John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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

. (page 67 of 83)
Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 67 of 83)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Mr. Scanlan in all their suits, both civil and criminal, making an enviable name
for himself as a lawyer, and winning a foremost place among the younger mem-
bers of the Chicago bar.

Mr. Masters was married on the 2ist of June, 1898, to Miss Helen M. Jenk-
ins, daughter of Robert E. Jenkins, a prominent member of the Chicago bar. It
is quite remarkable that both Mr. and Mrs. Masters are lineal descendants, in
each case on the mother's side, in the tenth generation, of John Putnam, the
founder of the distinguished Putnam family in America, who settled at Salem,
Massachusetts, in 1634, and was the ancestor of the Revolutionary generals, Israel
and Rufus Putnam.

Mr. Masters is deeply interested in the political situation of the country, is
an enthusiastic Bryan Democrat, and is an earnest student of the issues and
questions of the day. He belongs to the State and Chicago Bar Associations,
and socially is a member of the Knights of Pythias fraternity. He is exceedingly
popular with his associates in business and society, and enjoys the confidence and
regard of all who have met and known him.



THE first term of the circuit court held in Greene county commenced April
26, 1821, and was presided over by Hon. John Reynolds, at that time as-
sociate justice of the supreme court. Samuel Lee, Jr., was, by the judge,
appointed clerk of the court, and had filed his bond with Thomas Rattan, Thomas
Carlin and Willis Webb, as sureties, and took his place. After opening the court
Thomas Carlin, sheriff of the county, presented to the court a venire of grand
jurors, and the following gentlemen having been elected were empaneled as the
first grand jury and duly sworn ''to enquire for, and in behalf of, the county of
Greene :" John Finley, foreman ; Martin Wood, Thomas Gilliland, Nathaniel
Wass, Cyrus Tolman, Isaac Pruitt, James McFadgin, John Morfoot, Walter
McFarland, Hugh Jackson, Jacob Fry, Charles Gregory, Willis Webb, Christian
Link, John Costley, William Webb, William Costley and Philip Fry. There be-
ing no jury room, these gentlemen retired to the prairie to consider the matters
laid before them, and soon returned with the following indictments, each en-
dorsed "true bill :" People of the state of Illinois versus William Green, as-
sault and battery; the same versus Thomas Lumley, assault and battery; the
same versus William Morris, same offense. There being no further business
before the grand jury they were discharged and capias ordered to issue against
each of the above defendants, returnable at the next term of court. There being
no cases upon the docket, court adjourned to court in course.

The second term of the circuit court commenced October 4, 1821, Hon.
John Reynolds presiding as judge. A grand jury was empaneled, consisting of
the following gentlemen : John G. Lofton, foreman ; Nathaniel Wass, Cyrus
Tolman, Thomas Finley, Robert Whitaker, John Moore, Hughston Reynolds,
Samuel Costan, James Davidson, John Wiatt, Thomas Gilliland, Zachariah
Allen, William Pruitt, Joseph Reynolds, Henry Teagarden, Hugh Jackson, Thom-
as G. Lofton, Clark Beebe and John Huitt. These gentlemen retired for deliber-
ation, and court proceeded to try the cases on the docket. The first one called
was that of the state against William Green, who was indicted at the last term
of court as having committed assault and battery. The defendant appeared in
court and pleaded not guilty of the misdemeanor, as charged, so a jury was em-
paneled to try the case. This, the first petit jury in Greene county, was com-
posed of the following gentlemen : Young Wood, John Finley, John Drum,
James Whiteside, William Davidson, James Colwell, Joel Meacham, William
Hoskins, Calvin Tunnel, Gershom Patterson, Walker Daniel and Alvin Coe.
After hearing the evidence in the case and having been charged by the court, they



gave in a verdict of guilty, and the court assessed a fine of five dollars and costs
against the defendant.

