John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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court until the judge, wearied or convinced thereby, gave a modified or more
favorable decision.

No lawyer rose more rapidly into prominence at the Freeport bar than
Hiram Bright, who there commenced practice in 1854. He was an indefatigable
worker, had an extensive acquaintance throughout the county, and clients and
friends so numerous that his opponents had to exercise unusual care in selecting
a jury. His personal influence sometimes secured for him a favorable verdict,
though the evidence and instructions of the court favored the opposing party.
In 1862 he was a candidate for congress against E. B. Washburne, and then
made a most effective canvass, largely reducing the latter's majority in the dis-
trict. In 1860 he was elected mayor of Freeport. Subsequently a partial stroke
of palsy incapacitated him for public speaking. He was frequently unable to
recall or pronounce some of the words he attempted to utter in conversation, and
the contrast between his condition at that time and his former fluency was pitiful.

J. Bright Smith came to Freeport in 1855 and immediately became a part-
ner of Hiram Bright. His courteous manners made a favorable impression upon
first acquaintance, and his legal knowledge and forensic talent added strength to
the firm. He afterward removed to Colorado and was elected or appointed one
of the three supreme-court judges of that state.

Samuel Sankey was elected a justice of the peace and was a practicing lawyer
in 1856, but did not remain a permanent member of the Freeport bar. He re-
moved to California and died there.

No lawyer at the Freeport bar gained more friends among his legal asso-
ciates or was more deeply lamented at his death than E. P. Barton. Unassum-
ing, urbane and social in his manners, kind and sympathetic in disposition, quick
in apprehension and entertaining in conversation, his society was a source of
pleasure to his intimate friends, and was enjoyed even by casual acquaintances.

He had received, before making Freeport his home, in 1856, a thorough
literary and legal education at Hamilton College, in the state of New York, and
after a post-graduate study of one year under its distinguished law professor,
Theodore W. Dwight, had been admitted to the bar and subsequently was a
practicing lawyer in the city of New York, under the code of that state. In the
spring of 1856 he became the junior member of the firm of Turner, Burchard &
Barton, and began at once to study and familiarize himself with the common-law


rules and forms of pleading, which differed materially in many respects from
those established by the code. As a result it was seldom that, after a most
critical examination, a substantial error or omission, not purposely intended,
could be found in papers drafted by him and filed in the court. Upon the retire-
ment of Mr. Turner from the firm, in 1858. Messrs. Burchard & Barton con-
tinued in partnership, and soon after, by the accession of Henry M. Barnum. the
firm became known under the style of Burchard. Barton & Barnum. anil con-
tinued to exist for fourteen years. In 1874 the firm became Barton & Barnum.
and continued in active practice until Mr. Barton's election as county judge, in
1886. Although solicited to be a candidate for circuit judge, a position which he
was admirably qualified to fill, he invariably declined. He was unwilling to
forego the enjoyment of home life, from which a frequent absence on court duties
would necessarily separate him. The office of county judge would not require
such sacrifice, and he therefore accepted the nomination and was elected to the
position, which he held for four years. His sudden death, in 1893. was a shock
to the entire community.

