Franklin T Oldt.

History of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) online

. (page 52 of 56)
Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 52 of 56)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

O'Neill (J. H.) & McLenan (William) ; John L. Harvey; Lovells
(W. Y. and J. T. ) & Williams (J. H.); \W. B. Okeson; E. M.
Bartholow; Griffith ( J. M. ) & Knight (W. J.); H. T. McNulty;
Smith (Piatt), Poor (B. W.), Adams (S. P.) & Cram (D. C);
Rickard & McCeney ; R. Stewart ; Jeremiah Sheean. James S.
Godsden was an attorney located at Dyersville ; he had located there
the previous November.

On New Year's night, 1857-8, an affray accurred at Western
Brewery Hall, during which two or three persons were killed and
about twenty injured. It was reported to have been a clash bet\\ een
Irish and Germans. Jacob Roth and Charles Swartz were charged
with murder; a long triaJ resulted.

About 1859 John H. O'Xeill came here and became the leading
criminal lawyer in the state ; owing to his brilliant oratory lie was
in great demand by the Democrats during every important polit-
ical campaign. He was prosecutor in the Crowley-Gleason murder
case, on which occasion his penetration, perspicuity and eloquence
were revealed and appreciated. O'Neill and Mulkern were for the
state, and Cooley and D. S. Wilson for the defense.

The act of January. 1858, revised and consolidated the laws
incorporating the city of Dubuque and established a city court,
which was conducted by a judge, clerk and marshal. In 1858 the
Republicans of the Ninth Judicial district nominated B. W^ Poor
for judge.

A big attack was made in the courts against gambling in Dubuque
in February, i860. The grand jury indicted several persons on the
charge of conspiring to cheat and defraud with cards, etc. Many
were indicted for keeping gambling saloons; all plead guilty and
were fined.

Judge Love, of the United States District Court, granted the
injunction against the city in favor of Gelpcke, Kentgen & Co.. of
New York. March 22, i860.

On April 27, i860. Francis Gillick was executed for the murder
of his wife. The execution was public and order was kept by two
companies of militia called out. The place selected was near Eagle
Point, and there the scaffold was erected. A large crowd, about


7,000, from far and near saw him pay the penalty of his crime.
He was an Irishman, had served in the war between Isabella, queen
of Spain, and her Uncle Don Carlos, and in the Mexican War,
being present at Molina del Rey, Chapultepec and Contreras.

In the February term (i860) of the District court there were
650 law cases and 200 chancery cases. During 1859 the total num-
ber of cases disposed of numbered over 1,200.

In tlie trial of Mooney for murder in November, i860. Barker &
Utley prosecuted and Bissell, Mills & Shiras defended. During tlie
trial, in spite of the gravity of the occasion, the court room was
convulsed with laughter over the manner and answers of a witness
— one Mickey McDonald.

Lawyer: What did they do?

Witness : They kim in and shuk two tin dollar bills and two
sovrins out of their purses on the counter.

Lawyer: How do you know they were ten dollar bills?

Witness: How do I know? Faith, the same as ye wud yerself,
because I seen "em. Bedad, ye'd bether not ask me so many ques-
tions — just quit whar ye are and not be thryin' to pump the guts out
o' me.

Lawyer : Well, you said you saw Mooney get your little boy to
burn the cap.

Witness (excitedly): And is it me that said that? Don't ye
know I didn't say it ? Wy d'ye put wurds in me mouth ? Och, now,
it's a pretty one ye are and it's a pretty lamb's tail ye're makin' of
yerself. And so on.

