John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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Barger participated in were those at Milliken's Bend and at Coleman's planta-
tion, back of Rodney, Mississippi.

In the fall of 1865 he entered the preparatory course of the Illinois Wesleyan
University, at Bloomington, Illinois, and graduated at that institution in June,
1871, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Arts and subsequently the degree of
Master of Arts. After entering the freshman year of his college course he taught
school regularly four months in each year, in order to make his way through
college, in the meantime keeping up with all classes and passing with credit all
examinations. He took great interest in his literary society, and at the end of
his course had acquired first rank as an orator and debater.

Immediately upon graduating he commenced the study of law in the office
of ex-Governor Joseph Fifer, who had preceded him one year in his college
course. Admitted to the bar at Mount Pleasant, Iowa, in the spring of 1873,
he immediately commenced practice there, but after two years moved to Des
Moines, Iowa, where he continued in practice till 1890, when he removed to

Upon entering his professional career his only capital was a level head, in-
tegrity of character and a good general and professional education. His bearing
was quiet, and there was nothing in his appearance or bearing except a simple
and manlv directness to indicate that more than an ordinary career awaited him.


He adopted the specialty of insurance law, and upon his removal from Des
Moines to Chicago was universally conceded to be the best authority on this
subject, not only in Iowa but in the country anywhere. His income at this time
was said to be the largest of any lawyer at the Des Moines bar.

Mr. Barger has taken high rank at the Chicago bar. His opinions are au-
thority with insurance managers, and when he rises to address a judge upon an
insurance case, he addresses a man who knows less in that line of legal study than
himself. His practice is very extensive, not only in Chicago but all over the

Among the more important cases which he has conducted are those of Hart-
ford Fire Insurance Company versus Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway,
submitted in the supreme court of the United States, November n, 1898, in-
volving the question as to the ability of a railroad to make a contract exempting
itself from liability for negligently setting fire to property ; Meadows versus
Hawkeye Insurance Company, Iowa supreme court, (62 Iowa, 387) ; Webster
versus Continental Insurance Company, Iowa supreme court, (67 Iowa, 393) ;
Stennett versus Penn Fire Insurance Company, Iowa supreme court, (68 Iowa,
674) ; Snyder versus Fireman's Fund Insurance Company, Iowa supreme court,
(78 Iowa, 146) ; Griswold versus Illinois Central Railroad, Iowa supreme court,
(53 N. W., 295) ; England versus Westchester Fire Insurance Company, Wiscon-
sin supreme court, (81 Wisconsin, 418) ; Glenny versus Chicago & Alton Rail-
road, Illinois supreme court, October term, 1898.

Mr. Barger is a Republican "first and always," but has never been a poli-
tician and never held office. He has aimed simply to be a first-class lawyer, and
in this he has surely succeeded.

He was married to Miss Isabel Moore, of Des Moines, in 1887. Mrs. Bar-
ger has a very large circle of friends, to whom she has endeared herself by her
many noble qualities of mind and heart. She is an accomplished and refined
woman, and has doubtless added much to her husband's success. They reside
in a beautiful home at 4052 Grand boulevard in the city of Chicago.

Samuel P. McConnell. There is no member of the Chicago bar who more
fully commands the respect of his professional brethren than Judge McConnell,
a distinguished lawyer, whose legal lore, keen discernment and superior ability,
as shown in the conduct of a cause before judge or jury, have gained him a repu-
tation unsurpassed by any who practice in the courts of the state.

In a history of the bench and bar of Illinois it is pleasing to note that one
who has gained so much prominence is numbered among the native sons of Illi-
nois and that his birth occurred in the capital city. He was born July 5, 1849,
and is a son of that gallant cavalry officer, General John McConnell, who made
so enviable a military record during the war of the Rebellion. When he had ar-
rived at the proper age Judge McConnell became a student in the public school
of Springfield and was graduated in the high school of that city at the age of
seventeen. Next he entered Lombard University, of Galesburg, Illinois, and
graduated in that institution in the class of 1871, with the degree of Bachelor of
Arts, and immediataely thereafter took up the study of law with the firm of his-


toric reputation, Stuart, Edwards & Brown, of Springfield. Under such able
preceptorship and prompted by a laudable ambition to succeed, Mr. McConnell
made rapid progress in his law studies and in 1872 successfully passed the ex-
amination which admitted him to the Illinois bar.

