John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

The bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) online

. (page 65 of 83)
Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 65 of 83)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


died August 26, 1872 ; Arthur Clark, of Chicago, a student in Kent Law College,
born October n, 1872; a son who was born October 23, 1878, and died a few
days later, unnamed ; and Clara Emily, who was born October 27, 1880. The
mother of this family died November 5, 1880, and Mr. Fort has since married
Mrs. Margaret E. Egbert, nee Ellwood. Her parents were English, and her
father was an officer in the Queen's Colstream Guards. After coming to this



1076 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

country he served as captain in the Eleventh Illinois Cavalry during the civil
war, enlisting in 1861. A few days before his death he was commissioned colonel.
His horse, being shot from under him and falling upon him, terminated his life.
His wife bore the maiden name of Ann Hugill and was the daughter of an Eng-
lish clergyman. By her former marriage Mrs. Ford had one son, Jerome William
Egbert, D. D. S., of Madras, India, who was the first dental missionary ap-
pointed by the Baptist church in America.

Mr. Fort and his family attend the Baptist church, of which his wife and
daughter Clara are members. He belongs to the Masonic fraternity and the
Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and during the civil war was a member of
the Union League. He has always been a stalwart Republican, and for one
hundred and thirty ballots received the support of a considerable following in the
nominating convention for a congressional candidate. He has held several local
offices such as city attorney, city clerk and supervisor, and was candidate for
county judge, but at that time the Democratic majority in the county was so great
that he failed of election. Faithfulness and ability have characterized all his
official acts and he is recognized as a public-spirited and progressive citizen.
From the platform he has frequently advocated the principles of Republicanism
during the campaigns, but his energies are chiefly devoted to his law practice,
wherein his ability has won him success and gained him a prominent place among
the foremost attorneys of this part of the state. A contemporary biographer has
said of him : "Mr. Fort is one of the leaders of the Republican party in Wood-
ford county. A man of education, far-reaching enterprise and talents of a high
order, he wields a great influence in the management of public affairs and his
fellow citizens have often wisely sought his counsel and aid in the advancement
of the highest interests of the city. However it is not as an office-holder that he
is best known or will be longest remembered, but as the conscientious and safe
counselor, the accurate and pure writer, the unostentatious and upright citizen."

J. Albert Briggs for twenty-six years has been city attorney of Eureka, a
fact which stands in evidence of marked ability and faithful service. He was
born in Willette, Courtland county, New York, on the I2th day of February,
1839, and spending a part of the days of his childhood there acquired his edu-
cation in the public schools. In 1855 he determined to become a resident of the
west and located in Naperville, Du Page county, Illinois, where he made his
home for five years. During three years of that time he pursued a course of
law study in the office and under the direction of Vallette & Cody, a leading law
firm of that place, and, under the old regime was admitted to the bar in 1859.
In 1858-9 he took a course in Bell, Bryant & Stratton's Commercial College in
Chicago. In the fall of 1860 he removed to Eureka, Woodford county, where
he has since made his home, engaged in the prosecution of his chosen profession.
In 1879 he took out a license under the new rule, after full examination.

His practice has been general, embracing litigation in the various branches
of the law, and to this end he has always been a close student of legal prin-
ciples. He is well versed in the science of jurisprudence, and that he has ability
and is most faithful in the public service is indicated by his long continuance in



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1077

the office of city attorney by the vote of the people. He was local attorney for
the Chicago, Pekin & Southwestern Railroad Company, now the Atchison, To-
peka & Santa Fe, in this state for twenty-five years, from January i, 1871. He
has been present nearly every day of each term of the circuit court of Wood-
ford county, where he resides, since December I, 1860, seventy-eight terms.
He receives the support of men of both parties, and at all times he commands the
respect of his fellow practitioners by his courtesy and fairness in the court-room,
as well as by his masterful handling of the important litigation with which he has
been connected. He has held other offices, but it is his desire to be connected
with no interest which will take his attention from his professional duties. He
votes the Democratic ticket and is a warm advocate of the party principles.

