The profession of the law, when clothed with its true dignity, purity and strength, must rank first among the callings of man, for law rules the universe. The work of the legal profession is to formulate, to harmonize, to adjust and to administer those rules and principles that underlie and permeate the government and society and control the varied relations of man. As thus viewed there attaches to the legal profession a nobleness that cannot but be reflected in the life of the true lawyer, who, conscious of the greatness of the profession, and honest in the pursuit of his purpose, embraces the richness of learning, the profoundness of wisdom, the firmness of integrity and the purity of morals, together with the graces of modesty, courtesy and the general amenities of life. Colonel Bierer is a most worthy representative of the legal profession, and has attained a distinguished position in connection with the bar of Kansas.
Descended from pure German lineage, the orthography of the name in the Fatherland being Behrers, but has been changed to the present form in America. The Bierers were a worthy and influential family in Wurtemberg, Germany, where they held various honorable positions in connection with the civil and military service of the state. George Bierer, a grand uncle of the Colonel, commanded a regiment in the Austrian army during the midde of the eighteenth century, and was created a baron for distinguished military service, particularly at the siege of Belgrade, Servia, in 1788-9. The parents of our subject, Everhard and Catherine Margaretta (Ruckenbrodt) Bierer. were both natives of Wurtemberg, the former born at Windsheim, January 6, 1795. and the latter at Malmsheim, October 28, 1798. Emigrating with their respective parents to America in 1804, the families located in Pennsylvania, where the parents of our subject were reared and married. They resided at Uniontown, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, where the mother died July 15, 1858, while the father passed away August 2, 1876. They were both members of the Lutheran church.
Everhard Bierer was born in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, January 9, 1827. He acquired a liberal education in private schools and in Madison College of his native town, where he was graduated with the class of 1845, having completed a special course embracing the higher mathematics, natural and mental science, Latin and English literature. On leaving college he became a student in the law office of Joshua B. Howell, who was afterward colonel of the Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and was killed before Richmond in 1864. Mr. Bierer was admitted to the bar in March, 1848. After two years spent in traveling through the West and in some desultory literary and educational work, he returned to his native town and entered upon the practice of his profession, which he successfully followed until April 23, 1861. A few days previously the Civil war had been inaugurated by the southern troops who fired upon Fort Sumter, and, prompted by the spirit of patriotism, he offered his service to the government, raised a company of volunteers, and became captain of Company F, Eleventh Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. He served with the Army of the Potomac and participated in the battles of Dranesville, Mechanicsville and Gaines' Hill, being captured with his command at the last named place on the 27th of June, 1862, and taken to Libby prison, where he remained until the 14th of the following August, when he was exchanged. Six days afterward he was granted a twenty-days leave of absence, on account of sickness, and went home; but learning by telegram of the impending battle of Bull Run, he returned to the army and joined his command on the day of the engagement, on the 30th of August. He led his company a few days afterward in the battle of South Mountain, Maryland, where he was severely wounded in the left arm, the ball passing through the elbow joint and lodging in the forearm, from which it was not extracted until the 25th of the following November. Having become convalescent, on the 24th of October he was appointed commandant of Camp Curtin, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, with the rank of colonel, and while there stationed organized the One Hundred and Seventy-first, One Hundred and Seventy-second, One Hundred and Seventy-third, One Hundred and Seventy-sixth, One Hundred and Seventy-seventh and the One Hundred and Seventy-eighth Regiments of Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, and on the 18th of November he was commissioned colonel of the One Hundred and Seventy-first. He served in various sections of southeastern Virginia and in North Carolina, Where he was placed in temporary command of the military district of the Pamlico, and was also on several different occasions in command of General Price's division, Eighteenth Army Corps, Major-General J. G. Foster commanding. He participated in the engagement at Blounts Creek, near Washington, North Carolina, April 7, 1863, commanding a brigade under General F. B. Spinola. Spinola's forces were obliged to retire before superior numbers under the rebel General Hill. To Colonel Bierer was assigned the command of the rear guard; the duty was critical, the enemy crowding upon him in heavy force. Nearly the entire night, in the midst of intense darkness, through pine forests and cypress swamps, the march was continued, until he finally succeeded in bringing off the column, with the trains and all the wounded. On the 1st of July, 1863, Colonel Bierer returned with his regiment to Virginia and went with General Dix on his expedition to Richmond. The expedition marched from White House Landing to within eight or ten miles of Richinond, and, after some skirmishing with the rebels, General Dix ordered its return to Fortress Monroe. With his regiment Colonel Bierer went on to Washington and thence to Harper's Ferry, where he joined General Meade, and on the 7th of that month was given a permanent brigade cornmand and assigned to duty as military commandant of the District of the Monocacy, with headquarters at Frederick City, Maryland. On the 26th of September, 1863, he was mustered out of service, the regiment's term of enlistment having expired on the 8th of the previous August. During January, February and March of 1864, Colonel Bierer served in the Veteran Reserve Corps, but not liking that service he resigned his command and permanently retired from the army.
