The Amazing King Brothers

William Henry King
Samuel Andrew King

Distinguished Attorneys, Politicians
& Public Servants

Sen. William H. King, Class of 1881
Sen. William H. King, Class of 1881

Samuel A. King, Class of 1888
Samuel A. King, Class of 1888

Brigham Young Academy
High School Classes of 1881 & 1888

Two of the most prominent and colorful Utah leaders of their time, William Henry "Bill" King, BYA Class of 1881, and Samuel Andrew "Sam" King, BYA Class of 1888, were two of the four energetic and talented children of William King and Josephine Henry King, Mormon pioneers with Irish heritage who married in Nauvoo, Illinois, then came to Utah in 1850.

All four children were born in Fillmore, Utah. The first, William H. King, arrived on June 3, 1863 (not 1862 and not 1864). Next came Lillian King, born on April 26, 1864 -- she married Ira Nobel Hinckley. Third was Josephine King, born on March 31, 1866 -- she married John Watt Thornley. Finally, Samuel Andrew King was born on January 9, 1868.

William Henry King

William H. King was the oldest child born to his pioneer parents. Not a large man, he participated in the hard farm work of a frontier town, and grew up listening to conversations about politics around the cracker barrel in the town's grocery store.

He lived in Utah's most stressful days, born just after Johnston's Army had left the state, and as the Civil War was concluding. Times were hard, and political debates were rough.

Popular debate concerned State's rights vs. Federal power. Mormons were deeply concerned because Federal power had aided in expelling Mormons from Nauvoo, Illinois, and then had sent the US Army west to quell a non-existing rebellion in Utah.

Many Utah colonists were attracted to the Democratic Party with its State's rights philosophy, and their loyalty was strengthened when the Federal government denied statehood to the Utah Territory again and again until 1896.

Bill King became an ardent Democrat.

The King boys, William and young Sam, were omnivorous readers. Each revealed his personal interests and inclinations by the books he borrowed or bought.

Bill was intrigued with property rights, water problems, and federal, state and individual ownership conflicts.

Sam, on the other hand, was more concerned with the hazards and conflicts of the person living in society, rather than with the property he may have owned.

Over the years both read Blackstone and "wore out its pages".

William Henry King completed his Brigham Young Academy high school courses in 1881 when seventeen years of age. He studied at the University of Deseret in Salt Lake City, Utah, for a year. Then William served an LDS mission in Great Britain from 1881 to 1883. While in Europe, he observed the various types of government, including monarchy and experimental democracy.

It was while they were students at Brigham Young Academy that William first met Ella Olivia Driggs. She was born on March 26, 1859 in Pleasant Grove, Utah. Her parents were Benjamin Woodbury Driggs Sr. and Olivia Thankful Pratt Driggs.

William and Ella fell in love, and after he returned from his mission in Europe, they became engaged to be married. However, Ella suddenly became ill, died and was buried in her wedding dress. She died on October 21, 1883 in Pleasant Grove, and she was buried on October 24, 1883 in Pleasant Grove. She was sealed to William H. King on November 5, 1884 in the Logan Temple. They obviously had no children. [When Ella's brother was born two years after her death, her parents named him William King Driggs in honor of Ella Olivia and the man she was about to marry.]

William decided to enter the University of Michigan Law School. There he studied under Thomas McIntyre Cooley, LL.D., the 25th Justice and a Chief Justice of the Michigan Supreme Court, between 1864 and 1885. William graduated with an LL.B. degree in 1887.

Bill possessed a beautiful deep voice and was frequently called upon to sing. His favorites were "Rocked in the Cradle of the Deep" and "The Sword of Bunker Hill". In those days most entertainment centered in the home, around a piano or an organ, or in the ward chapel.

He began his law practice in Fillmore, then moved to Provo where he was an immediate success. He had been a prize orator and winning debater at BYA, so his name and voice had recognition value from the very start. He joined a law partnership, King & Burton. He later formed King & King with his brother, Samuel A. King.

William entered politics in his first month in the growing city, and simultaneously became Provo City Attorney and Utah County Attorney. He served three terms in the territorial legislature.

William married Annie Lyman in 1889, and they became the parents of four children.

In 1894, at the age of thirty, William King was appointed by President Grover Cleveland to be an associate justice of the Utah Supreme Count, where he served from 1894 to 1896.

In 1896, Utah was admitted to statehood under President William McKinley. This proved to be a boon for most Utah politicians and helped to change power within the state. William was one of the earliest supporters of "Sagebrush Democracy" and played a leading role in organizing the Democratic Party in Utah.

He was elected to Congress and served one two-year term in the 55th Congress (1897-99). He declined to run again, but was later elected to the 56th Congress when Brigham H. Roberts was unseated, to fill out the rest of the Roberts term from April 25, 1900 to March 3, 1901. Twice King was defeated when he was a candidate for the 58th Congress, and for the 59th Congress.

