John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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Sidney Smith (now deceased) and William K. McAllister were not only
great lawyers, but men of force and brain, who came here from New York and
very soon made their presence felt. They very early became noted as trial
lawyers, and were also especially strong in arguing cases before the court.

I knew Melville W. Fuller well almost from the day when he arrived here
until he left us for that higher sphere of usefulness which he is now filling with
such honor and satisfaction. I have tried many cases against him, and I can
truly say that he was always fair and always prepared to maintain his side of the
case as becomes a lawyer, a gentleman and a scholar. He was both adroit and
resourceful. His arguments before a jury were bright and sparkling, and at
times very interesting and instructive. He was not an orator who could deal
out tropes and figures and imagery by the yard, but was very .direct, and often
didactic. He did not gleam and glitter like the scimiter of Saladin nor crash
and demolish like the battle-ax of Richard, but dealt with all questions like
Melville W. Fuller, of Augusta, Maine.

He served a term in the legislature, was a thoroughbred Democrat in poli-
tics, and a follower of Douglas. I served with him in the constitutional con-
vention at Springfield in 1862, and it was there that he delivered his great eulogy
upon Douglas at the same time that John Wentworth paid his tribute to that


departed statesman. These eulogies, though differing in style and in the
methods adopted, were masterpieces. Wentworth's was not as polished as that
of Fuller, but it was more interesting, because he narrated his personal recol-
lections of Douglas' early career, with which he was conversant, and indulged
in many reminiscences relating to men and to things which had occurred, which
were very interesting. It has always been a wonder to me that these two
speeches have never been published by those who have undertaken to write a
biography of Douglas, for Fuller's speech was the result of many weeks', if not
months', preparation, while Wentworth's was the result of personal knowledge
of Douglas' life and times which few then living possessed.

S. K. Dow, who was for many years the partner in business with Chief
Justice Fuller, but now stricken with almost total blindness, is not only a most
worthy citizen, but is a well trained lawyer and highly cultured gentleman. He
was born in Hollis, Maine, in 1831, entered the Dane Law School, at Harvard,
Massachusetts, in 1852, and graduated in 1854. He was soon after admitted to
the Suffolk bar, Boston, on motion of the late Rufus Choate. Chief Justice Shaw
presiding. He removed to Chicago very soon after and commenced practice
here in 1855 and entered into partnership with Melville W. Fuller, the firm
being Dow & Fuller, and they did a large business. In 1872 he was elected to
the state senate. At the expiration of his term of office he continued steadily
in the practice. The firm of Dow & Fuller was dissolved and other connections
were formed, but he has continued right on the even tenor of his way. He is a
great lover of horses and for a time took a great interest in the gentleman's sport
'of owning and driving fast trotters. He was for some time president of the
Chicago Driving Park and his connection with it was a guarantee that every-
thing would be conducted honestly, and it established through his influence a
fine reputation throughout the country. Mr. Dow has been engaged in many
celebrated cases and acquired a great reputation as a cross-examiner of wit-
nesses. He was stricken with blindness while on a visit to the city of Mexico
a few years ago and, while his sight has been partially restored, his eyes are yet
deprived of their full power and he will never be able to make use of them as
before. Mr. Dow is a most genial companion and is universally beloved and
respected by all who know him.

William C. Goudy was one of the great lawyers of this state and in many
respects had no superior. ' He was one of the best "all-around" lawyers that I
ever knew, for he seemed to be at home in every department, whether civil or
criminal, common law or chancery, real-estate or corporation law.

Samuel Snowden Hayes came to this city in 1850 and was, very soon after
his arrival, employed as city solicitor. He had been prominent in politics long
before his arrival, had been a member of the general assembly, a member
of the constitutional convention of 1848, and was prominent in advocating
reforms in the law and pushing forward public improvements. He was born in
Nashville, Tennessee, December 25, 1820. He married a daughter of Colonel
E. D. Taylor, who claimed that he was the author of the greenbacks. Mr. Hayes
was a Democrat of the Douglas school and was a very high-toned, patriotic gen-


tleman. He was city comptroller in 1862 and again in 1873. I served with
him in the constitutional convention of 1870 and he was regarded as a useful
member and safe counselor. He was a man of unimpeachable integrity and a
model type of those early lawyers that followed close upon that early group who
were beginning to grow tired when he appeared. He died but a few years since,
honored and universally respected.

