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April 17, 1909



Present Building Too Far North,
Yet Trend of Opinion Is That
New Structure Should Not Be
Too Far South, Either.

At the meeting of the executive committee of the Kansas City Bar Association at noon yesterday at the Baltimore hotel, it was resolved that the courthouse should be moved farther up town. Such a recommendation will be made to the association proper at its next gathering to take place at the Coates house May 2. One of the lawyers said last night: "The courthouse now is too far out of the way and we lawyers are a lazy lot."

Those who talked about the matter last night were not agreed as to just what is the matter with the present building, but they all thought a new one should be built sooner or later, some with the accent on "later." Nor were they all agreed as to the location of a new building, but none of them thought it ought to be south of Twelfth street. Some strange incongruities occurred in their opinions. One man thought there was too much waste space in the building at present and another that it would be a hopeless task to arrange it so there would be accommodations for all of its official occupants. That the building as it stands now is not a fireproof structure, seemed to be about the most robust reason advanced in favor of a move. No one thought the proposal to move into rented quarters up-town was a practical one.


"I don't think we ought to be in a hurry about it," said C. W. German, former county counselor, "although it ought to be done some time. My chief reason for a new court house is that the present one is out of the way. There is twice as much space down there as is needed and the court rooms are all too big. With this in view, I suppose it could be remodeled. If a new one were built, I should think it ought to be somewhere east of Grand avenue, between Ninth and Twelfth streets. It should be near enough the car lines for the sake of convenience, but far enough away for the sake of quiet. We've only been in the present building about seventeen years, and that hardly seems to be very much of a tenure for such a building as that. It would probably be difficult to dispose of the present building, too.

W. D. Thomas, one of the executive committee of the bar association, thought some of the records in the present building were in danger of fire. "I don't believe any of the deeds and mortgages, or such valuable documents are in danger of fire, but some of the papers worth almost as much are exposed to the danger. All of the files in the circuit and probate courts are thus exposed, but the records proper are safely deposited in the vaults."


"Under the new law the various divisions of the courts have to occupy the court rooms in rotation, which makes it very inconvenient and disturbs the even routine of things. While I think the building is large enough, I am afraid that a satisfactory rearrangement would be difficult of accomplishment. If the building should burn down, however, I think it would mean an irreparable loss to the county.

"The location of a new building is not a matter of importance to me. I should think somewhere in the neighborhood of Tenth and Oak streets would be about right."

"It has always been a nuisance to lawyers to be obliged to go that far north," said J. J. Vineyard, president of the bar association. "No, I don't think the present building could be disposed of profitably, for that is the usual experience in trying to sell or rent abandoned public buildings, and the county would hardly come out even on that score. To rent quarters farther uptown would not receive my approval. I think a new building should be built at a more convenient location."

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January 6, 1909


Lawyer's Blunder Causes Needless
Annoyance for James H. Armstrong.

Through the mistake of a lawyer James H. Armstrong, present of the Enterprise Foundry Co., 114 West Nineteenth street, has been considerably annoyed by deputy sheriffs who insisted that he was James Armstrong, vice president of the American Recording Company. He has been well and favorably known in Kansas City for twenty years. When he called attention to the fact that he is not the Armstrong connected with the American Recording Company the attorneys hurried to the courthouse and had the summons issued for James Armstrong, explaining their mistake. This was done yesterday and Mr. Armstrong was relieved of further annoyance because of a similarity in names.

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October 17, 1908


County Court Makes That a Condi-
tion of Gift to Battery B.

By the terms of an appropriation made yesterday by the county court, Battery B will have to parade through Kansas City at least once every three months. The court granted the battery $2,000, to be paid in installments of $500 on each of the following dates: December, 1908, March 1, June 1 and September 1, 1909.

The money so appropriated is to be used for the sole purpose of acquiring or building armories and for their maintenance.

Charles W. German, county counselor, advised the court that the money could be given under the terms of an act passed by the last legislature.

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September 24, 1908



Finally Lawyers Came to Rescue of
Man Who Is Accused of Forgery
and Attempted Wife

After much delay and no little impatience on the part of the many curious spectators who crowded the court room at Buckner, Mo., yesterday morning, W. A. Johnson, on trial on a charge of attempted wife murder, waived his preliminary hearing. He was bound over to the criminal court in $4,000 bond. Justice James Adams, before whom the case was called, at first placed the bond at $5,000.

"Your honor, don't you think that is a little stiff," asked T. A. J. Mastin, who represented the defendant. Our client can hardly raise $1,000."

After some argument, the matter being satisfactory to the state, the bond was lowered to $4,000. Then time was asked that the defendant might secure bondsmen. The judge granted one hour.


