John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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Judge Cooper possesses a mind of precision and power, in a marked degree
a judicial mind, capable of an impartial view of both sides of a question and of
arriving at a just conclusion. In his practice he was absolutely fair, never in-
dulged in artifice or concealment, never dealt in indirect methods, but won his
victories, which were many, and suffered his defeats, which were few, in the open
field, face to face with the foe. On the bench he has achieved distinction by his
fearless loyalty to duty and by his freedom from judicial bias.

As far as can be ascertained, the following is a list of the lawyers who flour-
ished in Iroquois county prior to 1860, all being now deceased: Spotwood A.
Washington, John Chamberlain, Jacob A. Whiteman, George B. Joiner, Stephen
G. Bovie, Charles H. Wood, Chester Kinney, James Fletcher, Cornelius F. Mc-
Neill, George Walser. Some of these were remarkable characters ; but the
writer can give no reliable data concerning any, as he came here after the war.

Of the surviving lawyers of the early period may be named Hon. Franklin
Blades, Pomona, California; Asa B. Roff, Watseka, Illinois; Wilson S. Kay,
Watseka, Illinois; Uriah Copp, Loda, Illinois; Robert Doyle, Watseka, Illinois.

Of other leading lawyers of a later date may be named the following: Rob-
ert K. Mclntyre, deceased; Tracy B. Harris, deceased; Joseph D. Long, Onar-
ga, Illinois ; J. D. Van Norman, Onarga, Illinois ; Isaac W. Holland, deceased ;


Daniel W. Ayres, Durango, Colorado; Moses H. Euans, Watseka, Illinois;
Charles P. Kinney, Kenka, Florida.

The present bar includes: Wilson S. Kay, McClellan Kay, Robert W. Hil-
scher, A. F. Goodyear, O. F. Morgan, David Orebaugh, Charles H. Payson,
Miss Nellie Kessler, Harry Riddell, C. G. Hirschi, Joseph W. Kern, Free P. Mor-
ris, F. L. Hooper, J. F. Pierson, Charles W. Raymond, Frank M. Crangle, W.
E. Lewis, W. T. Pankey. All the foregoing are residents of Watseka.

Wilson S. Kay, the leader of the Iroquois county bar in years of seniority
in practice and by reason of marked ability, has been retained as advocate or
counsel in almost every important litigated interest in his district through the
long period of forty-one years. He has a just appreciation of the scope of the
profession, which is the conservator of human rights and liberties, and is at all
times inspired by an innate, inflexible love of justice. His fidelity to the interests
of his clients is proverbial, yet he never forgets that he owes a higher allegiance
to the majesty of the law; and thus it is that he has ever commanded the respect
of bench and bar and is rightfully accorded recognition as the leader of the legal
fraternity in Iroquois county.

Mr. Kay was born near Greencastle, Putnam county, Indiana, October 31,
1831, his parents being William D. and Ruth (Wright) Kay, the former a native
of Maryland, and the latter born near Little's Mills, West Virginia. With his
parents the father removed from Maryland to Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and after
their death, when about six years of age, he was apprenticed to the glass-blower's
trade. After the completion of his apprenticeship he followed that pursuit for
some time, and later removed to West Virginia, where he was married. Having
lived alternately in that state and in Ohio, he subsequently removed with his fam-
ily to Tcrrc Haute, Indiana, and thence to a farm in Putnam county, near Green-
castle, where Wilson S. Kay was born. After a few months they returned to
Virginia, and next went to Cincinnati, Ohio, where the father engaged in the
furrier's trade until his removal to a farm in Clermont county, that state. In 1837
he sold his farming property and at the solicitation of a friend invested his money
in a steam-mill outfit, which he brought to Iroquois county, Illinois. Not finding
the outlook very promising, he started east again, stopping at Perryville, Indiana,
where he erected a sawmill, in connection with a partner, but about the time
the mill was ready for operation his death occurred. The settlement of the estate
was either so badly or so dishonestly managed that the family had nothing left,
and soon afterward Mrs. Kay went with her children to live with her father, Jon-
athan Wright, on Spring creek, in Iroquois county. About 1845 she married
Isaac Courtright, a pioneer of the county, and her death occurred in Texas, this
county, in July, 1854, of cholera, Mr. Courtright dying the following day, of the
same disease.