Van H. Higgins, who died suddenly in 1893 at Darien, Wisconsin, although
not one of the pioneer lawyers of Chicago, was one of the early settlers in the
state and became identified with our city and a member of our bar in 1852. He
was born in 1821, came west when a very young man, taught a district school,
studied law and began practice in St. Louis in 1844, but removed to Galena in
1845, where he distinguished himself for his great industry and wonderful knowl-
edge of decided cases. He soon took a prominent part at our bar, was elected
a member of the general assembly of 1857-8, and in 1859 was elected a judge
of the superior court, which he resigned in 1865 and went into the practice with
Leonard Swett and Colonel David Quigg. In 1872 he left that firm and became
president of the Babcock Manufacturing Company. He then became the finan-
cial agent of the Charter Oak Life Insurance Company, then president of the
National Life Insurance Company of the United States of America, and at the
time of his death was senior member of the law firm of Higgins & Furber.
He had a genius for money-making, and died possessed of a large fortune.

Henry S. Monroe was born in Baltimore, Maryland, February 9, 1829. grad-
uated at Geneva College, studied law with Henry R. Mygat at Oxford, Chenango
county, New York, and was admitted to the bar in 1853, and came directly to Chi-
cago, where he has been pounding away ever since. He is an excellent trial
lawyer, strong and vigorous, and has been engaged in many celebrated cases.

Chancellor L. Jenks, who is now enjoying the fruits of a most successful
practice and of judicious investments in real estate made at an early day, came
to Chicago in 1850.

Joseph N. Barker was born in Augusta, Bracken county, Kentucky, in 1824.
He came to Chicago in 1845 and studied law in the office of B. S. Morris and
John J. Brown, and was admitted to the bar March 4, 1848. He took the census
of Chicago in 1850, entirely alone, when the city was found to contain 28,250
inhabitants. He established a very large admiralty practice and from 1854 to
1860 was the leading lawyer in that department. He was at one time associated
with George A. Meech, then with L. H. Hyatt, and then with Judge Tuley, after-
ward with H. F. Wait and Ira W. Buel. Both he and his partners were most
worthy men, and no better man than Ira W. Buel ever lived. I have known
him since he came among us in the '505, and he has always maintained a high
position at the bar and in the community.

John M. Douglass, a great lawyer and advocate, was born at Plattsburg,
Clinton county, New York, August 22, 1819. He was admitted to the bar at
Springfield in 1841 and opened an office at Galena, where he distinguished him-
self in mining cases. He joined the exodus from that city for Chicago in 1856,
became the general solicitor of the Illinois Central Railroad Company and after-
ward its president. The Hon. Robert H. McClelland says that he was the deep-


est thinker and the profoundest lawyer of his time. "He was a powerful and
successful advocate and his earnestness when aroused was something terrible.
In criminal cases his defenses were exceedingly able and ingenious and he sel-
dom failed to acquit his clients." He died only a few years since.

Benjamin F. Ayer, who is now and has been for many years the general
solicitor of the Illinois Central Railroad Company, belongs to the old regime and
is one of the most accomplished lawyers that ever practiced at the Chicago bar.
(See elsewhere.)

Charles Hitchcock, who was president of the constitutional convention of
1870, which framed the present constitution, was, in some respects, one of the
ablest lawyers who ever practiced at our bar. He was born at Hanson, Plymouth
county, Massachusetts, April 4, 1827, graduated from Dartmouth College and
from the Dane Law School, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, taught for two years
Latin and Greek and gave lectures on scientific subjects in one of the academies
at Washington city; came here in 1854 and was for a number of years a mem-
ber of the firm of Gallup & Hitchcock. He possessed a wonderfully compre-
hensive mind, and weighed every question presented him with judicial fairness
and impartiality. His grasp of legal principles was great and he could enforce
his views in the most luminous and logical manner. He was always calm and
self-poised in his way, yet he possessed great force. He was a model presiding
officer and he displayed great knowledge of parliamentary law. He attained a
very high place at the Chicago bar and when he died great honors were be-
stowed upon his memory. He died at his home in Kenwood, a suburb of Chi-
cago, May 6, 1881.