Joseph M. Bailey. When Mr. Bailey arrived in Freeport in 1856. he opened
an office in A. T. Green's one-story frame building, adjoining the office of Turner.
Burchard & Barton, then located on the corner where Knowlton Brothers' bank
now stands. His first legal business was to assist them in taking the deposition
of a witness to be used in a chancery suit pending in the circuit court. The
precision of his language and his skill in framing a sentence so as to express the
exact meaning intended at once gave a favorable impression. He had completed
his literary education at the Rochester University and his legal studies in a law
office in that city. He became associated as a partner in 1857 with U. D.
Meacham. who was then state's attorney for the fourteenth judicial circuit. The
frequent absence of the latter, attending court in other counties, left Mr. Bailey
in charge of the office and of the law and chancery business. He soon gained a
reputation as a sound lawyer, safe counselor, careful pleader and persuasive ad-
vocate. In 1863 he became a partner with F. W. S. Brawley. and while prac-
ticing with him was elected, in 1866, to the Illinois legislature and was re-elected
in 1868. Ten years later, while enjoying an extensive and lucrative practice in
a partnership with James I. Xeff. he was elected one of the judges of the thirteenth
judicial circuit, and soon afterward was assigned duty on the appellate court.
He there so distinguished himself, his written opinions were expressed in such
clearness, and fortified by such apt citations and logical reasoning, that it became
evident that of all the judges in the judicial district he was the best fitted to suc-
ceed Judge Sheldon as a justice of the supreme court. While holding that high
office he became chief justice, and thus attained the highest honor awarded to those
considered the ablest of the legal profession. He was a diligent, hard-working
judge, as well as lawyer, and his arguments showed faithful study and careful
research. Before the completion of his first term as a justice of the supreme
court his health failed, but he resolutely continued to perform his judicial duties
tmtfl late in the summer of 1895. He then came home to recuperate and rest,
but gradually became weaker until death finally ensued.


James I. Xeff came to Freeport ten years later than any of the lawyers who
have been mentioned, but at the time of his death, in 1893, he had been for
twenty-five years in active practice with them and his name should not be
omitted here. During this period he ranked with the best of our lawyers as an
influential and successful advocate. Soon after his admission to practice he en-
tered into partnership with Thomas J. Turner, in June, 1867. and was associated
with him until the removal of the latter to Chicago, in 1869. He had com-
menced the study of law at Mifflin, Ohio, soon after his graduation at Dickenson
Seminary at Williamsport. Pennsylvania, and in 1862 he enlisted in the One
Hundred and First Ohio Infantry, in which regiment he served until mustered
out in June, 1865. having attained the rank of captain. His education and mili-
tarv experience rightly gave him confidence in his ability, and although young
in the profession, he did not hesitate to engage in legal contests and measure
swords with the veterans of the Freeport bar. In 1869 he formed a partnership
with Joseph M. Bailey, and for the next ten years the firm enjoyed an extensive
practice in the supreme and circuit courts of the state. Upon the election of
Mr. Bailey as circuit judge, the partnership was dissolved and the firm of Xeff &
Stearns was formed, which continued until Mr. XefFs death. In 1878 he was
elected to the Illinois legislature, and from that time he became active and influ-
ential in the politics of the state. He was a member of the state board of equali-
zation from 1884 to 1892. and during that period was chairman of some of its
most important committees.



HON. HORATIO C. BURCHARD is one of the oldest members of the
present bar of Freeport, and has for many years been actively identified
with the prosperity of the city and the growth of her permanent institu-
tions. For several years he figured conspicuously in the political history of
Stephenson county and was the incumbent of numerous governmental offices of
honor and distinction. He is the eldest son of Horatio Burchard and Frances
Chapin, and was born in the town of Marshall, Oneida county, New York, Sep-
tember 22, 1825. His grandparents belonged to prominent New England fam-
ilies of English ancestry and were, on the father's side, Jonathan Burchard and
Beulah Ely, of Springfield, Massachusetts, and on his mother's side, Benjamin
Chapin and Sarah Fuller. His grandfather, Jonathan Burchard, was one of the
pioneer settlers of Oneida county, and arrived there in 1797. Until he was
thirteen years old Mr. Burchard's boyhood was spent in Marshall. His father
then decided to seek a home in the west, and removed in 1838, with his family, to
Aurora, New York, and two years later to Beloit, Wisconsin. Both Beloit and
Aurora possessed educational facilities unusual for new towns at that time, their
academic schools then ranking among the best in their respective states. Mr.
Burchard's father wished to give his son a college education and the boy gladly
embraced the opportunities and advantages afforded for preparation for college.
In the spring of 1847 ne entered Hamilton College, at Clinton, New York, from
which he was graduated in 1850. Having selected the legal profession as his
future calling, he began, while an undergraduate, a course of law under Hon.
T. W. Dwight, of that college. He returned to Wisconsin after graduation and
continued his legal studies until 1852, when he was admitted to the bar. He at
once began practice in the courts at Monroe. In 1854 he removed to Freeport
and took charge of the public schools as general manager and head teacher.
The year following, having been enrolled a member of the Illinois bar, he re-
sumed practice as a lawyer and for many years was actively engaged in profes-
sional labor in the courts of Stephenson and adjoining counties. He became
associated with Thomas J. Turner, and the firm continued under the style of
Turner & Burchard until 1856, when E. P. Barton was admitted as a partner.
In 1864, T. J. Turner retiring, H. M. Barnum was added to the firm, which con-
tinued as Burchard, Barton & Barnum until 1874, when Mr. Burchard withdrew,
owing to his congressional duties.