The next two cases were of a similar nature. The first civil suit on the
docket was that of Samuel L. Irwin versus Rowland Shephard, but the defense,
not being entirely prepared, asked for and was granted a continuance. The next
case was that of Jason Whiting versus Ebenezer Horton, and was a suit for debt
on attachment. The defendant not appearing, judgment in default was ren-
dered for the plaintiff in the sum of three hundred dollars and fifty-seven cents,
and costs. Judgment was issued, and the constable who had charge of the goods
was ordered to turn them over to the sheriff, who was ordered to sell the same
at public sale. There were quite a number of other cases tried at this term.
The grand jury made a presentment against William B. Whiteside and Robert
Sinclair, for burglary. This was one of the most celebrated cases of those early
days, and grew out of the following circumstances. Many of the pioneers of this
county brought with them considerable sums of money, to purchase land with.
This was mostly in gold and silver coin, and, although inconvenient, it was neces-
sary, in the total absence of banks, to keep it in their cabins. Such was the gen-
eral character for honesty and integrity possessed by those early pioneers, that
but little care was taken to conceal it ; nor was it safely secured with barred doors
or locked receptacles. In 1821, however, this mutual confidence in each other
received a severe shock by a heavy robbery that occurred in the southern part
of the county. It seems that there lived at Lofton's prairie an Englishman and
his wife, by the name of Dixon, people well advanced in years, who were known
to have considerable money in their possession. One night several men came
to the cabin of this couple, which was some distance from any neighbor, and by
threats and demonstrations of personal violence extorted from the old gentleman
twelve hundred dollars, and then made off. As soon as they were gone the old
man communicated with his neighbors, an alarm was raised and a number of
men, headed by Judge Lofton, started in pursuit. Mr. Dixon recognized two
of the men, Robert Sinclair and William B. Whiteside. The latter was a resident
of Madison county, had been sheriff and a prominent citizen of that locality;
Major Sinclair also was quite a prominent citizen of Madison county. They were
overtaken near Alton and brought to trial at Carrollton. On being placed in the
dock, Mr. Whiteside pleaded not guilty, and asked for a continuance of the case,
but was overruled by the court. Sinclair pleaded the same and asked the same
indulgence, but was overruled. The state's attorney, however, asking the con-
tinuance of the case, it was granted. At the term of court which commenced
April 25, 1822, William B. Whiteside was placed on trial before the following
jury and tried for his offense : Lewis Abrams, Joseph Klein, Charles Kitchens,
Ruloff Stephens, Abraham Bowman, Daniel Duvall, John Finley, Francis Bell,
Charles Gregory, William Eldred, Timothy Ladd and James Beeman. Thomas
H. Benton, then a rising young lawyer, appeared for the prosecution. On this
jury was a strong friend of the prisoner, Charles Kitchens, who is said to have
hung the jury. This, of course, caused delay which was taken advantage of by
the attorneys for the defense, and soon the death or departure of important wit-


nesses, and finally the decease of Mr. Dixon, left the state without any testimony,
and the case was dropped. Robert Sinclair was also tried and convicted of
burglary, the value of the property being placed at twelve hundred and nine dol-
lars and thirty-three cents, but while either out on bail, or in the hands of the
sheriff- accounts differing in this particular he contrived to slip away, and
mounting a fine, fast race-horse, which was placed in readiness for him near the
David Black farm, he sped away to the southward, hotly pursued by the sheriff,
but the speed and bottom of his noble steed gave him the inside track and he
finally escaped. He went to Arkansas, where he afterwards rose to distinction.
The court which tried these men was presided over by Hon. Joseph Phillips, at
that time chief justice of the supreme court of the state.

At the first term of the circuit court, in 1823, Judge Thomas Reynolds pre-
sided. This gentleman was a very talented lawyer of his day, the peer of Ben-
ton, Marshall and others. He removed to Missouri and attained considerable
reputation, and was finally elected governor of that state.

Judge John Reynolds presided over the September term, 1823, and faithfully
discharged his duties. He was one of the foremost men of his time. In 1822
he was made chief justice of the supreme court. A sketch of his life appears else-
where in this work. In 1830 he was elected governor of Illinois on the Demo-
cratic ticket, and afterward served three years in congress. He was a Pennsyl-
vanian by birth, born in 1788, and came to Illinois with his parents when but
twelve years of age. He died at Belleville, Saint Clair county, in 1865.

John York Sawyer, one of the circuit judges appointed by the general as-
sembly was commissioned January 19, 1825, and assigned for duty in the first
judicial circuit, in which Greene county was then included. The first term of
court in this county over which he presided commenced on the i6th of May,
1822. He held the office of judge until January, 1827, when circuit judges were
legislated out of office.

