John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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Morley were soldiers in the Revolutionary war. By this marriage four chil-
dren were born, three sons and one daughter. The eldest, Virgil Newton
Weir, enlisted at the breaking out of the civil war, and was lieutenant in Com-
pany B of the Eighty-sixth Regiment of Ohio Volunteers. He remained in
the service until discharged by death February 3, 1863. Mary, the only daugh-
ter, was born January 26, 1841, and died March 21, 1884, at Lawrence, Kansas.


She was the wife of Judge A. H. Foote, a talented lawyer of the latter place,
now a prominent citizen of Seattle, Washington. Henry Barnes Weir, the
youngest son, is a prosperous merchant of Warren, Trumbull county, Ohio,
who lives within a half-dozen miles from the locality where he was born, and
has never lived elsewhere than in that county.

The father died about the time Henry was born. The mother reared her
family of four children, educating them all in the Western Reserve Seminary
at Farmihgton, Ohio. She was ever a remarkable woman. In early life she
received as good an education as the times afforded, and paid special attention
to the education of her children. No branch was too difficult, in her estima-
tion, for her children to pursue. When they encountered a lesson too intricate
for their young minds, and calculated to discourage them, she never wearied in
her endeavors to keep up their courage until the task, was done. She was
gifted with rare qualities of mind and graces of person. She was of command-
ing presence, interesting in conversation, affable in her manners, and loved and
esteemed by all who knew her. She died August n, 1890. The following
sonnet from the pen of the subject of this sketch is a tribute to her memory:


I love to think of that dear sainted one

Who taught my infant lips to speak the name,

The sacred name of Mother. What a claim
She has to everything I may have done!
I pensive sit and let fond memory run

To that dear one. I see her just the same

As when she strove to keep my childish aim
On higher, nobler things through her begun.

I see her graceful form and handsome face;
I feel her cultured mind, her God-like soul,

And ponder on her wondrous depth of love.
Dear Mother! From thy more exalted place

Still keep o'er me thy sweet and blest control,
Until I join thee in the home above!

Marshall W. Weir is the second son of the family. He was born in Amite
county, Mississippi, February 9, 1839, and educated, as above stated, at the
Western Reserve Seminary, where he made rapid advancement in study, and
from which institution he received the degree of A. M. In this connection it
may be mentioned that the honorary degree of A. M. was conferred on him
in 1877 by Shurtleff College.

Mr. Weir came to Illinois in the spring of 1857, and taught one year near
Loami, Sangamon county. In 1858 he came to St. Clair county, where he
has resided ever since, and where he followed the vocation of teacher for a
few years. He commenced the study of the law in 1861, and was admitted to
the bar in 1863, forming at once a business relation with George Trumbull,
Esq., which was of advantage to him in getting a start in the profession.

On the 5th clay of November, 1865, he was married to Miss Hannah An-
geline Stookey, a most estimable and accomplished young lady, the daughter of
Simon and Hannah Stookey, an old and respected family of St. Clair county. Han-


nah Stookey was the daughter of Major Cornelius Goodingf who was living
in Virginia in the year 1767. Major Gooding married a lady named Peggy
Scott, September 12, 1786. Ten children were born to them, from whom de-
scended many well known and honored families in this section of the country.
Hannah was born January 12, 1802, in Fleming county, Kentucky; came to St.
Clair county in 1816, married in 1817, and died April g, 1879. Her husband,
Simon Stookey, died in 1849. To Mr. and Mrs. Weir two children have been
born, a daughter, Sophie Barnes, and a son, Marshall W., Jr. Both are well
educated and accomplished. The son has been admitted to the bar and is now
associated with his father in the practice of the profession.

As a lawyer Mr. Weir takes front rank at the bar of St. Clair county, and
his practice has been extensive and lucrative: his life has been a busy one, and
he has always been a close student; he is a man of liberal education and scholarly
attainments, and he has found time to devote considerable attention to litera-
ture, and has written quite a number of essays and addresses on subjects of
special interest. In 1890 he traveled extensively with his family, visiting the
principal European capitals. He has always been interested in the cause of
education. Tn 1888 he became one of the directors of the Belleville Public
Library, and in 1896 succeeded Governor Koerner as president thereof. In
1879 he became one of the trustees of Shurtleff College, and from 1893 to 1898
was president of the board. He has never been ambitious to shine in the field
of politics, or to occupy public office. His church associations have been with
the Baptists, and his political affiliations with the Republicans.

