Judge Edward Webster Felt

The Hon. Edward Webster Felt, judge of the Indiana appellate court, former judge of the Hancock circuit court and for years one of Greenfield's leading attorneys, is a Virginian, having been born in Alleghany county, in the Old Dominion state, November 7, 1859, son of Sylvester W. and Rebecca Jane (Latshaw) Felt, the former a native of New Hampshire and the latter of Pennsylvania.

Sylvester W. Felt was born in the town of Keene, New Hampshire. In his early manhood he was engaged in railroad contracting and while thus engaged was stationed for a time in Virginia, where he married Rebecca J. Latshaw, who was born in Pennsylvania, but who had been reared from girlhood in Alleghany county, Virginia. In 1860 Sylvester W. Felt and his family moved from Virginia to Indiana, settling in Wayne county, where for about five years Mr. Felt was engaged in farming. He then moved with his family over into Hancock county, locating on a farm in Center township, where he remained until 1887, in which year he retired from the farm and moved to Greenfield, where his last days were spent, his death occurring on September 11, 1893. His widow is still living in that city and is hale and hearty despite the fact that she is now eight-five years of age. Sylvester W. Felt was a man of wide information and ever kept abreast of the times. He was a Democrat and during his residence in this county took an active part in political affairs. For some years he served as assessor of Center township and in other ways did his part in the public service. He and his wife were earnest members of the Missionary Baptist church and ever took an interest in local good works. They were the parents of six children, namely: Mary H., widow of James S. Clift, a farmer of Brandywine township, this county; Edward W. the subject of this biographical sketch; Frank V., of Greenfield, a well-known farmer of this county; Cora V., wife of Joseph M. Fisk, a Center township farmer; John H., an architect, of Kansas City, Missouri, and Minnie, who died when eight years old.

Edward W. Felt was but a babe in arms when his parents came to Indiana from Virginia and he was about six years old when they came to Hancock county and settled on a farm in Center township. He thus was reared in this county and has taken an active part in its affairs since the days of his early manhood. He received his elementary education in the district school in the neighborhood of his home and early began teaching school. He later entered the Central Normal School at Danville, this state, from which he was graduated in 1884. Another member of that class was Samuel M. Ralston, who also engaged in the practice of the law and between whom and Judge Felt there has existed the firmest friendship ever since their school days. When Samuel M. Ralston was inaugurated governor of Indiana in 1913 it was his old classmate, Judge Felt, of the appellate court, who administered to him his oath of office. Following his graduation from the normal school Mr. Felt was engaged as a teacher in the city schools. The nest year he married and in pursuance of a design entertained since his boyhood, entered seriously upon the study of law in the office of James A. New at Greenfield. Two years later, in 1887, he was admitted to practice and at the same time was admitted to partnership with Mr. New. In January, 1889, Mr. Felt opened an office of his own at the corner of State and Main streets, later moving to the Dudding & Moore block and thence to the L. C. Thayer building. For six years from the latter part of 1889 he was in partnership in the practice of civil law with the late Hon. U. S. Jackson. In 1890 he was elected prosecuting attorney for the eighteenth judicial circuit and was re-elected in 1892, serving four years in that office. In 1896 he was appointed county attorney and served in that office for three years. In the campaign of 1900 he was made the nominee of the Democrats of Hancock county for the office of judge of the circuit court and was elected to that office, in which he served for six years, thereafter declining a re-nomination. Without having made a canvass for the nomination, Judge Felt was nominated by the Indiana Democratic state convention in 1906 for the office of judge of the appellate court from his district. The Democrats were unsuccessful that year, and in 1910 Judge Felt again received the unanimous nomination of his party for the same office and was elected. In 1914 he was elected to the appellate bench and entered upon his second term of four years on January 1, 1915.

On April 17, 1885, Edward W. Felt was united in marriage to Martha L. Thomas, who was born near Willow Branch, this county, daughter of Alfred and Mary J. (Earl) Thomas, the former a native of Kentucky and the latter of Ohio, but both early settlers of this county, and to this union five children have been born, three of whom survive, Mable M., a graduate of Butler College; Elsie R., now a student at Butler, and Truman T., a student in the Indianapolis high school. Judge and Mrs. Felt are members of the Methodist Episcopal church and are earnestly concerned in the various beneficences of the same. For ten years, from 1899 to 1909, Judge Felt was president of the Hancock County Sunday School Association and from 1901 to 1910 was president of the Indiana State Sunday School Association. Since taking up his residence in Indianapolis, Judge Felt has continued to manifest his warm interest in church and Sunday school work and is now the president of the Methodist Union, an organization representing all the Methodist churches in Indianapolis, the design of which is to secure greater efficiency in the local work of Methodism in that city. Judge Felt is a thirty-second degree Mason and takes mush interest in Masonic affairs. He was worshipful master of Hancock Lodge No. 101, and is now a member of Irvington Lodge No. 666, Free and Accepted Masons; high priest of Greenfield Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; worthy patron of the Order of the Eastern Star at that place; a member of the Greenfield Commandery, Knights Templar; a member of the Indianapolis Consistory, accepted Scottish Rite, and a noble of Murat Temple, Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine, at Indianapolis. He also is a member of the Greenfield lodge of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, past chancellor of the lodge of the Knights of Pythias at that place, and a member of the lodge of the Improved Order of Red Men at the same place. Judge Felt for years has occupied a high position in the councils of the Democratic party in Indiana and his voice has been heard on the hustings in every campaign since 1886. In the years of 1894-98 he was chairman of the Hancock county Democratic central committee and has ever been a whole-hearted exponent of the historic principles of his party.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1085-1088.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI November 12, 2001.

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Tom & Carolyn Ward / Columbus, Kansas / tcward@columbus-ks.com

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