John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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and Sarah Boyer, the former a pioneer minister of Fulton county. Our subject
has spent his entire life in the county of his nativity, and preparing for the bar
has won a leading place in the ranks of his professional brethren in his section
of the state. His prominence in public affairs and the confidence and high re-
gard reposed in him by his fellow townsmen is shown by the fact that he has
several times been called to office by the vote of the people. In 1884 he was
elected a member of the county board of supervisors from Canton to\vnship,
filled the office for four years, and in 1892 was again elected to the same posi-
tion, representing Buckhart township on the county board for two years. Dur-
ing the last year of his service he was chairman of the board and with marked
ability administered the affairs of the county. He was also elected and served
as representative to the lower house of the Thirty-seventh general assembly.
His political support is unwaveringly given the Republican party, and socially
he is connected with the Knights of Pythias fraternity.



PIKE COUNTY was originally in the first judicial circuit, was later as-
signed to the fifth, and still later to the eleventh, comprising the counties
of Adams, Hancock and McDonough. The records of the early courts,
found in the office of the circuit clerk, show that the first term for Pike county
"was begun and held at Cole's grove, within and for the county of Pike, on Mon-
day, the first day of October, in the year one thousand eight hundred and twenty-
one. Present, Hon. John Reynolds, judge." The sheriff returned a panel of
grand jurors, and the first case called was that of Solomon Smith, assignee of
Elias K. Kane, versus William Frye, action of debt. The case was continued,
as the defendant was reported by the sheriff not found. The second case was a
"libel for divorce" and the fourth an indictment of two Indians for murder.
Among those who served on the bench in Pike county during the early days
were John Reynolds, John Y. Sawyer, Richard M. Young, James H. Ralston,
Peter Lott, Stephen A. Douglas, Jesse B. Thomas, Norman H. Purple, William
A. Minshall, Onias C. Skinner and Pinckney H. Walker; while later John S.
Bailey, Chauncey L. Higbee and Simeon P. Shope presided on the circuit bench
for the county.

During the earliest period of the county's history the attorney general of
the state acted as prosecuting attorney in circuit districts. After the expiration-
of Attorney General Forquer's term the circuit was given a state's attorney.
This mode remained in vogue, although the districts were often changed and cut
down, until 1872, when the county was given a prosecuting attorney, who is
known both as state's attorney and county attorney. Hon. Thomas Ford served
for several years previous to 1835. Hon. William A. Richardson served
till 1837. His predominating traits were courage, unyielding perseverance and
unvarying adherence to the cause to which he was committed. He had com-
mand of a regiment of Illinois volunteers during the Mexican war, after which
he returned home and was elected to congress, and re-elected five times. He
was also appointed governor of Nebraska by Buchanan. Hon. Henry L. Bryant,,
of Lewistown, succeeded Mr. Richardson, and served until 1839. He is char-
acterized as a gentleman of fine qualities and as an able lawyer. Hon. William
Elliott served from January, 1839, till January, 1848. He was esteemed as a
worthy man and a good lawyer. He served in the Black Hawk war, and was
wounded in a hand-to-hand conflict with a single Indian, whom he killed. He
was quartermaster in the Fourth Regiment during the Mexican war. He re-
turned to Lewistown and continued his practice until about 1856, when he moved
upon a farm in Peoria county, near Farmington, where he died in February,



