John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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attend to his first lawsuit he walked six miles into the country to try his case
before a justice of the peace, and winning in the argument he received a fee of
five dollars, which seemed more to him at that time than one-hundred-dollar fees
have since.

Entering into partnership with Joshua W. Ross, this connection was con-
tinued until 1861, when Judge Henry entered the army, enlisting in July of that
year, as a member of the Thirty-fifth Illinois Infantry, serving first as adjutant of
the regiment. Later he was commissioned captain of Company G and was with
Fremont in his Missouri campaign, followed Curtis and Sigel in the spring of
1862, and in June of that year went south under command of Jefferson C. Davis.
He participated in the siege of Corinth, where, in July, he was stricken with



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 867

malarial fever, his illness forcing him to resign shortly after the evacuation of
that city.

Returning to his home in August, 1862, Judge Henry entered into partner-
ship with the late Judge Jacob Fouke, which connection continued for seven-
teen years, during which period the firm of Henry & Fouke had more business
in each term of court, after the first two years, than all the lawyers in Vandalia
now have. For forty years Judge Henry has practiced at the bar of Vandalia
and has attended every term of court with the exception of four, two of those
being held while he was in the army. He has tried twice as many lawsuits as any
other member of the bar, and his success in a professional way affords the best
evidence of his capabilities in this line. He is a strong advocate before the jury
and concise in his appeals to the court. He has ever been a student of his pro-
fession, and his knowledge of legal principles and of precedents is comprehensive
and accurate. His reasoning is sound, his deductions logical, and he is remark-
able among lawyers for the wide research and provident care with which he
prepares his cases. He invariably seeks to present his argument in the strong
clear light of common reason and sound logical principles, and the earnestness,
tenacity and courage with which he defends the right, as he sees it, challenges the
highest admiration of his associates. He is ever ready to extend a helping hand
to young men just starting out in their professional career, and his assistance has
been of material benefit to many, among whom are Hon. William H. Dandy, of
Greenville, Illinois; E. M. Ashcraft, of Chicago; and Judge William M. Farmer.

After the election of Judge Fouke to the circuit bench in 1882, Mr. Henry
entered into partnership with William M. Farmer and George B. Chapin, under
the firm name of Henry, Farmer & Chapin. After the death of the junior mem-
ber, in 1884, the firm remained Henry & Farmer until the election of the latter
to the position of state's attorney in 1888. Mr. Henry next formed a partnership
with B. H. Chapman, under the style of Henry & Chapman, and after Mr. Chap-
man's removal to Kansas City in 1890 he again became associated with his old
partner, Judge Jacob Fouke, this relation being maintained until the Judge was
elected to the bench in 1891. Associated with F. M. Guinn, the firm of Henry &
Guinn practiced until 1895, when the partnership was dissolved, and George F.
Houston was admitted to a partnership with Mr. Henry, under the firm name of
Henry & Houston.

Mr. Henry has also been connected with various business enterprises which
have' not only promoted his individual prosperity but have also advanced the
welfare of the community with which he is connected. He aided in the organiza-
tion of the Farmers & Merchants' National Bank of Vandalia, in 1869, and has
been a member of the directorate and attorney for the corporation since that
time. In March, 1870, he made a trip to Texas on horseback, passing through
the Indian districts, and in the Lone Star state purchased nine hundred head
of Texas cattle, which he drove to Kansas, crossing the district now known as
Oklahoma, then a wilderness occupied by Indians, and on reaching Buffalo,
shipped the cattle to Philadelphia, where he realized a fine profit on the enter-
prise. In 1872 Mr. Henry made a tour among the northern lakes, in 1874 visited



