THE SCOTT COUNTY BAR.
THE BENCH AND BAR OF SCOTT COUNTY - EARLY LAWYERS, MANY OF THEM MEN OF GREAT ABILITY - THE EARLIER COURTS - SUPREME COURT SESSIONS IN DAVENPORT - THE DISTRICT, CIRCUIT AND COUNTY COURTS - MEMBERS OF THE BAR OF TWENTY-FIVE YEARS AGO - THE PRESENT BAR - DIVERTING INCIDENTS OF THE LEGAL RECORD SINCE COURTS WERE ESTABLISHED - JUDGE GRANT'S TOOTHPICK
Perhaps no body of men, not excepting the clergy, may exercise a greater influence for good in a community than those who follow the profession of the law, and it must be admitted that to no other body, not even to the so-called criminal classes, are committed greater possibilities for an influence for evil. What that influence shall be depends upon the character of the men who constitute the bar of the community - not merely on their ability or learning but on their character. If the standard of morality among the members of the bar is high, the whole community learns to look at questions of right and wrong from a higher plane. If the bar consciously or unconsciously adopts a low standard of morality, it almost inevitably contaminates the conscience of the community. And this is true not only in the practice of the profession itself, not only because of the influence of members of the bar as men rather than lawyers, but in the effect upon other professions and occupations to which the bar acts as a feeder. The members of the legislature are recruited largely from the legal profession. How can legislation, designed solely for the welfare of the public, be expected from one whose honor as a lawyer has not been above suspicion? And since lawyers, outside of the legislature, have a great influence in shaping the law, how can the people expect that influence to be exerted in their behalf when the bar itself is unworthy? Still more does the character of the bar effect the judiciary, which is supplied from its ranks. It is not always, perhaps not generally, the case that members of the bench are chosen from those lawyers who have attained the highest rank in their profession. If a judge be industrious and honest, but not of great ability, or if he be able and honest, though lacking industry, the rights of the litigants are not likely to suffer seriously at his hands. But there have been instances where judicial office was bestowed solely as a reward for political service; and while it is sometimes realized that one who has been a strenuous and not too scrupulous politician up to the moment of his elevation to the bench, has thereafter forgotten that there was such a trade as politics and has administered justice without fear or favor, the experiment is a dangerous one. No one need be surprised if in such a case the old maxim holds true: "He who buys the office of judge must of necessity sell justice." Let our judges be men who are subject to other influences than those of the facts submitted to them and the law applicable to those facts, let them lack that independence which is an imperative requisite to one who holds the scales of justice, let a well founded suspicion arise that their decisions are dictated by something outside of their own minds and consciences, and the confidence of the people in the maintenance of their rights through the agency of the courts is destroyed.
It has been the good fortune of the city of Davenport and the county of Scott that the members of the bar here have been, for the most part, men of high character as well as of ability and learning, so that its bar has won a high and honorable reputation throughout the rest of the state and because of the high character of the bar it has followed that those of its members who have been elevated to the bench have enjoyed the confidence and respect of the public and have been honored not only in their own locality but in many cases throughout the state and in other states.
Yet the preparation of a history of the bar, so far as least as that part of it which lies back of one's own generation is concerned, is attended with considerable difficulty. Probably few men who in their time play important parts in the community or even in the state or nation, leave so transient a reputation as lawyers do. A writer on this subject who took for his text the Lawyers of Fifty Years Ago, said: "In thinking over the names of these distinguished men of whom I have been speaking, the thought has come to me how evanescent and limited is the lawyer's reputation, both in time and space. I doubt very much if a lawyer, whatever his standing, is much known to the profession outside of his own state." Those who attain high rank in the profession must realize that with rare exceptions their names are "writ in water." One may turn over the leaves of old reports and find repeated again and again as counsel in different cases the name of some lawyer who must have been in his time a power in the courts, only to wonder if he has ever seen that name outside of the covers of the dusty reports in which it appears. Hamilton, in the conventions, in the Federalist and in the treasury, and Webster, in the senate and in public orations, have perpetuated and increased the fame of lawyers Hamilton and Webster; but were it not for their services outside the strict limits of their profession one might come upon their names at this date with much the same lack of recognition as that with which one finds in a reported case the names of some counsel, great perhaps in his own time, but long since forgotten.
And there is another difficulty in preparing such a history as this, brief and therefore necessarily limited to a few names, and that is that some may be omitted who are quite as worthy of mention as those whose names appear. It is not often that anyone man stands as a lawyer head and shoulders above the other members of the profession; and the same may be said of any half dozen men. In many cases the most careful measurement would fail to disclose a difference of more than a fraction of an inch, if any. Lives of eminent men who have at some period been practicing lawyers have contained the assertin that while they were engaged in the practice of their profession they were the "leaders of the bar;" but there is almost always room for doubt as to whether the title is now a brevet bestowed by the biographer alone. Therefore the mention in this article of certain lawyers must not be taken as any disparagement of those who are not mentioned, and, finally, it is to be observed that this article, so far as the bar is concerned, will treat not only of those members who are past and gone but will make mention of some of those now in the flesh.
THE EARLY BAR.
In the history of Scott county issued by the Interstate Publishing Company in 1882, the following well written and authentic article on the early bar of Scott county appears. From that narrative the following excerpts have been freely taken:
Scott county was organized in 1838, but previous to this time several members of the profession had settled in the county, first of whom was Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, who subsequently became judge of the district court and who, for many years, until his death, was an honored member of the bar of the county. A sketch of Judge Mitchell will be found in another part of this work.
Alexender McGregor came about the same time as Judge Mitchell. It was not Mr. McGregor's intention, when he settled here, to engage in the practice of law. He first went on a farm, remaining there several years, and then removed to Davenport where he hung out his shingle and practiced the profession for which he had fitted himself. Mr. McGregor served a term in the general assembly of the territory. He died about 1859.
S. B. Hastings came to the county in 1836 and settled at Buffalo, then the metropolis of the county, where he remained but one year, and then removed to Muscatine county. He was a good lawyer and afterward rose to high rank in his profession and on the bench. He served as judge of the supreme court in this state for some years and during the gold excitement in California he moved to that state, where he later distinguished himself as judge of the supreme court.
At the first term of the district court of Scott county Simeon Meredith appeared and was admitted to practice law by the motion of Judge Mitchell. He lived for a short time thereafter in Davenport and then left for other parts but has long since died.
James Grant came to Scott county for the sake of his health and settled in Blue Grass township about 1838. He had already been admitted to the bar and, tiring of the farm, his ambition compelled him to resume the practice of his profession. He was born in Halifax county, North Carolina, on the 12th of December, 1812. He entered college at the age of fourteen and graduated at eighteen. He then taught school in Raleigh three years and in 1834 opened a law office in Chicago. Soon thereafter he was appointed prosecuting attorney of the sixth district and in 1838 removed to Davenport, settling on a farm near the little village. In 1841 he was chosen to represent Scott county in the legislative assembly and in 1844 was sent as a delegate to the first constitutional convention and took an active part in framing the constitution which was later rejected. In 1846 he was a member of the second convention and was the author of the "bill of rights" in that instrument under which Iowa became a state. In 1847 he was elected judge of the district court, serving five years. In 1852 he was again elected to the legislature and chosen speaker of the house. When a young man he began to acquire a law library and continued to add to it through mature life until he had secured the largest and best selected collection of law books in the west. He became one of the great lawyers of the country and was employed in some of the most important land and bond cases in the west. In one railroad case he won for his clients $1,000,000 and received for his services $100,000. In politics he was a life-long democrat. On the 14th of March, 1891, Judge James Grant died at Oakland, California, and when the news of his death was passed from one to another at his home in Davenport, Iowa, "almost everyone in Davenport," said the Daily Democrat, commenting editorially on his death, "felt that he had lost a personal friend." He was a fine classical scholar and turned to the classics even in his later years for diversion from business and other affairs. As a judge on the bench he was noted for his prompt discharge of public business and the broad common sense and equity of his decisions. As a practitioner, zeal, courage, resourcefulness and a felicitous power of expression were his distinguishing characteristics. He was a man of strong and tender emotions. "When the subject was such as to enlist his feelings," says an old member of the Iowa bar, "he was truly eloquent in the highest sense of that expression."
At a metting of the Scott county bar, held soon after Judge Grant's death, S. F. Smith, for many years his law partner, paid a glowing tribute to the departed lawyer and jurist.