1871. Hon. Robert S. Blackwell was the successor of Mr. Elliott, and served
from 1848 till 1852. Mr. Blackwell was one of the most distinguished lawyers
in the state, and is the author of "Blackwell on Tax Titles." From 1852 to 1854,
Hon. Harmon G. Reynolds, of Knoxville, held the office. Mr. Reynolds was an
attorney-at-law of great ability, and an active man in all beneficent enterprises.
He came from Rock Island to Knoxville some time about 1851, where he prac-
ticed law, was state's attorney and postmaster, and held prominent positions in
the Masonic order. He moved from Knoxville to Springfield, where he served
as grand secretary of the order. He afterward removed to Kansas. Hon. Wil-
liam C. Goudy, of Lewistown, succeeded Mr. Reynolds. Mr. Goudy was a
shrewd Democratic politician in earlier days, as well as a faithful servant of the
people as a delegate to conventions, as a member of the state senate, etc. As a
lawyer he is accounted one of the ablest that ever practiced at the bar. He
accumulated large wealth and died in Chicago, where he moved in 1859. Cal-
vin A. Warren followed Mr. Blackwell in the office. Mr. Warren served from
May, 1852, until August, 1853. He was a popular, fluent speaker and successful
lawyer. Hon. John S. Bailey, of McDonough county, filled the office until
September, 1858, when he resigned for a seat upon the bench. Daniel H. Gil-
mer served as state's attorney pro tem. in 1860, as also did Thomas E. Morgan
in 1862, and William R. Archer. Hon. L. H. Waters was appointed by the gov-
ernor to fill the unexpired term of Mr. Bailey. He was from Macomb, and served
until the fall of 1860. A year later he entered the army as lieutenant-colonel of the
Twenty-eighth Illinois Infantry. Resigning, he was commissioned to raise anoth-
er regiment, which he succeeded in doing and received the appointment of col-
onel. This was the Eighty-fourth Illinois Infantry and did excellent service under
his efficient command. At the close of the war he returned to Macomb and prac-
ticed law, and about four years later moved to Missouri. Thomas E. Morgan
was the next incumbent. Mr. Morgan was a lawyer of fine ability and ranked
at the head of the bar in this part of the state. He died July 22, 1867. L. W.
James, of Lewistown, was the next incumbent. Mr. James was a lawyer of more
than ordinary talent, and was one of the best prosecutors in the district. He
removed to Peoria. When each county throughout the circuit was given a
prosecuting attorney Jefferson Orr was chosen for Pike county, and served with
marked ability. He has resided in Pittsfield since 1873, and has served efficiently
as circuit judge.

Of those attorneys who resided in the county at one time, or practiced here,
and are now either dead, have quit the practice or moved away, we will speak

General E. D. Baker, whose father was an admiral in the English navy,
was an eminent lawyer, a fine rhetorician and orator, a man of great intellect,
and a leader in the halls of legislation. After many years' practice in Illinois he
went to California, which state soon sent him to congress as senator, but he was
finally slain by treachery at Ball's Bluff in Virginia. The late Colonel D. B.
Bush, of Pittsfield, was, at the time of his death, the oldest man in the county
who had been a member of the bar at this court. He was admitted to practice


in 1814. Hon. J. M. Bush, later editor of the Democrat, practiced law here with
commendable success. Nehemiah Bushnell also practiced law in the Pike county
circuit court. He was an easy, quiet and thorough lawyer, and a superior man
in the United States court. He died in 1872. Alfred W. Cavalry was a smooth,
pretty talker. He moved to Ottawa and died there at a very advanced age.
George W. Crow, of Barry, was a young man but not much of a lawyer. He
went to Kansas. Stephen A. Douglas practiced at the Pike county bar in early
days. Daniel H. Gilmer was a young but able lawyer, thorough-going, learned,
careful and popular. For a time he was a partner of Archibald Williams, and
was subsequently a colonel in the army. He was killed at Stone river. Jackson
Grimshaw was leader of the bar in his day. He resided at Pittsfield fourteen
years, then went to Quincy, where he died in December, 1875.

