John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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were in active practice. The latter died in 1897.

BOONE COUNTY LAWYERS.

General Allen C. Fuller. Though Illinois has furnished to the nation
some of the most prominent figures in the history of the country few men have
been more intimately associated wkh the history of the state than General
Fuller. The goal toward which he has hastened during his many years of toil
and endeavor is that which is attained only by such as have by patriotism and
wise counsel given the world an impetus toward the good; such have gained
the right and title to have their names enduringly inscribed on the bright pages
of the nation's annals.

General Fuller was born in Farmingham, Connecticut, September 22, 1822,
his parents being Lucius and Candace (Newell) Fuller, both representatives of
old New England families. They came to Boone county, Illinois, in 1845 an ^
spent, their last years in Belvidere, where they were highly respected for their
many excellencies of character. For a short time the father engaged in mer-
chandising. He was at one time associate judge of the county court and after-
ward served as postmaster of Belvidere.

General Fuller is a graduate of Towanda Academy, of Towanda, Pennsyl-
vania. When he had completed his course in that institution he continued his



788 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

studies under the direction of a very competent private tutor, and in 1841 began
the study of law, which he completed in Warsaw, New York, in the office of
United States Senator Doolittle in 1846, being admitted to the bar in that year
by the supreme court of New York. In November of the same year he came
to Belvidere, where he yet makes his home. Within a few days after coming to
this city General Fuller was employed in several important cases, and entered
upon the active duties of his profession. At that time the population of Belvi-
dere was about eight hundred, including two lawyers in active practice, General
S. A. Hurlbut and W. T. Burgess. Soon afterward the firms of Fuller & Bur-
gess and Loop & Hurlbut were formed. These firms continued for several
years and did a large business, not only in Boone county, but also being con-
cerned in extensive litigation in neighboring counties and the supreme court of
the state. Devoting himself entirely to his profession for many years, refusing
to seek office or participate in party intrigues, and with an iron constitution and
indomitable will, General Fuller secured and held a large and profitable practice
for many years. This was the commencement of his subsequent financial suc-
cess. In later years he consented to accept office and became a leading factor in
the political interests of Illinois. At different times he has been master in chan-
cery, appraiser of damages on the Illinois and Michigan Canal, state bank com-
missioner, county judge, circuit judge, adjutant general of Illinois, state repre-
sentative and speaker of the house, state senator and president pro tern, of the
'senate. On his return to private life, in 1869, a local paper printed the fol-
lowing:

"For more than eighteen years the name of Allen C. Fuller has been inti-
mately and most favorably known to the people of this portion of the state. In
1846 he came to this place a briefless and penniless lawyer. His scholarly at-
tainments, his legal acquirements and his industry and inflexible resolution to
succeed, soon brought to him an extensive and lucrative practice, and during
the succeeding twelve or fifteen .years, while he was in active practice, we pre-
sume that no man ever doubted that he ably, zealously and faithfully discharged
his duties to his clients. Though always public-spirited and liberal, he has, by
personal economy and business talent, acquired a handsome property, and has
contributed much to the growth and prosperity of the town. When the war
broke out, in 1861, General Fuller was then presiding judge of this circuit, and
we believe that it was universally admitted that he discharged its honorable and
responsible duties satisfactorily and with ability. In the summer of that year
he was urged by our state officers to connect himself with the military affairs of
our state. The bar of the circuit unanimously objected to his resignation, but
urged him temporarily to accept the appointment tendered him of adjutant
general. In the fall of 1861 he entered upon the discharge of the duties of that
laborious and exacting and responsible office, and in July, 1862, resigned the
office of circuit judge. The history and result of his labors during the past
three and a half years as adjutant general of the state are too well known to the
country to need to be mentioned here. If the opinion of the press, without dis-
tinction of party; if the testimony of Governor Yates, with whom he has been



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 789

so long associated ; if the public opinion, so far as we have heard it expressed,
are to be relied upon, then, indeed, he has rendered the state and county capable,
faithful and acceptable service. The published reports of the operations of the
adjutant general's department in the organizing and sending to the field over
two hundred thousand men are before us, and we would wish no better record
than to have been so honorably identified with the glorious history of Illinois
during this war. Governor Yates, in his last message, repeats what he has
stated in other messages, and says: 'General Fuller has been a most able, faith-
ful and energetic officer, and is entitled to the gratitude of the state.'

