Past and Present of Will County, Illinois
By W. W. Stevens President of the Will County Pioneers Association Assisted by an Advisory Board, consisting of Hon. James G. Elwood, James H. Ferriss, William Grinton, Mrs. Kate Henderson and A. C. Clement ILLUSTRATED Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company 1907 Dedicated to the Pioneers of Will County
THE BENCH AND BAR
The members of the legal fraternity, who first settled in the county, were fully the equal of any who have come up after them, both in ability and learning. They were true men, true to their clients, and the honorable members of an honorable profession. In those days, their practice was limited, for the town was small, and the inhabitants of the county few in numbers, and those few were of a class that avoided lawyers and all litigation, if possible.
The first court of any kind in which the people of the county were interested, or could be in any way, was held in old Fort Dearborn, Chicago, before Will County was formed. That was in 1832, and one Judge Young presided. It was a very informal affair, and was in session less than a week.
In 1836, after the county was set off from Cook county, a circuit court was appointed for the county, and Judge Thomas Ford came here from Edwardsville to hold it. The court room was in Wilson’s store on North Ottawa street. It is the building now occupied by James Love, as a carpenter shop, and adjoining Engine House No. 1, on the south.
The court appointed Levi Jenks, clerk, Uri Osgood, Prosecuting Attorney, and Fenner Aldrich was the sheriff. A grand jury that had been summoned was impaneled, of which the late Reason Zarley was the foreman. This county was then attached to the Fulton county circuit, which extended over all the northern part of the state.
The year following, a court house was built. It was located on the lot north of the present jail, and east of the Rock Island track. That court house cost the county $2,700.00. and was looked upon, at the time, as quite an addition to the town.
The Court House, of course, was a small affair. The court room was small, and there were four cells for prisoners, and some five or six rooms where the sheriff or jailer and his family lived. A year or two later a small building was erected at the northeast corner of the Court House Square for the circuit and county clerks, and the recorder usually kept his records there.
The lawyers at that time were: Hugh Henderson, Uri Osgood, E. C. Fellows, David L. Gregg, Jesse O. Norton, William E. Little and William E. Boardman.
Mr. Henderson was a native of Norway, Herkimer County, New York, and came to the county in 1835. He was a man of the strictest integrity, an able and well read lawyer, with an eminently judicial mind, whose legal opinions always carried great weight. He was elected County Judge, in 1837, and in 1849, Judge of the Circuit Court. He died October 1st, 1854.
Uri Osgood was a native of New York, and came to the county in 1836. He was a man of ability, strict integrity, and gifted with more than ordinary mental powers. He was the first State’s Attorney of the county, and in 1852, was elected to the State Senate. In 1856, he was the candidate for congress on the Democratic ticket, and although he made a splendid canvass, yet the district was too strongly Republican and he was defeated.
As we have said, Mr. Osgood was a man of strict integrity, and firmly believed in doing justice to all, if in his power to do so. We know of a little incident in his practice, as a lawyer, that well illustrates his idea of doing justice to all. When he had a case to attend to, it mattered not whether a large or a small one, he was as thorough in the one case as in the other. Among the dentists of the fifties, was a Dr. A. He was a good workman, and one of the best collectors of his bills that Joliet ever had. In fact he never let up on a debtor until the last cent was collected.
One George W. Roper was one of the doctors debtors to the amount of some two dollars. The bill had been larger, but small sums had been paid on it from time to time, until it was reduced to the above amount. Mr. Roper was an honest, hard working man, of good habits. A carpenter by trade, but a very large family and low wages kept him a poor man. He had an offer where he could do better in another town, and resolved to accept it. The doctor heard of the intended removal from the town and went for him. The poor man told him candidly just how he was situated, that he could not pay him then, as he only had enough to pay his expenses for the journey, but that as soon as he could earn it, he would send it to him. That, however, did not satisfy the doctor by any means, and so he went to Mr. Osgood for advice, taking it for granted, of course, that as the debt was a small one, no charge would be made. He stated his case fully to the attorney, who listened very patiently to all the details, as though thousands of dollars were involved, and then wound up by asking Mr. Osgood what steps he should take to collect his debt. In answer Mr. Osgood told him what property of the debtor was exempt from execution or attachment in such cases, and that if Mr. Roper had any property not so exempt, he could take it for his debt. The doctor arose, thanked the attorney for his advice, and started to leave the office. Mr. Osgood called him back, and asked him if he would pay him then for the advice, or should he charge it. The doctor was dumbfounded. “What,” he exclaimed in dismay. “You don’t intend to charge me anything for a little matter like that, do you? Why, my debt is only two dollars.” “It does not make any difference to me whether your debt is two or two hundred dollars.,” replied the lawyer. “My bill for advice is ten dollars, and you can pay it now, or I will take steps to collect it. I know Mr. Roper to be an honest, hardworking man, who pays his debts as soon as he can do so, and I think it very small business for a man worth as much as you are to attempt to harrass him under the circumstances.” The doctor saw at once that Mr. Osgood meant business, and so paid the bill and left the office in disgust.
Mr. Osgood was the first attorney to commence and prosecute through to a successful termination a personal injury suit in the county. In fact, no suit of the kind had then been prosecuted through to judgment in the state, and some of the best lawyers had grave doubts whether a suit of the kind could be sustained, and especially in the higher court.
The suit of Mr. Osgood’s was the well-known one of Verly against the City of Joliet. Miss Verly had the misfortune to fall down the stone steps at the west end of the canal bridge on Exchange street, sustaining very severe injuries, that kept her confined to her home for several weeks. The suit was brought in this county, of course, in the summer of 1862, but the city took a change of venue, and it was sent to Du Page county to be tried. Naperville then being the county seat. The case was reached for trial in March, 1863, before Judge Isaac G. Wilson. Miss Verly obtained a judgment of $1,500.00 against the city. A motion for a new trial was overruled by Judge Wilson, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court where the judgment was affirmed to the great surprise of many good lawyers, who had prophesied a reversal of it in that court.
David L. Gregg came to the county in 1836, and when the Courier newspaper was started, in 1839, he assisted in editing it, and a few years’ later became editor in chief. In 1840, he was elected to the legislature, and in 1851, appointed by Governor French, as secretary of state. At the Democratic convention in 1852, he came within two votes of the nomination for governor. President Pierce soon after appointed him consul at the Sandwich Islands. He died in 1869.
William A. Boardman was a prominent lawyer at an early day, and practiced in our courts for several years. Later he went to Lake county, Illinois, where he was elected County Judge, serving several terms. He came back here on a visit in October, 1872, when he died very suddenly.
Jesse O. Norton was born in Bennington, Vermont, in 1812. His father, Colonel Martin Norton, was then away serving his country in the war against Great Britain. He graduated from Williams College in 1835, and four years later came to Will county, and opened an office in Juliet, as it was then known. He was a man of ability, and received a successful patronage from the very first. In 1846, he was elected County Judge, and reelected in 1848. The same year he was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention to revise the constitution of the state. In 1852, he was elected to congress; in 1857, to the Circuit Bench; in 1862, again as a representative in congress. In 1866, he received the appointment of United States District Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, and removed to Chicago, where he died August 3, 1875.
William E. Little was one of the most promising and brilliant young lawyers of the state. He was a native of New York, where he was born in 1817. He came to Joliet in 1840, where he opened an office and had an extensive practice. In 1848 he was elected to the legislature, where he served with ability. He died in Joliet, September 30, 1851.
Elisha C. Fellows, was a native of Columbia county, New York. He came to Channahon in 1834, and the year following removed to Joliet. He was a man of penetrating mind, a good judge of the law, and a forcible and interesting speaker. He died August 17, 1876.
Gavion D. A. Parks, was born in Bristol, New York, September 17, 1817. He was educated at Lockport, New York, and admitted to the bar in 1841. He came west in 1842, and settled in Lockport in this county, where he remained until 1849, when he was elected County Judge, and removed to Joliet, and this was his home until his death, December 28, 1895. Judge Parks was thoroughly a lawyer, who not only understood the law, and its construction, but he was equally happy in its application to the case in point, and in that respect he probably had no superior in the Will county bar. He was always the warm friend of the law student, and of the young attorney, and would often put off or delay other business to explain to the young attorney what was the law in a certain case, and how it should be applied.
But the Judge found his match one day in the person of a young and very self-conceited lawyer, as to what was really the law in a certain case, as the following will well illustrate:
The young lawyer went to the Judge and wanted his opinion as to what was the law on a certain point which he explained. The Judge was well posted, for he had tried a case not long before, in which the very point was involved, and as the case had gone through the Supreme Court, and he there sustained in his constructions of it, he felt pretty confident, and told the young man so; that the law as he had laid it down, was really the law. But what was his astonishment when he had concluded, to hear the young attorney exclaim: “O, Judge! you are away off on that. It ain’t the law at all,” and then proceeded to lay down his construction of the law to the Judge, quoting some authorities, which, of course, had no application whatever to the case in point. Of course the Judge was disgusted at the fellow, and was very careful in the future of talking law with him.
Judge Parks held many offices of trust and responsibility. Besides being County Judge, he was Master in Chancery, was a delegate and Vice-President of the first Republican convention, at Bloomington, in 1854, was a representative in the legislature, and in 1856, became state senator. He also held several very important positions by appointment, all of which he filled with eminent success and ability. In private life, Judge Parks was a most worthy and honored citizen, and one of the city schools is named in his honor.
