John W. (John Woolf) Jordan.

Historic homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Volume v.1) online

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town, where he remained until 1813, when he
removed to Doylestown, to which place the county
seat of Bucks county was removed from the first
named. In 1814 he became deputy attorney gen-
eral for Bucks county under appointment by Gov-
ernor Simon Snyder. When court opened in that
year, a few days after the burning of the capitol
at Washington, Mr. Fox arose and said that the
British were devastating the country, and, with-
out asking what others deemed their duty, felt
that he had no business in a court room while an
enemy occupied the land. He at once left the
building and joined a company of volunteers and
was elected a lieutenant. He practiced his pro-
fession until 1830, when he was appointed presi-
dent judge of the Bucks and Montgomery dis-
trict, in which capacity he served until 1841, wdien
he retired from the bench and resumed law prac-
tice at Doylestown. to which he devoted himself
until his death, April 15, 1849, at the age 01
sixtv-two vears.

A profoundly learned lawyer. Judge Fox was
incomparable as a jurist. Among the most
notable trials upon which he sat were those of
Mina and Mrs. Chapman, in 1832. In 1838 he
handed down a long and exhaustive decision
denying the right of a negro to vote in Pennsyl-
vania under the state constitution of 1790, which
attracted wide attention, and which the French
historian De Tocqueville deemed so thorough a
presentation of an important question that he
cited it in his "Democracy in America." Judge
Fox was a man of intense feeling and contro-
versial nature, and bore a full share in the politi-
cal struggles of his day. He was the bosom
friend and adviser of Samuel D. Ingham, who
was secretarv of the treasury under President
Jackson, and who left the cabinet on account of
the Eaton imbroglio.

Judge Fox was married, June 6, 1816, to
Margery Rodman. Her father, Gilbert Rodman,
of Bensalem, was a man of strong character and
highly connected. An ardent patriot, he was dis-
owned by the Quaker congregation of which he
was a member because of his taking up arms in
the Revolution, in which he served as major in
the Second Bucks County Battalion in the Am-
boy campaign of 1776. His brother William was
also disowned by the same people for voluntarily
taking the oath of allegiance to the continental
government in 1778. W'illiam served under Gen-
eral Lacey in 1781, was a member of the state
senate, commanded a troop of horse in the Fries
rebellion in 1799, and was a member of congress
from 1812 to 1816.

Of this excellent lineage was born Edward J.
Fox, son of Judge John and Margery (Rodman)
Fox, at Doylestown, Pennsylvania, September 15,
1824. His education was begun in the village
schools and was completed at Princeton College,
which he entered at so early an age and where he
pursued his studies with such avidity that when
in his eighteenth year he began the study of law
in the office of his father, who had just retired
from the bench. His training under the masterly
paternal preceptorship of his sire was deep and
thorough and long continued. For four years
the son was daily taught in the principles and



practice of the profession, and he was admitted
to the bar in 1845, o''^ the day after his attaining
his majority. He soon afterwards became asso-
ciated in practice with his elder brother, Gilbert
R. Fox, at Norristown (now deceased), but sub-
sequently removed to Philadelphia, where he re-
mained but a year, when he was called to Doyles-
town on account of the illness of his father, and
a partnernhip was formed between father and
son which only terminated in the death of the
senior Fox. In 1846 he was admitted to prac-
tice before the supreme court of Pennsylvania,
in 1847 to the United States district and circuit
courts, and in 1875 to t'^*^ supreme court of the
United States. In 1853 he removed to Easton,
where he was engaged in practice for thirtv-six
years. In January, 1882, he took as a law part-
ner his son, Edward J. Fox, Jr., and their asso-
ciation was maintained until his death.

Mr. Fox was entirely devoted to his profes-
sion, from which he could not be withdrawn by
the most alluring invitations to official or public
position. His friends presented him for nomi-
nation to the supreme bench in 1880, and he was
strongly supported in the Democratic state con-
vention, but this effort received no aid from him,
and when it failed for want of a few votes which
he could have secured, he thanked his friends for
their labors, and pleasantly congratulated them
upon their failure. Yet, while thus destitute of
political ambition, he was an aggressive advo-
cate of his political principles, and habitually took
the platform in every important campaign, at all
times exerting a marked influence through his
captivating personality and forcible oratory.