During i860 the press noticed that there had been a notable
cessation of crime in this city and county. "Dubuque, almost from
its organization up to within the last year, has been a favorite resort
of a horde of scoundrels of every description. Situated at the
junction of three states, and on the railroads and river, it gave
unequaled facilities for the residence of thieves, burglars, gamblers
and swindlers of every hue. Thus it is that until lately there have
been more murders, gambling, swindling, prostitution, etc., going
on than in any other city of its size in America. Even in the last
two years Dubuque has furnished a host of such stars as Borlan,
Gallagher, Rocky Ryan, Gillick, Johnson, Clifford, Mooney, Con-
stable, Dr. Granville, Ricard, Thomson and others of lesser note,
it was a paradise for such fellows — our laws were lax — our authori-
ties either careless of doing their duty or in direct complicity with
the brotherhood of rascality. But things have changed. Now we
have as orderly a city as can be found anywhere. Our city within
two years, from a depot of distressed scoundrelism from all
parts of America, has become a place fit for the residence of
Quakers. Let us give thanks." — (Herald, November 18, i860.)

"There are seventy-eight .of the present citizens of this county
who have been admitted as attornevs at law. Of this number


there are about eight engaged in oilier business, who do not prac-
tice, and three or four who are eni]jio\ed as clerks for some of the
other firms. Of those wiio do not practice at all, one is judge of
the District Court, one of the City Court, one is the treasurer and
another a trustee of a railroad, one is secretary to the minister to
Bogota, one an editor, and two live on the interest of their money.
Of those who practice one resides at Cascade, one at Peosta, two at
Dversville ; one is a member of the State Senate, two of the House
of Representatives and one lately elected a justice of the peace.
There are about sixty whose sole business is the pursuit of their
profession. One firm is composed of four members, eight firms
of three and eleven of two." — (Herald, December 9, i860.)

In January, 1861, O. P. Shiras lectured on "The Man for His
Times — Edmund Burke an Illustration." In February there was
a large docket — over 300 cases. Col. H. H. Heath was admitted to
practice early in 1861. \V. W. Mills oi^ened his law office in the
Jones block in April. In June Ben. M. Samuels withdrew from
the law firm of Samuels, Allison & Crane. Phineas W. Crawford
was admitted to tlie bar this year.

The number of convictions for crime in the District Court for
the year ending October 31 was as follows : Murder 2, assault with
intent 3, larceny 6, petit larceny i, gambling houses 3, failure to
pay own fines i, assault and battery 2.

Thomas C. Roberts was born near Rockdale, this county, in 1835,
and late in the fifties began the study of law with Coaley, Blatchley
& Adams; he was admitted in 1861 and soon made a creditable
mark in his profession.

In January, 1862, Barker. Barney & Dillon dissolved partner-
ship. In February the bar adopted new rules for the guidance of
the court. In the election contest between Hewitt and Cummings,
Knight, Samuels and O'Neill were the attorneys. About this lime
many law firms dissolved partnership, owing to a large decrease
in litigation. Late in the fifties the railroad, criminal and bond
and debt cases had kept a large and powerful bar busy, but now it
was different. Samuel M. Pollock was judge of the city court
in 1861-2; the court was abolished in 1862. "This disposed of an
institution which was forced upon the people of this city against
their will, which the Supreme Court of the state kept in existence,
and which has done more injury to the people of this city than
can ever be repaired." — (Herald.) In May M. B. Mulkern became
United States commissioner. Judge Wilson left the bench in De-
cember, 1862.

In 1863 Thomas S. Wilson and M. B. Mulkern were associated
as partners; the former liad just been beaten for the District bench,
mainly by the soldiers' vote, and the latter was one of the best
criminal lawyers here. James Burt took the vacant seat on the
bench recently occupied by Judge Wilson. P. M. Harrington was


admitted to the bar in May. Among the lawyers here at this time
were Thomas M. Monroe, Ben M. Samuels, Hodgdon & Covel,
John Deery, Griffith & Knight, Wilson & Mulkern, George B.
Edmonds, C. C. Converse, Utley, Doud & Brust, Barker & Mc-
Nulty, Piatt Smith, Bissell & Shiras, J. H. O'Neill, John Thomp-
son, B .B. Richards, Austin Adams, W. Y. Lovell, J. F. Bates,
Allison & Crane and others. The Gelpcke case was an important
one at this date. The Dyersville mill dam case was another. In
December, 1863, the bar met and adopted a new fee bill, raising
their prices.

