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Stillwell, Hon. Leander - A pioneer citizen of Neosho county whose life has influenced the affairs not only of his county but of the Seventh Judicial district is he whose name appears at the head of this article. The thirty-four years which he has been in Kansas comprise almost all the years of his majority, and, with one important exception, constitute the history making era of his eventful life. He approached manhood at, perhaps, the most critical stage of the nation's life and when he had attained scarce more than his majority he had served nearly four years in her military establishment and was discharged a veteran volunteer of the civil war.
Leander Stillwell was born in Otter Creek precinct, Jersey county, Illinois, September 16, 1843. His father, Jeremiah O. Stillwell and his mother (whose maiden name was Ann Eliza White) were natives of the state of North Carolina, but migrated from there in 1834 and settled in Illinois. Their home was "in the backwoods of western Illinois" and there their first children were reared and received their meager education. Leander made a hand on his father's farm till a few months after the outbreak of the rebellion when, on January 7, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company D, Sixty-first Illinois infantry. He reenlisted in the same company and regiment as a veteran volunteer in February, 1864, and was mustered out with his regiment as first lieutenant of his company some months after the close of the war, having served continuously nearly four years and having participated in, among other engagements, the battle of Shiloh and the siege of Vicksburg.
After his discharge from the army our subject studied law in the Albany, New York, law school and was admitted to the bar in December, 1867. He came to Kansas the following May and located at Erie, in Neosho county, and was engaged in the practice of law in the county seat of this county till his elevation to the bench. He is and has always been well known for his Republican proclivities in politics and has contributed in his modest, yet effective, way toward the success of his party at the polls since his advent to the state. He was elected to the lower house of the Kansas Legislature in 1876 and first elected judge of the Seventh Judicial district in 1883 and was re-elected in 1887, 1891, 1895 and in 1899. He enjoys the distinction of having been a district judge in Kansas for a longer period than any other incumbent of that office since the admission of the state into the Union, a distinction, in itself a most eloquent eulogy showing, as it does, that his conduct on the bench has been such as to win and hold the respect and confidence of the people.
Judge Stillwell was united in marriage in May, 1872, with Anna L. Stauber, of Erie. Five children have been born of this union, four of whom yet survive.
[Source: History of Neosho and Wilson Counties, Kansas, Pub. by L. Wallace Duncan, Fort Scott, Kansas, Monitor Printing Co., 1902; transcribed by Vicki Bryan]