In 1857 Mr. Burchard was chosen school commissioner of Stephenson
county and held the office for three years. In 1862 he was elected a representa-
tive for Stephenson county to the state legislature, and was re-elected in 1864.



During his first term he was a member of the committee on claims, and during his
second term, chairman of the committee on banks and corporations. He en-
gaged actively in legislation, especially during his second term, and proposed,
drafted and secured the passage of many important laws, among them the registry
law of 1865, and the law providing for taking the votes of Union soldiers absent
on military duty. For the next four years he held no public office excepting
trusteeship of the Illinois Industrial University, then just established at Cham-
paign, but in 1869 he was elected a representative in congress to succeed Hon.
E. B. Washburne, who had accepted a portfolio in President Grant's cabinet.
Upon being sworn in as a member of congress at the ensuing December session,
Mr. Burchard was appointed by the speaker, Mr. Blaine, a member of the com-
mittee on banking and currency, of which General Garfield was the chairman.
In the succeeding congress he was appointed a member of the committee on ways
and means, considered the most important committee in the house, and was
subsequently reappointed by Speaker Blaine in the following congress, and then
again by Speakers Kerr and Randall, making eight years of continuous service
upon that committee. During these five terms of congressional service, embrac-
ing the ten years from 1869 to 1879, tne most important measures and national
legislation, relating to reconstruction in the seceded states, to the coinage and
currency of the country, to the refunding of the bonded debt, and the resumption
of specie payments, and to the modification and reduction of tariff and internal
revenue taxation, were the paramount subjects of discussion and practical consid-
eration. The records of the debates in congress show his patient study and earn-
est efforts to understand and adopt the wisest action upon these difficult ques-
tions, and the prominent part he took in their ultimate disposition.

In the year 1879 President Hayes appointed Mr. Burchard director of the
United States mints, the duties of which office were entered upon by Mr.
Burchard immediately after the expiration of the congressional term. He was
stationed at Washington, and had charge of all the mints and assay offices of the
United States, ten in number. It was while holding this office that Mr. Burch-
ard achieved his greatest success. His vast knowledge of the finances of the
country, and his great store of statistics, always at instant command, made him
eminently qualified to fill that responsible position. The coinage act of 1873.
which created the mints bureau, had suspended, and the act of 1878 had directed
the resumption of the coinage of silver dollars. Both of these laws had occa-
sioned great discussion, and the expression of widely divergent views as to their
wisdom and utility. Mr. Burchard at once saw the importance of giving accurate
information to the members of congress and to the country in regard to the
production, coinage, use and circulation of the precious metals, and to that end
began to collect monetary statistics, not only as to the United States, but also as
to the other commercial countries of the world. To facilitate the collection of
such statistics congress made, after he became director, an annual appropriation
of nearly five thousand dollars. The information which Mr. Burchard gathered
was embodied in his five special annual reports on the production of the precious
metals in the United States, showing in detail as far as practicable, the amounts


yielded by the principal mines or mining regions of the states and territories. At
the end of his first term, in 1884, he was reappointed by President Arthur to a
second term, but upon the incoming of the Democratic administration in 1885,
was removed and his place given to one who had been identified with that party.
In the following September Mr. Burchard was appointed by Governor Oglesby
upon the commission to revise the revenue laws of the state, and report the
recommendations agreed upon to the succeeding legislature. Upon the con-
clusion of his duties on this commission Mr. Burchard, in 1886, resumed the
practice of law and opened his office at Freeport. He was soon afterward elected
to membership in the International Statistical Institute, which met at Rome,
and which was composed of statisticians and writers on economic questions of the
highest standing in their respective countries.

