John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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He occupied the bench of the county court for four years; was subsequently a



member of congress for a number of terms, and has since retained his residence
at the national capital.

Nathaniel J. Pillsbury, who was circuit judge of this circuit for a number of
terms, has a clear legal mind, and his decisions were marked with justice and
impartiality. While a member of the appellate court his written opinions so
fully embodied the law that they are cited as precedents by the courts of other
states. S. S. Lawrence, his former partner, and later judge in Oklahoma, ex-
hibited much industry in his efforts to master the intricacies of the law, and he
knew no stopping-place until he reached the bottom of any question. He left
Pontiac years ago, for what he imagined were wider and greener fields.

James T. Terry has been in practice here since 1869 and has a large and
paying clientage. He is bold and aggressive in the trial of a case, is prominent
and successful at the bar, is independent in action, yet courteous in his relations
with all.

R. S. Mcllduff, former state's attorney, proved a success as a prosecutor.
He is technical and exacting in minor details and is a successful practitioner.

H. H. McDowell, who also served as state's attorney, was no less success-
ful. By his strict attention to his profession he has gained an extensive prac-
tice. He is cordial in manner and persuasive in argument.

C. C. Strawn is one of the most prominent members of the bar of this
county. He is local attorney of the Chicago & Alton Railroad, and no one has
been more successful than he. Persistent, unyielding, strong and forcible in
argument, the longer he fights, the stronger he grows. He is somewhat "ad-
dicted" to politics, and once ran for congress, as the candidate on the Green-
back ticket.

A. C. Norton, a younger man, but promising lawyer, has an increasing
clientage, is fairly successful and is ambitious in his professional work.

R. R. Wallace has been county-judge for twenty-one years, is still in active
practice, is distinctly popular, and holds the clientage he obtains.

A number of younger members of the bar are located in Pontiac and are
striving diligently for their professional spurs and for relative precedence. The
following supplemental paragraphs have been secured, but are not a portion of
Mr. Duckett's original contribution.

N. J. Pillsbury. In one of the most beautiful districts of England is a little
hamlet which bears the name of Pillsbury. It is situated in the parish of Hart-
ington, Derbyshire, on the banks of the river Dove, and there in the early part
of the seventeenth century lived one William Pillsbury, who hearing of the
New World and the opportunities of colonization there offered, left his English
home in 1630 and crossed the broad Atlantic to Boston. Soon afterward he
removed to Dorchester, Massachusetts, in 1641 was married, and in 1651 re-
moved to Newbury, now Newburyport, where he erected a home for himself
and family, which still remains in possession of his descendants in the ninth
generation. He was the progenitor of the family in America, and to-day rep-
resentatives of the name are found in almost every state of the Union. In
September, 1888, there was held a reunion at the old homestead in Newbury-


port, where were present ninety-three of the descendants of William Pillsbury,
representing fifteen different states. The political complexion of the family is
shown by the fact that when a vote was cast eighty-eight of the number were
for Harrison, four for Cleveland and one for St. John. It is related that during
the dark days which preceded the Revolution the old house in Newburyport
was an inn, of which a certain Pillsbury was proprietor. He was a loyal and
earnest patriot and on his premises was a secret place in which were stored
goods which had not regularly passed through the British custom-house. On
one occasion the revenue officers came to the inn to make a raid, and the young
ladies of the family, receiving a hint from their father, proceeded to make them-
selves very agreeable to the officers, furnishing them wine and cake and enter-
taining them with music and conversation. In the meantime the owners of the
goods succeeded in getting their property away and then the conduct of the
young ladies toward the officers changed materially. The great-grandfather of
Judge Pillsbury, of Pontiac, whose name heads this sketch, was an officer in
Washington's army throughout the war of the Revolution, and a great-uncle of
the Judge was killed at the battle of Plattsburg, in the war of 1812.

The parents of our subject were Stephen N. and Susan (Averill) Pillsbury,
both natives of York county, Maine, and born in 1812. Their marriage was
celebrated in that county, in January, 1834, and the father was employed as a
machinist for the Pepperell corporation from 1851 until November, 1855, when
he removed with his family to Illinois. In this state he carried on agricultural
pursuits until 1880, when he retired to private life and became a resident of
Pontiac, Livingston county. His wife died in 1885, and his death occurred
in 1890. They were laid to rest, side by side, in the beautiful cemetery on the
banks of the Vermilion river, in Pontiac.

