John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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and said that it was perhaps an acquired habit, for when he was cashier of the
old State Bank he was applied to constantly for loans which if he had granted
would have bankrupted the institution in a week, and that was how he had
acquired the habit.

Mr. Brown was one of the most upright and conscientious men that I ever
knew. He devoted much of his later years to the establishment of charitable
institutions. He was a leading member of the Second Presbyterian church and
a life-long friend of the late Dr. R. W. Patterson, the pastor of that church, with
whom he was acquainted before coming to Chicago. In the summer of 1860
Mr. Brown and his wife left Chicago on a tour of Europe and, after traveling
through Great Britain and some of the countries on the continent, reached
Amsterdam, where he was taken down with the smallpox and died at the Bible
Hotel, a leading hotel in that city, on the I7th of June, 1867, aged seventy-
two years. He was one of the most useful citizens that Chicago ever had, and


the bar may well be proud of his exemplary character. He was one of the most
garefnl and trustworthy lawyers that ever advised a client or tried a case. His
business was strictly an office business, and in his later years he did nothing but
attend to his own affairs.

I have spoken at length of Mr. Jotiett, the first lawyer who ever took up his
abode in Chicago, and who did for a time act as Indian agent. He was suc-
ceeded by Dr. Alexander Wolcott. He was born at East Windsor, Connecti-
cut, February 14, 1790. His father graduated from Yale College in 1778 and
became a distinguished attorney. Alexander Wolcott, Jr., graduated from the
same institution in 1809. He was the third of four children. His eldest sister
was married twice, her second husband being Arthur W. Magill of Middletown,
Connecticut. Henry, the second' child, removed to Chicago in 1836, and died
here April, 1846. Henry was the father of the late Alexander Wolcott, who was
for many years city and county surveyor. Alexander and Mary Ann were the
third and fourth children.

^ Dr. Alexander Wolcott, Indian agent, was married to Ellen Marion Kinzie,
daughter of John and Eleanor Kinzie, on the 2oth of July, 1823, by John Ham-
lin, a justice of the peace of Fulton county, in which county Chicago then was.
In 1820 he accompanied Governor Cass in his famous expedition to the upper
lakes, Major Robert Forsythe and Henry L. Schoolcraft being of the party.
He was appointed justice of the peace for Peoria county December 26, 1827, in
which Chicago then was, and was a judge of election and voter at a special elec-
tion called to elect a justice, which was held at the house of John Kinzie in the
Chicago precinct of l*eoria county. He died late in the fall of 1830, and his
widow married the well-known orator and old-time lawyer, George C. Bates, of
Detroit, who removed to Chicago sometime in the '6os, and was for a time very
conspicuous. Mrs. Bates died at Detroit August i, 1860, leaving one son,
Kinzie Bates, who was connected with the United States Army. Mr. Bates
was a very handsome man, dressed faultlessly, was courtly in his manners and
polished in all of his address. He had been much in Washington before he came
"here and was well acquainted with all of the public men of his time. After he
had practiced here for some years he was appointed United States district attor-
ney for the territory of Utah and took up his abode at Denver, Colorado, where
he died a few years ago, well advanced in years. He was one of the most kind-
hearted of men. His life was filled with the most striking vicissitudes and his
reminiscences of the men at Washington in the days of Webster, Cass, Clay and
Calhoun were of the most interesting character. Peace to his memory.

Edward W. Casey of New Hampshire was the fifth lawyer to take up his
abode here, in 1833, and was for a time deputy clerk of Richard J. Hamilton,
clerk of the circuit court. He practiced for some time in partnership with
Buckner S. Morris, the firm name being Morris & Casey. He returned to New
Hampshire and died there a number of years ago. He was a strong and vigor-
ous lawyer and able advocate.

James Grant, the sixth member of the Chicago bar, was admitted to prac-
tice in this state Alarch 26. 1836. In 1836 he represented Arthur Bronson in



making sales of some seven thousand acres of land at the terminus of the Illi-
nois and Michigan canal. In 1836 he formed a partnership with Francis Pey-
ton, which continued until about 1839, when he removed to Davenport, Iowa,
where he rose to distinction, and where he died a few years ago.