868 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

Colorado and the west, and from 1891 until 1895 was engaged in ranching in
Wyoming, in connection with his brother. His journeyings have largely been
made for the benefit of his health. Never very rugged, he has by an indomitable
will power put aside the thought of physical weakness and attended to a very
extensive law business, which would have taxed the strength of a much more
robust man. He has remarkable powers of concentration and application, and
his deep thought on matters pertaining to his legal interests has given him the
reputation of being somewhat absent-minded ; yet his is not a dreamy forget-
fulness, but arises rather from his deep absorption in the profound and intricate
problems of jurisprudence. On one occasion he was waiting for a train, and
upon its arrival at the station he assisted a lady, with her children and bundles,
to board the train, after which he quietly returned to the waiting room. About
fifteen minutes later he inquired of the station agent when his train would arrive
and was told that it had passed a quarter of an hour before. He then remem-
bered that he was to have taken that train, and was forced to go to a hotel and
remain over night. At another time, his servants all being away from home,
he was forced to do the milking. When the task was accomplished he walked
into the house to be greeted by his wife with the question, "Why, where is the
milk ?" "Oh, I left it out there with the cows," he replied.

Mr. Henry was married in Vandalia, August 28, 1862, to Miss Sarah M.
Johnson, daughter of Duncan Johnson. They had four daughters, but two died
in infancy. Those living are Carrie Bell, wife of Dr. C. N. Collins, of Peoria;
and Waverly, wife of George Finley Houston, the present law partner of her
father.

Mr. Henry has been a life-long Democrat, voting for every presidential
nominee of the party from James Buchanan down to William J. Bryan. His
professional duties, however, have been too pressing to allow of him taking any
very active part in politics, and he has held but few offices. He was county
superintendent of public instruction in 1865-6 and was a member of the con-
vention that framed the present constitution of Illinois, in 1869-70, but resigned
March i, 1870, on account of ill health. Like his father, he holds a membership
in the Christian church and attributes his personal worth and his success largely
to the ennobling influence of the Rev. B. W. Henry. His life has ever been
upright and honorable, and over its record there falls no shadow of wrong.
His manner is kindly, cordial and genial, and renders him a social favorite not
only with those of his own age but with the younger people as well. No man has
been more prominently identified with the interests of Vandalia through the past
forty years than Beverly Walter Henry,' and throughout his life he has ever
upheld the majesty of the law, to which we must look for the protection of life
and liberty.

John Alexander Bingham, whose life record indicates a mastering of ex-
pedients and a triumph over obstacles which is indeed creditable, was born in
Cincinnati, Ohio, April" 23, 1853, and is a son of John and Mary Ann Catherine
Bingham. His father was born in county Down, Ireland, and the mother was
born in Philadelphia, only a few months after the arrival of her parents from the



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 869

Emerald Isle. John Bingham superintended the erection of the Marine sawmill
at Mound City, Illinois, in 1858, and operated the same during the period of the
civil war. In 1865, however, he removed to the farm upon which he now resides.

From the time when he was twelve years of age Mr. Bingham, of this review,
was forced to aid in the cultivation and improvement of the home farm. Pre-
vious to this time he had attended the public schools of Mound City, but after the
removal of the family to the farm his labors were needed in field and meadow,
and accordingly his educational privileges were very greatly limited. He worked
through six days in the week, plowing, planting and harvesting, and Sundays
were usually spent in searching for horses and cattle which had strayed away
during the week, so that he had little opportunity for rest, recreation or thought.
This led him to desire some other mode of life, and when eighteen years of age
he became very restless and determined to go to the city. His father, however,
wishing him to remain at home, offered him eighty acres of land, for which he
had recently traded a team of mules, the tract being four miles east of Shabonier.
It was to become Mr. Bingham's property on condition that he broke it, made
rails and fenced it. This he determined to do, and spent two winters in the river
bottom, where he camped in a shanty, making ten thousand rails in all, with
which he marked the boundaries of his prairie farm.

On the iQth of December, 1874, Mr. Bingham married Miss Cornelia L. Byl,
a young lady who had recently come to the county from Cincinnati, Ohio, where
she had graduated in the Hughs high school. Mr. Bingham, desirous of im-
proving his education, took up a course of study, in which he was instructed by
his wife, and through the winter months he pored over his books until he had
added greatly to his store of knowledge. In the fall of 1880 he determined to
read law, and in October entered the Cincinnati Law School. The following
June he returned home and harvested his wheat, which he had previously planted.
He then sowed another crop and again went to Cincinnati, where he was gradu-
ated in June, 1882. He was licensed to practice by the supreme court, at Spring-
field, Illinois, January 17, 1883, ar "d intended to sell his farm and enter upon his
professional career, but his wheat crop was an entire failure, and with a wife and
four children to support he was forced to bide his time. For about four years
longer he struggled on, and then, in 1887, removed to Vandalia, where he opened
a law office and has since engaged in practice. A large clientage is to-day his,
and he is now in control of a profitable business, which calls into play his talents
and energies, together with that abiding perseverance and strong determination
which are important elements in his character.