In October, 1865, the Colonel removed from Pennsylvania to Kansas, locating on a beautiful farm a mile east of Hiawatha, in Brown county. He then resumed the practice of his profession, and for a number of years was recognized as one of the leaders of the Brown county bar. Much of the important litigation tried in the courts of this district was intrusted to his care, and his arguments before court and jury were forceful, logical and convincing. He excited the surprise and admiration of his contemporaries by the thoroughness with which he prepared his cases and by his ability to meet the acquirements of the opposing counsel. The field of his business labors also embraces connection with the banking interests of the city, and his counsel and judgment in financial affairs proved a marked element in the success of the institution which he represents. He was president of the First National Bank of Hiawatha for two years and is now one of the stockholders in that institution.
In his political views the Colonel was originally a Democrat and for many years was a prominent factor in political circles. As the nominee of his party, in 1850, he was elected the first district attorney of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, and held that office three years. Believing, however, that the Democratic party had become the mere propagandist of slavery, he became a Republican in 1856, and led the forlorn hope for Fremont, in Fayette county, which was the very Gibraltar of Democracy, and four years later he had the satisfaction of seeing the county carried for Lincoln by a majority vote of one in a poll of about ten thousand. He was one of the electors of the Lincoln college, in 1864, to represent Pennsylvania. After coming to Kansas his fitness for leadership also led to his selection for political service and in 1868 he was chosen to represent Brown county in the state legislature, as a nominee of the Republican party. In 1868 he voted for General Grant, but with considerable reluctance, as he could not endorse the reconstruction and financial policy of the party, and in 1869 he renounced all connection with that political organization. His vote in 1872 was cast for Greeley, and in 1876 for Tilden, whom he considered honestly elected and favored putting him in the presidential chair by force of arms, if necessary, until the electoral commission scheme prevented any such measure. In 1891 he was appointed by President Harrison a member of the annual board of visitors to the United States National Naval Academy, at Annapolis.
Colonel Bierer has long been connected with the Odd Fellows' society, having become a member of Fort Necessity Lodge, No. 254, I. O. O. F., in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, in February, 1852. He subsequently joined the encampment and served as district deputy grand patriarch of the order in Pennsylvania, where he is still a member, both of the grand lodge and of the grand encampment. He was also made a Mason, in Uniontown, in 1864, and is at present affiliated with Hiawatha Lodge, No. 35, A. F. & A. M. The Colonel is quite liberal in his religious opinions and beliefs, which are peculiarly his own. He accepts the inspiration of the moral and religious teachings of scripture and divine sonship, the pre-existence of Jesus Christ, the efficacy of His example for purposes of redemption, and a condition of future rewards and punishments; denies the inspiration of the historical records and the ceremonial and civil laws of the Jews, the doctrine of the Trinity, vicarious sacrifice and eternal punishment; accepts a salvation by conduct, not belief, and in the family of the Great Father includes all who act according to their highest conceptions of right. Colonel Bierer has been a very careful student of both Old and New Testament writings, and his present views are the result of a thorough acquaintance with scripture and an extensive knowledge of ecclesiastical history and polemics.
On the 8th of April, 1852, in Brownville, Fayette county, Pennsylvania, Colonel Bierer was united in marriage to Ellen Smouse, daughter of Samuel and Elizabeth (Troutman) Smouse. She is a lady of extensive family connections in Allegany county, Maryland, and in Bradford and Somerset counties, Pennsylvania. Her maternal great-grandfather and paternal great-grandfather were both Revolutionary soldiers. Eight children have been born unto Mr. and Mrs. Bierer, six sons and two daughters. The eldest son is Everhard, a graduate of the Kansas University, and now chief clerk in the law department in the office of the assistant attorney-general, in Washington, District of Columbia; Samuel E. is a member of the firm of Bierer & Shadel, merchants of Hiawatha; Daniel is a stock dealer of southern Kansas; Andrew Gregg Curtin is a member of the firm of Bierer & Dale, of Guthrie, Oklahoma; John W. is living in Barber county, Kansas, on a ranch; Bion is a heutenant in the United States navy and served on the monitor Puritan in the late Spanish-American war, and is now at Manila; Margaret is the wife of James L. Shadel, who is engaged in merchandising with her brother in Hiawatha; and Anna C. is the wife of John Bokaye. of Horton, Kansas.
Colonel Bierer is a man of fine personal appearance, about five feet ten inches in height. His manly characteristics are strongly marked. He has always been an extensive reader anl close observer, and, being of social disposition, is a most instructive as well as entertaining companion. As a youth he was ambitious of public distinction and fond of oratory, and his choice of the legal profession was largely determined by the opportunity it afforded for the gratification for such tastes. He is a man of incorruptible integrity, strong practical judgment, with a good knowledge of men and events and thoroughly acquainted with the live issues of state and national politics. At the bar and in business life he has manifested excellent ability. His home is a beautiful residence, situated in the city of Hiawatha, in Brown county, Kansas. He has passed the seventy-third milestone on the journey of life, and in the evening of his career he is surrounded by many comforts that he has gained through his own efforts. At all times he has been loyal to truth and right, faithful to the interests which he believes will prove a public good, and loyal to every measure to which he gives his support. In matters of great public moment he has a mind above all personal considerations.