By 1864 hard times had fallen upon the legal profession; liti-
gation was cut down to one-third of its former extent of only a
few years before. Monroe & Deery became associated as partners
early this year, John S. Covel died in June and W. T. Angell in

The McArdle murder case brought out the best legal talent in
1864. The case was taken to Jackson, where Mrs. McArdle was
convicted. Several important cases relating to river- front lots
were in court this year. In 1865 the Kennedy-Doolin murder case
was tried.

On March 2, 1866, the grand jury indicted seventeen out of nine-
teen members of the board of supervisors "for receiving pay for
greater length of time than the law allowed during one year, twenty-
five days being the restricted time of the statute. The two men not
indicted were sick and absent. Two indictments were found against
the board in its separate capacity for letting contracts for amounts
in excess of $500 without being petitioned by 100 voters, as the
law provided.

In December, 1866, the Sarah Lee Porter case was in the courts.
John H. O'Neill, city attorney, was charged with neglect of duty
in that case. It grew out of the purchase of the Central Market
ground from Mr. Porter many years before. Mr. O'Neill had no
defense, except that he had been having a general jollification. His
speech before the City Council was one of the most brilliant he ever
delivered. It prevented his immediate dismissal, but he was mildly
censured and the office was later declared vacant.

About 1866 Christian WuUweber began practice. He was born
in Germany and was a graduate of Cambridge Law School. He
was an active member of the bar.

About 1866 H. B. Foulke began practice here and was first
associated with T. C. Roberts, then with Smith, Foulke & Chapin
and Foulke & Lyon, the latter becoming a very prominent and
successful association. In 1878 Mr. Foulke became prosecutor
of the Ninth judicial district. It was said at his death in 1892 that
as a trial lawyer he had no superior in Iowa.

In 1866-7 ^- E. Bishop began the practice. He made a specialty
of pensions, bought tax titles and prosecuted liquor dealers. He


made many enemies among the latter and on one occasion was
attacked and beaten nearly to death. In the supervisor trials,
George Watson prosecuted and Barker, Wilson, Knight & Mulkern
defended. Under Judge Burt"s instructions the supervisors were
cleared. The Herald sharply criticised the course of the court.
Three important cases were in court this year — Illinois Central
Railroad, Richards, Burden and Graves. Gen. H. A. Wiltse moved
to Minnesota in 1866. The following lawyers passed suitable reso-
lutions deploring his departure : T. S. Wilson, F. E. Bissell, W. B.
Allison, J. H. Shields, T. C. Roberts, Charles McKenzie, D. E.
Lyon, P. W. Crawford. George Crane. J. D. Langworthy, Samuel
Duncan, John Deerv, Thomas M. Monroe, M. B. Mulkern, T. P.
Rood, Stephen Hempstead, Frank Jennings, M. Lepper, O. P.
Shiras, C. G. Hawthorne, E. McCenev, W. Chandler. B. W. Poor,
L. H. Cady, Dewitt C. Cram, J. M. Ballou, William Mills, W. W.
Mills and Charles J. Rogers.

In 1866-7 Ihe revenue liquor cases came up and enlisted the
skill and ability of the best lawyers. A dozen or more were
retained by the various defendants. Breweries were seized, liquors
confiscated and the lawyers had much to do. Judge Wilson was
appointed assistant district attorney to assist in the prosecution.
About this time there was a general jail delivery, one man —
Donegan — charged with murder, escaping. Fifteen escaped, but
nearly all were recaptured.

In December, 1868, Mr. 0"Neill removed to St. Louis and was
tendered a farewell banquet by the local bar. Speeches of regret at
his departure were made by Judge Burt, H. B. Foulke, M. B.
Mulkern, D. B. Henderson, B. W. Poor, Lyon. Trumbull. Roberts
and others. Mr. O'Xeill replied with much feeling and unusual
eloquence. At this meeting the following verse from Don Piatt's
Capital was recited :

The devil came to the earth one day.

