1864, when he removed to Helena, Montana, whence he went later to Deer Lodge, that state. Here he was successful professionally. For twelve years he was prosecuting attorney for his county, with office at Deer Lodge, and he was a member of the Montana legislature in nine successive sessions, in eight of which he was speaker of the house.

Judge Mayhew came to the Coeur d’Alene country in 1884, and has lived at Wallace since 1890. He was a member of the Idaho legislature of 1887-9 and a member of the state constitutional convention in 1890. In 1891 he was the Democratic candidate for congress in his district, but was defeated at the polls by Willis Sweet. In 1894 he was elected to the Idaho state senate and was president of the senate in the session which followed. In 1895 he was elected judge of the first judicial district of Idaho, and in 1898 was re-elected to succeed himself.

The professional success of Judge Mayhew is a part of the recorded legal and judicial history of the west. A lawyer of fine attainments, with an intimate knowledge of law and its application to the affairs of life, with magnetic qualities as a forensic speaker, with industry, carefulness, and great zeal in caring for the interests of clients, actuated always by a high sense of honor, which long since won him the complimentary sobriquet of “Honest Alex,” and with a genuine love for the law and the highest respect for its established tribunals, he has achieved a reputation of which any lawyer in the country might be proud. Long years of political service have not corrupted him, and upon every legislative body of which he has been a member, upon every court in which he has appeared, he has left the influence of pure motives, fair fighting, honest methods and un-swerving devotion to the right as it has been revealed to him. As a judge he considers the poor and the rich alike and renders decisions which stand and win for him the praise of good and honest citizens.

Of a genial, whole souled disposition. Judge Mayhew has made many friends wherever he has lived, and has come to be one of the best known men in the west. He is an Elk and an Odd Fellow, and is connected with the various professional organizations. Among those men of Idaho who have at heart everything affecting her progress and development he is a leader, and so active has he been in good works for the public benefit that his public spirit has come to be proverbial.



Illustrated History of the State of Idaho. Chicago: The Lewis Publishing Company. 1899.

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