Benjamin D. Magruder has attained a well earned position in this state as a
judge and jurist. He was born on a plantation in Jefferson county, Mississippi,
September 27, 1838. (See elsewhere.) His ideas are those of the nineteenth
century, rather than those of the seventeenth century, as may be discovered by
his dissenting opinion in the well known Sykes case, and especially in the
Coughlin case (144 111.), where the majority of the judges went back upon al-
most everything that they had ruled in the Spies case in regard to the force and
effect of the statute relating to the competency of jurors, who had formed and
expressed opinions based upon rumor and from reading the newspapers. Mr.
Magruder has dissented in several other criminal cases where technicalities were
exalted above the merits of the case, but his opinion in the Sykes case and in the
Coughlin case are masterpieces of logic and good sense.

Kirk Hawes is another gentleman who was not only well and favorably
known as a lawyer of distinction, but as an orator of great power. He was born
in Worcester county, Massachusetts, in 1838, and spent his early years as a sailor
in the East India trade. He went into the war first with the Fifty-fourth Massa-
chusetts and was afterward in the Forty-second. He graduated from Wil-
liams College in 1864, studied law in the office of Bacon & Aldrich at Worcester,
came west soon after, and went into partnership with H. T. Helm, was elected
one of the judges of the superior court in 1880 and re-elected in 1886, but was


defeated by the Democratic cyclone which swept over the country in 1892, and
is now engaged in private practice.

Henry T. Helm belongs on the list of the old regime. He is a native of
Tennessee, born in Carter county May 4, 1830; lived there till he was five years
of age, then removed with his parents to Ohio ; graduated from Miami Univer-
sity in 1853, studied law with Hon. John U. Pettit, and came to Chicago in 1854,
when he was admitted to the Illinois bar. He entered into partnership with
George K. Clarke, and soon established a large business. Mr. Clarke died some
years since. After that he became in turn a partner of Kirk Hawes, E. S. Tay-
lor. John L. Manning, A. M. Pence and Walter Rowland. He is a strong and
well grounded lawyer and has a large experience in many directions. He is a
good mining expert and an authority upon trotting horses, having written one
of the best books upon the Trotting Horse in America that has ever been
brought out. He has been an agriculturist, a raiser of blooded stock of the trot-
ting variety, and was candidate for congress on the Democratic ticket. Having
completed his ventures and experiments in all these departments of learning, he
has settled down to the law and is now attending strictly to that and the church,
which are ordinarily enough to engage most, if not all, the powers of the human
mind. Mr. Helm is not only a "thoroughbred" himself, but is a gentleman and
a scholar. He stands high at the bar, and that, too, deservedly so.

H. M. Shepard, who has been for many years on the superior-court bench,
and who is now a member of the appellate court of the first district of Illinois,
is an accomplished jurist and very able lawyer. He was born December 12, 1839,
at Athens, Bradford county, Pennsylvania ; was a partner of Melville W. Fuller
and Charles H. Ham from 1864 to 1868; studied law first with General Divens,
at Elmira, New York, and afterward with John K. Porter, of Albany. He is
regarded as a very fine chancery lawyer, and his decisions are characterized by
being broad and well considered. His associates on the bench are A. N. Water-
man and Joseph E. Gary, both well known to the profession and practitioners of
long standing, and whose biographies abound in the most interesting incidents.

Judge Gary was elected to the superior-court bench in 1863 and has con-
tinued without a break from that day to this. He succeeded Judge Grant Good-
rich. I was the president of the Republican convention at the time of his
nomination and was an eye witness of the contest which ensued and which
resulted in the defeat of Judge Goodrich and the success of Gary. It is much to
be regretted that both could not have had seats upon the bench, for both were
able men and in every way fitted to adorn the ermine. Judge Goodrich fell a
victim to a most unworthy prejudice which had been created against him by
releasing from custody a United States officer who had killed a private under pe-
culiar circumstances at the Chicago & Northwestern Railroad depot preparatory
to the departure of a company of United States Infantry to the far west, to which
company the private belonged. The nationality of the soldier and race prejudice
were invoked and the delegates to the convention, partaking of this feeling, sacri-
ficed the judge and selected Judge Gary as his successor. Judge Gary has not
only proved himself a great judge, but one of the best posted men in his pro-