In April, 1888, only a short time after his removal to Vandalia, his wife died,
leaving six children, the eldest then thirteen years old, the youngest thirteen
months. In November, 1889, he married Mrs. Fannie E. Stoddard. His chil-
dren are: Mayme, born September 29, 1875; Maud, May 5, 1877; Rosa, July
18. 1879; Jessie, June 29, 1881 ; Beula, August 23, 1883; and Cornelia, January
2, 1887.

In connection with his law business Mr. Bingham is vice president of the
Vandalia Coal & Coke Company, and a director of the Vandalia Electric Light



870 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

Company. He has also been prominent in municipal affairs, and for two terms of
two years each served as city attorney of Vandalia. He was appointed public
guardian of the county under Governor Fifer, and held the office four years. By
President McKinley, he was appointed postmaster March 10, 1898, and is now
acceptably filling that office. A paper gave an account of his appointment as
follows : "It is claimed that Mr. Bingham broke all Washington records of
office-getting. He arrived in the capital city one night and the next morning
made his way to the White House. He was admitted without delay, and after
a short conversation with President McKinley came out with one of the presi-
dent's visiting cards on which was written, 'Postmaster General: Please appoint
J. A. Bingham postmaster at Vandalia. (Signed) William McKinley.' Mr.
Bingham made his way to the post-office department, deposited his order and
took the next train home. He has always been a stanch Republican, and has
been chairman of the county central committee for the past four years, and
secretary of the Republican congressional committee of the eighteenth district
for the past six years. In 1888 he received his party's nomination for prosecut-
ing attorney of Fayette county, and in 1896 was nominated for a position on
the state board of equalization. He is a very prominent member of the Knights
of Pythias fraternity, with which he became connected in 1888, when he joined
Ben Hur Lodge, of Vandalia. He has filled all its offices and is now district
deputy grand chancellor. He is also a member of the Court of Honor and the
Knights of the Maccabees. He belongs to the Methodist Episcopal church of
Vandalia, and for the past ten years has been 'chorister of the Sunday-school.
His life has been well spent, and in social, political and professional circles he
enjoys the regard of all with whom he has been brought in contact.

Judge George T. Turner, whose history is that of a successful man who had
passed his boyhood days on a farm but whose ambitions were far beyond the
ordinary routine work of an agriculturist, and who, overcoming various ob-
stacles in his pathway, carved out his own road to fortune and pre-eminence, is
a worthy type of the brave-hearted American youth, who puts all difficulties
.under his feet and steadily presses forward to greater and greater triumphs,
rising from an obscure position to one of honor and responsibility, solely through
his personal merits.

This well known citizen of Vandalia is one of the native sons of Fayette
county, Illinois, his birth having occurred on the parental homestead Decem-
ber 4, 1862. His father, William Turner, was a native of Ireland, and in his
early manhood he resided in England, where he worked at his trade as a
weaver of cotton goods. Having formed the desire to cast in his lot with the
favored inhabitants of the United States, he came across the Atlantic, and for
a short time was employed at his usual vocation on this side the water. Later,
he came to Illinois and having purchased a good farm in this county settled
down to a peaceful agricultural life. When the Civil war came on he offered his
services to the country of his love and adoption, and while he was in the army,
in March, 1865, the summons of death came to him. His widow, Elizabeth



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 871

Turner, has never married again and is still living in this county. She was a
native of this section of Illinois, but her parents were from Tennessee.

