Friday, June 9, 2017

Aderial Hebard Case (1828-1908)

Portrait from the Topeka State Journal, December 8, 1908.

   One of a number of political figures who've had a photo featured on the site's Facebook page over the past several years, Aderial Hebard "Hib" Case was a leading lawyer in Topeka, Kansas early in its history, and for a brief period served as District Attorney for Kansas's 3rd judicial district. Case would practice law for over forty years and became a prominent figure in the life of a rising young lawyer named Charles Curtis, later to serve as a U.S. Senator and Vice President of the United States under Herbert Hoover.
   A native of Pennsylvania, Aderial Hebard Case was born in the small borough of Troy,  the son of Elihu and Charlotte Palmer Case. While little information exists on his early life or education, Case reflected on his early life and upbringing in a six-page letter in November 1902, entitled "A Dull Day's Confession":
"I was born December 19, 1828, of respectable Yankee parents in the hill country of Pennsylvania at a time when the snow covered the house ten feet deep, and at a place where no esculapius could come, to make my mother afraid. Reared on a farm, in a foundry, and in an upright, overshot saw mill, and educated by Dr. Blue in a log cabin and at a big log fire place, by my mother, who intended for me the pulpit in that church, whose whole creed is embraced in the text, 'Repent  and be baptized (not sprinkled) and wash away your sins.'"
  Upon reaching the age of twenty-one Case did what many young men only dream of doing--He joined the circus. Imbued with a case of wanderlust, Case began following around showman Dan Rice's "Greatest Show On Earth", selling "tartaric lemonade and cookies as big as a cart wheel, all for five cents." Case continued along this route for an indeterminate length of time, selling various pieces of confectionery and drinks. He would marry in 1854 to Helen Augusta Kiff (1836-1870), with whom he had one son, Daniel Hebard (1864-1946).
   After accumulating over $1,300 in savings, Case opted to leave the circus behind and entered into the general merchandising business, work that would take him to Chicago in 1856. After a short spell in that city he removed to Iowa, and following the economic panic of 1857 traveled to St. Louis, where he took work as a dishwasher and sweeper. He would first read law around this time and during his St. Louis residency Case frequented the local saloon and also made the acquaintance of future U.S. President Ulysses Grant, who was then working near St. Louis "hauling poles from his father in law's country place." Case later went to work grading what would become "the Frisco railroad", and upon completion of his duties set out for Kansas with his wife, traveling via horse and buggy and steamboat.
   Following a journey that took them through Kansas City, Leavenworth, and Lawrence, Hib Case saw a bright future for himself in Topeka, then a burgeoning city of a few thousand residents. Here Case would establish his law practice in 1859, and continued in that profession until his death nearly five decades later. As a frontier lawyer who traveled widely throughout the state, business came slowly, but eventually Case built up a reputation as a solid attorney, one who would become known as one of the foremost criminal lawyers in Kansas. Case's skill in the courtroom and generosity was later attested to by fellow lawyer and longtime friend Capt. J.G. Waters, a man who had found himself against Case in the courtroom on several occasions. In a lengthy address memorializing his friend, Waters remarked that
"As a lawyer he was to be feared from the first onset to the last shot fired. If an opponent unwarily had its attention distracted, he was a lost man. In the heydey of his most vigorous career, his practice extended well over the state. The man in trouble hunted for Mr. Case. If he had had a particle of greed in his composition he would long ago have been a very wealthy man. He did not have it. His heart mellowed at any story or distress. He gave when he should have kept, and then to ease his conscience he forgot the transaction."
Portrait from the December 10, 1908 Topeka State Journal.

   "Hib" Case entered the political life of Kansas in 1861 when he took on the post of District Attorney for Kansas' 3rd judicial district, a post he would hold until the following year.  Case later advanced to the posts of deputy U.S. District Attorney for Kansas and deputy internal revenue collector, holding the former post for four years. Case would also pass up opportunities to further his political career, turning down judicial positions in both Kansas and Texas, relating that "I would not be judge, because I would not sentence any man to be hung or to life confinement."
   In 1879 Case took on the services of a rising young lawyer named Charles Curtis (1860-1936), who began working for him as a clerk. Under Case's tutelage, Curtis was admitted to the Kansas bar in 1881 and in that same year joined with him in practice. Their firm continued until 1884, when Curtis began an exemplary political career, one that would see him serve as a district attorney, U.S. Representative (1892-1907) and U.S. Senator from Kansas (1907-1928). In 1928 Curtis was elected as Vice-President of the United States on the Republican ticket with Herbert Hoover and served for one term, being defeated for reelection in 1932.
  Widowed in 1870, "Hib" Case remarried in 1872 to Lucia Ophelia Benton (1852-1925), to whom he was wed until his death. Case continued with his Topeka based practice until his death from a heart ailment on December 7, 1908, shortly before his eightieth birthday. He was survived by his wife and son and was interred at the Topeka Cemetery.

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