John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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its execution, he has labored to thus secure the co-operation of the public in
advancing those measures which his judgment strong, sound and practical
tells him will best promote the city's interest. His known integrity of purpose
and honesty of action led to his selection, in connection with five others, co fill
vacancies in the board of county commissioners of Cook county, created by
resignation and conviction of members of that board for defrauding the county.
It is almost needless to say that the trust thus reposed in him was never be-

His interest in the drainage system of Chicago being aroused, Mr. Hurd
gave to the study deep thought and investigation, with the result that he is now
known as the father of the new drainage system of the city, whereby the sew-
erage, instead of being discharged into Lake Michigan, the source of the water
supply, is to be carried into the Illinois river by means of a capacious channel
across what is known as the Chicago divide. While he does not claim the
credit of being the first to suggest such a channel, for it had been long talked
of, he is the author of the plan of creating a municipality distinct from the city
of Chicago, and to him is due the credit of having put the project in such prac-
tical shape as to insure its success. It is expected that this drainage canal, one
of the greatest feats of engineering skill ever executed, will soon be completed,
and thereby Chicago will not only have an excellent system of drainage
but will have a pure source of water and will have a magnificent waterway con-
necting the Great Lakes with the Mississippi, its tributaries and the Gulf of
Mexico. Until Mr. Hurd suggested the plan it was generally conceded that


there was no way of raising the necessary money to construct the canal without
an amendment to the constitution, the city of Chicago having already reached
the limit of its taxing and borrowing power. Acting upon Mr. Kurd's sugges-
tion, Mayor Harrison brought into existence the drainage and water supply
commission, popularly known as the Herring commission, of which Mr. Hurd
was the friend and adviser. He was the author of the "Hurd bill," introduced
in the legislature of 1886, and did much in the way of promoting its passage at
that session. These efforts resulted in the creation of a legislative commission
to further investigate the subject and take action in behalf of the project. The
bill reported by that commission and used in 1887 was substantially the Hurd
bill. Mr. Hurd also conducted the proceedings for the organization of the dis-
trict and the adoption of the act by the people, and it was adopted by almost
unanimous vote at the November election of 1887.

He has also performed considerable official service in connection with his
profession. In 1862 he was appointed lecturer in the law department of the
University of Chicago, which position he filled with great success until other
duties compelled him to relinquish the work. In the summer of 1874 he was
again elected to a chair in the law school, which had become the Union College
of Law, and finds this work very congenial, and at the same time is regarded
as one of the most able law professors in the entire west.

In April, 1869, he was appointed by Governor Palmer one of three com-
missioners to revise and rewrite the general statutes of Illinois, but after a short
time his colleagues withdrew, leaving him to perform the greater part of the
work alone. This he completed after five years; it was then adopted by the
twenty-eighth assembly and its success was immediate. The authorized edition
of 1874, of fifteen thousand copies, was soon exhausted, and Mr. Hurd has bee,n
called upon to edit and see through the press twelve subsequent editions, each
of which has been commended by the bar and the most eminent jurists of Illi-

In 1875 Mr. Hurd was nominated by the Republicans for a position on the
supreme bench of Illinois, but was defeated, owing not alone to the strong oppo-
sition of the Democracy but also to that of the railroad companies, who opposed
him on account of some stringent railroad legislation of which he was supposed
to be the author.

As chairman of the law reform committee of the Illinois State Bar Asso-
ciation, in 1887, he recommended a change in the law of descent and wills so
as to limit the amount one may take by descent or will, the object being to break
up large estates by distributing the same among a greater number of the kins-
men of the deceased.

He was also at the head of the commission raised to investigate the desira-
bility of introducing the Torrens system of registration of land titles in the state
of Illinois, which has since been submitted to a vote of the people of Cook
county and by them adopted by an almost unanimous vote. Its constitutional-
ity has been attacked and the case is at this writing under advisement in the su-
preme court.


Thus it is that Mr. Hurd had labored continuously and untiringly in sup-
port of all measures for the public good.