Ebenezer Cook was the son of Captain Ira Cook and was born at New Hartford, Oneida county, New York, February 14, 1810. While yet a boy his father moved to Broome county in the same state, where he was extensively engaged in the lumber business. Ebenezer at the age of seventeen went to Ithaca as confidential agent of Hiram Powers, in a wholesale house there. When twenty-three years of age, at Undilla, he married Miss Clarissa C. Bryan, and soon after went into the mercantile business at Vienna, Ontario county. In May, 1835, with his old friend and earliest patron, Hiram Powers, he traveled by way of the lakes to Green bay, then on horse-back through the Indian country to Galena. There they heard such glowing accounts of Iowa and the opposite shore of the Mississippi that on returning to New York state the entire family decided upon leaving their home for a new one beyond the Mississippi. Ebenezer did not accompany them, but followed in December, 1836. Mr. Cook commenced reading law with Judge Williams and was appointed clerk of the federal court in 1839 and was admitted to the bar in 1840. He soon secured an extensive and lucrative practice. Under the act of congress of 1845 he commenced the locating of land warrants in 1847, which led him to active operation in real estate, which he successfully continued until the question of a railroad became almost the sole topic of discussion in the years 1851-52-53, when he took an active part in the new movement for the advancement of the state by means of railroad communication with the eatern markets, becoming a director of the Chicago & Rock Island Railroad from its first organization. He was also elected secretary and vice president of the old Mississippi & Missouri road which was later merged into the Rock Island, and later he became treasurer, afterward vice president and was at the time of his death acting vice president of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company. While engaged in the handling and locating of land warrants large sums of money came into his possession, which induced him to become a member of the banking firm of Cook & Sargent, remaining with this concern until 1859, when he withdrew to devote his whole attention to the interests of the railroad. He never solicited or sought any office in his life, although he was always a consistent and patriotic member of the party with which he was affiliated. In 1851 and in 1854 he was a member of the common council of Davenport and was elected mayor of the city in 1858. In the sixty-second year of his age he died at his home in Davenport, on the 8th day of October, 1871.
John P. Cook was an able member of the Scott county bar. He was a native of the state of New York, having been born in Whitestown, Oneida county, in August, 1817. At the age of nineteen years he came to Davenport with his father and with him settled on the "Cook farm" within the present western boundary of this city. At the age of twenty-one he entered the office of his brother, Ebenezer Cook, and in 1842 was admitted to the bar. The same year he married Eliza A. Rowe, of Pleasant Valley, Scott county. Prior to this he had lived a few years in Tipton, Cedar county, where he was admitted to the bar, and in 1851 returned to Davenport, where he lived to the day of his death. Subsequent to his settling here he was elected to congress. On the breaking up of the whig party he affiliated with the democratic party, the principles of which he labored earnestly to sustain and promulgate, even to the end of his days. His life had been one great energy and industry. He was by natural instinct a true western man - a wide awake and thoroughly active pioneer who never saw the time when he cold lay aside the business harness and who apparently neveer wanted to. As a lawyer he had few superiors and was always a ready, able and alert advocate, and with these qualities were combined energy, tact and industry. For many years, up to the time of his demise, no law firm in the northwest stood in higher repute than that broken by his death. But a few months before this took place his brother, Hon. Ebenezer Cook, had been called to his last account and to John P. his brother Ebenezer was most devotedly attached. They had been together almost constantly from boyhood. All their business plans were conned over together, neither ever taking an important step without consulting with the other. His illness was of long duration, but he bore up to the last with the courage of a brave soul. He died at his residence in Davenport, on the corner of Sixth and Main streets, April 17, 1872.
He was one of the founders of the Scott county Pioneer Settlers Association and always took the greatest interest in its gatherings. No old settler was more missed in their annual social picnics than he. At the time of his death he was fifty-five years old.
Charles Weston early came to the county and purchased a farm, but also engaged in the practice of the law. In 1857 he was elected county judge and served two years. He was born in May, 1811, in Washington county, New York. He was the youngest son of Hon. Roswell Weston, judge of the court of common pleas. He graduated at an early age from the Rensselaer Institute of Troy, and in 1832 commenced reading law under his father and General Orville Clark, who were then in partnership. He remained with them some two years and then transferred his studies to the office of Hon. Esec Cowen, who was afterward one of the justices of the supreme court of this state.
John F. Dillon was born in Montogmery county, New York, December 25, 1831. His parents removed to Davenport in 1838, then a frontier village in the new territory of Iowa. Here the son was educated in the common schools and when seventeen began the study of medicine with Dr. E. S. Barrows. He attended medical lectures at the Keokuk Medical College but finally concluded to study law. He entered the office of John P. Cook and pursued his legal studies until admitted to the bar in 1852. Soon after he was elected prosecuting attorney and rose rapidly in the profession until, in 1858, he was elected judge of the seventh district. He served with distinction for years and in 1863 was nominated by the republican state convention for judge of the supreme court. He was elected and in 1868 became chief justice. In 1869 he was re-elected for six years but before qualifying was appointed by President Grant United States circuit judge for the eighth circuit, consisting of the states of Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Nebraska, Minnesota and Colorado. In 1869 he was made lecturer on legal jurisprudence in the State University of Iowa. He was the founder and editor of the Central Law Journal and author of a "Digest of the Decisions of the Supreme Court of Iowa," as well as five volumes of United States Circuit Court Reports from 1871 to 1880. In 1879 he resigned the circuit judgeship (a life appointment) and removed to New York City where he had been chosen professor of real estate and equity jurisprudence of the law department of Comumbia College. In 1891-2 he was lecturer on municipal law in Yale College. In 1892 he was chosen president of the American Bar Association. He has long had charge of the legal business of the Union Pacific Railroad Company, the Western Union Telegraph Company and the Manhattan Elevated Railroad Company. He has found time to continue his law writing as the author of a "Commentary on the Law of Municipal Corporations," published in 1872, which has run through four editions; "Removal of Causes from State Courts to Federal Courts," published in 1875, which has passed through three editions; "Laws and Jurisprudence of England and America," being a series of lectures delivered before Yale University, published in Boston in 1895. Judge Dillon's works have had a large sale in England as well as in America, some editions having been published in London. In this country they were from the first recognized as standard legal authority. He is the author of many pamphlets on, legal and historical affairs, and one of the most elegant memorial volumes that has appeared in this country, in memory of his wife and daughter who where lost at sea in July, 1898. His wife was the accomplished daughter of Hon. Hiram Price, long member of congress from the second Iowa district. From a boyhood of poverty and obscurity, but endowed with remarkable intellectual powers and untiring energy, John F. Dillon has by force of character, during a life of continuous work, reached the summit of the American bar.
John L. Davis moved to Iowa in March, 1841, and settled in Davenport. Upon arriving here he immediately purchased property and built a small house where he resided and from which he was carried to his last resting place. He practiced at the Scott county bar for several years. He died March 18, 1872, in the fifty-ninth year of his age.
Samuel Francis Smith was born at Waterville, Massachusetts, on the 5th of September, 1836, and was the son of the Rev. Samuel Francis Smith, D. D., a distinguished Baptist clergyman of Newton, Massachusetts, and Mary (White) Smith. On both sides he was descended from Puritan ancestry who settled in Massachusetts early in the seventh century, from whom have sprung some of the noblest names that adorn the annals of their country. His father was the author of the national hymn of the republic. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," an ode which has found a merited response in every Christian heart not only in this "sweet land of liberty," but throughout the globe, which has been rendered in the dialect of almost every civilized country in the world and which is sung as frequently in the Alpine valleys and on the slopes of the Himalayas as in the fair land which gave birth to its veneratd author. To be the author of that hymn is glory enough for one man and one life-time. Samuel F. Smith spent one year at Harvard College, but on account of ill health, at the age of nineteen, he started for the west, spending a few months in Chicago and afterward settling in Davenport. Here he entered the law office of James Grant and in 1858 was admitted to the bar. Two years later he became a partner of his preceptor, Judge Grant. He died in 1909.
Hans Reimer Claussen was a native of Schleswig-Holstein, Germany, where he was born February 23, 1804. There he was raised on a farm until he had reached the age of sixteen years, when he entered the college at Meldorf. In 1824 he matriculated in the university of Kiel. In 1829 he passed his examination as a law student and in 1830 was admitted to the bar. He practiced his profession in the neighborhood of his birthplace until 1834, when he located at Kiel. In 1851 he was exiled by the king of Denmark who then ruled over Schleswig-Holstein, which is now an integral part of the German empire. From 1840 until 1851 he was a member of the Holstein legislature and in 1848-49 was a member of the German parliament which convened in May, 1848, at Frankfort-on-the-Main, and framed the constitution for the united Germany. The reason of his exile was on account of his participation in the struggle of Schleswig-Holstein for independence from the Danish king. He came to the United States in 1851 and located in Davenport in the fall of that year. He then began the study of the English language and at the same time read law and was admitted to the bar two years later. For a short interval he was in the milling business, in which he lost all that he possesed.. His law business soon began to increase and then he took his son Ernst into his office as a partner. He served his county in the state senate four years, was a member of the judiciary, university, orphans' home and constitutional amendment committees of that body, and took an active part int he revision of the code in 1873.
Ernst Claussen commenced the practice of law in 1860. He was a native of Holstein, Germany, and was born in 1833 and educated in that place. He fought in the revolutionary army of Schleswig-Holstein, although quite young, and in 1851 he came to America, first taking up his residence for two years in St. Louis. He came to Davenport in 1853. He enlisted at the first call of President Lincoln for 75,000 three months' troops as a member of the First Iowa Infantry, and served as first sergeant of Company G during the term of his enlistment. He then retired from the service and resumed the practice of his profession, in which he was eminently successful.
Jacob W. Stewart came to Scott county in the spring of 1853. He first associated himself with J. W. Sennet for about two years, and in 1859 formed a partnership with James Armstrong, which was dissolved in 1873. In 1875 he became associated with William K. White. In 1856 he was elected prosecuting attorney and in 1866 was appointed collector of internal revenue for the second congressional district by Andrew Johnson. He was elected mayor of Davenport in 1874.