Judge Pillsbury, of this review, acquired his education mostly in the com-
mon schools of York county, Maine, which was the place of his nativity, the
date thereof being October 21, 1834. He spent a few months in an academy,
and later engaged in teaching school through seven winter seasons, while in
the summer months he worked on a farm. His early experiences were those
of the farmer boy, and on leaving school he came to Illinois, hoping thereby to
benefit his health, as he had consumptive tendencies. He had previously worked
in a dye house for a York corporation at Saco, Maine, and while there had had
several hemorrhages. For nearly two years after his arrival, he had a hard
struggle to maintain his health and at the same time earn a living, but he made
the best of his opportunities, and in due time an improved physical condition
enabled him to more readily conquer the obstacles which lay in the path to

The Judge was married January i, 1855, m Biddeford, Maine, to Eliza J.
Cole, and on the maternal side she was connected with General Warren who
fell at the battle of Bunker Hill. They had six children: Cora A., who was
born May 3, 1857, and died in infancy; Clara A., who was born December 16,
1858, and. is the wife of S. E. Sims, a prominent business man of Pontiac; C.
Avis, who was born April 13, 1862, and is the wife of E. J. Walker, formerly


a druggist but now a horticulturist of Hamilton county, Indiana; Ernest, who
was born in July, 1864, and died in infancy; Louis L., who was born December
30, 1868, and died July i,- 1888; and Dale E., born March 30, 1875, now in
business in Pontiac.

For three years after his arrival in this state Judge Pillsbury resided on a
rented farm in Bureau county, and in September, 1857, purchased eighty acres
of land of the Illinois Central Railroad, in Nebraska township, Livingston coun-
ty, which he improved and made his home until April, 1863, when, on account
of ill health, he was obliged to quit the farm, and removed to Pontiac. He
entered the law office of Samuel L. Fleming and made rapid progress in his
studies. Upon his admission to the bar he formed a partnership with his former
preceptor, and by diligent study, indomitable energy and strict attention to his
profession soon acquired a leading position at the bar of Livingston county.
While upon the farm he held various township and school offices, and in 1866
was appointed city attorney of Pontiac and reappointed for a second term, hold-
ing the office during the exciting times which grew out of the enforcement of
the "Princeton charter." In 1869 he was elected a delegate to the constitutional
convention of 1870, and took an active part in framing the organic law of the
state. In 1873 ne was elected judge of the thirteenth judicial district, compris-
ing the counties of Livingston, Iroquois and Kankakee. When he went upon
the bench the docket was eighteen months behind, but by hard and continuous
work, holding three sessions of court daily nearly all the time, he succeeded
in clearing it in three years. In 1877 his circuit was consolidated with that which
comprised McLean and Ford counties, under the name of the eleventh circuit.
At the same session of the legislature the appellate courts were established
and Judge Pillsbury was appointed one of the judges of the second district
appellate court, which held its sessions in the supreme-court house in Ottawa.
In June, 1879, he was elected circuit judge of the consolidated district and re-
appointed to the second district appellate court, and again in June, 1882. On
the first day of that month, while returning to his home on a railroad train
which was transporting non-union laborers from the ore docks in Bridgeport,
Chicago, to Joliet, striking "union" men attacked and captured the train, broke
into the coach and commenced firing their pistols. A bullet struck the Judge,
and from that time his health has constantly suffered. For a time, however,
he continued in the active discharge of his judicial duties, in fact so faithfully
performed his work that he was again elected in 1885, without effort on his
part, and was appointed to the appellate court of the fourth district for a three-
years term, but his wound proving very serious, on the close of his six-years
term as circuit judge he declined to again become a candidate, and retired to
private life. He still attends to some legal business, selecting his cases, and
were he so inclined could have a very extensive clientajge.