"The house of representatives, at its last session, unanimously adopted a
report of its committee appointed to inspect the adjutant general's office, and
from this report we extract the following : 'That we have thoroughly examined
the office of the adjutant general and find it a model of completeness, one that
preserves in all its glory the proud record of all our soldiery and reflects infinite
credit upon the great state whose sons they are; that in the judgment of this
committee the thanks of every patriotic citizen of the state are due to General
Fuller for the able and efficient manner in which he has discharged the duties
of the office and for his indefatigable efforts in collecting and preserving this
glorious record of a glorious state.'

"On the first day of January last General Fuller resigned his office as adju-
tant general, and having previously been elected a member of the general assem-
bly he was nominated by acclamation by our party, and on the 2d of January
was elected speaker of the house of representatives. The manner in which he
acquitted himself in this new position may be seen by the following resolution
which was unanimously adopted by that body just before the adjournment:

" 'Resolved, That we tender our heartfelt thanks to the Hon. Allen C.
Fuller, our presiding officer, for the kind, courteous, able and impartial manner
in which he has presided over us, and as such recognize in his general bearing
and demeanor the perfect model of a gentleman.' "

At this distant day the people of the state may have forgotten, but it is
nevertheless true, that they owe General Fuller their lasting gratitude for his
service in introducing into the legislature various bills which became laws,
among which are the following: Railroad bills asserting the power and sover-
eignty of the state to control these corporations in fixing rates upon transport-
ing passengers and freight. His was the first square and honest fight made in
this or any other state to fix maximum rates, and the legislation upon this sub-
ject was taken to the supreme court of the state and the supreme court of the
United States, and finally the legal question of the constitutionality of such laws
was sustained by these high tribunals. Other bills which he introduced were
the law establishing railroad commissions, now in force; one establishing a
board of public charities, now in force; a bill upon the subject of eminent do-
main; and the revenue law, now substantially in force. The impress of his
genius and ability is found on many a page of the revised statutes of the state.

Though well and favorably known to the bar and business men of northern
Illinois prior to 1860, it was not until the Civil war commenced and he assumed



790 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

the duties of adjutant general that General Fuller's name became familiar in
every household in Illinois, and especially to the volunteer soldiers. It was in
this important office, with all its labors, cares, difficulties and responsibilities,
that he made his most distinctive mark and displayed those rare executive abili-
ties which were admitted by every one. The repeated messages of Governor
Yates, the resolutions of the state legislature and the reports of the federal au-
thorities, as well as the histories of those years, are so entirely unanimous on
that subject that no other opinion need be given in this brief sketch.

After a residence in Belvidere of half a century, it can truly be said that
General Fuller has established and maintained a character above reproach or
question. His word is as good as his bond, and all know his bond, if any one
can get it, is unquestionably good. Commencing active life in Belvidere, he
still retains the strongest attachments for the city where his early struggles for
success began. His liberality and public spirit are proverbial. His liberal do-
nation of five thousand dollars for the Ida public library, which he founded in
honor of his deceased daughter, and which has become one of the finest public
libraries in the state, outside the large cities, is only one of the acts of public
benevolence which have endeared him to all classes.