Almost immediately thereafter he came to Chicago and opened an office, and
his success has been remarkably brilliant. As a member of the firm of Crawford
& McConnell he was interested in railway and corporation litigation involving
large amounts, and although scarcely twenty-three years of age won some notable
triumphs in these forensic encounters. That firm continued an uninterrupted
existence until 1877, when the partnership was dissolved and Judge McConnell
became the head of the firm of McConnell, Raymond & Rogers. Later he was
associated in a law partnership with Perry H. Smith, a connection which was
continued until Judge McConnell's elevation to the bench of the Cook county
circuit court in 1889. He served in that capacity until the fall of 1894, when he
resigned in order to return to the bar. On the bench he was a fair and impartial
judge, an able exponent of the law. His decisions were models of judicial sound-
ness, showing a broad and comprehensive knowledge of the law and evincing a
judgment entirely unbiased by fear or favor. He tried many important cases,
both civil and criminal, but that which won him international fame was the Cro-
nin murder case.

About the time Judge McConnell resigned his seat on the bench, the well
known law firm of Tenney, Church & Coffeen was dissolved, Mr. Church retir-
ing, and, Judge McConnell taking his place, the firm was reorganized under the
style of Tenney, McConnell & Coffeen. The success which ever crowns intelli-
gent effort has come to him and he has now a very large clientage.

On the i6th of February, 1876, Judge McConnell married Miss Sarah Rog-
ers, daughter of Judge John G. Rogers, at one time on the circuit bench of Chi-
cago, and a granddaughter of Chief Justice Crenshaw, of the court of appeals of
Kentucky. They had four children and with one exception all are living.

Judge McConnell has given deep thought and study to the political ques-
tions of the day and lends an active support to the furtherance of Democratic
principles. In the judicial election in the spring of 1897, however, he gave evi-
dence of a broad mind and public spirit that can look beyond mere party lines
to the public good. A bench of fourteen judges was to be elected. At that time
the incumbents were eight Republicans and six Democrats, all good men, who
had demonstrated their ability by faithful service; and when their names were
placed on the "Republican non-partisan ticket," Judge McConnell, looking only
to the just administration of the law by capable judges, gave this ticket his hearty
support and was chosen chairman of a non-partisan committee which labored
most earnestly in advocacy of the ticket. He was president of the Illinois State
Silver Democratic convention and the following year was delegate at large to the
national convention. He was one of the prime movers in the organization of
the Iroquois Club and in 1895 served as its president.

Such in brief is the life-history of Judge McConnell. A man of charming


personality, possessed of absolute fidelity to every interest of his clients, he bears
that honorable record which tells of great personal and business worth.

Alfred R. Urion, general attorney for the well known firm of Armour &
Company and one of the leading representatives of the younger members of the
Chicago bar, is a native of Salem, New Jersey, his birth occurring in that city
on the 2Qth of September, 1863. His parents were John and Mary Urion. He
acquired his literary education in the South Jersey Institute and the high school
of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and in 1882 commenced the study of law in St.
Paul, Minnesota. Three years later, in 1885, he was admitted to the bar after
an examination before the supreme court of Dakota. Subsequently he was ad-
mitted to the bar of Minnesota, at St. Paul, and in 1889 came to Chicago, since
which time he has been the legal representative of the firm of Armour & Com-
pany. He is well qualified for the position, and his able management of many
involved legal problems plainly indicates his familiarity with the principles of

In 1885 Mr. Urion was united in marriage to Miss Mabel Kimball, a daugh-
ter of Henry M. Kimball, who for many years was the editor of the Carlinville
Democrat, of Carlinville, Illinois, and is now connected with the Northwestern
Farmer, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Socially Mr. Urion is connected with the Oak-
land Club, and is popular among its members and in legal circles. He is a man
of representative ability, and his success is well deserved.