fession. He presided at the celebrated trial of the anarchists and in accordance
with the verdict of the jury condemned them to death. No judge ever worked
harder or has performed greater services on the bench than Judge Gary. The
weight of years has not borne him down, and all of his powers are. unabated.
He is well known throughout the United States, and on a recent visit to the city
of Mexico was entertained by President Diaz with distinguished honors.

. Henry E. Seelye is another old-timer. He is the brother of the late Julius
Seelye, so long the president of Amherst College. He was born at Bethel, in
the state of Connecticut, June 20, 1829. In 1850 he removed to Chicago and
commenced reading law in the office of Morris & Goodrich and was admitted to
the bar in 1852, and from that time to this has pursued the even tenor of his way,
without startling the world by. any remarkable discoveries or any wonderful
achievements except such as enter into the life of one who is devoted to his pro-
fession and who tries to make the world better and mankind happier. He was
for a long time the secretary of the Chicago Orphan Asylum and a trustee of
Lake Forest University, and during the war was connected with the sanitary
commission. He is a man of kind heart, of noble instincts and a most worthy
citizen. He has had to go through what few have ever been called upon to en-
dure, and that is to sacrifice a fortune to pay the debts of others whom he had
befriended, but he has borne up with fortitude, although his trials have been
mingled not only with misfortunes but ingratitude.

Robert Rae has made insurance and admiralty law a specialty and at one
time did a larger business than any other lawyer at the bar. In 1882 he went to
London and argued a case in the English court of commissions involving a
large amount of money, and was successful. He was employed by the American
Board of Underwriters and was the first American lawyer that ever appeared in
any case in that court. He has in his lifetime settled some very interesting com-
mercial questions and questions of admiralty, and has by his researches con-
tributed much to settle the admiralty practice in matters pertaining to our inland
seas. He has, by long and faithful services, earned his right to be classed with
the old regime.

William T. Burgess, who passed away only a few years ago, was among
our oldest practitioners. He was a native of Canada, but studied law in Buffalo
and came west and was admitted to the bar in this state in 1844. He lived for a
number of years at Belvidere, in Boone county, but came here in the '505, and
never wasted a day, hour or minute upon anything except the law. He was dili-
gence itself, and was one of the best posted all-around lawyers that ever lived
among us. He was skilled in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and black-letter
lore, and was one of the very best practitioners on either the common-law or
equity side.

Another lawyer who was somewhat like him, although personally "at dag-
gers drawn," is Arthur W. Windett. He is not only a fine lawyer in every way,
but is a great chancery lawyer. His knowledge of equity jurisprudence is pro-
found and he has pursued that branch of the profession for many years. I
found him here when I came, and, although he has grown gray and somewhat


grizzled, he still keeps up the fight, although fortune has not favored him as his
merits deserve. In attempting to build up Chicago he fell into the hands of the
Mutual Life Insurance Company, and in the contest which ensued New England
thrift triumphed over the debtor and he not only sacrificed much wealth, but
much valuable real-estate holdings in the very heart of our city. Moral, in times
of need keep out of the hands of money-lenders or else provide for indefinite
extensions in advance, with a moderate rate of interest.

Cyrus Bentley is another lawyer of great merit and of the most exemplary
character who deserves recognition and the most kindly remembrance. He
came here in the '505 and established a fine practice, and was not only a gentleman
of the highest type, but was a jurist fit to adorn the bench or any other position.
He passed away many years ago.

Frederick Hampden Winston became very early, through his connections,
interested in railroad law and railroad business and prospered finely. He has
been prominent in Democratic circles and is one of the very best type of American
citizens. He is a high-minded and honorable man in all the walks of life. In
later years he has traveled much in Europe and was at one time United States
minister to Persia, but the place and position were not to his liking and he
resigned long before his term expired. With an abundance of this world's goods
at his command, he is now enjoying the fruits of his labors, and as President
Taylor once said, "At peace with all the world and the rest of mankind."