General Fuller, like all great lawyers, has been a great worker. He was
always faithful to his client, and gave to every case the best efforts of which he
was capable. But he surpassed most other men in executive ability, which he
possessed in a large degree. His business habits and methods are methodical;
he familiarizes himself fully with every detail of the business in which he may
be engaged, and never shirks a duty. His affairs are always in shape, every
detail is attended to with scrupulous exactness, and to these qualities is largely
due his success in life, in a material way. A distinguished lawyer who has
known him well for many years spoke of him in the following ^ words: "A
learned historian of this state has said that 'the history of Illinois could not be
written with the name of Allen C. Fuller left out.' Truer words were never
spoken, nor a more deserved tribute ever paid to a public servant. , In .the coun-
ty of Boone, where he is best known, and where the greater portion of his life
has been spent, the name of General Fuller is a household word, and is a
synonym for honor, integrity and fair dealing, as well as for worth and ability.
Whether at home or abroad, in public or in private life, no man ever questioned
his honor and integrity; no man ever doubted his public spirit, his broad-mind-
edness, or his absolute justice in all his dealings with his fellow men. As a
young man, in the practice of law, he was industrious and faithful, and those
qualities, coupled with strict honesty and fair ability, could not fail to bring
success. He has held the offices of master in chancery, county judge, circuit
judge, representative in the general assembly, and speaker of the house, state
senator from his district and president of the senate, and adjutant general of
the state of Illinois, during the days that 'tried men's souls,' when more than
two hundred thousand men went out from Illinois to do battle for the Union.
In all these positions of trust and honor he acquitted himself with signal ability
and manly honor. No man will deny, and none can gainsay, that he has been



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 791

a just and upright judge, a faithful public servant and an honest man in all the
relations of life. And such is and will be the final judgment as to his abilities,
worth and character."

Charles E. Fuller was born in Boone county, Illinois, received his educa-
tion in the common- schools of the neighborhood, and whatever of success he
has achieved in life has been by his own unaided efforts. He read law, first with
Hon. O. H. Wright, and afterward with Hon. Jesse S. Hildrup. He was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1870, and has since practiced his profession in Belvidere.
He held the office of corporation attorney for the old town of Belvidere for two
terms, before it became a city. In 1876 he was elected state's attorney, and in
1878 was elected to the state senate, after a contest which has become historical.
He served in the senate for four years, being chairman of the railroad com-
mittee and a member of the judiciary and other important committees. He
was afterward elected to the house of representatives three times in succession,
where he was a recognized leader, being generally recognized as the party lead-
er and honored by his associates with the chairmanship of the party managing
committee. He was also chairman of the house 'railroad committee. In 1888
he was again elected to the senate, and at the close of his term, in 1892, declined
a re-election, preferring to give his time and attention to his large law practice.
Mr. Fuller has enjoyed the personal, as well as political, friendship of such
men as General John A. Logan, General Richard J. Oglesby, Senator Shelby
M. Cullom, Governors John M. Hamilton, Joseph W. Fifer and John R. Tan-
ner, as well as most of the other political leaders of the state for the past twenty-
five years, and has had their entire confidence and respect. In the legislature
his friendships were not limited to his party associates, but many of his warmest
admirers were to be found on the other side of the house. Governor Tanner
is authority for the statement that in a political contest on the floor of the legis-
lature Senator Fuller was the readiest debater, the most resourceful parliamen-
tarian and the best fighter he ever knew. General John C. Black once said oi
him, that he was "one of the few men who always knew how to do the right
thing at the right time and in the right way." In the great senatorial contest of
1885 in the Illinois legislature, when General John A. Logan was re-elected to
the United States senate after a contest lasting two months, and in which Mr.
Fuller was the Logan leader, he performed services for his party and state which
were afterward recognized by General Logan in a personal letter.

While in the legislature Mr. Fuller's skill as a politician won him a high
reputation, which was enhanced by his statecraft. In conventions, both state
and national, he has shown himself to be a skillful and resourceful politician,
and the press of Chicago and throughout, the state has several times termed
him a party Warwick. As a legislator Mr. Fuller won recognition as one who
believed in legislating for the many, and a number of important bills for the
benefit of the masses became laws through his work. While he was potent for
his party's good in all conflicts with the opposition, at the same time he rendered
valuable service to the people. In the thirty-fourth general assembly he was vir-
tually speaker of the house, occupying the chair during that portion of the .ses-



792 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

sion when, after the senatorial struggle had ended victoriously for the Repub-
licans through his efforts, the real legislative work was done. He would have
been chosen speaker but for his own advice in opposition to any change in the
organization of the house.