Mr. Briggs was married in 1861 to Miss Mary E. Meek, a resident of Wood-
ford county, Illinois.



CHAPTER LIX.

*
REPRESENTATIVES OF THE CHICAGO BAR.

ELISHA C. FIELD. Law had its beginning with the creation of man.
Its complexity has grown as the horoscope of time has marked the passing
years; and yet, after all, it is merely a system of logical results, the
natural sequence of well defined principles, with which man has had to do since
the world began, in their relation to man and his activities. The potentiality of
law might be expressed in the one word protection, for it is the safeguard of life
and property. That new laws have been formulated is but the natural out-
growth of the complicated conditions of our business life, individual, collective
and international. Since the railroad has become such an indispensable factor in
all the activities which encompass human existence, railroad law has become
one of the most important branches of jurisprudence, and no railroad company
of any magnitude is to-day without its legal representative. Standing in this
important relation to the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Company is Elisha
C. Field, a distinguished member of the Chicago bar, whose thorough under-
standing of the principles of jurisprudence and accurate application thereof to
the interests of business life make him a safe counselor and able adviser. In no
profession is there a career more open to talent than in that of the law, and 'in no
field of endeavor is there demanded a more careful preparation, a more thorough
appreciation of the absolute ethics of life, or of the underlying principles which
form the basis of all human right and privileges. A man of strong mentality, Mr.
Field has cultivated the keen analytical power, the close investigation and cogent
reasoning which are indispensable to the able lawyer and by his own merit has
risen to an eminent position in the legal fraternity.

A native of Porter county, Indiana, he was born on the gth of April, 1842,
and is a son of Thomas J. and Louise (Chapman) Field, natives of New York,
whence they removed to Indiana in 1836. They spent the residue of their days in
the latter state, the father passing away at the age of seventy-two years, while
the mother's death occurred at the age of sixty-four years. Judge Field pursued
his education in what was known as the Valparaiso (Indiana) Male and Female
College, now the Northern Indiana Normal School, and was graduated in that
institution in 1862. With a natural predilection for the law he determined to fit
himself for the bar and accordingly entered the law department of the University
of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, where he remained until his graduation in 1865.

Judge Field entered upon the practice of law at Crown .Point, Indiana, and
in 1868 was elected prosecuting attorney of what was then the ninth district
of the state. On the expiration of his term of service in that office he was elected
to the general assembly. As the years passed he was steadily gaining prestige

1078



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1079

by reason of his thoroughness, close application, his mastery of the law in its ap-
plication to the interests entrusted to his care and his unfaltering fidelity to the
interests of his clients. Fame at the bar is not quickly won, although the
brilliant conduct of a case may sometimes bring one prominently before the pub-
lic notice; it rests upon the more substantial qualities of a mastery of judicial
principles and of great care and precision in the preparation of cases. It was
these qualities in Mr. Field, recognized by a discriminating public, that led to his
election to the bench of the thirty-first circuit of Indiana, and so well did he
administer justice that in 1884 he was re-elected without opposition from any
source. He was the candidate of the Republican party, and so marked was his
ability for the office and so free was his course from all partiality or judicial bias
that the opposing parties placed no candidate in the field, and thus indirectly paid
the highest possible compliment to his merit.

Judge Field continued upon the bench until 1889, when he resigned that posi-
tion in order to accept that of general solicitor of the Louisville, New Albany &
Chicago Railroad, in which incumbency he has since been retained, although the
name of the corporation has been changed to the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louis-
ville Company, Removing to Chicago in the year of his appointment to this
position, he has since conducted some very important litigation for the company,
protecting its interests through legal measures and in the court-room with a zeal
that has won him the grateful acknowledgment of the corporation on more than
one occasion.

In 1864 Judge Field was united in marriage to Miss Mary Jackman, of Syca-
more, Illinois, and they have two sons and two daughters, namely : Charles E.,
now general claim agent for the Chicago, Indianapolis & Louisville Railway
Company ; Cora Belle, now Mrs. G. V. Crosby, a resident of Albuquerque, New
Mexico ; Robert L., a graduate of the Bethel Military School, of Virginia, and
commissioned captain by the governor of the state ; and Bernice Ray.

