The future will, perhaps, judge him by what he develops hereafter,
based upon the personal traits of character as exhibited heretofore ; and
— 361 —
therefore as a guide, and with no fulsomeness, we make up what the
physician terms a " diagnosis," to serve those who may come after us
in their estimate of the man physically, morally and intellectually.
Physically, Mr. Dickinson approaches six feet in height, and is
well proportioned, his carriage is erect, and step firm, indicating self-
reliance, divested of haughtiness. Observed, as he walks upon the
streets, he appears absorbed in thought, but when addressed, his whole
attention is arrested, his full, round, and pleasant hazel eyes, concentrate
and fix themselves as if to determine and divine the inmost thought of
the one addressing him. The conformation of his face and head is of
the Grecian type; his hair and beard are auburn; and the expression
of his countenance beams with kindness, courtesy and benevolence.
In character, Mr. Dickinson is distinguished by many strong and
prominent points. As stated, he is emphatically self-reliant, depending
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
on his own resources in the accomplishment of his plans and purposes.
The earnestness of his temperament is indicated in all that he undertakes.
Whatever his hands find to do he does with all his might. Such is the
enthusiasm of his nature, that he kindles a warm sympathy in his favor,
and greatly aids in carrying forward what he deems his life's work.
To selfishness, he is an entire stranger. His manner, while evincing
cultivation, is gentle and courteous, offensive to none, but attractive to
all. He is especially gracious to the worthy unfortunates; careful of
their rights, and considerate of their feelings. The most noble of his
qualities, however, are his attachments for his boyhood friends, and the
associations connected therewith, of which the following telegram
addressed to Aunt Emily Ward, on her 8oth birthday, when he occu-
pied the exalted position of Postmaster-General, is evidence :
Washington, March i6, 1885.
" Emily Ward, — Among the thousands who congratulate you
to-day, and who have been made better and happier by the event of
eighty years ago, I ask to be counted as one of Aunt Emily's boys.
Mrs. Dickinson joins me in congratulations and affectionate regards.
" Don M. Dickinson."
(The above is quoted to show that he has not become unbalanced
or infatuated because of his eminent success.) Mr. Dickinson is
esteemed by his legal brethren, as is shown by the deference they give
to his opinions, and the warm, personal friendship they manifest.
J. W. Donovan, a well-known law writer, in his work on Trial
Practice, says : " Mr. Don M. Dickinson, by far the most distinguished
young lawyer in the State, wins large cases by a kindly, affable manner,
that makes him the warm friend of the court, jury and clients. As
a sagacious, business lawyer, he has no superior,"
— 362 —
So far as our cognizance extends, his boyhood, early and
later manhood, furnish an exemplification of what constitutes an
American or Yankee citizen, imbued with the principles : "That all
men are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,
among which are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
June 15, 1869, Mr. Dickinson married Miss Frances L. Piatt,
the daughter of Dr. Piatt, of Grand Rapids, and a granddaughter of
Dr. Brigham, of Ann Arbor, a well-known and justly distinguished
physician and surgeon, who, as a contemporary with the compiler's
father, and Valentine Mott, of the New York Hospital, in 1813, insti-
tuted certain reforms in the treatment of contagious and inceptive dis-
eases, and the abolishment of the application of hot iron to arrest
hemorrhage in amputations, which have since become arbitrary.
E LIS HA TAYLOR,
Elisha Taylor, of Detroit, Mich., was born May 14th, 1817, in
Charlton, Saratoga county, New York.
His ancestor was the Norman Baron Taillefer, who accompanied
William the Conqueror, in his invasion of England, and was slain in his
presence in the van of his army at the battle of Hastings, on Saturday,
October 14th, 1066. The family received from the Conqueror large
landed estates in the county of Kent, England. Hanger Taylefer, his
descendant, held lands in the tenure of Ospring, Kent county, A. D.
1256, and from him about one hundred years later we have John
Taylor in the homestall in Schodochurst, Kent county, and from him
the possession is perfectly traced through William, John William, John,
John, John, Mathew, to Edward Taylor, of Brigg's House, York
county, England, residing in London, who came over with his family
in the year 1692 and settled in Middletown, Monmouth county, New
Jersey, and became a large landholder. John Taylor, of the fifth
generation from and including the emigrant, removed from Freehold,
New Jersey, to the new country in the State of New York, in 1774,
and settled in Charlton, Saratoga county. He was a judge of the
county court from 1808 to 1818 and died April 26th, 1829, at the home
of his son, Hon. John W. Taylor, who was a member of Congress
from Saratoga county, N. Y., twenty consecutive years, from 1813 to
1833, and twice speaker of the House of Representatives in the
Congress of the United States.
