John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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permanently. He went to Joliet and studied for a time in the office of the late
Judge John M. Wilson and Judge Henderson, and, after being admitted to the
practice, came to Chicago on June i, 1847. John M. Wilson had recently re-
moved here and had formed a partnership with L. C. P. Freer, and Cornell
became a clerk in their office. He was afterward employed in the office of
James H. Collins and of Skinner & Hoyne, and when Mr. Hoyne was elected
probate judge he acted as clerk. In 1851 he formed a partnership with William
T. Barren and they did a large business. In 1856 Barron was elected probate
judge, when he became associated with the late Judge John A. Jameison and
Perkins Bass, and after that with H. N. Hibbard, the firm being Cornell,
Jameison & Hibbard.

He always had great faith in the future of Chicago and invested largely in
real estate. He purchased the town site of Hyde Park, laid it out into lots
and sold many of them and improved the rest. He also laid out Grand Cross-
ing, built a hotel there and established a watch factory. He took a great inter-
est in schools and churches and contributed largely to their support. He was
an ardent supporter of the project for establishing parks in the south division of
the city, and was for a number of years one of the park commissioners. He was
one of the organizers of the Oakwoods Cemetery Association and has done
quite as much in building up and improving our city and its suburbs as any-


one now living. He is a good and valuable citizen and is now, in his old age,
enjoying the fruits of his labors. Such men should not be forgotten.

Lyman Trumbull, now deceased, although not a resident of the city of
Chicago, or a member of the Chicago bar until within the last twenty-five years,
is yet one of the early pioneers of this state and a man of national fame. He
was in Chicago when it was nothing but a bustling frontier town and was
one of the oldest practitioners in this state. He lived for many years at Belle-
ville, and occupied various public positions in this state, such as secretary of
state and judge of the supreme court. He was a member of the United States
senate for three terms and served during the entire period of the civil war. He
was the contemporary of Lincoln, Shields and Douglas and all of the public
men of that time, and was chairman of the judiciary committee while serving in
the senate. He was elected judge of the supreme bench in 1848, his associates
being Samuel H. Treat and John Dean Caton. He resigned in 1853, on his
election to the senate.

Few men that ever lived within our borders have had such a varied ex-
perience in connection with the events which have transpired in this state as he.
He knew the founders of this commonwealth and took part in some of the most
stirring scenes that ever were enacted here. He came among the early pioneers
when they commenced to grow weary and continued on the march ever after-
ward. He was a great lawyer and when he had thoroughly examined any ques-
tion, which it was his habit to do, his judgment was always found sound and
reliable. He occupied a high position at the Chicago bar and vvas a credit to
the profession which he so greatly honored.

The same may be said of the Hon. James R. Doolittle,* who came here
from Wisconsin after a long service upon the bench and in the United States
senate as the associate of Trumbull, and, although advanced in years, he has the
vigor of youth about him in both mind and body, and is to-day a lawyer
capable of performing great things.

Calvin De Wolf is one of our old-timers and looks back with smiles over
the snows of more than eighty winters. He arrived in Chicago October 31,
1837, and in 1838 entered the law office of Spring & Goodrich. He was ad-
mitted to the bar in May, 1843. He was elected a justice of the peace in 1854,
which office he held up to 1879. In '1879 he resumed the practice, but he did
not continue it long, as it was not necessary, and he is now resting on his well
earned laurels, with a competency sufficient to satisfy the largest ambition. In
his early days he was an abolitionist of the most pronounced type and belonged
to that well known school of philosophers and philanthropists of which Dr.
Dyer, George Manierre and Owen Lovejoy were types. He has seen much
of the world, and knew all of the old lawyers when in their prime. His
reminiscences would be valuable.

Harvey B. Kurd belongs to the old regime, although he did not join the
Chicago bar until 1848. In 1847 ne began the study of law in the office of

* James R. Doolittle died July 27, 1897, on the sixtieth anniversary of his wedding day.


