John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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Colonel Nathaniel M. Whittaker, who was from Indiana. He located here
about 1842, kept the Mount Pulaski House for a time, and was for a great
many years justice of the peace. As a judge of law and a safe, sagacious coun-
selor, he, though not a member of the bar, had but few equals. In later years
came W. H. H. Allen, known as "Tip" Allen, and a young man named Martin;
neither of them possessing marked abilities. About 1875 S. L. Wallace and A.
G. Jones located .here. C. H. Curtis, who was born in the county and grad-
uated at the Iowa University law school, entered practice in Mount Pulaski.


The walls of the old court-room have on many occasions in the past re-
echoed the high-pitched voice of Abraham Lincoln, as well as the eloquence
of John T. Stuart, W. H. Herndon, William Ferguson, C. H. Moore, George
H. Estabrook, Joseph H. January and others.

At Atlanta, Major George H. Estabrook was the pioneer. He practiced
many years, was in the Seventh Illinois Volunteers during the war of the Re-
bellion and later became a resident of New Rockford, Dakota. William E.
Dicks lived here several years. He was afterward county judge, and later lo-
cated in Chicago. A. J. Turley was born near Mount Pulaski, and practiced
there, at Lincoln and at Atlanta. Colonel James G. Brice, though blind, was
an eloquent advocate and bright lawyer. He came to Atlanta from Louisiana,
and returned south after a few years. C. H. Goodrich resided and practiced
here several years, and later removed to Jerseyville. Charles Worthington,
from Maryland, was a resident and practitioner here in an early day and re-
turned east. Joseph H. January was an early settler and attorney here. He
came from Ohio in 1854, and removed eventually to Missouri.

From the time Logan county was organized until he was elected a mem-
ber of the supreme court, Hon. Samuel H. Treat was the judge who held the
circuit courts of this county. He was succeeded by Flon. David Davis, who
held our courts here until appointed one of the justices of the supreme court
of the L T nited States, by Lincoln, in 1862. Judge Davis was succeeded by the
late Judge John M. Scott, of the supreme bench of Illinois. After him came
Hon. Thomas F. Tipton, who held court here until there was a change made
in the circuits by which DeWitt, Logan, Mason and Menard counties were
constituted a circuit. Hon. Lyman Lacey, of Havana, was elected judge of
the new circuit; and when this and Judge Cyrus Epler's circuit were united
Hon. Albert G. Burr, of Carrollton, was elected the third judge. In June,
1879, these three were re-elected. In 1882 Judge Burr died, and Hon. George
W. Herdman, of Jersey county, was elected his successor. In June, 1885, all
the old judges were re-elected.

We are not informed as to who was the state's attorney under Judge Treat,
any more than that Tosiah Lamborn, in the early days of the county, attended
the courts in that capacity. David Campbell, of Springfield, we believe, was
the first state's attorney, under Judge Davis, and he died while an incumbent
of that office. Prior to the legislative session of 1857 Sangamon was in this
circuit, but it was cut off by act of the legislature of that session. Prior to this
David Campbell had died, and Zimri McWilliams, of Springfield, had been ap-
pointed his successor. His term of office had expired, and Ward H. Lemon,
afterward appointed provost marshal of the District of Columbia, by President
Lincoln, was elected his successor. Mr. Lemon, when appointed provost mar-
shal, resigned the office, and his law partner, Hon. Harvey E. Hogg, of Bloom-
ington, was appointed his successor, by Governor Yates. Mr. Hogg was soon
after appointed lieutenant colonel of the Second Illinois Cavalry (and was after-
ward killed in the service), and Governor Yates appointed as his successor Wil-
liam H. Young, who died before his term of office expired. Then Hon. Henry


G. Green, of Clinton, later of Springfield, was appointed his successor, and was
elected his own successor, but resigned the office before his term expired and
was succeeded by Thomas F. Tipton, of Bloomington. He in turn was suc-
ceeded by Hon. Jonathan H. Rowell, of Bloomington, who held the office when
this and DeWitt county were taken from the Bloomington circuit, and the
office was made elective for each county. Under the new arrangement James
A. Hudson was appointed state's attorney for Logan county, by Hon. William
E. Dicks, then county judge. Mr. Hudson was succeeded in office by Timothy
T. Beach, and he by James T. Hoblit. He gave way to Randolph B. Forrest
and he was followed by Robert Humphrey.