A. N. Fullerton of Vermont came here in 1833 and was for a time a partner
of Grant Goodrich. He drifted into commercial pursuits, and died September
29, 1880, possessed of a very large fortune.

The names of Royal Stewart, William Stuart and Hans Crocker appear on
the records as lawyers at a very early period, but I do not know much about
them. Hans Crocker removed from here to Milwaukee and became prominent
in business circles. He took an active part in the great river and harbor con-
vention which was held in Chicago in 1847.

James Curtis came here early, and was a shrewd lawyer and man of ability,
but very much inclined to be a demagogue. He was, as the common expression
is nowadays, just "built that way." He set himself up as the champion of the
people and was more inclined to talk politics than practice law. He had many
good traits in his character and drew around him many friends and adherents.
He was elected mayor of the city in 1847 an d again in 1850. He was appointed
by Judge Hugh T. Dickey the first clerk of the old Cook county court, now the
superior court of Cook county. In 1837, when the panic came, he was in favor
of all the courts suspending, so that the poor debtors could have a chance to re-
cuperate, and at a public meeting called to consider this question he said that
he had, out of regard to the unfortunate condition of the people, who were fast
going into bankruptcy, ceased to resort to the courts to oppress them, at which
E. G. Ryan said that that might be so, but it had long been a question whether
he had left the profession of the law or the law had left him, but he rather
thought it was the latter. Thomas Hoyne, in his reminiscences, gives a some-
what different version of this matter and, as it is a matter of considerable inter-
est, we transcribe it in full :

One of the scenes which took place in the fall of 1837 I have never seen referred to
by anyone. Hon. Thomas Ford (afterward governor) had just been appointed judge of
the municipal court of this city, which had been created by the first charter. It was a
court of superior or general jurisdiction within the city. It was to be held that winter for
the first time. It was a time of great pecuniary distress and all obligations created during
the speculative times were just maturing and unpaid and there was no money to pay them.
The dockets were crowded in both the circuit court and municipal court, and something
must be done. Some of the debtors resolved that no court should be held; a public meet-
ing was called to prevent it. It was held at the New York House, a frame building on
the north side of Lake street, near Wells. It was held at evening, in a long, 16w dining-
rootn. lighted only by tallow candles. The chair was occupied by a state senator, the
late Peter Pruyne. James Curtis, nominally a lawyer, but more of a Democratic politician,
who had practically abandoned his profession, was active. But the principal advocate of
suspension of the courts was a judge of the supreme court of the state. Theophilus W.
Smith. Upon the other side were Butterfield, Collins, Ryan, Scammon, Spring, Good-
rich, M. D. Ogden. Arnold and others. And among them was Hon. William B. Ogden.
the mayor of the city, who was subsequently admitted to the bar of the state. We will
count him in, for he did manly service at the meeting in sustaining the law and its regular


administration and in repudiating and denouncing any interference with the courts. He
was a noble, generous man, whose hand was seen in all public works. The battle was
bitterly fought. It was shown by the opponents of courts that it meant ruin if they
should be held and judgments rendered against the debtors, that twenty million dollars
were then in suit against citizens, which was equivalent to a sum of five hundred dollars
against every man, woman and child in Chicago. What was to be done? "No one was to
be benefited," Curtis said, "but the lawyers, and he had left that profession some time
before." Then Ryan, a man of large muscular frame, eyes large, wide open, as great
lights in his luminous intellect, great as he ever was in debate, but then active, and in his
wrath, like Mirabeau, "fierce as ten furies and terrible as hell," when he rose to the full
height of his great argument, pointing to Curtis, asked that body of debtors if that was
the kind of a lawyer they expected to save them. If so, it had long been a question
whether he had left the profession of the law or the law had left him; but of one thing
they could be sure, that if he succeeded in his present unlawful attempt he (Ryan) would
guarantee them justice, and the sooner the law discharged that obligation the better it
would be for the community. Butterfield, tall in stature, stern of countenance, denounced
the judge of the supreme court who could descend from that lofty seat of a sovereign
people, majestic as the law, to take a seat with an assassin and murderer of the law like
Judge Lynch. Others followed, but the good sense of the meeting laid the resolutions on
the table, and the courts were held, as they have been ever since.

