John M. (John McAuley) Palmer.

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

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the year 1844. He was a man of fine mind, well educated, well read in the law
and a born orator. Mr. Davis taught school for a time. He finally removed to
Metropolis, where he gained a large practice in the line of his profession. He
made an unsuccessful run for congress, as an independent Democratic candi-
date, against Hon. Willis Allen, father of the present Judge Allen. Soon after
this Mr. Davis removed to St. Louis, Missouri, where he entered into a pro-
fessional partnership with a Mr. Wingate, who had been for a time a practitioner
at the Golconda bar.

In the early '503 Thomas H. Smith, living at Golconda, became prosecuting
attorney for that district. He was afterward lieutenant colonel of the Forty-
eighth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, and was killed at Fort Donelson. William
K. Parish was among the early practitioners in Pope county, becoming a judge.
John A. Logan practiced in the county and was prosecuting attorney. Hon.
Willis Allen attended the Golconda bar as early as 1844, and his son, Judge
Allen, also practiced there in 1852-3. Others who practiced law at Golconda
were Albert G. Caldwell, of Shawneetown, who appeared there about 1848;
John Olney, of Shawneetown, who also attended the Pope county courts; and
James M. Warren, of Elizabethtown, who was a constant attendant at Golconda
from 1852 for a period of fully fifteen years.

General Green B. Raum was born in Golconda and there studied law with
Hon. Wesley Sloan, being admitted to the bar in 1853. He removed to Harris-
burg, Saline county, in the same year, being the first resident lawyer of the place,
and there continued in practice until 1875, the four years of the war excepted.
In 1876 he was appointed commissioner of internal revenue, by President Grant,
whereupon he became a resident of Washington, where he remained until 1893.
Hon. John Dougherty, of Jonesboro, frequently attended the Goiconda courts,
as did also Judge Demming, of Benton. The judges who presided at Golconda
at an early date were Thomas C. Browne and Walter B. Scates.

The following paragraphs relating to the late Judge Wesley Sloan, will be
read with interest :


Friday, February 20, 1880, being the anniversary of the seventy-fourth birthday of the
venerable Judge Wesley Sloan, Judge Browning and a number of others took the matter in
hand and celebrated the event by assembling at the residence of Mr. and Mrs. William P.
Sloan. There were present Judge Browning, Circuit Clerk Wilson, Judge J. F. Taylor,
Mr. H. Armstrong, Hon. W. S. Morris, Mr. W. H. Boyer, Mr. Rose, State's Attorney
Thomas H. Clark, Judge Eldredge, Mr. J. C. Courtney, Mr. J. F. McCartney, and others.
Hon. William S. Morris spoke as follows:

"Judge Sloan, I have been selected by my brethren of the bar to discharge the pleas-
ing duty of congratulating you upon the advent of this, the seventy-fourth anniversary of
your natal day; it affords me more than ordinary pleasure to fulfill that duty.

"We understand that at a period of time approximating half a century ago you landed
upon these shores, a youthful voyager upon life's tempestuous sea, full of youthful vigor,
seeking to begin with credit your professional career. People did not live then as they
live now. Society was not what it is to-day. These streams were unbridged: these hills
undecorated by the hand of man, were covered with wild game of every kind. Where now
the passing stranger shuffles along the paved sidewalk, the green corn tossed iu waving
banners in the wind. The great Prairie state was then in its infancy compared with what
it now is. Vast forests and boundless prairies stretched themselves between the settlements
and in many places miles, long and weary, intervened between one neighbor and another.

"At the southern extremity of Lake Michigan, where the magnificent city of Chicago
now stands, and whence millions of tons of commerce go 'unvexed to the sea,' through
the great lakes and across the ocean to feed the starving populations of the Old World,
only a few houses marked the spot where the great metropolis now lifts its spires and domes
to heaven, destined soon to eclipse the famous cities of the Old World, and even now
the central figure of the great empire of the northwest.

"At the period of your advent here, our eagle had not expanded his wings to their
present proportions, but you have seen him stretch them across the Rocky mountains and
cover the Pacific slopes, so that now we behold a thriving population filling up what were
then immense wildernesses, and towns and cities decorate all the hills. In the midst oi
this wonderful, this magical, progression, you have not been an idle spectator; you have
grown with this growth and struggled with the stern realities of life along the way. When
you came here you found the law, as you found the state, in a sort of primitive condition.
You applied yourself to its development and adjustment to the condition of the times in
which you have lived. In its practice, like the rest of us, you met with defeat sometimes,
as well as victory. Your voice has been heard in legislative halls, and your counsel was
sought for by the members of the most important committees. The chairs of some of them
were occupied by you.