The remarkable professional industry of Mr.
Fox is discernable in the references to him as
counsel in the state reports for the long period
of forty-three years from 1846 to 1889. His first
reported argument in the supreme court is in
Commonwealth, to the use of Alevcrs vs. Fretz,
4 Barr, 344, and his last was Miller vs. Chester
Slate Company, 129 Pa. St. 81, decided less than
three weeks before his death, and these two
cases are marked by a division line of one hun-
dred and twenty-five volumes within which are
liis arguments. He had a large practice in all

the civil courts in his own and adjoining districts,
and in the federal courts and reaching to the su-
preme court of the United States, his services be-
ing in special demand in the trial of issues in-
volving large sums of money. In the McKeen
will case, in 1859, he adjusted a dispute over
the validity of two codicils, reported as McKeen's
Appeal, 6 Wright, 479. The First National Bank
of Easton vs. Executors of Jacob Wireback, de-
ceased, attacked the mental capacity of the en-
dorsement of a note for $10,000, and the case
was tried three times in the lower court, and was
twice argued in the supreme court, where the con-
tention of Mr. Fox was upheld, 97 Pa. St. 543,
106 Pa. St. 37. The Herster will case, involving
more than $200,000, was twice tried in common
pleas, twice heard in the appellate court ; Mr. Fox
had one verdict below and one appeal, but the
final judgment was against him, as reported in
Herster vs. Herster, 116 Pa. St. 612, ibid, 122
Pa. St. 239. In the cases of Snyder vs. Mutual
Life Insurance Company, actions on policies for
$30,000, tried in the United States circuit court
in Philadelphia, in 1 874, defense was stoutly
made upon the suicide clause by Mr. Biddle and
l\Ir. Porter. The plaintiff, represented by Mr.
Fox and Judge Green, obtained verdicts, which
were held upon error to the United States su-
preme court, 3 Otto, 393-6. In suits of the same
]3laintifl^ against the Penn Mutual Life Insurance
Company, tried in the common pleas of Monroe
county in 1875, verdicts were obtained for $16,-
000, and judgment was affirmed by the Supreme
Court of Pennsylvania, 3 W. N. Cases, 269. In
1882 Mr. Fox filed a bill in equity for the Lehigh
Water Company against the municipal corpora-
tion of Easton, to restrain it from proceeding to
construct water works for furnishing water to
the public, and thus destroy the valuable property
and franchises of the Water Company. It in-
volved very large financial interests. The Le-
high Water Company had been incorporated in
i860, and was authorized to supply the citizens of
Easton with water. It erected valuable plants, in-
vested large sums of money, and proceeded to
fulfill its incorporated pur]:>oses. In 1867 Easton
was empowered by an act of assembly to con-



struct its own water works, after receiving a ma-
jorit_v of the popular vote therefor upon submis-
sion. This vote it secured in 1881. In June,
1880, the Water Company accepted the provisions
of an act of the legislature, April 29, 1874, which
provided for the regulation of water and gas com-
panies, and made the right "in the locality covered
by charter an exclusive one." The suit was prose-
cuted upon the theory that the act of 1867 ceased
to be valid after the adoption of the present con-
stitution ; that the Lehigh Water Company ac-
quired, by the act of 1874, the exclusive right to
erect and maintain water works for supplying
water to Easton ; that the act of 1867, if not su-
perseded by the new constitution of the state, im-
paired the obligation of the contract between it
and the commonwealth, and was thus obnoxious
to the federal prohibition. This view was not
sustained by the supreme court of the state (Le-
high Water Company's Appeal, 102 Pa. St.,
515), and upon writ of error to the supreme
court of the L-nited States the judgment was
affirmed (Lehigh W'ater Compan}' vs. Easton.
121 U. S. 388).

Mr. Fox displayed splendid ability in the
conduct of the many closely contested murder and
homicide cases to which he was called. In one
famous instance he was retained by the county
of Northampton to assist the district attorney in
the prosecution of Allen C. Laros, charged with
killing by poison his father,' mother and uncle.
Air. Scott and Mr. Kirkpatrick made an elaborate
defense, introducing expert testimony tending to
discredit the allegations of death by poison
and to establish the irresponsibility of the ac-
cused by reason of the impairment of his mind
by epilepsy. Throughout the trial of two weeks,
Mr. Fox combatted with great tact and ingenuity,
every point raised, calling to his aid a large fund
of technical scientific knowdedge covering the
action of poisons and the phenomena of disease,
as well as the manifestations of alienism, and he
succeeded in procuring a verdict of murder in the
first degree. The further history of this case, a
most notable one in the criminal annals of the
state, is not pertinent to this narrative. In 1867
Mr. Fox aided the district attornev in the Carbon