Mr. Fuller was married in 1874 to Miss Sadie Mackey, of Cherry Valley,
and they have a pleasant home in Belvidere. As a citizen of that place Mr.
Fuller has been prominent, as well as in the field of public affairs. His ener-
getic, progressive spirit has had much to do with the upbuilding of Belvidere.

William C. De Wolf, Jr., of Belvidere, was born in Spring township, Boone
county, November 4, 1865. As a boy he worked on his father's farm and at-
tended the district school, while later he pursued his studies in the high school
of Genoa, De Kalb county, where he was graduated in 1885. Subsequently he
read law, and was admitted to practice by the supreme court of the state in 1887.
In the same year he entered into partnership with Hon. Charles E. Fuller, an
association that has since been continued. The firm is one of the strongest in
this part of the state and enjoys a lucrative practice, which is not limited to the
county of Boone, but extends into the adjoining counties as well. Mr. De Wolf
has given his attention almost exclusively to the practice of his profession, and
has not generally given much of his time to political matters, although he is a
stanch and active Republican, and is generally a delegate to the party conven-
tions. He was once appointed and twice elected city attorney of Belvidere, but
resigned the office in 1891. Mr. De Wolf has an eminently judicial cast of mind,
is studious and well read and always absolutely fair and honest.

Robert W. Wright was born in Belvidere, July 19, 1862, attended the pub-
lic schools, and at the age of sixteen began the study of law in his father's office.
On the completion of a course in the Illinois University, at Champaign, he was
admitted to the bar, in January, 1883, being only twenty-one years of age at the
time. He was chosen state's attorney by the people of Boone county at the No-
vember election of 1884, and has several times been re-elected. He has risen
rapidly to the front as a lawyer and commands a lucrative practice. In 1894 he
was appointed corporation counsel for the city of Belvidere. His advancement
and continued endorsement from the people of this city and county afford abun-
dant evidence that his talents receive the most genuine recognition that a com-
munity could possibly give.

Mr. Wright is a forcible and brilliant speaker, and has the reputation of
conducting to a successful issue the cases falling to his charge. His practice is
not confined to Belvidere, but includes many others of the important centers of
northern Illinois, especially Chicago, where he is frequently called for legal
work. As a counselor, pleader and official he has taken and maintained a posi-
tion in the front ranks of the legal fraternity of the state.

Wales W. Wood was born in Hinsdale, Cattaraugus county, New York,
April 25, 1837, and at the age of sixteen was sent to the Genesee Wesleyan Col-
lege, at Lima, New York, where he entered the freshman class, pursuing the
classical course. There he remained two years, and in the year 1857 was S ra< ^~
uated with honors in Union College, of Schenectady, New York. In the fall of



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 793

that year he located at Belvidere and read law with the firm of Fuller & Wood.
In 1860 he was admitted to the bar and practiced his profession in Belvidere
until the summer of 1862, when he enlisted in Company G, Ninety-fifth Illinois
Infantry, and at the muster-in of the regiment he was promoted and commis-
sioned, by Governor Yates, adjutant of the regiment. He acted in that capacity
with his regiment in the field throughout General Grant's Campaign in northern
Mississippi in the fall of 1862, and in the spring of 1863 he was chosen to per-
form the duties of assistant adjutant general of the Sixth Division, Seventeenth
Army Corps, Army of the Tennessee, took an active part in the campaign that
followed and the siege of Vicksburg, and after the surrender served as post ad-
jutant of that city under General McArthur. He was in the battle of Nashville
and in the siege and capture of Spanish Fort and Mobile, Alabama, in the early
part of 1865. He remained on similar duty until near the close of the war, when
he rejoined and was mustered out with his regiment, at Sprinefield, in August,
1865. At the close of the war Judge Wood returned to Belvidere and resumed
the practice of law, and was soon appointed master in chancery of the circuit court
of Boone county, holding that office some eight years, and subsequently was
corporation and city attorney for Belvidere, and also state's attorney of Boone
county for several years. In the spring of 1889 he was elected county judge,
and his years of service in the office has demonstrated his marked ability as a
jurist. The fact that he is so frequently called to Chicago to hold court is evi-
dence that his decisions are regarded as fair and impartial.

