John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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all these teachings and teachers before him, it should not surprise any one that
Mr. Moore has not joined any church, although he aids in supporting all.

He remained with his father, working on a farm and going to school win-
ters, until the spring after he was sixteen, when his father "gave him his time,"
as it was then termed, and he went to school at Bedford that summer, and con-
tinued to go to school in the summer and teach school in the winter until the
spring of 1839, when he decided to leave Ohio for either the south or west.
Fortunately for him he came to Illinois and about the first of May he landed
in Pekin, Tazewell county, Illinois, with less than five dollars in his pocket, ready
to do any kind of work that was respectable. Pekin at that time had much more
wealth than Peoria, although Peoria had the greater population and being on the
west side of the river was considered more healthful. The Markses, David and
Elijah, the Alexanders, father and two sons, and the Wagensellers and Gideon
H. Rupert, all active and energetic men, were very wealthy for that day. A
kindly feeling will be always entertained for the people of Pekin for the friend-
ship and assistance given to struggling poverty. After teaching in Pekin until
the spring of 1840 Mr. Moore was offered an opportunity to write in the court-
house at Tremont, by officers John H. Morrison and John Albert Jones. The
first was clerk of the county court and recorder of deeds, the latter clerk of the
circuit court and master in chancery; and Mr. Moore now remembers both
with a lively sense of gratitude. At this time he commenced reading law with
Messrs. Bailey & Wilmot, and in July, 1841, he was examined in open court
and by the court admitted to practice law. He must also be allowed to name
another friend who aided greatly by his advice and kind acts, Littleton T.
Garth, a merchant in Tremont.

In August, 1841, he came to Clinton, De Witt county, Illinois, then a town of
about twelve families, when he commenced his career as a lawyer and business
man, meeting such men at court as Abraham Lincoln, David Davis, Wells Colton,
Asahel Gridley, Edward Jones, Charles Emerson, Kirby Benedict and some
others twice a year, and with only three days in each term, and many times the
business was done in two days: Samuel H. Treat was judge of the court then,
and we think his circuit embraced the counties of Sangamon, Tazewell, McLean,
Livingston, Logan, De Witt, Piatt, Champaign, Vermilion, Edgar, Coles, Shel-
by, Christian and Macon. The judge started on his circuit early in the spring
and made the rounds and got back to Springfield early in June, and started again
in September and finished the circuit in November. Mr. Lincoln and David Davis
usually went the entire rounds with him. Mr. Moore made the acquaintance of
Judge Davis in the fall of 1841, but outside of the law they had no business tran-
sactions until 1847 ar "d 1848.

Land then in some cases could be bought for less money of eastern merchants
than of the government, and in 1852 the copartnership of Davis & Moore was
formed for the purpose of entering, buying and holding land, selling only enough


to pay debts; land not sold was rented and improved. This copartnership was
dissolved only by the death of the Judge, June 26, 1886. Judge Davis was the
best reader of the human face and character, and a man of the greatest executive
ability of all men, Mr. Moore says, that he ever saw. Rascality could not be so
diluted or covered up but that as a judge he could detect it. His ability to size
up the capacities of men and give each his proper place in all daily walks of life
was astonishing, and it was hoped by his friends at one period that he might be
made president.

The law has always had in Mr. Moore's life a very powerful rival. He early
saw how impossible it would be for any lawyer, in any of the small county seats,
to make more than a decent living by the pure practice of law ; a few in the large
cities can do it. It required no prophetic eye to see and know that the black soil
of Illinois would some day be very valuable. Upon that basis he has invested all
his spare means, in land. He has surveyed and entered in his time, mostly for
others, between seventy and seventy-five thousand acres of land in Illinois, Iowa
and Missouri. It was the only thing in which money could be made in central

Mr. Moore never held an office. He early learned that going around trying
to get people to vote for him was not in his line, and he now tells the young men
around him that if he had been given all the offices he wanted in his younger days
his note for ten thousand dollars would not have been taken at any bank ; and if
any young man wants to get rich he should never run for office. Against the
amount of abuse they will receive, the little money they get doesn't pay.

