Biography of Lewis Hanback

Lewis Hanback. In the summer of 1865, soon after the close of the Civil war, in which he had played a gallant part as a Union officer, Lewis Hanback came to Topeka to practice law. For many years he was one of the eminent members of the Kansas bar, and he was not less well known and esteemed in public affairs. He was one of the makers of Kansas history during the last half century.

He was born at Winchester, Scott County, Illinois, March 27, 1839. He was the oldest of the six children of William and Ann Hanback. His father was a portrait painter by occupation and he frequently changed his place of residence. From Winchester the family went to Quincy, Illinois, where they remained until 1844. Subsequently they lived at Madison, Indiana, in Switzerland County, Indiana, and then returned to Adams County, Illinois, near Quincy, where William Hanback died May 1, 1855, and his wife in March, 1856.

The death of the parents broke up the family and the children became separated. Lewis Hanback was seventeen years old when his mother died. He went to work as a farm hand and continued to be so occupied until 1860. He had had but meager advantages as a scholar but by persistent effort he mustered the common branches and for a time attended Cherry Grove Seminary, then a well known educational institution in Knox County, Illinois. During the winter of 1860-61 he taught a term of country school.

He lived in Illinois during a peculiarly stirring and impressive period. Abraham Lincoln was going up and down the state debating with Douglas on the issues of slavery and the commonest minds were elevated by the dignity and importance of the questions pressing for solution. Lewis Hanback was deeply impressed by these discussions and events and when the war broke out he answered the first call for troops.

He enlisted April 19, 1861, at Jacksonville. Illinois, in the Harding Light Guards. This organization subsequently became Company B of the Tenth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. It was a three months’ organization, and when his term expired Hr. Hanback reenlisted in Company K of the Twenty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was mustered in as orderly sergeant, November 7, 1861, the day he participated in General Grant’s first important engagement at Belmont, on the Mississippi River, he was promoted to second lieutenant of his company. He continued to serve with General Grant in the Kentucky campaign. He was at the battle and siege of Island No. 10, also took part in the siege and reduction of Corinth, and in the summer of 1862, was employed in guarding the Memphis & Charleston Railroad. In November, 1862, he was appointed brigade inspector and assigned to the staff of Col. G. W. Roberts. Mr. Hanback was in the battle of Stone River and on July 1, 1863, was promoted to first lieutenant. His next important service was in the battles of Chickamauga and the siege of Chattanooga, and in November, 1863, he was appointed on the staff of Gen. Phil Sheridan. With that gallant cavalry officer he served in the battle of Missionary Ridge. Later he was on the staff of Gen. C. G. Harker, and with him was sent to relieve General Burnside at Knoxville. He was on General Harker’s staff until the death of that gallant officer at Kenesaw Mountain. In August, 1864, Mr. Hanback was commissioned captain of Company K, Twenty-seventh Illinois Volunteer Infantry. After that he served on the staff of Gen. L. P. Bradley as assistant adjutant general of brigade. At the conclusion of his three years’ period of enlistment he was mustered out at Springfield, Illinois, September 20, 1864.

Having performed his duty to his country, Mr. Hanback at once took up the study of law. He attended the noted law school at Albany, New York. On August 9, 1865, he married Miss Hester A. Cooper, of Morgan County, Illinois. He then brought his bride to Topeka, Kansas, and opened an office and began practice. The late Judge Hanback was a profound student, and by industry and talent rose to a position as one of the foremost lawyers of Kansas.

For four successive years he served as probate judge of Shawnee County. In 1876 he was assistant chief clerk in the Kansas House of Representatives and in 1877 assistant secretary of the State Senate. From March, 1878, to October 1, 1879, he was assistant United States district attorney for Kansas. The President then appointed him receiver of the United States Land Office at Salina and he took up his residence at that place. In 1882 Judge Hanback was nominated and elected Kansas congressman-at-large. He subsequently served three terms as representative of the Sixth Kansas District, and had his home at Washington attending to his duties as congressman for eight years. After retiring from Congress Judge Hanback resumed his law practice at Topeka associated with A. L. Williams. In 1893 he removed to Kansas City, Kansas, where he passed the balance of his life. On retiring from Congress he served a period as adjutant general of Kansas. Judge Hanback was in great demand as a public speaker. To the last he retained the fire and enthusiasm which had been generated in him during his career as a soldier and which matured in the steadfast brilliancy for which he was known in the legal profession and in public life. He was long active in Grand Army circles and a member of the Loyal Legion. He was a Knight Templar Mason. Judge Hanback died at Kansas City, Kansas, in March, 1896.

His wife, who died in March, 1913, was the daughter of William Cooper and Martha (Goodpasture) Cooper, a well known family of Jacksonville, Illinois. Judge Hanback and wife had seven children. Three are now living: Clara Belle, Mrs. John Preston Culp; Edwin, a resident of Winters, California; and Grace, Mrs. H. B. Ober, of Lawrence, Kansas. Mrs. Hanback was a prominent woman of Kansas. She served as lady commissioner at the World’s Fair at Chicago, was long active in the Kansas Day Club, and a leading member of the Woman’s Relief Corps of the Grand Army of the Republic.


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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