High on the roll of Kansas' eminent jurists appears the name of David Martin, who has occupied the position of chief justice of the state. He was recognized as one of the ablest lawyers of the commonwealth, and was one of the best judges who ever occupied a seat upon the bench. The legal profession demands a high order of ability, and the judiciary, it is unnecessary to say, requires not only ability but the rare combination of talent, learning, tact and industry. The successful lawyer and the competent judge must be a man of well balanced intellect and comprehensive general information, thoroughly familiar with the law and practice, possessed of an analytical mind, and a self-control that will enable him to lose his individuality, his personal feelings, his prejudices and the peculiarities of disposition in the dignity, impartiality and equity of the office to which life, property, right and liberty must look for protection. In all of these particulars Judge Martin was well qualified, and in his official career he honored the state which honored him by elevation to its highest tribunal.
The Judge was born in Clark county, Ohio, October 16, 1839, and is a son of John and Eliza (Halliday) Martin. The father was a native of London, England, and when very young came to the United States. He was married and located in New York city, and subsequently moved from that place to Clark county, where he made his home from 1837 until his death. Eliza Halliday, whom he married, was born at Lisburn, near Belfast, Ireland. His son David spent his boyhood days in the county of his nativity, where he acquired a good education which served as a foundation upon which he reared the superstructure of professional knowledge. Determined to enter the legal profession, he became a student in the law office of Honorable J. Warren Keifer at Springfield. Ohio, and was admitted to the bar before the supreme court at Columbus in 1866. In May of the following year he came to Atchison, where he opened a law office and engaged in general practice. Gradually his business grew in volume and importance as he demonstrated his ability to successfully handle the important litigated interests entrusted to his care. It was not long before he had taken rank among the leading lawyers of his adopted city, and he was elected as judge of the second judicial district in 1880 and again in 1884, without opposition; but he resigned in April. 1887, and resumed the practice of the law and continued in the practice until April, 1895, when he was appointed to the office of chief justice to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Chief Justice Horton. In the following fall he was elected on the Republican ticket by the handsome majority of over eighty-two thousand, and served until January, 1897. He took to the bench a mind well stored with legal lore, a large experience gathered from years of extensive and important practice, a character that was an assurance that the duties of the high office would be faithfully administered, and a general natural fitness for the position that few men possess.
On the expiration of his term Judge Martin removed his law office to Topeka, Kansas, but retained his home in Atchison, where he has a comfortable residence, modern in all its appointments. On the 5th of January, 1882, he was married to Miss Lissa Kibby, the second daughter of William B. and Anna L. Kibby, and a representative of a prominent old family of Atchison. It was in 1858 that her father came to this county from Pennsylvania, and here his death occurred on the 14th of May, 1869. Her mother, however, long survived, passing away March 11, 1899. The Judge and his wife have a large circle of friends in the city which has so long been their home, and their high position in social circles is an indication of their intellectual and many genial qualities. As a lawyer and judge, the subject of this review ranks among the foremost, and no history of Atchison would be complete without the record of his life.