Nelson D. Elwood was a native of Otsego county, New York, and came to the county in 1837. He was a civil engineer and worked for several years in the surveying of the old canal, being the co-laborer and bosom friend of A. J. Mathewson, recently deceased. He was admitted to the bar in 1847, and in 1851 formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, the late Judge Parks, and the law firm of Parks & Elwood was for many years the leading law firm of the county. He was elected County Clerk in 1843, and held the office six years. In 1852, he was one of the promoters of the Alton railroad, and the village of Elwood was named by Governor Matteson, as a compliment to him. He was mayor of the city in 1855-6, and the same year was engaged in the building of the “Cut-Off” railroad, and was one of the principal officers of the road up to the time of his death. In 1857, he was appointed one of the commissioners to locate and build the northern State Penitentiary, and was local commissioner to superintend its construction. Mr. Elwood died at his home in Joliet, February 24, 1861.
Royal E. Barber, was born in Rutland county, Vermont, in 1822, and when ten years of age he came with his father to Will county, when they settled in Dupage township, which has since been known as “Barber’s Corners.” A few years later he came to Joliet, and studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1874. In 1852, he was elected circuit clerk, and 1876, as mayor of the city. He died November 11, 1905.
Francis Goodspeed was a native of Tioga county, Pennsylvania, where he was bom January 25, 1821. He received a good education in the schools of his county, and then came west, settling in Joliet. He entered the office of the late Judge Henderson in 1847, for the study of the law. and was admitted to practice in 1850. He was elected mayor of the city in 1859, and again in 1861. The same year he was elected a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and in 1877. Judge of the circuit court, which position he held until lie resigned on account of ill health in 1884. His death occurred April 10, 1889.
Joseph E. Streeter was a native of Pennsylvania. He was born in 1819. Studied law in his native state, and then came west, reaching Joliet in 1848, when he was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice. He was elected mayor of the city in 1854, and 1861 was appointed associated justice of the supreme court of Nebraska. He died there February 20, 1863.
Josiah McRoberts was a native of Illinois, having been born in Waterloo, Munroe county, June 19, 1819. He studied law in Danville, Illinois, and was admitted to practice in 1846. He came to Joliet in 1853 and formed n co-partnership with the late Judge Goodspeed. October 1, 1866, he was appointed to the circuit court bench to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Harris. The following June he was elected to the office, and he continued to hold it until his death, June 2, 1885.
Sherman W. Bowen was born in Trenton Falls, New York, May 19, 1824. In 1835, his father removed with his family to Joliet. Mr. Bowen studied law with the late Judge Henderson, and was admitted to the bar in 1845. He was states attorney from 1849 to 1856, and mayor of the city during the years 1861-2 and 6. He died near Kimswick, Missouri, December 19, 1891.
Charles A. Hill was born in Truxton, Cortland county, New York, August 23, 1833. He was educated in the common and select schools of that state and came to Will county in 1854. In 1856 he attended Bell’s Commercial College, in Chicago, and in 1860 was admitted to the bar. He enlisted as a private in the Civil war in 1862, and was afterward promoted to be captain of infantry. He was mustered out of service in 1865, and then came to Joliet and entered into partnership with Judge Parks in the practice of the law. He was elected states attorney in 1868, and in 1888 was elected to congress, and served one term. In 1896 he was appointed first assistant attorney-general of the state, and held the office until ill health compelled him to resign. He died May 29, 1902.
David G. Grover was a native of Chester, Pennsylvania. He was born there October 10, 1833, and at the age of twenty came to Joliet and entered the office of the late S. W. Bowen, and commenced the study of the law. He pursued his studies with much zeal, and in 1857 was admitted to the bar. He at once went into partnership with his instructor, and the firm of Bowen & Grover became one of the leading law firms of the county. He was elected city attorney in 1860, and in 1861 he organized a company of sharpshooters for the Civil war, and was elected captain of it. His company was ordered into service at once, and during the year following it was engaged in some of the most desperate battles of the war. He fell at the battle of Corinth, Mississippi, October 10, 1862, receiving a wound of which he died soon after. The body was brought back to Joliet, and the funeral held from the Central Presbyterian church on the 21st of that month.
Henry Snapp was a native of Livingston county, New York, and was born there June 30, 1832. He came with his father’s family to Will county in 1833, they settling in Homer township. When of age, he entered the office of the late E. C. Fellows, as a student at law, and was admitted to the bar in 1846. He was very successful in his practice and for many years was among the leading lawyers of the state. In 1868, he was elected to the state senate, and in 1872 elected to congress. He died November 26, 1895.
Buel A. Fuller was born in Edgar county, Illinois, August 8, 1832. He learned to be a printer in Danville, Illinois, but in 1852 came, to Joliet and studied law, and some two years afterward was admitted to practice. In 1858, the law firm of Randall, Snapp & Fuller was formed and continued for many years. Mr. Fuller died October 5, 1900.
Sylvester W. Munn was a native of New York, and was born there in 1822. He came west when a young man, going first to Wisconsin, where he studied law and was admitted to practice. He came to this county in 1854, and settled in Wilmington. He was a soldier in the Civil war and arose to be the major of his regiment. He was elected states attorney in 1864, and soon after removed to Joliet where he practiced his profession until his death, which occurred September 11, 1888.
Sylvester W. Randall was a native of Pennsylvania. He studied law there and was admitted to the bar in 1831. He came to the county in 1842, and in 1854 was appointed by Gov. Matteson, circuit judge in the place of Judge Henderson, deceased. At the expiration of that term in 1856, he was elected to the same office, but resigned two year later. He died May 18, 1889.
Frederick A. Bartleson was born in Cincinnati, Ohio, October 19, 1833. He graduated from Alleghany College at Meadville, Pennsylvania, and studied law at Freehold, New Jersey, and was admitted to practice. He came to Joliet in 1855, and in November, 1856, was elected state attorney, holding the office four years. He was the first man to enlist in the county in the Civil war, and joined the 20th regiment. When the 100th regiment was organized he was elected as colonel of it, and served with much distinction until his death, which occurred at the Battle of Kenesaw Mountain, June 28, 1864.
John W. Merrill was born in Rumney, New Hampshire, August 20, 1829. He graduated from Brooklyn academy, near Cleveland, Ohio, in 1854, and in 1856 came to Joliet and entered the law office of Judge Norton. In 1859 he was admitted to the bar as an attorney. His death occurred at his home in Wilmington, December 24, 1892.
William C. Goodhue was a son of Deacon Ezra Goodhue of Plainfield in this county. He graduated from Knox college in Galesburg, Illinois, in 1855, and then studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1859. He was elected a member of the constitutional convention of 1870. He died of consumption October 19th of that year. He was an able lawyer, a fluent speaker and a most worthy man.
Benjamin Olin was born in Allegany county, New York, August 12, 1838, and when quite young came west with his parents. He was educated at Beloit college, and then studied law. He enlisted in the Civil war, and rose to the rank of lieutenant. After his discharge from the army he commenced the practice of the law at Morris, but in 1870 came to Joliet, and opened an office here. In 1873 he was elected county judge, and continued to hold the office until 1885. His practice as an attorney at law has been very successful since he retired from the bench.
Albert O. Marshall is a native of Will county, having been born in New Lenox, September 18, 1840. He was educated at Lombard university, and at the breaking out of the Civil war enlisted in the Thirty-third Illinois infantry, and served three years. He then attended law school in Chicago and was admitted to the practice of the law. In 1874 he was elected state senator, serving four years and in 1894 elected county judge, holding the office eight years. In 1905 he was elected one of the judges of the circuit court, a position he still retains.
George S. House was a native of Grundy county, Illinois, where he was born in 1835. His parents came to Illinois that year and they settled in Joliet in 1837. He was educated at Hamilton college, New York, and read law at Columbia Law school. He was admitted to the practice of law in 1857, and continued in the profession until his death, December 5, 1900.
Dorrance Dibell was born in Wooster, Wayne county, Ohio, February 16, 1844, and came with his parents to Will county in 1850. He entered the University of Chicago in 1864, graduating in 1868. He then studied law until 1870, when he was admitted to the bar. He was elected to the circuit court bench in 1885, and has held the position continuously since that time. He has also been one of the judges of the appellate court bench for a large portion of the time.
William W. Stevens was born in Rumford, Maine, July 14, 1832, and was educated at Andover, New Hampshire Academy, where he graduated in the summer of 1854. He came to Joliet in November, 1855, and this has since been his home. He entered the office of Parks & Elwood, as a law student, soon after coming here, and was admitted to the bar as an attorney in March, 1859. In 1863 he was elected city attorney and continued in that office until 1867, when he was elected to the school board, and held that position until 1873. In 1880 he purchased an interest in the Joliet Record, and in 1882 bought the interest of his partner, the late D. C. Henderson, and from that time until 1900, published the paper alone, when he sold out and is now retired.
Charles B. Garnsey was born in Lima, New York, October 25, 1842. He was educated in the public schools, and in the Genesee Wesleyan Seminary in his native town. He came to Wilmington, this county, May 27, 1859. He entered the Union College of Law in Chicago, graduating the year following. In 1862 he enlisted in the One Hundredth Regiment and went to the front, where he took part in several battles, including Stone River and Chattanooga, and participated in the Atlanta campaign. He was mustered out of the service in Chicago in June, 1865. In August of that year he was admitted to the bar in Chicago, and then came to Joliet, where he entered into partnership with the late T. L. Breckenridge. He was master in chancery from 1867 to 1871, and corporation counsel of Joliet in 1877. In the same year he formed a co-partnership with A. F. Knox, which continued for twenty-seven years. He was elected county judge in 1882, and held the office until 1890. In June, 1904, he was elected one of the judges of the circuit court, and was in the office until his death, April 1, 1905.