One of the most brilliant men ever connected with the Chicago bar and who
is numbered among the pioneers is James A. McDougall. He was attorney
general of Illinois in 1842. The exact date of his arrival here I do not know,
but he rode the circuit with the other Chicago lawyers in early days and was
identified with them in all of their acts and doings. When the gold craze broke
out he went to California, and had a terrible time in getting there. He lost his
way and wandered long among the mountains, barely escaping starvation, and
when he finally reached San Francisco was clothed in skins and rags. He went
to the best hotel in the city and was at first refused admission. He sent for
Hiram Pearsons, once a resident of Chicago, and at that time a California mil-
lionaire, and formerly a client of McDougall's, and he furnished him a wardrobe
and everything that he required. He was soon after given a number of cases in
court and was in a short time elected to congress and in due time a senator.
Charles Sumner once said of him that he spoke better English than any man m
the senate. It is sad to think that this man, who was gifted as an orator and as
a statesman, should have closed his career groveling with sots and borne down
with the demon drink.

Ebenezer Peck filled for a considerable period a large place in the public
affairs of this state. He was born in Portland, Maine, May 22, 1808, but his
parents removed with him to Montreal at a very early age, where he was edu-
cated and where he was admitted to the bar. He rose to the position of king's
counsel and was elected a member of the provincial parliament of Canada East.
He came here in 1835 and soon showed his forcible manner. In 1837 he en-
gaged for a short time in the iron trade. He was elected to the state senate in
1838, to fill the unexpired term of Peter Pruyne, deceased. He was elected to
the house in 1840, then chosen clerk of the supreme court. In 1846 he formed
a partnership with the celebrated James A. McDougall, who was at one time


attorney general of the state. The partnership was McDougall & Peck, and so
continued until McDougall went to California, where he became United States
senator, as already stated.

Charles Oilman, state reporter, died July 24, 1849, an< i was succeeded by
Mr. Peck. Sidney Breese had published one volume of reports, Scammon four
and Oilman five, so when the first volume of Peck's reports appeared, in 1850, it
was termed the Eleventh Illinois. His series closed with Volume XXX, in
1863. In 1853 ne was associated in business with Charles B. Hosmer and his
son-in-law, Edward Wright, under the firm name of Peck, Hosmer & Wright.
He was elected to the twenty-first general assembly, resigned his office of re-
porter in 1863, and was appointed by President Lincoln one of the judges of the
court of claims. He died May 25, 1881.

George W. Meeker, who was for some time a partner of George Manierre,
was in many respects a very brilliant man. He was born in Elizabethtown, New
Jersey, in 1817, and from infancy one of his limbs was paralyzed, so that he
always had to use crutches. He was well educated and possessed a good knowl-
edge of the French and the Greek and Latin. He came to Chicago in 1837,
studied with Spring & Goodrich, and was admitted to the bar in 1839, and
soon afterward formed a partnership with Mr. Manierre. He was for a time
clerk of the United States court and was for many years United States court
commissioner. He was considered a very fine office lawyer; was well versed
in the statute law of the state and especially the statutes of the United States,
and was an authority on all points of practice arising in the federal courts. He
died suddenly, in April, 1856.

Thomas Shirley started out in life as Thomas Fleishman, and some time
after he had taken up his residence in Chicago, which was in 1849, changed his
name from Fleishman to Shirley for domestic reasons. The family names of his
grandparents were Shirley and Fleishman. He was born in Virginia, graduated
from Washington College, Lexington, Virginia. He afterward studied law at
the U/niversity of Virginia and graduated from that in 1848, and then came to
Chicago. Mr. Shirley was an able lawyer and a fine orator. He was a pro-
found student of Shakespeare and could repeat many of his best thoughts and
sayings with great effect. In his youth he was devoted to military tactics and
was for a time captain of the crack company of the city known as the Chicago
Light Guards. He was formed like a giant and graceful as Apollo. His
military bearing was superb and commanded the admiration of all who ever saw
him in uniform. Mr. Shirley was a very popular man and a lawyer of fine
talents. He died a number of years ago, and he is gratefully remembered by
all old-timers who knew him.

