Strangers to Us All
Lawyers and Poetry

Lester Mardis Ackman


"Lester Mardis Ackman, son of Rev. J.M. and Mary Charlotte Mardis Ackman, was born in Grant County Kentucky on Feb 22, 1890 and died at his home in Williamstown Kentucky on April 1, 1970 at the age of 80." Ruth Ackman, his wife, notes that many of the poems contained in the collection published after his death were written in his youth and that he wrote them under the name Adam Lother. Ms. Ackman also notes that he "turned his back" on his youthful dreams to be a poet, writer and opera singer and instead chose to "begin the serious study of law, and enjoyed a successful career in tht profession until the day of his death. Ms. Ackman believes her husband "planned to have them [the poems] published after he retired from the active practice of law. Shomehow he seemed to feel that writing poetry, and knock-down, drag-out court battles were incompatable." [Source: Ruth Gorsuch Ackman, his wife, "Forward," to The Selected Poems of L.M. Ackerman 1 ([Lexington, Kentucky]: Ruth G. Ackerman/Transylvania Printing Co., 1970)]

In "A Brief History," which comes at the end of The Selected Poems of L.M. Ackerman, we learn that:

—"[M]ost of his early years were spent in Parsonage homes of the Kentucky Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church. In California, Vanceburg, Latonia, Louisville, Somerset and for six years in Ashland where his father Rev. J.M. Ackman was Presiding Elder of the Ashland District. Here he finished his high school education, and took a correspondence course in law. While in Ashland he also sold Starr pianos.

In Somerset he began the study of voice with Madam Humphries, a former grand opera singer, who encouraged him to make the opera his career. After moving to Ashland he continued his voice training [and also studied violin and became a soloist in an orchestra]."

— "Many of his poems were written while living in Ashland."

— In 1913 he enrolled at Ohio State University where he remained until he transferred to the University of Kentucky in 1916, completing his legal education in 1917.

— In June 1917, he opened a law office in Williamstown.

— After enlisting in the Army, he resumed the practice of law at Williamstown, Kentucky, where he practiced, for some 53 years, until his death.

— "Ackman was attorney for the city of Williamstown for two years, and in 1922 he became County Attorney for Grant County. He was reelected in 1926. " [pp. 59-60]


Lester M. Ackman, Selected Poems of L.M. Ackman ([Lexington, Kentucky]: Ruth G. Ackerman/Transylvania Printing Co., 1970)