Mr. Burchard still continues in active practice, and is held in the highest
regard by the local members of the profession.

Hon. Charles Betts, the Nestor of the Freeport bar, who is now living in a
well earned and honorable retirement from arduous professional duties, was
born June 13, 1825, in Batavia, Genesee county, New York, and up to the time
of his admission to the bar his life was passed in the Empire state. His educa-
tional privileges eminently fitted him for the profession of his choice. At all
times he made the most of his opportunities, and endowed by nature with strong
mentality his advancement was highly commendable.

While still a youth he began the study of law in his native state with Hon.
Heman J. Redfield and Hon. Benjamin Pringle as his preceptors, and completed
his course in the office of Hon. Isaac A. Verplank and General John H. Martin-
dale, of Batavia. The counsel and assistance of these distinguished attorneys
had great influence in molding his character and educating him up to a standard
of excellence in the profession ; and, being honorable, high-minded, and faithful
through his inbred principles, he early gave evidence of his fitness for the high
career to which he was subsequently called. Mr. Betts was esteemed and be-
loved not more for his genial social qualities and the grace of his person than for
the brilliancy of his talents, which began developing at an early age. The writer
well remembers that at the greatest political mass-meeting ever assembled in the
United States, numbering over one hundred thousand persons, on the 4th day of
October, 1844, at Rochester, New York, one of the highly-praised speakers on
that occasion was the subject of our sketch. He then delivered his maiden
speech, which in a marked degree pointed to a distinguished future. Three
years later he was admitted to practice in the courts of New York state with the
highest honors of his class, at Rochester, in December, 1847. The following year
he emigrated to Illinois, and located in the city of Freeport, where he has since
resided, engaged in the practice of his profession, in which he has uniformly sus-
tained a prominent and honorable position. With a comprehensive knowledge
of the science of jurisprudence, he was thoroughly equipped for the practice of
law. In the early '505 his docket of cases led the Stephenson county bar. To
say that he has won success is but to reiterate a fact known to everyone at all
familiar with the history of Freeport. His practice embraced all the most im-


portant litigation heard in the courts of his district up to the time of his retire-
ment, and has brought to him a deserved financial reward. Added to the thor-
ough understanding of law principles, he possessed the power of keen analysis
and close logical reasoning, coupled with superior powers of oratory. These
qualities have enabled him to win many notable triumphs in both civil and crimi-
nal cases.

Almost from the beginning of his residence in Illinois Mr. Betts was recog-
nized as a most able political leader. In the political campaign of 1852, when
quite a young man, he received, unsolicited, the nomination by the Whig party
for auditor general of this state, an honor which indicated the place he had won
in the hearts and confidence of the people of this great state within a few years.
He also took the stump in behalf of the party in that campaign, in which he ren-
dered valuable service in support of the principles he entertained.

In the great political revolution of the country, in 1858, Mr. Betts, finding
that the principles which had divided the two great parties had become nearly
obsolete and suspended by the all-absorbing question of slavery in the territories,
saw the great Whig party swallowed up by a new party based upon the slavery
question. As an honorable, high-minded man, having no selfish political ends
to serve, he believed that the success of the party, sectional in its character and
based upon the single idea of slavery, would result in civil war and possibly dis-
solution of the Union. He readily endorsed the sentiments and principles of the
lamented Hon. Stephen A. Douglas, and remained the fast friend and able sup-
porter of that great statesman to the hour of his death. Convinced of the vital
importance to his country of this issue in the election campaign of 1860, few men
in Illinois labored with pen and from rostrum with greater energy, eloquence
and power to secure the election of Douglas than did the subject of our sketch.
Since that time he has been an active, energetic, able and eloquent expounder of
the Democratic faith, as viewed from the standpoint of Jefferson, Jackson and