count}' court in the prosecution of Gould, Acker-
son and jNIeckes, indicted for the murder of a
j-oung girl. The accused were convicted, but the
deadly blow having been given in one county and
death ensuing in another, judgment was arrested
on the ground of want of jurisdiction, and on a
new trial in Monroe county, the defendants were
acquitted, although they were afterwards con-
victed in a less degree in Carbon county. In
1877 Mr. Fox aided the district attorney in the
Carbon county court in the prosecution of Charles
Wagner for killing with poison Louisa Boyer.
Allen Craig and General Albright, for the com-
monwealth, brought out ample proof that death
was due to arsenic, but failed to show beyond
a reasonable doubt that the defendant was charge-
able with its administration, and he was acquitted.
Mr. Fox's speech in this case was his only one
which was stenographically reported. It was
printed in extcnso in the newspapers of the Le-
high \"alley, and added vastly to his previous
reputation as a capable lawyer and effective

It was on the side of the defense, however,
that Mr. Fox revealed his highest qualities. A
strong example of his powers appears in his de-
fense of Campbell, Fisher and Kenna, three of the
famous "Molly Maguires." In the case of the
last named, a conviction was brought in of a
lesser grade than the highest, and he carried the
case of Campbell to the supreme court, where the
judgment was affirmed. Campbell vs. Com., 3
Norris, 187. In 1865 he was leading counsel for
Hattie Blaine, indicted for the murder of William
Blaine, and who was acquitted, after he had made
a strongly impressive speech, on the ground of
self defence in the face of much strong evidence
of premeditation. In 1872, _ appearing for John
Lucas, accused of the murder of his wife by the
administering of arsenic, the State proved the
presence of arsenic in the stomach of deceased,
as well as deadly threats on the part of the de-
fendant. Through his skillful cross-examination
Mr. Fox left it doubtful whether death was not
due to suicide, and acquittal followed. In 1875
I\Ir. Fox defended Martha Glose, indicted for the
nnirder of her infant, and procured an acquittal.



setting up as a defence, under difficult conditions
of proof, an assertion of puerperal mania. His
speech in this case exhibited his rare power of
dramatic touch and effective pathos, in which he
was without a master.

Mr. Fox"s professional attainments were elo-
quently narrated by his personal friend and warm
admirer, Mr. Henry W. Scott, of the North-
ampton county bar (now judge of that district),
in a memorial sketch printed in 1893, and in the
following language :

"In his latter years, at least, he was no student
of books, either of literature or of law. His legal
library was not replenished with many modern
text-books ; he kept to the old editions, which were
not disfigured by copious and contradictory an-
notations. He preferred to drink from the foun-
tains, rather than from the polluted currents.
He did not read the decisions of the Courts, sys-
tematically as they were published in the Re-
ports : he believed he knew what the law was,
and did not expect to find the decisions otherwise.
He stopped brief-making many years before his
death ; but, sometimes, for easy reference, made
note of a case on the back of an envelope, or upon
the face of one of the pleadings. These would be
fatal courses for a new generation, but he had a
steady faith in the acquisitions of his earlier
years, and the measure of success he had, justi-
fied his wisdom.

"In the argument of a case, he would not yield
to absolute precedent, unless it was binding au-
thority. If it was a decision of an inferior, or ex-
tra-territorial Court, he would take the book with
a manner of sublime confidence that he could
shake its reasoning to pieces, or distinguish it
from the point before him. He did not always
succeed, but he did not shrink from the occasion
to measure his strength with some other vigorous
and manly mind that thought otherwise than he

In the iiianagciiiciit of a cause, his tact was a
matter for admiration; from the moment a jury
•was empaneled, his thought was upon the verdict ;
he yielded to every persuasive suggestion of the
Court : he made the jurymen his friends by watch-
ing their comfort ; if a draught of air came from

the window, it was closed ; if the hour for ad-
journment had come, it was upon his hint that
the Court was reminded the jury had been sitting"
patiently and long ; his cheerful 'Good morn-
ing!' as they passed into their seats, made each
feel it was of some consequence to meet him with
familiar recognition, yet there was no unworthy
artifice ; like Burke, he 'had no arts, but manly
arts.' If his own witness was timid, he encour-
aged him first by unimportant questioning, until
he was assured how easy it all was ; if his ad-
versary's witness was self-reliant, positive and
strong, he did not by cross-examination give him
an opportunity to repeat his damaging proofs, but
led him away to some irrelevant matter, and
sought there a vulnerable spot for contradiction.

