John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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

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sergeant of that company and later became second lieutenant of Company G, of
the same regiment. In August, 1862, he was commissioned captain and com-
missary of subsistence of volunteers, later was brevetted major and lieutenant
colonel, and on the 8th of October, 1865, was mustered out of the service. At
different times he was a member of the staffs of Generals Meade, Doubleday,
Crawford, McKenzie and other commanders, and for four months previous to the



1084 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

final movement of the armies around Richmond was "inspector of the sub-
sistence department of the armies operating against Richmond," at the head-
quarters of General Grant. He was serving on the staff of General R. S. Mc-
Kenzie, Cavalry Brigade, Army of the James, at the time of the surrender of
General Lee at the McLean House, Appomattox Court House, Virginia, and
gave his horse to Colonel Babcock to convey Grant's last message to Lee, taking
Babcock's horse in exchange, and was present at the McLean House and wit-
nessed the surrender. He received the most complimentary mention of his
superior officers, and by Major General George C. Meade his able service was
called to the attention of the president, and by General S. W. Crawford he was
recommended for appointment as an officer in the internal revenue department
in 1867.

In 1868 Mr. Adair came to Chicago as a delegate to the soldiers' conven-
tion, held in the North Side Turner Hall the day before General Grant's first
nomination for the presidency. Pleased with the city and its opportunities, Mr.
Adair took up his residence here in 1870, and in addition to a successful law prac-
tice other labors have identified him with its welfare and progress. He served as
inspector of customs here, was one of the examining attorneys for the Title
Guarantee & Trust Company and is identified with the Chicago Bar Association.
Among the important cases with which he has been connected is that which made
possible the existence of the building and loan associations. It was tried under
the name of Holmes versus Smythe and excited great public interest. The su-
preme court of Illinois, in 1881, had pronounced the act of April 4, 1872, provid-
ing for the organization of building and loan associations in Illinois, unconstitu-
tional ; a number of such institutions had been organized under the act of 1879 ;
it followed that if the act of 1872 were invalid so was that of 1879. A number
of state organizations, alarmed at the decision, prepared to go into liquidation.
Mr. Adair was the attorney for the People's Loan & Building Association, and
asked leave to file an argument for a rehearing, which was granted. He showed
the important consequences, disastrous to public interests, which would follow if
the decision were adhered to. On the argument the court abandoned its posi-
tion and held the act valid; since then hundreds of these corporations have been
organized and are being properly conducted to the benefit and profit of the state
at large, and particularly to the industrial classes and small capitalists. Mr.
Adair took great interest in election law and prepared briefs on the adoption of
the election law, in support of it, and orally argued the case before the supreme
court. He was also the special assessment attorney during Mayor Swift's ad-
ministration. Mr. Adair's professional cares are many, and the nature of his
business is very important. Realizing the worth of earnest endeavor in any walk
of life, he has always been most thorough in his work and his careful preparation
of cases has had no less a bearing upon his success than his arguments in the
courtroom.

Socially he is Connected with the Grand Army of the Republic, the Chicago
Bar Association, and the Chicago Union Veteran Club, having served as president
of the last named. For four terms he was chairman of the committee on political



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1085

action in the club, and is one of its most valued representatives. On the issues
which involve the welfare of state and nation he is a Republican in his views,
but at local elections he votes independently. He is one of the most expert chess-
players of Chicago and belongs to the Chicago Chess Club, finding rest and
recreation from his arduous professional duties in this entertaining game.

John Chauncey Trainor, one of the prominent and successful lawyers of
Chicago, was born at Watertown, Jefferson county. New York, May 18, 1858,
and there received his early education. He began the study of law in his native
city in the law office of Hannibal Smith. He taught the village school of East
Rodman, Jefferson county, New York, during the winter terms of 1879 and 1880,
after which he resumed the study of law with Edmund B. Wynn, of Watertown,
New York, general counsel for the Rome, Watertown & Ogdensburg Railroad
Company. Mr. Trainor was admitted to the bar at the general term of the su-
preme court, held at Syracuse, New York, January 6, 1882, at the age of twenty-
four, and a year later located in Chicago. He first opened an office in Kensing-
ton, a suburb, and after establishing a fair practice moved his office to the city,
70 La Salle street.