Wilson S. Kay returned to Iroquois county in the summer of 1838, when
seven years old, with his mother and her children. The two older ones, .a sister
and our subject, 'found homes with strangers. The latter lived with Samuel Har-
per, near Onarga, for a few months, after which he spent four years with Thomas
Vennum, Sr., near Milford-on-the-Mound. He attended the country schools for


a time and for a year was a student in Milford. At the age of fourteen he went
to the home of his sister, near that town, and worked for his board and schooling.
Having at length qualified himself to teach, he was employed to take charge of
the Bunkum school for a year, and with his savings he paid his tuition and ex-
penses for fourteen months at Mount Morris Seminary, Ogle county, Illinois.
Later he taught school again for a year, and was thereby enabled to attend As-
bury (now De Pauw) University, at Greencastle, Indiana, for one term.

On the i8th of July, 1852, Mr. Kay was married, in Iroquois county, to Miss
Susannah Critchfield, who died in September, 1855. Their only child, William,
died in infancy. Mr. Kay was married again on the 6th of March, 1858, his sec-
ond union being with Livonia M. Burlingame, of Onarga, Illinois, daughter of
Abner and Livonia (Turner) Burlingame. She was born in Chautauqua county,
New York, and came to this county with her widowed mother in 1855. Five
children were born of the second marriage: William Abner, who was born April
2, 1860, died at the age of eighteen months. McClellan, who was born October
18, 1861, and is now his father's law partner, was educated in the Watseka public
school, Onarga Seminary, Michigan State University and the Northwestern Uni-
versity, of Evanston, Illinois. He was admitted to the bar in 1884 and then en-
tered into partnership with his father and Judge Euans, but the firm is now Kay
& Kay. He married Ella Martin, of Watseka. The third son, Wilson S., was
born December 16, 1863, and died May 21, 1872. Livonia Ruth, who was born
October 2, 1867, is a graduate of the Northwestern University, of Evanston, of
the class of 1891. Donald Burlingame, the youngest, was born June 12, 1874,
and died in November of the same year.

When first married Mr. Kay lived in a cabin near Bunkum, and taught
school in that village. Later he moved to Middleport, then the county-seat, and
in 1872 made his home about midway between the old town and the new, now
Watseka. He studied law in Middleport, with James Fletcher, and was admitted
to the bar in 1857, having since engaged in practice in Watseka. From the be-
ginning he has enjoyed a good practice, and now has a distinctively representa-
tive clientage. In politics he is a sound-money Democrat, and has served as
deputy sheriff and as city attorney of Watseka. He was appointed commissioner
of claims by Governor Fifer, July 2, 1889, the court of claims being composed
of three commissioners, appointed for the purpose of adjusting claims against the
state, and in that capacity Mr. Kay served four years. He is a member of the
state central committee of the National Democratic party, and supported Palmer
and Buckner in the campaign of 1896.

Mr. Kay is a Knight Templar Mason, a member of Watseka Lodge, No.
446, A. F. & A. M. ; Watseka Chapter, No. 114, R. A. M., and was a member
of Ivanhoe Commandery, K. T., of Kankakee, but his membership was trans-
ferred to Mary Commandery, of Watseka, when the latter was instituted. He is
also a member of the Order of the Eastern Star and of the Independent Order of
Odd Fellows.

Through the exercise of his professional ability Mr. Kay has acquired a
handsome competence, and he is now the owner of over five hundred acres of


farming land, about four hundred of which lie adjacent to Watseka, while thirty
acres are inside the corporation limits. His attention, however, is devoted not to
farming, but to his professional duties, and for forty-one years he has maintained
a high standing at the bar. He has always been an industrious, hard-working
and successful lawyer, and possesses certain elements of disposition without
which success in the legal profession is hardly attainable, industry, energy, abil-
ity, tact, and last but not least, combativeness and true courage. He trusts to
chance nothing that his sagacity deems necessary to his case, and when care and
work will insure success he is certain to be successful. Consequently he has won
the reputation of being a conservative and safe man with whom to intrust im-
portant cases, and his successes in court fully justify the general popular opinion
of him.