Mr. Moore is now past his eightieth birthday, able to attend to his business
regularly, goes to Iowa, Nebraska and Kansas once a year, to look after his lands
and decide upon improvements, and hopes to stay here for many years, having no
knowledge of any better place than Illinois.

William Booth, a respected citizen of Clinton, Dewitt county, is one of the
old residents of this county, as he has spent nearly his entire life within its borders,
and has been actively interested in everything tending to promote its welfare or
develop its industries and wealth. For nearly a score of years he has been suc-
cessfully engaged in the practice of law at the county-seat, and for three terms he
officiated as state's attorney, being elected to that responsible position in 1880
and twice re-elected, his last term expiring in 1892. He made a capable, trust-
worthy official and added new laurels to those he had already won in the private
practice of law.

The eldest of four children, William Booth was born April 24, 1849, in Cedar-
ville, Ohio, his parents being John and Rosa (Piles) Booth. His great-grand-
mother was a Harper, belonging to the family for whom Harper's Ferry was
named, and at one time the historic ferry was owned by them. John Booth was a
farmer by occupation, and, having heard gratifying stories of the fertility of the
Illinois prairies, he decided to remove west in 1850, and settled in De Witt coun-
ty, where he became "well-to-do and respected.

William Booth spent his boyhood upon the farm, learning the various duties
of agricultural life and receiving his elementary education in the district schools.


He early imbibed the spirit of patriotism that pervaded the very air just prior to
the outbreak of the Civil war, and when the first shot was fired upon Fort Sum-
ter he was filled with longing- to go to the front and fight for the flag that had
been so outraged. Although he was not yet twelve years of age at that time he
was determined to enlist, and, as a drummer-boy, joined Company I of the One
Hundred and Forty-fifth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, commanded by Colonel
Lackey. It is believed that he was the youngest drummer boy who went to the
war from the state of Illinois. His education was completed in select schools
at Waynesville and in the Wesleyan University at Bloomington. In the last-
named institution he was graduated in 1874, and for the succeeding three years
he taught school, being principal at Waynesville for a portion of that period.
He next took up the study of law in the office of Orendorff & Creighton, of
Springfield, and, being admitted to the bar in 1879, began practice at once in
Clinton. He has conducted a general practice and has been alone in business,
virtually. In 1890 he married Miss Theresa Crang, of this city.

Hon. George K. Ingham. for a period of fourteen years, has ably and
creditably filled the position of county judge of De Witt county, winning the
favorable recognition of the bench and bar of this section of the state. His
decisions generally meet with the approval of those best qualified to pass cor-
rect judgment upon them. He is an earnest Republican in his political views
and is active and aggressive in promoting the interests of his party. In 1878
he was honored by being elected to the thirty-first general assembly of Illinois,
and served in that body for one term.

Born in the southern portion of Ohio, in Andersonville, Ross county, July
19. 1852, he is a son of Samuel and Nancy (King) Ingham. He was given
the advantages of a public-school education, which was supplemented by a
two-years course in the Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Illinois. The
family had removed to this state in 1858, and from that time to the present
Mr. Ingham has looked upon central Illinois as his home. In 1873 he decided
to enter the legal profession and to that end went to Ann Arbor, Michigan,
where he became enrolled as a student in the University of Michigan. Two
years later he was graduated in the law department of the college and for a
year or so thereafter he engaged in teaching. In the spring of 1876 he estab-
lished an office and began his chosen life-work in the town of Kenney, De Witt
county. Three years he continued in practice in that place, when, coming to
Clinton, he started in business. Since that time, 1879, he has been prospered
and his position as a lawyer has been assured. In 1883 he entered into partner-
ship with William Fuller, which association continued in existence, to the profit
and pleasure of both parties, until the death of Mr. Fuller, in 1894. In April,
1881, Mr. Ingham was appointed county judge and served in that capacity
until the expiration of his term in December, 1882. He was elected to the
office for a four-years term in 1886, was re-elected in 1890 and again in 1894,
being nominated by his party by acclamation each of those years, and also in
1898, at the time of this writing.