Through economy and close application to his legal business he has ac-
quired a handsome competence and he and his family now occupy a very pleas-
ant home in Pontiac. He has always been regarded as an able lawyer and
upright judicial officer, having the respect of all who know him. While upon


the appellate bench he decided some very important questions which may be
called "leading." These include the case of Flexman versus the Chicago &
Eastern Illinois Railroad Company (9 Brad., 250), in which, in an able decision,
the Judge held the railroad company liable for the act of one of its brakesmen,
who, on being accused of stealing a passenger's watch, struck the passenger
with his railroad lantern, nearly severing his nose from his face. Almost all
railroad attorneys and other members of the bar thought the decision wrong, but
it was afterward affirmed by the supreme court and led to the overruling of the
case of Jacobs versus the Third Avenue Railroad Company (53 New York).
Judge Pillsbury also decided the case of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific
Railroad Company versus Barrett (16 Brad.), holding the railroad company
liable for an assault upon a passenger, in both railroad cases sharply drawing
the distinction between the duties owed by a common carrier to passengers and
to strangers. Other cases which appear in the twenty-six volumes of Brad,
reports have given the Judge an enviable reputation as a lawyer and jurist.

He was a member of the Union League in 1863-4, became an Odd Fellow
in 1864, and is now the oldest member in good standing of Pontiac Lodge, No.
262. He has also been a member of the grand lodge of that fraternity since
1868, and of the grand encampment. He belongs to Pontiac Lodge, No. 294,
A. F. & A. M., and to St. Paul Commandery, No. 34, K. T. His life has been
a busy and useful one and he has the confidence and respect of the entire com-
munity. His family occupies a very enviable position in social circles and his
own position in the regard of his fellow men is shown by the fact that he has
never been beaten for an office either at an election or in the nominating con-
ventions. His judicial record is without a stain, and he well deserved mention
among the eminent jurists whose lives are an honor to the state which they

George W. Patton was elected to the bench of the eleventh judicial circuit
on the 7th of June, 1897, and in the discharge of his duties is fully sustaining the
high reputation which he won as a practitioner at the bar. He is a native of
Pennsylvania, and a son of Samuel R. and Jane Patton, while from Scotch-Irish
ancestry he is descended. The father was a farmer by occupation, and in 1852,
with his wife and six children and a capital of six hundred dollars, he left the
Keystone state to become one of the pioneer settlers on the prairies of Illinois.
Locating in Woodford county, he continued to make his home there until the
labors of life were ended. He was a man of indomitable will, a close thinker
and an ingenious debater. His wife was a most able assistant and helpmeet to
him. She spun the wool and wove and made all the winter garments for her
family until after the Civil war. Throughout the community she was celebrated
for her wit, her memory and her mathematical talent.

Judge Patton has spent almost his entire life in Illinois, whither he was

brought by his parents in his infancy. The experiences of his youth were those

' of the ordinary country .boy, who assists in the work of the farm and attends

the public schools in the winter season. He pursued a course in the State

Normal University, of Normal, Illinois, completing his studies there in 1871,


and afterward taught school for two years in order to earn money for a law
course. He became a student in the office of Hay, Green & Littler, prominent
attorneys of Springfield, Illinois, and in January, 1875, was admitted to the bar,
successfully passing an examination conducted by Judges Breese, Walker,
Scott, Sheldon, McAllister, Scholfield and Craig, of the supreme court. A love
of the profession led to his selection of the law as a life work, and to it he has
ever devoted his best energies. He began practice in Fairbury, Illinois, but in
1883 removed to Pontiac, continuing an active member of its bar until his ele-
vation to the bench. From his mother he inherited an excellent command of
language, from his father a logical mind and a persistent will, and these quali-
ties, combined with a laudable ambition to achieve more than ordinary success,
enabled him to rapidly make his way to the front. Within ten years he was
classed among the leading lawyers of the circuit, enjoying as large a practice
as any man in the eleventh district.

