John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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enforced in the public schools. His observations, gleaned from investigation of
the Cook County Normal School, were published and attained considerable
prominence. He inaugurated the College Preparatory School of this city, and
likewise the system of truant schools. In 1895 ne framed the teacher's pension
bill and through his influence it became a law. The educational interests of the
city are certainly largely indebted to Mr. Thornton, and his work has been of
the greatest benefit. Of scholarly attainments and literary tastes, he has given
much of his time to study, and few men are better informed on matters of gen-
eral interest.

His political support has ever been strongly given the Democratic party,
but in the public offices he has filled, so faithfully has he discharged his duties,
that he has received the commendation of many of the leaders of the opposition.

Mr. Thornton was married in 1883 to Miss Jessie F. Benton, of Chicago,
and they now have three daughters: Mabel J., Pearl Esther and Hattie May.
In fraternity and society circles Mr. Thornton has a wide acquaintance. He is
a man of pleasing personality, genial manner and true courtesy, and his many
admirable qualities of mind and heart have endeared him greatly to his many
friends. Though he is most widely known in professional and educational cir-
cles, his honor in all life's relations has won him the respect and regard of his
fellow men.

John N. Jewett, whose life history is closely identified with the history of
Chicago, which has been his home for forty-two years, began his remarkable
career in the Garden City when it was but a village, and has grown with its
growth until his name and reputation are as far-reaching as are those of the city.
His life has been one of untiring activity, and has been crowned with a degree of
success attained by comparatively few men.

Mr. Jewett is descended from an old New England family. Soon after the
landing of the Pilgrim fathers upon Plymouth Rock two brothers of the name
of Jewett located at Rowley, Massachusetts. Later one of them joined a colony
that went to Maryland and some of his descendants became prominent in the
south ; but it is with the branch of the family that continued its -connection with
New England that the subject of this review is associated. Members of the fam-
ily have attained distinction in professional life, and the name has always been
associated with strong mentality and high literary culture.

John N. Jewett was born in the town of Palmyra, Somerset county, Maine,
in 1827, and spent his youth on the hillside farm which belonged to his father,
remaining there until eighteen years of age. In the meantime he was improving
every opportunity for mental advancement and was about to enter one of the
schools for higher education in New England when the family removed to the
west. This somewhat interfered with his plans for the time being, and through


the following year he engaged in teaching school in Madison, Wisconsin. The
year 1847, however, saw the consummation of his youthful hopes, as he then
matriculated in the sophomore class at Bowdoin College, where he received his
classical diploma three years later. Immediately after his graduation he was
employed as one of the principals in the North Yarmouth Academy, in Maine,
and during his two years' connection with that institution he devoted all of
the time which he could spare from the duties of the school-room to the study
of law.

In 1852 Mr. Jewett returned to Madison, Wisconsin, and entered the law
office of Collins & Smith, under whose direction he completed his preliminary
studies for admission to the bar in 1853, and upon examination was licensed to
practice as an attorney, in Wisconsin. In the spring of that year he located in
Galena, Illinois, where he entered into a partnership with Wellington \Veigley,
with whom he was thus connected for three years. About this time he wisely
chose the future metropolis of the west as the scene of his future labors, and
in September, 1856, came to Chicago, entering the office of Judge Van Higgins,
then one of the leading lawyers of the state. The following year, however,
he became a member of the law firm of Scates, McAllister, Jewett & Peabody,
but the last named withdrew after a year, and in 1862 Judge Scates entered the
military service of the country, so that William K. McAllister and Mr. Jewett
constituted the firm for the succeeding five years. This firm always maintained
a very high standing at the bar, and its business constantly grew in volume and
importance. In 1867 the association was discontinued and Mr. Jewett con-
tinued business alone, having a very large practice in both the state and federal
courts. There are few members of the Chicago bar who have displayed the
ability that Mr. Jewett has shown in the management of the important litigation
entrusted to him. As a lawyer he is sound, clear-minded and well trained. The
limitations which are imposed by the constitution on federal powers are well
understood by him. With the long line of decisions from Marshall down, by
which the constitution has been expounded, he is familiar, as are all thoroughly
skilled lawyers. He is at home in all departments of the law, from the minutiae
in practice to the greater topics wherein is involved the consideration of the
ethics and philosophy of jurisprudence and the higher concerns of public policy.

