Hon. James H. Kyle
HON. JAMES H. KYLE. No compendium, such as the province of this work defines in its essential limitations, will serve to offer fit memorial to the life and accomplishments of the honored subject of this review, a man remarkable in the breadth of his wisdom, in his indomitable perseverance, his strong individuality; and yet one whose entire life has not one esoteric phase, being an open scroll, inviting the closest scrutiny. There is in him a weight of character, a native sagacity, a far seeing judgment and fidelity of purpose that commands the respect of all, and his name is now deeply engraved on the pages of the history of this state. He is now serving as United States senator from South Dakota, and is an honor to the commonwealth which has so honored him.
Mr. Kyle makes his home in Aberdeen. He was born in Xenia, Ohio, February 24, 1854, and traces his ancestry back to Samuel Kyle, the proprietor of Clifton Hall, and the father of seven sons who valiantly served in the colonial army in the war of the Revolution. One of his sons was Joseph Kyle, the great-grandfather of our subject. Joseph Kyle was born in Clifton Hall, near Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and married Catharine Chambers, a sister of the founder of the city of Chambersburg. Leaving the Keystone state, they became pioneers of Green county, Ohio, in 1803, and in Xenia, that state, Joseph Kyle departed this life in 1821, while his wife's death there occurred in 1823.
Judge Samuel Kyle, the grandfather of our subject, served as a judge at Xenia for thirty-five consecutive years, and was a soldier in the war of 1812. He married Rachel Jackson, a cousin of General Andrew Jackson, and their son, Thomas B. Kyle, was the father of the Senator. He was born in Xenia, Ohio, January 8, 1824, and having arrived at years of maturity wedded Margaret J. Henderson, who was born in Westmoreland county, Pennsylvania, May 30, 1829, a daughter of Daniel and Isabella (Ralston) Henderson, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and a granddaughter of Adam Henderson. Her marriage to Mr. Kyle occurred in Green county, Ohio, April 30, 1851. He served as captain of Company C, Sixtieth Ohio Infantry, during the Civil war, and was with Grant all through the campaign of the Wilderness, the siege of Petersburg and on to the close of the war. He was wounded in the knee by a bursting shell, and had a ball shot through his hat while he was in the trenches before Petersburg.
In September, 1865, he removed to Urbana, Illinois, where he yet makes his home, but his wife died August 3, 1897. They reared six children: Samuel R., James H., Joseph and Frances E. (both deceased), Martha Jackson and Anna Mary. The eldest daughter, Dr. Frances E. Kyle, was a practicing physician at Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and was president of the Minnehaha County Medical Association at the time of her death, which occurred July 24, 1895.
James H. Kyle spent the first fourteen years of his life on his father's farm, and then went with the family to Urbana, Illinois. In the fall of 1871, when seventeen years of age, he became a student in the University of Illinois and there completed a course in civil engineering. In the autumn of 1873 he entered Oberlin College and was graduated on the completion of the classical course in 1878. He then studied law and at the same time was superintendent of a school for a year, after which he entered the Western Theological Seminary in Allegheny, Pennsylvania, where he was graduated in 1882. All through his ten years of college work he depended entirely upon his own resources, spending the forenoons in recitation, the afternoons in teaching and the evenings in study. Thus was shown forth the elemental strength of a character that has enabled him to rise to a position of distinction in more than one walk of life.
On the completion of his theological course Rev. Kyle went to Utah in charge of educational work for the Presbyterian board, and while so engaged was called to the pastorate of the Plymouth Congregational church at Salt Lake City, in 1884. In the latter part of the following year he came to Dakota and served as pastor of the Congregational churches in Ipswich and Aberdeen until 1889. He then became secretary of Yankton College, and was filling that position at the time of his entrance into political life. His political labors began with the delivery of an address from the balcony of the Sherman house, in Aberdeen, July 4, 1890, in which he made statements that seemed to strike the keynote of the issues of the local elections. This speech was published throughout the state as a public campaign document, and since that time he has taken an active part in campaign work, advocating measures of progress and reform wherein the welfare of the country is concerned. He has long made a close study of economics, and few men are better informed on the subject. He realizes most fully the duties and obligations of citizenship and the necessity for men of strong mental and moral natures to concern themselves with politics and thus secure what will indeed be a government "of the people, for the people and by the people."
