Biography of William C. Hook

William C. Hook, United States Circuit Judge of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, had been a resident of Leavenworth since childhood, and his people have some interesting associations with Kansas in the territorial as well as the later period.

Enos and Dawson Adams Hook, brothers, the former the father of Judge Hook and the latter an uncle, came to Kansas when it was a territory and had an active part in the upbuilding of the community in and around Leavenworth. They were the sons of John and Nancy (Adams) Hook. The mother was of the old Pennsylvania family of Adams. The children of John and Nancy Hook were Enos, Dawson, Adams, William and Caroline. The son, William, became an officer in the Union army during the Civil war, and after the war located in Arkansas. Caroline married Mr. Edmiston, a Cumberland Presbyterian minister, and lived in Southwestern Missouri. John Hook, the father of these children, died about 1839 when a comparatively young man. His widow survived him many years and passed away at Leavenworth.

Enos Hook was the first of the family to come West. That was in 1854, the year the Kansas-Nebraska bill was passed, which precipitated the great conflict over the settlements of Kansas and Nebraska. He spent only a short time in Kansas, went East, and came back prepared to make Kansas Territory his permanent base of operations. His brother, Dawson A., joined him about that time. They were both strong free state men, and their presence in Kansas may have been accounted for partly by the struggle between the free-soil and pro-slavery elements.

Enos and Dawson Hook became merchants at Leavenworth, Kansas, when that river town had the promise of becoming a great western metropolis. At first they were partners, but subsequently carried on their business affairs individually. Enos Hook built up an extensive business in the transportation of supplies over the western plains. He used a number of ox and mule trains, and his headquarters were at Nebraska City, from which point he sent goods into the territories of Wyoming and Colorado. It was a business which for all its risks and dangers from the Indians, enjoyed much prosperity until the construction of the Union Pacific Railway westward from Omaha. After that overland transportation by wagon trains declined and Enos Hook eventually abandoned it altogether. He then returned to Leavenworth, chiefly for the purpose of educating his children. Late in life he went to New York City, where he died October 25, 1910. While a resident of Kansas he served Leavenworth County repeated terms in public capacities.

Enos Hook married Elizabeth D. Inghram, daughter of Dr. Arthur Inghram of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania. Their family comprised two sons and five daughters, all but one of whom are still living in Kansas.

Dawson Adams Hook, the other brother, continued merchandising at intervals at Leavenworth until on account of declining health he removed to San Diego, California, where his death occurred in 1911. His wife’s maiden name was Eliza Minor. They had one son and two daughters. The only survivor of this family is a daughter whose home is in San Diego.

Judge William C. Hook, the elder son of his parents, was born at Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, September 24, 1857. Judge Hook had some recollection of Leavenworth when it was one of the thriving cities of the Middle West and a great transportation center. He attended the public schools, graduating from high school in 1875. He then applied himself to the study of law in the office of Clough & Wheat, and in 1877, when between nineteen and twenty years of age, he was admitted to the bar. Before beginning practice he matriculated at the law department of Washington University at St. Louis, where he was graduated in the spring of 1878, after one year’s study but was not granted his diploma until he attained his majority in the following fall.

Judge Hook began practice at Leavenworth in 1878 and confined himself almost entirely to the private duties of the profession until 1899. Although taking an active interest in the public affairs of his city and state, he never ran for office. In January, 1899, President McKinley appointed him United States District Judge for the District of Kansas, and in 1903 he was elevated to the United States Circuit Bench by President Roosevelt. He had now been a member of the federal judiciary for eighteen years. He is at present the chairman of judicial section of the American Bar Association.

On October 31, 1882, Judge Hook married Louise Dickson of Leavenworth. Their four children are: Inghram Dickson, a lawyer practicing at Kansas City, Missouri; Louise, Dorothy and Ruth.



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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