Judge R. W. Hilscher, who occupies the bench of the twelfth judicial dis-
trict, has attained his present honorable and responsible position as the result of
fitness for office. He is a well read lawyer, conscientious and faithful in the dis-
charge of the litigated interests entrusted to him, and his ability to put aside all
personal feeling and to weigh without bias the points in evidence, together with
the law applicable to them, makes him a most capable member of the Illinois ju-

He was born in Lycoming county, Pennsylvania, March 8, 1853, and, as
the family name indicates, is of German descent. His original American ances-
tors located in the Keystone state and were mechanics and farmers. For many
years the branch of the family to which his father belonged was connected with
Lancaster county. His parents are Joseph Secrest and Louisa (Woland) Hil-
scher, the former a blacksmith in his early life and later a farmer.

In his infancy Judge Hilscher was taken by his .parents to Bethlehem, In-
diana, where the father followed blacksmithing for two years, when he came with
his family to Logan county, Illinois. From 1857 until 1871 our subject resided
continuously with his parents, on a farm near Lincoln, Logan county, and at-
tended the district schools of the neighborhood. At the age of eighteen he be-
came a student in Adrian College, of Adrain, Michigan, and was graduated in
that institution with the degree of Bachelor of Science, in the class of 1875. The
following year he was graduated in the Albany Law School, with the degree of
LL. B., and the same year, 1876, was admitted to the bar in New York and Illi-

In the autumn of that year Judge Hilscher located in Hoopeston, Vermilion
county, Illinois, where he practiced law until the spring of 1879, when, wishing
to locate at a county-seat, he removed to Watseka, Iroquois county. Through
twenty-two years he has given his attention entirely to the law, and from 1880
until 1888 held the office of state's attorney in Iroquois county, being re-elected
in 1884. He was also master in chancery for two years, and in June, 1897, was
elected judge of the twelfth judicial circuit. While engaged in private practice
he had a large clientage in the general practice of law, and since hi? elevation to
the bench has been called upon to decide some important cases, the most notable
being the condemnation cases by which the sanitary district of Chicago obtained


its right of way through the city of Joliet. The cases consumed nearly seven
months of actual trial and at times became somewhat sensational, owing to peti-
tions for a change of venue and charges of attempt at jury bribing.

In politics the Judge has always been a Republican, and he has done not a
little to promote the interests of the party in this community. He was chairman
of the county central committee from 1886 until 1890, and during the campaign
of 1896 he made speeches throughout the state, under the direction of the state
central committee. He has attained the Knight Templar degree in Masonry,
and is a member of the Methodist Episcopal church. His home relations are
very pleasant. He was married in Watseka, Illinois, October 8, .1879, to Miss
Clara McGill, and they have two children: Elma, who is now sixteen years of
age, and Ralph, aged thirteen.

Freeman P. Morris is one of the native sons of Illinois, his birth having oc-
curred in Cook county, on the i8th of March, 1852. His parents were Charles
and Sarah Morris, the former a farmer by occupation. The latter, who is still
living, at the advanced age of eighty-nine years, is a daughter of Freeman Thom-
as, who discovered and developed the first anthracite-coal mine in Pennsylvania.

Freeman P. Morris was a student in the public schools of Chicago, the Cook
County Normal and pursued a classical course in the Northwestern University.
He attended the Union College of Law, in which institution he was graduated
in 1871. He then accepted a position as reporter for the Chicago Evening Post
and Mail, and in the meantime continued his law studies, and was admitted to the
bar at Ottawa, Illinois, in November, 1874. Immediately afterward he located
in Watseka, where he entered into partnership with Robert Doyle, Esq., a con-
nection that was continued until 1890, when he formed a partnership with Frank
L. Hooper, this relation being still maintained. Mr. Morris has always engaged
in general practice and is well versed in the various departments of jurispru-
dence. He has been connected with a number of very important cases that have
terminated in the court of last resort, and for several years he and Mf. Hooper
have been attorneys for the railroads which cross Iroquois county. He presents
the points of evidence with the greatest clearness and force, quotes the law and
precedents with accuracy, prepares his cases with great precision and invariably
seeks to present his arguments in the strong, clear light of common reason and
sound, logical principles.

