Albert H. Orvis (1857 – )

“Many elements figure in the success of one who gains prominence at the bar.  He must possess not only accurate and comprehensive knowledge of the law, but discrimination in applying its principles and ability to clearly and cogently present his case.  Oratory as well as logic frequently constitutes a feature in winning favorable verdicts and, added to this, there must be a recognition and observation of a high standard of professional ethics.  Lacking in none of these qualities, Albert H. Orvis is now a well known and successful attorney of Yankton.  He was born in Jefferson county, New York, May 19, 1857.  His father Chester Orvis, who was born in 1823, devoted his life to general farming and passed away in 1896, in the seventy-third year of his age.  His wife, who in her maidenhood was Esther A. Ware, was born in July, 1831, and had reached the age of sixty-four years when death called her in April, 1896.  The Orvis and Ware families both came of old colonial stock, the Orvis family tracing its ancestry back to Farmington, Connecticut, to which place George Orvis came from the old world in 1658 or earlier.  The Ware family was established in Boston as early as 1642 and both families were represented in the war of the Revolution.

Mr. and Mrs. Chester Orvis had four sons who reached adult age, of whom Albert H. is the second in order of birth.  The country schools afforded him his early educational opportunities and he afterward attended the high school in Watertown, New York.  The year 1876 witnessed his arrival in the middle west.  He made his way to Iowa, where he taught school and farmed.  Six years were spent in that state and in May, 1881, he came to the territory of Dakota, settling near Mitchell, where he engaged in farming.  He afterward removed to Buffalo county, where he proved up a preemption claim, and is ability and worth were readily recognized, as is indicated in his appointment to the office of register of deeds.  Later he was elected to the same position, in which he served for three years and four months.  He then resigned and went to Chamberlain, where he spent several months, after which he became a resident of Scotland, South Dakota.  In 1892 he arrived in Yankton and here entered into partnership in the practice of law with Levi B. French under the firm style of French & Orvis.  He began studying law several years before and in 1886 was admitted to the bar.  While advancement in the law is proverbially slow, he possessed persistency of purpose and knew that ability must ultimately win its reward.  He therefore, studied  broadly and prepared his cases with great precision and care, preparing for defense as well as for attack.  Today he is accorded  a large clientage, that connects him with much important litigation.  In the year of 1897 he was chosen city attorney and in 1898 was reelected and on the expiration of his second term was elected state’s attorney, in which office he served for a term of two years.  He continues in general law practice and his work before the courts indicates him to be one well versed in the basic principles of the profession.  He holds membership in the South Dakota State Bar Association.

On the 24th of October, 1878, Mr. Orvis was united in marriage to Miss Linnie P. Hall, a daughter of Hiram and Katherine (Groff) Hall, residents of Shell Rock, Iowa.  They have become parents of three children, who are yet living.  Caroline, who is a graduate of Yankton College; Harriet, who is a graduate of the University of Nebraska and of the College of Medicine at that institution and who entered the Mary Thompson Hospital for Women and Children in Chicago as interne in the fall of 1915; and Herbert C., at home.

Mr. Orvis is a republican where national issues are involved.  He does not feel that politics, however, should enter into local elections, where the capability of the candidate is the only point to consider, and therefore, he casts an independent local ballot.  In Masonry he has attained the degree of the Royal Arch chapter.  Since 1903 he has been a member of the board of education and has served as the president for seven years, doing effective and earnest work to promote the interests of the schools and giving to the city a system of public instruction of which it has every reason to be proud of.  He enjoys outdoor sports and in these finds his recreation.  In an analyzation of his life work it is found that reliability and integrity have featured largely in his success, as well as close adherence to the ethics of profession.”

Source:  History of Dakota Territory, Vol. 4, by George Washington Kingsbury, The S.J. Clarke Publishing Co., Chicago, 1915, pages 399-400.


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