Hon. Joseph B. Messick, a distinguished member of the bar of southern
Illinois, and one of the most prominent and honored residents of East St. Louis,
was born in Macoupin county, Illinois, on the 2gth of January. 1847, his par-
ents being Joseph W. and Sarah E. (Kittinger) Messick. His elementary edu-
cation, acquired in the common schools, was supplemented by one year's study
in college. Of strong mentality and having an inherent taste for literary de-
velopment, he naturally turned toward professional life, and for a time engaged
in teaching school, devoting his leisure hours to the study of law. He bor-
rowed his books from General Rinaker, of Carlinville, and unaided mastered
the fundamental principles of jurisprudence and advanced far into the realms
of legal science. He was examined in Carlinville, in 1871, by a board composed
of C. A. Walker and Horace Gwin, the latter filling the office of state's attorney
at the time. The following year Mr. Messick began the practice of law, but did
not devote his energies entirely to that work, for during a part of the time he
engaged in teaching.

In 1872 he came to East St. Louis, where he has since engaged in the prac-
tice of his chosen profession. No dreary novitiate awaited him. His business has
grown, of course, with the passing years, but he did not have long to wait after
locating in East St. Louis before he had gained a liberal clientage. In 1875 he
was appointed judge of the city court by Governor Beveridge. This was a court
created by the city charter and the judges were appointed by the governor. Mr.
Messick held the office for three years, when the supreme court decided the charter


was unconstitutional and the court was abolished. He then resumed his law
practice alone, but soon entered into partnership with Thomas Quick, under the
firm name of Messick & Quick. This connection was continued for two years,
and in 1883 he entered into partnership with E. C. Rhoades, under the firm style
of Messick & Rhoades. For twelve years they practiced together, the partner-
ship being dissolved in 1895 on the election of the junior member to the office
of county judge, at which time the present firm of Messick & Moyer was or-
ganized, the junior partner being W. J. N. Moyer. In October, 1864, Mr.
Messick enlisted in the One Hundred and Forty-fourth Illinois Regiment of
Infantry, leaving school to serve his country. He continued until the close
of the war. when he was mustered out and honorably discharged.

Mr. Messick is engaged in general practice and is well versed in many de-
partments of the science of jurisprudence. To an understanding of uncom-
mon acuteness and vigor he added a thorough and conscientious preparatory
training, while he exemplifies in his practice all the higher elements of the truly
great lawyer. He is constantly inspired by an innate, inflexible love of justice
and a delicate sense of personal honor, which controls him in all his personal
relations. His fidelity to the interests of his clients is proverbial, yet he never
forgets that he owes a higher allegiance to the majesty of the law. His dili-
gence and energy in the preparation of his cases, as well as the earnestness,
tenacity and courage with which he defends the right, as he understands it,
challenge the highest admiration of his associates. He invariably seeks to
present his argument in the strong, clear light of common reason and sound
logical principle, and merit has enabled him to mount the ladder of fame.

Whatever else may be said of the legal fraternity, it cannot be denied that
members of the bar have been more prominent actors in public affairs than
any other class of the community. This is but the natural result of causes
which are manifest and require no explanation. The ability and training which
qualify one to practice law, also qualify him in many respects for duties which
lie outside the strict path of his profession and which touch the general in-
terests of society. In 1882 Mr. Messick was nominated by the Republican
party, of which he is a stanch advocate, for the position of representative to
the state legislature. Elected, he served for one term and in 1884 and 1886
was re-elected. Thus connected with the general assembly for six years, and
taking a deep and comprehensive interest in the questions affecting the welfare
of the commonwealth, he left the impress of his strong individuality upon the
legislation of the state, and by his efficacious labors largely promoted many
measures which have resulted to the public good. He was also one of the
famous "103" who elected John A. Logan to the United States senate. In 1889
he was appointed a commissioner of the Southern Illinois Penitentiary, serv-
ing in that capacity until 1893. In January, 1897, he was reappointed to the
same position by Governor John R. Tanner, and is the present incumbent.

