Biography of Karl Marshall Geddes

Karl Marshall Geddes. In point of experience, sound knowledge of the law, and forceful ability in its practice, the firm of Leydig & Geddes occupies a conspicuous position among the leading law firms of Southern Kansas. Mr. Geddes, the junior member of this firm, had been well known in Butler County for a number of years. He is a leading republican, had held several important public offices, and is now a member of the State Legislature.

His early life was spent in Hancock County, Illinois, where he was born at Fountain Green, April 13, 1882, a son of Cyrus M. and Lissa (Marshall) Geddes. His family is an old and honored one, not only in the State of Illinois but in various other sections of the country. James Geddes, his first American ancestor, came out of Scotland, bringing his wife and three sons to America about 1752. He located at Derry Church in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania. His son, William Geddes, was born in the north of Ireland in 1735 and died in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, in 1789. Paul Geddes, great-grandfather of the El Dorado lawyer, was born near Carlisle, Pennsylvania, June 9, 1768, and died October 22, 1832. His brother James was one of the most prominent lawyers in Western New York. He lived in Onondago County, served as district judge, as a member of Congress, and was one of the most active of the promoters of the Erie Canal, which at the beginning of construction was frequently called Geddes’ Canal.

Col. Thomas Geddes, grandfather of K. M. Geddes, was born at Path Valley in Franklin County, Pennsylvania, July 7, 1805. He was one of the early settlers at Fountain Green in Hancock County, Illinois. He was well known in the militia circles of the state, and as colonel of the Eighty-seventh Illinois Regiment he saw service during the Mormon troubles of that state. Cyrus M. Geddes, son of Colonel Thomas, was born at Fountain Green, Illinois, February 26, 1842. He grew up in Illinois and as a young man volunteered his services in the defense of the Union. He became a member of Company A, One Hundred and Eighteenth Illinois Infantry. The regiment was largely recruited from Hancock County, the volunteers from that section making up Companies A, B, C, E and H. These volunteers had responded to President Lincoln’s call of July 2, 1862, and the regiment was mustered into the United States service for three years in November of that year. Alexander Geddes, the brother of Cyrus M., was commissioned captain of Company A and was in command of the company until killed at the battle of Champion Hill, Mississippi. After his death his brother Cyrus requested his colonel for permission to send the captain’s sword home to his parents. The reply was: “You can carry it until the end of the war,” and Cyrus M. Geddes did so and made a worthy successor of his dead brother as captain of the company. The regiment made a splendid record during its nearly three years of active service, and from the siege of Vicksburg, in which Capt. Alexander Geddes lost his life, the regiment followed the varying fortunes of the campaigns in the South until it was mustered out of service October 1, 1865. Cyrus Geddes was mustered out with the rank of captain. He then returned to Illinois and lived in Hancock County for many years. In 1900 he removed to Kansas, locating in Butler County, and since 1906 had lived retired.

Karl M. Geddes was eighteen years of age when he came with his parents to Butler County, Kansas. In the meantime he had attended the public schools of Hancock County, Illinois. He was a student in the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia, and from 1900 to 1904 taught school. At the same time he carried on his studies for the law in the office of Hon. G. P. Aikman and E. B. Brumback of El Dorado. He was admitted to the bar at Topeka in 1905. Forming a partnership with his roommate and fellow student, R. B. Ralston, under the name Ralston & Geddes, they at once opened a law office at El Dorado. In 1908 both the partners were nominated for office on the republican ticket. Mr. Ralston was the nominee for probate judge and Mr. Geddes for county attorney. Both were elected by large majorities, and at the time they were the youngest men in the state holding similar offices. In 1910 they were renominated and re-elected without opposition and gave two terms of service to the county.

As county attorney Mr. Geddes displayed an efficient and impartial administration of his office, based upon the active enforcement of the law without fear or favor. On January 1, 1910, while still serving as county attorney, he formed a partnership with Judge C. A. Leland. In 1913 Judge Ralston became a member of the firm, which was changed to Leland, Geddes & Ralston. On March 1, 1916, Mr. Geddes and Mr. Leydig formed their present partnership of Leydig & Geddes.

Mr. Geddes was elected to represent his district in the lower house of the State Legislature on November 7, 1916. It was a distinctive tribute to his well known abilities and is regarded as cause for pride by his constituency that Mr. Geddes on entering upon his duties as legislator was appointed to some of the most important committees of the House, including the following: Judiciary, oil and gas, public buildings and public grounds, claims and accounts, fish and game.

Mr. Geddes was secretary of the Republican Congressional Convention held at Wichita in 1906. He was vice president of the Kansas Day Club in 1911, and in 1912-13 was president of that organization. He is a member of the Kansas County Attorneys Association and of the Kansas State Bar Association. Fraternally his affiliations are with the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, the Modern Woodmen of America, and the Masons, and he was master of Patmos Lodge No. 97, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons, of El Dorado during the term 1916. He is a member of El Dorado Chapter No. 35, Royal Arch Masons; El Dorado Commandery No. 19, Knights Templar, of which he is eminent commander, and Midian Temple, Ancient Arabic Order Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, of Wichita. He is active in the Presbyterian Church.



Connelley, William E. A Standard History of Kansas and Kansans. Chicago : Lewis, 1918. 5v. Biographies can be accessed from this page: Kansas and Kansans Biographies.

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