George E. Hubbell is a native of Salisbury, Connecticut. His maternal grandfather was sheriff of New Haven county, Connecticut, for many years. Mr. Hubbell was reared and educated in Connecticut and graduated from Yale Law school in 1851, after which he practiced his profession in New Haven for about a year. Soon after his marriage, which took place in 1852, he opened a law office in New York and practiced there in the company of such noted legal leaders as Charles O'Connor, James T. Brady and others. Health failing him, he came west and located in Davenport in 1853. In the spring of 1864 he entered into partnership with his brother, Judge S. A. Hubbell, which relation continued a year, the judge having been appointed judge of the territorial court of New Mexico, dying there in 1879. When Mr. Hubbell came to Davenport it contained 4,000 souls.
John C. Bills was a native of Wyoming county, New York, where he was born in 1833. He became a member of the Scott county bar in 1856, after which the law firm of Bills & Block was formed. He was a very active and prominent member of the bar at this place and twice was elected mayor of Davenport on the republican ticket.
The senior member of the firm of Brown & Campbell was Samuel Edward Brown, who began his professional career as an attorney in Davenport in 1855. In 1860 Mr. Brown was offered a partnership in the law firm of Corbin & Dow, which he accepted. Mr. Corbin soon afterwards retired from the firm. A year or two later Mr. Dow retired, leaving Mr. Brown alone. He then took into partnership with him Alfred Sully, in 1864. In June, 1870, James Campbell was admitted, the firm becoming Brown, Campbell & Sully. Mr. Sully retired from the firm in March, 1874, and George E. Gould was taken as a partner into the firm, which continued until 1876, when the firm ceased to exist. Finally Mr. Brown applied his energies mainly to railroad business, to federal courts, and had an extensive practice over a circuit that embraced Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska, looking after foreclosure of mortgages, railroad matters and municipal bonds.
On December 9, 1826, Daniel Nash first saw the light of day in Jacksonville, Illinois. He graduated from Illinois college in 1854, studied law with his cousin, Chauncy Nash, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, and was admitted to the bar in 1855. He entered into partnership with is cousin there, which continued three years. He then moved to Davenport where he engaged in the practice of his profession. In 1875 he was appointed register in bankruptcy for the district of Iowa.
John W. Thompson was born in Huntington county, Pennsylvania, October 14, 1823. He attended school until nineteen years of age and taught school until twenty-one, when he began the study of law in Huntington, Pennsylvania, in the office of Thomas P. Campbell, and was admitted to the bar when twenty-three years old, in 1847. He practiced law in Williamsburg and Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania, for several years. In the spring of 1855 he located in Davenport and formed a partnership with Horatio B. Barner, which continued until 1861. In 1866 he and J. D. Campbell joined hands as partners until 1870. In 1877 a partnership was formed with Nathaniel French. He was elected on the republican ticket to the Iowa legislature in 1857 and to the senate in 1859, and was a member of the convention of 1860 which nominated Lincoln for president, and also was a member of the convention of 1880 that nominated Garfield for president.
Edward E. Cook, senior member of the old firm of Cook & Dodge, now Cook & Balluff, began practice in the courts in the spring of 1863. He was born in Scott county, Iowa, August 13, 1843, and is a son of John P. Cook, mention of whom is made in another part of this work. Mr. Cook is a college bred man and in May, 1863, graduated from the Albany Law School and was admitted to practice in the supreme court of New York. Returning home he entered the office of his father and in 1865 became a member of the law firm of Cook & Drury. In 1871 the firm changed to Cook & Bruning. This relation continued until the death of J. P. Cook. In 1872 Mr. Cook formed a partnership with Judge J. S. Richman, under the firmname of Cook, Richman & Bruning. This partnership continued until 1865, when Mr. Bruning retired and the firm remained Cook & Richman until 1880, when Mr. Cook formed a partnership with Frank L. Dodge. In 1909 Mr. Dodge removed to Salt Lake City and the firm became Cook & Balluff.
W. A. Foster began the practice of law in Scott county in October, 1866. He was born in the county in 1842, was educated in Davenport and read law with Davison & True, and was admitted to the bar in 1866. He attained a reputation of no inconsiderable importance as a criminal lawyer.
The senior member of the law firm of Martin, Murphy & Lynch was W. M. Martin, who read law in Tiffin, Ohio, with General William H. Gibson. He located in Marengo, Iowa, and practiced there until 1867, and in June of the same year formed a partnership with J. H. Murphy at Davenport. To this firm in 1876 was added William A. Lynch. He was a member of the ninth general assembly and city attorney from 1873 until 1881.
Herman Block, of the firm of Bills & Block, began his professional career at the Scott county bar in 1865. He was born in 1840 in the duchy of Lauenberg, Germany. At the age of eighteen he emigrated to the United States and located at Davenport. In 1865 he was admitted to the bar and was given desk room in the office of Parker & McNeil the first year. He practiced alone until 1870, when a partnership was entered into with John C. Bills. This firm was one of the ablest and most prosperous in this part of Iowa.
Stewart & White were a well known legal firm in Davenport. William K. White, the junior member, began practicing here in 1868. He was born in Saratoga Springs, New York, in 1844. He read law with Chancellor Reuben H. Walworth, of New York City, and with J. A. Shoudy, a prominent attorney of New York state. He was admitted to the bar in the early part of 1865 at the general term of the supreme court at Plattsburg, New York. After the war he went south and served by appointment as assistant in the freedmen's bureau. He filled this position until 1868, when he came to Davenport and formed a partnership with John Ackley, which continued a year. He then practiced alone until 1873, when he was elected clerk of the district and circuit courts, serving one term. During this time he formed a partnership with Jacob W. Stewart.
John W. Green became a citizen of Scott county in 1852 and was admitted to the bar in 1868. He was born in Vernon, Indiana, in 1842. He received his education at Monmouth College, Illinois. He fought in the Civil war as a private in the Eighty-third Illinois Infantry and served three years. He attained the rank of adjutant in 1863. After the war he went to Albany and entered the law school there, graduating in 1867. He returned to Davenport and read law with Putnam & Rogers. In 1874 he formed a partnership with Bleik Peters. Mr. Green served in the Iowa legislature in 1870 and 1872, and a special session of 1873. He was elected city attorney of Davenport in 1869, and was appointed United States collector of internal revenue by James A. Garfield in 1881.
One of the members of the law firm of Martin, Murphy & Lynch was William A. Lynch, who was a native of Virginia, where he was born in 1846. His parents moved west in 1849 and settled in Mount Pleasant, Henry county, Iowa. There Mr. Lynch attended the Iowa Wesleyan College, read law in Mount Pleasant one year, and then entered the law department of the Iowa State University, from which he graduated in 1871, locating in Davenport one year later. He became very sucessful at the bar. He voted the democratic ticket but avoided politics.
There came from Germany in 1845 or 1846 B. and Margaret Heinz, the parents of Fred Heinz who was born at St. Louis, May 8, 1852. In 1855 they removed to Davenport. Fred Heinz was educated in the city schools and Griswold College, and when sixteen years of age began reading law in the office of Parker & McNeil. A year later he took up his law studies in the office of Bills & Block, where he remained for three years. In 1873 he was admitted to the bar, and at the end of six months formed a partnership with Ernst Claussen, which continued until 1880. He was a democrat and became active in politics serving the city as mayor and was also very successful in his chosen profession.
Nathaniel S. Mitchell was born in Davenport, February 18, 1853, and was a son of Judge Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, whose sketch may be found in anohter part of this work. Mr. Mitchell read law in Davenport with John W. Thompson, after having graduated from Notre Dame University in 1872. He was admitted to the bar in 1875 and began a practice which eventually proved gratifyingly successful.
H. A. Ascherman was born in Warburg, Prussia, in 1852. He came to the United States with his parents in the fall of 1856, the family locating in Milwaukee. They remained there but a few months and then came to Davenport. Mr. Ascherman completed his education in Griswold College. He attended lectures at the Iowa State Law College and commenced reading law at th age of twenty-one years, with the firm of Putnam & Rogers. He was admitted to the bar in 1875.
Peter A. Boyle was the junior partner of the firm of Waterman & Boyle, and began the practice of his profession in Davenport in 1876. He came to Scott county when sixteen years old and was educated in Griswold College, graduating therefrom in 1870. He graduated from the Harvard Law School in 1872 and was admitted to the bar in the fall of that year. He entered the law office of Davison & Lane and remained until 1876, when he formed a partnership with Charles M. Waterman.
Charles A. Ficke became a member of Scott county bar in 1877. He is a native of Mecklenburg, Germany, and came to this county in 1832. An extended sketch of Mr. Ficke will be found elsewhere in this volume.
William O. Schmidt was born in Davenport June 9, 1856. His parents, John and Margaretta Schmidt, natives of Bavaria, came to America in 1834 and located in Davenport about 1849. John Schmidt was one of the important merchants for many years of Davenport and was one of the founders and a member of the first board of directors, of the First National Bank of this city, which was the first institution of the kind organized in the United States. His son, William, was a graduate of the public and high school of Davenport. He graduated from the law department of the Iowa State University in 1877 and was admitted to practice in the supreme court in June of that year. He read law with the firm of Putnam & Rogers. He was a member of the Iowa legislature. He became a successful lawyer.