Elisha Taylor, son of William and Lucy Taylor, and a grandson
of said Judge John Taylor, was born May 14th, 181 7, in Charlton, pre-
pared for college at Hamilton Academy, Madison county, N. Y.,
entered Union College, Schenectady, N. Y., September, 1833,
— 363 —
graduated in 1837, and was elected a member of the Phi Beta Kappa
Society, the highest college honor. lie became principal of a select school
at Athens, Green county, N. Y., and continued there until May, 1838,
when he came to Detroit, Mich., via Niagara Falls, by railroad, canal boat,
stage and steamboat, arriving in Detroit, June 6th, 1838, and stopped
at the Michigan Exchange Hotel, then kept by Mr. Dibble. The
dining table was filled with young men. Though a stranger, yet a
young man sent him a bottle of champaign for his own use, with his
compliments, at his first dinner at the hotel. He had no acquaintances
in Detroit. He had strong letters of recommendation from President
Eliphalet Nott, D. D. and LL. D., Alonzo Potter, D. D., his uncle,
Hon. John W. Taylor, and others, but refused to use any of them,
determined to stand on his own bottom and work his way up. This
was unwise. He purchased a pony and spent two months on horse-
back traveling over the eastern half of the settled part of the lower
peninsular of Michigan. In August he came to Detroit to stay and
work and make his own way in the world. As he earned money, he
paid for a farm at Grand Blanc, Genesee county, Mich., one-tenth of
which he had inherited, and was a farmer a part of each year for
twenty years, working with his own hands. He entered the office of
P. Morey, Esq., the Attorney-General of Michigan, as student and
clerk in August, 1838, and had plenty of hard work which was always
finished satisfactorily. He was admitted as an attorney at law in May,
1839, and became a partner of the Attorney-General. While young he
once said to a companion : " I never spend all I make and I have some-
thing over every year, and I keep on hand one hundred dollars to ' run
away with' if necessary."
Elisha Taylor was City Attorney of Detroit in 1843, member of
the Board of Education, 1843-45; married Aurelia H. Penfield 1844,
Master in Chancery, 1842-46; Register of United States Land Office
at Detroit, 1846-49; Clerk of the Supreme Court of Michigan, 1848-49;
Circuit Court Commissioner, Injunction Master, Judge at Chambers,
1846-50; Receiver of the United States Land Office, Detroit, 1853-57;
United States agent for paying pensions, 1854-57; United States
Depositary of Public Moneys collected in Michigan, Northern Ohio and
Indiana, 1853-57; an elder in Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian church,
Detroit, 1856-89; a commissioner from the Presbytery of Detroit,
to the General Assembly of the Presbyterian church in the United
States in 1886 at Harrisburg, and in 1884 at Saratoga Springs; presi-
dent of the Presbyterian Alliance of Detroit in 1879 ^"^ 1885; presi-
dent of the Detroit City Mission Board, 1866-67, organized by the
churches and charitable societies for the moral and physical improve-
ment of the poor and afflicted in Detroit.
Ill health compelled him, about 1851, to abandon active practice as
— 364 —
a lawyer and for six months he went to his farm at Grand Blanc and
worked daily on his farm in the field and with pluck and perseverence
through tribulations, he recovered a good degree of physical health
and strength which, with constant care, he has maintained.
Before the civil war of 1861-65 Mr. Taylor was a Democrat. He
at all times sustained the United States government in the vigorous
prosecution of the war, and in the darkest days, when the government
declared that pecuniary aid from private citizens would be accepted, he,
with his wife, deposited $8,000 with the United States Treasurer at
New York, which was afterwards repaid with interest at 4 per cent,
The Detroit Free Press, in a sketch of the life of Mr. Taylor,
published August 25th, 1889, closed with these words: "Dignified and
of fine personal appearance, neat in attire and courteous in manner, his
figure is one of the best known among the old citizens of Detroit. A
man of strict integrity and exacting full faith and performance from
others, he is fair minded and well entitled to the high position he occu-
pies in this community."
His wife, Aurelia H. Pentield, daughter of Thomas and Aurelia
H. Penfield, of Schoharie, N. Y., was born October ist, 1821, was
married to Elisha Taylor, September 3d, 1844, and came immediately
to Detroit to reside. Three children were born to them. DeWitt H.