W. N. Gemmill. Professional advancement in the law is proverbially slow.
The first element of success is, perhaps, a persistency of purpose and effort as con-
tinuous as the force of gravity. But, as in every other calling, aptitude, character
and individuality are the qualities which differentiate the usual from the un-
usual ; the vocation from the career of a lawyer. Only six years ago Mr. Gem-
mill was admitted to the bar and within that time has gained a prominence for
which older men have striven a life-time. He is an indefatigable worker, which
means he is a student, with the book-lore of a student ; accurate in analysis,
classical in learning. But pervading all this is the personality of the man who
everywhere commands respect by his reliability, his unostentation and his gen-
uine worth of character.

Mr. Gemmill was born in Shannon, Illinois, December 29, 1860, and is a son
of William Gemmill, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Illinois in 1851. He
is a farmer by occupation and married Miss Susan Brenner, also born in the Key-
stone state. Spending the days of his childhood and youth on his father's farm
W. N. Gemmill assisted in the labors of the fields and verdant meadows, and in
the district schools began his education. He attended the high school of Shan-
non, and later entered Cornell College, Iowa, where he was graduated in the
class of 1886. He then turned his attention to the profession of teaching and
occupied the responsible position of superintendent in the city schools of Rock-
ford, Iowa, and later in Marion, Iowa, but in 1891 resigned his office in the latter
place in order to enter upon the study of law, pursuing a course in the North-
western University, at Evanston, where he was graduated in 1892.

The same year Mr. Gemmill was admitted to the bar of Chicago and en-


tered upon practice in the metropolis, where he has since remained, steadily work-
ing his way upward to a leading position among his professional brethren. His
has been a general practice, although giving particular attention to cases under
the landlord and tenant law, in which branch he is recognized as specially
versed and successful. Among important cases in which the results have been
directly attributable to his professional skill and industry, may be mentioned that
of Springer versus the Metropolitan West Side Elevated Railroad Company,
where a judgment of sixty-one thousand dollars in favor of his client, the plain-
tiff, was sustained in the supreme court. Mr. Gemmill has enjoyed an extended
practice in the federal courts, and therein has evidenced his familiarity with con-
tract and commercial law and his ability as a special pleader. The cases of
Stoddard versus the Commercial National Bank, and Green versus Bogue, the
resultants of each of which have become authorities, forcibly establish Mr.
Gemmill's right to a place among the vigorous and versatile advocates whose
achievements give character to the profession in this city. He is now the senior
member of the well known firm of Gemmill, Barnhart & Foell, and is an earnest
working member of the Chicago bar whose devotion to his clients' interests is

The home relations of Mr. Gemmill are very pleasant. He was married in
1893 to Miss Edna Billings, of Rockford, Iowa, and they have two interesting
little children, Jennette and William B. Mr. Gemmill is a popular member of
the Hamilton Club and of the Law Institute. A close student of the political
issues of the day, he gives an unwavering support to the principles of the Re-
publican party, and while he personally cares naught for political preferment he
is nevertheless active in support of the measures of the party, which he advo-
cated from the lecture platform in many places in Illinois and Iowa in the presi-
dential campaign of 1896. His addresses were forcible, entertaining, logical and
convincing, and were a potent factor in the political work of that year.

William Meade Fletcher, one of the younger but more prominent members
of the Chicago bar, is the junior member of the law firm of Collins & Fletcher.
He was born in Rappahannock county, Virginia, in 1867, and is a son of J. W.
and C. M. (Meade) Fletcher. He pursued his literary education in the Episcopal
High School, near Alexandria, and later entered the University of Virginia, com-
pleting the regularly prescribed law course in 1887.

After his graduation he entered upon the practice of law in Norfolk, Vir-
ginia, and about a year later removed to Great Falls, Montana, where he became
attorney for the Northwestern National Bank and Conrad Brothers, capitalists
and bankers, and other corporations and large business enterprises. During his
residence in the west his practice was mostly confined to corporation and mining
litigation. Desiring, however, a broader field of labor, he determined to be-
come a resident of the metropolis of the Mississippi valley, and in 1894 located
in Chicago, where he has won distinction as an able member of the Illinois
bar. Soon after his arrival he became a member of the firm of Col-
lins, Goodrich, Darrow & Vincent, and was connected therewith until the dis-
solution of the firm in 1895, when he formed a partnership with the senior mem-


her, Judge L. C. Collins, under the firm name of Collins & Fletcher, with offices
in the Title & Trust building. Although they are known as general practi-
tioners and are at home in every branch of the law, they make a specialty of
chancery and corporation practice, and have an extensive clientage in those de-
partments of jurisprudence. Mr. Fletcher is a young man of profound legal
learning, and his unabating energy, close application and devotion to his clients'
interests have won him a very gratifying success.