At the April term, 1827, Samuel D. Lockwood, one of the associate justices
of the supreme court, presided as circuit judge. Judge Lockwood was quite a
popular lawyer, and was attorney-general of the state during the years of 1821
and 1822, and on the I9th of January, 1825, was appointed to the supreme court,
and remained upon that bench until December 4, 1848.

In 1835 Stephen T. Logan was appointed circuit judge of the first judicial
circuit, under the law of January 7th of that year, and entered upon the discharge
of his duties with the spring term of court in this county. Judge Logan was a
finished scholar, a deep student, but of a retiring disposition, and served but a
short time, resigning in the spring of 1837. He was succeeded on the bench by
William Brown, who was commissioned March 20, 1837, but resigned the of-
fice July 2oth of the same year.

The next to hold the office of circuit judge in this, the first judicial circuit,
was Jesse B. Thomas, Jr., who was appointed in July, 1837, and remained on the
bench until early in 1839, when he resigned the office. Judge Thomas was
afterward a quite prominent member of the supreme court of this state, being
appointed in 1843, to succeed Stephen A. Douglas.


Hon. William Thomas was the next judge of the circuit court, being com-
missioned as such on the 25th of February, 1839, an d remained upon the bench
until the reorganization of the judiciary, in 1841, again legislated these judges
out of office. Judge Thomas was an able lawyer and quite prominent.

On the abolishment of the office of circuit judges, in 1841, the duty of hold-
ing the circuit court again devolved upon the judges of the supreme court, and
Judge Stephen D. Lockwood again came upon the circuit and held court until
the first election for circuit judges, under the constitution of 1848.

The first judge elected under this law in the first judicial circuit was Hon.
David Meade Woodson, who was elected in September, 1848, and commissioned
on the 4th of December of the same year. He performed the duties of this re-
sponsible office so impartially and so much to the satisfaction of the people that
he was twice re-elected to the position, holding the same for eighteen successive
years. He declined the tendered nomination for a fourth term, in 1867.

Hon. David Meade Woodson, late judge of the first judicial circuit in the
state of Illinois, was born in Jessamine county, Kentucky, May 18, 1806. He
was a son of Samuel H. Woodson, an eminent lawyer of that state. David re-
ceived his education at the classical schools near Lexington, and at Transyl-
vania University, and at the age of seventeen began the study of law under one
of the professors of that institution. He finished the term in his father's office,
but in 1827 his father died, and the care of a large and complicated estate, and
that of a mother and seven minor children, devolved upon him and his brother
and he was compelled to give up his profession for the time being. In 1832 he
was elected to the legislature, and there cast one of the votes which sent Henry
Clay to the United States senate. He was the youngest member of the legisla-
ture. October 6, 1832, he was married to Lucy McDowell, daughter of Major
John McDowell, of Fayette county, Kentucky. In the fall of 1833 he came to
Illinois and selected Carrollton as his future home. Here he practiced law in
partnership with Charles D. Hodges for fourteen years, and in 1848 was elected
to a judgeship. In 1835 he returned to Kentucky and spent another session in
Transylvania University, where he graduated with honor. In August, 1836, his
wife died in Kentucky, and left one child, now the Hon. John M. Woodson, of
Saint Louis. On November i, 1838, he was married to Julia Kennett, daughter
of Dixon H. Kennett. They had one daughter, now the wife of Henry C. With-
ers, late partner of her father. In the legislature of 1838-39 he was elected to
the office of state's attorney, to fill a vacancy. He continued in this office until
1840, when he was elected by the people of Greene county to the legislature over
a Democratic majority of from four to five hundred a flattering success. In
1843 he was nominated to a seat in congress, but was unsuccessful on account
of the popularity of his opponent, Stephen A. Douglas. In 1847 he was elected
to the convention called to amend the constitution, and did all in his power to
oppose the result of the convention, which was the degrading of the primary law
of our state. He then devoted himself to his profession until 1848, when he was
elected circuit judge, and filled the position with ability and impartiality until
1867, when he again engaged in practicing law. He was again elected to the


legislature on the Democratic ticket, in 1868, thus showing the popularity and
estimation in which he was held, both personally and politically. Judge Wood-
son died in 1877.