Frank L. Dodge was the junior member of the firm of Cook & Dodge. He was admitted to the bar in June, 1877, after which he was given employment by the firm of Cook & Richman until its dissolution. He entered into partnership with E. E. Cook in 1880. Mr. Dodge's father came to Iowa in 1832 and became a citizen of Davenport in 1836. Frank L. Dodge graduated from the Iowa State University in 1875 and from the law department of that institution in 1876.
The law practice of the firm Gannon & McGuirk was noteworthy at the itme this article was written. The junior member of the firm, Ambrose P. McGuirk, began the practice of his profession at Davenport in 1878, at which time the above mentioned partnership was entered into. Mr. McGuirk took a law course at Ann Arbor, from which institution he was graduated in 1878, and was admitted to the bar. He was a native of St. Marys, Canada, where he was born in 1854. He received his early education at that place and in an academy at London, Ontario, from which he graduated in 1876. He came to Davenport in 1878 and he has been closely identified with various Catholic societies.
Judge J. Scott Richman was born in Somerset, Ohio. He came to Iowa and occupied the bench of the seventh judicial district from 1863 until May, 1872, when he resigned the office and on the death of John P. Cook he formed a law partnership with his son, E. E. Cook, which relation continued about eight years. Upon the dissolution of that firm Judge Richman entered into a partnership with W. B. Burk and J. J. Russell under the firm name of Richman, Burk & Russel, in Muscatine, in 1880, and divided his time between Muscatine and Davenport. He carried on a general and extensive law practice in the several courts, largely in the federal court. He first made his appearance in Davenport in 1872. He began practice on his own account in 1880. Judge Richman was clerk of the Iowa house of representatives at one time and was a member of the constitutional convention which framed the first constitution adopted by the state of Iowa. He was also a member of the Iowa house in the extra session of 1856.
William H. F. Gurley was born in Washington, D. C., in 1840. When a a lad he was chosen clerk of a committee on which Abraham Lincoln, who was a member of the house of representatives, was serving. He was a favorite with the tall, awkward member from Illinois, who never forgot the bright, black-eyed boy clerk of his committee. When but sixteen years of age young Gurley accompanied Dr. Owen of the United States geographical survey on one of his exploring expeditions to the far west, where he obtained his first view of the great, wild prairies of Iowa as they were in 1846-7. He was so fascinated with the beauty of the picturesque rivers, woods, bluffs and rolling prairie that he then determined some day to return and make his home in the new state. In 1854 he came to Davenport and opened a law office. He was an active republican and in 1859 was nominated for representative in the eighth general assembly and elected. He was made chairman of the committee of ways and means and drafted the revenue system which for many years has been so successful in providing funds for the state expenses. Soon after the election of Abraham Lincoln, the first republican president, he tendered to his former committee clerk the position of United States district attorney for Iowa. His health failed under the pressure of the exacting labors of that position, after a few years, and he found it necessary to resign. He was appointed consul to Quebec, but a fatal malady had overtaken him and after a short term he died. He was cut down on the treshold of what promised to be a useful and brilliant career at the early age of thirty-five.
James T. Lane was born at Freeport, Pennsylvania, on the 16th of March, 1830. He was educated at the University of Lewisburg in that state, studied law, was admitted to the bar and came west in 1854 in search of a location. He stopped in Davenport, then a flourishing little city on the upper Mississippi river. Here he located on the 23d of February, 1854, and opened a law office, making it his permanent home. He soon acquired a good practice and upon the organization of the republican party on the 22d of February, 1856, Mr. Lane took an active part, serving as a delegate from Scott county in the first stae convention which met at Iowa City and was one of the secretaries of that gathering which brought a new party into existence. He entered into partnership with Abner Davison, upon the death of D. S. True, and Davison & Lane was for many years one of the leading law firms of Davenport. In 1861 he was elected on the republican ticket to the house of the ninth general assembly and took rank among the leading members; was made chairman of the committee on military affairs, then the most important of the standing committees, as the country was in the midst of the great Civil war. In 1873 Mr. Lane was appointed by President Grant United States district attorney for Iowa, serving with distinction until 1882. He died on the 19th of March, 1890.
Joseph R. Lane was born in Davenport, Iowa, on the 6th of May, 1858, the son of Hon. James T. Lane. He was educated at Knox College, Galesburg, Illinois, attended the law department of the State University and began to practice law in Davenport in 1880. In 1898 he was elected to congress on the republican ticket in the second district, serving but one term, as he declined a reelection. He has long been one of the active republican leaders in the second congressional district, but prefers the line of his profession to official positions.
Charles M. Waterman was born in Frankfort, Kentucky, on the 5th of January, 1847. His education was acquired in the public schools and in a private academy. He came to Iowa in 1854 and studied law. The first office he held was that of city attorney of Davenport. In 1877 he was chosen one of the representatives in the house of the seventeenth general assembly on the republican ticket. On the 28th of June, 1887, he was appointed by Governor Larrabee to fill a vacancy in the office of judge of the seventh judicial district, caused by the death of Judge John H. Rogers. He was elected for a full term in November of that year and re-elected in 1890 and 1894. In the summer of 1897 he received the nomination at the republican state convention for judge of the supreme court 1898. Later he resigned from the supreme bench to form with Ex-Congressman Joe R. Lane, the legal partnership Lane and Waterman. Judge Waterman serves this community most wisely and well as president of the borad of trustees of the Davenport Public Library.
James Thorington was born on the 7th of May, 1816, in Wilmington, North Carolina. He was a graduate of the State University of Alabama and studied law with his father. He located at Davenport, Iowa, in 1839, where he began practice. In 1842 he was chosen mayor of the city, serving four years. He was one of the leaders in the free soil movement and in 1854 was nominated for representative in congress for the second district by the antislavery elements of the various parties. The district embraced all of the northern half of the state and few expected the free soil candidate to be elected. Several prominent men declined the nomination and it was offered to Mr. Thorington. He said, "Gentlemen, I am not anxious to take the chances, but if you chose to nominate me I will make an aggressive canvass and shall expect to be elected." His response aroused enthusiasm, he was nominated and made a vigorous campaign, having for his democratic competitor Ex-Governor Stephen Hempstead. Thorington was elected by more than one thousand five hundred majority. He served two years from March, 1855, and was largely instrumental in securing to Iowa the land grants of 1856 for the aid of railroads. This most important act gave to his district three trunk lines of railroad from the Mississippi to the Missouri river. But it compassed his defeat for renomination. Delegates in the convention from counties not on the lines of the projected railroads united against him and nominated a republican in Dubuque. Mr. Thorington was one of the leaders in the political movement which resulted in uniting the anti-slavery elements into the republican party in 1855-6. In 1858 he was a candidate for United States senator to succeed George W. Jones but James W. Grimes was nominated and elected. Mr. Thorington was appointed by the governor agent for the state at Washington to secure title to the swamp lands embraced in the grant. In 1872 he was appointed by President Grant United States consul to Aspinwall, where he served ten years. It has often been remarked that our state never sent a representative to congress who accomplished so much in a single term as this first republican member from Iowa. He died June 12, 1889, at Sante Fe, in New Mexico.
Jonathan W. Parker was one of the pioneer lawmakers of Iowa territory. He was born in Clarendon, Vermont, on the 10th of August, 1810. After acquiring the usual education he began the study of law in Pennsylvania and came with his father's family to Davenport in 1836. He was admitted to the bar at the first term of court held in Scott county and immediately began practice. In 1838, upon the organization of the territory of Iowa, he was elected to represent Scott and Clinton counties in the council of the first legislative assembly and was re-elected, serving in the second, third and fourth territorial legislature. He attained high rank as a legislator and was president of the council during the session of 1841-2. In 1841 he was mayor of Davenport. In 1852, while on a visit to Cncinnati, he died of cholera at the early age of forty-one.
Henry Vollmer was born in Davenport, Iowa, in 1867. He received his education in that city, the Iowa state University and Georgetown University at Washington, D. C. He took a thorough law course, was admitted to the bar and began practice in Davenport. He early developed a talent for public speaking which brought him into prominence as one of the young leaders of the democratic party. In 1893 he was first chosen mayor of Davenport and at once applied himself to the inauguration of municipal reforms. He was three times reelected and secured the erection of a fine city hall without an increase of taxation. In 1893 he was chosen president of the democratic state convention and delivered an address which for eloquence and ability gave him more than a state-wide reputation as a public speaker. He was one of the leaders of what is termed the sound money wing of the democratic party of Iowa in the pressidential campaign of 1896.
Jeremiah H. Murphy was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, February 19, 1835, was educated in the schools of Boston and after removing to Iowa, graduated at the State University. He read law in Davenport, was admitted to the bar and at one entered upon practice. He was an active democrat and in 1873 was elected mayor of Davenport. In 1874 he was elected to the stare senate, serving four years. In 1879 he was again chosen mayor. In 1882 he was elected to represent the second district in congress and was a member of the committees on rivers and harbors and on railroads and canals. On the latter committee he worked faithfully to secure an appropriation for the Hennepin canal. Mr. Murphy was reelected in 1884, serving four years. He died in Washington on the 11th of December, 1893.