Mr. Jewett has frequently been solicited to accept public offices in the line of
his profession, among them being a place on the bench of Cook county and on
that of the supreme court of Illinois. He was urged by friends to become a
candidate for the place on the United States supreme bench, afterward filled by
Hon. Stanley Matthews, and finally he succumbed to their solicitations, but would
himself do nothing to further his candidacy. He was state senator for two years
from January, 1871, but with this exception has never held office. The degree
of LL. D. was conferred upon Mr. Jewett by Bowdoin College in 1894.

In 1855 Mr. Jewett was united in marriage to Miss Ellen R. Rountree,
daughter of Hon. John H. Rountree, of Wisconsin.

Judge Jesse Holdom, of Chicago, elected in November, 1898, to the bench
of the superior court, is a jurist whose talents, natural and acquired, have enabled


him to maintain a foremost place in legal circles. While no profession de-
mands such extensive knowledge, high culture and accurate understanding as
that of the law, a judicial position demands qualities still higher than those ex-
pected in the ordinary advocate. The man whose range of general knowledge is
limited cannot hope to present to court or jury, with clearness and force, the
intricate and complicated questions affecting all lines of life ; nor can he whose
nature is materialistic, lacking refinement and culture, have a lofty conception of
the law, of its majesty and of its beneficence to humanity. The successful prac-
titioner at the bar, therefore, and still more the judge of a court, must possess
broad erudition, strong intellectual endowments and a nature capable of realizing
the possibilities of that justice which rises above all personalities, all jealousies
and all enmities, and typifies that divine justice which governs the world.

Judge Holdom was born on the 23d of August, 1851, in London, England.
In reverting to the early history of his family, we find that his ancestors were
Huguenots who fled from France on the eve of the massacre of St. Bartholomew
and settled in that part of London called Spitalfields, in the year 1572. From
that time to the birth of our subject, a period of nearly three hundred years, the
Holdoms were all born in the same parish and within half a mile of the place
where their ancestors originally settled.

In the city of his nativity Judge Holdom acquired an academic education,
and in 1868, when seventeen years of age, crossed the Atlantic to the United
States, locating in Chicago in July of that year, since which time he has made
this city his home. He soon began the study of law, diligently applying himself
to the mastery of the underlying principles of jurisprudence, and after two years
entered the office of the late Judge Knickerbocker, with whom he continued until
1876, when he accepted the position of chief clerk in the office of Tenny, Flower
& Abercrombie. In 1878 he became associated in the practice of law with a
brother of Judge Knickerbocker, under the firm name of Knickerbocker & Hol-
dom, a relationship that was maintained until 1889, since which date he has been
alone in practice, to the time he was elected to the superior bench. He has always
been regarded as a safe and astute counselor ; in argument he is forceful, logical
and convincing; and in his active practice at the bar, which extended over a
period of twenty-five years, he has earned the reputation of being a successful
lawyer. Perhaps, however, his greatest reputation has been achieved in chancery
and probate cases and in litigated questions involving contests of wills and
titles to real estate. Upon the death of Judge Knickerbocker he was publicly
mentioned for the vacant probate judgeship, and was afterward, without any
personal solicitation, appointed by Governor Fifer as public guardian, and as
already mentioned, at the November election of 1898 he was elected judge of the
superior court, which honored position he is now holding.

Above all, Judge Holdom is a literary and a cultured gentleman. His
scholarly tastes are indicated by a large library of rare and old books, as well
as many de-luxe and limited editions, which are his special delight ; and some of
his happiest hours are spent amid the works of master minds, which have
enriched and enlarged his own storehouse of wisdom until he is regarded as one


of the best-read lawyers in the city. His law library is also extensive and con-
tains the modern publications, regarded as authority, as well as the older writers.
In his religious views the Judge is an Episcopalian, and is serving as
vestryman of Trinity Episcopal church. In his political principles he is a Repub-
lican, and in society relations he is a member of various social, literary and
law clubs, including the Union League, in which he is a member of the com-
mittee on political action for the years 1898, 1899 and 1900, the Hamilton, Cax-
ton, Kenwood, Midlothian, Country and Law Clubs of Chicago, and of the
Chicago, Illinois State and American Bar Associations. In 1896 he was a dele-
gate to the American Bar Association convened in Saratoga, New York. In the
history of the Hamilton Club appears the following well deserved tribute :