In May, 1853, was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Hurd and Miss Cornelia
Hillard. They had three children: Edna, now the wife of George S. Lord; Het-
tie, who died in 1884; and Nellie, wife of John A. Comstock. He was again
married November i, 1860, to Mrs. Sarah Collins, who died in January, 1890,
and in July, 1892, he wedded Mrs. Susannah M. Van Wyke, who died in March,


He is a man of very benevolent and kindly nature and is interested in a
number of charities and benevolences. He is connected with the Children's
Aid Society and the Conference of Charities of Illinois, serving as president of
both organizations. He is now living in semi-retirement, and his genial com-
panionship, his tenacious regard for the simple truth, his unostentatious gener-
osity and large-hearted Christian benevolence are among the qualities which
greatly endear him to his many friends.




THE first term of our circuit court was held in August, 1841, and the full
record thereof was kept upon a leaf torn from a narrow ledger, a ruled
book for accounts, say seven inches wide and ten inches long, with the
following entry:

State of Illinois, Grundy County Set.

At a Circuit Court, commenced and held in and for said county, at the home of
William E. Armstrong, appointed by the commissioners of said county on Monday, the
twelfth day of August, A. D. 1841. Present: The Honorable Theophilus W. Smith,
Judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit; Leander Leclear, Coroner; James Nagle, Clerk
pro tern.

James Hart vs. Crawford and James Harvey. This case, by consent of parties, is
dismissed at the defendants' cost. It is therefore considered that the plaintiff recover of
the defendants his costs and charges expended therefor in this behalf expended and on
expended, and that he have execution therefor.

On the other side of this scrap the following appears :

The coroner returned into court a venire for a grand and petit jury, and there being,
howsoever, no complaint whatsoever of a criminal nature to be made, the empanelling of
a jury was dispensed with. James Nagle presented a petition to be admitted a naturalized
citizen of the United States, whereupon the same was ordered to be filed on record. There
being no further business of a criminal or civil nature before the court, the court adjourned
sine die. THEO. W. SMITH.

The county was organized by the election of county officers on the first
Monday in August, 1841. Isaac Hoge was elected sheriff, but declined to serve.
Thus there was no sheriff at the first term of court. William E. Armstrong was
elected sheriff soon afterward and qualified. He was re-elected four or five
times. There was no other term of court until May, 1843, when one was held
by Judge John D. Caton. The next term was held by Judge Richard M. Young,
afterward commissioner of the general land office, in October, 1843. He held
two terms of court in 1844, and Judge Jesse B. Thomas held the May term in
1845. Judge Caton presided until the December term, 1848, which was held by
Judge David Davis. Judge T. Lyle Dickey was elected judge under the consti-
tution of 1848 and held several terms of our court before the circuit was

James Nagle, who was elected clerk pro tern, of the first term of our court,



August 12, 1841, had been elected clerk of the county court the week before,
but it appears, from his application for citizenship at the term when he was
acting as clerk pro tern., that he was not a naturalized citizen when he was
elected nor when serving as clerk of the circuit court. His petition raises the
query as to how his certificate of naturalization could be certified, as he was the
acting clerk at the time of his application.

Without examining the court records, the following data is given con-
cerning the personnel of the Morris bar from 1841 to the present. The list, at
least, includes all those who became residents here and remained any length of
time, with dates as nearly as the writer can now remember:

Michael D. Prendegast was the first, and came here from Ottawa in 1842,
but never had a case in the circuit court. He held the office of justice of the
peace several years and that of probate justice one term. Rumor said he not
infrequently administered the oath as follows: "You do solemnly swear by the
iver living Jasus and me, Michael Prendegast, and the wife, that you will spake
the truth, etc." Intensely egotistic, he yet made a good officer. Ephraim H.
Little, from Pennsylvania, located here in 1843, but remained but a short time.
Having accidentally shot himself in his right arm while hunting prairie chick-
ens, he became disgusted with the west and returned to his native state.

Charles M. Lee, who taught school here in an early day. was admitted to
the bar in 1844, hung out his shingle and waited for clients, but they failed to
materialize; hence he came to the sage conclusion, as he said himself, that "the
law and the profits did not agree," and took in his shingle, bought a horse and
wagon, and turned peddler. Ezra P. Seeley was our next lawyer, and came
from the state of New York in 1845. He was a well read lawyer, but not apt
in his application of the law to the facts, and was very abusive to the witnesses
who testified for the "other fellow;" hence he was by no means a successful
lawyer before a jury. He represented his ward in the village council, and served
one or two terms as justice of the peace.

