George Thomas Little.

Genealogical and family history of the state of Maine; (Volume 3) online

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calm pursuits of the duties of a judge, which
he could not but feel were useful to his fel-
low citizens, to offices of more notoriety and
higher compensation, which would interfere
with his domestic arrangements. The last pub-
lic office Judge Shepley was called to per-
form was that of sole commissioner to revise



the public laws, to which he was appointed by
resolve of April i. 1856. And notwithstand-
ing the injudicious instruction to complete and
cause his report to be printed on or before
the fifteenth day of November following, he
accomplished the almost herculean task, and
prepared a very full index of the whole body
of the public statutes, which constitutes what
is now cited as "Revised Statutes of !\laine,"
published in 1857. If more time had been
allowed, we should of course have had a more
complete and perfect work, with the benefit
of the wise and learned suggestions of an
experienced and sensible judge upon the dis-
crepancies, inconsistencies and imperfections
in the great body of our law. Defects and
contradictions undoubtedly exist, which can
only be remedied by the most careful investi-
gation and comparison, by a sound and ex-
perienced jurist. But in this, as in many other
cases (an American fault) our people seem
to regard more the having things done quickly
than well done. They had belter follow the
Shakespearian rule, "If it were done when 'tis
done, then "twere well it were done quickly,"
we add, but not otherwise. Judge Shepley
ha? uniformly through his long life been the
firm friend and supporter of good order, and
a just administration of the law. He has
given substantial aid to the cause of religion,
good morals, and general education, and has
himself practiced upon the rules he has pre-
scribed for others. He has been thirty-three
years a trustee of Bowdoin College, having
been chosen in 1829, and he has been a care-
ful observer of its affairs and a faithful coun-
selor in its emergencies. He has filled all
the numerous trusts, private and public, en-
trusted to him, uprightly, diligently and well,
for the good of the people and the individuals
in whose service he has been employed. And
after a well-filled public life of thirty-six
years, and at the age of seventy-three years,
he may very properly lay aside the armor,
which he has worn worthily and with honor
through the conflicts of political contention,
the sharp strifes of the forum and the calmer
struggles with the subtleties and nice dis-
criminations of legal investigation, where the
arms are reason and judgment, against the
keen logic of the masters of rhetoric. He has
received from Dartmouth College the honor-
ary degree of LL.D. * * * The Chief Jus-
tice, too far advanced to take a part in active
hostilities in support of the government of his
country, sustains the cause by his words and
co-operation in its efiforts to put down the
rebellion. And to enable his son to fight freely

and unencumbered by his numerous engage-
ments at home, he has taken his place anew in
the courts, and burnished up the forensic ar-
mor for fresh contests on the field of his
former struggles.'' "E'en in his ashes live his
wonted fires."

The late William Gould, in an obituary no-
tice of Judge Shepley, wrote : "That looking
over the roll of the 304 delegates who met in
September, 1819, in the old meeting-house of
the First Parish in Portland (to prepare for
the organization of the new state of Maine),
I think Judge Shepley was the last survivor of
that body. During the year 1838 Judge Shep-
ley was importuned by his political friends to
accept a nomination as candidate for governor,
and the same year he had an informal offer
of the office of attorney general of the United
States, both of which he declined. Judge
Shepley became a communicant of the Con-
gregational Church at Saco in 1823. He re-
moved from Saco to Portland in 1837, and
joined the communion of the State Street
Church, and was an exemplary Christian to
the time of his death. For fifty years there
were no doubts in his mind as to his duty to
his Creator and his fellowmen. Within a few
years of his death he wrote: 'When strongly
inclined to cast it from me as a painful and
loathsome subject, it seemed to be mean and
unworthy of a thinking man to avoid a full
and impartial investigation of his relations to
his Creator and to his fellow creatures, and
the manner in which he fulfilled them. * * *
I desire to leave my testimony that a life of
devotion resting upon repentence and faith in
Christ is a life of higher enjoyment than
can be found without it.' The last time Judge
Shepley spoke in public it was the privilege
of the writer to hear him. He was the last
of the original members of the Maine His-
torical Society, which was organized in 1822.
Judge Peleg Sprague, of Massachusetts, was
one of the corporators, but by his removal
from the state in 1835 he ceased to be a mem-
ber. He is yet living at the age of eighty-
three. In February, 1874, the Historical So-
ciety held a meeting in the city building, Port-
land, at which Judge Shepley was present.
During the forenoon the president alluded to
the presence of the venerable Judge, and in-
vited him to address the Society, which after
some hesitation he concluded to do. While
he was preparing to speak, all eyes were turned
to his patriarchal figure, which was most
striking. On his commencing to speak, there
was a general feeling of reverence, and from
a common impulse the whole audience rose,