During the past year, 1897. the club has had, and still retains, as its presi-
dent, Mr. Jesse Holdom, one of the best known and most highly respected
lawyers at the bar of Chicago. It is largely due to his untiring efforts in the
club s behalf that it has achieved so much. The record of his administration
is a record of brilliant accomplishments ; and in the face of the prediction,
founded on past experience, that a political club can only be made successful in
presidential years, Mr. Holdom has made the year now closing one of the most
brilliant in the history of the organization. It is not a matter of surprise, how-
ever, that such should be the case, for Mr. Holdom has never been known to
fail in any undertaking to which he has lent his name and interest. The history
of his life is the history of ability and integrity conquering every obstacle : and
Mr. Holdom's present enviable position in this community to-day is an en-
couragement to every young man to "dare to do right" at all times and places.

John McNulta comes of Scotch-Irish ancestors, from the counties of Done-
gal, in Ireland, and Invernesshire, Scotland, the remote male line being North-
men or Vikings, who intermarried and merged with the clan Donald. He was
born in New York city November 9, 1837: came west in 1852, and settled at
Attica, Indiana, and was, in 1856, employed as traveling salesman and collector
for Dick & Company, wholesale tobacco dealers, traveling on a route in the
western part of Indiana and the eastern part of Illinois. In 1858, on attaining
his majority, he became a member of the firm. While thus traveling he first
went to Bloomington, in 1856, and went there to reside permanently in March,

He was made captain of Company A, First Illinois Cavalry, May 3, 1861 ;
lieutenant colonel of the Ninety-fourth Illinois Infantry, August 20, 1862 ; took
command of the regiment a few days after it was mustered in, Colonel William
Orme taking command of the brigade; was promoted colonel and afterward
brevetted brigadier general for "gallant and meritorious services in battle." He
served with his regiment, or the command to which it belonged, and was mus-
tered out August 9, 1865.

General McNulta was admitted to the bar of the supreme court of Illinois in
1866 and to the supreme court of the United States in 1873. With Lawrence
Weldon he formed the law firm of Weldon & McNulta in 1866; was elected to
the state senate in 1868 and to congress in 1872, as a Republican. He was re-


nominated for congress and was defeated in 1874. He was a delegate to and
member of the Old Guard in the national convention of 1880 and awarded a
"306" or Grant medal. The General was master in chancery four years, 1881
to 1885. In June, 1885, he was appointed receiver of what is now the Toledo,
St. Louis & Kansas City Railway, known as the Clover Leaf Route, and in April,
1887, became receiver of the Wabash Railway. He was appointed receiver of
the Whiskey Trust in February, 1895 ; receiver of the Calumet Electric Street
Railway Company, January 3, 1898, and receiver of the National Bank of Illinois,
at Chicago, January 4, 1898.

January 15, 1862, General McNulta was married to Miss Laura Pelton, at
Bloomington, Illinois. They have three sons and one daughter living, namely :
Herbert, Robert Pelton, Donald and Laura. The family removed to Chicago in
January, 1895, and this city has since been their home.




DANVILLE, in the days of the "itinerant" lawyer, was a famous battle-
ground, and to court went some of the leading lawyers of Illinois and
Indiana. Edward Hannegan, D. W. Voorhees, Joseph E. McDonald,
Richard W. Thompson, and others of the Indiana bar, met Lincoln, Swett, Wei-
don, Judges O. L. Davis, E. S. Terry, Hill, Lamon and others of the Illinois bar,
in the court of Judge David Davis, who presided for many years in Vermilion

In the spring of 1860 a very sensational criminal case was tried in the Ver-
milion circuit court in the form of a prosecution of a man named Kilpatrick for
murder. Kilpatrick was a young printer and killed a young man by the name
of Bundy, by striking him with a hatchet. The Bundy family was one of wealth,
and position, and employed Mr. Voorhees and Mr. Swett to assist Lamon, who
was the prosecuting attorney. The defense was represented by Judge O. L.
Davis, Judge Terry and Judge Weldon.