Calvin De Wolf and was admitted to the bar in 1848. He commenced practice
with Carlos Haven, who afterward distinguished himself as state's attorney for
the Cook and Lake county circuit. He was also connected in business with
the late Henry Snapp of Joliet, who was for sometime a member of congress,
and also with Andrew J. Brown. He was one of the founders of the flourishing
city of Evanston, and took up his residence there in 1855 and resides there now.
His career has been most honorable and public-spirited and he has done
much first and last to further the best interests of the community. He is a
monument of industry and perseverance.

Ezra B. McCagg is one of the links in the remote past of the Chicago bar.
He is a native of Kinderhook, and was born November 25, 1825. He studied
law in the office of Monell, Hogeboom & Monell of Hudson, at that time one
of the best known firms in all that region, and was admitted to the bar in 1847.
In the summer of that year he came to Chicago and formed a partnership with
J. Y. Scammon, which continued many years. Samuel W. Fuller became a
member of the firm about 1859, which continued until his death. No one now
at the bar has had a more varied experience than Mr. McCagg. He has seen
not only the city grow from a great overgrown frontier town to a metropolis,
but he has seen the number of lawyers grow from fifty to that of over four
thousand three hundred. No lawyer at the Chicago bar has traveled so much
as he, and none have had such opportunities to make themselves well informed
and well read as he. He was not at the start pinched for money, like many
others, but he supplied himself with whatever law books were needed and when
I came here in 1852 the law library of Scammon & McCagg was by far the best
of any of the lawyers in the city. There is not a spot or place in Europe but
what he has visited, some of them many times, and if he were to write out his
adventures and give a history of his travels it would be not only very interesting,
but thrilling.

Mr. McCagg is, in every sense, not only an accomplished lawyer, but an
accomplished gentleman. He is a great lover of art and of books, and at the
time of the fire in 1871 had one of the finest private libraries in the west. I
lived within a very short distance from him, and having a fine library myself,
which was doomed to destruction by the remorseless conflagration, watched
to see if it would treat Mr. McCagg's belongings the same way. This was not
anticipated, for his house, like that of his brother-in-law (Mahlon D. Ogden),
stood nearly in the center of a large block, without any buildings near it, and
no one had an idea that the flames would attack it, much less destroy it, but they
did. This was the result of the cowardice, panic, fright or utter stupidity of the
servants, who never lifted a finger to sweep off the burning coals and fire
brands from the porches or around the dwelling, but allowed the fire to come in
contact with the house and set it on fire., Mr. McCagg was at that time in
Europe, and it made my heart sink when I saw the smoke begin to curl above
the roof and knew that all the priceless treasures therein contained, the re-
sult of years of collecting in every part of the world, were to be devoured. I
could not myself render any assistance, for the wailings of a terrified household


were clinging to me, and everything that I had was at that moment being con-
sumed with "fervent heat" amid the roar of the elements like that of the last

When I first came to the city I used to hear a great deal about Colonel
James M. Strode, who was at one time state's attorney of the fifteen northern
counties of the state in the time of Judge Young, and who rode the circuit with
Judge Young, Ben Mills and others. He came from Kentucky and resided for
some time in southern Illinois, and then struck north to the lead mines at
Galena, where he prospered and flourished to his heart's content for a consider-
able period. He was our state senator from 1832 to 1836, as well as from a num-
ber of the other northern counties, with his residence at Galena. He was register
of the land office here from 1836 to 1840. He was a member of the Chicago
bar and prosecuting attorney from about 1844 to 1848. He was identified with
the bar of Jo Daviess, Cook and McHenry counties, and died within our time, if
I mistake not, while residing in McHenry county. His name is attached to a let-
ter signed by the leading citizens of Chicago addressed to Alexander McKinzie,
dated October 3, 1838, in which they express their high appreciation of Mr.
McKinzie's efforts to entertain the people by a series of theatrical performances
and trusted that before he left the city he would allow them to testify their
regard for him "by appointing an evening for a benefit for himself." Mr.
McKinzie replied to this highly complimentary letter on the nth of October,
1838, which is addressed to H. L. Rucker, J. M. Strode, Buckner S. Morris and
others, acknowledging the receipt of the communication and naming Thursday
evening, the i8th, as the benefit night. I mention this to show that the
Colonel was not only a devotee of the law, but a patron of the drama.