James R. Flanders was born in Plainfield, in this county, August 27, 1846. He attended the public schools and the academy at Plainfield. On the tenth of May, 1864, he enlisted as a private in the Civil war, and served until the following October, when he was discharged. In 1867 he entered the law office of Randall & Fuller in Joliet, and in September, 1869, went to the law school at Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he graduated in March, 1871, and admitted to the bar the month following. He came to Joliet and in 1873 was elected city attorney and again in 1874. In 1876 he was elected states attorney, and held the office for four years. He is now in the active practice of his profession.
Edward C. Hager was born in Plainfield, Illinois, April 19, 1846. He was educated in his native town, and in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he graduated in 1872. He was admitted to the bar the same year, and that fall he was elected states attorney, holding the office four years. He died February 7, 1902.
Patrick C. Haley was born in Saranac, New York, March 17, 1849, and came to this county with his parents in 1852. He was educated at the Joliet Union School, and at the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, reading law in vacations. He graduated from the law department of the University at Ann Arbor, Michigan, in 1871, and was admitted to the bar in October in that same year, and commenced the practice of law in 1872. He was alderman of his ward in the city council for many years, and in 1874 was elected city attorney. In 1882 he was the nominee of the democratic party for Congress, and although the usual Republican majority was over 7,000, yet Mr. Haley came within less than a hundred votes of an election. He was mayor of the city in 1891-2, and is now chief counsel for the Sanitary District of Chicago, where he now has his office.
Egbert Phelps is a native of Burlington, Vermont, and was born in 1838. He enlisted in the regular army in 1861, and was commissioned as captain. He studied law after his retirement from the army, and in 1870 came to Joliet, where he has since resided.
Peter Shutts was born in Kingston, New York, October 7, 1849. He came with his parents, the late John and Catherine Shutts, to Joliet in September, 1855, where they settled on what has since been known as the Shutts farm, two and a half miles southeast of the city. He attended the district school near his home, where he obtained a liberal education. In 1872 he connected himself with the Joliet Signal, and was associated with R. S. Brown, and the late Calneh Zarley in the publication of that paper until 1882, when he was admitted to the bar of Will county, and has since that time practiced his profession, with eminent success.
Arthur C. Clement was born in Joliet January 16, 1852. He went with his parents to Chester, New Hampshire, and remained there until ten years of age. They then returned to Joliet, and this has since been his home. He graduated from Cornell, New York, University in 1872, and then commenced the study of law in the office of Olin & Phelps, and later studied in the Chicago College of Law, and was admitted to the bar in 1875. He practiced his profession for several years, but later retired from active practice.
John B. Fithian is a native of Livingston county, New York, where he was born October 26, 1849. His advantages for attending school were somewhat limited. Still he managed to obtain a good liberal education that has served him well in after life. He was admitted to the bar September 15, 1876, and in November, 1902, was elected probate judge, and re-elected in November, 1906, a position which he still holds.
Fred Bennett was born in Hammondsport, New York, August 5, 1855. He is a graduate of Cornell University. He came to Joliet in 1875, and in September, 1876, was admitted to the bar, and has since that time practiced his profession with eminent success.
Dwight C. Haven is a native of the county. He was born in New Lenox, May 10, 1863. He is the son of Hon. Dwight Haven, one of the old time residents and prominent citizens of the county. He was educated in the schools of his native town and Illinois University at Champaign, from which he graduated in the class of 1883. He began reading law in the office of Hill & Dibell in 1884, and was admitted to the bar in 1886. He and Mr. Hill formed a co-partnership under the name of Hill & Haven, and had an extensive practice. The name of the firm was afterward changed to Hill, Haven & Hill by the admission of Alfred M. Hill into the firm. In November, 1902, Mr. Haven was elected county judge, and filled the office with ability. Mr. Haven’s term of office expired the first Monday in December, 1906, and George J. Cowing succeeded to the office.
Enishia Meers was born in Bloomsbury, New Jersey, February 15, 1854. He was educated at Seton Hall College, located at Orange, New Jersey. He came west to Joliet in 1875, and read law in the office of Olin & Phelps, and took lectures at Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he graduated in the class of 1876. In that year he was admitted to the bar, and at once opened an office and commenced the practice of the law. He served four years as city attorney from 1879 to 1883.
Coll. McNaughton was born near Campbelltown, Argyleshire, Scotland, August 11, 1860, and came to this country, and to Joliet in 1885. He studied law and was admitted to practice in May, 1887. He was deputy postmaster three years, supervisor of the town in 1891, city attorney from 1895 to 1898. He is now a member of the law firm of Donahoe, McNaughton & MeKeown.
George W. Young was born in Manhattan, in this county, March 25, 1864. At the age of twelve years he came with his parents to Joliet, and this has since been his home. He was educated in the schools of the city. In 1883 he entered the School of Law in Columbia College of New York City, and graduated in 1887, with the degree of B. L. He is now a member of the firm of Cowing & Young, with offices in the Cutting building.
Of the younger members of the bar, the following are quite prominent:
HARVEY E. WOOD Is a native of Jackson in this county, and was born there April 2, 1876. He is a son of William W. and Clara (Edgerton) Wood, his father being a native of St. Lawrence county, New York, while his mother first saw the light down among the Green mountains of Vermont. He was educated in the common schools of his township and in the Joliet high school, where he graduated in 1896. He then matriculated in the University of Chicago, and graduated in 1900, with the degree of B. A. In 1899 he entered the law school for a two years’ course, and then, returning to Joliet, entered the law office of Barr & Barr, and in the fall of 1902 was admitted to practice. His office is in the Barber building.
HUGH E. CORBETT Is a native of Livingston county, Illinois, and the date of his birth _____, 1871. He is a son of Thomas and Ellen (Kane) Corbett, who are old residents of that county. He was educated in the county schools and in the Chatsworth high school. In 1899 he commenced a business and scientific course of study at Valparaiso, Indiana, completing which, he then taught school for three years, and then graduated from the Valparaiso school. He studied one year in the law office of A. C. Norton in Pontiae, was then admitted to the bar, and commenced the practice of his profession in Elkhart, Indiana, as a partner of Charles F. Waltz. He remained there six years and then came to Joliet and formed a partnership with Enishia Meers, with offices in the Young building.
JAMES A. McKEOWN Is the junior member of the firm of Donahoe, McNaughton & MeKeown, with offices in the Barber building. He is a native of Frog Hollow, Kendall county, Illinois, and there he first saw the light, June 9, 1871. His parents are Hugh and Mary (Kavanaugh) McKeown, both natives of Ireland. He was reared on a farm and attended the country schools. He commenced to study law in 1895, and was admitted to the bar to practice in 1898. In 1903 he was elected city attorney on the democratic ticket for a term of two years, giving the best of satisfaction to his constituents.
WILL D. HEISE Was born in Joliet July 14, 1869, and has always lived here. He is a son of the late Dr. A. W. and Laura (De Zeng) Heise, both natives of Germany. His father came to Joliet in 1856 and began the practice of medicine. In 1861 he enlisted as surgeon in the One Hundredth Illinois regiment in the Civil war, and resigned in 1864. He then returned to Joliet and resumed the practice of his profession, which he continued until his death, October 22, 1893. Mr. Heise was educated at the Northwest Military Academy and the University of Michigan and graduated in the law department in 1890. He was admitted to practice in 1892, and in 1896 was elected state’s attorney, and has been re-elected twice since, making a term of twelve years. He is a member of the law firm of Snapp, Heise & Dibell, with offices in the Cutting building.
JOHN T. WHITE Is a native of Naperville, Dupage county, Illinois, and was born December 23, 1868. He is a son of Thomas and Kitty (Reeson) White, natives of Lincolnshire, England. He gained his education in the country schools, and studied law at home. He was admitted to practice in 1895. His office is in the Young building. His father was formerly a resident of Peotone, in this county, and later lived in Manhattan until 1886, when he removed to Nebraska.
GEORGE A. BARR Was born in Manhattan, May 25, 1873. He is a son of George and Jane (McGrath) Barr. His father was a farmer and died in Manhattan in 1876. His early education was in the country schools, and continued in the Joliet high school. He then went to the University of Michigan, where he graduated in June, 1897, with the degree of B. A. He spent one year reading law in the university and two years in the law office of his brother in Joliet. He was admitted to the bar in December, 1899, and has since been in the active practice of his profession, with offices in the Young building, in partnership with his brother, the firm being Barr & Barr.
A. J. VINSON Was born in Plainfield in 1867. His parents were Thomas and Julia (Willard) Vinson, his father being a native of Prince Edwards Island, and his mother of Waterford, Wisconsin. His father served his country as a soldier in 8th Illinois Cavalry in the Civil war. He was educated in the public schools and attended the Jennings Seminary at Aurora, Illinois. In 1888, he went to Ann Arbor, and pursued a law course in that school, and was admitted to the bar as an attorney at law in 1894. He is the village attorney of Plainfield, and has offices in Joliet with Fred Walter, in the Waters building, opposite the court house.
FRED W. WALTER. Was born in Lockport in 1870. His father Michael Walter, an old time resident of Lockport was a soldier in the Chicago Mercantile Battery in the Civil war, and served until 1864. His mother, Margaret (Pitts) Walter, is a life long resident of the county. Mr. Walter attended the public schools, and is a graduate of the high school of his native town. He went to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where he pursued a full course of study in the law department, graduating in 1893, and was admitted to practice the same year. He is a junior member of the law firm of Higgins & Walter, with offices in the Waters building, opposite the court house.
JOHN H. GARNSEY Is a native of Joliet, and was born here August 15, 1868. He is a son of the late Judge Charles B. Garnsey (a notice of whom appears in a separate article in this chapter), and of Mary (Henderson) Garnsey, a native of Wilmington, in this county. He was educated by private tutors and in the Northwestern University of Chicago, and was admitted to the practice of the law in 1896. He has offices in the Barber building.