C. B. Dean was born in Franklin, Illinois, and located in Belvidere in 1862.
He began the study of law and entered the University of Michigan, being grad-
uated in the law department of that institution in 1873. He went to Denver,
Colorado, to practice law, but after a year returned to Belvidere, and soon took
rank among the leading attorneys. Pie was city attorney for several terms, and
was elected county judge three successive terms, being eminently fitted for that
office. In- 1888 he resigned from the bench and removed to Talapoosa, Georgia,
where he remained about four years, after which the family returned to Belvi-
dere. Judge Dean was one of the most enthusiastic workers in the movement
which brought to Belvidere the great National Sewing Machine Company. He
was one of the negotiating committee and spent time and money to secure the
prize. He did not accept stock for his subscription, but contributed with a
loyal, patriotic purpose. He is now practicing his profession, and is very suc-
cessful.

William L. Pierce. Well advanced on the list of prominent Belvidere at-
torneys is the name of William L. Pierce. He was born in Spring town-
ship, Boone county, June 3, 1868. After a thorough preparatory course of study
he entered the Northwestern Law College, where he was graduated June 16,
1892, beginning practice immediately thereafter at Belvidere. Fluent, versatile,
clear in statement and a valuable counselor, Mr. Pierce commands the attention
of juries and the confidence of the public. A number of important cases in Belvi-
dere and elsewhere conducted by Mr. Pierce to a successful issue adorn a rec-
ord which might well be contemplated with satisfaction.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

THE BAR OF LIVINGSTON COUNTY.

BY FRED DUCKETT, COUNTY CLERK.

THE first lawyers who lived in this county were J. H. McGregor and J. H.
Dart. Litigations in the early days were limited in number, but the two
local attorneys proved their ability in connection with the various causes
in which they were retained. Both were bright and promising lawyers, but
their careers were cut short by death, prior to 1857.

About the year mentioned Simeon DeWitt located here and was elected
state's attorney, but he died before the expiration of his term and before he
had opportunity of distinguishing himself as a practitioner at the bar of the
county.

Jonathan Duff came one year later, and was elected county judge in 1861.
He had a good legal mind and made a model judge. On one occasion the case
of an alleged insane woman was on trial before him, and the jury brought in
the extraordinary verdict that she was not insane, but "possessed of a devil."
"Gentlemen," said the Judge, "this court has no jurisdiction; the petition is
dismissed."

In April, 1857, Alfred E. Harding came from New York and entered into
the active practice of the law. He soon became the leader at the bar of the
county, prosecuting and defending many important cases with success. He
was particularly conspicuous as the defender of a colored man, who was charged
with murder, and in the prosecution of a suit against a railroad company, which
was begun on Sunday, in face of the precedents of fourteen hundred years to
the contrary, and which was sustained by the supreme court, to which he ap-
pealed the case, owing to the adverse decision of the circuit court.

William T. Ament served for four years as state's attorney, with marked
ability and success. His oratorical powers and convincing logic made him a
formidable adversary before a jury. He died in 1897.

John R. Perry was known as the "silver-tongued orator." He was a
brother-in-law of Judge John M. Scott. He enlisted in 1862 for service in the
war of the Rebellion, won distinction as captain of Company C, One Hundred
and Twenty-ninth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers, and upon his return his
health was so much impaired that he was incapacitated for much active practice.
He received a federal appointment and died soon afterward.

Lewis E. Payson possessed a legal mind, marked tact and an ability that
was second to that of few lawyers in the state, and he met with general success.



Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 27 of 83)