In 1905 and 1909, prior to the direct election of United States senators, King was the unsuccessful choice of the Utah Democratic legislative caucus for senator. In 1916, however, King was elected to the U.S. Senate.

William H. King, Utah Senator in Washington D.C.
William Henry King in Washington D.C.

When Woodrow Wilson and World War I arrived, Democrats again held sway and William Henry King began his first term in the Senate in 1917. He held his seat in the Senate for four terms up through 1941. One of his friends observed, "He looks like and has the bearing of a statesman."

Senator King was one of the ablest orators in the Senate, in an age when oratory was much more cultivated and influential skill. He gained prestige and influence with each year served. King briefly served as President pro tem of the U.S. Senate -- the highest-ranking Senator -- after his defeat in November 1940 and before a new Congress was seated in January 1941.

During his service in the Senate, King was a strong advocate of a "hands off" policy on the part of the United States toward Latin America. In 1936 he was recognized by the government of Haiti for his role in terminating U.S. intervention in the affairs of that nation.

King, terming himself a "Constitutional Democrat", was an outspoken opponent of the New Deal of President Franklin Roosevelt, specifically challenging the President's attempt to "pack" the Supreme Court in 1937. He opposed other aspects of FDR's domestic program as well.

Senator King was an active Democrat on the national level, serving as delegate to the party's national conventions on a number of occasions between 1908 and 1932.

In 1934, Senator King was challenged in the party convention by liberal state senator Herbert B. Maw and attorney Hugh B. Brown. While King emerged victorious and went on to defeat Republican Don B. Colton in the general election, it was clear that he would continue to be opposed by party liberals.

In 1936, King was defeated in his bid to be elected a delegate to the national Democratic party convention, and was targeted for defeat for the senate when party liberals passed a direct primary law in the 1937 Utah legislature.

By 1940 Senator King had become even more vocal in his opposition to the national Democratic party. He was defeated in the Democratic party primary by liberal congressman Abe Murdock.

With so much experience in the federal government, he decided to remain in Washington D.C. to practice law. He retired in April 1947. He returned to Utah and lived in Salt Lake City until his death on November 27, 1949.

Bill King's political career paralleled that of Senator Reed Smoot, another Brigham Young Academy high school graduate, Class of 1880. Senators Smoot and King frequently opposed each other in Senate voting but were the best of friends in civic and church activities. King was a Seventy in the LDS Church.

William Henry King, as mentioned earlier, married Louisa Ann Lyman on April 17, 1889 in Manti, Utah. She was born on December 28, 1863 [or 1868] in Fillmore, Utah. Annie's parents were Francis Marion Lyman and Rhoda Ann Taylor Lyman, pioneers who crossed the plains in the Amasa M. Lyman Company. Annie King died on April 6, 1906 in Kansas City, Missouri. William and Annie had four children: Romula King, Paul Browning King, Josephine King, and Adrieinne King.

He second married Vera Birgitte Sjodahl on July 19, 1912 in Logan, Utah. Vera was born in Manti, Utah on October 10, 1891. She was the daughter of Jan [or Jaune] Madison Sjodahl, associate editor of the Deseret News, and Christine "Minnie" Christopherson Sjodahl. William and Vera had four children: Kathleen King [Kimball], David S. King, and twins John Creighton King and Eleanor King.

A son from that second marriage, David S. King, was elected a Democratic representative to the Congress from 1959 to 1963, and from 1965 to 1967. He later served as ambassador to several nations in Africa.

Note: A different William Henry King, born 1870, married Martha Celinda Russell in 1888 in Junction, Piute County, Utah, and the records were sometimes incorrectly mixed up.

Samuel Andrew King

From his childhood, Samuel A. King -- known as "Sam" -- enjoyed the talk and wit of his Irish ancestry. He worked hard and played hard as he grew up on his family's farm in Fillmore, Utah.

About four years younger than his brother, William H. King, Sam came to Brigham Young Academy in Provo during his teenage years. He admired and thrived under the influence of Principal Karl G. Maeser and the dedicated high school faculty of the Academy. Sam completed his courses and graduated in the Class of 1888.

Partly through the influence of his brother, and partly by following his own interests, he was deeply interested in the law, and he attended the University of Deseret for a year.

In early 1890 he was called to serve a mission in Ireland, the ancestral home of his grandmother on his mother's side, Margaret Creighton. It was also where his father had served a mission. Samuel enjoyed the Irish culture and served with distinction for two years. At that time, political Home Rule discussions were at their height in Ireland.

During his BY Academy days, Sam had met beautiful Maynetta Bagley, also a BYA student. They fell in love and were married on September 14, 1892.

Sam decided to study law, and his brother Bill highly recommended his own alma mater, the University of Michigan. Sam and Maynetta lived in Ann Arbor, where Sam earned his LL.B. in 1893.

Returning to Utah, Sam opened a law office in Provo in 1893 and was immediately accepted into the profession and activities of the city and county seat. He teamed up with his brother to form the law firm, King & King [later in Salt Lake City known as King, Burton & King.]