Mason Brayman was born in Buffalo, New York, in 1813, and was ad-
mitted to the bar in 1836. He then went to Louisville, where he edited a paper
and practiced law. He came to this state about 1842 and was admitted to the
bar on March 8th of that year, and was for a number of years the editor of the
State Journal, at Springfield. He revised the statutes of this state in 1845, a d
such was 'the skill that he displayed and the care that he bestowed upon it, that


it was regarded as a masterpiece. He took a prominent part in the Mormon
war, when Ford was governor, and when the civil war broke out, in 1861, he en-
listed as major in the Twenty-ninth Illinois Infantry and was promoted to
brigadier general, and finally brevetted major general March 13, 1865, for his
faithful services. General Brayman, very soon after the Illinois Central Rail-
road was chartered, was selected as its general solicitor, and from 1852 up to the
breaking out of the war had charge of the legal department of that corporation.
He obtained the right of way into the city of Chicago and drew the ordinance,
I believe, that gave it permission to reach the down-town region and exercise
its privileges within our city. He was a most careful, painstaking lawyer, and
understood real-estate law and our statutes relating to the same as well as any
man I ever knew.

He was always very much interested in the history of this state and was one
of the charter members of the Chicago Historical Society of this city. In 1894
as chairman of a committee on historical matters of the Illinois State Bar Asso-
ciation, I made a report to that body which, among other things, recommended
that "someone be selected to write a sketch of the constitutional convention of
1818 and another of 1847." This attracted the attention of the General, who
was at that time living in Kansas City, and on the 7th of February, 1894, he
wrote a letter in which he said : "When the writer is selected to write an account
of the convention of 1847 I ma y be able to furnish able material in aid of his
work. The convention sat eighty-five days, June /th to August 3ist, inclusive.
I was employed to write each day a letter to the St. Louis Union. I sat in the con-
vention, writing seventy-six letters, intended to be discursive and popular,
rather than dry and formal reports of the proceedings. I have these letters
preserved in a blank book. My unabated interest in- all that relates to Illinois
leads to this suggestion."

This was a matter of great surprise to me and a most valuable discovery of
historic worth, and, having in the meantime been elected president of the bar
association, I lost no time in extending an invitation to him to prepare a sketch
of the constitutional convention of 1847 and to read it before the association at
its next annual meeting in January, 1895. He accepted the invitation, but said
at the same time (July 19, 1894) : "For more than a year I have been an invalid,
confined to the house a portion of the time, unable to write. This, with my
many years, eighty-one, must qualify my acceptance. But you may expect a
paper in compliance with your wish. If unable to be present I can forward it to
be read. To attend will afford great pleasure, to be presented by the reminis-
cences I can furnish will be gratifying."

As time wore on we became anxious to know how he was getting along
and whether he would be able to attend the meeting. His reply is dated Kan-
sas City, January 21, 1895, only a few days before the appointed time for the
annual meeting of the bar association, and is as follows :

President of the Illinois State Bar Association:

Dear Sir: On the nth I informed you by letter of my inability to attend your annual
meeting. It is with deep regret and many apologies that I have now to advise you that


I cannot forward my promised address to be read in my behalf. Compelled by the condition
of my health to write at intervals and slowly, I have not found the end of it.

The subject had deeper interest and required wider investigation than was anticipated.
I respect the Bar Association (and myself) too much to present the matter in a crude and
careless form. I will, as I am able to, complete the paper to be read at your next meeting.
Your programme is so ample and your men of such ability that the absence of that which
I would present will cause no embarrassment. With kind regards,


Alas ! for him there was to be no next meeting, and he was destined never
to appear before that association, which would have welcomed him with open
arms and listened with rapt attention to every word that he might utter, for he
had, like many others whose life work was incomplete, passed away. He died,
as we have said, on February 27, 1895, and the reminiscences which he was to
furnish us were left untold.