Zachariah N. Garbutt was born in Wheatland, New York, about the year
1813; graduated at the University of Vermont; studying law in Washington
city, he directly emigrated to Jacksonville, Illinois, where he finished his legal
course: he came to Pike county about the year 1839, returned east for a year,
and then came back to Pittsfield, where he established the Free Press in 1846,
and from which paper he retired in 1849; he also practiced law, was justice of
the peace and master in chancery. He was a strong anti-slavery Whig and a
temperance advocate, and in the Mormon war, as has been said, "he earned
laurels by piling up big sweet potatoes for the troops of the anti-Mormons."
Earnest and somewhat original in his opinions, very independent in the expres-
sion of his thoughts, he was an upright, jovial man, and somewhat of a genius.
He died in 1855, in Memphis, Tennessee. Alfred Grubb was first sheriff, then a
member of the legislature, then county judge, and then admitted to the bar, and
practiced in the courts. He had considerable legal knowledge, and was well
versed in the rules of practice, but his natural ability was comparatively deficient.
General John J. Hardin, who had descended from a stock of soldiers and lawyers,
was a fine attorney. He used to practice considerably at the bar in this county,
and often stop here on his way to Calhoun and return. For a period he was
state's attorney on this circuit. He was killed at the battle of Buena Vista. N. E.
Ouinby, another Pike county lawyer, is now deceased. James H. Ralston, for-
merly of Quincy, used to practice here and was for a time circuit judge. He was
finally killed and devoured by wolves in California. John Jay Ross was a lawyer
of Pike county, but his practice was mostly confined to Atlas. He is now dead.
David A. Smith, once of Jacksonville, practiced here a great deal. James Ward
was a native of Ohio, and in this county was justice of the peace and probate
judge. He died at Griggsville. Alpheus Wheeler, an eccentric preacher and
lawyer, came from old Virginia to Pike county at the close of the Black Hawk
war, residing for some time at Highland. In 1838 and 1840 he was elected to
the legislature of Illinois where he made his peculiar speeches and encountered
the wit and humor of another remarkable man, but of a more elevated type of
manhood and education, namely, Usher F. Linder, who died at Chicago. On
one occasion Mr. Wheeler addressed the chair, saying: "Mr. Speaker, I have
a-rose " "Does the gentleman keep a flower garden ?" interrupted the speaker.


Mr. Wheeler practiced law in Pittsfield and obtained considerable business. He
took great pride in his oratorical efforts and made some lofty flights in speeches
to the jury. On one occasion when D. M. Woodson, state's attorney, submitted
a case without argument for the purpose of preventing Wheeler from speaking,
the latter replied : "Gentlemen, I admire the state's attorney ; he has shown the
most sublime eloquence, as from some men it consists in most profound silence."
He used to say of Woodson, ''His eloquence is like the tall thunder amongst the
lofty oaks, coming down for to split things." This remark at one time excited
some one who had a ready hand at a rough pencil sketch to draw a picture of a
man's head with a big nose elevated in a treetop, upon the west wall of the
court-room at Pittsfield, and it remained there for many years, until the house
was whitened up on the inside. That big nose was a caricature of Wh'eeler's. In
a case for killing a cow, when O. H. Browning made some points for the de-
fendant, Mr. Wheeler replied : "The gentleman tells you, gentlemen of the jury,
that the plaintiff, my client, cannot recover in this suit because the cow warn't
no cow because she never had a calf, but that she war a heifer. Gentlemen, that
are not the notion of a sound and legal lawyer but the notion of a musharoon."
This almost convulsed the court-house with laughter. Another objection of
Browning's in this case was thus replied to by Mr. Wheeler: "Gentlemen of the
jury, Mr. Browning says that our cow warn't worth a cent. Now, gentlemen,
where were there ever a cow that warn't worth a cent? That cow were worth
something for her meat, if she warn't worth nothing for a milk cow. She war
worth something for her horns ; she war worth something for her hide, if not
for her meat or milk ; and gentlemen, she war worth something because the tail
goes with the hide." The cause of Browning's point was, that Wheeler had
failed to prove by witnesses the worth of the cow. A suit brought by Wheeler
for one Harpole against his brother was for damage done to hogs by cutting the
toe-nails off the hogs so as to prevent them from climbing. Wheeler, in describ-
ing the injury done to the hogs, insisted that the hogs had a right to toe-nails
and a right to climb, and that, although they had done damage, yet it was laid
down, "root hog or die." One Zumwalt was indicted for destroying a mill-dam
of Dr. Hezekiah Dodge's. Wheeler in this case assailed the character of Dr.
Dodge, who was a respectable man and whom the jury did believe. Zumwalt
was convicted upon evidence that he had said at his son-in-law's, on the night of
the destruction of the dam of Dodge's, "Just now the musrats are working on
old Dodge's dam." Wheeler said of Dodge on the trial, "Dr. Dodge are a man
so devoid of truth that when he speaks the truth he are griped." During another
of the lofty flights of our hero, a wag, John J. Ross, a lawyer and a man who made
and enjoyed a joke, laughed so at one of Mr. Wheeler's speeches that he became
excited, and, turning upon Ross in a very contemptuous way, with a majestic
sweep of his long arm brought down at Ross, said : "I wish I had a tater : I'd
throw it down your throat." Wheeler did not close his speech that evening, and
the next morning- early, when he was again addressing the jury and Ross at the
bar table, by some hand several large potatoes were put down in sight of Wheel-
er's eye. He fired up and let out a torrent of invective upon Ross, every one.