PRESENT BAR OF DAVENPORT.
Henry A. Arp, Stephen P. Bawden, Waldo Becker, Albert Bergman, Frank F. Betty and Harry B. Betty, of the firm of Betty & Betty; William J. Birchard, Louis Block, William H. Campbell, Alexander E. Carroll, William H. Carroll and Edward J. Carroll, of the firm of Carroll Brothers; William M. Chamberlin, Edward E. Cook, Reuel B. Cook and Walter M. Balluff, of the firm of Cook & Balluff; Charles T. Cooper, Francis A. Cooper, Edward J. Dahms, Phil Daum, Henry E. C. Ditzen, Maurice Donegan, Nathan D. Ely and Arthur G. Bush, of the firm of Ely & Bush; Charles A. Ficke, Robert C. Ficke, Arthur D. Ficke and Julius Ficke, of the firm of Ficke & Ficke; Samuel A Finger, Lewis Fisher, Nathaniel French, Michael V. Gannon, J. Clark Hall, James A. Hanley, Carl F. Hass and Albert W. Hamann, of the firm of Hass & Hamann; John M. Helmick and Howard S. Boudinot, of the firm of Helmick & Boudinot; Hadley M. Henley, James B. Hickey, William Hoersch, George E. Hubbell, H. H. Jebens, Charles W. Jones, Charles T. Kemmerer, G. H. Koch, James J. Lamb, Dick R. Lane, Joe R. Lane and Charles M. Waterman, of the firm of Lane & Waterman; Dickinson F. Letts, Victor L. Littig, William W. Lunger, William R. Maines, L. Earl Marshall, William G. Mott, Alfred G. Mueller, Cornelius H. Murphy, Timothy A. Murphy, Albert Noth, Leroy C. Oelkers, Bernard T. O'Neil, Alfred Parsons, Isaac Petersberger, Walter H. Petersen, Louis E. Roddewig, Claus J. Ruymann and Adolph Ruymann, of the firm of Ruymann & Ruymann; Benjamin I. Salinger, George W. Scott, William Theophilus, Arthur G. Sampson, Henry Vollmer, of the firm of Schmidt and Vollmer, Schmidt is dead - Vollmer has no partner; Fred W. Schnare; James W. Seaman and Ernest W. Seaman, of the firm of Seaman & Seaman; Emmet M. Sharon, Joseph Shorey, Ira R. Tabor, Henry Thuenen, Jr., Fred Vollmer, William T. Waterman, Albert E. Whitney, Ralph C. Williamson, William H. Wilson, Charles Grilk and Charles H. Wilson, of the firm of Wilson, Grilk & Wilson.
INCIDENTS AMUSING AND OTHERWISE RELATING TO THE EARLY BAR AND COURTS OF SCOTT COUNTY.
The first banquet of the Scott county bar was given at the Burtis House in honor of Judge A. H. Bennett, who had a short time previous retired from the bench. This took place on the evening of January 3, 1859. John P. Cook was toastmaster and John F. Dillon, then a yong man of twenty-six years of age, and who had succeeded Judge Bennett on the bench, was present. Five dollars a plate was paid by the banqueters.
Judge Dillon, in a reminiscent communication published in the Democrat, speaks of the early bar of Scott county in the following glowing terms:
"It may be expected perhaps that I shall say something concerning the old and early bar of Davenport. A few words must suffice. Of the eariest territorial bar of Iowa, say from 1837 to 1846, its high order of ability has often been remarked. I may not omit to mention that within this general period Samuel F. Miller came to Iowa, Mr. Justice Miller of the supreme court of the United States - perhaps the ablest constitutional lawyer of his day. His frame, his features and majestic port, duly put in marble, might stand for a Roman Caesar in Rome's best days; but the Roman people, though noted for their legal genius, never produced a jurisconsult more wothy of perpetual honor than Mr. Justice Miller, and I hope that the state of Iowa and the bar of Iowa will yet join in erecting a statue to his memory at the capital of the state.
"In Davenport we had Judge Grant, Judge Mitchell, Ebenezer Cook, and afterward John P. Cook, who were, in all respects, the peers of the Iowa lawyers above named. The semi-annual terms of court in Davenport were also regularly attended by Knox and Drury of Rock Island, and often by lawyers from other places. Court week, to hear the lawyers plead, ranked with the annual circus as one of the few entertainments possible in this new and distant region. In early life I have spent many an hour in the old brick courthouse on Fourth street, listening to the trial of cases, at a time when I had no fixed purpose of becoming a lawyer myself. Every day I used to see the erect form of Ebenezer Cook as he passed my father's house, walking to the fro, cane in hand, between his home on the Cook farm and his office in the town. One day he was kind enough to stop and say to my mother that when I was old enough he wished me to enter his office and become a lawyer, which (after a detour by way of Dr. Barrows' office and a short course of medical instruction) came to pass in 1851. In 1850 and 1851 I studied law by myself while keeping, for a livelihood, a small drug store at the corner of Third and Brady I had no instructor or aid in my studies. As a law student I was never in a law office or law school. Of law schools there were but few in the country at the time, and none within my reach or means. I recollect when reading in Kent about mortgages, I wished to see the form of such a document and that I was compelled to walk down to the courthouse, where Hiram Price was the recorder, and there had, on the records, my first inspection of this important instrument. In 1852, Austin Corbin came to Davenport, bearing with him a letter of introduction to me from Judge Grant, who was holding court in Dubuque. In May, 1852, Corbin moved my admission to the bar. The last time I saw him in New York, just before his tragic, accidental death, he pleasantly admonished me, as we parted at the corner of Cortlandt and Broadway: 'John, don't you forget I am your godfather in the law.'
"The old bar of Scott county, by 1855, and soon afterward, had been much enlarged and contained lawyers whose ability and character are an honor and an ornament to the city, the state and the profession. I cannot name them all, but may mention Davison, True, Hubbell, Lane, Bills, Putnam, Rogers, Corbin, Dow, Cook, Waterman, French, and there were many others.
"Noted as the bar of Davenport has ever been for its character, talents and learning, the present bar may look back with a sort of ancestral pride upon the first and oldest bar: Knox, the most eloquent jury lawyer I have ever heard; Drury, the judicious counselor; Grant, the intrepid and fearless advocate; Mitchell, the comprehensive and well poised lawyer; Ebenezer Cook, whose judgment on legal questions and problems was as sure-footed as that of any man I ever knew; John P. Cook, a natural born trial lawyer, aggressive, bold, courageous, who, like General Taylor, was generally victorious, and who, like him also, never knew when he was whipped. Some of the lawyers of other days have sons at your bar today, of whom it is high and just praise to say that they worthily rival their fathers and predecessors. But I have rambled far afield and conclude by saying: 'Long live the Democrat.' "
JUDGE GRANT'S KNIFE.
Elihu B. Washburn, in a sketch of Edward Coles, the second governor of Illinois, gives a bit of Iowa experience that sound rather singular at this day. Mr. Washburn was fresh from staid, sober New England in the spring of 1840, when he attended a term of court held at Maquoketa, the seat of goverment of Jackson county. This community, like many frontier settlements, was afflicted with gang of rustlers, counterfeiters and horse thieves which the newly organized courts found to be difficult to deal with effectually. So the people had just arisen en mass and driven out the gang of counterfeiters in a fierce fight in which seven men were killed. The whole community was greatly excited and every man was armed. Mr. Washburn says: "I stopped at the tavern which had been kept by W. W. Brown, alleged leader of the gang, and who had been killed in the doorway of his home. My roommate was Judge James Grant, of Davenport, who has been for nearly a half century one of the most distinguished citizens and lawyers of Iowa. When we were about to retire what was my amazement to see my roommate, whom I had never met before, draw out from the back of his coat an immense bowie knife and place it under his pillow. When abroad I wrote a letter to a friend in regard to the incident and described Judge Grant's bowie knife as being three feet long. The letter got into the newpaper. The Judge wrote me a letter to Paris denying my statement and asserting the knife he had on that occasion was only two feet long."
The following amusing incident is related by Judge Joseph Williams: "I received my commission as judge of the territory of Iowa while in Pennsylvania. The first court I held was in Cedar county. Some one placed a large split-bottom chair under a spreading burr oak and I sat down to settle the county seat. I picked out the longest, leanest, lankiest, ugliest looking man in the crowd for sheriff. He had a long beard and when his mouth was closed no opening was visible, and when he spoke it looked like a hole in a buffalo hide. The grand jury sat down on the ground on the right and the petit jury on the left. I impaneled the former, swore the sheriff to do his duty and sent them off to work. The bailiff took the jury to a large rail pen and herded them in. They were about to indict a man for stealing hogs when a Dutchman squealed, 'I don't agree!' At these words an Irishman, springing to his feet and pulling off his coat, said: 'I'll make you agree!' and commenced pegging the Dutchman. The bailiff came running to me saying: 'Judge, Judge, the jury are all fighting.' I went down, kicked open the fence and sent them home, saying: 'I would not have the county disgraced.' When I was in Jones county I was led into a slough where the grass was as high as my head. A chair was placed for me and I sat down and then they told me that was the county seat. I impaneled the grand jury, after which they were taken down the slough to commence work. I was preparing the petit jury for work when the bailiff of the grand jury came slipping up close to me and then hallooed: 'Judge, is it right to have anybody sneaking?' I did not know that he meant and so inquired, and when I understood, said: 'No, no, have a picket guard placed at a certain distance to keep all sneakers off.'"