At the congressional convention of the Democratic party in the famed third
congressional district of Illinois, the E. B. Washburne district of 1870, Mr.
Betts received, without solicitation on his part, the appointment of standard-
bearer of his party and effected a highly commendable result against his Repub-
lican antagonist in this district, where the candidate of his party two years pre-
viously was defeated by ten thousand majority, and reduced that majority nearly
one-halt, signally demonstrating his deserved popularity. Mr. Betts, having a
thorough contempt for the office-seeker, has uniformly declined public positions
which have been tendered him and which he would have filled with honor and
ability. Few men have more signally achieved and deservedly obtained the es-
teem and confidence of their fellow-men than Hon. Charles Betts. Never in any
instance has his ambition, although highly commendable, been known to over-
reach his judgment or set aside the best interests of his state and county. For
many years he was the recognized leader of his party and though not now in
active political work he yet feels a deep interest in questions relating to the wel-
fare of the nation.


On the I4th of August, 1878, he married Miss Mary C. Wilson, and their
family consists of two sons and two daughters, one little daughter having died
in childhood.

For a half a century Mr. Betts has made his home in Freeport, and through
the long years has commanded the respect and esteem of his fellow citizens by an
upright, honorable life.

Henry M. Barnum has long been an honored member of the Freeport bar.
He is a native of Addison county, Vermont, where he was born February 6, 1835,
and where he grew up to manhood. He entered Middlebury College, in which he
graduated with the class of '58. In the following year he located in Freeport,
where he began the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in 1861. Although
well qualified to begin practice at once, he engaged in school teaching until the
year 1864, when he entered upon the practice of his chosen profession. On the
8th of August of that year he was united in marriage to Miss Ellen P. Wright,

He became associated with H. C. Burchard and E. P. Barton in the practice
of law, and continued with them until Mr. Burchard's election to congress, in
1871. The firm then dissolved, and Mr. Barnum formed a partnership with Mr.
Barton, which remained in existence until the death of the latter, in 1893.

In 1867 Mr. Barnum was elected city attorney, and subsequently held the
office of justice of the peace, as well as other offices. He took a prominent part
in all matters of an educational nature, and served for several years as a member
of the board of education, and of the public library board. He is still actively
engaged in the practice of law, and is regarded as a safe counselor and a lawyer
of excellent judgment and ability.

James H. Stearns occupies a prominent place among the senior members
of the present bar of Stephenson county, where his legal training was acquired
and among whom his professional labors have been exerted. He was born in
the town of Hancock, New Hampshire, January 9, 1841. During his early
boyhood his parents located at Racine, Wisconsin, and there Mr. Stearns entered
the public schools. In due time he entered Harvard University, where he gradu-
ated in 1862. Seven years later he married Miss Ruth M. Chapin, of Dubuque,

In 1871 Mr. Stearns located in Freeport. In 1876 he entered the law office
of Judge J. M. Bailey, and was admitted to the bar in May, 1878. In the fall
subsequent to his admission to the bar he formed a partnership with Hon. James
I. Neff, under the firm name of Neff & Stearns.

In 1880 Mr. Stearns was elected city attorney, an office which he held for
one term. In 1889 ne was appointed corporation counsel and served in that
capacity until his election as county judge, in 1894. He also served ai master in
chancery for several years.

James S. Cochran was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, on the 22d of Feb-
ruary, 1834. His father, James B. Cochran, M. D., was a graduate of the Jeffer-
son Medical College, Philadelphia. His mother, Susan Cochran, was a graduate
of the Emmitsburg Female Seminary, Emmitsburg, Maryland. James S. Coch-
ran entered Bethany College, Virginia, where he spent two years. After that he


became a student of Jefferson College, Pennsylvania. He later began the study
of law at Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and afterward attended the law school of
Judge J. W. Brockenbaugh, at Lexington, Virginia. In 1858 he was admitted
to the bar, at Pittsburg, and on the 3d of July of the same year came to Freeport,

Online LibraryJohn M. (John McAuley) PalmerThe bench and the bar of Illinois : Historical and reminiscent (Volume v.2) → online text (page 81 of 83)