MORRILL SPRAGUE Was born in Corrinna, Maine, March 25, 1850. He is a son of Volney A. and Susan M. (Sloper) Sprague, both natives of Maine. He gained his education in the district schools, and in the Corrinna Academy, and his legal education in the Albany Law School, where he graduated in 1875, and was admitted to the bar in Maine. He located in Dexter, Maine, where he remained until 1891. While there he was judge of the Municipal Court two years, and a member of the Maine legislature in 1888 and 1889. He came to Joliet in 1891 and has offices in the Young building. He is now the referee in bankruptcy for the second Illinois district.
ROBERT E. HALEY Was born in Joliet, March 5, 1879. He is a son of Patrick C. and Anastasia (D’Arcy) Haley. He obtained an education in the schools of his native city, and in the University of Michigan, and graduated in 1902. He had previously studied law with his father, and was admitted to practice as an attorney at law the year of his graduation. He was elected city attorney of Joliet in 1895. His office is in the Cutting building.
JOHN B. MECHAM Is a native of Mazon, Grundy county, Illinois. He was educated in the common district schools, and prepared for college in the Morris Normal and Scientific school. He afterwards taught for a year prior to entering the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington. He was for a year principal of the Mazon High School, and for a similar period principal of the Ashton (Iowa) schools. In 1888 he graduated from the law department of the University of Michigan. He later pursued a thorough course in the civil law and German philosophical classics, and completed a course of graduate work in jurisprudence at the Chicago Law School, from which he received the degree of doctor of civil law. He afterward became a member of the faculty of the Chicago Law School, which position he held for four years. Mr. Mecham has offices in the Cutting building.
Lawyers of fifty years ago were not as courteous toward each other, and we may add, not as sensitive as those of the present day, but whether the difference arises from their own natural feelings and inclinations, or from the restraining influence of the courts, it is hard to determine. Perhaps it is a little of each. Courts in those days seldom interfered in those little “side issues” as they were called, so long as they did not disturb the dignity of the court itself. A lawyer went into court then expecting to fight his way through and it mattered not who was opposed to him. In the heat and excitement of an important trial, they say and do things that they would not have thought of saying and doing at any other time. As a rule they were sociable and friendly toward each other out of the court room; they would visit each others’ offices and laugh and joke together, and then perhaps before the day was over, be “by the ears” in some trial, call each other vile names, and then the next day be as friendly as ever.
But there were exceptions to the above. Judge Parks, Mr. Osgood, Mr. Elwood, Judge Norton nor Judge Goodspeed, were never known to engage in these quarrels, call names, throw inkstands or books at each other, or indulge in other like familiarities. They could say sarcastic things, and at times indulge in some pretty severe remarks, but that was the extent of their part in the controversy.
We will here add a few samples of the old time quarrels, taken from the many that occurred. Mr. Breckenridge came here early in the year 1860, and at once took a prominent place at the bar, as a trial lawyer. He was a fluent, forcible speaker, and had a great influence with the jury. He had been prominent as a minister in the Baptist church, but had abandoned the church for the law. His forte lay in his influence with the jury, and in that respect, he was fully the equal, if not the superior of Fellows. In the trial of cases, the latter took every means in his power to irritate and insult his opponent, and many a sharp contest did they have together.
There was no question but that Fellows was jealous of “Breck,” as he was called, and would sometimes as a matter of spite, take part in a case where he was not the attorney, if “Breck” was on the other side, in order to vent his feelings toward him. Soon after coming here, Breckenridge formed a co-partnership with Mr. Snapp, and they made a strong firm in the trial of a case.
Mr. Fellows was engaged in the trial of a case, in which Snapp & Breckenridge were the opposing counsel. It had been bitterly contested all through, and many were the irritating things that had been said of each other during the trial. Fellows had made his argument, and it devolved upon Breck to close. Fellows was ugly. He probably saw that his opponent would get the best of him in the argument, and he had therefore had no recourse, but to employ his usual tactics in such an emergency, and harass and annoy his opponent all he could. He took a seat where he could look Breck in the face, and as the argument proceeded, he would make his mean and insulting comments in order to irritate the enemy. But for some time Breck paid but very little attention to him, and this, of course, made Fellows all the more ugly. Finally Fellows saw painly that his able opponent was getting decidedly the better of him in his argument, and then in a most sneering and insulting manner, called Breck a d—d infernal liar. Mr. Breckenridge picked up a large glass inkstand from the table in front of him and said: “Lishe Fellows, you d—d scoundrel, take that,” and threw it with all his might at Fellows’ head, but he dodged and the stand struck the wall back of him, breaking into fragments, and scattering the ink liberally over Fellows’ person.
The court gave them a slight reprimand, and then the case went on as usual.
Another important “contest,” was one that occurred before Esquire Alanson Williams, an old-time Justice of the Peace, who had his office in the building adjoining Bray’s Drug Store, on the east. Fellows and Streeter were the opposing counsel, and it was a fight from the very start. Streeter was a very small man, but he was like a bantam roosterall fightwhile Fellows, through not large, was considerably heavier than Streeter. Fellows was terribly abusive, and referred to his opponent as the “little runt,” or the “little bantam,” until forbearance ceased to be a virtue with Streeter, and so he resolved to retaliate in the only way he could, and that was to fight him then and there. He started for Fellows, intending to strike him, but his antagonist dodged the blow, seized Streeter by the collar, and by the slack of his nether garment, and started with him for the stairs, with the purpose of throwing him down, but before he could accomplish his object, the bystanders interfered, and thus saved poor Streeter from some pretty severe bruises, if not a broken neck.
The justice was indignant to think that Mr. Fellows should attempt murder in his presence. If he had simply knocked Streeter down, or had thrown an inkstand or a chair at him, he would have overlooked it, but to attempt to throw his opponent down a long flight of stairs was an imposition upon the dignity of the court which could not be overlooked. So he fined Mr. Fellows $5 and ordered him committed to jail until the fine was paid.
Fellows became humbler at once, and rising to his feet in a most contrite and abject manner, not only asked the forgiveness of the court, but of the opposing counsel as well. He said that he feared that his opponent intended to do him some bodily injury, as it was quite certain he was well armed; that he did not really intend to throw the little fellow down stairs, but only to frighten him into good behavior. He said he could not pay the fine, as he had not the money; that it would injure his business greatly to be sent to jail just then, and if the court insisted upon the payment of the fine at once, he must claim the indulgence of the court, as an old and tried friend and borrow the money of him to pay the fine with. The court replied at once, that he should remit the fine, as the county could stand the loss much easier than the court could. And the trial proceeded as if nothing had happened.
One of the most comical incidents of the period, was that in which two well known lawyers were the principal performers. They had a case to try before Esquire Heath, who then had his office in the little stone building on the northeast corner of the Court House Square.
The case was a simple one and under ordinary circumstances ought to have been tried in an hour or two. But the lawyers started in with a quarrel, and kept at it with a most determined zeal all the afternoon, devoting more time to the personal abuse of each other, than they did in the trial of the case. The court took but little stock in their quarrels, and did his best to have them go on with the case, but without avail.
When it got to be night and time to adjourn, the lawyers were then for the first time of one mind, and joined in a request to the court to adjourn until the next day. Then, however, the court was obdurate, and positively refused to adjourn until the case was finished, even if it took all night. Then the lawyers were in a panic and began to beg and plead for a stay of proceedings, even for a few minutes, frankly telling his honor that they were extremely in want of a drink, and they must have it, and even threatened to go and get it anyway, and let the court wait.
But his honor was equal to the emergency, and as frankly told the lawyers they could go if they wished, but that he should decide the case as it then stood if they left, and then close his office and go home. The attorneys saw at once that the court was the power behind the throne, and therefore meekly submitted to the inevitable, and went on with the case, finishing it in a hurry. No sooner, however, were they clear of the case than they started for the nearest saloon to find the wherewith to “fill the aching void,” and, as luck would have it, both were of the same mind, and went to the same place. A few glasses of “Old Sod Corn” on an empty stomach did the business most effectually, and they were soon oblivious to all courts or lawsuits.
After a time they came out, locked arm in arm, and started down the street; in fact, it was fortunate they were so “hitched,” for without that precaution they could not have navigated at all. They staggered on toward their offices in the best style their condition would allow, singing, “When my spondulix is gone, O, what shall I do for sod corn?”
The evening was not so late but they had a very numerous as well as enthusiastic audience to listen to them, and for many a day thereafter they were greeted with the singing of the above couplet in their ears.
One of the radical changes in the study of the law is the rule by which students are now admitted to the bar. Forty or fifty years ago the rule was that the student study in some well-known law office for at least two years, then, on motion of the attorney wirh whom he had studied, a committee of three attorneys was appointed by the court to examine him, and, if found to be qualified, the proper report was made to the court, who ordered a certificate of such qualification to be issued to the supreme court, and that court ordered the license to be issued by the clerk, and the applicant was then admitted to practice.
But it was not always that the committee made a favorable report to the court, and then the student was compelled to resume his studies, or to abandon them altogether, and try some other employment.