And said in court, where he wended his way :

"If all they have said of each other be true,

The devil has surely been robbed of his due.

I'm satisfied now, 'tis all very well.

These lawyers would ruin the morals of hell.

They have puzzled the court with villainous cavil.

And I'm free to confess they have puzzled the divil.

My agents are right to let lawyers go bail ;

If I had them they'd swindle me out of mv tail."


In 1870, upon his retirement from the bench. Judge Burt was
given a complimentary banquet at the Julien House, on which occa-
sion many eloquent speeches were made and many fine toasts


responded to. The city not having yet paid Judge Wilson fully for
his services in the Supreme Court of the United States in con-
ducting the Chouteau-Maloney case, he asked, in August, 1871, to be
recompensed for the balance due him. The numerous damage suits
against the city gave the lawyers and courts much to do late in
the sixties and early in the seventies. In 1872 Judge Wilson was
transferred to the District Court and B. W. Poor was appointed
to the Circuit bench, to succeed him. In March, 1873, Dennis A.
Mahony sued the city for $10,000 damages. He fell on Main street
and broke his arm.' Pollock & Shields were his counsel. The
Sullivan-Phillips murder case came up in 1873. The defense made
by Foulke & Lyon in the trial of Charles Wagner for the murder
of Frank Rhomberg was one of the ablest and most adroit ever
conducted in Dubuque. The newspapers spoke of it as a mar-
velous exhibition of legal skill, judgment and eloquence. The jury
found Wagner insane. Adams & Robinson were attorneys for the
city in the Central Harbor cases about this time. The grain ele-
vator cases were before the court again in 1875: large sums were
involved and many of the best lawyers here were employed by
the parties. At a bar meeting held in November, 1875, for the
purpose of discussing the question of dividing the judicial districts
of the state, partly to relieve Judge Love of the United States
District Court, much difference of opinion was shown and little
definite action was taken. It was in 1875 that the numerous move-
ments against the saloonkeepers culminated in many lawsuits and
much ill feeling. R. E. Bishop was the lawyer who fought the
liquor men.

It was in 1874 that the suit of the Central Improvement Com-
pany against the City of Dubuque came before the court. O. P.
Shiras and E. McCheney for the company began suit for $550,000
on the old, complicated contract. This suit was begun to force a
reasonable settlement, which was soon reached.

In 1875 among the lawvers were Shiras, Vanduzee & Henderson,
Wilson & O'Donnell. Griffith & Knight, Pollock & Shields, Foulke
& Lyon, Smith & Utt, Adams, Robinson & Lacy. Graham & Cody,
Beach & Hurd, Wullweber & Brother, Ed. McCeney, George Gray,
W. J. Cantillon, George Bingham, Mr. Alsop, F. T. Walker, J. P.
Burt, R. E. Bishop, H. T. McNutt and Mr. Mullany. The liquor
cases extended to Farley, Dyersville, Cascade and other parts of
the county.

In 1876 a moot court was conducted here and legal instruction
was given. The law of 1876 provided that upon petition Superior
courts could be established in cities of over 5,000 inhabitants. It
was given concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit and District
courts, except in probate matters and felonies, and was designed to
take the place of the police courts in cities. Adams & Robinson,
who effected the settlement between the city and the Central Island


Company, charged $7,500 for their services, were refused, sued
and obtained judgment for tlie full amount and costs.

For the year ending October i. 1852, there were fifty-two crim-
inal convictions here, of which twenty were for larceny, nine bur-
glary, five forgery, two murder : twenty-five were sent to the peni-
tentiary at Anamosa and ten were confined in the county jail.