and remained standing until he closed. ^He
alluded to his associates of half a centur/ be-
fore, to his long membership, and expressed
regret that he had given the society so little
assistance in their researches. He closed with
an expression of his interest in the objects
aimed at. This was the last time he spoke in
public, and the scene will be long remembered
by those present."

Judge Shcplcy died at his residence on State
street after an illness of but a few days, at the
great age of eighty-seven years, two months
and thirteen days. In 1816 Mr. Shepley mar-
ried Anna Foster, with whom he became ac-
quainted in college. She died in 1867. Their
children were : John R., educated in Bowdoin
College, from which he received the honorary
degree of LL.D. ; he is now a prominent law-
yer in St. Louis, Missouri; George Foster,
judge of the United States Circuit Court ;
and Leonard D., of the Portland Water Com-

(\TI) General George F., second son of
Chief Justice Ether and Anna (Foster) Shep-
ley, was born January i, 1819, and died July
20, 1878. He graduated at Darimouth Col-
lege in 1839, at the age of eighteen years.
Soon afterward he entered the law school at
Cambridge,- where he had the privilege of the
instruction of Judge Story and Professor
Grecnleaf. How faithfully and well he im-
proved that privilege is shown by the high
rank as a lawyer he quickly won and ever
maintained. When only twenty years old he
was admitted to practice, and commenced
business in Bangor as a partner of Joshua W.
Hathaway, who w-as soon afterward appointed
an associate justice of the supreme judicial
court -of Maine. About 1844 he removed to
Portland and formed a business connection
w'ith Hon. Joseph Howard. In the judicial
history of the state of Maine the firm of
Howard & Shepley will ever hold an honor-
able place, and the name of the junior partner
will in no degree reduce its rank. In 1848 Mr.
Howard was appointed a justice of the high-
est court in Maine, and Mr. Shepley assumed
the responsibility of a large and important
business, with the coufidenl assurance of all
who had observed him that, young as he was,
he was equal to the work he undertook. He
associated with him John W. Dana, Esi|., now
deceased, and was recognized as in the fore-
most rank of the bar which numbered among
its active members General Samuel Fessenden,
Thomas .A.mory Deblois, William Pitt Fes-
senden, R. H. L. Codman, Edward Fox, and
other distinguished counselors. In 1853 he

was made L'nited States district attorney for
Alaine by President Pierce, and held the posi-
tion till June, i86i, having been reappointed
in 1857 by President Buchanan. While occu-
pying that office, though called upon to con-
duct many important and difficult causes for
the government, he retained the large private
practice of former years and constantly added
to his professional reputation. Though enter-
taining strong political convictions in sympa-
thy with the Democratic party, up to 1861 he
did not to any great extent participate in polit-
ical afifairs. But he was too prominent a per-
son to be permitted to abstain wholly from
the excitement of party conflicts, and in 1850
was elected state senator. He occasionally
addressed conventions and took part in po-
litical discussions, never failing to add to his
reputation and influence. In i860 he was a
delegate at large to the Democratic national
convention' at Charleston, South Carolina,
and attended its adjourned session at Balti-
more, Maryland. The Maine delegation was
divided five to three — five for Judge Douglas
and three for Mr. Guthrie. Among the latter
was Judge Shepley. He took a prominent
part in the convention, and the speech which
he made in response to the call for the state
of Maine became famous. In the campaign
which followed he supported Mr. Douglas.
Upon the election of President Lincoln he was
not found among those who sympathized with
or apologized for the attempt to break up the
Union. He was true to his convictions, and
September 27, 1861, accepted a commission as
colonel of the Twelfth Maine \'olunteers. His
regiment, from the first, was designed to form
a part of the New England Division of Gen-
eral B. F. Butler, at whose earnest solicitation
he was appointed and induced to accept the
position. He left the regimental rendezvous
at Portland, with his command, on Novem-
ber 24, 1861, and next day reached Camp
Chase, Lowell, Massachusetts, where he re-
mained until January i, preparing for em-
barkation to participate in a southern cam-
paign. January 2, 1862, he embarked on the
steamer "Constitution," at Boston, in com-
mand of a detachment of General Butler's di-
vision, consisting of his own regiment, the
Thirtieth Massachusetts, two companies of
mounted rifles and one section of a battery,
with orders to report at Fortress Monroe.
After considerable detention at Hampton
Roads, occasioned by the hesitation of the
commanding general of the army to allow
any demonstration to be made against New
Orleans with so small a force as that placed



