John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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governmental capacities, by any arrangements or stipulations, with either public or private
corporations so as to disable itself from enacting any laws that may be deemed
essential for the public good. The sovereign people, and the sovereign people alone,
by the adoption of constitutional provisions, can restrict and bind the governmental
capacities of the legislature.

After Judge Benjamin had ceased speaking it was apparent that his argu-
ment pleased the majority of his colleagues, several of whom rose to their
feet and sanctioned what he said in no uncertain terms. The following endorse-
ments are copied from the reports:

Mr. Ross Mr. Chairman: I cheerfully subscribe to the views of the gentleman
from McLean (Mr. Benjamin). I think the convention and the people of the state owe
him a debt of gratitude. It has the true ring of the doctrine that should be inculcated
by all our statesmen.

Mr. Bromwell Mr. Chairman: I am very much gratified to see the manner in
which this discussion starts in this convention. There have been doubts expressed


whether this convention, upon coming to this subject, would take the proper stand to
secure the rights of the people which have been so long trifled with and trampled
under foot by the interpretations of the law in this state; and I agree with the gentle-
man from Fulton (Mr. Ross) that the community at large owe the gentleman from
McLean (Mr. Benjamin) thanks for the masterly manner in which he has demonstrated
the right and the power of the people, inhering in themselves, ever living and ever
present, to command in the name of and for the people the creatures which they have
put on foot, the corporations which they have organized, in respect to the terms upon which
they shall enjoy those invaluable franchises which they are lawfully permitted to enjoy.

Captain Jonathan Harvey Rowcll, foremost among the members of the
legal profession of Bloomington and one of the honored citizens of that pros-
perous city, won his title by meritorious service in the battle of Shiloh, and by
three years of hard and gallant fighting in some of the brilliant campaigns of
the Civil war. As a patriot, business man and statesman he has played an im-
portant part .in the annals of his country and state, and is justly entitled to the
high respect in which he is held by all who know him.

Jonathan B. Rowell, father of the above-named gentleman, was a descend-
ant of a soldier of the Revolutionary war, and though he led the quiet, unas-
suming life of a farmer, was a man of influence in his community, holding
numerous civil and military offices of trust and responsibility. For his wife he
chose Cynthia Abbott, and they had ten children. In 1849 the family removed
from New Hampshire, their former home, to McLean county, Illinois. At
that time the subject of this narrative was a youth of sixteen years, he having
been born February 10, 1833, in Haverhill, New Hampshire. He had hitherto
lived upon the parental farm in the east and had gained a good education in
the public schools.

Soon after his arrival in Illinois J. H. Rowell began teaching school dur-
ing the winter season, while the rest of the year he worked on his father's farm
or at various other occupations. Thus his time was taken up until he had
passed his majority, but desiring further educational qualifications he entered
Eureka (Illinois) College, in 1855. The last year of his course there he was
a member of the faculty, holding the chair of mathematics. He graduated in
1861 and in May of that year volunteered his services to the Union. He was
made first lieutenant of Company G, Seventeenth Illinois Infantry, and par-
ticipated in some of the leading battles of the war during his three years of
army life. The company of which he was an officer was largely composed of
students of Eureka College.

When he returned from the southern battle-fields the Captain became en-
rolled as a member of the law class of the old University of Chicago. In June,
1865, he graduated at that institution, with honors, being the valedictorian of
his class. Immediately thereafter he opened an office in Bloomington and
commenced the practice of law. For the next three years he was a partner
with Hon. Thomas F. Tipton and Hon. Reuben Benjamin. In 1868 he was
elected state's attorney of the eighth judicial circuit and two years later he
became a partner with Hon. John M. Hamilton. This partnership existed for
twelve years, or until Mr. Hamilton was elected governor of Illinois, and Mr.


