Biography of Hon. Jason E. Payne

Hon. Jason E. Payne, born January 22, 1874, in Clay County, South Dakota, was a prominent lawyer in Vermillion and a faculty member at the University of South Dakota’s College of Law. Son of early pioneers Byron S. and Charlotte E. (Woodworth) Payne, he graduated from the State University of South Dakota in 1894 and studied law under notable mentors. Admitted to the bar in 1898, Payne began practicing law in Vermillion in 1901 and was appointed assistant professor of law in 1903. A dedicated Republican, he served in the state senate from 1902 to 1904. Despite losing an arm in an 1893 accident, Payne remained active professionally and socially.

Hon. Jason E. Payne.— Among the native sons of the state who have attained prestige and success in one of the most exacting and important of professions, that of the law, is Mr. Payne, who is engaged in the practice of his profession in the city of Vermillion, where he is also a member of the faculty of the College of Law at the University of South Dakota.

Jason Elihu Payne was born on the homestead farm in Clay county, this state, on the 22nd of January, 1874, and is a scion of one of the early pioneer families of the county. His parents were Byron S. and Charlotte E. (Woodworth) Payne, the former a native of Michigan and the latter of Wisconsin, though both living in Clay county, this state, at the time of their marriage, while they still remain on their valuable farm in this county. The subject received his early education in the district school near his home, and after completing the curriculum of the public schools entered the State University of South Dakota, at Vermillion, where he was graduated in 1894, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts. In the following year he began reading law under the direction of ex-Governor A. C. Mellette, of this state, who was at that time residing in Pittsburg, Kansas, and thereafter continued his technical reading under the preceptorship of E. M. Kelsey, of Vermillion, during the year 1896, while in 1897-8 he was a student in the College of Law of the University of Minnesota, in the city of Minneapolis, being admitted to the bar of his native state in October of the latter year. He began the practice of his profession in Vermillion on the 1st of January, 1901, and has already built up an excellent business, retaining a representative clientage. He is specially well grounded in the science of jurisprudence, so that his preferment as assistant professor of law in the College of Law of the State University was consistently accorded, his appointment to the position having been made in September, 1903. In politics Mr. Payne gives an unqualified allegiance to the Republican party, and is one of the most prominent of the younger workers in its ranks in the state, while in 1902 he was elected to represent his district in the state senate, serving with marked ability as a member of this body during the eighth general assembly, while his term will expire in the present year, 1904. Mr. Payne is popular in professional, business and social circles and is well known throughout his native county. He has not yet assumed connubial ties.

Mr. Payne met with serious misfortune on the 29th of August, 1893, when, as the result of a runaway, he was thrown against a wire fence, his injuries being of such a serious nature as to necessitate the amputation of one arm.


Robinson, Doane, History of South Dakota: together with mention of Citizens of South Dakota, [Logansport? IN] : B. F. Bowen, 1904.

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