The Judge is a popular member of the Harvard Club and is a leading Re-
publican. In 1888 he was a delegate from the tenth congressional district of
Indiana to the national convention in Chicago, which nominated Benjamin Har-
rison for president of the United States. He is a most companionable gentle-
man, known and liked for his many social qualities, and a mind and nature of
breadth are indicated by the fact that his friends represent all classes, for genuine
worth is the only requisite which he demands of those who enjoy his regard.

William Herbert Johnson, a well known lawyer of Chicago, is a native of
Michigan, his birth having occurred in the village of Lawton, Van Buren
county, on the 3ist of October, 1856, his parents being Gilbert Davidson and
Nancy (Longwell) Johnson. At the usual age at which one begins the acquire-
ment of an education he entered the public schools of Lawton, and after the
completion of his literary course he took up the study of law in Kalamazoo,
Michigan, under the direction of the firm of Edwards & Sherwood.

After a thorough course of reading Mr. Johnson was admitted to the bar of
Michigan in September, 1878, and then, with a view of seeking a broader ,ield
and wider opportunities, he came to Chicago two months later. Soon afterward



io8o THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

he secured a clerkship in the office of Tenney, Flower & Cratty, one of the leading
law firms of the city, and in this service put to the practical test the knowledge he
had acquired. He continued to discharge the duties assigned him by that firm
until May, 1883, when he became a member of the firm of Cratty, Abbott & John
son, a partnership that was maintained for one year. The firm of Abbott &
Johnson was then formed, succeeded by Johnson & Bartlett, later changes mak-
ing it Johnson, Morrill & Bartlett until the last named entered the law depart-
ment of the Title Guaranty & Trust Company, since which time the name of the
firm has been Johnson & Morrill. The subject of this review has been successful
in his chosen vocation and has secured a distinctively representative clientage.

On the I5th of October, 1889, Mr. Johnson was united in marriage to Miss
Kate Hubbard, daughter of Franklin and Sarah (Lyman) Hubbard, of Toledo,
Ohio. Her father was a prominent business man of that city and for many years
a member of its board of education, and at present business manager of the
schools of that city. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have three sons and a daughter.
They reside in the beautiful suburb of Glencoe, and in the affairs of the village Mr.
Johnson takes an active interest. He has served as president and as school
director, and in many other ways has promoted its interests. He is also a trustee
of the Congregational church of Glencoe, although not a member. He belongs
to the Chicago Bar Association, and for more than a decade has been identified
with the Law and Marquette Clubs of the city. Of the latter he has served as
vice president and as chairman of the committee on political action. In his
political adherency he is a Republican, has served as delegate to various local,
county and congressional conventions, and also attended, as a delegate, the
annual meeting of the National Republican League, held in Milwaukee, but his
energies, however, are chiefly devoted to his profession, wherein he is winning
a creditable success.

Leroy Delano Thoman was born in Salem, Columbiana county, Ohio, on the
3 ist of July, 1851, and traces his ancestry back to one of the old Pennsylvania
families that was established in the Penn colony in 1680, by German emigrants.
Ten years later his maternal ancestors located in Virginia. His father, Jacob S.
Thoman, was born in Ohio and was a man of good education. A thorough
student, his deep researches in various lines of study made him extremely well
informed. He wedded Mary Ann, a daughter of the Rev. Henry Sonedecker,
and a lady of noble Christian character, and thus in an atmosphere of moral and
intellectual superiority the subject of this review was reared to manhood.