William Monson, for a period of twenty-three years has been established


in the practice of his profession in the town of Clinton, De Witt county. He
has been very active in public affairs, taking great and commendable interest in
all movements calculated to benefit the community in which he dwells, and
being concerned, likewise, in all things affecting the welfare of the country in

The ancestors of Mr. Monson were New England people, noted for upright-
ness and sterling integrity. His parents, B. W. and Sabra (Bates) Monson,
were both natives of Connecticut, and the father is still living, his home being
in Clinton. He has reached a hale and hearty old age, having passed the eighty-
seventh anniversary of his birth.

William Monson was born in Madison county, Ohio, December 21, 1845, and
in his youth he acquired the rudiments of his education in the public schools
near his home. Subsequently his studies were continued in the Wesleyan Uni-
versity at Bloomington, Illinois, and in 1873 he entered upon the study of law
in the office of Fuller & Graham. He was duly admitted to the bar at Mount
Vernon in June, 1875, and at once established an office in Clinton, where he
has since been actively and successfully occupied in practice. For about one
year he was alone, after which he was a member of the firm of his former pre-
ceptors, Fuller & Graham, up to 1883, when the style was changed to Fuller
& Monson. In the year following G. K. Ingham was admitted to partnership,
the firm style becoming Fuller, Monson & Ingham. Thus it remained for
three years, when Mr. Monson withdrew and associated himself in business with
George B. Graham during a period of four years. Nearly a year of this time,
however, Mr. Monson was absent in California, and when he returned from
that land of sunshine and flowers he joined R. A. Lemon, and together they
conducted business for about two years, since which Mr. Monson has been
alone. The various firms with which he has been associated for about a quarter
of a century have handled a large proportion of the legal cases of this county
and have been considered representative exponents of the law.

Prior to 1872 Mr. Monson was affiliated with the Republican party, and
in 1876 he voted for Peter Cooper. During the Centennial year he himself
made the race for the state's attorneyship on a combined ticket, and from 1875
to 1877 h ne ^ * ne ornce f city attorney here. In 1896 he ran for the county
judgeship against Ingham, and from 1882 to 1886 he was chairman of the Demo-
cratic central committee of this county.

In 1869 Mr. Monson married Miss Hattie Hutchins, of De Witt county,
and two sons and a daughter bless their union. Mrs. Monson is a daughter
of John D. Hutchins, a prominent and wealthy farmer of De Witt county.



THE county commissioners, at their meeting held in September, 1836, select-
ed grand and petit jurors for the first term of the Kane county circuit court.
The first term of the circuit court was held at Geneva, in James Her-
rington's log house, on the igth of June, 1837, Judge John Pearson presiding.
A. P. Hubbard acted as clerk pro tern, and B. F. Fridley was sheriff. The first
jury trial at this court was that of John Wilson et al. versus Thomas Wilson,
for trespass. The jury found the defendant guilty and assessed the plaintiff's dam-
ages at $4,160.66, an amount probably equal to all the money in circulation in
the county at the time. The calendar at that term was large, most of the actions
being for trespass. The grand jury presented five indictments, two for riot and
three for larceny; the rioters were fined five dollars and costs each at the fol-
lowing September term. Much of the business of this grand jury and of the
first term of court was with claim-jumpers and house-burners. A couple of these
worthies were in examination before the jury, and one of its members, Mr. Van
Nortwick, became so disgusted with the testimony that he impatiently blurted
out, "Gentlemen, you can think what you please, but I believe these fellows

swear to a d d lie, both of them." It was a favorite scheme with some of

these claim-jumpers to come from somewhere down the river, engage to do
a job of plowing for a settler, and after having plowed two or three acres drive
off and sell the claim to another party. These rascally proceedings did not
always result healthfully for the perpetrators.

At this term of court Mark W. Fletcher was appointed clerk in place of
Hubbard, who resigned after the first day. It is said that not a single lawyer
was then living within the limits of Kane county. Alonzo Huntington was the
state's attorney in attendance on the court. Selden M. Church had been ap-
pointed clerk originally, but removed to Rockford before court was held, and
Mr. Hubbard received his appointment from Judge Ford September 21, 1836.
This first term of court lasted three days, during which time there were five
jury trials, four changes of venue granted, fourteen judgments rendered,
amounting to five thousand four hundred dollars, twenty suits continued and
five dismissed; therefore it seems the pioneers dabbled quite extensively in
legal proceedings, and usually for cause. It is recorded that Jacob B. Mills
and H. N. Chapman were at this term granted the privilege of practicing as attor-
neys in the court. On the second day John Douglass, by birth a Scotchman,
renounced his allegiance to the British government and swore fealty to that of
the United States.