Taylor, Mary Amelia Taylor and Frank Augustus Taylor. The two
latter died within two years after their birth.
Mrs. Taylor was an excellent wife and mother and they had a
very happy married life together of forty-four years. She died in
Detroit, November 22nd, 1888. The following editorial in a Detroit
paper was published November 23d, 1888, in memoriam of her:
" Mrs. Elisha Taylor, whose death occurred yesterday, came to
Detroit a bride in 1844, a beautiful girl. She was refined, accom-
plished, kind and considerate, and helpful to those she could benefit.
"Mrs. Taylor joined the First Presbyterian church when she
came to Detroit and afterwards, in 1854, ^^^ ^"^ °^ ^^^ forty-six persons
who organized the Jefferson Avenue Presbyterian church, and for
thirty-six years she was a capable, faithful and efficient member in the
church and Sunday school and Ladies' Society of that congregation.
" Her kindness and persistence in visiting families who were indif-
ferent to church privileges, or who felt too poor to secure a pew in
church, resulted in forming friendships which were helpful and bene-
ficial. She was for twentj^-five years an efficient worker and wise
counselor in the Detroit Industrial School. She was conscientious,
courageous and constant in all duties and obligations, and commanded
the esteem and confidence of those who knew her well, and her kind-
— 365 —
ness to those who endeavored to improve their condition was habitual
and without ostentation. She was partially paralyzed in June, 1884,
and has been an invalid since that time.
" Last summer she took an extensive tour in quest of health, and
came home quite invigorated. This was to a large extent neutralized
by the shock of finding, on her return home, her only brother dead.
A slight cold she took on November 12th was followed by heart
failure, and on November 22nd she died of blood poisoning. She
passed away at her late home, on Alfred street, sincerely mourned by
her many friends."
DeWitt H. Taylor, the only surviving child, was educated in the
Detroit Union and High schools, and at the University of Michigan at
Ann Arbor from i860 to 1871, and was then admitted to the bar as an
attorney and counsellor at law. He was then engaged in successful
mercantile business for three years and in 1874-75 he spent fifteen
months in travels in Europe, Asia and Africa, and since then has been
in active business in Detroit, a worthy, efficient and reliable man.
JUDGE HALMOR H. EMMONS.
We think it was Wheatley, who said that "Mental pleasures
never clog; unlike those of the body's, they are increased by repetition,
approved of by reflection, and strengthened by employment."
The life of the subject of this sketch, demonstrated the power of
the mind over the body. His mental reflections rendered him oblivious
to physical pain. Present him a question involving principles of law,
ethics, or common sense, and the pleasure of solving them destroyed
consciousness of bodily suffering.
Halmor Hull Emmons, was of English descent on the paternal
side, and French Huguenot, on the maternal, was born at Keesville,
in northern New York, in November, 1814, and was therefore not yet
sixty-three years of age at the time of his death. His father was of
the same profession in which the son attained such eminence, and was
the editor of a rural newspaper, and he thus acquired the rudiments of an
education which was of great service to him in after life. He worked
three days a week in the office, and devoted the other three days to
study, and, by rising at four or five o'clock in the morning, kept pace
with the more fortunate pupils who spent the whole week in school.
Before he attained his majority, he entered the law office of Messrs.
Stowe & Stetson, at Keesville, where he rapidly mastered the elemen-
tary principles of the law, and, as an office lawyer, was noted for his
ability in the preparation of briefs, particularly when the prospect of a
— 366 —
warm contest incited him to great efforts. After a two years' stay in
Keesville,he removed to Essex, N.Y., where he spent two years in the
law office of Hon. Henry H. Ross, and then moved to Cleveland, and
formed a professional connection in that city. His father had but a
short time before moved to Detroit, and having been admitted to the
bar in early life, in New York State, resumed the practice of the law
in this city. He sent for young Halmor to come under the family roof-
tree, and go into partnership with him, and the son obeyed his father's
request, though with some reluctance, as his prospects in Ohio were
already quite promising. The father and son were not long in practice
before they were retained for the plaintiffs in the celebrated case of
Fitch & Gilbert vs. Newberry Goodell (reported in ist Douglas, Mich.
Rep. i). The case created intense interest at the time, and was the
theme of much newspaper controversy. The renown attending this
case was followed by a rapid professional rise.