Rowell was elected to congress. He was a nominee of the Republican party,
and after completing his term in congress he was re-elected three times, thus
"being a member of the forty-eighth, forty-ninth, fiftieth and fifty-first con-
gresses of Illinois, as a representative from the fourteenth congressional dis-
trict. With his life-long habits of industry and ability to do hard and con-
tinuous work he eventually became one of the recognized forces in the house.
In the last sessions which he attended he was chairman of the house elections
committee, which, as their friends claim, did better and more effective work
than has ever been done, before or since, by a similar committee. He was
the author of the elections (miscalled "Force") bill, which with the assistance
of Mr. Lodge he succeeded in having passed by the house. At the close of
his public career Mr. Rowell resumed the practice of law in Bloomington, with
his present partners, James S. Neville and J. P. Lindley. However, he has
not abandoned the political arena, and never fails to do his full share as a cam-
paign speaker at the proper time. His scholarly attainments; his intimate
knowledge of public affairs and his extended acquaintanceship with prominent
people make his counsels of value in the varied questions which arise in the
community where he dwells. In his intercourse with his fellow men he is unos-
tentatious and approachable, and his success attests his great popularity.

In 1866 Mr. Rowell married Miss Maria Woods, of Alton, Illinois, who
is a native of that place and is a daughter of John and Maria Woods. The
pleasant home of Mr. Rowell and his estimable wife is always open to their
hosts of friends, and charming hospitality is always to be found under their

Thomas C. Kerrick, one of the most active members of the Bloomington
bar, whose reputation as a legal practitioner is truly desirable, for nearly a
quarter of a century has practiced before our courts, gaining fame and in-
creasing his clientage year by year until his capacity for work became taxed
to the utmost. His has been a life of undivided interests, his best powers being
given without reserve to his noble profession, and to this concentration of his
energies is attributable, doubtless, the success he has worthily won.

Mr. Kerrick was born April 24, 1848, in Franklin county, Indiana, and
in the Hoosier state his boyhood was spent. In the fall of 1860 he removed
to Woodford county, Illinois, with his parents, and there continued to live
upon a farm until he reached his majority. He attended the public schools
and later entered the Illinois Wesleyan University, where he pursued the
higher branches of study for two years. Though he was not able to stay and
graduate there the college afterward conferred the degree of Master of Arts
upon him, which mark of honor and esteem shows the high regard in which he
is held in the school and is a tribute to his excellence in scholarship and gen-
eral proficiency while a student there.

Having diligently pursued the study of law for some time Mr. Kerrick
was admitted to the bar January 7, 1875, and immediately entered upon his
career as an attorney, in Bloomington. Believing that there is no "royal road"
to prominence and success, he labored unceasingly, never sparing himself, and


literally was the architect of his own fortunes. Thorough and painstaking in
his preparation and trial of cases and joining sound business sense to his com-
'prehensive knowledge of law, he rarely fails to reach the point for which he
strives. Though fearless and aggressive in his efforts for his clients, his oppo-
nents always find in him a fair and honorable adversary. At different times
Mr. Kerrick has been associated in business with leading members of the
Bloomington bar. His first partnership was as junior member of the firm of
McNulta, Aldrich & Kerrick. Later the style of the firm was Aldrich & Ker-
rick, and some years subsequently he was one of the firm of Kerrick, Lucas
& Spencer. At the present time and for some years past he has been con-
nected with William K. Bracken, under the firm name of Kerrick & Bracken.

In political matters Mr. Kerrick is a stanch adherent to the Republican
party. He was twice elected to the office of city attorney of Bloomington and
served for one term as a member of the state senate. The esteem in which as
. a lawyer he was held by the senate was manifested by his selection by that body
as chairman of its judiciary committee, a position in which he had much to do
with shaping and perfecting important legislation.

Cyrus Walker, the most prominent member of the early bar of McDon-
ough county, was born in Rockbridge county, Virginia, May 14, 1791, was
taken when an infant to Kentucky, where he resided until 1833, when he re-
moved to Macomb, McDonough county, Illinois, where he resided until the
day of his death, which took place December ist, 1875. We are indebted to
Hon. Hawkins Taylor, of Washington city, for the following sketch, first appear-
ing in the Carthage Gazette, January 5, 1876:

"The father of Cyrus Walker and my mother were brother and sister, and
we both grew up in the same county (Adair). When the families first went
from Virginia to Kentucky settlers for twenty miles had to assist each other
in house-raising and log-rolling, and for three years the father of Cyrus acted
as a ranger, watching the movements of the Indians and warning settlers of
approaching trouble. His circuit embraced several hundred miles of wild, un-
settled country, and he was compelled to live almost entirely on game and to
camp out at night. I have often heard him class dried coon as the sweetest
meat he had. Several of the uncles of Cyrus Walker were soldiers in the Rev-
olutionary war. The old stocks were both Irish Presbyterians, all of them
learned in the scriptures and of stern, unyielding wills. Cyrus was mainly self-
taught, there being no schools in that section of the country at that day, and
from his admission to the bar he took high position as a lawyer. At that time,
in that part of Kentucky, the lawyers traveled the circuit on horseback and
were a merry mess. They were getting ready to attend the Burksville court
when Billy Owens, a man of large ability, kind heart and a good lawyer, but
rough and rather dissipated, saw that Walker was not with them, when he
hunted him up and inquired the reason. Walker told him that he had no
money. Owens at once gave him fifteen dollars and Walker went along, and
was so successful that he paid expenses and took home thirty-seven dollars, a
larger sum' than he had ever at one time possessed; and as long as he remained


in Kentucky he was the leading lawyer of that county. Several years later,
when Walker was at the head of the bar, Owens, partially under the influence
of liquor, made a bitter attack on Walker, during the trial of an important case,
to which Walker made no reply, although at that day rather disposed to readily
resent an insult. Some of his friends inquired the reason. Walker told them
of the kind assistance of Owens when he so much needed help, and when it did
him so much good, remarking that nothing Owens could say that did not
affect his integrity would be resented by him. The next morning Owens made
an apology to the court for his unjust remarks to Walker. Walker's motto
through life was never to forget a friendship, nor to do injustice to any one.

"I have often heard Mr. Walker say he regretted the prosecution of the
unfortunate young man that was tried, convicted and hung in your town for
a murder committed by him in Frederick, on the Illinois river. He always
believed he could have saved the life of the young man if he had defended
him ; and while the case was an aggravated one still Mr. Walker said that noth-
ing could ever induce him to prosecute another man for murder, and he never
did, but he defended and got clear a good many that deserved to be hung.

"When Mr. Walker made a profession of religion he for a time contem-
plated quitting the law and turning his attention to the ministry. He was
educated to believe that slavery was a sin, and when he joined the church he
freed all his negroes and paid their passage to Liberia. Amongst the number
was a sprightly boy who has since risen to distinction in Liberia. The boy
'had a young and handsome wife, who was the property of the pastor of the
Presbyterian church to which Mr. Walker belonged. When Mr. Walker set
his slaves free he urged his minister to free the wife of the boy he had set free,
but the minister refused to do so, saying that he was not able to lose the value
of the woman, although he had himself got her by marriage. Mr. Walker sent
off his freed people, fully believing that the minister would not separate the
man and wife when the time for separation came, but he still refused, and Mr.
Walker bought her and paid him for her and sent her on after her husband to

"Mr. Walker removed to McDonough county, Illinois, in 1833, an d lived
there until his death. He never moved to Iowa, but he practiced there for sev-
eral years. The partiality of Judge Douglas against him, as he believed, was
the cause of his going to Iowa, and his large practice retained him there for
several years.

"Mr. Walker, as you truly say, had no taste for office. He served two
terms in the Kentucky legislature during the great excitement between the 'old
court' and the 'new court,' because he was the most popular man on the old-
court side in the county, and was forced by his friends in the contest to their
ticket, and carried the county by a majority of two hundred and twenty-two,
when no other man on his side could have carried it.

"After the formation of congressional districts in Illinois, based on the
census of 1840, the Jo Daviess district was largely Whig with the Mormon
vote, but a debatable .district, the Mormon vote going to the Democrats.