"He did not often make objections, unless
the matter was vital ; his records on writs of
error contained but few exceptions ; and he
rarely supported his cause by more than one or
two leading propositions ; he believed good cases
were lost by obscuring the conspicuous general
features with irrelevant and inconsequential par-

"His arguments were in strong, direct, vigor-
ous Anglo-Saxon, often powerful, always impres-
sive. His fine voice was under complete control,
and his speech sometimes, upon great occasions,
reached the very highest points of spoken elo-
quence ; but he put on no purple patches, unless
he was swelling with some mighty theme. Il-
lustrations he chiefly drew, and with great eflfect,
from the historical books of the Old Testament,
and the parables of the New. His mind had the
enlarged cultivation which comes from much
travel at home and abroad, and his manners were
those of stately courtesy.

" 'Thus he bore, without abuse.
The grand old name of gentleman.'
"His was not an eventful life; his deeds will

not be written in the memorials of history, but
no ruler who ever founded empires, no states-
man who ever raised the weary hope of fallen
nations, no con(|ucring captain who ever drew a
sword, could leave behind to those who loved him, '
the memory of a name more stainless."



j\Ir. Fox preserved his mental and physical
vigor unimpaired and to the last. On November
22, 1899, he finished the trial of an important
case which had consumed much time, and it is
worthy of note that some months afterwards the
judgment he secured on this occasion was sus-
tained by the supreme court in Rickert vs. Steph-
ens et a!., 133 Pa. St. 538. At the adjournment
of court he was engaged in another cause. Three
hours later, seated with his wife in a social gath-
ering in the Presbyterian church, he fell dead
from a stroke of apoplexy. The event was a great
shock to the communit}', and evoked sorrow and
sympathy from all classes. The funeral services
were attended by a large and deeply affected
concourse, and the members of the bar of the
counties of Northampton, Bucks and Lehigh,
each to itself, held memorial meetings and gave
expression to their sentiments of affection and
admiration of the greatest one of all their num-

Mr. Fox was a pillar of the church within
whose walls he died — the Brainerd Presbyterian
church — and he was for more than a Cjuarter of
a century the superintendent of its Sunday school.
His personal character was unsullied. Besides
the church societies with which he was connected,
he was president of the Easton Relief Association.
His private unostentatious deeds of kindness were
legion, and it was said of him by one in his
household, "I do not think anybody ever came to
him in distress and trouble but that he did some-
thing to help them." He was a power in the
community in the advancement of material as well
as moral agencies, and was long a member of the
city council and of the school board. In politics
he was a Democrat, steadfast and earnest, yet
tolerant towards those who held to antagonistic

Mr. Fox was married, June 5, 1849, ^ Aliss
Mary C. Wilson, daughter of James Wilson,
of Easton. She died November 27, 1871, and on
January 16, 1878, J\Ir. Fox was married to Miss
Elizabeth F. Randolph, a daughter of Hon. James
F. Randolph, who survives him. Six children
were born to him bv his first marriatre, as follows :

1. Emily, who became the wife of John L.
Wilson, and is deceased.

2. John, who graduated from Lafayette Col-
lege in the class of 1872. He studied theology
at Princeton, was ordained in the Presbyterian
ministry, and had pastorates in Baltimore, Pitts-
burg and Brooklyn, and is now secretary of the
American Bible Society. He married Miss Mar-
garet B. Kinkead, of Lexington, Kentucky, and
to them was born a daughter, Pearce K. Fox.

3. Eliza, who became the wife of Dr. Joseph
P. Nevin, to whom she bore two children ?,Iary
W. and Joseph P. Nevin. After the death of
Dr. Nevin she married William B. I\Iarx, and to
them was born a child, Edward Fox Marx.

4. Edward J., Jr., who graduated from La-
fayette College in the class of 1878. Pie was
admitted to the bar in 1880, after some years
study under his father, and the two were asso-
ciated in practice until the death of the senioi'
Fox. After practicing alone for a time, Edward
J. Fox, Jr., in 1897 formed a partnership, which
yet exists, with his brother James W., under the
firm name of E. J. & J. W. Fox. The firm make
a specialty of corporation 1-iw, and conduct a large
and important business. Mr. Fox was one of the
organizers of the Easton Trust Company, and
is a director in the Warren Foundry & ?\lachine
Company, the Easton Gas and Electric Company,
and the Lehigh & New England Railroad Com-
pany and is a counsel for these and other cor-
porations. He is a trustee of Lafayette College.