On the ist of January, 1885, Mr. Messick was united in marriage to Miss
Sarah P., daughter of James A. Wood, of East St. Louis, and to them two chil-
dren were born: Joseph B. and Richard J., but the latter died in infancy. Mr.


Messick is a member of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Modern
Woodmen of America. Physically, he is tall, dark and erect as an Indian; in
manner he is courteous, in disposition genial ; his best friends are those who
have known him longest, a fact which is a tribute to his sterling worth and
honorable life.

Benjamin H. Canby, of East St. Louis, has won high honors in his chosen
calling, the law, and this fact is due to his comprehensive and accurate knowl-
edge of the science of jurisprudence and his ability to apply its principles to
the points in litigation. He is a clear and logical reasoner and realizes the im-
portance of the profession to which he has devoted his energies, and the fact
that justice and the higher attribute of mercy he often holds in his hands. His
reputation as a lawyer has been won through earnest, honest labor, and his
standing at the bar is a merited tribute to his ability.

In no profession is there a career more open to talent than is that of the
law, and in no field of endeavor is there demanded a more careful preparation,
a more thorough appreciation of the absolute ethics of life, or of the under-
lying principles which form the basis of all human rights and privileges. Un-
flagging application and intuitive wisdom and a determination to fully utilize
the means at hand, are the elements which insure personal success and prestige
in this great profession, which stands as the stern conservator of justice; and
it is one into which none should enter without a recognition of the obstacles to
be overcome and the battles to be won, for success does not perch on the falchion
of every person who enters the competitive fray, but comes only as the direct
result of capacity and unmistakable ability.

Judge Canby was born in Rellefontaine, Logan county, Ohio, on the 8th
of June, 1857, a son of Richard S. and Eliza Canby, the former of English de-
scent. The first of the name to arrive in this country was a member of the
Quaker colony, or Society of Friends, who came to America with William
Penn and took up his residence in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It is supposed
that all of the name in this country are his descendants. General Canby, who
was assistant secretary of war for a time during the Rebellion and who com-
manded the federal troops at the capture of Mobile, and was after the war
killed by the Indians in Oregon, was a cousin of our subject. The parents of
Judge Canby were Richard S. and Eliza Canby. The former was a prominent
lawyer and was a member of the lower house and senate of the Ohio. legislature.
,He was also a member of congress from the Buckeye state. In 1861 he re-
moved to Olney, Illinois, where he served. as judge of the circuit comprising
the counties of Richland, Lawrence and Clay, Illinois, being elected to that
position in 1868. He was an old-line Whig in early life, but joined the Re-
'publican party on its organization.

Benjamin H. Canby acquired his education in the common schools and
early in life became imbued with the desire of making the practice of law his
life work. His father being a lawyer, he was impressed with the grandeur and
dignity of the legal profession, and under his direction began familiarizing
himself with the principles that underlie the science of jurisprudence. After a


three-years course of study he was admitted, in 1877, to the bar before the su-
preme court of Illinois, and immediately thereafter located in East St. Louis,
where he has since engaged in practice. He was chosen city attorney in 1878,
filling the office for a two-years term, was special counsel of the city for two
years, was judge of the city court of East St. Louis three terms of four years
each, and in June, 1897, was candidate for the office of circuit judge, but was
defeated by the Democratic candidate, by a vote of sixty-two. His long service
on the city bench plainly testifies to the ability and impartiality shown in the
discharge of his duties.