Mr. Trainor has attained his present high position by honesty and hard
work. In politics he is a Republican, always active, unselfish and loyal to his
friends.

Joseph Holton Defrees, the senior member of the law firm of Defrees, Brace
& Ritter, of Chicago, was born in Goshen, Indiana, April 10, 1858. His ances-
tors were French Huguenots, who came to this country prior to the war of 1812,
in which conflict the family was represented. The parents of our subject were
James McKinney and Victoria (Holton) Defrees. They died during the child-
hood of their son Joseph, who was accordingly reared by his grandfather, Joseph
H. Defrees, a prominent citizen of Indiana and a member of congress from that
state during the reconstruction period. His brother, John D. Defrees, was the
founder of the Indianapolis Journal and was the public printer under Presidents
Lincoln, Grant and Hayes.

Having laid his educational foundation in the public schools of his native
state, Mr. Defrees of this review continued his studies in Earlham College, of
Richmond, Indiana, and later pursued a course of study in the Northwestern
University, of Evanston, Illinois. At the age of eighteen years he began prepa-
ration for the bar as a student in the law office of Baker & Mitchell, of Goshen,
Indiana, for many years the most prominent law firm in northern Indiana, and on
the election of Judge Mitchell to the supreme bench of that state Mr. Defrees
became a partner of Mr. Baker, under the firm style of Baker & Defrees. John
H. Baker was afterward appointed to the federal bench for the district court of
Indiana, and Mr. Defrees continued alone in active practice in that state until
1888, when he came to Chicago, where he has made a specialty of corporation
and real-estate law, and has secured an extensive clientele in those departments of
jurisprudence. For a time he engaged in practice as a member of the firms of
Shuman & Defrees, later was with the firm of Aldrich, Payne & Defrees, and is
now the senior member of the firm of Defrees, Brace & Ritter, which ranks high



io86 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

at the Chicago bar. Since his twenty-second year Mr. Defrees has engaged con-
tinuously in the practice of law, and his professional career has been characterized
by- unflagging industry, without which there can be no success in this the most
exacting of all the professions.

On the 4th of October, 1882, Mr. Defrees married Miss Harriet McNaugh-
ton, of Buffalo, New York. He is a welcome member of the Union League,
Hamilton and Law Clubs, and is a valued representative of the Bar Association.
In politics he is an earnest Republican, and though never an aspirant for office
has a full appreciation of the responsibility that rests upon every American citi-
zen to support the measures which are best calculated to promote the welfare of
the nation.

Robins S. Mott was born in East Bloomfield, New York, on the 23d of April,
1 86 1. He came to Chicago in 1868 and has since made this city his home. In
Troy Academy, of Troy, New York, he prepared for entrance into Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute with the intention of becoming a civil engineer, but owing
to his youth he was refused admittance to that school and returned home to
await until time would qualify him to become a student therein. In the interval
he entered the Chicago University and compromised with his father the question
of his future education by agreeing, if allowed to finsh his course in Chicago, to
study law. He was graduated with honors in 1881, and in the fall of that year
entered the law office of Forrester & Felsenthal, under whose direction he pur-
sued his studies two years, being admitted to the bar in 1883, upon passing an
examination before the appellate court of the first district.

Shortly after his admission to the bar the firm of Forrester & Felsenthal was
dissolved and Mr. Mott was admitted to a partnership with Judge Robert H.
Forrester, one of the most distinguished and profound lawyers of the city.
Offices were fitted up but were occupied by Mr. Mott alone, as Judge Forrester
died suddenly before the new firm had hardly begun business. Mr. Mott at-
tributes whatever success he has attained at the bar to the painstaking care and
deep learning of the preceptor who superintended his early legal training and im-,
bued with the same lofty devotion to his profession which he himself manifested.