In the early clays of the courts of this county most of the business was
done by lawyers from Springfield, Bloomington and other places. Among
those were Abraham Lincoln, E. D. Baker, Josiah Lamborn, A. Gridley,
Thomas L. Harris, David Davis, Clifton H. Moore, John T. Stuart, Stephen
T. Logan, Benjamin S. Edwards, William Ferguson, William H. Herndon,
Elliott H. Herndon, David Campbell, and, later on, Leonard Swett and partner,
General Orme, William Hannah, John M. Scott, James C. Conkling, Henry S.
Green, Milton Hay, Shelby M. Cullom and others. In fact, Logan county was
seemingly regarded as an out-post of Springfield and Bloomington lawyers,
who claimed it as a part of their bailiwick and monopolized or "gobbled up"
all the paying practice; but a time came when the lawyers here were not only
able to sustain themselves and hold their practice at home against all comers,
but were able to retaliate upon the enemy by carrying the war into their own
camps and "foraging" upon them; and for many years past all the business
in the courts, at least all of any importance and having pay in it, has been done
by the members of the local bar; and according to numbers no county in the
state has an abler or more reliable local bar than Logan county.

Hon. James T. Hoblit was born in Logan county, Illinois, December 20,
1842, and is the second son of John E. and Rachel (Larison) Hoblit, the former
a farmer by vocation and of German extraction, inheriting from that virile race
the characteristics of sturdiness, frugality and perseverance, elements of great
value to him in the young and growing state of Illinois, where his lot was cast,
in 1829, when the lines of life and the grooves of labor were not so clearly set
as they are at present.

The subject of this sketch in the near-by district school, and at the high
school of Atlanta, Illinois, acquired his rudimentary education, which was sup-
plemented by a course at the Illinois Wesleyan University at Bloomington, at
which he graduated in 1864, and a course in the law department of the Univer-
sity of Albany, New York, at which he graduated in 1865. In May, 1865, he
was admitted to the bar in New York, and to the Illinois bar a month later.
He at once formed a partnership at Lincoln with Silas Beason, under the firm
name of Beason & Hoblit, which was a most successful venture, lasting, ac-
cording to the agreement, for a year. In June, 1866, he became a partner of
S. A. Foley, and the firm of Hoblit & Foley continued till November, 1869,
at which time Mr. Hoblit, although the county was largely Republican, was


elected by the Democrats to the office of county clerk, the emoluments of
which position were then quite large. For four years he held the county clerk-
ship and then resumed his practice in connection with Mr. Foley, re-establish-
ing- the old firm of Hoblit & Foley, which partnership continued until Mr.
Foley was elected county judge, in 1878. Upon the retirement of Judge Foley
from the firm William W. Stokes, now of Crestline, Ohio, became the partner
of Mr. Hoblit, under the title of Hoblit & Stokes; the business was continued
for three years, when the partnership expired by limitation. Mr. Hoblit then
removed from Illinois to Los Angeles, California, where he remained for nearly
a year, and upon his return to Lincoln he became associated with E. D. Blinn,
who was chief commissioner of the court of claims for Illinois, under the ad-
ministration of Governor Fifer. In the fall of 1891 this partnership was dis-
solved, and Mr. Hoblit's eldest son, Frederic M., became his partner, this busir
ness relation being maintained until the fall of 1897, when the son removed to