In March, 1882, the legislature passed an act providing that the terms of the supreme court, which had been held in Davenport, Dubuque and Council Bluffs, should be transferred to Des Moines. Thereafter the court should hold its sessions at the state capital. At one time the sittings of this court at Davenport were fully as important as those held at Des Moines, for the annual terms of the court were held in these two cities. This court at Davenport was established in 1858 by action of the seventh general assembly. One great inducement for the location of the court at Davenport was the existence here of the celebrated Grant law library, which was at that time the greatest and most valuable in the state, and to which through the generosity of Judge Grant, the bar not only of Scott county, but visiting lawyers had free access. Another reason for establishing the court here, and it may have been considered an excellent one, was the splendid hotel accommodations. Judge Grant, as was his nature, offered every courtesy to the court and in rooms over his office on Main street he provided commodious quarters for its sittings. The court convened promptly after the passage of the act. The first Monday in the following April found the clerk here ready for the initial session, but all of the judges were not present and an adjournment was therefore taken until the following day, when the court was fully organized. George G. Wright, of Keosauqua, was chief justice; William C. Woodward, of Muscatine, and L. D. Stockwell, of Burlington, associate justices; Lewis Kinsey, of DesMoines, clerk; Samuel A. Rice, of Oskaloosa, attorney-general, and William Penn Clark, of Des Moines, reporter. A large number of lawyers were present.
The first case held in Davenport concerned a new charter which had been granted the city of Davenport at the term of legislature then nearing its close. The provision of the new charter which was to take the place of the special charter granted under the old constitution arranged for a party of aldermen of twelve, which was to be reinforced by a council of six, each councilman to be ex-officio justice of the peace. The act which granted the new charter was declared unconstitutional because under the consititution which at that time existed special legislation for any town was forbidden. This court continued at Davenport about twelve years. Twice a year a six weeks' term would be held and attorneys from thirty-two counties, then a major part of the central portions of the state, would come to Davenport and remain for several days, sometimes bringing their wives with them. This made gay times for the Burtis House, especially during the years of the war, when Davenport was military headquarters with its four military camps. In fact, all the attorneys in this part of the state came to this city, where they realized they were near the seat of greatest interest in Iowa. It was about 1870 when sessions of the court were established at Dubuque, and the Davenport district was reduced to nine counties: Scott, Cedar, Clinton, Johnson, Iowa, Muscatine, Louisa, Washington and Keokuk. Eventually the terms dwindled from five and six weeks to a week, and then four days, and then ceased to exist in Davenport in 1881.
SOME EARLY HISTORY OF THE DISTRICT COURT.
When Scott county was organized it was made part of the second judicial district of the territory of Wisconsin and David Irwin was appointed as the presiding judge, and the original records of the first district court held in Scott county are still preserved in a small record book, which is a valuable part of the archives of the county in the clerk's office at the court house. The transcription of these early records is in the handwriting of Ebenezer Cook, first clerk of the court.
The first entry made upon the records of the district court is a certificate of the appointment of Ebenezer Cook clerk of the court, bearing date may 30, 1838, and signed by David Irwin, presiding judge of the second judicial district of Wisconsin territory, and associate judge of the supreme court. Mr. Cook accepted the appointment and entered into bonds with John H. Sullivan and Adrian H. Davenport. This appointment was continued by Judge Joseph Williams, the first presiding judge of the second judicial district of the territory of Iowa, under date October 5, 1838.
It was further ordered by Judge Irwin tha the seal "hereunto attached" be until further notice recognized as the seal of the second judicial district for Scott county. This seal, be it known, bears no judicial impress, no scales of justice, not even a vestige of Justice herself, in her usual blindfolded condition; but simply the coat of arms of the United States as represented on one side of a good round silver quarter dollar, such money, in those primitive days, being in vogue. As a seal of the court it is believed to have been as good as any other for the time being. So much having been effected in the interest of justice unto some, and law for everybody, nothing further appears to have been done until the following October.
In 1838 Hon. Joseph Williams was appointed judge of the second judicial district. Judge Williams was from Pennsylvania, and settled in Muscatine early in the year 1838. He was a man of good talents, though not of judicial mind. As a public speaker he was considered one of the best in the territory. He was said to have been a natural orator, his powers of mimicry and facial expression being almost perfect. While on a visit east some years after he met an old schoolmate and companion of his boyhood. The two together spent some happy hours in recalling the scenes of long ago. Judge Williams wrote upon one of the books of his friend the following:
"O, Jerry, Jerry, I've found you at last,
And memory goes back to the scenes of the past,
And I think of old Somerset's mountain of snow,
When you were but Jerry and I was but Joe."
Judge Williams opened court here on the 4th day of October, 1838. The appointment of E. Cook as clerk was reaffirmed, and the "two bit" seal declared in full virtue. The court met in St. Anthony's church, a small building still standing in St. Anthony's church grounds and now used as a part of the parish schoolhouse. Father Pelamourgues, the then Catholic priest in charge, deemed it no desecration of the holy place to have it temporarily used as a temple of justice. In those early days St. Anthony's served as a public hall and was utilized for all meetings of the people, debating societies, etc. It was a building of a single room, and small at that, hence afforded no accommodations for juries. Down Front street, three doors east of Main, was a low, two-story building, the property of George L. Davenport, but partially completed, though the Iowa Sun had been darting its rays from the upper story since the previous August; - here was found a room in which the first Scott county grand and petit juries held their deliberations. The building was afterward finished and became the first family residence of Mr. Davenport.
Frazer Wilson was appointed deputy marshal for this term of court, the marshal of the territory not being present. The first business transacted was the issuing of a venire for a grand jury returnable forthwith, whereupon the marshal subpoenaed the following named jurors: John Work, James O. Kelley, J. A. Birchard, L. S. Colton, R. H. Spencer, James McIntosh, Walter B. Warren, Caleb H. Gardner, James Hall, Andrew Logan, M. J. Lyman, M. Strong, Benjamin W. Clark, Jacob Heller, Philip Suiter, William L. Cook, Samuel Hedges, A. J. Hyde, John Robinson, Isaac Hawley, John Lewis, Ira Cook and Smith Mounts. R. h. Spencer was appointed foreman.
After being charged the jury retired, and after spending some time returned into court and by their foreman reported that they had no business before them. They were each allowed for one day's attendance and mileage from their place of residence, after which they were discharged from any further attendance at this term as grand jurors.
On motion of Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, Rufus Harvey, of Rock Island, Illinois, was admitted to practice at the Scott county bar, the first to be admitted before the local court.
On motion by the same Simeon Meredith was also admitted, and there being no district attorney, he was by the judge appointed to that position pro tempore.
Jonathan W. Parker was also admitted to practice.
On motion of the district attorney the venire for the original grand jury was set aside and a venire de novo for a grand jury was awarded and made returnable forthwith. The sheriff reported as follows: Wheeler Hedges, W. B. V. Franks, Samuel Hedges, Alfred White, M. J. Lyman, J. M. Robertson, John R. Spicer, Isaac Hawley, W. L. Cook, L. S. Colton, John Forrest, L. M. Strong, John Work, John Robinson, Ephriam Knapp, James Thompson, A. J. patten, W. H. Patten, Cheney Munger, Seth F. Whiting. Wheeler Hedges and W. B. V. Franks were excused from attendance. The jury as impaneled were sworn in, with Samuel Hedges as foreman. The jury was charged and retired to consider business.
The first term of the Scott county district court lasted for three days. On the third day the venire which was placed in the hands of the sheriff on the first day for a petit jury was returned. The names of those selected were as follows: Roswell H. Spencer, A. J. Patten, James Mackintosh, Walter B. Warren, Jacob Heller, Ephraim Lane, John Lewis, Andrew J. Hyde, William H. Baker, Caleb A. Cardner, Robert Mackintosh, Daniel Wilson, Richard Peace, John Squires, M. A. Harrington, James Hall, Cheney Munger.
Why there were but eighteen is an open question. The jury was returned October 6, 1838, but on examination of the records of the county commissioners we find that on the 4th of the preceding May a panel of twenty-four was announced as "the petit jury of the first term of the district court of Scott county." There are no records of such a term being held, and no one now living can give any account of it. The records of the commissioners show that of the twenty-four called by the board only eleven came.
The jury impaneled October 7th was discharged on the same day and the proper allowance of per diem and mileage allowed.
The first case docketed in the district court was that of J. A. Birchard, Jr., administrator, vs. Horatio G. Stone, C. C. Applegate, William Stacy and Alfred White, in which leave to file declaration was granted.