He seems to have formed, at an early day, a very exaggerated idea of the
prowess of the Indians, and among the earliest things mentioned of him was in
1832, when he accompanied Judge Young to this city from Galena to hold court,
that he and Ben Mills brought the first intelligence of the atrocities of the
Indians on Rock river, and most of the anecdotes extant of him relate in some
way to his connection with the aborigines. Thomas Hoyne says that about a
year after his arrival in Chicago :

I was standing upon Lake street opposite the old Tremont House, a three-story
frame building, or tavern, standing diagonally across from where the present house of
that name now is. It was then on the northwest corner of Lake and Dearborn streets,
instead of the southeast corner, where it now stands.

The late Governor Ford, then a judge (in 1838) was holding a term of the court
which the mob would have suppressed but for the action of the lawyers, in 1837. He had
been to dinner and stood picking his teeth on the front stoop. He smiled significantly
as a coarsely-clad country stranger inquired of him and others standing by if he could
tell him of a place in this state called "Stillman's Run or Defeat." Ford said: "There
(pointing) is a gentleman crossing the street. Colonel Strode is just the man that knows
?.I1 about that defeat. Quick, hail him." He did so. Strode turned and saw Ford look-
ing at him and watching' him. The Colonel, suspecting the trick, abruptly answered the
countryman by saying that if there was such a place as "Stillman's Defeat" he could not
prove it by him. The point of the inquiry related to an incident of the Black Hawk war


which Ford has preserved in his history of the state, where, at a place now known as Still-
man's Run, a small detachment of militia or volunteers, under the command of Colonel
Strode, became panic-stricken and ran away. Ford knew that Strode was mortally sensi-
tive about this matter, although he had himself immortalized it by 'describing it in the
most picturesque and graphic manner. The Indians, it appeared, came into view in the
offing, and perhaps some shots were interchanged, when the whole detachment (under
Strode) took to their horses and rode away at full speed. They all went upon the principle
of each man for himself and the devil take the hindmost. They made for headquarters
at Dixon and each one supposed that he was the only survivor of a most terrible massacre.
The accounts they brought were of the most blood-curdling nature, and they each averred
that the force under Black Hawk could not be less (from appearances) than twenty
thousand warriors. It was, according to these stricken and frightened fugitives, a sort of
Custer massacre of a later age, and Ford declares that Strode, who arrived promptly on time
at headquarters from the seat of war, asserted that all of his companions fell, bravely
fighting hand to hand with the savage enemy, and he alone was left upon the field of battle
to tell the story. And then he continues: ''The gallant Colonel said that at the time he
discovered a body of horsemen to his left in tolerable order: 'I immediately deployed to the
left, when, leaning down and placing my body in a recumbent position upon the mane of
my horse, so as to bring the heads of the horsemen between the eye and the horizon, I
discovered by' the light of the moon that the whole body were gentlemen without hats and
then I knew by all the gods they were no friends of mine. I therefore made a retrograde
movement and recovered my former position, where I remained meditating what further
I could do in the service of my country, when a random ball came whistling by my ear
and plainly whispered to me: "Stranger, you have no further business here;" upon which
I followed the example of my companions in arms and broke for tall timber, and the way
I ran and the horse ran was never equaled in Spain or at Waterloo.' "

Colonel Strode gives another account of what happened to him while on
his way from Fort Clarke, now Peoria, to Galena at the time of Black Hawk's
appearance with his savage troops on Rock river. The Colonel said : "I was
on horseback, having my linen in one side of my saddle bags and Chitty's Plead-
ings and Blackstone's Commentaries on the other. As I approached Dixon's
Ferry, where we usually crossed the river, I espied the advancing host. When
I saw they were gentlemen without hats I knew that they were no friends of
mine and I whirled and turned my horse's head to the rear and put my stirrups
into his flanks. He stumbled and fell, but I did not wait for him to rise or to
secure my saddle bags. I was in great haste, and at once escaped to the thicket.
But what do you suppose happened the next day? Upon my word, old Black
Hawk was seen strutting up and down the banks of Rock river with one of my
ruffled shirts drawn over his deer skin, with Chitty's Pleadings under one arm
and Blackstone's Commentaries under the other."