One of the most notable examinations in those days was that of an old farmer who lived down in Channahon. He entered Mr. Fellows’ office for the purpose of studying to be a lawyer, when well advanced in years. When at last the farmer thought himself well enough posted in the law to be admitted to practice he applied to Mr. Fellows to have him make the motion in open court to have the usual committee appointed, and Mr. Fellows very readily consented to do so. But the unusual part of it was, he suggested who the committee should be. They were himself with Streeter and Hildebrant. They met that evening in Mr. Fellows’ office, which was then in the old frame building that stood across the alley from the Strong, Bush & Handwerk hardware store. The first thing done by the committee was to adopt a set of rules by which the examination should be conducted, one of which was that the candidate for legal honors should treat the committee every time he answered a question asked him, incorrectly. Then the fun commenced, and the most ludicrous, foolish and outlandish questions that an astute lawyer could conjure up were hurled at the poor candidate. It mattered but very little how he answered a question, for of course the answer was never to the satisfaction of the committee, and he was held to the strict letter of the rule, and of course had to treat. In order not to bring the drinks too near together, discussions were allowed. But the general result or conclusion was always one, and the poor candidate called to account.
These tactics were kept up as occasion required, for several weeks, when the applicant, getting most heartily sick and tired of being thus fleeced, went to the judge and told his story of how the examination had been conducted. Judge Norton, who was then on the bench, called on the committee for a report, and then Mr. Fellows in a most dignified and impressive manner politely informed the court that the committee had been having one of the most severe and remarkable examinations ever before heard of in the state; that while the candidate was undoubtedly endowed with a good share of common sense for a farmer, yet he entirely misapprehended the law and its true application, and the committee were therefore compelled, very reluctantly, to report unfavorably on the application. The report, of course, was confirmed and the poor candidate for legal honors was never admitted as a member of the Will county bar.
Another of those interesting, as well as comical episodes in the trial of cases in the days of old, was that between two well known attorneys, whose names we will not reveal. They had a very important case before the court, in which they were the opposing counsel. The evidence was all in and ready for the arguments. The attorney for the plaintiff waived his opening to the jury, and left it for the attorney for the defense to go ahead and make his plea.
He was a good sound lawyer, true to his client, and tried his cases for all there was in them. He was a fluent speaker, but his forte lay in his many gestures and grimaces, and a peculiar manner he had of addressing a jury. He could throw himself into the most ludicrous positions, roll up his eyes, and thus make it appear that he was terribly in earnest in everything he said.
His opponent was quite the reverse. He was affable and polite, using but few gestures, and while he would at times get excited, and talk loud, yet it was all smoothed over in the finish in a very graceful and quiet way. But his great forte lay in his powers of mimicry and imitation. He could imitate one’s voice or manner almost to perfection, and in so perfect a way as to be laughable in the extreme.
When the defendant’s attorney had closed, the counsel for the plaintiff arose to answer for his side of the case. He made a very suave bow to the court, and then to the jury, and then commenced his gestures and grimaces, while not a word escaped his lips. Throwing himself into the most comical and ridiculous positions, pulling up his coat sleeves, pointing with one finger to the jury, and another skyward with a most solemn visage, he thus went on for quite half an hour, while the jury, audience and at times the court, were convulsed with laughter. It was a most ludicrous scene for a court of justice, ond one highly enjoyed by all who witnessed it. But the best of the joke was the one at the end, for the imitator won his case.
Among the attorneys in the early days, was one who prided himself on his genteel appearance, his seeming good behavior, and more than all his “make believe,” that he was a man of strictest morals. He would not have it known or even intimated that he was anything but just what he posed to be,a man of the strictest virtue and morality, and yet the truth was, that there were few who indulged in loose and vicious habits as he did, but all on the sly.
There used to be a “ranch” called the “Dutch Gardens” up on the west Lockport road, near where Theilers Park is now located, which was quite a “resort” in those days. But why it was called the “Dutch Gardens,” we think no one ever knew, for there was not the least vestige of a garden about the premises.
One night there was a fracas there and one of the inmates was thrown out of doors rather unceremoniously. The next morning she sought revenge by having the proprietor arrested for assault and our over virtuous attorney was retained by her for her defense.
It was a somewhat notorious case and attracted much attention, especially among the legal fraternity, so that when the case was called for trial the court room was crowded. The attorney for the defense was in his element. It was a big case for him to have, and he intended to make a decided “hit” of it in his favor. In his opening for the defense he informed the court, and the crowd also, in a very glib and boasting manner, that before the case was through he would show up the prosecuting witness in a light that would not be altogether agreeable to herthat he should not have any mercy on her whatever.
The case proceeded, the prosecuting witness telling the court how the defendant had abused her and made out a pretty strong case of it. Then came the cross-examination, which went quite smoothly for a while, the attorney for the defense, however, occasionally indulging in side remarks and insinuations for the benefit of the crowd, but which were very much resented by the witness. But soon the “tables were turned” on the attorney in a way he little relished. He questioned the witness as to who was there the night of the fracas, and the witness answered, giving the names of several, some of whom were well known people in town, and then she added, “And I believe I saw you there, too.” The counsel was astounded to think he should be named as seen in such a place, and did not know at first what to say, but finally he rallied and asked her if she was not mistaken, but she replied that she was not, for she had seen him there quite often. That was a stunner to the poor attorney. It would not do for him to deny the charge then and there, as he was fearful that the witness would not only stick to what she said, but might possibly call some friend who would corroborate her testimony, and so he collapsed, and gave up the battle as best he could, resolved probably never to try to browbeat a woman again on the witness stand.
Mr. Fellows was a sharp, shrewd lawyer, a fluent speaker, and what served him the best was his wonderful retentive memory, by which he could call up when desired almost anything he had ever read or heard. In the old Second Advent timesaway back in the fortieshe was a firm believer in the doctrine, and it is told of him that he had his ascension robes all prepared ready for the expected translation.
In those days he was a very close student of the Bible, and his wonderful memory would retain almost all he read, and those passages of Scripture served him an excellent purpose in after years in his law practice, for in pleading a case to the court or jury, he would, when occasion would warrant, quote more or less scripture. These quotations were most apt and to the point, and often proved to be good argument.
On one occasion Mr. Fellows was trying a case over in Kankakee. His client was the superintendent of his Sunday School in his church, and Fellows being made aware of the fact, racked his brain to find scripture enough that would readily apply to the case in his argument to the jury. He was no doubt eminently successful, for his client was delighted with the effort, and gave him a splendid fee for his extra effort. Fellows won his case, but it was late Saturday night when it was disposed of, and he would have to remain there over Sunday. But the client, no doubt, looked upon that as a dispensation of a kind Providence, for he very generously invited his attorney to his Sunday School the next afternoon to deliver an address to the scholars.
Mr. Fellows accepted with pleasure, and gave the school one of the best and most eloquent addresses in his power. He admonished the children, and particularly the boys, to avoid all bad company, and never go near or have anything to do with saloons or intoxicating liquors.
The superintendent, as well as the school, was highly pleased with the effort, and congratulated the speaker very heartily upon its conclusion. The exercises were somewhat lengthy, and at the close, Fellows hurried away, for he was decidedly in want of something to stimulate and refresh the inner man. He soon found the right place, with front door open. He dodged in, and calling for his favorite drink, swallowed it hastily and started out again, wiping his lips as he passed out the door. Great was his surprise, however, upon reaching the walk, to see in front of him several of the boys he had just been addressing at Sunday School. They saw him, and doubtless were as much astonished as himself. But he was equal to the occasion, and with a most impressive dignity, he said, “Boys, you must follow my precepts, and not my example,” and then hastened his steps towards his hotel.
One of the best known, able and most celebrated lawyers of his time, was Gen. U. F. Linder, of Chicago. He was not only a good judge of the law in all of its bearings, but he was a fluent, forcible speaker, and was always one of those who had a sort of confidential and friendly way of addressing juries that won their favor, and that often carried the case with it.
Along in the early sixties, a suit was brought by a man in the eastern part of the county, against his tenant on his farm, one Peter Dose. The demand was for several hundred dollars for money as was claimed due him for back rent, interest and other items, and the poor tenant was at his wits’ end to know how he was ever to be able to pay any portion of the claim. He had lived on the farm for several years, but each year got poorer and less able to pay, until at last he had no recourse, but to leave as best he could. It was then that his landlord pounced on him with a claim that the poor man was not able to meet. The landlord had the reputation of being a close-fisted, penurious man, who knew not mercy, and would never let up on a poor debtor as long as there was a dollar due him.
It was said that Gen. Linder heard of the suit through a friend, of the tenant, and the manner he had been robbed by his landlord, and volunteered his services in the defense. He pnt in a large bill as an offset, and also a claim for damages to a considerable amount, both of which he fought for with all his power. The trial ended and the arguments of the counsel were next in order, and when it came the General’s turn to plead for the defense, he made a plea for his client, and gave such a scoring of the plaintiff as was seldom heard in the old courthouse. He characterized the plaintiff as a mean, grasping skin flint, who would take his client’s last horse or cow, nay, even the bread from his children’s mouths, to satisfy his mean grasping disposition. He said he was but a fit companion of him who betrayed his Lord and Master for thirty miserable pieces of silver, and his advice to him was to go and do as Judas did, hang himself in some unknown field, or place that was never visited by man, so that his body would never be found, but become a feast for the buzzards and jackals, and then closed by saying that the plaintiff was a man with a soul so small that it would have as much room to float around in a grain of mustard seed, as a bullfrog would in Lake Superior.
The verdict of the jury in the case was for nearly as much of a judgment for the defendant, as the plaintiff had claimed to be his due.
Among the cases brought before the courts in those days, were many then, as now, that never ought to have been placed on the docket. Yet to gratify some petty spleen or spite, suits would be brought where the amount was so ridiculously small, that it was a farce to pile up costs and attorney’s fees, and take up the time of the court trying them.
One of the cases to which we allude was that of a certain Lockport grocer, who was sued for the small sum of sixty-three cents, the price of five dozen eggs at a shilling a dozen, which were brought to the store by a German farmer, and left, with the remark that the next time he was in town, he would call and get his pay for them.