Judge and all, in a loud roar of laughter. Wheeler went to Bates county, Mis-
souri, and he is now deceased.

James W. Whitney was denominated "Lord Coke" on account of his knowl-
edge of law. Archibald Williams, formerly of Quincy but later of Kansas and
United States circuit judge, was an eminent practitioner at the bar of Pike.

John H. Williams, later of Quincy and a circuit judge, was a man of good
sense, and had been an able pleader at the bar of Pike county. Governor Richard
Yates delivered his "maiden" speech as an attorney here in Pittsfield.

Chauncey Lawson Higbee, son of Elias and Sarah (Ward) Higbee, was born
in Clermont county, Ohio, December 7, 1821, and was one of a family of eight
children. The father at the time operated a flouring mill upon the east fork of
the little Miami river. Soon after the date named the family moved to Illinois
and this state continued to be the home of the subject of this sketch until his
death. He was admitted to the bar of Illinois in 1844 and the same year came
to Pike county, Illinois, pursuing his studies and commencing practice in the
office of his uncle, James Ward, at Griggsville. In 1847, his uncle having been
elected county judge, he removed to Pittsfield, the county-seat. Although he
had but little advantages for early education, he turned naturally to the study of
the law, which he loved, and being a hard student, he soon became thoroughly
grounded in legal knowledge ; in a few years he acquired a large practice not
only in his own county but also throughout the "military tract."

He was married February 14, 1854, to Julia M. White, who was born in
Georgetown, Brown county, Ohio, but who lived during her early girlhood
her mother having died when she was an infant with her grandfather, Hon.
Thomas Morris, in Clermont county of that state, and afterward in the city of
Cincinnati. While he was devoted to his profession he also took a deep interest
in the politics of his country. He was a Democrat and as such was elected in
1854 to a seat in the house of the general assembly. In 1857 he was appointed
one of the commissioners to select a new site for the state penitentiary, then lo-
cated at Alton. In 1858 he was elected to the state senate, which position he
held until he was elected circuit judge in 1861. He was re-elected to the office
of circuit judge in 1867, 1873 and 1879; his term of office would have expired in
June following his death. His only active participation in purely political mat-
ters after his election as judge was in 1876, when he was selected as one of the
four delegates at large from this state to the national Democratic convention at
St. Louis.

In 1877, on the formation of the appellate system of courts, he was assigned
to appellate-court duties for the third district, and by re-assignment, in 1879, was
continued in that duty, being presiding judge at the time of his death. He left
surviving him his widow, who is still living, and two children. The son, Harry
Higbee, who has held the office of circuit judge in the territory comprising most
of the counties of his late circuit, and who has recently been appointed, by the
supreme court of the state, a judge of the appellate court for the second district.
The daughter. Sue White Higbee, died December 13, 1892. Judge Chauncey
L Higbee was essentially a public-spirited and useful citizen. As was said by


one in an address on his life and character shortly after his death : "It would
be vain to enumerate the many objects of his solicitude and patronage during his
life, both here and abroad. His industry and energy were equaled only by his
most comprehensive powers and efficiency, and there are few if any works of
public interest worthy of mention with which his name is not associated. They
stand out in bold relief all around him at home and arise all along the pathway
of his public life from the time he first became a member of the legislature of his
state to the time he laid down his judicial ermine in death."

As a business man he was safe and conservative, but while cautious and pru-
dent his energy in the pursuit of whatever he undertook was untiring. He was
one of the organizers of the First National Bank of Pittsfield, and was president
from its organization until his death. Upon the bench he seemed to grasp, as
if by intuition, the very gist of any question presented for judicial solicitude and
to eliminate therefrom all matters not bearing directly upon the real point in is-
sue. The late Hon. Milton Hay, of Springfield, Illinois, who commenced the
practice of law in Pike county, in presenting the resolutions of respect in the ap-
pellate court for the third district, said in the course of his remarks : "For a
period of nearly twelve years we were contemporaneously in practice at the bar
of Pike county, and to some extent throughout the judicial circuit to which that
bar belonged. Judge Higbee was no ordinary man. He started in his profes-
sion under many of the difficulties and embarrassments which have attended
so many of our successful lawyers and public men. Like many of us who started
in the profession at that earlier period, his professional preparation for the bar
had been imperfect. Against this difficulty, however, he had occasion to strug-
gle but briefly ; the rapidity with which he overcame it was indeed marvelous.
He possessed in a high degree that combination of qualities that command suc-
cess at the bar. He was exemplary in his habits, faithful in all his engagements,
true in all his friendships and kind and charitable in his disposition."