Henry Starr was our next lawyer. He came here from Joliet, in the fall
of 1846, and was elected county judge under the constitution of 1848, but re-
signed the office in 1852 and went to California, locating in Sacramento, where
he is a prominent lawyer now. He is a man of great ability and is a first-class
trial lawyer. His brother, Judge Charles R. Starr, of Kankakee, read law with
his brother, and opened his first office here, but moved to Kankakee a few years
later. He is a man of good legal ability, and has served several terms on the
circuit-court bench.

Charles L. Starbuck came here from the state of New York about the year
1849. He was a man of decided ability, and soon stood at the head of our bar, .
and was elected to the state legislature, where he served with credit alike to his
constituency and himself. He died ere the prime of life.

William T. Hopkins, from "away down in Maine," came to Morris in the
fall of 1849, anc l sang himself into popularity. He was a man of commanding
appearance and was one of nature's noblemen, generous, impulsive, educated,
brilliant, but was never a law student; hence he tried his case at random, de-


pending upon his forensic ability, which was fine. He was popular with all
classes, and held the various offices of supervisor, mayor, county superintendent
of schools, member of the state legislature, county judge and captain of the
"Grundy Tigers," and could have held almost any office if he had taken care of
himself. He died in 1888, and was laid away to rest in beautiful Evergreen
cemetery, at Morris. His funeral .cortege was immense, but he left no child or
descendant, and his widow died recently. We have skipped Captain William P.
Rogers, son of Commodore Rogers, who located here in 1846 and volunteered
in the Mexican war. He later located in California, where he stood very high
in his profession. Taken all in all he was one of the finest specimens of man-
hood we ever knew.

Boaz M. Atherton came from Ohio and located here in 1850. He was a
man of sour temper, but of good scholastic as well as legal ability. He was
past the meridian of life when he came here, and held the office of justice of the
peace many years before his death".

Judge Albon Bennett came here from Michigan about the year 1850; he
had held the office of county judge before coming here. A fairly sound lawyer,
but no advocate, he never succeeded in getting ahead in the world. He acted
as deputy county clerk a few years.

Colonel James N. Reading came here from Missouri about the year 1853,
and went into partnership with Mr. Hopkins, under the firm name of Reading
& Hopkins. They soon drifted into a general real-estate business. Mr. Read-
ing was a native of New Jersey and belonged to one of the most prominent
families of that state. A man of fine physique, tall, straight and stately in form
and bearing, he had little taste for disputation; hence he did not seek common-
law practice, but applied himself to the equity side of law. This was the leading
law firm of our bar for many years, but the partners finally fell out, and became
bitter enemies. Like Judge Hopkins, Mr. Reading was elected to the legisla-
ture for one term, and was county judge several terms. He died here several
years ago, leaving one son, Henry S., of Joliet: and two daughters, Mary, wife
of E. Sanford, Esq., and Julia, wife of ex-Lieutenant Governor L. B. Ray, of
this city.

Oscar Baugher came from New York, about the year 1854, and entered
into partnership with Mr. Seeley, but this firm was of short duration, as Mr.
Baugher devoted more time to the intricacies of "draw poker" than those of
the law, and soon took Greeley's advice and "went west."

Edward Sanford, now dean of the Morris bar, came from Connecticut as
principal of our public schools. A graduate of "Old Eli," he is a perfect ma-
chine of system and order: hence he soon placed our schools in a first-class con-
dition, and still found time to read Blackstone and Chitty. He was admitted to
the bar and first went into partnership with Mr. Seeley, but withdrew at the end
of the first year and opened an office alone. When the late war came he did
considerable business in the line of back pay and pensions, but soon drifted into
the real-estate loan business, for which nature and education combined to aid
him, and he soon became the peer, if not superior, of any loan officer of the


country. His large bump of order and system enabled him to conduct his
business in such an orderly manner that his office became a marvel of system.
Of course he has been very successful, but not from his law practice. Yet his
legal knowledge has been very helpful to him. He never sought common-law
practice and eschewed criminal law, but has done considerable chancery and
probate work. His law library is by far the most complete of any in the country.
A man of commanding personal appearance, a ready and sometimes eloquent
speaker, one whose likes and dislikes are very positive, he is a scholarly and
polished gentleman. His home is the finest in the city, and he entertains ele-