It happened that the same morning, the grocer’s better half had requested him to bring home some good fresh eggs at noon, as she wished to do some baking that day. The grocer took it for granted that those left by the farmer were just what was wanted, and so took them home. That afternoon the maid took the eggs and commenced to break them into a dish for use, but found them nearly all very bad. Report, of course, was made to the grocer, and he was justly indignant to think he had been so imposed upon, and when the farmer called for his pay, he told him he would never pay him a damned cent for them.
The result was suit was brought before a justice, and strongly contested, but judgment was rendered for the bill, against the grocer. He appealed to the Circuit Court, another trial and another judgment. A new trial was granted upon some pretext and then the same result once more. The grocer then had no remedy but to appeal to the Supreme Court. That he did. The judgment of the court below was affirmed, and the grocer had the judgment and costs, with his attorneys’ fees all to pay, amounting to fully six hundred dollars. The poor German did not fare much better, as his attorneys’ fees were three hundred dollars, besides all his trouble and expenses.
Another case, with a similar result, was that again Michael Shields, who lived out on the Plainfield road, near the city limits. He was sued on a promissory note of $50.00, and which called for interest at 10 per centthe regular rate in those days. Shields defended, denying the signature to the note, under oath. He wrote a very peculiar hand, and one that was extremely difficult to imitate, but a judgment was rendered against him before the justice and he appealed to the circuit court. At the trial in that court, a cloud of witnesses was called, and a large majority swore that the signature was, as they believed, genuine, and that Shields wrote it. A judgment was obtained for the full amount of the note and interest. A new trial was granted, and then a second trial, in which the jury could not agree, and then a third trial, and it was that trial that produced a climax, not only among the attorneys in the case, but among those not in it. Randall and Fuller had been Shields’ lawyers from the very first, yet neither of them had thought of appearing in any other capacity than that of counsel. But in that trial they were getting desperate, as they were fearful of getting worsted, and if they did their only remedy was the Supreme Court, and it was that kind of a case when that court seldoms disturbs the verdict of a jury who have heard the witnesses testify, and are therefore the more competent to judge of the merits of the case.
But as we have said, the counsel for the defense were getting desperate, and the senior counsel committed, as was thought by other attorneys, a very grave error in appearing as a witness in the case.
He went upon the stand and swore that about the time of the date of the note, he happened to go into the office of the payee of the note, and that gentleman was sitting at his desk engaged in attempts at imitating the handwriting of Michael Shields, and showed him several samples of what he had written, among them being a note for $50.00, which he was quite positive was the note in controversy, as it had every appearance of being the identical paper.
Henry Snapp was the attorney for the plaintiff, and we have seldom ever heard that gentleman give the opposing counsel such a scoring as that given on that occasion.
The case went to the jury, and soon a judgment was rendered against the defendant for the full amount of the note, with interest and all costs. Then came the most interesting part of the whole trial, especially to the attorneys outside of the case. Mr. E. C. Fellows stepped up to Judge Randall, shook him cordially by the hand and heartily congratulated him upon his noble sacrifice in his endeavor to sustain the well known reputation of the Will county bar for truth and veracity, and then added, “Judge, that jury didn’t believe a d—d word you said about the signing of that note, and you ought in justice to the rest of the bar, to not only have it polled, but have every d—d one of them rode out of town on a rail for its malicious insinuation that it would not believe an honorable member of the Will county bar under oath. And in future, Judge, I would most earnestly advise you to ponder well the very wise saying of the old fellowI think it was Hudibras who said, ‘Let the shoemaker stick to his last, the smith to his forge, the farmer to his plow, and the lawyer to his brief, and not allow himself to wander into fields that he knows naught of, nor indulge in the very hazardous experiment of appearing as both counsel and witness, nature never designed him to fill but the former position.'” The records of the court do not show that the honorable judge ever again indulged in the hazardous experiment of appearing as both counsel and witness in the same case.
A good story is hold of Mr. Fellows’ shrewdness as a criminal lawyer. Away back in the early fifties, a man had been arrested in the village for robbing a farm house out in the eastern part of the county of several hundred dollars. He was taken before Esquire Heath for examination, and Mr. Fellows was retained by the prisoner to defend him. When the case was called, Mr. Fellows arose and told the court that he had just been retained in the case, and that he had not had an opportunity to talk with his client as to what his defense was, and asked that the examination be postponed for a while so as to give him time to prepare his defense. The court very graciously granted the request, and then jokingly added, “While you are about it, Mr. Fellows, give him good, healthy advice. Talk to him like a father to a wayward son.” They went out together, and in about an hour Mr. Fellows returned alone. In the meantime another case had been taken up and was then on trial, and the court room was filled with those interested in that case, so that the entrance of Mr. Fellows alone was not noticed. It was at least another hour before the case was concluded, and then the court told the constable to bring in the prisoner. That officer replied that he did not know where he wasthat he had not seen him since he went out with Mr. Fellows. The court then called on that gentleman to produce his client. Mr. Fellows rose, and very gravely replied that life was very uncertain, and so also were examinations before justices. That no human being, not even the Angel Gabriel himself could tell what the decision of a court would be in a case like thatthat he had told him as he went out with his client to give him some good, healthy advice, and he had done so. That his client had told him just how the case stood, and that he after securing his fee for the advice, had told the fellow to get out of the county as quickly as the d—l would let him, and from the rate of speed he was making when he last saw him, he must be pretty well out of the county by that time. Of course that ended the case. It was afterwards learned that the fellow had divided his spoils equally with his attorney, and as Mr. Fellows never had any scruples about taking “tainted money,” of course it was accepted readily.
A SAD DEATH
It was early in the spring of 1857 that Granville McMackin came to Joliet from his old home down in his native Vermont, to practice his chosen professionthat of an attorney at law. He had received a very liberal education, was well learned in the law and a fluent speaker, but poor health had seized hold upon him, and friends advised that he come West, and see if a change would not benefit him. He came accompanied by his young wife, and two sweet baby girls of three and five years, and when they arrived they had barely sufficient means to furnish with a little cheap furniture a small three-room cottage over near the Cut-Off depot. He opened an office and commenced practice. But it was evident from the very first that he would be no better here, in facta slight cold which he had taken while arranging his little home, had settled on his lungs, and gave him a cough that remedies failed to relieve. As business came to him, he was at times unable to attend it from ill health. Then it was that the little wife would take her babes and go to the office and write or look up authorities, and thus help him in every way possible. His brother attorneys would at times help him out in some difficult case, but he gradually failed until he was compelled to give up his visits to his office entirely. Then starvation, not for himself, but for his devoted wife and children, stared him in the face. His people east were poor, too poor to help him, but his brothers in the law took hold of it, and contributed as well as they were able towards their support, and when he became so ill as to need extra care nights, the younger attorneys volunteered, two each night in turn, and as it was necessary that they have a lunch at midnight, they would make up a liberal one, and then when they reached the house divide the lunch with the little girls who soon learned to watch and wait for their coming, as it was often the little ones had no supper until the lunch came. The sick man lingered along through the summer, and until early in October, and then death claimed him for its own. The legal fraternity provided for the burial up in the old cemetery near where the Ridgewood school is now located. Then the stricken wife, after disposing of the few articles of furniture, and with the help of friends, took her babes and returned to her old home in the East, leaving the husband and father in the bosom of the strange land to which they had come together but six months before, there to remain until death shall again unite them all in the home beyond the grave.
TRAGEDY IN A BLACKSMITH SHOP
WITH BRIEF SKETCHES OF THE WILL COUNTY BAR IN REBELLION DAYS
BY WILLIAM GRINTON
Friday, December 6, 1861, was an ill fated, an unlucky Friday for two Joliet men; to them it was the day of doom. Upon one it placed the seal of sudden, violent death; upon the other the brand of Cain.
Benjamin Pickles, an old and respected resident of Joliet, lived on Eastern avenue, and had his blacksmith shop on the west side of the alley, on the north side of Washington street, between Ottawa and Joliet streets.
On this, his last day of life’s labor, he had been putting the iron railing on the Bush building, on the corner of Bluff and Exchange streets. His two sons, fourteen and sixteen years of age, were helping him, and at dark they went to the shop to work until supper time. A well aimed shot came through a broken glass in the east window of the shop, struck Benjamin Pickles in the head, between the left eye and ear; and those poor, horror-stricken boys were fatherless. It was the deed of a fiend incarnate to shoot a father, in cold blood, with his children looking on.
William Zaph, a German, brother-in-law of Pickles, was at once suspected of the crime, for there had been a family feud on for some time and Zaph had threatened Pickles’ life. Coroner Charles H. Demmond held the inquest and Drs. McArthur and Thomas made the post mortem examination.
Anthony McNerny, city marshal, and Thomas O’Brien, constable, went to Zaph’s house, arrested and lodged him in the old jail, for the new one was not then ready for guests. Footprints were found in the mud under the window through which the shot had been fired. Zaph’s shoes were taken from his feet and found to fit the tracks. There was an individuality, as well as fatality about those shoes, for Zaph did his own cobbling, making the half soles as short as possible, to save shoe pegs, leather and labor. When he placed those half soles on his old shoes he never dreamed that they would be the Nemesis camping on his trail to the tragedy and stand as witnesses, furnishing a strong link in the chain of evidence that before three juries convicted him of the crime of murder.