In 1878 a splendid banquet was given David S. Wilson, judge
of the District court, by the Dubuque bar. Thomas S. Wilson,
brother of Daniel S., presided. O. P. Shiras delivered the con-
gratulatory address, to which Judge W'ilson responded. An elab-
orate menu without liquor was served. The lawyers participating
were as follows: H. B. Foulke, P. W. Crawford, H. G. Wullweber,
H. E. Wilson, Ed. McCenev. J. P. Burt, W. J. Cantillon, John
Deery, M. H. Beach, P. J. Ouiglev. F. T. Walker, George Salot,
J. M. Griffith, W. J. Knight, H. t. McNulty, W. H. Utt, O. P.
Shiras, B. W. Lacy. L. A. Thomas. T. C. Cole. George Crane,
L. G. Hurd. L. Foc'kler, T. P. Rood, F. IL Robinson, S. M. Pol-
lock, J. M. Ballon, A. J. Vanduzee, B. W. Poor, J. D. Alsop, Fred
O'Donnell, T- E. Simpson, W'illiam Graham, C. H. Eighmey, T. S.
Wilson, D."B. Henderson. B. B. Richards, D. J. Lenehan, G. F.
Bogue, W. S. Wright, S. P. Adams, F. B. Daniels. E. V. Hayden,
G. Grav, A. Matthews, J. C. Lougueville, D. C. Cram, R. W.
Stewart, P. Fiering, J. E. Moore, M. M. Trumbull, J. M. Werner,
H. H. Ragan. T- B. Utt, Hubert O'Donnell. J. H. Shields, M. M.
Cody, A. Hobbs and C. M. Mills.

In the spring of 1886 the Supreme court held its last session here.
It came here first in 1870, and here a group of counties in northern
Iowa were required to make their cases returnable. Sessions were
held in April and October of each year in the Cox and Allison build-
ings. A bill in 1882 to abolish sessions at Dubuque and Council
Blufifs failed to pass the House, and in 1884 a similar bill was

The forty injunction cases brought by the Citizens' League in the
Federal courts in 1885 against the liquor dealers attracted much
attention and were fought out in the courts. Foulke & Lyon and
McCeney and O'Donnell were attorneys for the saloonkeepers.
Judge Shiras presided over the L'nited States District court here.
In 1885-6 the entire judiciary system of the state was reorganized
by the Legislature. Dubuque, Clayton and Allamakee counties were
constituted the fifteenth judicial district. There were nineteen dis-
tricts and forty-five judges in the state. In 1886 Oliver P. Shiras
was granted the degree of LL.D. by Yale College.

In February, 1886, at a bar meeting, a committee was appointed
"to represent the interests of litigants in northern Iowa by pro-
testing against the passage of the bill now pending in our Legis-
lature to abolish the present rotary system of the Supreme court in
holding argument terms at various places in the state, by which


litigants are saved the expense of sending their attorneys to Des
Moines." D. J. Lenelian was elected district judge in 1886.
Alphons Matthews was city attorney in 1888.

The death of Judge Austin Adams in 1890 removed one of the
ablest and most prominent of the older lawyers. The officers of the
bar association in 1893 were as follows: G. W. Lacy, president;
J. C. Longiieville, first vice-president ; Robert Bronson, second vice-
president ; P. S. Webster, secretary ; A. P. Bibbs, treasurer.

The ceremony of dedicating the new courthouse in January, 1893,
and the attendant banquet were notable events. Among the speak-
ers at the dedication were Judge O'Donnell, County Supervisor
Cunningham, Judge Murdock, Judge Wilson, Judge Lacy, Colonel
Lyon, Mayor Saunders, M. M. Walker of the Board of Trade,
Judge Couch, Judge Ney, Judge Husted, Judge Utt, Judge Lene-
han. Colonel Crawford and others. At the banquet B. W. Lacy
was toastmaster and responses as follows were made : "The Judi-
ciary," Judges Shiras and Nev: "Relation Between Bench and
Bar," Judge Husted: "The Old' Courthouse," J. H. Shields; "The
New Courthouse," P. J. Nelson ; "Our Old Bar," D. E. Lyon ; "The
Bar of Today," W. J. Cantillon; "The Profession," D. C. Cram;
"Our Clients," G. W. Kiesel.