In September, 1837, the second term of the court was held by Judge Thomas.



Most of the settlers attended the terms of court, it is said, either as jurors,
parties to suits or witnesses, or merely as spectators. Besides the suits brought
on account of conflicting claims to lands, there was much trouble and litigation
over prairie fires, carelessly kindled. These were, in the language of an eminent
member of the bar and formerly a practitioner of the Kane county courts, "an
annual terror," and caused great destruction of property. When Mark W.
Fletcher was clerk of the courts he had a Bible upon which to swear witnesses,
and on one side of it was a cross, while a dollar embellished the other side, the
witness having his choice of objects to swear upon. Mark W. Fletcher is still
living and retains his faculties in a marked degree and bears the distinction of
being the oldest living graduate of Dartmouth College.

The first judge of the circuit court, for the district which included Kane
county, was John Pearson, and the second Thomas Ford, who was in 1842
elected governor of the state. Hon. B. C. Cook has said of him: "He was
one of the best circuit judges I ever knew." He was succeeded by Judge Caton,
and the latter by Judge T. Lyle Dickey. Previous to 1852 the prosecuting
attorneys of the district were Xorman H. Purple, afterward a judge of the
supreme court, and one of the ablest attorneys in the state; Seth B. Farwell,
B. F. 1-ridley and Burton C. Cook, the last named holding from 1846 to 1852,
and attending every term of the court held in the county. He succeeded Mr.
Fridley, during whose term the courts were called upon to take in hand the
work of suppressing a class of criminals such as are found at some period
troubling the settlers in all new countries. Concerning this momentous period
Mr. Cook says: "During the term of Mr. Fridley as prosecuting attorney, and
for a part of my term, the northwestern part of the state was infested by a most
dangerous and wicked association of outlaws, thieves and counterfeiters, such
as are often found upon the frontiers of civilization, having grips, signs and
passwords whereby they could identify each other, and bound by oaths to pro-
tect each other. 1 hey were the enemies of society, unscrupulous and brutal. The
citizens of De Kalb and Ogle counties organized bands of regulators to protect
themselves and their property. Mr. Campbell, the captain of the regulators,
was shot at his own house, at White Oak Grove, and then the citizens followed,
captured and shot some of the more notorious of the gang, and it was finally
broken up in this section. The able and efficient prosecution by my friend,
Mr. Fridley, was greatly appreciated by the bar and by the citizens generally at
the time, and was greatly instrumental in freeing the country from the presence
of evil-doers. The indignation excited by the torturing death of Colonel Daven-
port, at Rock Island, caused such persistent and hot pursuit of the rascals, and
the execution of so many of them, that the gang was wholly suppressed."

The main trouble with these desperate outlaws was in the region lying along
the Rock river and its tributaries, which was settled by a much less desirable
class than that which for the most part peopled the Fox river valley; but the
records show that even in Kane county there was more or less difficulty with
them. Their principal acts of outlawry consisted of horse-stealing, and they
were adepts at the business. At the April (1848) term of the circuit court two


men, Ames and Holmes, were convicted of stealing a span of horses from
William Lance, of Blackberry, and sentenced to eight years' imprisonment in
the penitentiary at Alton, whither they were taken by Sheriff Spaulding. In
September of the same year the county commissioners passed an order offering
a reward, not exceeding fifty dollars, for the apprehension and conviction of
each person found guilty of stealing a horse, mare or mule, within the limits of
Kane county.

