Hon. William S. Hart

Hon. William S. Hart, of Waukon, ranks as one of the prominent men of Iowa, as a lawyer, orator, soldier, political leader and legislator. He was born in a pioneer log cabin in Cherry Mount settlement and Allamakee county has been his lifetime home. His parents, William and Alicia (Conway) Hart, were early settlers in that part of Paint Creek township.

William S. Hart acquired his education in the district schools of his native township and at the early age of sixteen began teaching a country school, following this occupation until he was elected clerk of the district court just after coming of age. His able service won him reelection but he resigned the office soon afterward to practice law, having studied this profession while serving as clerk under the preceptorship of Henry and John F. Dayton. Few men at his age have attained more brilliant success as an attorney, notably in jury trials and in cases tried before the supreme court. As a specialist in telephone and electric law his services are in wide demand and papers and addresses by him upon this branch of his profession have been published by the International Telephone Association. He is also consulted and retained as special counsel in all of their important cases by some of the largest fraternal insurance societies in America.

Mr. Hart's success at the bar has been accompanied by his growing prominence in politics and along this line he has done a great deal of constructive and far-sighted work in the public service. As a member of the twenty-ninth and thirtieth general assemblies he gave special attention to labor, railway, military and telephone legislation and also to that on behalf of the dairy interests and the State Agricultural College. He was chosen by the stock shippers of Iowa to father the law compelling railroads to transport stockmen and to furnish sanitary equipment on stock trains and by the dairy interests of the state to champion legislation favorable to that industry. As chairman of the military committee he rewrote the military code of Iowa and a philanthropical state organization of which Mrs. A. B. Cummins was at that time president selected him to write and take charge of a child- labor law which is regarded as a model of its kind. the legislative committee of the Iowa Federation of Labor thanked him in its published report for his services as a legislator on behalf of the laboring men, while in the interests of the State Agricultural College he vigorously and successfully to the end of his service resisted the central educational board law and other legislation then regarded as unfavorable to that institution.

Mr. Hart married Miss Nellie M. Holahan, a daughter of James Holahan, a pioneer implement dealer and capitalist of Waukon. Mr. and Mrs. Hart became the parents of six children: James; William S., Jr.; Malcolm J.; Nellie M.; Catherine; and Ivan, who died in childhood. In the life of Hon. William S. Hart there is a distinguished military chapter, which includes service in the Iowa National Guards, his rank ranging from that of private to captain. He served during the entire Spanish-American war in the United States Volunteers as a member of the Forty-ninth Iowa Regiment and took part in the subsequent military occupation of Cuba. The greater part of his United States service was spent on detail duty as judge advocate, general court martial, Second Division, Seventh United States Army Corps, under General Fitzhugh Lee, at Jacksonville, Florida, and at Marianao, Cuba. Mr. Hart's reputation as a public speaker extends far beyond the borders of Iowa and many of his addresses and speeches have been printed and widely circulated. He is one of the most prominent and best known attorneys, statesmen and men of affairs in the middle west and, being broad-minded, large-hearted and liberal, his influence has been a force for good in the upbuilding of state institutions and in their development along constructive, logical and progressive lines.

-source of bio: Past & Present of Allamakee County; by Ellery M. Hancock; S. J. Clarke Pub. Co.; 1913 - transcribed by B. Allen
-source of photo: Our Iowa published by T.F. Armstrong; no date - contributed by Roseanna Zehner

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