Charles D. Hodges. "The entire state of Illinois mourns the death of Judge
Charles D. Hodges, of Carrollton, one of the ablest among the circuit judges of
the state." Thus wrote a Minnesota journalist, and the sentiment was echoed
by all who had known this prominent jurist, who for a half century practiced at
the bar of central Illinois. His name is indelibly inscribed on the pages of the
history of our jurisprudence, and at his death the press, the public and the pro-
fession united in honoring the memory of one who had ever been an honor to
his adopted state. From the memorial addresses delivered we largely cull the
following record, as setting forth the opinions of those who were intimately as-
sociated with him in the various walks of life.

Charles Drury Hodges was born February 4, 1810, in Queen Anne, Prince
George county, Maryland, and died in Carrollton, Illinois, April i, 1884. He
spent his youth in his native city and was an active, intelligent, moral and studi-
ous young man. At the early age of nineteen years he was graduated in Trinity
College, at Hartford, Connecticut, and then entered upon the study of law with
Alexander Randall, a prominent attorney of Annapolis, Maryland, with whom
he studied until careful preparation had fitted him for the bar. He was then ad-
mitted to practice, and soon after entering upon his professional career his atten-
tion was directed to the west, where he determined to try his fortune. Accord-
ingly he landed in Carrollton, in November, 1833, having in the meantime spent
a few months in St. Louis, Missouri. Those who remember his arrival in Car-
rollton tell with interest of the wonder excited by his appearance as he alighted
from the stage coach. A young man fresh from an eastern city was a rare sight
in those days and his attire and bearing were strange to the dwellers of the little
town. From that day until the hour of his death, Carrollton was his home, from
which he was never away save when called by public duties or for an. occasional
pleasure trip or vacation. The young attorney did not devote himself entirely
to his profession in those first years but was for a time a partner in the dry-goods
store of Shackelford, Hodges & Company. This arrangement was only tem-
porary, however, and as a counselor and advocate he achieved a substantial suc-
cess, his practice steadily growing in volume and importance until it had as-
sumed extensive proportions. For a number of years he was a partner of Judge
D. M. Woodson, the firm being dissolved when the latter was elected to the
bench in 1849. Subsequently Judge Hodges practiced in partnership with Judge
Burr, a relation that was maintained until 1877.

In November, 1853, the subject of this review was chosen county judge, and
after serving acceptably for four years was re-elected in 1857 for a second term.
In January, 1859, he was elected to congress to fill the vacancy caused by the
death of Major Harris, and resigned his position on the bench in order to take
his place in the council chambers of the nation. In 1867 he was elected circuit
judge and performed the difficult duties of that position with credit to himself and
satisfaction to his constituents for six years. On the expiration of that period


he was elected state senator for a four-years term, serving in the legislatures of
1875 anc l l8 77-

From the beginning of railroad building in central Illinois, Judge Hodges
was a zealous advocate thereof, and in 1852, when the books were first opened
for subscriptions to the capital stock of the Carrollton & Jacksonville Railroad,
as it was then called, he was one of those who had charge of the work in this
place. In 1858 he was made treasurer of the St. Louis, Jacksonville & Chicago
Railroad, and when the property of this company was leased to the Chicago &
Alton Company he became a director of the latter and so continued up to the
time of his death. Through his professional and railroad interest he acquired
an ample fortune, and during the last years of his life his energies were largely
devoted to the management of his extensive property and other interests. As a
member of the bar. Judge Hodges was a safe, wise, judicious counselor. He
was not carried away by his loyalty to his client, but possessed the rare ability
of being able to calmly weigh both sides, and hence his advice when given was
implicitly relied upon and usually found trustworthy. As a business man he
was careful, safe and successful, and by steady growth and skillful management
gathered together a property which made him one of the heaviest tax-payers in
Greene county. He was public-spirited, and in building fine business edifices
and numerous dwellings, and contributing to railroad and other enterprises, he
did his share toward improving the town in which he lived. In a set of resolu-
tions passed by the Jerseyville (Illinois) bar is the following paragraph :