The second was that of Paul Fullmer, vs. Martin W. Smith, and Philip Suiter. The defendants were the owners of a mill, just below the present city of LeClaire. Various cases followed, in which Elias Moore, Jacob Parlin, Benjamin W. Clark, William Gibbons, Otis Bennett, Philena Brown, Smith Mounts, John Henning and various other parties were mixed up in the meshes of the law. The most interesting one, probably, was that of Alexander W. McGregor vs. John Wilson. In speaking of the case the Democrat, of Davenport, says: "Now the plaintiff was a lawyer, or had been before his coming west. He came with a considerable stock of goods, which he soon disposed of and then settled on a farm in the lower part of the township. As all men are liable to be elected to places of honor, so was McGregor elected to the territorial legislature which then had its sessions at Burlington. Men had axes to grind in those days as well as in this more advanced generation, and John Wilson had a dull implement of that sort in connection with a coveted ferry franchise between Davenport and Rock Island. The story goes that Wilson induced McGregor to lend him a helping hand in this ferry job. In fact, it is said some notes of hand were passed - the consideration of which had to do with able services to be rendered in Wilson's interest. There is a tradition among the old settlers that the labor was duly performed; but somehow Wilson became a defendant in court, the bone of contention being these promissory notes already alluded to. The suit was brought before John Forrest, justice of the peace, who after hearing the testimony and looking up the law points, satisfactorily, decided in favor of the plantiff.
"It is pretty generally noticed, even in this day, that when a party in a law suit loses his case he thinks the judge, or jury, or the attorneys haven't done their duty by him, and he wants to appeal. If he has property to stand the racket of the law, there are plenty of good attorneys who will stand by him to the end - the end of the cash balance anyhow. Wilson's pocket was thrifty and his blood up. He would appeal. But the justice could see no use in that. He had decided the case just right, as he verily believed, and he would hear to nothing of the sort. But the records of the court show Judge Williams' order, that the inferior court have all the papers and proceedings thereof touching the McGregor-Wilson case brought before him by the opening of the court the next morning, or be attached. It is probable that the papers were forthcoming.
"The judge and the parties to the suit are all dead and gone. The justice, now a venerable old man, is still a good citizen of Davenport. Mr. McGregor, having retired from farming several years after the time hereof written, moved into the city and established a law office, and in time drifted into the banking business. Speaking of Mr. McGregor, it may be in order to relate a practical joke in which he and Ebenezer Cook had a slight interest. Mr. McGregor being away from Davenport awhile, sought to surprise his friend, Mr. Cook, who, going to the postoffice one day, was surprised when Postmaster Eldridge handed him out a considerable package, on which the postage amounted to $5.40 cents. Postage was not prepaid then as now. The parcel was from Pekin, Illinois. Mr. Cook looked it over in astonishment. He knew no one at Pekin; the handwriting, moreover, was not familiar. He was not a Rothschild, and $5.40 for the single item of postage was a good deal of specie. After much hesitation and not without some misgivings, he paid the postage and opened the package. Pebbles and sawdust! that and nothing more, save a mere scrap of writing, which revealed the identity of the sender. Whether Mr. Cook ever retaliated or not is not known."
The cases already mentioned pertained to the first day's session of the district court of the county of Scott, territory of Iowa. A grand jury had been called, also a petit jury, and the machinery of the court placed in running order, though the petit jury venire had not been returned when the court adjourned for the day, on the 4th day of October, 1838. The court convened the next morning. The first case on the docket was that of William Gibbons vs. Otis Bennett, entitled "Trespass in the case" - probably a "claim jumping" case, involving as the plaintiff swears in an affidavit for bail, about $700. The parties were Clinton county people, that county being attached to Scott for judicial purposes. The noted firm of Rorer & Starr, of Burlington, appeared for defendant. Plaintiff nonsuited and the order of the court entered up "that the defendant go hence without delay, and recover against plaintiff the costs by him, about his defense, in this behalf expended." Whether he ever succeeded in getting even with said plaintiff is not recorded upon the papers at hand. The court papers fail to show the name of the plaintiff's attorney, if he had any. Of the defendants, Mr. Rorer was regarded as one of the first judicial minds of the commonwealth. Mr. Starr is dead. When the lamp of his life went out one of the rarest, brightest intellects of the state was taken.
Some very important business was transacted on the second day; for on motion of Gilbert C. R. Mitchell, W. B. Conway, the first territorial secretary of Iowa, James Grant and J. Wilson Drury were admitted to practice at the Scott county bar. Conway, during his short residence here, took up the quarter section now known as the Camp McClellan tract. He died in Burlington, the territorial capital, the following year, 1839. His body was brought to Davenport for burial, the funeral rites being performed by Rev. Father Pelamourgues, of St. Anthony's church. James Grant was for many years a citizen of Scott county, while J. Wilson Drury resided here and in Rock Island. Both became noted lawyers and occupied the judicial bench, the former in this district, the latter in that of Rock Island. At this time Mr. Grant had but recently come in from Chicago, then part corn field and nearly all mud hole. He was a farmer also, having located on a farm in Blue Grass township. On his coming into this district he brought the most extensive law library then in the territory, and held the reputation of keeping the best private one until his death.
On this same day of court the grand jury which had been in session, made the first report of indictments, as follows: the first finding was not "a true bill," in the case of Jemima Bennett for adultery; and the same was true of Otis Bennett; Catherine Miller, having been considered by that body on a charge of "assault with attempt to kill," was likewise found not guilty. William Gibbons was prosecuting witness in the first two cases. The fourth case reported was that of Philena Brown, for arson, against whom "a true bill" was found. George Eldred was prosecuting witness. This latter case, like the first two, originated in Clinton county before William Hogan, a justice of the peace there, and was founded on a charge that "on the night of the third day of September, 1838, she did burn one certain log house or cabin, which was the property and residence of this deponent (George Eldred) with a number of other articles; or that he believes the above named Philena Brown is guilty of the act, and further deponent saith not." She was held to bail in five hundred dollars to appear at the next term of the district court, Matthew A. Harrington and R. C. brown, sureties. The case came on for hearing before Judge Williams, with Simeon Meredith, prosecuting attorney, and Rorer & Starr, attorneys for defendant, who cleared their client and an attachment was issued against Mr. Eldred for the costs, amounting to $100.31, which Dupty Sheriff Broddleston returned with "no property found." The fee bill may not be uninteresting. It was as follows:
All of which Uncle Sam had to pay himself, as he undoubtedly did. Thus ended the first criminal prosecution in the Scott county district court. Nobody convicted, nobody responsible for costs, but the government.
Next followed an indictment for perjury. Then the grand jury retired, but, finding no further business, was discharged with two days' fees and mileage, excepting John Work, who, having taken himself off without leave, stood attached to appear at the next term of court for contempt.
As previously stated, the first case docketed in Scott county district court was entitled: "Jabez A Birchard, Jr., administractor, vs. H. G. Stone, C. C. Applegate, William Stacey and Alfred White." The suit was brought on a certain promissory note of defendants, made to the plaintiff, as administrator of the estate of one Daniel Wyman, deceased, whereby they "jointly and severally promised to pay five hundred and fifty dollars without defalcation or stay of execution, value received in a quit-claim to a certain tract of land lying at the mouth of Sycamore creek." The note was drawn July 1, 1837, payable nine months after date. It was not paid as agreed, and suit was brought for the October term, 1838 - the first court held in the county. James W. Grimes, of Burlington, was the plaintiff's attorney, and G. C. R. Mitchell and Jonathan W. Parker, of the law firm of Parker & Mitchell, of Davenport, for defendants.
The musty old papers in the office of the clerk of the district court contain the usual proceedings - the original petition in the lawyer-like handwriting of the future governor of Iowa and senator of the United States; the answer of the defendants in the more plain and leisurely written hand of hte future judge, Mr. Mitchell. The subpoena by which Roswell H. Spencer, Andres J. Hyde, Medad J. Lyman, George Carpenter and Ira F. Smith were summoned to appear, is made out on a roughly printed blank from the Iowa Sun printing office, by D. Hoge, clerk of the court in the May term of 1839.
The answer contains the usual denials, denying everything that the plaintiff's petition contains, slick and clean. The case went for the plaintiff, and execution was issued for the sum of $353.73, which was paid July 5, 1839, to Mr. Birchard, and the execution was declared satisfied in full, by A. H. Davenport, sheriff, by Richard Hamer, deputy. The entire cost of the suit amounted to $17.12 1/2. This would be considered a very moderate bill in these late days of more expensive litigation. A scrap of paper in the bundles shows that the witness, Carpenter, did not live to collect his witness fee, but that it was collected into the estate after his decease by William Nichols, administrator.
In December, 1873, the Democrat of Davenport had this to say of this case: "Thirty-five years have elapsed since James W. Grimes drew up the petition and Ebenezer Cook filed it. The judges, the two clerks of the court (Ebenezer Cook and David Hoge), the attorneys on both sides, the plaintiff and two of the defendants (Stacey and White), have passed beyond the bench and bar of earthly tribunals; the two sheriffs and two of the defendants are yet among the living. Frazer Wilson, the first sheriff of Scott county, is a resident of Rock Island, we believe; and A. H. Davenport is a merchant residing in LeClaire, where also lives Applegate, and (we believe) Mr. Stone. Two of the witnesses, Roswell H. Spencer and Andrew J. Hyde, are yet living, the former in Rock Island, the latter on the same farm of many broad acres on which he lived at the time which we write. The original papers before us, in all their mustiness, seem not to have been opened out to the light for a third of a century. The paper is coarse, dingy white, rough of surface and guiltless of ruled lines. The seal bears the impress of the 'silver quarter,' and wherever used is denominated the 'temporary seal.'