In 1843, his father died, and the next year he formed a partnership
with James A. VanDyke, one of the finest lawyers of his day, and the
new firm at once took the highest legal rank in the Northwest.
In politics, Mr. Emmons was at first a Whig, with decided free soil
tendencies. At the formation of the Republican party, in 1854, ^^
joined that organization, and, with the exception of a brief digression
into the ranks of the Constitutional Union party, in 1864, has ever since
been a champion of its faith and principles.
The rapidly developing railroad interests of the west also developed
a new and profitable branch of the legal profession, and Mr. Emmons
became gradually known as one of the leading railroad la\yyers of the
day. Every one of the lines centering in Detroit employed him as
their counsel-in-chief. He was attorney for the Grand Trunk, Great
Western, Detroit & Milwaukee and Lake Shore & Michigan Southern
railroads. In the midst of one of the most lucrative practices ever
enjoyed by a western lawyer — estimated at from $30,000 to $40,000 a
year — he accepted, in 1870, the appointment of United States Circuit
Judge, at $6,000 a year, and performed its duties until within a few
months prior to his death.
In his new capacity as Judge, he became even more distinguished
than in the role of an advocate. His decisions have been marked with
an exhaustiveness of comment and authority which, though voluminous,
were always perfectly consistent and clear in their statements and con-
As a citizen, he never tried to become a popular or leading man,
but his benevolent disposition often prompted him to perform acts of
unobtrusive charity which were never recorded in the public prints.
One winter, in which the roads leading through to the city had become
impassable on account of rain, and wood had risen from $1.75 to $6.00
— 367 —
per cord, he realized one morning that if the poor were not speedily
relieved they would freeze, and instantly started a plan to provide them
with fuel. The first man he met he accosted thus : " Are you around
notifying ? " " Notifying what ? " replied the citizen. " The meeting
in the United States court room to immediately procure fuel for the
poor. It takes place at nine o'clock." "I had not heard of it, but will
do what I can." " Very well," said Mr. Emmons, " tell everybody you
see to come." He gave the same news to a number of others, and in
ninety minutes the court room was filled to overflowing. Thousands
of dollars were subscribed, and in an hour or two the immense wood
piles of the Michigan Central railroad were at the service of the poor.
The proceedings were published with great parade in the daily papers,
but Mr. Emmon's name did not appear.
Since his elevation to the bench, Mr. Emmons was absent a
considerable portion of his time in other States, attending to the duties
of his judicial circuit, but the intervals were spent in the bosom of his
family on his fine farm in Ecorse township, near this city. During his
last illness he was an inmate of the house of his daughter, Mrs.
Falconer, at the corner of Adelaide and Brush streets, in this city. Of
his family, his venerable partner and four children still live. The names
of the latter are : Mrs. Clara G. Collins, of Milwaukee, Mrs. Lillie W.
Falconer, Miss Carrie Emmons, and H. H. Emmons, Jr., of this city.
His death occurred May 15, 1877.
The Judge had been afflicted for several years with the disease
(cancer of the stomach), which finally carried him off. For the past
six months he was confined to his room, but was able to give a few
decisions in chambers. Two months previously, however, he aban-
doned all judicial labors, his disease having entirely prostrated his
physical powers. May 14th a change for the worse was observable,
and Dr. Farrand, his medical attendant, expressed the opinion that he
would not live through the night. Notwithstanding this, however, his
remarkable vitality enabled him to see the sun of another day, and he
peacefully expired at 11:30 a. m., surrounded by his wife, family,
relatives and friends, to each of whom he bade an affectionate
farewell. He was in the full possession of his mental faculties till within
thirty minutes of his death. Around his death-bed were his wife, his
three daughters, Mrs. Collins, of Milwaukee, and Mrs. Falconer, and
Miss Carrie Emmons, of Detroit, together with the husbands of the
two former ladies; his son, H. H. Emmons, Jr.; his sisters, Mrs. John
McNeil, of Port Huron, and Mrs. Sheldon and Miss Fannie Emmons,
of Detroit; his nephew, Hal. E. McNeil, and wife; Rev. Dr. Worth-
ington, of St. John's church, in this city, and Rev. Dr. BoUes, of Bata-
— 368 —
via, N. Y. The latter gentleman, who performed the ceremony of
marriage between Judge and Mrs. Emmons, was passing through the
city, and hearing of the Judge's critical condition, called to see him, and
witnessed his departure.