Asa C. Matthews, for a third of a century a continuous practitioner at the bar
of Pittsfield, has spent his entire life in Pike county, Illinois, where his birth
occurred on the 22d of March, 1838. His parents were Benjamin L. and Mi-
nerva (Carrington) Matthews, and the former, a farmer by occupation, is still liv-
ing, at the advanced age of ninety-three years. He was a captain of Company
B, Ninty-ninth Illinois, in the Civil war. The paternal grandfather, a native of
Virginia, removed from the Old Dominion to North Carolina, thence to Ken-
tucky and later to Illinois, locating in White county in 1817. There he made his
home until 1824, when he came to Pike county. The maternal grandfather, Asa
Carrington, for whom our subject was named, was also a native of Virginia and
at an early day removed to Kentucky. He served his country in the war of 1812,
and died in 1820.

Reared in the county of his nativity, Mr. Matthews, of this review, com-
pleted his literary education in the Illinois College, of Jacksonville, where he was
graduated in the class of 1855. He then took up the study of law at Pittsfield,
in the law office of Hon. Milton Hay, one of the most celebrated lawyers in Illi-
nois, and the uncle of John Hay, now secretary of state in President McKinley's


cabinet, and was admitted to the bar in 1859. Hardly had he commenced the
practice of his chosen profession when the Civil war was inaugurated, and in
1862 he entered the military service of his country as a member of the Ninty-ninth
Illinois Infantry. He was soon made captain of his company and subsequently
successively commissioned major, lieutenant colonel and colonel, and was bre-
vetted for meritorious service at Vicksburg. Brave and loyal, he led his men in
many a gallant attack on the enemy, and on the I7th of August, 1865, received
an honorable discharge.

The war having ended, Colonel Matthews returned to his home in Pittsfield
.and resumed the practice of law, which he has carried on continuously since.
He has always enjoyed a fair share of the legal business and has been retained in
the majority of the most important cases tried in his county. He possesses the
essential qualifications of the successful lawyer, painstaking research, keen ana-
lytical power, and a forceful and clear presentation of his case to judge or jury.
By appointment he served on the circuit bench as the successor of Judge C. L.
Higbee, who died while in office ; and the patient care with which he ascertained
all the facts bearing upon every case which came before him, combined with ac-
curate knowledge and understanding of the principles of jurisprudence, gave
his decisions a solidity and exhaustiveness which usually made them final.

Colonel Matthews has always given his support to the Republican party, and
is one of its most prominent members in this part of the state. His marked
ability has led to his selection for various offices ; he has several times been a
member of the state legislature and was speaker of the house of the thirty-sixth
general assembly. He was at one time collector of internal revenue and also
supervisor of internal revenue, and in 1872 was defeated for congress, this being
a Democratic district. Throughout the administration of President Harrison he
was first comptroller of the treasury and then resigned in 1893, when Cleveland
was serving his second term.

In Pittsfield, Illinois, in 1858, Colonel Matthews married Miss Anna Ross,
and to them have been born three children, Florence, Ross and Helen M.,
all now married. The son has been serving in the army in the war against
Spain, holding the position of assistant quartermaster with the rank of captain,
and being stationed in Washington, D. C. The Colonel and his wife attend the
Congregational church, of which the lady is a member. In political circles he is
known to the most prominent men of the state ; in professional life he has at-
tained a position among the leading members of the bar in this part of Illinois,
and socially he is a favorite with a large number of warm friends.





v [ MOS NORTON GOODMAN was born on a farm in South West town-
jTY ship, Crawford county, Illinois, February n, 1867. His paternal grand-
-* *- parents, William and Susanna Goodman, were natives of England, and
the former was a physician. Henry Goodman, the father of our subject, was
born near Cleveland, Ohio, and when six months old was taken by his parents
to Zanesville that state. At the age of seventeen he came to Illinois, and after

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 61 of 83)