Convis, the friend of criminals, was retained to defend Zaph at his first trial. Albert H. Convis was an unlettered lawyer, but sly as a coyote, cunning as a fox and slippery as an eel. His clientage, as a general proposition, was confined to a class of criminal code cases which self-respecting lawyers would not touchunless the retaining fee was very large. Convis belonged to the class of lawyers that no self-respecting criminal would employ as an advocate before a court and jury, for fear he would be handicapped in coming into court in bad company. It may be said in passing that Convis’ wife was found drowned in the Illinois & Michigan canal, coroner’s verdict, practically, weary of life.
Judge Harris was on the bench; W. W. Bartlett, sheriff, and Perry P. Scarrett, deputy; Benjamin F. Russel, clerk, and George H. Ward, deputy. Henry Logan, prosecuting attorney, was assisted by J. H. Quinn. Both of these gentlemen had become lawyers by some sort of evolution of promotion; Logan from the wagon maker’s and Quinn from the tailor’s trade.
Although they lacked the advantage of college training,, they had some inherent qualifications for the profession that made them formidable antagonists before a jury. Logan winning out by the “hammering process” and Quinn by double or “back stitching.”
The jury had just been impaneled when one of them broke out in a fine case of measles, which caused some delay.
The lawyers explained to the jury the statutory definition of murder, as the unlawful killing of a human being, in the peace of the people, with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied; that it might be perpetrated by poisoning, striking, starving, drowning, stabbing, shooting, or by any other of the various forms by which human nature may be overcome and death occasioned; malice was implied when all the circumstances of the killing showed an abandoned and malignant heart.
The foundation for a murder trial, the corpus delicti, was established, the evidence produced. The evidence against Zaph was partly circumstantial, partly confessional.
In the gun from which the fatal shot was fired a piece of newspaper had been used for a wad; fate and the gun blew it, almost intact, into Pickles’ ear and its torn edge exactly fitted the torn edge of a German newspaper on the buttery shelf in Zaph’s house and made the advertisement of “a brick yard for sale” complete. The shoes taken from the prisoner’s feet, immediately after his arrest, fitted the footprints in the mud under the window where the assassin stood. Soon after the arrest Zaph’s wife asked permission to visit him at the jail. The prosecuting attorney had expected this, and, naturally, was desirous of having a reliable report of the interview. As Thomas O’Brien, the officer who helped arrest Zaph, had no conscientious scruples or code of fine, esthetic notions about the propriety of listening to and reporting a confidential conversation between husband and wife, arrangements were made to have Tom secreted under a couch in the room where they were to meet. The scheme worked well; Tom was able to go on the witness stand and swear to confessions and admissions made by Zaph to his wife, which were ample to convict him of the murder, and the jury brought in a verdict of guilty, but a new trial was granted the prisoner on account of technical irregularities.
The second trial came on at the January term in 1863 and Elisha C. Fellows held the center of the stage in Zaph’s defense.
It is unnecessary to say, to those who remember him, that “Lishe” Fellows was as astute and well posted criminal lawyer as ever kept a murderer’s neck out of the halter or a horse thief’s body out of the penitentiary. Yet Fellows could talk like a preacher and quote Scripture as glibly as he could supreme court decisions. He had started out in life under the teachings and guidance of an orthodox church, but had been carried away from his moorings by the vagaries of William Miller, a theologaster, who was exploiting one of those pseudo religions which have their ephemeral existence and die away. They called themselves Millerites or Second Adventists and had some date in ’43 set for the winding up of the world. If “Lishe” had ascended into heaven with the other Millerites on the date set for that happy event, there would have been more hangings in Will and adjoining counties and more life termers in the penitentiary.
Morally, Fellows went down “The Jericho Road”; his family was broken up. The same old storyold as the Garden of Eden: “The woman tempted me and I did eat.”
When the hearing on the motion for one of the two new trials granted Zaph came on before Judge Harris. Thomas L. Breckenridge appeared for the prisoner and made a masterful effort in his behalf; a magnificent argument, worthy of a better cause.
Mr. Breckenridge was at the zenith of his native Scotch eloquence and forensic power, and he plead for his client in apt Scotch accented words and thrilling tones. As he warmed to the work the beaded sweat stood out upon his brow, collar and necktie were cast off, white foam gathered in the corners of his mouth, and he awoke the echoes in the court room of the old court house with all the vigor and zeal of his fiery Scotch nature. At times the power, pathos and seeming heartfelt sincerity of his pleading with the judge was magnificent, but made the listener regret that, such eloquence should be wasted on behalf of a murderer of the most malignant, cowardly type.
The psychic power and eloquence of Breckenridge might have swayed, or hung, an emotional, impressionable jury of the prisoners peers, as he dwelt upon the danger of circumstantial evidence and cited cases. But it was the judge’s duty to apply the “acid test” of legal chemistry to the case and this test disclosed traces of legal irregularities and technicalities which entitled the accused to a new trial, and it was awarded him.
Three juries brought in verdicts of guilty against William Zaph, and the last resort, proceedings for a supercedeas were pending. The new jail was finished and George Munroe, the new sheriff had six prisoners in the cells on the night of July 23, 1863; in the morning he had none. It was Friday that let Zaph into jail, and to equalize matters, it was Friday that let him out. Broken doors and locks in the cell room, a hole in the south wall and dangling bedticking told the story of the escape. Sheriff Munroe wanted those prisoners brought back, for they were a choice lot; three murderers, two horse thieves and a highway robber. The following advertisement shows how much he wanted them in dollars.
BROKE JAIL. $600 REWARD.
On Friday night, the 24th inst., the following described persons escaped from the Will county jail at the city of Joliet, Illinois: Richard Dooly, charged with murder (described).
William Zaph, charged with murder. Zaph is a German and speaks quite broken; small in stature, thirty years of age, about five feet six inches in height, dark hair, light blue eyes, large nose.
Godfried Eggleston, charged with highway robbery (described).
Abram Phillips, counterfeiter (description).
John Hampton, larceny (description).
John Munroe, larceny (description).
A reward of $100 each will be paid for the arrest of each of the above persons, or $600 for all, upon their delivery at the jail in Joliet.
GEORGE MUNROE, Sheriff of Will County Joliet, Illinois, July 25, 1863.
The life of the sheriff of Will county was a strenuous one during war times, as the provost marshall’s headquarters for this district was in Joliet and 1863 was the year of drafts, draft riots, substitutes, substitute brokers, bounties and bounty jumpers. The city had more desperadoes and assorted villains than it has today with ten times the population, and only Anthony McNerny, city marshal, with his big cane and star as large and bright as a new tin pan, and Ben Snyder and Tom O’Brien for night and day shifts to handle the police business. Thus the sheriff’s office had to handle the mob. Although George H. Munroe was but a boy at the time, he acted as deputy for his father and soon developed a talent and tact for handling desperadoes, where cool judgment, quick action and finesse had to go up against numbers, brute force and guns. This boy deputy and detective was sent on the trail, single handed, after the escaped prisoners, but failed to find Zaph, and the hemp or manila has never grown to make a hangman’s noose for the murderer of Benjamin Pickles.
Day after day, throughout the trial, men left their offices, stores and shops and filled the court room benches, while members of the bar, inside the rail, watched the trial from the lawyer’s point of view.
In memory to recall that court room scene in those heroic war-time days, with the once familiar forms, faces and voices of the Will county bar, as constituted about the time of this famous triple trial, is to make one feel as “he who treads, alone, in banquet halls deserted.”
Uri Osgood, pioneer of the bar, courtly, portly, courteous; too dignified to swear, he never took an oath, but always “affirmed.”
Mr. Osgood was always esteemed one of the ablest counsel of the bar. It seems almost paradoxical at this date to say of Mr. Osgood that he was “land poor” in Joliet real estate, but he was so optimistic in his reading of Joliet’s future that he loaded himself down with so much unproductive real estate that it kept him busy earning money enough from his law practice to pay taxes.
Jesse O. Norton, county judge, congressman, circuit judge, then congressman again. A Vermont born gentleman, college bred, school master in Virginia and Missouri, so popular, socially and politically, that the voters always gave him any office he wanted. Judge Norton was a model man in all respects until he became mixed up with the Andrew Johnson, “Tennessee Tailor swinging around the circle” administration, and forfeited his birthright for a “mess of pottage” in the form of a United States district attorney appointment.
Henry Snapp, in his prime, fiery, untamed and untameable, unique, original, eccentric, forceful as a trial lawyer, and dearest adversary of Elisha Fellows. An abolitionist or “black republican” at a time when to belong to that denomination was to be classified about as an anarchist is today and practically ostracized by democrats; in some locations it was dangerous, for it was almost an unwritten law of democracy that an abolitionist was, like the negro, in that famous obiter dictum decision of Chief Justice Taney in the Dred Scot case; “of such an inferior race that he had no rights which a white man was bound to respect.”
Ex-Judge Sylvester W. Randall was somewhat handicapped by nature in physique and voice; his small head a phrenological puzzle, a giant in intellect, men marveled that so small a head could contain such fine brain power. Subtle, keen as a razor, patient, persevering, unrelenting; the kind of bookworm to burn the midnight oil ferreting in the intricacies of old chancery cases, court decisions and precedents; a second Mr. Vholes, of Jarndyee vs. Jarndyce fame, night and day, in term time and vacation watching his clients interests.
Josiah McRoberts, aristocratic, dignified, gracious and courteous in his bearing. Too proud to pettifog, too much self respect to try to win a case by making “the worse appear the better reason,” or stultify himself by misstatements of law or fact. His judicial mind, clear headed faculty for analysis, spirit of fairness and freedom from prejudice placed him on the bench and kept him there during the remainder of his life.
Sherman W. Bowen, jovial, easy going, popular and about the only member of the bar who had the temerity to practice law and take fees without wearing a silk hat; the conventional “stove pipe hat” being at that time an essential in the makeup of a professional man.
