LUTHER CLAY SLAVENS, the son of Hiram B. and Sarah (Holland) Slavens, was born in Putnam County, Indiana, August 13, 1836. The name was originally “Slavin,” but for some cause, most probably because of the fact that those of the family who enlisted in the Revolutionary War were enrolled under the name "Slavens," as it was even then frequently pronouced, the name became changed to Slavens. His grandfather, Isaiah Slavens, was born in what is now Rockingham County, Virginia, but was then a portion of Augusta County. Isaiah’s father, John Slavin, the great grandfather of the subject of our sketch, was a native of the North of Ireland. He came to America before he had attained his majority, settled in that part of Virginia above referred to, and there married Elizabeth Stuart, a member of a Scotch family.
A few years prior to the breaking out of the American Revolution, he removed with his family to a tract of land on the headwaters of Jackson River, at a point a little west of Vanderpool Gap, in what is now Highland County, Virginia. On this farm his descendants still live, the land being owned and tilled by members of the fifth generation.
The family was a deeply patriotic one, and when the Revolution was waged, Isaiah Slavens, with others of the family, left the farm, shouldered his flint-lock musket, and marched, suffered and fought with Washington. He served four campaigns in this war, and when the War of 1812 was precipitated, he enlisted, with three of his sons, the father serving one year. After the Revolution, he settled in Greenbriar County, Virginia, but in a short time concluded to push into what was then a western wilderness. Accordingly, in 1792 he settled in Montgomery County, Kentucky. It was in that State that Mr. Slavens' parents, Hiram B. Slavens and Sarah Slavens, nee Holland, were born and reared.
Luther Clay was reared on the Indiana farm where he was born. He completed his education at Indiana Asbury University, which is now known as Depauw University. There he graduated in 1858, from its classical department, and from the law department two years later, or in 1860.
Convinced that nothing is of greater assistance in life to any man than the sympathy, help and love of a good woman, at the threshold of his career, January 8, 1861, he wedded Miss Sallie Boggs Shelby, daughter of Isaac Shelby, of Tippecanoe County, Indiana. Her grandfather, David Shelby, was reared in Rockingham County, Virginia, and was one of the early settlers of Pickaway County, Ohio. He was a man of influence, universally respected, and for over twenty years represented his county in the Ohio Legislature. His ancestors came to this country at a very early day from Wales, and settled near Hagerstown, Maryland.
Mr. and Mrs. Slavens have but three children, all daughters. The eldest, Lulie, married George L. McNutt; the second, Mattie, married H. W. Immke, and the youngest, Dade, became the wife of John Slavens.
Soon after his marriage, Mr. Slavens removed to Covington, Indiana, where he opened an office and began practice. He continued to reside there until the close of the Civil War when, convinced of the greater opportunities of the West, he removed to Kansas City, Missouri, where he has steadily continued the practice of his profession.
He justly ranks with the best and ablest lawyers of the Kansas City bar. He is a man of strong character, uncommon self-reliance, and pronounced individuality. These qualities, together with a clear, logical mind and the courage of his convictions, have made him prominent in his profession.
He has never sought nor held political office, although at one time, 1889, he was appointed City Counselor of Kansas City, and served one year. He was a member of the National Republican Convention of 1880, and was one of the “306” who voted for General Grant to the end. On questions concerning political matters he is a man of prouounced convictions, and of most rigid conscience. Although, of course, a party man, he is devoted above all else to principle, and never lets party fealty interfere with what he believes to be right. He is a warm sympathizer with the people, and favors any political principle that is in their interest. Both he and his wife, as were their parents before them, are members of the Methodist Episcopal Church
The History of the Bench and Bar of Missouri
A.J.D. Stewart, editor, The Legal Publishing Co., St. Louis, MO 1898.