In the common schools Leroy D. Thoman began his education, which was
continued in an academy and under the direction of his parents, who provided an
excellent course of reading for him. When sixteen years of age he began teach-
ing school, which profession he followed until his admission to the bar. He was
principal of the public schools of Piper City, Illinois, for three years, and during
that time devoted his leisure hours to the study of law, which, with one year's
study with Hon: Joseph W. Adair, of Columbia City, Indiana, prepared him for
admission to the bar, August 13, 1872. As soon as he had obtained license to
practice he received an appointment to the position of deputy prosecuting attor-








'Htf ** />/<



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1081

ney for the ninth judicial district of Indiana, but in January, 1873, he resigned that
position and returned to his native state, engaging in the general practice of law
in Youngstown, for two years. In 1875 he was elected judge of the probate court
of Mahoning county, and discharged his duties with such fidelity that he was
re-elected in 1878, serving in all for six years. On his retirement, in February,
1882, he resumed the private practice of law and was the attorney of the Pittsburg
& Lake Erie Railroad Company for the state of Ohio.

In the meantime Judge Thoman had become an important factor in the
political life of Ohio, being especially active in the work of planning and man-
aging the campaigns, as a member of the state executive committee of the Demo-
cratic party. His tact, keen foresight and sound judgment made him especially
well fitted for this work, and he contributed not a little to the Democratic suc-
cesses in this way. In 1880 he was chairman of the Democratic state convention,
and the same year was nominated by his party for congress, but was defeated
by Hon. William McKinley. The following year he was strongly urged to
become a candidate for the office of governor of Ohio, but declined. His labors
in connection with political interests have ever been above reproach and his
record in this direction, as in others, is an unsullied one. His close study of
political issues and of the policies of the party led him to see the gross injustice
to the general public that came through the "spoils system" and thus Judge
Thoman became an advocate of civil-service reform. In 1880 he became finan-
cially interested in the Vindicator, the leading Democratic paper in northeastern
Ohio, and through its columns he urged the adoption of the measures in which
he so firmly believes, setting forth the benefits that would be derived therefrom.

Judge Thoman was a member of the committee on resolutions in the state
convention in 1882, and it was through his efforts that a civil-service plank was
placed in the party platform. From the time of the ciyil war measures had been
advanced for the correction of the evils arising from the methods of rewarding
labors in the interests of party, by official preferment. In this way many incom-
petent men secured office when abler men might have been secured to fill the
positions. At last Senator Pendleton, of Ohio, introduced a bill providing for
stated examinations of applicants for positions in the civil service, which in
January, 1883, became a law. According to a provision contained therein, a
commission of three was appointed, from representatives of both parties, whose
duty it was to prepare rules for the regulation of the civil service, provide for
the examination of applicants for positions, and prescribe a system of pro-
cedure in conducting such examinations. President Arthur appointed Judge
Thoman as the Democratic member of the first United States civil-service com-
mission under the Pendleton law, and to the efforts of the Judge as much as to
any other one man is due the credit for putting into successful operation the
new system and securing the benefits therefrom. He served on the commission
about three years, resigning in November, 1885. A leading citizen of Chicago
said of him: "I was in congress when President Arthur appointed Judge
Thoman as the Democratic member of the first United States civil-service com-
mission, and I know that to his good practical sense and judgment the success-



io82 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

fill inauguration of this branch of our governmental system was made possible.
He had the confidence of President Arthur and the members of the cabinet, and
enjoyed the respect of the public officials. He is a broad-gauged man, of positive
character."

In 1888 Judge Thoman took up his residence in Chicago and has since been
a brilliant figure at the Cook county bar. His reputation as an advocate and a
counselor is second to none in the city. In patient industry, sound judgment,
clear conception of the spirit and scope of jurisprudence, and in that intuitive per-
ception of right which is almost an inspiration, he has no superior. He is a good
trial lawyer, but as a counsellor his judgment is mature. Thus it is that he has
secured a distinctively representative clientele, which makes him one of the suc-
cessful lawyers of the city.

At the time when it was proposed to celebrate the fourth centennial anniver-
sary of the discovery of America, Judge Thoman did much toward securing
Chicago as the site of the Exposition, and it was largely through his efforts that
the Ohio congressional vote was given the western metropolis. He was elected
president of the States Columbian Association, and in this important office ex-
erted an influence, in behalf of the World's Fair site, that was valuable in secur-
ing the desired result.