Judge Canby belongs to the Modern Woodmen of America, the National
Union and the Fraternal Mystic Circle, all insurance societies, and while not
a member of any religious organization is a believer in the theological doctrines
of Swedenborg. He was married in East St. Louis, December 20, 1883, to Miss
Nannie Carr, and their high position in the social circles of the city is indeed

Gustavus A. Koerner, having attained distinctive preferment in his chosen
profession, is recognized as the leading lawyer of Belleville. He was born in
that city January 17, 1845, an d is a son of Gustavus Koerner, jurist, statesman
and diplomat, who for sixty years was one of the most prominent figures in
the history of Illinois. His wife, the mother of the subject of this sketch, was
Sophia Engelmann, a daughter of Frederich Theodore Engelmann, who came
to this country from Germany in 1833 and located in St. Clair county, Illinois.
Mrs. Koerner was born October 16, 1815, and died in Belleville, March i, 1888.

Having acquired his preliminary education in the common schools of his
native city, Gustavus A.. Koerner afterward attended Washington University in
St. Louis, Missouri, and at the age of seventeen went abroad with his father,
who had been appointed minister to the court of Spain by President Lincoln.
He spent some time in that country and then entered the University of Heidel-
berg, where he pursued his studies until the close of the year 1864, when he
accompanied his father on his return to America. He chose the profession of
law as a life work; indeed it never occurred to him to follow any other calling.
Nature seemed to have fitted him for this pursuit, and after a comprehensive
preparatory training he was admitted to the bar in August, 1865. His superior
talents and eminent legal ability soon gained him a high reputation and for
many years he has been accounted one of the leading representatives of the bar
of southern Illinois. He is thoroughly well informed on all branches of the
law, conducting with equal success both civil and criminal cases. He is a
forceful speaker, a logical reasoner and seeks to convince by facts more than
by persuasive eloquence, which often obscures the truth under rhetorical adorn-
ment. His time has been given almost entirely to his practice, which has stead-
ily grown in volume and importance as experience has tested his abilities and
proved his merit. The legal business intrusted to his care is of a high character,
but with consummate skill he handles the intricate problems of the law. His
is a natural discrimination as to legal efforts, and he is so thoroughly well read
in the minutiae of the law that he is able to base his arguments upon thorough


knowledge of and familiarity with precedents, and to present a case upon its
merits, never failing to recognize the main point at issue. His pleas have been
characterized by a terse and decisive logic and a lucid presentation rather than
by flights of oratory, and his power is great before court or jury from the fact
that it is recognized that his aim is ever to secure justice and not to enshroud
the cause in a sentimental garb or illusion which will thwart the principles of
right and equity involved.

Mr. Koerner has never been an aspirant for public office. He was master
in chancery in St. Clair county for some years and served one term in the legis-
lature, being elected in 1870. That legislature, the twenty-seventh general as-
sembly of Illinois, was the first to meet after the adoption of the constitution of
1870, and to it fell the task of molding the legislation of the state to conform to
that instrument. Many of its members were men of prominence and distinction
and the session covered a period of about ten months. Mr. Koerner considers
the knowledge there gained an important part of his education. He was elected
to the legislature by the Republican party, which he had supported ever since
attaining his majority, but in 1872 he took part in the liberal Republican con-
vention at Cincinnati, following the leadership of his distinguished father. Judge
Koerner, General Palmer, Lyman Trumbull and other prominent Republicans.
Since that time he has supported the men and measures of the Democracy until
the presidential campaign of 1896, when he opposed the free-silver platform
formulated in Chicago. He is a man of firm convictions, fearless in defense
of what he believes to be right and through many a campaign he has advocated
his views from the platform.

In Belleville, December 31, 1868, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Koer-
ner and Miss Mary F. Kinney, who was born in Belleville, January 8, 1848.
Her father was William C. Kinney, a distinguished lawyer, the son of Governor
William Kinney. Her maternal grandfather was Elias K. Kane, United States
senator from Illinois, who died in office at Washington in 1837. Mr. and Mrs.
Koerner now have seven children: Victor Kane, born September 20, 1869:
Maria Louise, March 20, 1872; Gustav, January 17, 1874; Kent Kane, Decem-
ber 23, 1875; William Kinney, August 20, 1880; Morrison, October 19, 1882,
and Dorothy, December 13, 1886. Mr. Koerner has spent his entire life in
Belleville and is known to all its citizens. His life is an upright one, marked by
fidelity to every duty, and the many admirable qualities of his social, genial
nature have gained him a large circle of warm friends.