For several days previous to the trial Johnson had circulated among those who had been his friends in Buckner and Independence, trying to secure someone who would sign his bond. But when Tuesday came and he had no success he went among those in Buckner with whom he had never had business transactions, but to no avail. Sentiment in his home town is strongly against the man, and no one would give him help.

It was soon decided that no bondsmen could be secured and his attorneys, Mr. Masten and W. S. Fournoy, expressed their willingness to sign the bond. Immediately Johnson was released on bond he was rearrested on the charge of forgery, his wife declaring that he forged her name on a deed in January, 1908. As the warrant for his arrest on that charge had been sworn out in Independence, he was taken there by the marshal and the justice of the peace sought.


The party arrived at the court room late in the afternoon and the judge was not present; consequently the state expressed its willingness to let Johnson have his freedom under guard until the bond could be fixed this morning. Johnson's attorneys have signified their intention of signing the bond.

Johnson has aged remarkably within the past month. His extreme nervous manner has increased, and while the complaint which charged him with having struck his sleeping wife with the desire to kill her was being read by the judge, the defendant nervously fingered his hat and his hands trembled violently.

Mrs. Johnson, the victim of the assault, has been improving rapidly and is no longer confined to her bed. Yesterday afternoon in the presence of Prosecuting Attorney I. B. Kimbrell; his assistant Will Carmody, and her attorney, J. G. Paxton, she reviewed the whole case. Once, in telling of her endeavors to win Johnson from the kind of life which he had been leading, the woman, now wrinkled and still suffering from her severe wound, broke down and sobbed.


"Oh, why did he do it? He knew that he was breaking my heart." It was some minutes before she regained control of herself. The story of the life which she had been forced to endure within the past two years moved her vastly, and she could scarcely talk at times.

"When I first learned that he was associating with a Mrs. Howard of Kansas City, I went to him and begged him to leave her and come back to me," she said. "But he would not do it, and he tried to deceive me. It was always business that called him to the city every morning, and it was business that kept him there almost all of every week.

"In February of last year he insisted that I go to our ranch in Mexico. I did not want to go, but he was so urgent that I finally gave in to him, as I always did. He gave me $8 to spend on that month's trip, and I did not hear from him but once. I did not know then that he had been in Colorado with this other woman, but the night that I got home I heard that he had returned the day before.


"Something made me go through his pockets that night, and I found a receipted bill from the Savoy hotel in Denver made out to W. A. Johnson and Mrs. Howard of Kansas City. The bill was a very large one. I have it now.

"The next day I asked him how long he had been in Denver and hinted that I knew all about it. He did not say anything at all. But from time to time he would go away on long business trips and take this woman with him. In Mexico, where he usually went, I had friends, and they recognized him and Mrs. Howard. They told me about it, but I could not say anything to Dode (her husband's nickname) about it. Finally things got so bad that I told him I was going to leave him after threshing this fall and that we would divide up the property equally and he would go his way and I would go mine. Nothing was said by him to that proposition.

"When the wheat crop was in he got about $1,800 for it. I asked him for $25 to buy a new dress, and though he always promised it, he gave me less than half of the $25. Most of that I spent for things for him.

"But before then he had signed my name to a deed which transferred $1,000 worth of property. I never saw one cent of that money. He promised that he would make it all right, but he never did. I never threatened him with exposure, but he knew that I knew of the forgery. It made him afraid.

"Less that a month before that night (she referred so to the night of the assault) Dode came to me and told me he was going back to Mexico to settle up the ranch business. I told him that he would have to take me. He did not want to do so, but I said that I would follow him on the next train if he went without me. He wouldn't be able to lose me like he did his little niece whom I sent to Mexico to take care of him last fall. But he did not go and nothing more was said about the trip up to that night."


Such, in part, is the story which Mrs. Johnson told her attorneys. She told about other women in Kansas City with whom Johnson had lived, one in particular. She said thatJohnson bought an expensive house for this woman on Bales avenue and furnished it luxuriously, with chairs which cost $150 apiece. But Johnson did not pay the bills he contracted in Buckner, she said. She always opened his mail and knew, for he could not read.

The prosecutor and those associated with him have no doubt that they can convict Johnson on both charges. They say that the forgery is a clear cut case and there is no way out of that. Though the assault case is purely circumstantial, Mr. Kimbrell believes that Johnson's own statement will convict him.

The state is very anxious to get the assault case to trial within the next two weeks and will make every effort to do so. Meanwhile, in Buckner, W. A. Johnson, once the most respected man in the community, walks the streets and is shunned by those who once called him their friend. He said yesterday that he intended spending the greater part of his time on his farm near the town.

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