He was married, in 1888, to Miss Cora L.
Marsh, a daughter cif William W. Marsh, of
Schooley's Mountain, New Jersey, and a grand-
daughter of the late Governor Andrew H. Reeder,
of Easton. Mr. and JNIrs. Fox were the parents
of three children : Dorothy, who died at the age
of three years, Louis Rodman, and Edward J., Jr.

5. Anna Wilson.

6. James W., a graduate of Lafayette College,
class of 1888. He studied law with his father
and brother, and was admitted to the bar in 1891.
He is engaged in practice with his brother, and
he was district attorney from 1895 to 1898. He
married ]\Iiss Leila B. Reeder, a daughter of



the late Judge Howard J. Reeder, and of this
marriage was born two sons Harold Armitage
Fox, and James Reeder Fox.

HERBERT M. HAGERMAN, a leading at-
torney of the Northampton county bar, and a
resident of Bangor, is a member of one of the old
and prominent families of America, the progeni-
tor of which left his native country, Holland, in
the year 1630 to seek his fortune in the newly
discovered regions of North America. His name
was Adrian Hegerman, and he located in New
Amsterdam, which was named in honor of his na-
tive city — Amsterdam, of Holland, and which
is now Alanhattan island, the most populous dis-
trict on the western hemisphere. The family
became a very wealthy and distinguished one of
New York, and many of its representatives may
be found filling positions of prominence and dis-
tinction in connection with the professions in
the great metropolis of America. Branches of
the family have now become widely scattered.
One branch was established in Northampton
county, Pennsylvania, in 1812, by Frank Hager-
man, who settled on the banks of the Delaware,
and by Joseph Hagerman who purchased a farm
in Slateford, near the Delaware watergap. They
were both farmers, and became prosperous men
of their day. Joseph Hagerman was the grand-
father of him whose name introduces this record.
He married Miss Susan LeBar, a lady of French
Huguenot extraction, and to them were born a
number of children, some of whom became prom-
inent in society and business circles.

In the maternal line Mr. Hagerman also
comes of Holland ancestry, the Aten family hav-
ing been established in America by emigrants
from the land of the dikes in 1638. Their de-
scendants were worthy people, and, like the
Hagerman family, the Aten family was well rep-
resented in the Revolutionary war by those who
joined the patriot army and fought for the in-
dependence of the colonies. Richard Auter, for
so the name was originally spelled, was a captain
under Washington, and his company was organ-
ized in Sussex county, New Jersey. His son,
Derrick Aten, conducted a hotel and also oper-

ated a ferry at a place now called Hartzell's
Ferry. His family numbered the following:
Mary, John, William, Derrick, Susan, Mathias,
Thomas, Sylvester and Peter. The sons of this
family became farmers and mechanics, and
proved to be worthy citizens of the common-

Frank Hagerman, the father of our subject,
was born in Slateford, Northampton county,
Pennsylvania, in 1823. In early life he learned
the carriagemaker's trade, and in company with
his brother Coursin established a carriage manu-
factory and repair shop in Mount Bethel, North-
ampton county, where for a number of years he
continued in business, a liberal patronage being
accorded him. He had the reputation of turning
out the best handwork in the country, and made
as many as one hundred and fifty carriages an-
nually. When the western factories began to
place upon the market the machine-made car-
riages, he could not compete with them and in
consequence closed his factory. For a number
of years thereafter he was engaged in merchan-
dising, and for a considerable period he was con-
nected with the lumber business, his operations
in that line being cjuite extensive. He was recog-
nized as one of the leading, influential and prom-
inent men of the county, not alone because of the
extent of his business operations, but also by
reason of his personal worth. He was honored
with many important positions of public trust,
and his fidelity to every obligation stood as an
unquestioned fact in his career. For seven years
he was a member of the hoard of prison in-
spectors, and for six years of that time served
as its president. He was vice-president of
the Pen Argyle Bank from the time of its or-

Online LibraryJohn W. (John Woolf) JordanHistoric homes and institutions and genealogical and personal memoirs of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania (Volume v.1) → online text (page 14 of 92)