Louis K. Church

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Louis Church
Governor of the Dakota Territory
In office
February 21, 1887 – March 9, 1889
Preceded byGilbert A. Pierce
Succeeded byArthur C. Mellette
Personal details
Louis Kossuth Church

(1846-12-11)December 11, 1846
Brooklyn, New York, U.S. (now New York City)
DiedNovember 23, 1897(1897-11-23) (aged 50)
Juneau, Alaska Territory, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic

Louis Kossuth Church (December 11, 1846 – November 23, 1897) was an American politician who was a New York Supreme Court justice, a member of the New York Legislature, and the ninth and penultimate Governor of Dakota Territory, serving from 1887 to 1889.[1]


Louis K. Church was born in Brooklyn, New York on December 11, 1846.[2] He was educated at the Hudson River Institute at Claverack, New York. After studying law at the office of Judge N. B. Moore, Church was admitted to the bar. He practiced law with Judge Moore until eventually practicing by himself in 1874. Church was a member of the New York State Assembly (Queens Co., 1st D.) in 1883, 1884 and 1885.[3] In 1885, President Cleveland appointed Church as a justice of the Dakota Territorial Supreme Court for its Third District, replacing Seward Smith, whose mental health had come into question.[4]

Because of Church's good reputation as a judge, President Cleveland appointed Louis Church as Governor of Dakota Territory. A number of Democrats in Dakota Territory were disappointed in the appointment because they had expected the appointment of Dakota resident Frank M. Ziebach. Church became governor on February 21, 1887. He scrutinized every bill and restrained excessive spending with his veto power. He allowed the reform school to be established at Plankinton. Church opposed the division of Dakota Territory into two separate states. Governor Church and former Governors, Nehemiah G. Ordway and John L. Pennington, wanted Dakota to enter the Union as a single state.

In spite of his integrity, Church became very unpopular as governor because of his opposition to separate statehood. When Benjamin Harrison defeated Cleveland as president, Church became a lame duck who was generally ignored by the territorial legislature. On March 4, 1889, Harrison was inaugurated as president, and Church resigned as governor on March 9, 1889.

After leaving office, Louis Church returned to practicing law, first in Huron and then in Everett, Washington. He died after developing pneumonia during a trip to Juneau, Alaska on November 23, 1897.[2]


  1. ^ Louis Church
  2. ^ a b Johnson, Rossiter; Brown, John Howard, eds. (1904). The Twentieth Century Biographical Dictionary of Notable Americans. Vol. II. Boston: The Biographical Society. Retrieved March 1, 2022 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ The Argus Almanac: A Political and Financial Annual, 1880, p. 100
  4. ^ "A Photographic History of the South Dakota Supreme Court" (PDF). South Dakota Supreme Court. 2015.

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Political offices
Preceded by Governor of the Dakota Territory
Succeeded by