The trial lasted for many days, and resulted in the conviction of Kilpatrick
for manslaughter, and his punishment in the penitentiary for a short term. The
result was regarded as a victory for the defense, as a most determined effort was
made to convict for murder. In those days no limitation of time was placed in
the argument of counsel, and forensic discussion took a wide range of argument
and illustration. All the lawyers engaged in the case were at their best in age,
if not experience, and the trial was worthy of the best period of the profession.

Vermilion county was the extreme eastern end of the eighth circuit, which
commenced with Sangamon, and was the "round-up" of the judicial year. It
had, at the time we speak of, an able bar, consisting of Judge O. L. Davis, Judge
E. S. Terry, Colonel Harmon, John N. Drake, Hiram Beckwith, George W.
Lawrence and others.

During the session of the court in the spring of 1859 at Urbana, Illinois, Mr.
Lincoln with a number of other lawyers occupied a large room in the "tavern"
which was the scene of many merry meetings. The room from the earliest days
of the hotel had been designated as the "lawyers room" and as the assizes ap-
proached, it was always fitted with special reference to their accommodation.
In the four corners was a large bed which might be occupied by one or two, as
the necessities of the occasion required. Judge David Davis insisted upon sleep-
ing alone, and therefore one bed was taken exclusively by him ; but Mr. Lincoln
being "lean and lank" had no aversion to sharing his bed with any of his com-


panions. The itinerant lawyer being compelled to be from home longer than
his "grip" would accommodate him with clean linen, was compelled to avail
himself of the service of a colored woman, who from her long service as a washer
and from her kind disposition had acquired the endearing name of "aunty." She
was in the habit of bringing the clothes in a large basket and dealing them out
according to the marks which she had adopted to preserve their identity. One
morning, coming early, she found all her patrons in bed except Mr. Lincoln, who
had arisen earlier than his companions and was sitting by the fire, musing
no doubt in the twilight of that great dawn which was soon to come upon him.
The entrance of "aunty" before the toilets of her patrons were made, occasioned
no embarrassment in the situation ; so she proceeded in a businesslike way,
commencing with Judge Davis's bed, to distribute the "washin' " as she called it.
Among the lawyers was Mr. O. L. Davis, of Danville, who was not only a
Republican, but who from the kindness of his disposition went beyond the party
in the appreciation of the black man's rights, so that by some he was accused of
being an "abolitionist." His bed was the last one approached by "aunty" in the
distribution of the "washin'," and after she had laid out on his bed the last gar-
ment he said, "Why, Aunty, you have not given me my share of shirts. I sent
four and you have only given me back three." To this charge "aunty" replied
with much vehemence of manner, "Why, Massa Davis, do you insinuate I steal
your shirt?" "No," said Mr. D., "I don't charge you with stealing my shirt, but
you have given it to some of those other fellows." This necessitated a recount,
so aunty proceeded to examine the different piles, in full confidence of her count
and the accuracy of her mode of keeping the "washin' " separate. She again
came to Mr. Davis, insisting most strenuously that he had sent only three in-
stead of four. Mr. Lincoln in the meantime had become very much interested in
the contest going on between the colored woman on one side and her abolition
friend on the other. Notwithstanding her friend was very kind, in the contention
that he had sent four instead of three, his superior power of argument was about
to drive poor "aunty" from the field, when her eye caught the sleeve of a shirt
protruding from the head of the bed, and taking hold of it she said, "Massa Davis,
isn't dis the shirt you 'cuse me of stealing?" The lawyer saw the truth in a
moment and in his kindest way said, "Aunty, you are right and I am wrong!"
Mr. Lincoln turning again in his chair to resume his look into the fire said with
an air of relief, "Well, I am very glad that trouble is settled. I was afraid from
the determination of both parties that it would introduce a lasting fend into the
Republican party." It was a favorite practice of Mr. Lincoln to get up early, sit
by the fire, recall and repeat eloquent and poetic passages which he had com-
mitted to memory. It was on one of those occasions that my informant first
heard the poem "Why should the spirit of mortal be proud?" Mr. Lincoln re-
peated the poem at length and when asked who was the author said, "I do not
know. I learned it somewhere, but I never did know who wrote it."* It was

* John Knox.


a great favorite with him, and no doubt it came upon his memory through the
gloomy years of his administration.

