BALIE PEYTON WAGGENER
Hon. Balie Peyton Waggener has been called the "favorite son" of Atchison, Kansas, and certainly no one of the citizens is more widely known or more popular. His prominent position as general attorney of the Missouri Pacific Railway Company brings him in contact with all sorts and conditions of men, while his own extensive law practice has made him acquainted with people all over the state.
Mr. Waggener was born near Platte City, Platte county, Missouri, July 8, 1847, and is a son of Peyton R. and Bressias S. (Willis) Waggener. His father was a native of Virginia and an early settler of Missouri. His grandfather, Thomas Waggener, also born in Virginia, held a major's commission in the war of 1812, while his great-grandfather, James Waggener, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war and was awarded a medal of honor for heroic deeds of valor. The great-great-grandfather came over from England with Governor Spotsford. On the mother's side the family was connected with the Garnetts, one of the first families of Virginia.
Peyton R. Waggener was at the time of his death, in 1856, clerk of the county court of Platte county. His wife, who is still living and makes her home in Atchison, is now in her seventy-eighth year and is in the enjoyment of all her faculties.
Balie P. Waggener spent his boyhood on the farm and obtained his education in the common schools of Platte City. He was the second of four children and after the death of his father assisted his mother in the care of the property until he was eighteen years old, when he came to Atchison and entered the law office of A. G. Otis and George W. Glick as a student. He was a bright youth and was admitted to the bar June 10, 1867. In 1870 Mr. Waggener and Albert H. Horton formed a law partnership, which continued until January 1, 1877, when Mr. Horton became, by appointment, chief justice of the supreme court. The same year Mr. Waggener and Aaron S. Everest formed a partnership and then the former became known as a corporation lawyer. This firm were attorneys for the Gould interests and they engineered the various deals which enabled the Missouri Pacific to obtain a foothold in the west. Mr. Waggener, being young, energetic and ambitious, rose rapidly in his profession and along in the '80s the Missouri Pacific appointed him to be its general attorney for Kansas and Nebraska, which position he still holds.
About that time Mr. Everest retired from the firm and James W. Orr became the partner of Mr. Waggener. In 1888 David Martin became a partner, resigning from the judgeship of the Atchison county district court. He retired in 1894 and the following year was appointed to the chief justiceship on the resignation of Albert H. Horton. The firm is now Waggener, Horton & Orr.
In addition to his duties as an attorney Mr. Waggener is interested in banking and on the death of W. W. Hetherington was made president of the Exchange National Bank, one of the strong financial institutions of Kansas, and devotes considerable of his time to its interests. He has also found time to take a hand in politics and in 1872 ran for attorney-general on the Greeley ticket, which was defeated by something like thirty thousand majority. In 1876 he was chairman of the convention that nominated John Martin for governor, and in 1880 was chairman of the Democratic congressional committee of the first district. He has been a delegate in most of the Democratic state and several of the important county conventions and is recognized as one of the leaders of the party. He has served the city of Atchison twice as mayor and once as city attorney. If he had chosen a political career Mr. Waggener would have won success through his gift as an orator. In the early part of his professional life he was famous as a speaker and lecturer, audiences and juries alike falling captive to his brilliant addresses. Of late years he has confined his public speaking to the court room, greatly to the regret of his friends and admirers.
As a citizen Mr. Waggener takes first rank in Atchison. He spends his money freely and aids every movement for the upbuilding of the town. His name is on the list of every charity and the individual poor never appeal to him in vain. He is public-spirited and through his efforts Atchison secured an electric car system.
Mr. Waggener owns a handsome residence on North Fourth street which, besides being replete with every comfort and luxury that wealth can give, shows evidence of cultured taste and refinement. The third story is entirely devoted to books and contains the most extensive private law library in the United States, comprising fifteen thousand volumes. Among these will be found all the state and territorial reports, and for some of the old southern reports he paid as high as three hundred dollars per volume.
In his busy office down town, where a dozen people are employed, Mr. Waggener finds plenty of work, but in this he delights and is never so happy as when his hands are full. He also has branch offices in Topeka and in Lincoln, Nebraska. With all his numerous duties he is a great "home man," and his wife and children have ever held the uppermost place in his thoughts.
Mr. Waggener was married, in 1869, to Miss Emma Hetherington, a daughter of the late William Hetherington, an Atchison pioneer. They have two children, William P. and Mabel L. (Mrs. R. K. Smith), the latter residing in St. Joseph. W. P. Waggener is a young man of exceptional ability. He was admitted to the bar when nineteen years old and was married when he was twenty-two. He is general attorney of the Kansas City Northwestern Railroad Company and one of the assistant attorneys of the Missouri Pacific. He also has charge of his father's private business and is the latter's inseparable companion and trusted confidant.
A genial gentleman, a man of irreproachable character, just in his dealings with everyone and a loyal citizen, Mr. Waggener is eminently deserving of the success which has come to him.