Some of the most prominent lawyers who died from 1858 to 1867 were:
Bolton F. Strother, 1862; Andrew Harvie, 1863; Lorenzo D. Wilkinson, 1863;
George W. Roberts, killed at the battle of Murfreesboro, January, 1863; John
A. Bross, July 30, 1864; Charles M. Willard, 1866; Edward P. Towne, 1866;
Henry L. Rucker, 1867; Solomon M. Wilson, 1867.


The great Chicago fire of October 9, 1871, forms a most important epoch
in the history of our city and of the country, for its effects were far-reaching
and ramified. The lawyers, like the great mass of their fellow-citizens, suffered
immensely, but they never murmured, nor lost heart. Their courage never failed
them. The world was appalled at the disaster, but never did mankind exhibit
such noble qualities and such heartfelt sympathy for a stricken people as did the
entire civilized portion of it exhibit toward us in the hour of our distress. The
people of our country came to our rescue at once, and special trains loaded with
supplies were given the right of way and came speeding to our relief. The Eng-
lish-speaking people proved to us that blood was thicker than water, and the
noble Thomas Hughes of Rugby, the well known author of "Tom Brown at
Rugby" and "Tom Brown at Oxford," made an appeal to English authors for
books to supply our libraries, which received a ready response and which led to
the organization and establishment of our Chicago public library. The English
government sent us many valuable works, printed at its expense, and those con-
nected with our own profession contributed many law books to help build up


again the Law Institute. Governor Hoffman of New York sent us nearly a
complete set of all their reports, and Indiana sent us, I believe, nearly a complete
set of her reports, while many other states and many individuals remembered
us. To go into details would be impossible, for "the world will little note nor
long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what we did here."

"Here from the trackless slough its structures started,

And one by one in splendor rose to view:
The white ships went and came, the years departed,

And still she grandly grew.

"Till one wild night a night each man remembers
When round her homes the red fire leaped and curled

The sky was wild with flame and flying embers
That swept them from the world.

"Men said: 'Chicago's bright career is ended,'

As by her smoldering stores they chanced to go,
While the wide world its love and pity blended

To help us in our woe.

"Oh, where was ever human goodness greater?

Man's love for man was never more sublime;
On the eternal scroll of our Creator

'Tis written for all time.

"Chicago lives, and many a lofty steeple

Looks down to-day upon this western plain;
The tireless hands of her unconquered people

Have reared her walls again.

"Long may she live, and grow in wealth and beauty,

And may her children be, in coming years,
True to their trust, and faithful to their duty,

As her brave pioneers."


Every bar has a number of natural-born leaders of men, great advocates,
skilled trial lawyers, successful verdict-getters and brilliant orators, and the
Chicago bar forms no exception to this rule. If anyone wanted to know in
olden times what form of action to adopt or what pleas to put in in any
common-law case he would be told without hesitancy to go for advice to
James H. Collins, to George W. Lay (the partner of Arnold), to Ezra B. Mc-
Cagg, to Grant Goodrich, to J. Y. Scammon, or John M. Wilson; or, if it
should be a complicated matter, coming within the chancery jurisdiction, it would
be Collins, or Goodrich, Mark Skinner, George Manierre, Hugh T. Dickey,
Erastus S. Williams, John Woodbridge, George Meeker, or N. B. Judd; but if a
case was to be tried and it required skill, shrewdness, adroitness, a knowledge of
the rules of evidence and eloquence, then it was Justin Butterfield, Thomas*
Hoyne, E. W. Tracey, E. G. Ryan, Isaac N. Arnold, E. C. Larned, Buckner S.
Morris, or Grant Goodrich, or J. Y. Scammon. There were others who were
great in their way, but these men were strong and tried every case with the
most wonderful skill and power. They were at the head of the bar as it existed


under the old regime and most worthily filled the positions universally awarded
them, and they could be relied upon in any emergency.

John M. Wilson and Norman B. Judd were always regarded as not only
first-class lawyers, but among the very best trial lawyers, although they did not
plume themselves on their powers of advocacy or rhetoric. Justin Butterfield,

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 8 of 83)