After Judge Forrester's death Mr. Mott entered the office of Harry Rubens as
chief clerk, June i, 1884, and continued in that position with the firm of Barnum,
Rubens & Ames, which was organized in the fall of that year. Upon the retire-
ment of Judge Barnum in 1888 he joined Mr. Rubens in the formation of the firm
of Rubens & Mott, which existed until May i, 1898, when Mr. Mott withdrew
for the purpose of forming a partnership with his former employer, ex-Judge
William H. Barnum. The present firm of Barnum, Mott & Barnum occupies
suite 1009, Stock Exchange Building, and has a large clientage which brings to
them law business of an important character.

David Spencer Wegg. In the allotments of human life few attain to em-
inent positions. It is a curious and interesting study to note how opportunity
waits on fitness and capacity, so that all at last fill the places for which they are
best qualified. In the legal profession there is no "royal road" to promotion.
Its high rewards are gained by diligent study and long and tedious attention to



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1087

elementary principles, and are awarded only to those who develop, in the arena
of forensic strife, characters of integrity and moral worth. In the elaborate
edifice of life we all fall into the niches that we are best qualified to fill. How-
ever marvelously "natural selection" may work in the production of species,
there is a wondrous selection in the sifting out of the fittest from the mass of com-
mon material that crowds all the avenues of the law. In that most difficult and
perplexing profession, the very occupation of superior position argues for its
possessor solid ability, signal skill, sound learning, untiring industry and uncom-
promising integrity. Such thoughts spontaneously occur as we contemplate
the career of a successful and eminent lawyer, such as that of the one who is the
subject of present contemplation. He has risen from the workshop of a mechanic
by his own unaided exertions, through capacity and merit, to a high position at
the bar, and to the management of a great public enterprise.

Mr. Wegg is a native of the province of Ontario, Canada, having been born
on the i6th of December, 1847, m the village of St. Thomas. His parents, John
W. and Jerusha (Buncombe) Wegg, were of English lineage. His mother's
family the Duncombe traces its descent from Sir Charles Duncombe (Lord
Feversham), who came to America in 1730. They were among the early and
leading settlers in Canada ; professional men, prominent both in a scholarly and
political way ; representative of the advanced views of the liberal party ; active
in the establishment of the educational system, and prominent in reforming bank-
ing and currency. The ancestors of his father, who was born in Norfolk, Eng-
land, were mainly engaged in mechanical pursuits, architects and artisans, but
among them was an admiral in the English navy and a representative of the
crown on the island of Trinidad.

David S. Wegg, when he had grown to sufficient strength and maturity to
make his labor serviceable, worked in his father's carriage shop and acquired
proficiency at the trade. He aspired, while yet a lad, to a higher vocation, and
took every opportunity to obtain an education. By hard reading, before and
after the hours of the day devoted to manual labor, he qualified himself for teach-
ing. While fulfilling his duties as teacher in the schools of St. Thomas, he began
the study of the law, and devoted every spare hour and holiday to diligent
reading. Having thus, in the intervals of labor, become familiar with the ele-
mentary principles of the law, at the age of twenty-five years he came to Madison,
Wisconsin, where his uncle, Chief Justice Lyon, resided. Availing himself of the
kind offer of this relative to live in his family, he entered the law department of
the University of Wisconsin, and graduated in the summer of 1873. He was im-
mediately employed by the law firm of Fish & Lee, of Racine, and soon became a
partner. In 1875 he accepted a partnership from ex-Chief Justice Dixon, at
Milwaukee. The firm of Dixon, Hooker, Wegg & Noyes will be remembered
as one of the most brilliant and eminent law firms of the northwest. During the
time that Mr. Wegg remained in this connection his labors were most engross-
ing, and the experience gained most valuable. He appeared in litigated cases
and developed an aptitude and capacity for forensic practice. When this partner-
ship was dissolved, on account of the ill health of Judge Dixon, Mr. Wegg en-