In 1896 was celebrated the marriage of Mr. Fletcher and Miss Florence Lea,
of Philadelphia, a daughter of J. Tatnall Lea. Socially he is connected with vari-
ous clubs, including the Chicago, Hyde Park, Hamilton and Twentieth Century,
and in the line of his profession with the Illinois State Bar Association and the
Chicago Bar Association.

Frederick Wilmot Pringle, whose career at the bar of Chicago has been one
of continued and steady progress, in which retrogression has had no part, has,
by reason of his earnest application, close study and genuine interest in juris-
prudence as a science, made continued and healthy advancement, until he now
occupies an enviable position among the practitioners of civil law in the western

Mr. Pringle is a native of Ontario, Canada, born at Napanee, June 17, 1864.
His parents, Ira and Eliza J. (Lapum) Pringle, also are natives of Ontario, where
they still make their home. The subject of this sketch attended the public and
high schools of Napanee, and entered upon the study of law in 1886, in the office
of Hon. George R. Peck, who was at that time general solicitor for the Atchison,
Topeka & Santa Fe Railroad Company, at Topeka, Karfsas. There Mr. Pringle
remained for two years, after which he attended the Columbia Law School, in
New York city, where he completed the full course. For two years after his
graduation, he was employed in the railway service, and did a large amount of
work for the Trans-Missouri and Western Passenger Associations.

In 1889, he was admitted to the bar of Missouri, and the following year,
upon motion, to the bars of Kansas and Illinois. In December, 1891, he began
his practice in Chicago, being connected successively with the law firms of
Hanecy & Merrick and Miller & Starr. In December, 1892, he became asso-
ciated with the firm of Cohrs, Green & Campbell. In 1896 the firm name was
changed to Green, Pringle & Campbell, and in 1897 to Green & Pringle, the
present partners being John W. Green, formerly corporation counsel for the city
of Chicago, and F. W. Pringle. They do a general law business, but make a
specialty of corporation, real-estate and municipal law, and their practice is of a
very important character.

In May, 1896, Mr. Pringle was appointed attorney for the town of Cicero,
which includes Austin, Oak Park, Berwyri, Clyde, Hawthorne and Morton Park,
thriving suburbs of Chicago. During that year he completed the work, begun in
1895, of compiling and revising the general ordinances of the town of Cicero. At
the end of his term, in May, 1897, owing to his familiarity with the legal business
of the town, he was retained as special counsel in nearly all its important litiga-
tion ; and the following year, May, 1898, in recognition of his able and sue-


cessful services, he was reappointed to the position of town attorney, which po-
sition he still retains.

Among the many cases which he has carried to a successful issue, and which
are especially worthy of mention, because of their importance, are : The Cicero
Lumber Company versus the Town of Cicero (51 N. E. Rep., 758) ; Gray versus
Town of Cicero, decided by the supreme court in December, 1898.

The Lumber Company case is of extreme importance, not only to all cities
and villages and incorporated towns in the state, but also to the park boards in
Chicago and other large cities. The opinion holds to be constitutional the pleas-
ure-driveways act of 1898, under which cities and villages and towns may estab-
lish boulevards by converting old streets into pleasure drives, and restricting
their use to pleasure-driving purposes. This is the first time the constitution-
ality of that act has been squarely presented to and decided by the supreme court.
The same principle of law applies to the conversion, by the various park boards,
of established streets into boulevards, with like restrictions. The great im-
portance of this decision to the park boards is apparent, and will doubtless be-
come the leading case upon the subject.