Colonel Strode was tall and straight and prided himself upon his Kentucky
ancestry. He always wore ruffled shirts, as in the olden times, and was some-
what pompous and grandiloquent. He had resided in the southern portion of
the state, and possessed a great fund of information regarding the early history
of this state. He was kind and genial in his way and hospitable to a fault. He
was in many respects a typical southern pioneer.

William H. Brown was a native of Connecticut, but his father was a native
of Rhode Island and his profession was the law, which he practiced for some


twenty-five years at Auburn, New York, and then removed to the city of New
York, where he died. His son, William, studied law in his office and on his
admission practiced with him for some time. About the year 1817 glowing
accounts began to be circulated through the interior of New York of the
fertility and future prospects of Illinois, and the great probability of its soon
being admitted into the Union as a state. Brown was well acquainted with
Samuel D. Lockwood, and he and some other young men resolved that they
would go out and explore the country and ascertain the facts for themselves.

Accordingly a party of ten was made up, among whom were Brown, Lock-
wood, David E. Cuyler, Daniel Curtis and John C. Rochester. They pro-
posed to make the journey by flat-boat down the Allegheny and Ohio rivers.
The place of rendezvous was Olean Point and the time of starting was some
day in October, 1818, but the exact date I am unable to ascertain. On leaving
Auburn the party changed most of their funds, at the suggestion of a bank presi-
dent, into new bills of his bank, just from the engraver. At Olean Point pay-
ments for a flat-boat for the party and other purchases were made in these bills.
When everything was ready for the trip down the river the party spent the
night in their cabin, expecting to start early the next morning, but their
slumbers were disturbed by the arrival of the sheriff with a posse, who arrested
the whole company as a band of counterfeiters. The storm of indignation that
arose can be imagined but not described. The young lawyers had a chance to
show their oratory, but the sheriff resolved that he must perform his duty. The
whole party was marched off to the justice's office. A brief explanation opened
the eyes of the justice, and the parties were discharged without trial, but their
indignation did not subside and Olean Point never lingered on their memory
as a thing of beauty or a fitting location for a summer resort.

Lockwood had been admitted to the bar and so had several others of the
party. After this episode they proceeded on their voyage, and without many
startling incidents, except passing the first steamboat they ever saw, which was
aground in the Ohio, they finally reached Shawneetown, where the party
broke up. I do not know what became of any of them except Brown and
Lockwood and Rochester. Rochester, after his tour had ended, returned to
New York and became a prominent citizen, a member of congress and was a
candidate for governor, losing the election by only a few votes.

The arrest for "counterfeiting" had probably passed out of mind of all the
persons concerned in it, when Judge Lockwood was in after years reminded of
it in this way. He was holding court in Edwards county when a man was
brought up for trial before him, who, to the surprise of his counsel and against
their advice, insisted upon a change of venue on the ground that the judge was
prejudiced against him. When assured by the counsel that this could not be
and pressed for the reason for his feeling in the case, he told the story of the
arrest of the counterfeiters ; that he was the sheriff that made the arrest and was
afraid that the judge would recognize him, and if he did, would lay it up
against him. The story was, when told, regarded as a good joke, but the
venue was changed.


Lockwood and Brown made the trip from Shawneetown to Kaskaskia, at
that time the state capital, on foot, a distance of one hundred and twenty miles,
expecting to reach their destination on Christmas, but being wholly unaccus-
tomed to that mode of travel, the progress was slower than calculated, and they
did not enter the village of log cabins until the 26th of December. On Christ-
mas day Brown and Lockwood were overtaken by two young men in some sort
of a vehicle, which was probably a cross between a prairie schooner and a
buckboard, who, like themselves, were on their way to the capital, to settle and
grow up with the country. They stopped and held quite a conversation with
them and then passed on, regretting that their rig was of such a nature as to
prevent their sharing it with them. These young men were Thoman Mather
and Sidney Breese, who afterward became prominent in the history of our
state, and in the wayside chat that ensued it was ascertained that these four
young men were all from New York and were born and brought up not many
miles from each other.