io88 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

{(.red the firm of Jenkins, Elliott & Winkler, which was largely employed in rail-
road interests and made the law of corporations a specialty. From this agreeable
and lucrative association Mr. Wegg was called to the position of assistant gen-
eral solicitor of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Company. The
duties of this position required his almost daily attendance in the courts of the
various states traversed by the road. He tried cases almost without number,
prepared briefs, argued appeals and gained signal success and reputation as a
learned, sagacious and skillful lawyer. In 1885 Mr. Wegg took charge of the law
department of the Wisconsin Central Railroad Company, and moved to Chicago,
where he has since resided. Here, without relinquishing the legal duties which
the department required, there was added a vast financial and managerial respon-
sibility. The company undertook the immense task of obtaining an entrance into
Chicago, where every available avenue of approach seemed to be occupied by
powerful corporations that did not look kindly upon the advent of a competitor.
Tn the prosecution of this enterprise it became necessary to organize a new cor-
poration, the Chicago & Northern Pacific Railroad Company. Mr. Wegg was
made its president, and upon him rested, without the title of manager, the vast
responsibility of its financial and constructive, as well as legal, management. He
purchased the right of way, conducted condemnation proceedings, negotiated
bonds, built a magnificent depot and attended to the thousand details of the
immense undertaking with the skill of a trained expert and the prudence and
sagacity of a practical lawyer. More recently, when the Northern Pacific Rail-
road Company acquired possession of the Wisconsin Central, Mr. Wegg was
elected a director of that great continental corporation, a position which he has
recently voluntarily relinquished. Eloquent advocates, astute pleaders and
learned lawyers have been produced in every country where the common law has
prevailed. In America these have not infrequently shown qualities of the highest
statesmanship when called into councils of state. It is only within the last
decade or two that the needs of the great corporations engaged in transportation
by rail have brought to the front men combining the highest legal ability, financial
skill and executive power. They are not numerous, and when found command
salaries as munificent as those paid to the highest in civil life. Among these so
rarely endowed Mr. Wegg will freely be accorded a foremost place.

As a lawyer, a professional colleague who knows him well says : 'T think he
is the best lawyer I have ever known." He seems to have assimilated the prin-
ciples of jurisprudence and to be able to supply from his intellectual reservoir a
correct solution to any new combination of details that will stand the test of sever-
est criticism. In the earlier years of his practice he excelled most of his com-
petitors in his skill in the presentation of railroad cases to juries, while before the
court his mastery of legal principles, familiarity with precedents and power of
logical and forcible argument made him well nigh invincible. He has been
trustee of large estates and has held many responsible positions of trust and con-
fidence with corporations other than those mentioned. As counsel his services
have been in great demand, and he has been extensively retained in important and
complicated litigations in New York and other eastern cities.



THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1089

Mr. Wegg has a physical constitution well suited to bear the strain of his
mental' exertions. He is strong and sturdy, of more than average weight, and in
the enjoyment of perfect health. His complexion is light, his eyes blue, and his
expression mild and cheerful. He is courteous in his bearing, and in his inter-
course genial and winning, but there is in his massive head and clear-cut
features an impression of reserve power.

Outside of professional studies he is well informed, and in some lines of liter-
ature and science an adept. He is a free and interesting conversationalist, an
agreeable comrade, and a most fascinating companion. He is a member of the
Literary Club of this city ; the Milwaukee Club, of Milwaukee, and the Man-
hattan, of New York ; but the demands of business that inexorable taskmaster
of gifted men leave little leisure for the indulgence of social intercourse. He
loves better to devote what time can be snatched from engrossing duties to the
domestic circle.

As soon as Mr. Wegg had assured his professional success, some five years
after entering upon practice, he married. The lady of his choice was Miss Eva
Russell, daughter of Andrew Russell, of Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, a native of the
"Badger State." The marriage took place in 1878. Mrs. Wegg reinforces the
English blood of the family with bonnie Scotch, that has brought to the house-
hold two sturdy sons, bearing the names of Donald Russell and David Spencer,
the former born in 1881 and the latter in 1887.

Mr. Wegg is no partisan, but professes a stalwart Republican attachment.
The family belongs to the Episcopal parish of St. James, of which Mr. Wegg
is an attendant and supporter.

Stephen Strong Gregory, of the Chicago bar, was born in Unadilla, Otsego
county, New York, November 16, 1849. I n *858 his father, J. C. Gregory, re-
moved with his family to Madison, Wisconsin, where the son pursued his educa-
tion in the common schools. In 1866 he became a student in the University of
Wisconsin and was graduated in that institution in the class of 1870. He began
preparation for the bar in the law department of his alma mater, where he was
graduated in 1871. The same year Mr. Gregory was admitted to the bar in
Madison and began practice in that city, where he remained most of the time
until the summer of 1874, when he came to Chicago.