under the command of General Butler, at the
personal solicitation of General Butler and
hfrnself, he was allowed to proceed, and sailed
for Ship Island, where he arrived February 12.
By general order No. 2, Department of the
Gulf, he was on March 22, 1862, placed in
■command of the Third Brigade, which con-
sisted of the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth
and Fifteenth Maine regiments, the Thirtieth
Massachusetts regiment, the First Maine bat-
tery and ilagee's cavalry. On the occupation
of New Orleans by General Butler, he was
placed in command of the troops in that city
and Algiers, and was made military com-
mandant of New Orleans. Soon after, the
rebel mayor of New Orleans having been ar-
rested by General Butler and removed from
office for disloyalty, in addition to his other
militan,- duties, he was ordered to assume the
administration of the civil government of the
■city. In assuming the duties of this position
he issued a proclamation in which he assured
the peaceable citizens of New Orleans that
they v.'ould receive the most ampie protection
of their persons, property and honor, and that
speedy and eftectual punishment would fel-
low any insult to or interference with any
United States officer or soldier in the discharge
of his duties, or any attempt to denounce or
threaten with personal violence anj- citizen for
the expression of Union and lo3'al sentiments.
He retained in force such laws and general
ordinances of the city as were not inconsistent
with the constitution and laws of the United
States, or with the orders of the commanding
general, and also continued in force all the
contracts legally entered into by the city,
pledged the fulfillment of them on his part,
and required them to be faithfully performed
on the part of the contractors. The citizens of
New Orleans were assured that the restor-
ation of the authority of the United States
should be the re-establishment of peace, order
and morality, and a guaranty of safety to life,
liberty and property, under the law and the
protection of the government and the constitu-
tion. How well and successfully these expec-
tations were realized has now become matter
■of history. All persons holding office under
the city, having been required by General
Butler to take the oath of allegiance to the
United States or vacate their offices, the alder-
men and members of the coimcil declined to
take the oath. General Shepley, instead of
supplying their places, dispensed entirely with
the two boards, and organized an executive
government consisting of bureau officers act-
ing directly under his authority. This form of

administering the city affairs was so success-
ful and acceptable that it continued dur-
ing all successive military and civil adminis-
trations, even after civil government was re-
stored in all the rest of the state, and during
the administration of two successive govern-
ors, by the people. So successfully did Gen-
eral Shepley, as military commandant, carry out
the views of the department commander, that
New Orleans, in signal contrast to its former
condition under rebel rule, became as clearly
healthy, orderly and well-governed as any city
on the continent. At the same time the disci-
pline of the troops in his command was such
as to elicit repeated encomiums in published
orders of the department commander. In
recognition of the signal ability displayed by
him in his civil and military administration
under General Butler, President Lincoln, on
the recommendation of the Secretary of War,
on June 3, 1862, appointed him military gov-
ernor of tb.e state of Louisiana, "with full
powers, including the power to establish all
necessary offices and tribunals, and suspend
the writ of habeas corpus." On July 26 he
Vtas appointed brigadier-general, to rank from
July 1 8th.

