DAVENPORT PAST AND PRESENT
HON. CHAS. WESTON.
Judge Weston was born May, 1811, in Washington county, New York. He was the youngest son of Hon. Roswell Weston, Judge in the Court of Common Pleas. The subject of our biography graduated at an early age at the Rennsalaer Institute, of Troy, and, in 1832, commenced reading law under his father and Gen. Orville Clark - who were then in partnership. He remained with them some two years, and then transferred his studies to the office of Hon. Esek Cowen - who was afterwards one of the Justices of the supreme Court of the State.
Several of the highest lawyers of the day were cotemporary with Judge Weston at the time - Hon. Mark Skinner, now of Chicago, and Nicholas Hill, Jr., of Albany, New York, studying in the same office, and Hon. Daniel Ullman, and Hon. Ed. Sandford, being admitted to the Bar of the Supreme Court in the same class of examination in 1836.
Judge Weston engaged for nearly a year, after his admission, in practicing law in his father's office, and then through the representations of some proprietors of the "Half Breed Tract," who resided in New York, he was induced to start for the West. The glowing enthusiasm of the owners of the "Half Breed Tract," was, however, lost in his case, for, instead of proceeding thither' he went to Burlington. He reached that place in December, 1837, having crossed the country in the first stage (owned by the well-known Frink,) that ever went through from Chicago. His advent in Iowa was not as pleasant as it is now, when Steam Ferry Boats have supplanted shaky flat-boats, and precarious "dug-outs." The Mississippi was crowded with floating ice, and he nearly lost his life in crossing - he, however, succeeded, but more dead than alive.
He entered the small hotel, and after warming himself, and recovering a living amount of energy, he surveyed the company present. There were a couple of gentlemen who attracted his attention - one was a rather loose, undandified young man, with a particularly large head, and stack of hair, each member of which rose erect in proud independence of the others. His companion was a rather sharp-looking individual, and was armed cap-a.pie, in stout old homespun, of true Vermont origin. Both were young men-and either would have attracted considerable attention in Broadway. Judge Weston received an introduction; the first was Mr. Grimes, and the other Mr. Starr. Mr. Grimes, better known as Jas. W. Grimes, has since been Governor of Iowa, and is now United States Senator, while Mr. Starr is one of the first lawyers in the West. These were Judge Weston's first acquaintances west of the River, and both illustrated admirabley the fact, that "appearances are deceiving."
He commenced the practice of law in Burlington, and continued so to do for a year or more, alternating his legal duties with trips into the back country for the purposes of health, adventure, or excitement. On one of these occasions, himself, and H. W. Starr, were spending a short time with Jerry Smith, a well known indian trader of that time. While there, Black Hawk and his son arrived, and pitched their tents in the vicinity. He was very sociable, but most religious in his dislike of his rival, Keokuk. Starr, in order to test his feelings, said to the old chief: "Keokuk oc-qua-nish-a-shin?" ("Keokuk is a good man, is he not?") Rising, with fury, in his eyes, and all his bitter disappointments crowding his memory and bolstering up his wrath, the old Brave thundered out, "Keokuk car-win, nish-a-shin!" ("Keokuk is NOT a good man!) It is impossible to render in English the full and emphatic meaning contained in either question or reply, but more especially so in case of the latter.
Judge Weston was with W. B. Conway during his sickness and death; and soon after the occurrence of that deplorable event, he was appointed Fiscal Agent for the Territory, and exercised the duties of the Secretary of the Territory, in place of Mr. Conway.
In 1838, he was appointed Judge Advocate General, by Gov. Lucas, with the title of Colonel.
In 1839, by the death of incumbent Van Alen, he was appointed United States Attorney for the Territory, by Mr. Van Buren, which office he held until 1843.
In 1840, he removed to Davenport, and purchased a quarter section of land, which he afterward increased to a farm of several hundred acres. He was not, however, signally successful as a farmer - it generally costing him a third more to raise his own beef, butter, and wheat, than it would to have paid the cash for them. He, therefore, abandoned the pursuit of Agricultural prominence under such difficulities, married, and moved into the city, wher he has since resided.
He was elected Mayor in 1851, and County Judge in 1857, which office he at present fills, in a manner at once satisfactory to his constituents, and honorable to the ermine. It may be added that none more than himself are suaviter in modo, and hence the difficult relations of his office are always preserved in a manner that leaves none other than pleasurable impressions - however inharmonious or antagonistic be the influences with which he may have to deal.
He is now in the enjoyment of an honorable independence, has fine tastes and means for their gratification. His progenitors are noted for longevigty - his father being now eighty-seven - and he himself will probably extend the term of his life and enjoyment to an equal extent. That such may be the case, not one will otherwise wish, as his urbanity, genial sympathies, and classic tastes, have acquired for him the friendship and respect of all who know him.