George F. W. McNulty holds distinctive precedence as an eminent lawyer
of western Illinois and has wielded a wide influence. A strong mentality, a
most determined individuality, keen analytical powers and close and careful
reasoning have gained him a very prominent place in the ranks of the legal pro-
fession in this section of the state. He is at home in all departments of the
law from the minutiae in practice to the greater topics wherein is involved the
consideration of the ethics and philosophy of jurisprudence and the higher
concerns of public policy. - He is felicitous and clear in argument, thoroughly
in earnest, full of the vigor of conviction, never abusive of adversaries, imbued


with the highest courtesy, and yet a foe worthy of the steel of the most able
opponent. Such are the qualities which have won him eminence among the
lawyers of Illinois.

George Francis Wise McNulty was born in Alton, Illinois, April 26, 1859,
and on the paternal side is of Irish lineage. His grandfather was a native of the
Emerald Isle, but during his early childhood was brought to America, and at
the time of his death was an importer of glass and crockery in Mobile, Alabama.
His son, James McNulty, father of our subject, was born in Albany, New York,
and was educated in Spring Hill College, near Mobile, Alabama. His energies
were devoted to the wholesale crockery business and his well directed efforts
brought to him a gratifying success. He married Anna M. Wise, a native of
Franklin county, Pennsylvania, who in May, 1840, removed with her parents,
Sebastian and Elizabeth Wise, to Alton, Illinois. They were at that time living
in Emmittsburg, Maryland, but two years previously the father had come to
the west and established a business enterprise in Alton. He was one of the first
operators of large mills in the Mississippi valley and was prominently connected
with the development of his section of the state. He represented a family that
from early colonial days has been connected with American interests; his
mother's name was Flaut, and her mother's name was Dorsey.

In the schools of Alton Mr. McNulty of this review acquired his preliminary
education, which was supplemented by a course in the Notre Dame University,
of Indiana. Immediately after leaving that institution he took up the study of
law in the office of Charles P. Wise, and later entered the St. Louis Law
School, in which he was graduated in 1880 with the degree of LL. B. The same
year he was admitted to practice in the courts of Illinois and Missouri, and
opened a law office in his native city, where he remained until 1892, when he
formed a partnership with his former preceptor, Charles P. Wise, and removed
to East St. Louis.

Although Mr. McNulty is known as a general practitioner, corporation law
has more and more engrossed his attention to the exclusion of other depart-
ments of jurisprudence, and he has now an extensive clientage in that division
of the law. He is serving as district attorney for the Big Four Railway in Illi-
nois and Missouri, and is attorney for the Southern Illinois National Bank. In
the conduct of important litigation he has won some notable victories. He
throws himself easily and naturally into the argument, with a self-possession and
deliberation that indicate no straining after effect, but show an acuteness and
precision in his statement, a terseness and strength in his argument which
bespeak a mind trained in the severest school of investigation, and to which the
closest reasoning is habitual. In addition to his law practice he is interested,
as a stockholder, in several banking institutions and trust companies. He was
prominent in building and loan association matters, but for the last few years
has had no time to give those associations much attention. He has a distinc-
tively representative clientele, and the volume of his business plainly testifies
of his superior ability.

Mr. McNulty was married in St. Louis, Missouri, November 13, 1889, to


Miss Margaret Adele Mullaly, a daughter of John Mullaly, who is very promi-
nent in financial circles in St. Louis and is a member of the Merchant's Ex-
change. They have one child living, John Francis McNulty, who was born in
Alton, August i, 1891, in the same house in which his father's birth occurred,
the old residence having been occupied by the McNulty family for over fifty
years. Mr. McNulty is a Catholic in religious belief, and is a Democrat in
political faith, but refused to support the free-silver plank in the Democratic
platform of 1896. In 1884, when twenty-five years of age, he was elected state's
attorney of Madison county, Illinois, and was re-elected in 1888, although the
remainder of his ticket was defeated. For eight years he filled that office in a

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 17 of 83)