They need not necessarily be up to date; back numbers were good if of the silk stove pipe style.
Mr. Bowen was one-third lawyer, one-third real estate dealer and one-third politician, and could make money so much easier in real estate that he preferred it to the fret and fume of law practice.
One day, in dull, hard times, a client came into the office, bought five dollars’ worth of legal advice, and paid spot cash for it.
Mr. Bowen and Dr. Casey were office partners at the time and agreed to go out and have a “joint tenancy” dinner with the right to enjoy the same with all the appurtenances, rights and privileges thereunto belonging. Just at this psychological moment a soliciting committee of ladies from the Universalist church swooped down, and, briefly stated, captured that five-dollar fee. With a rueful countenance, made up of resignation, despair and disgust, Mr. Bowen turned and said: “Doc, I’ll be damned if my religion don’t cost me more than any man in Jolietand I have less of it.”
If Mr. Bowen were alive today and owned the Joliet real estate that used to stand in his name he would not need to worry over the cost of his religion or his dinner.
Francis Goodspeed, a lawyer who not only read law, but understood it, and was always highly esteemed as counsel in heavy cases. His reputation for legal ability, good judgment, good common sense and judicial fairness placed him on the bench and kept him there until failing health made his retirement imperative.
Joseph E. Streeter, “hand on sword,” small but brilliant and cutting as a diamond; fine grained and highly cultivated intellect; impassioned and eloquent as an orator, but so fiery, quick tempered and arbitrary that he could not brook opposition or contradiction. His hair was red.
Gavion D. A. Parks, of Parks and Elwood for many years. The bar was lonesome when he was gone. Somewhat resembling William H. Seward; prima facie, dignified and severe in bearing; closer acquaintance revealed the fact that there was no ice around the heart of Judge Parks. His genial nature and personal magnetism made him a common center around which circles of men, who were scarcely on speaking terms with each other, would gather listening to his entertaining conversation, wise, quaint and humorous. Judge Parks was always in demand as an orator when the occasion demanded something fine, with a literary finish.
George S. House, fresh from college and law school, newly married, with his reputation as a commercial, constitutional and corporation lawyer away in the future. Mr. House made good for his college and law education. He went into the office of his father-in-law, Uri Osgood, and had the benefit of that able man’s learning and long practice. He was not what would, ordinarily, be considered an eloquent speaker, but lucid, logical and forceful; his shrill voice commanded the undivided attention of judge or jury from the subject matter, and his masterly way of marshaling law and fact. Exactness and clearness were his long suits both in his forensic efforts and in his preparation of legal documents. They were models for lawyers and law students.
Royal E. Barber, the living embodiment of tranquility, serenenot sad; equanimity, steadfastness and cheerfulness were the leading characteristics of his mental make-up. There was nothing of the bizarre in his style; never any “grand stand plays.” Painstaking, methodical, patient; serenely keeping the even tenor of his ways, in sunshine and storm, prosperity and adversity; he did not wear himself out with the fret and fume of passion, but lived to an age far beyond that of any other member of the bar and had followed many younger, more robust members to their last resting places.
Mr. Barber’s connection ran back to the old combination court house and jail; he came into the second court house a newly admitted member of the bar, held the office of circuit clerk and recorder, then compiled the first set of abstracts of title in Will county. For sixty years Mr. Barber had gone in and out of the three court houses and practiced law longer than any other member at the Will county bar.
A sketch of the old court house would not be complete with Alonzo Leach left out; it was his favorite home and he was one of the strong and striking characters of the old regime; his political record ran away back to the whig party which elected him the first of the three terms he held the office of sheriff. Alonzo was sheriff long years before James W. Martin held his first term as treasurer and took lessons from Alonzo in campaign management.
Mr. Leach had hosts of friends and always stood by them, good, bad and indifferent, which probably cost him the payment of more security debts than any other politician in the county. Alonzo belonged to what was for many years known as “the court house clique,” for more particular description of which reference is hereby made to the ancient files of the Joliet Signal. It was Cal Zarley’s bete noir, bogie man and nightmare. To his inflamed imagination it was more iniquitous in its diabolical machinations than the Ku Klux Klan of the south, Molly Maguires of Pennsylvania, White Caps of Indiana, or the Black Hand of Italy.
To the statement made in these sketches that the Will county bar was loyal during the war, an exception must be made in the person of W. K. Hackley, a Kentuckian, who came to Joliet about ’57 or ’58. He was not simply a copperhead, but a thorough secessionist, the real thing. Mr. Hackley was a gentleman and a scholar, who would, with the setting of a fine “Old Kentucky Home” and all of the appurtenances thereunto belonging, seem more in place than in a dingy law office trying to support a large and rapidly increasing family on the meager income of a J. P. practice. Forcefulness and energy were not his long suits, and he was not the kind of man to get out and hustle for business.
An easy chair on a broad southern porch, with meerschaum pipe, books, magazines and a bottle on the side, with negro servants to come at his call, would have been more to his liking than the practice of law.
Mr. Hackley faded away from Joliet and there are only a few who remember him, but he had two handsome daughters he took away with him.
John W. Merrill, the member from Wilmington, read law with Judge Norton and made a success as a lawyer; he was a fluent speaker, showy, and made a favorable impression before a jury. He had a dramatic instinct which led him at times beyond the limits of the legitimate drama of the court room into the melodramatic. On one occasion he was defending a villain charged with a most infamous crime, with but little prospect of saving his client from a long term. John had decided to steal a march on the court and jury with a dramatic conclusion of his eloquent closing argument and had coached the prisoner for his part. He suddenly turned toward his client, threw up both arms, and with all the dramatic force of a Richelieu, Macbeth or Black Crook, commanded or demanded, “Flynn, in the name of God, are you guilty?” Flynn popped up like a jack in the box and roared out, “No.” Judge McRoberts, in substance, informed the counsel that a repetition of such tactics would subject him to a heavy fine for contempt of court.
The jury sent John’s client up for about the limit.
Nelson D. Elwood, Joliet’s cosmopolitan citizen, high in the councils of democracy, railroad, business and social circles. City and county limits could not confine or bind his active and comprehensive nature.
Mr. Elwood’s ability and influence throughout the state was such that he could locate a railroad, state institution, or other big public enterprise as well as Governor Matteson couldbefore he fell.
William C. Goodhue, of a highly nervous temperament, high toned, impatient and impetuous, college educated, clear headed, eloquent and popular. Mr. Goodhue was firmly in the front ranks, professionally and politically, with bright hopes for a brilliant future, when death stepped in and summoned him to a higher court.
During the stress and storm of rebellion years there were vacant chairs inside the rail and absent members; the Will county bar was loyal, democratic, whig and republican, and furnished five of its members for the army.
Among the absent ones were Frederick A. Bartleson and David G. Grover; alike in lifealike in destiny; so much alike that to draw a sketch of one would be to sketch the other. Nearly of the same age, slight in physique, fine grained, spirited and high toned, delicate and refined in manner, with ways as gentle as women’s are, one scarcely would have picked them out, among the crowd as the kind of soldiers in whose hearts fear never camped. They were too young to die; not half way home, they laid down their lives upon the battlefield before they had counted one-half the milestones on the way to three score and ten. To borrow the words of Macbeth, “they should have died hereafter.”
And yet, aside from the sorrow of those who mourned for them, their glorious deaths upon the battlefield, with the lamps of life fed by patriotism and ambition’s oil, brightly burning, were far better than, as wounded, pensioned veterans to have, limping, “lagged superfluous on the stage” until tardy death rang the curtain down.
Of all that coterie of able, brilliant lawyers of the long ago who composed the Will county bar in rebellion days, William W. Stevens is the sole survivor; he, alone, is left to tell the tale. Take them, man for man, they were as able men as could be found in any bar in the state of Illinois, and yet, during the stagnation of business during the war there were years in which their combined fees, from law practice, would not aggregate P. C. Haley’s annual salary from the Chicago Drainage Board. They had no big corporation cases, personal injury suits or fat receivership’s; simply the ordinary run of country practice. However, they all lived well, dressed well, wore silk hats and broadcloth suits, paid a dollar for three pounds of white sugar, forty cents a yard for Wamsutta muslin to make their immaculate, home-laundered linen (the Bible says: “fine linen is the righteousness of the saints”), a dollar a can for oysters, and seventy cents a gallon for the midnight oil they burned in preparing bills in chancery, reading law, The Congressional Record and The Joliet Signal. With one or two exceptions they led, apparently, blameless lives; some of them went to church and most of them paid their debts.
One by one, with the exception of W. W. Stevens, those lawyers of the old regime have passed from the jurisdiction of the courts of earth and the trials of life to the jurisdiction of the Supreme Judge of the Universe, in the forever lands. Not one of those eloquent men of many words has sent a message back.
The old court house, homely, unpretentious in architecture; rectangular as a dry goods box in form; simple and severe in sky line; interior color scheme, white wash and drab paint.
For thirty-six years the seat of justicetroubles’ temple; center of the mental life and activity of the county and city; storm center of political campaigns; temporary home of infant and homeless churches; opera house and theater.
Judges, lawyers, juries, sheriffs, clients, plaintiffs and defendants, appellees, appellants, prisoners, witnesses, and general populace forever passing through its portals. The real tragedies and comedies of life unveiled and justice meted out by judges, with juries on the side.
Day after day the mill of justice ground on, with never failing grists of plaintiffs and defendants, accusers and accused, with all their tales of woe, of greed, crime, cruelty and treachery; for every winner, a loser; to one prisoner the precious boon of liberty, to another the grated cell. Fit themes for one in moralizing mood.