The education of Judge Turner was primarily that of the country schools in
the neighborhood of his early home. After completing his studies there he at-
tended the high school in Vandalia for two years, and in 1883 matriculated in the
Illinois Normal University at Carbondale. Having completed the full four years'
course in that institution of learning he was duly graduated in June, 1887. He
then began teaching school, being located in Carrollton for about two years,
and was in charge of one of the Vandalia schools for a year or two. In the mean-
time he took up the study of law, and for some time was in the law office of
Farmer & Brown, of this city. In May, 1891, he was admitted to the bar,
after passing the required examinations at Springfield, and within a few weeks
the law firm of Farmer, Brown & Turner was organized.

Since he received the right of franchise Judge Turner has been an active and
zealous Republican, taking great interest in the triumph of his party and party
principles. In 1894 he was honored by being made a candidate for the office of
county judge, on the Republican ticket, and was elected by a good majority.
Up to December of that year he remained a member of the firm above men-
tioned, but was then obliged to withdraw, on account of the press of his official
duties. He so demonstrated himself to be an earnest, upright judge, conscien-
tiously meeting the requirements of his responsible and exacting position,
that he, although a Republican, was re-elected to the position in November, 1898,
in that strongly Democratic county. He is well posted on law and carefully
and judiciously weighs all evidence presented to his notice. With a clear, well-
informed mind, analytical and logical, he follows the train of reasoning of lawyers
appearing before him, and with impartial justice sweeps away all sophistry, bring-
ing into full view real motives and facts. His future is one of great promise,
judging from the rapid strides forward in his profession which he has made
within a very few years. In 1888 he joined the Knights of Pythias and has not
only occupied nearly all of the offices in the subordinate lodge but has been a
member of the committee on law in the grand lodge for several years. Though
his people were identified with the Methodist church, he is not himself a member
of any denomination.

On the 30th of December, 1896, Judge Turner was united in marriage with
Miss Abbie M. Martin, of Barrington, Rhode Island. She comes from one of
the old and honored families of New England, their arrival here antedating the
Revolution, in which struggle many of her relatives were participants.



CHAPTER XLVII.

A SKETCH OF THE BENCH AND BAR OF JOHNSON COUNTY.

THE history of Johnson county jurisprudence goes back to the very earliest
days of our beloved state. Just after the beginning of the war of 1812
pioneers coming down the Ohio, and others' dropping across the historic
stream from Kentucky, began the settlement of "Egypt," as the delta region of
the Prairie state came to be known.

On the I5th day of July, 1813, Hamlet Fergusson and Jesse Griggs, two of
three judges of the county court (the absent member being John B. Murray), ap-
pointed for Johnson county, whose boundaries then reached from river to river
and far to the north, met in regular session, and held the first term of court in
this county.

The place of meeting was designated as the "House of John Bradshaw,"
near the present village of Lick Creek, just over the present west line of the
county, in Union county. The gentlemen composing this court exercised a
varied and complex jurisdiction, as evidenced by the records. They acted as
county commissioners, and had jurisdiction in probate matters ; they acted as
judges of the court of common pleas (the predecessor of the circuit court), and
had the power to try all criminal-law and chancery cases arising in this county.

Thomas C. Patterson was the first sheriff, and James Finney the first clerk of
the court. The latter seems to have been a careful official, judging from the
records he kept, and he served many years. The only objection, from an his-
torical standpoint, is an absence of any record of the residences of the officers
and lawyers.

Russell E. Heacock was the first attorney mentioned as practicing before the
court in this county, and he continued in the practice for a number of years.
Prior to the above a term of the court of common pleas, with the same judges on
the bench, had been held at the same place, but the session was brief and unevent-
ful, the records being short indeed.

On the 8th day of November, in the same year, the second term was held.
William Means appeared as United States attorney, while the list of lawyers in-
cluded Thomas C. Browne, Jeptha Hardin and William Russell. At this term
commissioners appointed by the court reported that they had located "the seat
of justice" on the southwest corner, section 5, township 12, range 2 east, near the
present post-office of Elvira.

Here a log court-house and jail were erected, in what was then the "forest
primeval," and hither came bench, bar and litigants. Here came James Conway,
as deputy attorney general, and John Miller, E. K. Kane and Henry F. Delany,
were added to the list of practitioners.