In the defense of a case of trespass to the person, the defendant, who was a
fluent talker, said in his description of the encounter that, "As the plaintiff was
coming at me, I Providentially knocked him down." Mr. Lincoln, looking at the
court, said : "I object to that form of expression. I don't believe Providence
had anything to do with that fight." The objection was instantly sustained by
Judge Davis, who said : "Mr. Witness, you must not testify in that way." The
witness paused for a moment and, casting a glance at Mr. Lincoln and then at the
court, said : "Well, gentlemen, I will change the form of my expression, and
say, As good hick would have it, I knocked him down." Judge Davis, who had a
keen sense of the humorous, looking at Mr. Lincoln, said : "Well, Mr. Lincoln,
I think the witness has got us this time."

In the trial of a case which involved a question whether wheat would turn
to cheat, Mr. Lincoln was engaged for the plaintiff, who had sued the defendant
for not sowing clean seed-wheat on one of the large wheat farms which at that
time abounded in Illinois. He seemed to be posted on a vexed question which
at that time was much discussed among the farmers, to wit, whether wheat
would turn to cheat. His attention had no doubt been directed to it when he was
a farmer in Indiana and Illinois, and he belonged to that class of farmers who
maintained that it would not. The clean seed-wheat which the defendant had
agreed to sow, turned out a large crop of wheat, chess and rye. After the rye,
according to the testimony of a witness, had appeared as a factor in the crop,
Mr. Lincoln, turning to the counsel on the other side, said : "Gentlemen, you
have insisted that wheat would turn to cheat, now do you want to take the
further position that it will turn to rye?" The manner in which he asked the
question was better than a long argument on his side of the case. In the trial of
causes which involved the determination and discussion of questions relating to
the common affairs of life he was inexhaustible in his resources. He grasped
them with the same clearness of thought and judgment that in the after years
he dealt with the problems of state in the administration of one of the greatest
trusts ever devolved on man.



SAMUEL DAVIES MARSHALL, eldest son of John Marshall, one of the
earliest business men of the territory and state, and president also of the
Bank of Illinois, was born October 8, 1812, in Knox county, Indiana.
His parents removed to Shawneetown, Illinois, during his infancy, and this con-
tinued to be his home until his death, April 12, 1854.

At the age of twelve years he entered a preparatory school in New Haven,
Connecticut, where he remained two years. During this time he became very
much interested and proficient in military tactics, which formed a part of the
school course, and which became of use to him in his career as a soldier. He
then became a student in Yale College, graduating in the class of 1833, with a
number who subsequently had a distinguished record. He studied law with his
brother-in-law, Hon. Henry Eddy, and soon after married.

Although residing in a section overwhelmingly Democratic, he was electee!
prosecuting attorney and a member of the legislature, of which he became a
prominent and influential member. He edited a Whig paper ; was a Whig can-
didate for congress ; was one of the state electors on the Harrison ticket in 1840 ;
went in 1846 to the Mexican war, as major of the Fourth Regiment of Illinois
Volunteers ; was engaged in the capture of Vera Cruz, and was appointed by
General Scott one of a board of commissioners to make regulations for the gov-
ernment of that city after it was taken. He died in his forty-second year, having
survived his wife and children.

He was a profound lawyer and an orator of the first order ; his eloquence
touched the heart and while his reasoning produced conviction, his nervous and
impassioned appeals carried the feelings of his hearers by storm. As major of
the Fourth Regiment of Illinois Volunteers in Mexico, he conducted himself with
great bravery, in recognition of which he received from the state a sword in-
scribed as follows: "Presented by the State of Illinois to Major Samuel D.
Marshall for services in the late war of the United States with Mexico, and

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 34 of 83)