Thomas James Flannelly, lawyer and judge of the district court of Montgomery county, was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 23rd March 1868, son of James J. and Johanna M. (née Doyle) Flannelly; with sisters Mary Josephine, Blanche Margaret and Cora. His mother died in 1873, and his father remarried to Helen "Nellie" P. Butterworth on 25th January 1883.
His father, James J. Flannelly, was born in County Mayo in 1845, where he was reared and educated, and whence he emigrated to the United States at the age of 15. By occupation he was a merchant. He began his commercial career as a clerk in a dry goods store at Cincinnati, Ohio, and later engaged in the same form of business for himself at Newport, Kentucky, where he remained until 1880, in which year he came to Kansas, locating at Chetopa, Labette county, where he opened and successfully operated a general store until his death, which occurred in 1900.
Thomas J. Flannelly was twelve years of age when his father removed from Kentucky to Kansas. He had attended school in Kentucky, and soon after coming to Kansas he was sent to Saint Mary's College, St. Marys, Pottawatomie county, Kansas, thence to St. Louis University, from which he was graduated with the degree of A. B., in 1887. The next year he spent in studying practical electrical engineering, and then returned home. Predilection led him to study law, which study he took up under J. H. Crichton, an able and prominent lawyer of Chetopa, as his preceptor. Later, Mr. Flannelly entered the law department of the University of Kansas, graduating therefrom in 1890, receiving the degree of LL. B.
For the first two years after his graduation in the law. Mr. Flannelly practiced his profession at Topeka, Kansas, and then became a member of the law firm of Beardsley, Gregory & Flannelly, at Kansas City, Missouri. Four years later, he withdrew from the firm, being called to Chetopa on account of the serious illness of his father, and to look after his father's business. He remained in Labette county until January, 1905, when he changed his residence to Independence, Montgomery county, Kansas, where he has since resided.
In 1899, he was elected to the state legislature as a representative from the southern district of Labette county. He served with distinction in the legislature, and in February 1901, Governor Stanley appointed him judge of the Fourteenth judicial district, then composed of Labette and Montgomery counties. He had the distinction of being the youngest judge on the district bench in Kansas, being at that time thirty-two years of age. In the autumn of 1901, he was reappointed to the same office, owing to the biennial election law, which had gone into effect, and thus, under appointments, served as district court judge for two years. At the regular autumn election of 1902, Judge Flannelly was elected to succeed himself on the district bench for a term of four years. In the autumn of 1906, he was again reelected for another term of four years.
The oil and gas development in Montgomery county, from 1902 to 1907, had doubled the population of the county, and increased the litigation to such an extent, that the legislature of 1907 found it necessary to make Montgomery county a separate judicial district, continuing it as the Fourteenth judicial district, and Judge Flannelly, having taken up his residence in Montgomery county the previous year, continued as the presiding judge of the district court, and in the autumn of 1910 was again elected to succeed himself by a flattering majority.
Although an ardent republican in politics, Judge Flannelly has discharged his duties on the bench without regard to political affiliations, and has won an enviable reputation as a district judge and jurist. His religious faith is that of the Catholic church, that of his forefathers, and that in which he was reared. He is a member of several fraternal and benevolent orders and social clubs of Independence.
In 1901, Judge Flannelly was united in marriage with Miss Jessie Taylor, of Oswego, Kansas, a lady of charming and delightful manner. The couple travelled to Europe on the RMS Mauretania in 1924 to attend to business in France and to visit relatives in Ireland, England and Italy.
Thomas died on 2nd September 1936 in Santa Barbara, California.
[contemporary text and portrait courtesy of "Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history" (1912); 1924 passport photographs of Thomas and Jessie are illustrated above, courtesy of Maureen Wlodarczyk]