Late in 1893 it was found necessary to secure additional court-
rooms. Delays and overcrowding the dockets had before this date
caused much complaint and damage. It was shown at a bar meeting
that in Des Moines there were three courts in session the year
round, and it was argued there should be at least two here, and the
salary of the judges should be increased from $2,500 to $4,000 per
annum. The bar here, therefore, at a meeting where Judge Lacy
presided late in December, 1893, formally asked for the above
improvements, and further that the courts should be permitted to
make up issues during vacation, and that the jury law might be
amended. This year the judicial district was divided and Du-
buque county became the nineteenth, with two judges. It required
great effort to secure this result, but a powerful delegation visited
the Legislature and in the end secured substantial relief, as above.
There were on the docket at this time 213 civil cases. The railroad
case of J. P. Farley was very important in 1893.

Judge Thomas S. Wilson died May 16, 1894, aged 80 years.
He was born at Steubenville, Ohio, and was graduated from Jeffer-
son College in 1833. Soon afterward he studied law and had Edwin
M. Stanton for a fellow student, and in 1835 was admitted to the
bar. In 1836 he married Anna Hoge and soon afterward went to
Prairie du Chien. where his brother George was a lieutenant under
Col. Zachary Taylor. On October 13, 1836, he and his wife came
down the river to Dubuque for permanent residence. He was
president of the first board of trustees of Dubuque and in 1838
became judge of the Iowa Territorial court. In 1846 he came within


■one vote of the United States Senate. The next year he retired
from the bench and resumed the practice. He was associated with
many lawyers during his long career. He was interested more or
less in nearly all the most important cases adjudicated here. His
services before the Supreme Court of the United States in 1853-4
in the Chouteau-Maloney case were never properly recompensed nor
suitably appreciated by the subsequent population. He was again
on the bench in 1852, but was retired in 1863. He served in the
Legislature, was city, county and deputy United States district
attorney, and was highly esteemed here, where he was so well
known. He was married three times and left five children. At
his death the bar held elaborate and imposing ceremonies in his
honor. The address of W. J. Knight on this occasion was one of
great beauty, sentiment and power.

In February, 1904, Judge O'Donnell held court in the county
supervisor's room and continued there during the sessions of that
year. In January, 1895, ^'^^ "^^^' second judge — Husted — also held
court. The jury cases were tried by Judge O'Donnell and the others
by Judge Husted. This year the code commissioners accomplished
their duties.

Judge Husted encountered much opposition when he came to this
newly created district. His appointment had been opposed by M. M.
Ham, James J. Dunn and Senator Shields, the latter fighting him
on the floor of the convention. "He ordered the tax provision of
the mulct law enforced^ in Dubuque county and charged the grand
jury to indict every dealer who didn't pay. He declared that he
would intrust no lawyer with an estate and he ordered a raid on the
gamblers." In court he called down a prominent lawyer, declared
what he had said was false and ordered him to take his seat. He
removed another lawyer from control of an office : ordered the
county supervisors investigated ; scored the Dul)uque council and
became very popular with the people, owing to his acti\ity, reforms
and undoubted honesty. — (Cor. Chicago Chronicle, in Dubuque
Herald, January 9, 1896. )

In February, 1897, the Supreme court held that the mulct law
did not apply to cities operating under a special charter. This
decision left Dubuque at the mercy of the prohibitory law.

In January, 1907, the newly elected officers of the bar association
were P. S. Webster, president ; John Deery, first vice-president ;
L. G. Hurd, second vice-president ; John I. Mullaney. secretary ;
A. P. Gibbs, treasurer. Colonel Lyon was president in 1906. The

Online LibraryFranklin T OldtHistory of Dubuque County, Iowa; being a general survey of Dubuque County history, including a history of the city of Dubuque and special account of districts throughout the county, from the earliest settlement to the present time (Volume 1) → online text (page 52 of 56)