Resolved, That we deeply deplore the loss of one of our profession so long and favor-
ably known, and one so universally respected and honored. For nearly thirty years pre-
vious to his election to the bench, and dating from the organization of Jersey county.
Judge Hodges was constantly in attendance at the bar of this court as an attorney. His
attendance upon our court was as certain and as regular as that of the judge, and, with
the earlier days of our history, was almost as indispensable. As a lawyer he stood in the
front rank of the profession, and his life and character both as a lawyer and as a man may
be pointed at as a model one. From 1867 until 1873 he presided as judge of this court, and
he graced the bench as he did the bar. He presided with dignity and urbanity, and he
deservedly won the esteem and high regard not only of the members of the bar but also
the whole community.

On his retirement from the bench, the members of the bar of Morgan coun-
ty accompanied a handsome gift to Judge Hodges with a letter, containing this
paragraph : "We need not testify to your integrity as a man, your accomplish-
ments as a lawyer, and your fidelity as a judge, as these are universally acknowl-
edged ; but we desire with grateful hearts to thank you for the courtesy and
kindness which, through all the trying annoyances that necessarily arise in the
discharge of the duties of a judge, have on your part never failed."

In the early years of his residence in Carrollton, Judge Hodges became ac-
quainted with Miss Ellen C. Hawley, of Jerseyville, and they were married on
the 8th of January, 1839. She was a daughter of Samuel P. Hawley, and was
born in Onondaga, New York, February 20, 1821. At the age of twelve she
accompanied her parents to Vermont, whence they removed to Illinois in her


sixteenth year. Judge and Mrs. Hodges became the parents of nine children,
namely : Virginia, who died at the age of two years ; Louise, widow of William
A. Davis ; Belle, wife of J. D. Wright, a grocer of Petersburg, Illinois ; Charles
H., a successful grocer of Carrollton ; Adele, wife of Charles H. Weagley, a
member of the dry-goods firm of McFarland, Weagley & Company, of Carroll-
ton ; Morean, who died at the age of nine weeks; Beverly C., a banker of Car-
rollton ; Henry M., ensign in the United States navy; and Hattie, at home.

Judge Hodges was a member of Trinity Episcopal church, which organiza-
tion was largely sustained by his contributions and by the labors of himself and
family. He was always a stanch friend of the public schools, and stood by and
defended the system in the earliest days when the popular voice was against it.
For many years he ably and efficiently served as school director. He availed
himself of every opportunity to aid in the development and progress of the city,
and through his last years his fellow townsmen were continually giving evidence
of their appreciation of his worth and devotion to the public good. On the oc-
casion of his seventieth birthday his fellow members of the bar assembled at his
residence and presented him with a handsome ebony cane, the gold head of
which was appropriately engraved. In presenting the gift Judge J. W. English
said :

I know that I speak the honest thoughts of the gentlemen who accompany me when
I say that we realize that you have just finished the three-score and ten years allotted to
ordinary men, and we rejoice that there is yet the strength in you required to sustain you
up to, and we hope beyond, the four-score fixed as the limit of human existence. In the
life through which you have passed we know of no portion which we could desire to have
changed. Commencing your career at a period in American history when purity of life
and rectitude of conduct were considered desirable characteristics, we congratulate you
that you have been able, amidst the trials and the temptations that surround us all. so to
live that you may now enjoy the blessings consequent upon a well spent life and die in
the hope of a blessed immortality.

You have represented us in both branches of our state legislature and in our national
congress. You have for years presided over our probate, our county and our circuit courts,
and even more, during the whole of your manhood you have lived among our people prac-
ticing your profession, and yet in all your actions even the tongue of slander could find
no fact on which to fasten that did in any way tarnish your good name. You have as a
husband and father distinguished yourself as a man worthy of imitation. You have reared
a family which is a credit to you, and we regard each member of it as an honor to us, their
fellow citizens. You can take it as a matter to rejoice over that your children's children
rise up and call you blessed.

This cane I now tender you is presented by us in no sense as an idle compliment, nor
as a reward for any favor you may have rendered us or either of us in the past. But we
merely wish you to know that we have watched your career, that we respect and honor you
for the course you have pursued, and we wish you to feel the kind and affectionate regard
in which you are held by each and all of us.

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 67 of 83)