The case of Gray versus the Town of Cicero is also an important case, in-
volving special assessment law. It settles the right, under the special-assessment
act, in force prior to July I, 1897, of cities, villages and towns to establish drainage
districts without coming within the purview of the drainage-district act of 1885.
It will validate uncollected installments for sewers in many such cases in other
cities, villages and towns, but is of special advantage to Cicero, where many other
cases involving the same point are still pending. Among other cases which have
enlisted Mr. Pringle's services in the supreme court, are : Town of Cicero versus
McCarthy (172 111., 279) ; Doremus versus the People (173 111., 63) ; Gross versus
the People (173 111., 63) ; Church versus the People (174 111., 366).

In 1890, Mr. Pringle was married to Miss Grace D. Hale, of Topeka. Kansas,
daughter of George D. Hale, and they have four sons.

In politics Mr. Pringle is a Republican, and is active in the work of the
Hamilton Club and the local political organizations. He is a member of the
Oak Park Club and the Masonic fraternity, and his genial manner and culture
render him popular in these and other social assemblies. He has always taken a
deep interest in church work, being now a trustee of the Second Congregational
church, of Oak Park.

Mr. Pringle has a large private library containing many choice editions, com-
posed chiefly of the English classics, both poetical and prose. This is largely
the source of that culture and mental vigor which he brings to his professional
labors, and which have made them so successful, and will doubtless attend his
work in future years.

Roy Owen West, of Chicago, was born in Georgetown, Illinois, October 27,
1868, a son of Pleasant and Helen A. (Yapp) -West. His father was a soldier
of the civil war, going to the front as a member of Company A, Twenty-fifth
Illinois Infantry, and was wounded at the battle of Chickamauga. The subject
of this review attended the public schools of his native town and supplemented his


.preliminary training by a course in De Pauw University, of Greencastle, Indiana,
in which institution he was graduated in 1890, with the degrees of A. B. and
LL. B. In 1893 his alma mater conferred upon him the degree of M. A.

Admitted to the bar at Chicago, Mr. West began the practice of law in this
city, and in 1894 was appointed assistant county attorney of Cook county, hav-
ing charge of the tax department in the county attorney's office. In April, 1895,
he was elected city attorney of Chicago and served until 1897. In that year
he was renominated, but met defeat, although he ran fifty-six thousand and four
hundred votes ahead of his ticket. Since that time he has been engaged in the
regular practice of his profession. In 1896 he was appointed a member of a
committee from the Illinois State Bar Association to draft and secure the pas-
sage of a jury commission law. Robert E. Jenkins and Mr. West prepared the
bill and secured its passage, and as a result the new jury law is in existence
to-day, giving uniform satisfaction. Mr. West was also active in the work of the
consolidation of the supreme court at Springfield, and during the special session
of the Illinois general assembly in 1898 he, as the representative of the Republican
.party organization of the state of Illinois, and in connection with G. Fred Rush,
the representative of the Civic Federation of Chicago, drafted the new primary
election law, which is now meeting the approval of all parties.

Mr. West is a member of the Hamilton and Union League Clubs.
John M. H. Burgett. Among the members of the Chicago bar who are
numbered among the native sons of the Green Mountain state is Mr. Burgett,
who was born in Hartland, Vermont, April 28, 1850, and is descended from
one of the early families of New England. With his parents, Daniel A. and
Adeline Burgett, he came to Illinois in 1854 and attended the public schools in
the town of Lewistown. On completing the high-school course at that point,
he entered the University of Michigan, in 1868, and was graduated in 1872 with
the degree of Bachelor of Philosophy.

Returning to Lewistown after his graduation, Mr. Burgett became a law
student in the office of Hon. R. B. Stevenson. He was admitted to the bar in
1875 and the same year took up his residence in Chicago. While he was at that
time well grounded in the principles of common law, he has continued through
the whole of his professional life a diligent student of those elementary prin-
ciples that constitute the basis of all legal science. He always prepares his cases
with great care, and this has made him a very formidable opponent. His reputa-
tion as a lawyer has been' won through earnest, honest labor, and his standing at
the bar is a merited tribute to his ability. From 1877 to 1887 he was in partner-
ship with Judge Abner Smith, under the firm style of Smith & Burgett. His

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 77 of 83)