In politics Mr. Morris is a stalwart Democrat, well informed on the issues
of the day. and doing all in his power to promote the growth and insure the suc-
cess of his party. In 1892 he was appointed a member of Governor Altgeld's
staff, with the rank of colonel. He was president of the board of education of
Watseka from 1890 until 1894, and was elected to the general assembly in 1884.
He has served in the thirty-fourth, thirty-sixth, thirty-eighth, thirty-ninth and
fortieth assemblies, and has left the impress of his strong individuality and clear
mind upon the legislation of the period. In the campaign of 1889 he made
speeches throughout the state in favor of the election, by the incoming legisla-
ture, of General John M. Palmer for United States senator. In 1896 he was a
delegate to the Democratic national convention, in Chicago, where he nominated


Hon. Joseph C. Sibley for vice-president; and during the presidential campaigns
of 1892 and 1896 he canvassed the state in support of the Democratic candidates.
He is very prominent in political circles and is regarded as one of the important
factors in the Democratic party in the state.

Mr. Morris is a Knight Templar Mason, belonging to the lodge, chapter
and commanclery of Watseka, and is a member of the Knights of Pythias frater-
nity. He has served as deputy grand chancellor commander of the latter. He
also belongs to different political societies. He was married, in Colorado, to Miss
Minnie D. Lott, on the I3th of June, 1882, and they have one son, Eugene, born
July u, 1888..

James W. Gibson was born in Detroit, Michigan, October 26, 1845, his par-
ents being William arid Candace Gibson. The paternal ancestors were Scotch-
Irish and lived in the north of the Emerald Isle. The grandfather, James Gibson,
served in the British army through the Peninsular war and participated in the
battle of Waterloo, being a member of the regiment commanded by the Duke of
Kent. Subsequently he emigrated to Canada, and later to Michigan. William
Gibson was a carpenter by occupation and enlisted for service in the Mexican
war as a member of Company K, Third United States Dragoons. He was killed
in a skirmish with the Mexican Lancers, August 17, 1847. His wife, Candace
Gibson, was a representative of a New York family. Her father, Jasper Whit-
beck, served in the war of 1812, and removed to Oakland county, Michigan, in
1833. Both her grandfathers, Whitbeck and Raupp, served in the Revolution-
ary war.

Judge James W. Gibson, of this review, acquired his literary education in
the common schools of Holly, Michigan, and Olney, Illinois. He became a resi-
dent of the latter place in 1861 and in 1863 came to Newton, where he has since
made his home. He engaged in teaching school, in working in a printing-office
and in studying law between the years 1863 and 1871, and in 1867 was admitted
to the bar, but did not devote his energies entirely to the practice of law until
1871. His studies were pursued under the direction of his uncle, Isaac Gibson,
and from the beginning of his active identification with the legal profession he
has met with a creditable success. He has handled litigation in the various state
and federal courts and his name appears in connection with suits in the supreme
courts as early as the seventy-seventh volume of the Illinois Reports. On the
ist of January, 1882, he formed the existing partnership with Hon. Hale John-
son, and they do a law, real-estate, loan and collection business. Judge Gibson
is an experienced lawyer and on several occasions has been successful in revers-
ing the decisions of the appellate court, a fact of which he may be justly proud.
In 1877 ne was elected county judge, and by re-election was continued in that
office until 1886. During his service on the bench only three appeals from his
decisions were prosecuted, and only one of the three was successful. As a trial
lawyer he is peculiarly strong in the examination of witnesses, and in the presen-
tation and management of cases in court he has no superior in this section of the

The Judge has always been a loyal and public-spirited citizen and during the


civil war he served his country as sergeant of Company I, One Hundred and
Forty-third Illinois Infantry, until mustered out in October, 1864, on the expira-
tion of his three-years term. He always voted the Democratic ticket until 1896,
when he did all in his power to assist President McKinley and General Palmer
to defeat the principles of the free-silver Democracy. Both the Democrats and
the Republicans of the county instructed their delegates to give him their support
for the supreme judgeship; but he did not win the office. He was also the nom-
inee of the Republican party for judge of the fourth judicial circuit in 1897.

Mr. Gibson was married November 19, 1870, to Miss Vinda C. Brooks, and
to them were born three children: Launce, who was born February 26, 1872, and
died April 12, 1873; Lela, born March 16, 1873; and Ralph, born April 23,

William Barge. Nearly two-score years have rolled away since this sterling
old citizen of Dixon, Lee county, entered upon the practice of law in this city,
and during this long period his influence has ever been cast on the side of im-
provement and progress, good government and justice for all. Among the mem-
bers of his profession he is highly regarded, and ten years ago, in 1888, he was
the unanimous choice of the lawyers of the sixth district for judge of the suprerhe
court. Politically, he is a Democrat, but has never been aggressive in campaigns,
nor sought official distinction for himself.