Sam was elected County Attorney in Utah County, 1896-1898. He also served as Provo City Attorney and Prosecuting Attorney for the 4th Judicial District, 1898 to 1900. Samuel A. King was nominated for judge in the Fourth Judicial District in 1904. The following was taken from a news article:

SAMUEL A. KING, for Judge, September 12, 1904
SAMUEL A. KING, nominee for Judge

The Democrats of the Fourth Judicial District, who met at Provo on Saturday, as told in The Herald for yesterday, named Major Samuel A. King for judge...

Samuel A. King was born thirty-six years ago in Fillmore, Millard county. He is a graduate of the Brigham Young academy (now university) and of the law department of the University of Michigan, and in 1889-91 was a missionary of the Mormon church in the British mission.

Mr. King has had considerable experience in public life, having served as city and county attorney and district attorney of the Fourth judicial district, filling each position with ability and to the satisfaction of his constituents.

He has a fine legal practice, attending to the legal business of his firm, King, Burton & King, in this part of the state. Mr. King has also been active in politics and is well known through the state as a campaign orator for Democracy.

In addition to his legal business he is extensively engaged in mining, and holds a commission as judge advocate in the N. G. U.

Mr. King is an able speaker and enjoys an extensive acquaintance with the leading men of the state, and is popular with all classes of citizens.

In 1892 Mr. King was married to Miss Maynetta Bagley, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Charles S. Bagley of Salt Lake county. They have a family of four children.

Salt Lake Herald, September 12, 1904.

It was while serving in various local offices that he decided to focus most of his law practice on being a defense attorney in criminal law cases. He felt that someone needed to present the best defense possible for people swept up in the complexities of the judicial system. He also enjoyed talking to juries and judges, winning his points when victory seemed most problematical.

Sam moved his family to Salt Lake City for the major years of his legal practice, including serving as a partner with his talented brother William H. King, when William was not in Washington D.C.

Much of his time that was not consumed in court he spent on mining and politics. He was attorney for mines in Utah, Colorado and Nevada when many great mines were in full production, and litigation frequent. Intensely interested in Utah's mineral possibilities, Sam boasted that he knew the inside of every mine in Utah.

Cattle rustling and railroad hold-ups were common. Trials by jury accumulated on an extensive docket. Developing strong foundations for his cases and winning a jury over to his way of thinking, was similar to his gift of persuasion he used to win over crowds to his political principles.

As his reputation grew, Sam King was called to neighboring states to defend various people accused of crimes, many of them accused murderers.

Wyoming in his day was the scene of bloody battles between sheepmen and cattlemen. For 10 years Mr. King rode horseback into the rangelands of that state to defend approximately 20 men accused of murder.

About half of them were convicted, all eventually received pardons. It was largely through his mediation efforts that the battles over the rich grazing lands of Wyoming were brought to a close.

When violent strikes involved Carbon County miners, Mr. King defended 27 men accused of murder as the outgrowth of mining. All were acquitted.

Among his celebrated clients were Jack Dempsey, Marie Dressler and Charles Chaplin. He represented Chaplin in a divorce action, and was forced to file suit against Chaplin to collect unpaid legal fees of $500,000, and King collected part of the amount.

Among his varied cases was the successful defense of two men involved in Utah bootleg-gang warfare, a shooting in Ogden, and defense of Jean Dale, acquitted of a charge of murdering a jewelry salesman in her room, even though she had confessed.

Sam King served as a 2nd Lieutenant in World War I. He was a member of the American Bar Association and associations in Utah, Colorado, Nevada, Wyoming and Idaho.

Sam and his wife, Maynetta Bagley King, had four children: Creighton Grant King, Renan King [Johnston], Karl Vernon King, and Margaret King [McCency].

After Maynetta died, Sam married a second time, to LaRen Watson of St. George, on September 2, 1929. They had no children together, but LaRen had a son, Richard H. King, stepson of Samuel.

Samuel A. King spent his later years practicing law in Washington D.C. For six years he was associated in a law partnership with the former Senator James E. Watson of Indiana.

Sam King died on August 27, 1943, during a visit to Salt Lake City, following an emergency operation. Lawyers and friends across the nation responded to the news with an unusual outpouring of heartfelt letters and telegrams.

The Salt Lake Telegram in a news obituary dated August 28, 1943, stated: "Mr. King probably defended more persons charged with murder than any other lawyer in the nation. None of his murder clients were ever executed although some were sentenced to prison terms. Most of these, however, were subsequently pardoned."

"With the passing of Mr. King passes an epoch," the Utah Bar Association said in a tribute. "He was virtually the last of a race of legal giants who practiced in Western America . . . . Not only was he a distinguished lawyer, industrious, resourceful and loyal to the interests of his clients, but he loved his fellow men. He had a rare capacity for making and retaining friends that few men have possessed."

Aerial view of Washington DC in 1916
Aerial view of Washington DC in 1916

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