Mr. Hoblit has not only been for years a leading member .of the Logan
county bar, but has also stood as one of the ablest counselors and most coura-
geous champions of the Democratic party in Illinois, of which he has always
been an active and consistent member; and while he has never sought office
he has repeatedly been elected to various positions, although in his case per-
sonal popularity rather than party affiliation has been the reason for his elec-
tion, for Logan county was strongly Republican in its political proclivities until
the year 1880. In 1867 he was elected city attorney of Lincoln, and re-elected
in 1869. His success prompted his party to nominate him by acclamation for
the county clerkship, and he resigned as city attorney in order to make the
canvass, in which he was victorious by a decisive majority in the face of a Re-
publican majority in the county of more than six hundred. This contest was
one of the most exciting and memorable in the annals of Logan county, and
Mr. Hoblit was the only Democratic candidate elected. The emoluments of
the office of county clerk having been greatly reduced by the constitution of
1870, he declined a renomination by his party and continued in the active and
profitable practice of his profession. In 1876 he was nominated by acclamation
and elected to the position of state's attorney for Logan county, and again he
was the only candidate on the Democratic ticket who was not defeated. In 1886
the same conditions arose over the county judgeship as had previously arisen
in regard to the attorneyship, and Mr. Hoblit was again unanimously called
upon to make the race, and was elected by a very large majority. After his
election to the county clerkship in 1869 Mr. Hoblit told the other Democratic
candidates that as he was the only successful one, he would defray the entire
expense of the campaign, which he did at the small personal cost of five hun-
dred dollars.

Prior to his election to the county judgeship, Mr. Hoblit's health had be-
come somewhat impaired, but his term as judge enabled him to enjoy a relax-
ation from arduous professional cares, and at the expiration of his time he had
regained his accustomed vigor, and resumed the practice of his profession. He


has been solicited to stand as a candidate for the state senate and also to be-
come a candidate for congress, but has declined in every instance, and on the
last named occasion he placed in nomination his warm personal friend, ex-
Vice-President Adlai E. Stevenson, who received the nomination and defeated
General McNulta. In 1876 Mr. Hoblit was a delegate to the Democratic na-
tional convention that nominated Mr. Tilden for the presidency, and in 1888
to the one that nominated Mr. Cleveland. During his whole political career
Judge Hoblit has vigorously contended that a sound and stable currency was
of the highest importance to the well-being of every class of the people, and
since the great depreciation of silver, that the only safe refuge of the country
and its business was to be found in the adoption and maintenance of the gold
standard; and that under all circumstances the liberty of the people should be
controlled and regulated by laws enacted and enforced by the people them-
selves: that none should be exempted from obedience to its mandates, and
that liberty was never in such danger as when the law and its orderly execution
were set at defiance by unrestrained mobs and agitators. In a word, although
never soliciting or holding any position under either Mr. Tilden or Mr. Cleve-
, land. Judge Hoblit has, in all essentials, been a consistent follower of the views
and policies of those two great statesmen. Holding steadfastly to these views,
he found it impossible to give his adhesion to the Chicago platform of 1896,
and in consequence cast his ballot for General John M. Palmer for the presi-

Since 1882 Mr. Hoblit has been vice-president of the First National Bank
of Lincoln, and is also financially interested in several other local corporations.
He is local attorney for the Chicago & Alton, Peoria, Decatur & Evansville
and Illinois Central Railroads.

Mr. Hoblit was married May i, 1867, to Miss Louise S. Maltby. Their
family consists of six children, three sons and three daughters.

Such is the brief outline of Judge Hoblit's career. By continuous devotion
to the highest demands of his profession, by an ability equal to its most severe
requirements, and an integrity that has never deflected from the true line of
duty, he has won his way into the front rank of a body of men who collectively
are the most prominent lawyers in the state. As a man and citizen he enjoys
the added popularity which comes to those genial spirits whose cordiality,
courtesy and kindliness are felt by all those with whom they come in contact
from day to day, professionally or otherwise, and who seem to throw around
them in consequence so much of the sunshine of life.

Stephen A. Foley, of Lincoln, is the eldest son of the three children of Wil-
liam and Sarah (Downey) Foley, and was born in Logan county, Illinois, on
the 27th of August, 1840. His father, who was a dealer in stock, died when
the subject of this sketch was but eight years of age, leaving the care of the
family to the widowed mother. Until thirteen years of age Stephen remained
on the homestead farm of one hundred and twenty acres which had been left
by his father. He attended the common school to a limited extent during his
youth and then accompanied a teacher, Hamilton J. Harris, to various points