In the spring of 1819 Brown was appointed clerk of the United States court,
which office he held for the period of sixteen years. The seat of government
being removed to Vandalia, and the law requiring the clerk cf the court to keep
his office at the capital of the state, Mr. Brown followed it thither in December,
1820. He was innately and conscientiously opposed to slavery, and the consti-
tution of the state had not been in force four years before the pro-slavery poli-
ticians began the agitation for calling a convention to revise the constitution and
establish slavery. Southern Illinois was at that time just about as much a slave
state as Kentucky and Tennessee and most all the prominent men in it were in
favor of making the state a slave state. Elias Kent Kane, United States Sen-
ator McLean, Judge Phillips, Theophilus W. Smith, Judge Samuel McRoberts,
afterward United States senator, A. P. Field, Governor Bond, McKinney, R. M.
Young, the Reynolds and many others were all in favor of it ; while the oppo-
sition was headed by Governor Coles, William H. Brown, Rev. J. M. Peck,
Judge Lockwood, Daniel P. Cook, Judge Pope, Morris Birbeck, George
Flower, David Blackwell, Hooper Warren, Henry Eddy, George Forquer,
George Churchill and others.

The vote in the legislature, submitting the question to the people for call-
ing a convention so as to make it a slave state, was carried by a single vote, that
is, the two-thirds majority was carried by a single vote, and that vote was
obtained by unseating a member and putting another in his place in the most
outrageous and unscrupulous manner. The people, when they heard of this,
took fire, and, as the question of calling the convention had to be submitted
to a vote of the people, they rose to the exigencies of the occasion and resolved
if possible, by the aid of Almighty God, to prevent it. Each anti-convention
member of the general assembly contributed fifty dollars to a common fund.
Governor Coles gave his whole four years' salary, amounting to four thousand
dollars, to the work. Lockwood resigned his office as secretary of state, with its
meager fees, and accepted the office of receiver of public moneys in order to earn
money to carry on the work, and William H. Brown became the proprietor and


editor of a newspaper and devoted his very soul to the task of averting the
awful calamity which threatened our state. Rev. John M. Peck of St. Clair,
county proceeded to organize every county and every community into a holy
alliance ; and men, women and children entered into the campaign. There
never was such a campaign before or since, but, thanks to God, when the votes
were counted, the convention party was beaten by a handsome majority, the
vote standing 4,950 for a convention and 6,822 against, being a majority of
1,872 in a total vote of 11,772. Mr. Brown, having accomplished a great work
in southern Illinois, was appointed the cashier of a branch of the State Bank of
Illinois, at Chicago, and removed here in 1835 and took the management of the
same. The bank went out of business in 1837, and from that time on Mr.
Brown did more or less law business, and when I came to the city was asso-
ciated in business with Mather & Taft, but not as a partner. Mr. Brown was
in business for many years with Alfred Cowles, an old pioneer lawyer, who went
to California in 1853, an ^ di e d there a few years ago. The firm of Cowles &
Brown appears in the city directory of 1846 under the name of Cowles &
Brown, with an office over the old State Bank, at the southwest corner of
La Salle street and South Water.

Mr. Brown was for many years school agent, and managed its affairs with
great skill and fidelity. In 1846 he, in connection with some others, purchased
the original charter of the Galena & Chicago Union Railroad Company from
the estate of E. K. Hubbard, and measures were immediately taken to build
that road. Mr. Brown invested a considerable amount in the same and be-
came one of its largest stockholders and finally its president.

I was associated with him for several years in the capacity of general
solicitor of the road and was greatly impressed with his executive ability and the
attention which he gave to every department of the road, even to the utmost
details. Frequent applications were made to him at that time for passes and for
various favors such as are common to railroad managers. Some he granted and
some he refused. I said to him one day: "Mr. Brown, you are the only man
I ever knew who can say no as easy as you can say yes." Mr. Brown laughed

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 4 of 83)