James B. Bradwell has long filled a large space in public estimation, and,
although he can hardly be classed with the lawyers of the old regime, yet he
properly belongs among the old settlers and pioneers, as he has passed almost
his entire lifetime among us.

Elijah M. Haines, although he cannot be classed among the pioneer law-
yers, was among the very early settlers in this region and was identified with
Chicago to a great extent most of his life. He was born in Oneida county,
New York, April 21, 1822, and came west in the month of May, 1835. He did
not join the Chicago bar until after 1851. His residence was at Waukegan,
where he died on the 29th of April, 1889, in the sixty-seventh year of his age.
His early life was a struggle, and without any extrinsic aids he set about acquir-
ing an education. He read extensively and stored his mind with a mass of in-
formation which in after years made him a man of great resources. When the
country was new he took up the study of surveying and made some of the
earliest surveys in Lake county. He mastered the laws of congress relating to
the public domain and the land-office regulations relating to the same, and be-
came an authority upon them. He early developed a genius for debate, and be-
came greatly interested in parliamentary law and the rules governing deliber-
ative assemblies, and his work upon parliamentary rules is a most interesting
book. He was several times a member of the legislature, and twice speaker of
the lower house. He was a member of the constitutional convention of 1870
and took a leading part in its deliberations. He wrote and completed several
books relating to justices of the peace and township organization that have be-
come standards throughout the country. He was a keen and sharp lawyer and
no mean adversary for the strongest advocate before a jury. He passed through
some of the most trying times in our country's history, and was loyal and true.
He was always a friend of the oppressed and downtrodden. For years before
his death his health was frail, and he frequently labored when suffering intense
pain. He was a man of great industry and an indefatigable worker.

His book upon the American Indian (Uh-Nish-In Na-Ba) is one of the
most complete works upon this interesting portion of the human race ever


oublished. It comprises the whole Indian subject in complete and compre-
hensive form and abounds in varied information regarding the barbarous Indian
nations and tribes, their language, and their history, and their relations to the
United States government. It gives an account of the meaning and significa-
tion of many of the Indian geographical names, and is especially interesting
to the ethnologist and those who desire to study the customs and habits of the
aborigines. It was the crowning work of his life and was the result of years
of study and research.

The oldest lawyer who is now living among us is William H. Stickney.* He
was born in Baltimore, Maryland, November 9, 1809. He was admitted to
the bar in Cincinnati in 1831 and became the partner of Hon. Robert T. Lytle,
then a member of congress. He was admitted to the bar of Illinois February
17, 1834. He was elected state's attorney by the legislature 111 1839, for the
circuit which was composed of Marion, Jefferson, Perry, Franklin, Jackson,
Union, Alexander, Pulaski, Massac, Johnson, Pope, Hardin, Gallatin and Ham-
ilton counties. Judge Scales was elected judge of the circuit at the same time
and they rode the same together. He was a great friend of Henry Eddy, and
rode on horseback with him from Shawneetown to Vandalia to obtain his license
to practice law. He was for a short time the editor of the Gallatin Democrat
and Illinois Advertiser, in 1835-6, at Shawneetown, and was elected to the
legislature in 1846. He came to Chicago some time in 1848. He was elected
an alderman from the eighteenth ward, in 1854, police justice in 1860, and held
that office for thirteen year's. Mr. Stickney is a man of a very high sense of
honor and of the strictest integrity. In order to show this we will cite one
instance which is worth remembering.

In 1854 a system of police magistrates was established for the whole state.
At the municipal election in 1855 police justices were voted for under an old act
relating to Chicago, without any regard to the new act, although there were
very many who believed that by the law as it then existed police magistrates
alone should be voted for. The consequence was that both police magistrates
and police justices were voted for. The police justices received an overwhelm-
ing vote. Mr. Stickney, Calvin De Wolf, and Nathan Allen received a few
votes, having been voted for as police magistrates. A case was taken to the
supreme court, and it was decided that under the circumstances either title
would comply with the true intent and meaning of the law, and Mr. Stickney
was offered a certificate of election and a commission, but he said that the
citizens having so unmistakably indicated their preferences, he would not take

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 5 of 83)