"Exceedingly has the business of this court swelled since the filing of these original papers. Numerous judges have occupied the same bench since then, one of them, G. C. R. Mitchell, one of the attorneys in the case. Lawyers by the hundreds have appeared within the bar since them, and clients by the thousands have sought justice thereat, sometimes in vain, more often, let us hope, sought and found; millions have rained from the pockets of those who thought to secure their rights or defend their wrongs, and still the court sits on, the suing and the sued; lawyers and clients gain in numbers year after year as the earth revolves, and the world increases in light and knowledge. So it has and does; so it will until the mystic millennial day, when the lion plaintiff and the lamblike defendant shall lie down together in peace, and the child-like lawyer shall lead them - no more forever."
The second session of the district court of Scott county was opened May 27, 1839, and as before, in St. Anthony's church. Hon. Thomas S. Wilson had succeeded Judge Williams upon the bench; A. H. Davenport had been appointed sheriff by the territorial legislature; and at chambers in Dubuque, on the 21st of the previous February, Davis V. Berry was appointed district attorney. This was an entire re-organization of the tribunal of justice in this judicial district, which embraced the counties of Scott, Clinton, Dubuque and Johnson. There was no lack of business on the docket. In fact, for a community so young and a population so sparse the alacrity with which it embraced the courts was highly gratifying - to the lawyers. On the first day of the court James Grant, an attorney for the village of Rockingham, moved that "this court do not remove to the village of Rockingham, for reasons by him filed." The records assert, "Therefore, the court, after havingheard the argument of the counsel on the part of the motion and that of counsel opposed, took the same under advisement until tomorrow morning." Again we quote the Democrat:
NOTHING CAME OF IT.
"Right diligently have we searched the old papers of the court in quest of the 'reasons by him filed,' but all in vain. Of course the record books show nothing of the stir that the motion made in court. But what naturally would be the rusult of such a high-handed attempt to forever wipe the then infant metropolis of the state out of existence, and by the removal of the court condemn it to everlasting odium and disgrace, may be easily imagined. It was not enough that Judge Irwin, of the United States district court, had turned his back on the infant city, because of the unexampled nastiness and discomfort of the local tavern, and opened court in Rockingham, that he might fare sumptuously every day at the more magnificently kept caravansary of Henry W. Higgins; it was not enough that the legislative triumvirate of the county had hoisted its flag at the doomed village, utterly refusing to acknowledge Davenport, save as a neighboring dependency; all this humiliation was not enough; but this belligerent gentleman, then as now the farmer-lawyer, must rise in his place and in a loud voice, a motion make that this court adjourn to Rockingham! The only reason that can be assigned for this willful attempt at urbicide is found in the fact that Mr. Grant's farm was two miles nearer Rockingham than Davenport, and consequently if his motion prevailed he would have a full hour more in each day of the session in milking his cows and hoeing his bean patch.
"But the motion didn't prevail, and Davenport was saved from the very brink of everlasting disgrace! The friends of Davenport arose in their might. It is not necessary to say that the pure-minded judge was in any way influenced, for judges never are; nor yet will it suffice for the Rockinghamers to say that he was a Dubuque man, and in all matters between Davenport and Rockingham, Dubuque sided with the former. We will say nothing about the reason for the refusal to grant the motion, but simply to reproduce the words of the court as recorded in the court record: 'The application to remove the district court of the United States in and for Scott county from Davenport to Rockingham. For that it seems to the court that the subject matter of this motion does not come before the court in the proper form; it is therefore considered by this court that the relators take nothing by their motion, and that the same be overruled.'
"It is needless here to depict the chagrin that mantled the expectant Rockinghamers, or the exultant joy that thrilled the Davenport heart, as the decision fell from the lips of this noble Daniel of the law. The town rang out with rejoicing, and an old settler informs us that some of the 'boys' didn't get well over the excitement for as much as a day or two, so intense was their enthusiasm. The district court never adjourned to Rockingham. Mr. Grant took the case up to the higher tribunals, but while it was stewing in the court the pluck of the good people of Rockingham gave out; they abandoned the idea of making it the county seat, withdrew all proposals to the county commissioners to build a courthouse and jail at their own expense, and so the matter of removal ended forever."
Hon. Thomas S. Wilson, the second judge of the district, was identified with the interests of Iowa before it became a state. While it was a territory he was appointed one of its judges; and there are persons now living who recollect him, with his boyish look, sitting on the bench about forty years ago. His history presents points of no inconsiderable interest.
On the admission of Iowa into the Union, and under its first constitution, Scott county formed a part of the second district, together with the counties of Buchanan, Cedar, Clayton, Clinton, Delaware, Dubuque, Fayette, Jackson, Jones and Muscatine. In 1847 Allamakee and Winneshiek were added to the district, and in 1851 Black Hawk, Bremer, Butler and Grundy.
James Grant, of Scott county, was the first judge of the district, and was elected April 5, 1847, and commissioned April 27th. Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, who served for several years as territorial judge, a sketch of whom appears on another page of this work, succeeded Judge Grant. He was elected April 5, 1852, and served until legislated out of office the following year.
On the 9th of February, 1853, a new district was formed named the eighth, composed of the counties of Scott, Cedar, Clinton, Jackson, Jones and Muscatine. William E. Leffingwell, of Clinton county, was elected April 4, 1853, judge of this new district. He subsequently resigned and John B. Booth, of Jackson county, was appointed by the governor to fill the vacancy, and qualified April 15, 1854. He served until the election of his successor, William H. Tuthill, of Cedar county, who was elected in April and qualified May 3, 1855.
In accordance with article V of the constitution of 1857, eleven new districts were created and Scott, Clinton, Jackson and Muscatine comprised the seventh judicial district.
John F. Dillon, of Scott county, was elected judge of this district, October 12, 1858, and re-elected October 15, 1862. He subsequently resigned, his resignation to take effect December 25, 1863, having been elected judge of the supreme court. J. Scott Richman succeeded Judge Dillon, having been appointed by the governor to fill the vacancy, October 27, 1863. Next Judge W. F. Brannan, of Muscatine county, succeeded Judge Dillon and served until 1875. Walter I. Hayes, of Clinton county, succeeded Judge Brannan, and the present judge is James W. Bollinger, of Davenport.
However great the volume of business now before the district court, there have been times in the history of the county when little was done. In April, 1846, the court met and adjourned the same day, there being only one case on the common law docket, and none on the criminal. In September, 1847, the Gazette, under date of the 9th, said:
"The district court adjourned last Tuesday for want of business, it having been organized the day previously. When we take into consideration that on account of the sickness of Judge Wilson we had no court last term, this speaks well for the peaceful character of Scott county."
The clerk of the district court in his annual report, November 1, 1848, says:
"I have the pleasure to report that there has been no conviction for crimes or misdemeanors since my last annual report in said court, and would add further, that there have been but five indictments in all found for the past year. James Thorington, clerk."
These five indictments proved to be, two malicious, two abandoned by the prosecuting attorney, and the other party was acquitted without the jury leaving the box. But the business of the court has increased since that day, and the criminal record has grown, though taking its population and other circumstances into consideration, Scott county will favorably compare with any county in the state.
In 1868 circuit courts were created having jurisdiction in all common law cases together with probate jurisdiction. The circuit comprised the same counties composing the district court - Scott, muscatine, Clinton and Jackson. Henry H. Benson, then of Muscatine, but later of Scott, was the first circuit judge in this circuit, being elected in the fall of 1868 and beginning the discharge of his duties in January, 1869.
D. W. Ellis succeeded Judge Benson January, 1873, and was reelected in 1876. In 1878 the district was divided into two circuits, Clinton and Jackson, comprising the first circuit, and Scott and Muscatine the second circuit. Mr. Ellis, living in Clinton county, was continued as judge of the first circuit of the seventh judicial district; D. C. Rickman was elected for the second circuit. Following him came Nathaniel French, of Davenport, who served from 1883 until 1886, shortly after which the court was abolished.
A probate court was established in Scott county at the time of its organization and Jonathan W. Parker was the first judge of probate, receiving his appointment from the governor of Wisconsin territory of which it formed a part. He served about one year and was succeeded by Ebenezer Cook. The first term of the court under Judge Parker was held May 14, 1838. The first business transacted was the filing probating the will of Abraham Trucks, who died in Davenport a few months previous.
In May, 1839, Judge Cook held his firm term. He served until 1842 when James Thorington was elected. Judge Thorington served until 1851, when the office was abolished by law, the duties of which under the new law devolved upon the county judge.
In 1851 county courts were established and the office of county judge created. By the same act the office of probate judge was abolished, as were also the offices of county commissioners, the duties of the commissioners and probate judge devolving upon the county judge. William Burris was the first county judge. He was elected in the fall of 1851, qualified and at once entered upon the discharge of his duties. Judge Burris served four years, and was succeeded by William L. Cook, who also served a term of two years. Charles Weston was elected in 1857 and served two years. R. Linderman was first elected in 1859 and re-relected in 1863. In 1867 he was succeeded by T. D. Eagal, who served until the office was abolished, January, 1869.