He was elected to the state senate in the fall of 1890, and at once took prominence among the leaders of that body. In the spring of the following year he was elected United States senator as an independent candidate and took his seat on the 4th of March of that year. In 1897 he was again chosen, so that his present term will continue him in office for twelve consecutive years, or until 1903. He favors the principles of low tariff and bi-metalism, and for the past six years has been chairman of the committees on education and labor. The Minneapolis "Journal" said of him: "Mr. Kyle's constituents, particularly those at Aberdeen and several other points in the state, regard with much satisfaction his record during the late congress. The state of his health did not permit of his active participation in the great debates hinging on the war, but his vote was in every instance cast as the patriotism and honor of his country would direct. He gave more time than was heretofore his practice to detail work in both houses of congress, and in consequence pushed through a large number of measures of immediate concern and advantage to the people. Among these were the public building for Aberdeen, for which he secured an appropriation of eighty-seven thousand dollars; appropriations aggregating one hundred and seventy thousand dollars for Missouri river improvements; various pension claims; rights to construct a bridge over the Missouri river in the vicinity of Chamberlain, and others. The Aberdeen appropriation required almost constant attention, especially in the house and its committees. Its success must be directly attributed to the watchfulness and alertness of Mr. Kyle, who spent about as much time in the House during the closing days of congress as in the body to which he belonged."
In this connection it should be stated that among his contemporaries in South Dakota Mr. Kyle stands alone in his stanch adherence to the government policy pertaining to the present war in the Philippines. Mr. Kyle is also chairman of the National Industrial Commission, which consists of nineteen members, five from the United States senate, five from the House and nine appointed by the president with the advice and consent of the senate. The duty of the commission is to gather data and make investigations, original and otherwise, along five lines: labor, agriculture, manufactures, immigration and trade. It sits for two years and makes its reports to congress. Mr. Kyle is now doing a very large amount of work in this connection and expects to a make report of about twenty-five volumes, in line with similar investigations made by order of the English parliament. Such in brief is a history of the public career of Mr. Kyle; but the influence of his labors in behalf of progress, reform and improvement is incalculable and shows patriotic spirit that places the national welfare before party preferment and the general good before personal aggrandizement.
Mr. Kyle was married April 27, 1881, to Anna I. Dugot, who was born in Medina, Ohio, March 19, 1857, a daughter of Captain Frank and Elizabeth (Lampson) Dugot, the former a lake captain. Mr. and Mrs. Kyle became the parents of three children, but Ethelwyn is the only one living, Lucile and Mary having passed away. Mrs. Kyle was a student at Oberlin College, Ohio, and in the same class with Mr. Kyle prior to her marriage, and finished her musical education at the musical conservatory of Cincinnati, Ohio, and in that city was married. They are members of the Congregational church, and Mr. Kyle also belongs to the Ancient Order of United Workmen and Knights of Pythias fraternity.
He has manifested a deep and active interest in educational matters for the past twenty years and has assisted many young men and women in acquiring a college course. He is earnest, sincere and wholly trustworthy; an indefatigable worker and consistent student; modest, easily approachable and kindhearted. He is highly esteemed by those in humble life and in the most exalted station. Honor and integrity are synonymous with his name, and he enjoys the respect and confidence of all who know him throughout the entire nation. A portrait of Senator Kyle is presented on another page of this volume as a supplement to this brief biography.
"Memorial and biographical record; an illustrated compendium of biography, containing a compendium of local biography, including biographical sketches of prominent old settlers and representative citizens of South Dakota..." Chicago, Illinois: G. A. Ogle & Co., 1899, page 236.
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Created: 9 Jul 2004
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