The paternal grandfather of William Barge was one of those heroes who
offered up his life on the altar of this country during the war of the Revolution,
falling in battle at Branclywine. William Barge was born in Armstrong county,
Pennsylvania, February 26, 1832, a son of John and James (Elliott) Barge. With
his parents he became a resident of Ohio in his infancy, and grew to manhood in
that state. The father, a carpenter by trade, at first located in that part of Rich-
land county now included in Ashland county, but four years later settled in
the town of W r ooster, where his death occurred in 1850. The following year the
widow, with her son and two daughters, came to Illinois by team, making the
trip across the country within a month. They arrived safely at the home of an
elder brother of our subject who lived about four miles from Geneseo, Henry

Soon after he reached this state William Barge obtained a position as a
teacher, for he had received an excellent education for that day. While he had
charge of a school in Moline, Illinois, he gave his spare time to the studv of law,
being directed in his work by Judge Ira O. Wilkinson, then judge of the circuit
court and later a prominent lawyer of Chicago. Mr. Barge was also given assist-
ance in his studies by Judge Waite, afterward judge of the United States courts
in Utah. In 1854 our subject came to Dixon and, having organized the first
graded school in this county, acted in the capacity of principal for more than
three years, occasionally teaching mathematics in Dixon College as well. In
1859 he became head of the Belleville high school, and at the same time continued
his legal studies under the direction of William H. Underwood, a well known
lawyer of that place.

In 1860. upon returning to Dixon, Mr. Barge passed a most creditable ex-


animation before Judge Corydon Beckwith, Norman B. Judd and Ebenezer Peck
and was admitted to the bar. The next year he entered into partnership with H.
B. Fouke, under the firm name of Barge & Fouke, and together they transacted
legal business for five years. Subsequently his firm was Barge & Heaton for a
period of four years, after which he was invited to join Judge Eustace and his
own brother-in-law, Sherwood Dixon. The name of the firm stood as Eustace,
Barge & Dixon until 1874, when the junior members withdrew in order to join
W. W. O'Brien, of Chicago, the new partnership being known as O'Brien, Barge
& Dixon. The same year, 1874, Mr. Barge was made counsel of the Chicago &
Northwestern Railway and three years later he was appointed counsel for the
Illinois Central Railroad Company, and has held both positions ever since. Long
since his ability as a lawyer raised him to the front ranks of his profession. The
earnestness and loyalty with which he has ever defended the right, and the zeal
he has manifested in the overthrow of wrong and injustice, have placed laurels
upon his brow, and have given him the admiration of the public. As a speaker
he is forcible, convincing and logical, his mind being quick to grasp all details
and intricacies of a situation.

In 1856 Mr. Barge married Miss Elizabeth Dixon, granddaughter of the
worthy old pioneer, John Dixon, who was one of the founders of this city and
an early settler of the great prairie state. Dixon was appropriately named in his
honor, and his memory is still treasured in the hearts of those who were asso-
ciated with him in the days of frontier life.

Abram K. Trusdell was born on a farm in Sussex county, New Jersey, and
is the sixth in a family of eleven children, whose parents were Jesse and Jane
(Giveans) Trusdell, both of whom were natives of New Jersey, in which state the
father followed the occupation of farming. The paternal grandfather of our sub-
ject valiantly served his country in the war of the Revolution, under General

Upon his father's farm Mr. Trusdell, of this review, spent the days of his
boyhood and youth, and during that period attended the schools of the neigh-
borhood, in which he alternated his time with the labors of field and meadow
through the summer months. At the age of eighteen he laid aside his text-books
and went to Newark, New Jersey, where for a year he was employed in the trunk
manufacturing establishment of Randolph & Headly. Relinquishing that posi-
tion, he entered the office of his brother, a lawyer of Newark, for whom he per-
formed clerical service until October, 1861, when, believing he could better his
financial condition in the west, he left his native state for Amboy, Illinois. Dur-
ing the winter of 1861-2 he engaged in teaching school in Hamilton township,
south of the village, after which, having determined to adopt the practice of law

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 71 of 83)