HENRY L. ALDEN. - Judge Alden may properly be designated the dean of the bar of Wyandotte county, since he has here been engaged in the work of his profession for fully two score of years, the while he has been called upon to serve in various positions of public trust, nearly all of which have been in direct line with the work of his profession and one of which was that of judge of the district court. He has stood exemplar of the most loyal and progressive citizenship and his influence has been potent in many directions. He is one of the venerable and able members of the bar of the state and as a legist and jurist his honors rest on large and definite accomplishments. No citizen commands a fuller measure of popular confidence and regard and none is more worthy of consideration through the medium of a review in this history of Wyandotte county and its people.
Henry Leroy Alden has every reason to take pride in his genealogy, as he is a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden, the sterling Puritans whose idyllic story has been so graciously told by the loved New England poet, Longfellow. Judge Alden himself claims the historic old Bay state as the place of his nativity. He was born in Greenwich, Hampshire county, Massachusetts, on the 8th of May, 1847, and is a son of Abel and Evaline (Thompson) Alden, the former of whom was born in Massachusetts and the latter in Connecticut. History amply records the prominent part taken by the Alden family in New England affairs from the time when its original representatives came over from England on the "Mayflower" down through the succeeding generations, and representatives of the name are now to be found in divers states of the Union. Abel Alden, like his forbears, devoted the greater part of his active career to the great basic industry of agriculture, with which he continued to be identified until his death, which occurred on the old homestead in Hampshire county, Massachusetts, when he was well advanced in years. His loved and devoted wife survived him by several years, and of their eight children three sons and one daughter are now living.
Under the sturdy discipline of the New Endland farm Judge Henry L. Alden gained his early experiences, and he continued to attend the common schools of the locality and period until he was fifteen years of age, when he entered Munson Academy, at Munson, Massachusetts, where he prosecuted his studies for one year. He supplemented this by a course of two years in Kimball Union Academy, at Meriden, New Hampshire, and soon afterward he went to Pennsylvania, where he did effective work for two years in the pedalgogic profession - in charge of a private academy. The death of his honored father then caused him to return to the old homestead farm on which he was born, and he had charge of the place for one year, within which he brought the affairs of the estate into good order. In November, 1867, Judge Alden made his advent in Wyandotte county, Kansas, and he recalls the fact that he arrived in the old village of Wyandotte, now a part of Kansas City, on the morning of Thanksgiving Day. He assumed the position of principal of the Wyandotte public schools and after retaining this position for one year he entered the law office of Stephen A. Cobb, at that time one of the leading members of the bar of Wyandotte county, and began the study of law under effective preceptorship. He made rapid progress in the assimilation of the science of jurisprudence and laid the foundation for the broad and exact knowledge of law and precedect that has gained him such distinctive priority in his chosen profession. He was admitted to the bar in April, 1870, and forthwith formed a partnership with his honored preceptor, Mr. Cobb, with whom he continued to be associated under most pleasing conditions until the death of his valued coadjutor, after a period of about eight years. Later he was associated in practice with Henry McGrew, and later George B. Watson was admitted to the firm, under the title of Alden, McGrew & Watson, which was retained until March, 1891, when Judge Alden was appointed to the bench of the district court of the Twenty-ninth judicial district. This appointment was conferred by Governor Humphrey, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge O. L. Miller, and at the regular election in the autumn of the same year Judge Alden was chosen by popular franchise to fill the office for the regular term of four years, at the expiration of which, in 1895, he was chosen as his own successor. He brought to the bench the most admirable judicial mind and the matured powers of a well trained lawyer, so that his administration on the bench was marked by discrimination and scrupulous care in conserving the ends of equity and justice. His court calendar was handled with dispatch and ability and his unvarying courtesy gained to him the confidence and respect of both lawyers and litigants. Judge Alden retired from the district bench in January, 1900, and such activities as have since engaged his attention have been those of the direct work of his profession, in which his interposition is demanded to a greater extent than his physical powers and his time can satisfy. He served, however, as city counsellor after his retirement from the bench, and this municipal preferment he retained from April, 1907, until May, 1909.
Early in his professional work in Wyandotte county Judge Alden showed special elements of technical and popular strength and thus became marked as eligible for official preferments along the line of his chosen calling. He gained his initial experience in public office, however, as city clerk of Wyandotte, and he retained this incumbency two years - 1868-9. In 1872 he was elected county attorney and in 1874 the popular verdict placed upon his work in this office was shown in his election as his own successor. In 1882 he was again called to the same office, and his total service as county attorney thus covered a period of six years. In 1876 he was elected representative of Wyandotte county in the Lower House of the State Legislature, in which he served during the general assembly of 1877. He declined to become a candidate for re-election and this is the only office of importance he has consented to hold except those closely touching the work of his profession. The Judge has ever been unfaltering in his allegiance to the Republican party and he has been prominent and influential in its councils in Kansas. He has served as a member of the party's committee in Wyandotte county, as a member of the Kansas state central committee in 1877-8, and in 1886 he was a delegate to the national convention which nominated General Benjamin Harrison for the presidency. In this last connection he had the further distinction of being a member of the committee that formally notified General Harrison of his nomination.
Judge Alden has been affiliated with the Knights of Pythias since 1875 and has taken a lively interest in the affairs of this fraternity. He has not only passed the various official chairs in the subordinate lodge, but he has also had the honor of serving one year as grand chancellor of the Kansas Grand Lodge of the order. He is a valued member of the Kansas City Lodge of the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks and is past exalted ruler of the same. Incidental to the more recent professional work of Judge Alden it may be noted that he served from May 1, 1909, until September 1, 1910, as assistant general solicitor for the Kansas City, Mexico & Orient Railroad Company and that he finally resigned this position on account of impaired health. Judge Alden was for several years a member of the Kansas State Bar Association and was president of said association during one year.
In the year 1870 was solemnized the marriage of Judge Alden to Miss Mary Cruise, of Kansas City, and they have three children, Cora F., Maurice L. and Frances E., all of whom reside in Kansas City, Kansas. Maurice L. Alden has since 1902 practiced law as a member of the firm of McAnany & Alden. The birthplace of Mrs. Alden was in Albany, New York.
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