TIMON J. SPANGLER
A SELF-MADE ATTORNEY
The second class that graduated from the Mitchell high school, away back in the year 1887,
consisted of four girls and two boys. The young ladies were the Misses Stella Adams, Emily Rogers, Beulah Windle
and Eva Keith. They are today Mrs. Stella Moyer, Mrs. Emily Tipton, Mrs. Beulah Scallinall of Mitchell,
and Mrs. Eva Mohr of Alexandria, respectively. Each one having married, they curbed their ambitions for
greatness in life, except in the realm of motherhood. The two young men were Marvin Dundas and Timon J. Spangler.
Unfortunately, Dundas, a lad of great promise, died shortly after graduating, leaving Spangler, alone, to
TIMON J. SPANGLER
Born at Amboy, Illinois, in 1869, young Spangler's parents brought him to Dakota in the spring
of 1883, and the family settled on a farm in Davison county. Like most of the rugged pioneers of those days,
they were poor. Timon yearned for an education. He therefore went to Mitchell where he supported himself and
worked his way through high school, as a newsboy, selling the Mitchell Daily Republican. It was at that time a
morning sheet. Young Spangler got up at four o'clock regularly, every morning, so as to get his papers and be
the first boy on the streets, offering them for sale and making deliveries to his customers. Each night, after
getting his studies for the ensuing day, he went to the composing rooms of the Daily and set tpye, so as to
learn the printer's trade. This knowledge became very useful to him later on, as we shall subsequently see.
OUT IN THE WORLD
When Spangler graduated from the Mitchell high school, he was six feet tall, slender, lithe,
a foot racer and an all-round athlete. (Today he weighs 250 pounds.) Fired with ambition, one month after graduation he struck out into a cold, cruel world, to begin a new career.
Going to Sioux City, he worked on the "Sioux City Journal" for a few months, and then switched
over to the "Sioux City Tribune," with which he was identified for nearly two years. In 1889, he struck west and
landed in the then village of Hot Springs. Buying a press and a small equipment he established at Hot Springs
the "Minnekahata Herald." Final proofs on Fall River county homesteads were being made thick and fast. Spangler
got all of these notices of final proof for publication. At the end of a year he had cleared $5,000. Then he
sold the plant to the "Oelrichs Times" which was moved to Hot Springs and merged with the "Minnekahata Herald"
thereby giving birth to the "Hot Springs Times-Herald," which is still published in that city by a gentleman
From his early days while standing as a newsboy in the corridors of the old court house at
Mitchell and listening to the eloquent H. C. Preston pleading for justice for his clients, before the bar of
man, Spangler had determined to fit himself for a lawyer. With the money earned at Hot Springs he made a bold
dash for Ann Arbor, Michigan, and entered the famous law school at that place. His funds became exhausted, but
he had a trade to fall back on. Entering a print shop and working as a "devil" therein at night he earned
enough to put himself through school. After graduating at Ann Arbor with the class of 1893, he returned to
Mitchell where for nineteen consecutive years, he has engaged in the practice of his chosen profession.
The "starvation period" in a lawyer's career came truthfully home to him. The first three
years his annual income from his practice averaged him only $200. This scarcely paid his office rent. But
Timon had bull dog tenacityhe stuck. Conditions changed. He got a foothold; his practice began to
enlarge rapidly; and during the next few years he forged to the front so rapidly that he soon acquired the
largest individual law practice in the state.
Spangler is, first of all, a successful trial lawyer. His massive physique and overpowering
personality, his deep bass voice, his force, logic and shrewdnessall combine to fit him pre-eminently
for practice in court. For nineteen years he has tried cases in the old court room against the mighty Preston
whose stirring eloquence at the same bar fired the ambtion of Spangler as a boy and gave rise to his success
in life. Today, his practice is so extensive that he has to hire another good lawyer at a good salary to remain in his office and do nothing
but draw up his papers, and a second attorney to look after his lighter cases.
He was state's attorney in Davison county, 1905-1908, inclusive. During this service he made a
record as a public prosecutor never before equalled or approached by any other attorney in the state. In all, he
sent about thirty men to the penitentiary seventeen of them in one year. Hobos coming to Mitchell,
having heard of him, marked on the railroad ties and sign boards near that place, certain signs as a caution to
their uninformed comrades to beware.
In 1902, without any solicitation on his part, General Conklin appointed him judge
advocate-general of the South Dakota national guard, with the rank of Colonel; but, after two years, Attorney
Spangler, finding that the interests of his clients were too great to be neglected, gave up his military
Today the former newsboy of Mitchell lives in one of the most magnificent homes in the state,
fronting onto the court yard square in the city of Mitchell. Its stately porch colonnades, and massive Grecian
appearance from without, are but surpassed by its Mosaic designs, spacious halls and classic finish within.
Two little daughters play on his lawn, sit upon his knee and enrich his home life with their
attentive mother who is the second Mrs. Spanglergrief having cast a distressful shadow over his life
shortly after his first marriage.
His genius, his scholarship, his adaptability and application of himself to his work, his
judgment and poise in his profession, lead us to surmise, that should his health not fail, he will yet win his
way to the benchthe creditable ambition of every progressive attorney.
(Later.At the time of going to press Mr. Spangler has just formed a partnership with
Judge Haney, one of the retiring members of our state supreme court. The two will make one of the strongest
law firms in the west. O. W. C.)