The course he has followed in his law practice has ever been most com-
mendable. His fidelity to his clients' interests was always above question, and
he was ever courteous to the court, agreeable to the opposing counsel, fair to
the witness and affable in his treatment of the jury. Industry, integrity and
good nature constitute the trinity whose benediction every lawyer must con-
stantly invoke if he would succeed. He must also have faith in himself, faith
in his cause and faith in the court or jury hearing the suit. He must study
himself as well as his case and the jury, and allow no personal prejudice or per-
sonal feeling to bias him in the slightest degree. All these qualifications have
found exemplification in Judge Patton and have brought to him success and
won him a place among the most prominent and able lawyers of central Illinois.
He had never held office until chosen one of the judges of his district, in 1897.
His judicial service has been in perfect harmony with his record as a man and
lawyer, and he has won the respect and confidence of the bar and the public
by his fearless administration of "an even-handed justice."

Judge Patton has a comprehensive knowledge of the law, yet his close and
continuous study of legal principles has never prevented him from familiarizing
himself with good literature and the topics which engross the public attention.
'He is especially well informed on the issues of the day and the concerns of
public policy. He has always supported the principles of the Republican party,
is a stanch advocate of a protective tariff on all home productions, favors restric-
tion of immigration to desirable persons who wish to become true American
citizens, and believes in holding every island, except Cuba, where American
valor has planted the stars and stripes. He is also in favor of the present sys-
tem of national-bank currency and opposed to the retirement of the greenback
currency, and advocates a gold standard until the great commercial nations
agree upon some other. He also thinks that the United States should con-
struct and own the Nicaraguan canal and a ship canal connecting Chicago with
the Mississippi, and on all matters of public concern takes an advanced and
progressive position which shows deep thought and research on the questions
under consideration.


On the 2Oth of September, 1877, m Fairbury, Illinois, George Patton was
united in marriage to Miss Flora E. Cook, and they have two children: Marie,
born July 7, 1883; and Proctor, born March 22, 1894. Socially he is connected
with the Masonic and Odd Fellows' societies, and in his religious affiliations
is of Methodist Episcopal faith. Reared on a farm, amid humble surroundings,
he has deep sympathy for every son of toil, and no poor laborer, white or black,
ever appealed to him for assistance in vain. To him wealth is not a sine-qua-
non to good social standing, nor has he ever courted the society of those who
can boast only of a good bank account or pretentious ancestral tree. He be-
lieves with Tennyson that

True hearts are more than coronets
And simple faith than Norman blood.

To him who is honest and industrious he is a friend, and this true spirit of
Democracy, arising from a sincere interest in his fellow men, has made Judge
Patton one of the most popular, admired and respected citizens of his section of
the state.



THE history of the bench and bar of Hardin county properly begins in the
year 1840, at which time the county was organized from territory carved
out of the adjoining counties of Pope and Gallatin. At this time, as is
well known, there was but one judge in each judicial circuit, and in the personnel
of the judges and district attorneys this district was particularly fortunate, as
there were included such eminent jurists as Judges Duff, Parrish and Sloan, and
for prosecuting attorneys the late General John A. Logan, Francis M. Young-
blood, and others.

In those days it was not unusual for lawyers to ride the circuit, and there-
fore this county was visited by most of the great lawyers of southern Illinois.
Robert G. Ingersoll, W. J. Allen, General John A. Logan, "Bob" Wingate, W.
H. Green and others of like ability appeared before the courts of the county.
Although they were not actual members of the bar of this county, yet they form
a part of the local history of the bench and bar of this county.

Beginning with the adoption of the present constitution of the state, the
presiding judges in this county were M. C. Crawford, D. J. Baker, D. M.
Browning, O. A. Harker, R. W. McCartney, G. W. Young, A. K. Vickers and
J. P. Robarts, and in 1897, under the new judicial apportionment, Hardin coun-
ty was placed in the second judicial district, now presided over by their honors,

E. D. Youngblood, E. E. Newlin and Prince A. Pearse.

The judges of the county court of Hardin county since 1870, whose names
appear in the order in which they were elected, and who each served but one
term were: Isaac Hurford, from 1869 to 1873; John Q. A. Ledbetter, from
1873 to 1877; J. F. Taylor, from 1877 to 1882; Richard P. Hetherington, from
1882 to 1886; Jacob Hess, from 1886 to 1890; James H. Beavers, from 1890
to 1894; and William J. Hall to the present time, 1898. Only two of the num-
ber have been practicing attorneys, Judges John Q. A. Ledbetter and Jonathan