As military governor he continued in force,
under acting mayors of his own appointment,
the same military police and other municipal
regulations in the city of New Orleans which
he had originally established when military
commandant under the authority of General
Butler. He reopened the courts under loyal
judges appointed by himself, and re-estab-
lished the machinery of a state government
and the administration, in all parts of the state
occupied by federal forces, of such of the local
laws as were not in conflict with those of the
L'nited States, the military orders of the Presi-
dent or the commanding general. During his
administration the civil government of New
Orleans was administered at an expense less by
$1,200,000 in a year than it had been during
the year prior to the federal occupation of the
city, although the sources of expenditure were
greatly multiplied by the increase of the police
force, the efficient sanitary measures estab-
lished, and other expenses and high prices
necessarily incident to a state of war and
military occupation. He continued to exercise
the functions of militarj' governor until the
inauguration of a civil governor elected by
the people, when he was, at his own request,
relieved by the President and ordered to re-
port again to the adjutant-general of the armv
for service in the field. On leaving New
Orleans, an address signed by a large number



of leading and influential citizens of that city,
commencing as follows, was presented to him :
"We, citizens of New Orleans, avail ourselves
of the opportunity afforded us by the close
of your present official career among us, to
give expression to the sentiments of regard
and esteem with which your character and
conduct have inspired us. For nearly two
vears you have performed the delicate and
arduous duties of Military Governor of Louisi-
ana in a manner beyond all praise, winning
in your official capacity the respect of the
whole community, and by your social virtues
converting all who have enjoyed the pleasure
of your acquaintance with warm personal

After leaving Louisiana he was, on the ap-
plication of the general commanding depart-
ment of \'irginia and North Carolina, or-
dered to report for duty in that department.
He was then placed in command of the mili-
tary district of Eastern Virginia, which in-
cluded the command of the important posts
and garrisons of F"ortress Monroe, Newport
News, Yorktown, Williamsburg, Norfolk and
Portsmouth, with the line of defences known
as Getty's line, the eastern shore of Virginia
and that portion of North Carolina north of
Albermarle Sound. Continuing some time in
command of this military district, he again
took the field as chief of staff to Major-Gen-
eral Weitzel, acting in that capacity, and for
a short time during the absence of General
Weitzel commanding the Twenty-fifth Army
Corps. lie continued with the army of the
James during the remainder of the campaign,
and entering Richmond with General Weitzel's
command, which was the first body of troops
to enter the city after its fall, and was ap-
pointed the first military governor of that

.At the close of the war he resigned his com-
mission, his resignation taking effect July i.
1865. In the early part of his military career
he was tendered a nomination for congress by
the Democrats of his district, but declined in
a letter in which he said his highest ambition
was to see his country at peace and prosperous
again, and to be himself at liberty to return
to the practice of his profession. In Novem-
ber, 1863, he was appointed associate justice of
the supreme judicial court of this state, but
declined the position. The events of the war
and his own experiences led to a change of
his political relations, and he became identified
with the Republican party, by whom he was
elected representative in 1866 to the state
legislature, in which he served with marked

ability. Shortly after the close of the session
he resumed the practice of law, having formed
a partnership with A. A. Strout, Esq., under
the style of Shepley & Strout. But he was
not long permitted to remain in a private
station. In 1869, when the judicial system of
the United States was amended by an act pro-
vifling for the appointment of circuit judges,
he was, without seeking on his part, selected
lor the appointment in the first circuit. His
commission was issued December 22, 1869,
and he at once entered upon the discharge
of the laborious and responsible duties of that
high office. In the years of his judicial life
he was constantly called upon to sit in difficult
and important cases, and by his knowledge,
his acumen and his impartiality fully proved
the wisdom of his selection for the judgeship.
In matters of patent law his work was es-
pecially severe, and those best qualified to
estimate how he performed that work are
unanimous in his praise and in according to
him the highest rank as a judge in that branch
of the law. Nor did he fail in any respect
to meet the high anticipations of the public at
the time of his appointment, but rather he
commanded the confidence and gained the ap-
plause of the best and soundest lawyers
throughout his circuit and the country. His
mental faculties, originally of high order, were
strengthened and disciplined by constant study.
The range of his attainments was wide. His
taste for literature and art was cultivated and
refined. His eminence was fittingly recog-
nized only a few weeks before his death by
the bestowal upon him by his alma mater of
the honorary degree of LL.D. Judge Shep-
ley, as was well known to those intimate with
him and enjoying his confidence, was ever a
full and strong believer in the holy scriptures,
but did not until a short time before his death
publicly write with any religious society. In
the spring of 1877 he joined the Episcopal
church, and connected himself with St. Luke's
Society in Portland. That he was a firm and
devout believer in the truths of Christianity
there is abundant evidence, and in that faith
he daily grew stronger and found increasing
joy. His religious life was deep and sincere,
without ostentation or dogmatism. By nature
he was kindly and considerate to all men. His
sympathies were quick and his affection strong
and enduring. Only those who were per-
mitted to see him in his home, and surrounded
by those whom he loved and trusted, can im-
agine how sweet his disposition was. and how
he brought the happiness to those around him.
Judge Shepley died of what the attending