"Surrounded by eminent contemporaries your countrymen elevated you to the bench,
and you have held with even and equal poise the scales of justice, unmoved by the meta-
physics of Leonard Swett or the eloquence of Crocket. There were strong men in those
days, but they have passed away. One by one they have fallen around you like autumn's
withered leaves. You still remain, at the advanced age of seventy-four. Strong and vigorous
in mental capacity, the intellectual fires burn brightly, sometimes flashing out with some-
thing of their youthful vigor, as some of us have lately witnessed. Therefore we render
you this tribute, so richly earned, as one of the fathers in the law, that our days, like yours,
may long continue in the land that the Lord our God hath given us.

"Your generation is passing away; ours is the present; the future will belong to the
next, and when another half century shall have rolled away, the youthful aspirant for legal
honors may spell your name upon some of the musty records hid away in the vaults down
there and read it in the blue books, and tradition will tell him that you lived to a green old
age, rich in legal honors, happy in the confidence of your countrymen, venerated and
esteemed by all. Again we congratulate you that you have beheld this auspicious day."
Judge Sloan then arose and replied as follows:


"Gentlemen and Professional Brethren: I cannot permit the present occasion to pass
without expressing to you my warmest thanks for this manifestation of your kind feeling
and respect for myself. It is true that I am aged seventy-four years and have lived in
Illinois for more than forty-one years. I landed in Chicago about the ist of September.
1838, when that place was a mere village. Its attractions at that time were not sufficient
to induce me to remain there more than three or four days. I traveled over the country,
consisting of vast prairies, by stage to Peru, on the head-waters of the Illinois river. At
that place I remained several days and I there met a gentleman named John M. Gay, from
Princeton, the county-seat of Bureau county. Ascertaining what my profession was. ho
gave me a very strong invitation to go with him to Princeton and locate there. I accepted,
and went with him to Princeton, and remained there during the winter of 1838-9. The
people were nearly all Yankees, of the strictest Puritanical persuasion, and as I had been
brought up on the eastern shore of Maryland, whose people are renowned for their hospitalitv
and social qualities, I found myself quite out of my congenial element, and left Princeton
in 1839. I went to St. Louis and remained there for several days, and then boarded a
steamer bound for the lower Mississippi, without having any particular place of destina-
tion in view. On the boat I became acquainted with one Colonel Humphreys, who had
been recently traveling through southern Illinois. He advised me to stop off at old Kas-
kaskia landing and go to Pinckneyville. the county seat of Perry county. I took his advice,
and stopped off at this ancient town, where I became acquainted with some of Illinois' best
lawyers, among whom were David J. Baker, father of our present Judge Baker; James
Shields and Colonel Don Morrison. After I had been there several days, Morrison said to
me: 'Sloan, are you going to Pinckneyville?' 'Yes, sir.' said I, 'that is my intention." 'I
wouldn't do it. Go to Golconda, a nice little town on the Ohio river, in Pope county.
that's the place for you.'

"Don's lively description of the town and its society struck me with some force, and,
taking him at his word. I boarded the steamer Boreas, bound for Pittsburg, the next day,
and landed at this place about the ist of May, 1839. The captain of the Boreas persuaded
me not to stop here; said the place had a bad name on the river, and that all the country
from Cave In Rock to Cairo was infested with murderers, horse thieves and kidnapers, and
that it was no place for a gentleman to locate. I thanked him for his advice, kindly meant,
but told him I had been informed differently, and that I would try it at any rate. After
arriving at Golconda a feeling came over me which I never shall forget and which seemed
to say. 'Well, Wesley, you have reached your home at last.' For ten years I devoted my
time exclusively to the practice of the law in this and the neighboring counties. The bar
of the old third judicial court was distinguished for its able lawyers. There were Henry
Eddy. Jeptha Hardin, Edward Jones, David J. Baker, Colonel Morrison and others,
almost all of whom are now at rest. I feel as one almost left alone. A new generation of
people, mostly unknown to me, have taken the place of their fathers and grandfathers, with
whom I associated in the olden time. I served four sessions as a member of the legislature
of the state and was judge of the nineteenth judicial circuit for more than ten years. I went
out of office in 1867, and have since lived the life of a private citizen. Age admonishes me
that my earthly pilgrimage is almost o'er, and a spirit voice seems to say, 'Rest, mortal,
from your labors."

"I once more thank you, gentlemen, for this tribute of your respect, and reciprocate
your kindness by bestowing upon you, one and all, my best wishes for your health, happi-
ness and future prosperity."


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