John W. Newport came here, from Ohio, about 1856. He was a young
man of decided ability and soon forged to the front. In 1859 John G. Arm-
strong, better known in the newspaper world as "Bemus," son of "Wash" Arm-
strong, entered into partnership with Mr. Newport, under the firm name
of Newport & Armstrong, but the latter preferred newspaper or journalistic
work and withdrew from the firm and, as a newspaper man, went to Davenport,
Iowa, and assumed the editorial chair of a leading Iowa paper. Mr. Newport
was elected to the state legislature in 1860, and was placed at the head of an
important committee. He over-worked and died in the spring of 1861. He
was a young man of fine promise, and his earl}- death was generally regretted;
he left a young widow and one son surviving him.

Sidney W. Harris, a law student, and afterward the law partner, of the late
United States Senator B. F. Wade, of Ohio, came here from Cincinnati in
1853 and placed himself at the head of our bar at the start. He was of middle
age when he came and had been in the active practice of the law for many
years. He was a man of great force of intellect and was skillful in the manage-
ment of his cases. He was probably the ablest lawyer we ever had at our bar.
In June, 1861, he was elected to the bench, without opposition, and made a very
excellent judge, but resigned the office in 1864, upon being nominated by his
party for congress. Of course, being a Democrat, he was thoroughly trounced,
and then returned to the practice of law, entering into partnership with Charles
Turner, from away "down east," under the firm name of Harris & Turner, but
at the close of the Civil war Mr. Turner withdrew from the firm and went to
Alabama, where he still resides, holding the office of chancellor. Judge Harris
died about the year 1874, leaving a son, Tracy B. Harris, who was his law part-
ner at the beginning of hostilities in 1861. After the war he located at Watseka,
Ford county, Illinois, and was elected state's attorney several terms. He died
some eight years ago.

Thomas P. Rice came here from Aurora, Illinois, in the early '6os. and was
city attorney one term. He returned to Aurora. George W. Watson came
here from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, in 1861, but practiced at the wrong "bar,"
was frozen out and returned to Pennsylvania.

John P. South worth located here in 1860. He was a man for whom nature
did much; education little. He was blest with wonderful memory and imitative
faculties. Invited by Mr. Newport to accompany him to a political meeting in


a country town, in the fall of that year when Mr. Newport was the Republican
nominee for the legislature, he accepted, and en route thither these two were
the only occupants of the carriage. Mr. Newport rehearsed his intended speech
in full, and upon going to the hall Mr. Newport privately requested the chair-
man to call upon Mr. Southworth, who, he said, was a good Republican and a
young lawyer, to occupy a few minutes first. This the chairman did, by saying
to the audience: "Mr. Southworth, a young lawyer, who has located in Morris,
will occupy a few minutes first, and then Mr. Newport will speak his piece."
Southworth did not stop in a few minutes, and when Mr. Newport took the
rostrum he had no piece to speak. Southworth had spoken it all, verbatim et
literatim, and Newport lost several good Republican votes on account thereof,
as they considered him a nincompoop, for he could only say "as my friend has
said!" Mr. Southworth was state's attorney part of a term, by gubernatorial
appointment, to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Major S. W. Munn
when he went into the military service. Mr. Southworth was wanting in moral,
as well as physical, courage, but possessed decided ability. He went to Ala-
bama with Mr. Turner and was elected attorney general of that state; he has
been dead some fifteen or twenty years.