in Logan and De Witt counties. Under the guidance of this gentleman, with
whom he remained four years, he acquired his education, and then started out
to make his own way in the world. His mother had previously arranged for
him to study medicine in the office of a local physician, but the young man
was not at all favorably impressed with the habits and ways of life of his would-
be preceptor, and decided not to enter his office. Instead he learned tne brick-
layer's trade; but his ambition was not satisfied with the idea of making that
vocation his life work. In consequence, after completing 'his apprenticeship,
he came to Lincoln in November, 1861, and engaged in abstracting and read-
ing law, during which time he made the first set of abstract books for Logan
county. He continued in that enterprise until 1865, when he sold his abstract
business and devoted a portion of the proceeds realized therefrom to the. ac-
quirement of a thorough and comprehensive legal education. Entering the law
department of the University of Albany, in New York, he was graduated in the
class of 1867.

Returning to Lincoln, Judge Foley then entered into partnership with
James T. Hoblit, who had graduated in the University of Albany the year pre-
vious. Young, industrious and ambitious, it was not long before he had dem-
onstrated his ability to handle intricate problems of law, and he also soon won
recognition for marked faithfulness to the interests of his clients. From the
beginning the firm of Hoblit & Foley met with desirable success, and it was
not long before it was doing the largest, most important and most profitable
business in Lincoln. In 1877 Mr. Foley was elected county judge of Logan
county, and for nine years served with ability, integrity and impartiality in that
office. On the expiration of his term of judicial service he resumed the private
practice of his profession, which he still continues.

But while Judge Foley ranks deservedly high in the professional world, he
perhaps is better known to the people as a financier, a field in which he has
proven himself a peer of the ablest. During his early life he was not only in-
dustrious but economical, and by saving his money was enabled from time to
time to take advantage of opportunities for profitable investment that came un-
der his observation. He made it his practice, every time he had five hundred
dollars, to buy a government bond, which he would hold until he found a fav-
orable opening for investment, when he would purchase land or other securities
that he desired as they came on the market. He has also handled money for
outside parties since 1861, having loaned millions of dollars for one family
alone. On the ist of July, 1877, he founded the Lincoln Loan, Savings & Trust
Bank, which, in 1885, was merged into the Lincoln National, of which Judge
Foley has since been president. He is one of the large real-estate holders in
Logan county.

Though repeatedly urged to accept office he has never consented to do so
but once, when he served for three years as treasurer of the Illinois Asylum
for the Feeble-minded, located in Lincoln. He is a thoroughly self-made man,
whose success is not due to accident, fortuitous circumstances or the aid of in-
fluential and wealthy friends. He is both the architect and builder of his own


fortunes; nor has there been anything of a sensational or spectacular nature
in his career. Every step has been thoughtfully planned and deliberately made,
and every advance has resulted from hard and serious labor. His devotion to
the duties of his business has been unremitting, and in his earlier career he
made it a point to be always found at his office during business hours. Before
he had attained his majority he had earned and saved enough money to pur-
chase eighty acres of land, and since that time he has constantly added to his
possessions. His integrity stands as an unquestioned fact in his career, and
it is related of him that the man who relies upon his word will be treated with
even more consideration than if he exacted a bond from him.

To every rational project looking to the upbuilding of Lincoln he is a
warm friend, and is a liberal contributor to all enterprises calculated to enhance
the general good of the community. Deprived in early life of such educational
advantages as are usually afforded boys of this age, he has, by research in the
various fields of literature, acquired a broader knowledge than that possessed
by many college-bred men. His library is not merely a collection of books,
serving to adorn his home; its volumes are his constant companions, to be
read, comprehended and enjoyed, and many of his most pleasant hours are
spent among his favorite authors in the field of biography travel, history,
science or classical literature. A marked characteristic of Judge Foley's is his
kindness to young men whom he observes to be of promising talents, ambitious
and industrious. Many a man now enjoying a prosperous career has reason
to be deeply grateful to the Judge for aid extended in an opportune moment.
His own life has been eminently successful; he has acquired in a large measure
those things for which most men strive, many unavailing!}' ; he has accumu-
lated an ample fortune, holds a commanding position in the world of business,
enjoys a high social position, and yet no man grudges him his success, so hon-
orably has it been won, and so worthily is it used. Wealth has never separated
him from his friends of former years, and the rich and poor alike receive from
him uniform and equal courtesy.