Nearly all the counties in the district had Whigs who wanted to be candidates,
but they were willing to give way to Mr. Walker, if he would only consent to
be a candidate. Walker was then in Iowa, attending the courts, the last one
being in Lee county, lasting several weeks. He stopped with me. His trunk
was full of letters from all parts of the district, urging him to allow the use of
his name for congress. Amongst the letters were at least two from Joe
Smith, and several from George Miller, who was then Mormon bishop but
who had formerly lived at Macomb, and was while there a brother elder in
the Presbyterian church with Mr. Walker. All these letters urged Mr. Walker
to be a candidate to save the district for the Whigs. Smith, in his letters,
pledged the Mormon vote to Walker, if he would allow his name to be used,
but would not agree to vote for any other Whig. Mr. Walker had steadily re-
fused to be a candidate until he felt that his duty to the noble Whig party
required him to make the sacrifice; but when he entered into the contest he
was terribly in earnest and went into the fight with a will. Alexander Symp-
son, one of God's people, and myself were to watch the movements at Nauvoo.
It was well understood by Walker and his friends that the Democracy would
not give up the Mormon vote without a great effort. One of the Backinstores
was sheriff and the other clerk of the Hancock circuit court, and Douglas was
a candidate for congress in the Adams district. I supposed, and I became sat-
isfied, that things were not working well in Nauvoo, and went down to War-
saw to meet Mr. Walker, who was there holding a joint discussion with his
opponent, Hoge. That night Mr. Walker went up to Nauvoo. The next
morning he called on Joe Smith and told him that he released him from all
the pledges made to give him the Mormon vote, but in turn asked honest deal-
ing, telling Smith that if it was necessary for their (the Mormons') safety from
arrest by the state authorities he should vote for Hoge, that he would tell him
so, and in that event he would at once go to Galena, and spend the balance
of the time before the election in the northern part of the district. Joe said,
with great vehemence: 'I promised you the support of this church; and you
shall have it. You stay here and meet Hoge on Thursday.' Mr. Walker was
-worn out in the canvass, and not well, and he stopped with Joe. The joint dis-
cussion between the candidates took place, and everything indicated that
Walker would get the united vote of the church. On Saturday the voters of
the church, in city and countv, were called together in the grove near the tem-
ple, where Hyrum Smith made a speech of about one hour, urging the voters
to vote for Hoge. It was a regular Democratic speech, and appeared to have
no influence. He was followed by Wilson Law in a bold, telling Whig speech
in favor of Walker, and from the commencement until the end he was cheered
by the entire Mormon audience. At the close of the speech Hyrum arose black
and furious, stretching himself to his full height, and extending his arm its full
length, said: 'Thus saith the Lord: if this people vote against Hoge for con-
gress on Monday a greater curse would befall them than befell them in Mis-
souri. When God speaks, let men obey;' and immediately left the stand; and
the whole audience dispersed in silence. When Walker heard of Hyrum's


speech he was indignant, and was for leaving Joe's house ; but Joe stopped
him, professing to be furiously mad at Hyrum, saying that he would himself
make a speech to the people on Sunday morning, and he again repeated the
pledge that Mr. Walker should have the Mormon vote. The next morning Joe
did speak to the people just one hour, and no hour's speech ever had closer
attention. In that speech Joe passed the highest eulogy on Walker that I ever
heard from man. He denounced politicians, declaring that Walker was not
a politician but an honest and a true man; that he had been forced to be a can-
didate against his will. He denounced in the most bitter terms any member
of the church who would consult the Lord about who they should vote for, and
declared that if any one should do it he should be cut off from salvation; said
that he would vote for his friend Cyrus Walker, and commanded all to vote for
the man of their choice without reference to what any one said; but in his
hour's praise of Walker, and denunciation of any one that would consult the
Lord about whom they should vote for, he said : 'Brother Hyrum is the elder
brother;' 'Brother Hyrum never has deceived his people;' 'Brother Hyrum
loves this people;' 'When the Lord commands, the people must obey,' etc.
The next day Joe did vote for Walker, and the balance of the Mormons voted
for Hoge and elected him 'as the Lord had commanded.'