The circuit court here superseded the old court of common pleas, and the

872



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 873

first term convened at Elvira, June 26, 1815, with William Spraig as the first
judge ; James Evans was the first lawyer admitted to practice in the county, being
admitted, on license, May 18, 1818.

Upon the admission of Illinois as a state, in 1818, the county-seat of the
county, was permanently located at what is the present city of Vienna, where it
yet remains. The first term of circuit court convened June 14, 1819. It was
held in a log court-house located on the same block on which the present hand-
some brick one stands.

Thomas C. Browne was the first circuit judge, James Finney the first clerk,
and James Copland the first sheriff after statehood was established; Browne
was succeeded as judge by Samuel McRoberts, who gave way, in 1825, to
Richard M. Young.

In October, 1825, we meet for the first time the name of the illustrious David
J. Baker, father of the ex-chief justice of the supreme court, of that name, who
was appointed circuit attorney pro tempore for that term. For many years
Judge Baker "rode the circuit" to Vienna, and his forensic battles with Hon.
John Dougherty, another of the legal giants of the early days, are yet talked of
by the "oldest inhabitant." Thomas Reynolds was one of the attorneys at this
time, and here we find the first rules of court recorded.

In May, 1826, we find that for the first time in Johnson county the Nestor
of Illinois jurisprudence, Hon. Sidney Breese, appeared as circuit attorney.
After his elevation to the supreme bench he held one term of circuit court here.

Thomas C. Browne came back to the bench in October, 1827. After him
Hon. Walter B. Scates, one of the early justices of the supreme court, presided in
the circuit court for many years.

In November, 1834, John Dougherty, afterward circuit judge and lieutenant
governor, made his first appearance in Johnson county. Other practitioners,
several of whom afterward became judges, were Alexander F. Grant, Joseph
Young, Jesse J. Robinson, Jeptha Hardin, and Samuel D. Marshall.

We all love to think of the courts of those' days as models of decorum and
formality, conducted with the solemnity proverbially attributed to judicial pro-
ceedings. What a rude shock it is, then, to read on the records that "On the 6th
day of October, 1837, one James Westbrook, having been summoned as a juror,
on yesterday, on being called, appeared in court in a state of intoxication, and
demeaned himself in a disorderly manner, whereupon it is ordered that he be
imprisoned for the space of one hour." Ah, James, had you known the severity
of the sentence, methinks you would not have imbibed so deeply !

W. H. Stickney came as state's attorney in 1839. General John A. Mc-
Clernand, reared on a Johnson county farm, began his career here as a lawyer
in November, 1839, an d enjoyed a large practice until he went forth to do
valiant service for the Union. Wesley Sloan was admitted to practice the same
year. Willis Allen officiated first as state's attorney in 1841. The same year
witnessed the advent of Andrew J. Kuykendall as a practitioner, when he began
perhaps the longest term of practice of any lawyer ever in the county. He oc-
cupied many official positions during his long life ; was a state senator, member



874 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

of the constitutional convention of 1847, member of congress and county judge.
For many years after "circuit-riding" became obsolete, he had a monopoly of the
legal practice in the county, dying in 1891.

Richard S. Nelson and J. M. Davidge first appeared before the bar here in
1841. The immortal John A. Logan, idol of the "Egyptians," came first in 1843,
and for long years appeared in all leading cases. He was the hero of many a
hotly contested forensic battle, his most noteworthy opponent on many of these
occasions being the Hon. William J. Allen, now passing his declining years as
United States judge, at Springfield.

Andrew J. Duff was circuit judge during the first years of the war. One of
the noted lawyers who then began practice here was F. M. Youngblood, now of
Carbondale, who yet occasionally appears in our court. L. William Fern came
here in 1844, and for many years was a noted counsellor, his voice having been
ruined in his youth prevented his active work in court. He passed over to the
silent majority only a year or two ago.

But a word as to the more recent lawyers, and I must close. Oliver A.
Harker, for many years past, and yet, circuit and appellate court judge, began his
practice here in 1867, the Damrons, C. N. and A. G., practiced here a number
of years ; C. N. is dead, and A. G. is now in California. Hon. William A. Spann,



Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 37 of 83)