On locating in this city he entered into a partnership with A. H. Chetlain,
now on the bench, under the firm name of Chetlain & Gregory, which continued
until 1879, when they joined forces with the firm of Tenney & Flower, which was
later succeeded by the firm of Flower, Remy & Gregory. In 1888 the firm of
Gregory, Booth & Harlan was formed and continued five years. Since 1893 Mr.
Gregory has had no partner.

Among the cases in which he has been concerned are the lake-front case, in
which he appeared as special counsel for the city of Chicago before the supreme
court of the United States, the case involving the law creating the sanitary dis-
trict of Chicago, where the constitutionality of that law was attacked and was
successfully maintained by John P. Wilson and Mr. Gregory, the defense of
Prenclergast and of Debs. On the night before the day set for the execution of
69



1090 THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS.

the former and after the supreme court had refused a supersedeas, the judge of
the criminal court, on the application of Mr. Gregory, postponed the execution
and granted time for a trial as to the prisoner's sanity. This was much criticised
at the time as being beyond the power of the court, but has since been generally
conceded to have been a lawful exercise of judicial power, and the precedent thus
established has been followed in this county.

Mr. Gregory is in religion an Episcopalian, in politics a Democrat. He is a
member of the Iroquois Club, of which he was president in 1886, and also of
the Law Club, of which he has been president, the Chicago Athletic Association,
the Church Club, the Exmoor Country Club, the Huron Mountain Club, and the
Chicago Club, and also of the Reform Club and the Democratic Club of New
York City. He has been for years a member of the American Bar Association
and the Chicago and State Bar Associations. He has never held public office
except that of election commissioner for the city of Chicago, which he held for
two years.

He was married November 25, 1880, to Miss Janet M. Tappan, of Madison.
They have three children, Charlotte Camp, Arthur Tappan and Stephen
Strong, Jr.

Edgar L. Masters, the junior member of the well known law firm of Scanlan
& Masters, was born in Kansas, in 1869, but has resided in Illinois since his in-
fancy. He is a grandson of S. D. Masters, who forty years ago was a notable
figure in political and educational circles in Illinois. He was a soldier in the
Black Hawk war of 1832, and a member of the Illinois legislature of 1855. He is
still living in Petersburg, this state, at the ripe age of eighty-five years, and in
March, 1898, he and his wife celebrated, at their Petersburg home, the sixty-
fourth anniversary of their marriage. Mr. Masters is one of the honored pioneers
who connects the early formative period of the state with the latter-day progress
and prosperity. For many years he served as justice of the peace of Petersburg,
and frequently Abraham Lincoln, then living at Salem, only four miles away, ap-
peared before him as attorney in the trial of suits. The great-great-grandfather
of our subject, Hillory Masters, served in the Revolutionary war, from Wythe
county, Virginia. H. W. Masters, father of our subject, resides in Lewistown,
Illinois, and for many years has been known as a leading lawyer and orator.

Having completed a high-school course, Edgar Lee Masters became a
student in Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois, taking special courses in lan-
guages, philosophy and belles-lettres. After his graduation in that institution
he began the study of law under the direction of his father, and, having been
admitted to the bar, he came to Chicago in 1892, shortly afterward forming a
partnership with Kickham Scanlan, an association that has since been main-
tained. For six years he has been actively engaged in practice in this city, hand-
ling both civil and criminal cases with signal success. He has often appeared in
important cases in the supreme court of the state, as well as in the appellate and
local courts, such as the People versus Allen, the International Building Asso-
ciation litigation, the Sharkey foundry case, the Schintz and other cases. His
knowledge of law is extensive and accurate ; his presentation of an argument to




^







THE BENCH AND BAR OF ILLINOIS. 1091

a jury logical and convincing. In the art of cross-examination he has proved
himself an adept in many hotly contested cases, and has been associated with



Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 66 of 83)