The home life of Judge Thoman is exceptionally pleasant. In early man-
hood he wedded Miss Mary E. Cartwright, of Youngstown, Ohio, but in De-
cember, 1876, death claimed her. In February, 1892, he was united in mar-
riage to Miss Florence B. Smith, of Lebanon, Ohio, daughter of Hon. James M.
Smith, judge of the circuit court, and to them has been born a daughter. Their
home is in Evanston and they have gathered around them there a circle of cul-
tured people, whose refined tastes render their company very congenial to the
Judge and his accomplished wife. In the Presbyterian church Mr. and Mrs.
Thoman hold membership, and he belongs to a number of societies. He is presi-
dent of the Ohio Society of Chicago, is a member of the Union League, the
Iroquois, the Country, and the Glenn View Golf Clubs, and is a Knight Templar
and thirty-second degree Mason and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine. He is
deeply interested in educational affairs, delivered the annual address to the
graduates of Oberlin College, Ohio, in 1888, and has been a lecturer on medical
jurisprudence at Bennett College and on private international law at the North-
western University. He is a man of broad mind, brilliant mental endowments,
given to deep thought and keen research and added to this is a gift of oratory
which renders his utterances at once pleasing and attractive. In all his life he
has ever placed the public good before self-aggrandizement, and the national
welfare before party preferment.

John S. Miller, ex-corporation counsel, has won the position he now occu-
pies at the bar by his own exertions, and not through mere force of circumstances.
He is of Scotch-Irish ancestry on his mother's side, and descended from an old
historic Massachusetts family on his father's. He was born May 24, 1847, in
Louisville, St. Lawrence county, New York, and at the age of twenty-three was
graduated a Bachelor of Arts from St. Lawrence University, New York. After



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1083

a course in the law department he was admitted to the bar in 1870, at Ogdens-
burg, New York, and held the position of professor of mathematics in St.
Lawrence University for a year, and was a professor of Latin and Greek for two
years.

He resigned his place in 1874 and came to Chicago, where he soon took a
leading position at the bar. He was a member of the firm of Herbert, Quick &
Miller, and after Mr. Herbert's death the firm was known as Quick & Miller.
He is now a member of the firm of Peck, Miller & Starr, 916 Monadnock block.
Mr. Miller's practice has been chiefly among the chancery courts, and among his
more important cases have been those known as the Flagler litigation, the River-
side litigation, and the Phillips and South Park litigation.

These cases brought Mr. Miller so prominently before the public that he
was appointed corporation counsel by Mayor Washburne, in 1891. While hold-
ing this position, Mr. Miller, among a large number of important cases, handled
the Lake Front case, in which the city won a notable victory against the Illinois
Central Railroad, involving the validity of the grant of the lake front by the legis-
lature to the railroad company. The victory was of the greatest importance, as it
was held that the bed of navigable water is the property of the people, and is held
in trust by the state for them.

Since retiring from office Mr. Miller has been engaged in private practice,
and has won an enviable reputation for himself as a corporation lawyer. He is
a prominent Republican, a member of St. Paul's Protestant Episcopal church,
and, besides the Union League Club, is a member of the Chicago, Hamilton,
Lincoln and Chicago Literary Clubs. On the evening of January 23, 1899, Mr.
Miller was elected president of the Union League Club.

John D. Adair. Every state in the Union has furnished representatives
to one or more of the departments of business in Chicago. Among those who
have come from Pennsylvania is John D. Adair, whose success as a lawyer well
entitles him to mention among the more prominent members of the bar of Illinois.
He was born in Carlisle, Cumberland county, November 22, 1841, his parents
being S. Dunlap and Henrietta (Gray) Adair, the former of Scotch parentage
and the latter of Irish descent. His father was an eminent lawyer of eastern
Pennsylvania and defended parties in a number of indictments under the fugitive-
slave law.

In the public schools of his native city John D. Adair acquired his education,
and in June, 1861, when nineteen years of age, offered his services to the govern-
ment as a defender of the Union. He was a member of the Carlisle Fencibles
Company, which on joining the volunteer service became Company A, Seventh
Regiment, Pennsylvania Reserve Corps. He was promoted to the rank of first



Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 65 of 83)