F. Taylor.

1 he office of state's attorney has uniformly been filled by lawyers of recog-
nized legal ability since 1870. The list is as follows: Lewis F. Plater, from
1872 to 1876; William S. Morris, from 1876 to 1880; John Q. A. Ledbetter,
from 1880 to 1888; H. R. Fowler, from 1888 to 1892; Richard F. Taylor, from
1892 to 1896, at which time John Q. A. Ledbetter was again elected. Three of
our ex-state's attorneys have since their terms as such served as members of the
legislature, namely: Hon. W. S. Morris, in both houses, and L. F. Plater and
H. R. Fowler in the lower house. Their records there are a matter with which
<the people are familiar.

51 801


It will be impossible to give the names of every member of the profession
who has at some time been a member of this bar, on account of the burning of
the court-house in 1884. It is a matter of memory, but the writer will give so
far as possible the names of persons who have been members of this bar, but
who now are in other and, we hope, more lucrative fields: James Macklin, of
Harrisburg; Hon. W. S. Morris, of Golconda; J. F. Taylor and J. H. B. Ren-
fro, of Carbondale; L. F. Twitchell, Jr., of Denver, Colorado; G. W. Patrick,
of Albuquerque, New Mexico; John J. Ledbetter, of Kennett, Missouri; W. A.
Rittenhouse, of Shawneetown; James W. Gullett, of Springfield, and the late
W. H. Boyer, of Harrisburg.

The present local bar of the county is composed of the following members,
whose names are given in the order in which they were admitted to the bar:
John Q. A. Ledbetter, Richard F. Taylor, H. R. Fowler, Henry M. Winders,
John C. Oxford, Adolphus M. Baldwin, John H. Ferrell, Jr., Thomas H.
Stubbs, James A. Watson, Jackson G. Young, James A. Craig, and Richard H.

It is not the purpose of the writer to give an extended and complete
biography of each member of the bar of Hardin county, but only to give a brief
sketch of each, as touching more purely his professional career.

John Q. A. Ledbetter began the study of law in 1871, under the direction
of Hon. W. S. Morris, and was admitted to the bar in 1872, since which time
he has been in the active practice of the law. In 1873 he was elected county
judge, and served as such until 1877. I n J 88o he was elected state's attorney,
and held that office for eight years, and was again elected to the same office in
1896, and is recognized as a fearless and efficient officer. Besides his duties as
state's attorney he has a large practice in civil cases. In politics he is a Demo-

Richard F. Taylor began the study of law in the office of his brother, J. F.
Taylor, and after study in the office for some time he attended the Wesleyan
University for several terms. He was admitted to the bar in 1879 and at once
entered upon the active practice of his profession. In 1892 he was elected state's
attorney, and held that office until 1896, the expiration of his term, and as state's
attorney discharged his duties to the entire satisfaction of the people. Since
his term expired he has devoted his energies to the practice of criminal law, in
which he has succeeded to a remarkable degree, and is now considered an ex-
cellent criminal lawyer. Besides this he has a large practice in civil cases. He
has recently formed a partnership with John H. Ferrell, under the firm name of
Taylor & Ferrell, and will no doubt have a large practice in our courts. In
politics he is a Democrat.

H. R. Fowler was graduated in the law department of the University of
Michigan, at Ann Arbor, in 1884, and at once began the practice of law in this
county. In 1888 he was elected state's attorney, held that office one term and
was a most excellent prosecuting official. During his term as state's attorney,
and since the expiration of the same, he has paid especial attention to the crim-
inal practice, and is now recognized as a criminal lawyer of considerable ability.


He was a member of the lower house of the general assembly from 1892 to
1894, from the old fourth district, and is now in partnership with A. M. Baldwin.
In politics he is a Democrat.

Henry M. Winders studied law under Judge Ledbetter and was admitted
to the bar in 1891. He has since that time been in the practice of law. At the
time he was admitted he was a justice of the peace in Elizabethtown, the county
seat, and his decisions have uniformly been clear and concise in their interpreta-
tion of the law. He has been for several years master in chancery of this county

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 28 of 83)