The compiler has made copious extracts from remarks by Hon.
D. Bethune Duffield in the foregoing.
HIRAM R. JOHNSON.
Tillotson says: "Though all afflictions are evils of themselves,
yet they are good for us, because they discover to us our disease and
tend to our cure."
The man who adopts this sentiment and accepts its teachings, and
whether the ills be of a personal or physical nature, or of pecuniary
losses, regards them in some way as being for his good, gets more
satisfaction out of life, and is able to render greater service to his fellows,
than he who sits down and repiningly broods over his misfortunes,
making himself miserable and all around him unhappy.
The lesson taught by the foregoing has been and is practically
illustrated in the life of the subject of this sketch. Hiram R. Johnson
is a native of the State of New York, and was born in Oneida county.
May 26th, 1815. His father, Elisha Johnson, was born in the
State of Rhode Island. He served in the Continental army, and was
His mother's name was Mary Reeves. Her ancestors came from
Devonshire, Eng. The celebrated Dr. Tappan Reeves was an uncle
of hers. She was born at Flat Bush, L. I., in 1767. They were mar-
ried at Flat Bush in 1787. Ten children were born to them, six sons
and four daughters.
The father died at the age of sixty-five and the mother at the
age of ninety-four, in New York.
Hiram R. Johnson has been twice married, first to Mary Lyon,
who came from England with her parents, at the age of sixteen. They
were married at Chippewa, in Canada. She died in 1858, leaving four
children. His second wife was Mrs. Priscilla French, the widow of
Samuel French, who came to Michigan in March, 1849. They have
Mr. Johnson landed in Detroit in October, 1838. There are few
men better known among the older residents than H. R. Johnson. In
a business way he has been a noted public man, full of spirit, energy
and perseverance; if one enterprise failed to succeed, he tried
another. As a result he has accumulated a competency, and also has
— 369 —
the satisfaction of knowing that while he has been the loser in some
enterprises, the public has been the gainer.
In 1849 he leased the large hotel on the present site of the Wayne,
corner of Third street and Jefferson avenue, which was called the
Johnson House, and was its proprietor. He was the first man to use
gas in Detroit, he fitted the hotel with pipes and manufactured his
Mr. Johnson, after carrying on the hotel for a time, sold it to Czar
Jones, who kept it for a year, and not succeeding, Mr. Johnson was
obliged to take it back. After securing for it a liberal patronage he,
in 1855, sold it to Messrs. Charles and Fred. Wormley, who changed
the name to the Wormley House. They ran the house for a number
of years, when they sold it to Mr. S. B. King, who was obliged to close
it for some nine months, when Mr. A. S. Bagg re-opened it under the
name of Bagg's Hotel. After running it some years Mr. Bagg sold it
to Messrs. Sheldon and Graves. At the end of two years they sold it
to the Tyrell brothers, who changed the name to the Cass Hotel.
They managed it under this name for fourteen years, and then sold it
to Mr. Earsley Ferugson, who associated himself with Mr. Johnson.
This association continued a few years, when Mr. Johnson retired, and
Mr. Ferguson remained sole owner until 1887, when the building was
torn down, and the present Wayne Hotel was erected on its site.
Mr. Johnson has been engaged in numerous enterprises, all of
which have tended to the material growth of the city. He has ever
taken great interest in moral and educational improvements, and bring-
ing his active, pushing powers to bear, has largely contributed to suc-
cess in establishing them. He is the oldest member of Detroit Com-
mandery Knights Templar.
He has now retired from active business, and enjoys the fruits of
a well spent life, and the confidence and friendship of a large circle of
JOHN J. B AGLET.
' ' A rarer spirit did never steer humanity. How few like thee, to enquire the wretched
out." — Roive.
" Actions, looks, words and steps form the alphabet by which we may spell character."
Adopting the foregoing to guide us, we simply seek to detail the
most notable events incident to the life of the subject of this sketch,
and in which he was the chief actor and participator, leaving future
generations to " spell the character," and judge the man, as the present
— a70 —
John J. r>;ii;K'y was hovu in INIotliiia, OrliMiis i-ouiity, N. ^'., |uly
J|th, i8^;j. llistatluM-, ]o\\n lia^loy, was ln)iM on the Jisl day of
January, iS(X\ at Diirhain, Ciicoiic roiiiUv, N. ^'., ami his inothor,
INlaiy Maria Smith, was a native of C\innocliiiil, ami was born on