In 1862 Judge Benjamin Olin resigned his position in the Twentieth Reg-
iment of Illinois Volunteer Infantry, on account of ill health, and located here.
In 1863 he entered into partnership -with P. A. Armstrong, who had just been
admitted to the bar. This firm soon forged to the front as attorneys and had
a lucrative practice, but Judge Olin, believing Joliet offered better inducements,
withdrew from the firm and located in Joliet, where he entered into partnership
with Captain E. Phelps, under the firm name of Olin & Phelps. Mr. Olin has
been elected county judge of Will county several times, and is one of the fore-
most lawyers of his county.

Mr. Armstrong was a delegate in the constitutional convention of 1862,
was a member of the house of representatives in 1863, again in 1873, and is the
author of many of our statutory laws. He has been master in chancery twenty-
two consecutive years.

Alvah R. Jordan was admitted to the bar in 1863 or 1864. He served several
terms as state's attorney, and is now near the close of his third term as county
judge. He is a man of quick perceptions and generous impulses, and is quite
scholarly, being a great reader of the higher class of literature. He is a true
friend, and the soul of honor.

Judge Samuel C. Stough came here from Indiana when but barely of age,
and has forged to the front as a criminal lawyer as well as a trial lawyer. When
on his third term as state's attorney he was elected one of the three judges of
the thirteenth judicial circuit by a large majority. Slight in form, but of a wiry
constitution, Judge Stough is a man of fine instincts and untiring energy. For
many years he has been at the head of the Morris bar, and is an opponent
worthy of any man's steel, at home or abroad.

A. L. Daud, now a prominent lawyer of Denver, Colorado, was reared in
this county and located at Morris in 1877. He was first elected city attorney of


Morris, then state's attorney, but finding this climate too damp for his lungs, he
moved to Denver some, twelve years ago.

About the year 1878 Judge Russell M. Wing, who was born and reared on
a farm near Lisbon, Illinois, located here, and entered into partnership with Mr.
Daud, and later he became associated with Judges Stough and Carter. Pos-
sessed of and blessed with a powerful physical form, and fine intellect, he soon
became prominent in the profession, and though a Democrat, he was elected
county judge by a nice majority in 1886. From his splendid efforts in the
Cronin, and subsequently in the Dan. Coughlin, trial, he stands well up among
the leading criminal lawyers of the state. His first great criminal case was the
celebrated Moony case for killing his cellmate in the Illinois penitentiary at

Judge Orrin N. Carter, now county judge of Cook county, Illinois, made
his first legal bow as a member of the Morris bar. His first office was that of
state's attorney. He went to Chicago with Judge Wing and was there elected
attorney for the drainage board and later became county judge. Born and
raised in Dupage county, he came here as a teacher in the normal school and
was admitted to the bar while living here. He is a good lawyer and a gen-

Besides Judges Jordan and Stough and Messrs. Sanford and Armstrong
the present Morris bar is comprised of Edward L. Clover; George W. Huston,
state's attorney; Charles F. Hansen, city attorney; Cornelius Reardon; Charles
D. Young, police magistrate; E. M. Pike, justice of the peace; N. E. Coles, D.
R. Anderson and O. S. Hagan, all natives of this state.

Among the judges who held our early-day courts were Theophilus W.
Smith, who held the first term, and Judges R. M. Young, David Davis. T. L.
Dickey and Jesse O. Norton.



IN FEBRUARY, 1862, Judge Breese was living at Carlyle. It is unnecessary
to say anything about him here, as his life is fully touched upon elsewhere in
this work. At that time the following named lawyers lived here: Benjamin
Bond, William H. Gray, Daniel White, Hon. William A. J. Sparks, Richard
Bond, A. H. White, H. P. Buxton and F. A. Leitze. All of these are dead ex-
cept Mr. Sparks, who resides in St. Louis, Missouri. These are all of the older

William A. J. Sparks, a lawyer and prominent statesman, formerly of Illi-
nois but now a resident of St. Louis, Missouri, is of Virginia parentage, whose
English ancestors, paternal and maternal, were of the earliest settlers of the old
commonwealth. In fact the paternal ancestor was of the "Lord Newport expe-
dition" which settled Jamestown in 1607, the first English settlement in Amer-
ica. He is noted in the early Colonial histories as the associate, and having the
friendship and confidence, of Captain John Smith, and sharing the dangers and
privations of the infant colony in its gloomy days.

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 25 of 83)