In seeking the causes which have led to his success, we find them in a com-
bination of qualities, not so rare in themselves as in their harmonious union:
these are the taste of a scholar, the manners of a gentleman and the habits of
a man of business. He stands to-day, in his mature years, a strong man,
strong in his consciousness of well spent years, strong to plan and perform,
strong in his credit and good name, and a worthy example for young men, his
life showing what industry, intelligence and probity may accomplish in the way
of success. His name is a tower of strength to every good cause; it is never
given to a bad one.

In November, 1867, Judge Foley married Miss Hannah J. Hahn, of Phil-
adelphia, and by this union have been born three children: William, who has
recently taken up his residence in the Azores; Florence and Edna, at home.
Mrs. Foley died- September 23, 1880, and on the 28th of August, 1890, the
Judge married Miss Cassle Watkins, of Detroit, Michigan.

Hon. Joseph A. Horn, of Mount Pulaski, Logan county, has done -as much


for the advancement of his town and county as any other citizen. Largely to
his influence and advocacy the incorporation of Mount Pulaski as a city was
due, as well as many of the local improvements which have been instituted,
thereby adding greatly to the general beauty of the town and the desirability
of residence here. He stands high in the ranks of the local leaders of the Dem-
ocratic party, he being one of the old Jeffersonian school. Elected by his party
friends to the fortieth general assembly of the legislature of Illinois, he acted
in that position to the satisfaction of all, looking out for the interests of the
public who had chosen him as their representative.

The father of our subject, David T. Horn, was a native of North Caro-
lina and was of Scotch parentage. He served for twelve years in the state mi-
litia of that state, and was a loyal patriot and order-loving citizen. In March,
1860, he removed with his family to Illinois and took up his abode near Mount
Pulaski. He lived but ten years longer, the summons to leave his earthly
cares coming to him in 1870. His devoted wife, whose maiden name was Jane
Thomas, and whose birth-place was in Holland, is still living, now in her
eighty-sixth year.

Joseph A. Horn was born in Graham, Alamance county, North Carolina,
May 13, 1848, and was consequently a lad of twelve years when the family
came to Illinois. Here he attended the public schools and made rapid progress
in his studies. In 1867 he went to Brookfield, Missouri, and in 1879 com-
menced the study of law in the office of S. P. Huston, of that place. The fol-
lowing year witnessed his admission to the bar and his establishment in prac-
tice in Brookfield. Remaining in Missouri eight years longer, he gained a high
position in the community as a member of his profession and was frequently
called upon to serve in public offices of responsibility and trust. In 1888 he
returned to Mount Pulaski and opened an office. He has always been alone
in his practice and has handled a great many important cases. For two years,
while a resident of Linn county, Missouri, he held the position of state's at-
torney, and at present he does a considerable portion of the state's attorney's
business in this portion of Logan county. In 1891 he was elected city attorney
and served in that capacity for five years. Then, after an intermission of two
years, he was reinstated in the office, and is still acting. The journalistic field
has always been an attractive one to him and he is now publishing the Mount
Pulaski Democrat in addition to discharging all of his numerous other public
and private duties. Thus it may be readily seen that his life is a very busy and
useful one, and he is now putting into constant practice the lessons of steady
application to business, perseverance and energy which were instilled into his
youthful mind by his wise parents when he was a boy. The lady who shares
his ambitions, joys and sorrows was formerly Mrs. Sarah E. Stearnes, of Ma-
comb. Illinois. Their marriage was solemnized in 1891.

Samuel L. Wallace, of Lincoln, Logan county, has occupied various pub-
lic positions of responsibility and trust, and has acquitted himself at all times
with distinction. In his political faith he is a stalwart Republican. President
Harrison appointed him to the postmastership of Lincoln and he served in this


position from March i, 1893, to June i, 1894, when, for political reasons, a rep-
resentative of the opposite party succeeded him in the office; and May 5, 1898,
he was again commissioned postmaster by President McKinley, and entered
upon his duties June I. Whether in public or private life he has always given
his influence to works of improvement and progress in all lines and has done
his full duty as a voter and citizen to forward the general welfare.

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 56 of 83)