physician pronounced Asiatic cliolera, July 30,
1878, after an illness of four daj's, while still
a comparatively young man, and in the flower
of his strength and usefulness. While living
in Bangor, George F. Shepley married Lucy
Haves, who died in 1859. Of this marriage
there were four children. One of the daugh-
ters became the wife of Commander T. O.
Selfridge, U. S. N., and another became the
wife of Mr. Tiffany, a prominent lawyer of
St. Louis, Alissouri. In 1872 Judge Shepley
married Helen ]\Icrrill, born in Portland,
daughter of Eliphalet ^lerrill. and who sur-
vives him.

The earliest mention of
TREFETHEN one of this name is that
of Henry Trefethen, who
was of New Hampshire in 1687. Like nearly
all names beginning with tre. pel, pen, &c., it
is of Cornish or Welsh origin. The Trefe-
thens of Maine seem to have been settled in
the state for years prior to the time any record
of them has been found. Henr}' Trefethen,
Josiah Starling and Oran Hall were the origi-
nal purchasers of Monhegan Island in Casco
Bay from the government, owning it in equal

(I) George Trefethen, the first of the line
herein traced of whom we have definite in-
formation, was a son of Harry and Jemima
(Starling) Trefethen. He was born May 29,
1800, and died March 26, 1870. He resided in
Bremen, Maine, and followed the occupation
in which the family has become successful
and widely known, having been a fisherman
and curer of fish. In his later years he was
a Republican in politics. He married (first)
Sarah Thompson, born September 19, 1801,
died May 26, 1856. Children: i. Joseph, born
February 7, 1824, died August 11, 1888. 2.
Eunice, March 16, 1826, died March, 1905;
married (first) Thomas A. Marshall, (sec-
ond) Andrew Weever. 3. Sarah Ann, July 2,
1828, died July 16, 1869; married Leander
]\Ioore. 4. George, August 20, 183 1, see for-
ward. 5. Lucretia, November 26, 1834, mar-
ried Rufus Pierce, of Monhegan Island. 6.
James Henry, February 14, 1838, died Sep-
tember 8, 1869. 7. Clarissa, March 2, 1841,
married William H. Pierce. 8. John Water-
man, May 3, 1843, see forward. 9. Elial,
April 20, 1846, died October, 1871. 10. Newel!
Fales, April 8, 1848, see forward. Mr. Tre-
fethen married (second) Jane Stone, who
bore him children : Lettie, Georgia, Dexter
and Villa.

(II) George, second son of George and

Sarah (Thompson) Trefethen, was born on
Monhegan Island, August 20, 183 1, and died
February 15, 1894. at Peak's Island. He re-
ceived the education which his day, time and
environment demanded, and then turned his
attention to the occupation followed by his
family, being for the principal part of his life
in the employ of N. T. Trefethen, proprietor
of a lobster shop. In politics he was a Re-
publican, and for many years filled the office
of town clerk of Monhegan. He was a mem-
ber of the .\dvent Church, and was for many
years affiliated with Ancient Brothers Lodge,
No. 4, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, of
Portland. He married, September 26, 1852,
Susan W. Starling, born on Monhegan Island,
April 17, 1834, daughter of Joseph and Susan
(Welch) Starling. Children of Mr. and Mrs.
Starling: James, Josiah, Nancy, Fannie, Lu-
cinda, Susan W. and Helen. Children of Mr.
and Mrs. Trefethen: i. Albertina P... born
October 9, 1853, married Frank Starling. 2.
Julia E., September 6, 1857, married Henry
T. Skillings ; Julia E. is now deceased. 3.
Mary Lizzie, September 17, 1862, married

Online LibraryGeorge Thomas LittleGenealogical and family history of the state of Maine; (Volume 3) → online text (page 55 of 128)