Very comical incidents sometimes occurred in the court, human nature
then being much the same as at the present day. During the December term, in
1858, a couple of rival horse-doctors on the witness stand made considerable
sport for the spectators. One of them solemnly- swore to his positive knowledge
of a disease among horses called the red belly-ache, while the other as solemnly
and earnestly swore there was no such thing, and both adhered tenaciously
to their belief, defending their positions with much loud talk and many emphatic

The probate judge originally was simply a probate justice of the peace, who
was his own clerk, and conducted the- business of his office without the presence
of the sheriff or his bailiff. Archibald Moody, of St. Charles, died July 27, 1836,
and the first recorded act of the probate court was the granting of letters of
administration to his widow, Lydia C. Moody, by Mark Daniels, probate jus-
tice, on the 6th of June, 1837. The bonds of the administratrix were two
thousand dollars, with Gideon Young as surety. The first will probated was
that of Warren Tyler, also of St. Charles. It was dated September 10, 1837,
and proved and admitted to record November i, 1837, by Isaac G. Wilson, who
had succeeded Daniels as probate justice. The first letters of guardianship were
issued to Moses Selby, as guardian of Rebecca Gillespie, November 5, 1838. The
seal of this probate court is described as a "copper block, with a weeping willow
and tombstone, emblematic in those days, of grief for the dead." In 1849, under
the new constitution, the probate justices gave place to the county court, of
which Isaac G. Wilson, the well known circuit judge, was elected first judge, with
James Herrington as county clerk. Judge Isaac G. Wilson died June 8, 1891.
The present circuit judge is Henry B. Willis, of Elgin, and Charles A. Bishop, of
Sycamore, and George W. Brown, of Wheaton, complete the circuit. Judge
Wilson and James Herrington were elected in November, 1849, commissioned
in December, and held the first term of the county court in January, 1850, begin-
ning on the loth of the month. Of this court Andrew J. Walclron and Marcus
White were associate justices. Among other business transacted was the grant-
ing of grocers' licenses i. e., licenses for the sale of liquors to John D.
Wygant, of Batavia, and William G. Webster, of Geneva, the charge for the same
being twenty-five dollars each.

When the original charter of the city of Aurora was granted by the legisla-
ture, in 1857, it was given an addendum providing for a city court at that
place, and A. C. Gibson was chosen the first judge. Elgin copied and adopted
the Aurora charter, and a city court was also created at that place, of which C. H.
Morgan was the first judge. By the terms of these charters, the expenses of


the courts were to be met by their respective cities. An act was passed in 1859
providing that the same judge should preside over both courts, and the two
were consolidated under the title of the court of common pleas of the cities of
Aurora and Elgin. The bulk of business was transacted in the Aurora branch.
In 1870, when the new state constitution was framed and adopted, a clause was
inserted similar to that in the constitution of 1848, by which Kane county is
entitled to have a city court, with terms held at Elgin and Aurora. The judge
of this court was Hon. A. H. Barry, of Elgin. Russell P. Goodwin, of Aurora,
succeeded Judge Barry, and is now presiding judge. Several attempts have been
made to abolish the court, but a necessity for its continuance seemed to exist,
and the efforts proved futile.

The judicial district embracing Kane county has been remarkably fortunate
in its choice of men to occupy the bench. Judge Ford, in his subsequent career
as governor of Illinois, won an enviable reputation by his upright and straightfor-
ward administration of the affairs of the commonwealth. Judge John Dean Caton
was for many years an honored resident of La Salle county, and Judge Dickey,
who was from the same county, has also passed to that higher court whose Judge
is ruler of the universe, his death having occurred July 22, 1885. His duties as
circuit judge were admirably discharged, and his marked ability was evident
in his career as a judge of the supreme court of Illinois. Judge Pearson was
judge of the seventh judicial circuit, Kane county being in the sixth, and held
court several times in said county. Judge Jesse B. Thomas belonged in what
was then the first circuit, and Judge Caton was a justice of the supreme court
at the same time his services were rendered in the Kane circuit. His first term
here began August 25, 1842. Hon. Isaac G. Wilson's first term of the Kane
county circuit court began August u, 1851, Phineas W. Platt being, at the time,
state's attorney.

Judge Wilson was a native of Miclcllebury (now Wyoming) county, New
York, and the son of an eminent lawyer and judge. He was graduated at
Brown University, at Providence, Rhode Island, in 1838, and removed at once

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 41 of 83)