Biography of William N. Smelser

William N. Smelser has been a member of the Emporia bar for twenty-five years. His had been an enviable record both as a lawyer and as a citizen, and his ability, industry and his conscientious care have brought him a high position among Kansas lawyers.

His family have resided in Emporia more than thirty years, and William N. Smelser was about fourteen years old when brought to that city. He was born in Sturgis, in Southern Michigan, February 2, 1870. The Smelsers came originally from Germany, but have been Americans since about the time of the Revolutionary war. The first to come over located in North Carolina. Solomon Smelser, grandfather of the Emporia lawyer, was a farmer and died at Liberty, Indiana, about twenty or twenty-five years ago. W. R. Smelser, father of William N., was born in Richmond, Indiana, in 1842, and as a young man went to Sturgis, Michigan, where he married Amanda M. Roberts, who was born in Sturgis in 1837. She is still living and makes her home with her son William. W. R. Smelser was a farmer before his marriage, afterwards conducted a store at Sturgis until 1876 and then joined the New York Life Insurance Company and was one of the representatives of that company for nearly forty years until his death on May 1, 1914. In 1870 he removed to Kankakee, Illinois, to Jacksonville, Illinois, in 1876, and in 1884 came to Emporia, where he died. He was a republican in politics and a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows. W. R. Smelser and wife had four children: E. W., who is general agent for the State of Kansas for the Pacific Mutual Insurance Company and lives at Emporia; William N.; A. B., a druggist in Monroe, Louisiana; and Edith, who is employed by the Kansas State Historical Society.

William N. Smelser gained some of his early education in the public schools of Jacksonville, Illinois, and for one year attended public school in Emporia. Another year was spent in the Presbyterian College at Emporia, and after a year in the Emporia Business College he became bookkeeper in 1887 for the N. E. Weaver Hardware Company. That was his first business experience, but in January, 1890, he gave up his position and went into the law office of T. N. Sedgewick, the general attorney for the Missouri, Kansas and Texas Railroad Company. He applied himself so vigorously to his work that on March 12, 1891, he was admitted to the bar, but in the fall of 1892 gave up his incipient practice to enter the University of Michigan, where he took both the junior and senior years’ work in one year, and was graduated LL. B. in the spring of 1893. Since then he had carried on a general practice in Emporia, with offices on Commercial Street between Fourth and Fifth avenues. During 1897-98 Mr. Smelser served as police judge. He had also served a term on the Emporia School Board.

He is a member of the Lyon County and the Kansas State Bar associations, is a republican, and is affiliated with Emporia Lodge No. 633, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks.

In 1894, at Emporia, he married Miss Carrie Augusta Martin. Her father was the late N. C. Martin, a well known merchant of Emporia. In their home are three children: Caroline, born April 27, 1895; William N., born June 20, 1897, and a student in the high school; and Julia, born April 3, 1906, and in the grade schools.



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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