"Joe's whole object, from the commencement, was to force Governor Ford
to give an unconditional pledge that no more writs should be issued against
him and the other Mormons on requisition from the governor of Missouri on
the old Missouri indictments; and he succeeded. At least, .such a paper was
b'rought to him Saturday night about one in the morning. Ford, I believe,
denied that he signed such a paper. The parties engaged in securing the pledge
were not particular how they got it, and may have forged it; or Ford may have
been in a muddled condition when he signed the paper. The election of Hoge
and Douglas depended on getting the pledge. They made three trips to Spring-
field before they got the pledge that satisfied Joe, and as soon as he was satis-
fied he at once sent messages to the commanding and faithful to support Doug-
las. They did support and elect him.

"This is the real history of that campaign, so far as Mr. Walker was con-
cerned. It was to him a campaign of mortification from the start. He was
forced into it contrary to his wishes, and forced into it largely to get the Mor-
mon votes; but after entering the contest he was denounced by Whigs all over
the district for trying to get the Mormon vote and really lost more Whig votes
in the district than would have elected him, simply because it was supposed that
he could get the Mormon vote.

"Cyrus was the eldest of a large family, and contributed largely to the
education of his brothers and sisters, and to starting them in business. Prob-
ably no man ever gave a larger share of his earnings than did Cyrus Walker to
the education of his brothers, sisters and relations, to the church to which he
belonged, and to benevolent purposes, besides the freeing of his slaves, which
were twice as much in value at the time as all his other property amounted to."

Lawrence Y. Sherman, to whom no one familiar with the history of the


bench and bar of McDonough county through the past decade would fail to
accord the leading position among the representatives of the legal profession
'within its borders, is a gentleman exceedingly quiet and reserved in manner
except among his intimate friends; but he nevertheless exerts a controlling in-
fluence on public affairs in his county and on matters judicial.

He was born in Brown township, Miami county, Ohio, November 8, 1858,
his parents being Nelson and Maria (Yates) Sherman, the former born in War-
ren county, Ohio, in 1822, the latter in Miami county, in 1826. The father was
a farmer by occupation, and in the autumn of 1859 removed to McDonough
county, Illinois, where he made his home until 1867, when he went to Jasper
county, this state. There he made his home upon a farm in Grove township
until his death, which occurred in 1897, his wife having passed away in 1889.
In their family were two daughters, but Judge Sherman was the only son. The
Shermans were among the early families of New Jersey. Thomas Shearman,
for so the name was originally spelled,- the grandfather of the Judge, was
born in Monmouth county, New Jersey, whence he removed to Warren county,
Ohio. He wedded Mary Lane, also a native of Monmouth county, New Jer-
sey, and a daughter of Jacob Lane, one of the heroes of the Revolutionary war,
who fought in the memorable battle of Monmouth. The maternal grandfather
of our subject, Edmond Seagraves Yates, whose immediate ancestors were
English, was born at Cape May, New Jersey, in 1793, and removed from there
to Clermont county, Ohio. He married Sarah Leming, whose parents were
Ouakers, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The ancestors of Judge Sherman,
both paternal and maternal, were pioneers of the Buckeye state.

When only a year old the subject of this review was brought by his par-
ents to McDonough county, Illinois, and in 1868 he went with them to Jasper
county. He attended the common schools of both counties, and during the
summer months until sixteen years of age was busily engaged with the work
on his father's farm. He then left home and worked as a farm hand for a year.
During that time he devoted all of his evenings and leisure hours to study, and
read all of the books that he could obtain of the neighboring farmers. His love
of study has ever been one of his most marked characteristics and forms a
strong element in his professional success. He attended the high school in
Macomb and for three months during the winter of 1877 was also a student in
Lee's Academy, in Coles county, Illinois, and afterward engaged in teaching
school in order that he might acquire the money necessary to enable him to
further prosecute his studies. At every spare moment he devoted himself to
reading. On one occasion he spent all the money that he had earned during
the threshing season for books, among which were the Revised Statutes of Illi-
nois of 1874. Much of this was written in such technical language that he
found he could not understand it without a course of legal studies, and this was
primarily the cause of his law reading at a later date.

In the fall of 1879 Mr. Sherman permanently left Jasper county and went
to Lebanon, St. Clair county, where he pursued a course of study in the law

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 20 of 83)