Allen Thomson Gunnell

From: Portrait and Biographical Record of the State of Colorado, 1899

AT_Gunnell_p134HON. ALLEN T. GUNNELL. The services which in the past Judge Gunnell has rendered the people of El Paso County and Colorado entitle him to rank among the prominent public men of his county and state.  From the time of his arrival in Colorado to the present he has been identified with its political and public affairs and has been recognized as one of the most distinguished members of its bar.  As representative, county judge and state senator (in fact, in every position to which he has been called), his devotion to the interests of his constituents has been as conspicuous as his ability and broad information.  Since the spring of 1894 he has made his home in Colorado Springs, where he has his office in the Giddings Block, having as his partner C. C. Hamlin, under the firm title of Gunnell & Hamlin.

While the Gunnell family originated in England, by intermarriage the present generation is principally of French-Huguenot descent.  They were represented among the pioneer planters of Virginia.  John Gunnell, who was born in the Old Dominion, removed to Christian County, Ky., and engaged in farming, but after a time he went to McLean County, Ill., becoming a pioneer farmer near Bloomington.  He remained there until his death, which occurred when he was seventy years of age.  His son, Thomas A. Gunnell, was born in Christian County, Ky., and was educated for the bar.  His mother died in his infancy, leaving him a large number of slaves.  In order to support them he was obliged to turn his attention to farming.  Establishing his home in Saline County, Mo., which had the largest hemp fields in the world, he embarked in hemp-raising.  Believing the institution of slavery to be a great moral evil, when the war came on he gave his support to the Union cause.  After continuing the management of his farm until 1884 he came to Colorado Springs, and now, at seventy-seven years of age, makes his home with his son, Judge Gunnell.  In religion he is connected with the Christian Church.

The marriage of Thomas A. Gunnell united him with Marion Wallace Thomson, who was born near Georgetown, Ky., and died in 1896, while visiting at Buena Vista, Colo.  The Thomson family originated in Scotland, whence two brothers emigrated to America many years prior to the Revolution, one settling in Massachusetts, and the other going to Alabama or Mississippi, and from there going into Virginia.  Her father, David, was a commissioned general in the war of 1812; his oldest son, Manlius V., who was a prominent attorney and politician of Kentucky, enlisted in the Mexican war when very young and was given a commission as colonel.  Some years afterward, while serving as lieutenant-governor of Kentucky, he died, at about thirty-five years of age.  General Thomson was a pioneer and large farmer of Pettis County, Mo., where he established the town of Georgetown, the original county-seat.  One of the tracts that he entered from the government he presented to his daughter, the wife of Gen. George R. Smith, who laid out the land as a town and named it in honor of his daughter, Sarah, whose nickname was Sed, from which the name Sedalia was derived.  This General Smith was a man of great influence in Missouri and was the principal promoter of the Missouri Pacific Railroad.

The subject of this sketch, son of Thomas A. Gunnell, was born near Marshall, Saline County, Mo., January 29, 1848, and was the oldest of seven children, of whom three are living, Volney C. being an attorney in Ogden, Utah, while Eva, Mrs. John Bradley, resides in Wellington, Kan.  He prepared for college under Dr. Yantis, in Sweet Springs Academy, and in 1866 entered Bethany (W. Va.) College, from which he graduated in 1869, with the degree of A. B. He studied law with Judge Phillips of the United States District Court of Kansas City and Senator Vest, and was admitted to the bar in Sedalia, Mo., in 1872, but in the summer of the same year, owing to impaired health, he came to Colorado.  When winter came on he went south to Austin, Tex., but the climate there did not agree with him.  In the spring of 1874 he returned to Missouri and during the same year came to Colorado Springs, where he began in practice.  In 1876 he went to Lake City, in the San Juan country, and two years later was elected to represent Hinsdale County in the state legislature, serving as a member of the second general assembly.  While there he was employed on a mining case in Leadville, where he bought mining interests.  On retiring from the legislature he became a partner of L. J. Laws, in the general practice of law at Leadville.  In 1881 he was elected county judge of Lake County and two years later was re-elected, but resigned during the last year of his second term in order to form a partnership with Hon. J. B. Bissell, now judge of the court of appeals of Colorado.  The partnership of Bissell & Gunnell continued until the former was elected to the bench, after which Mr. Gunnell carried on practice alone in the same place.  In the spring of 1894 he opened an office in Colorado Springs.

On the Democratic ticket, in the fall of 1890, Judge Gunnell was elected to the state senate, and served in the sessions of 1891 and 1893 and the special sessions of 1894.  In 1893 he was chairman of the judiciary committee, and at other times served on various important committees.  His first partner in Colorado Springs was Judge William Harrison, who died in June, 1894, two months after the partnership had been formed.  Since then he has had Mr. Hamlin as partner.  While his practice is general, he has made a specialty of mining cases.  He is president of a number of mining companies at Cripple Creek and is interested individually in Leadville mines, where he owns some good properties.  He is recognized as one of the prominent representatives of the Democratic Party in El Paso County and Colorado.  In 1896 he was elected, on the regular Democratic ticket, as presidential elector and met with the other electors in Denver, where he cast his vote for Bryan.

In Saline County, Mo., Judge Gunnell married Miss Elizabeth M. Hancock, who was born in Hopkinsville, Ky., a descendant of the Waller family of Virginia, and a daughter of Rev. T. W. Hancock, a native of Christian County, Ky., and a pioneer preacher of the Christian Church in Missouri.  They have two children: Allen W., member of the class of 1899, University of Michigan law department; and Seddie, a graduate of the Christian College at Columbia, Mo., now the wife of Hon. Clarence C. Hamlin.  Judge and Mrs. Gunnell are members of the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs.  Fraternally he was made a Mason in Lake City, and is now a member of El Paso Lodge No. 13, A.F.& A.M., Colorado Springs Chapter No. 6, R.A.M. , Pike’s Peak Commandery No. 6, K.T., and the Scottish Rite and Shrine.

Judge Gunnell is thoroughly grounded in the philosophy of the law, and among his contemporaries is said to excel as a counselor.  However, he is particularly strong in the presentation of a case before both the court and jury.

(Full citation: Portrait and biographical record of the state of Colorado containing portraits and biographies of many well known citizens of the past and present (Chicago, Illinois: Chapman Publishing Company) 1899, p. 135-6.


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