A. E. Hough J. W. Klise.

The county of Highland: a history of Highland County, Ohio, from the ... online

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became the first mayor of Chillicothe.

Judge John Thompson, who was elected in December, 1809, was
impeached in the legislature in the winter of 1811-12, and tried
before the senate in January, on the charges of "high crimes and
misdemeanors in this, to-wit: oppression in ofiice, violent language
and conduct, and expressing contempt for the government of the
United States and the people.'' In detail some of the charges were
as follows : In a larceny case he allowed the attorneys but ten min-
utes each for argument to the jury, and when they objected said they
must get along with that or he would cut them to five minutes. He
refused to allow an attorney to testify for his client in a case of usur-
pation of office. On one occasion he ordered the court constables to
knock down certain bystanders with their staves. He declared in an
assault and battery case that the attorneys had no right to argue the
facts to the jury except with the permission of the court, and when
he was overruled by the associate judges, he told the jury it could go.
Then again, he refused a jury the remarkable request that it might
come back after the case had been closed and re-examine witnesses.
Another time, he allowed an attorney but twenty-five minutes for
argument, and when the time was up told him to sit down and the
jury would do justice to the case. At Circleville, it was alleged, he
told the grand jury our government was the most corrupt and per-
fidious in the world, and the people were their own worst enemies.
On such charges Judge Thompson was tried for nine days before the
senate, with witnesses from all over the vast circuit But he was
ably defended by Lewis Cass, John McLean and Samuel Herrick,
and acquitted by a vote of eighteen to five, and in 1817 the legisla-
ture re-elected him. Doubtless the animus of the impeachment was
politics. Perhaps the judge was not an ardent supporter of "Madi-
son's war" of 1812. Judge Thompson was upon the district bench
from 1810 to the end of 1824, and consequently made more of an
impress upon judicial affairs in this region than any other judge in.
the early days.

After Thompson the presiding judges who sat in Highland county
were Joshua Collett, beginning in 1824; George J. Smith, begin-
ning in 1829; John Winston Price, beginning in 1834; Owen T.
Fishback, beginning in 1841 ; George Ceilings, beginning in 1848 ;
and the last under the old constitution was Shepherd T. Norris, of
Clermont, in 1851. Judge Price was a native of Hanover county,



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THE BENCH AND BAR. 3^93

Va., born in 1804, graduated at William and Mary college, studied
law under Justice John Marshall, came to Ohio in 1827, married a
daughter of John A. McDowell, of Columbus, and settled at Hills-
boro in 1831, where he became a partner of Gren. Richard Collins,
an eminent attorney. He was a high-minded judge and lawyer, and
was a conspicuous citizen of the county until his death, March 4,
1865. Judge CoUings was bom near West Union, Adams county,
February 29, 1800, and after he had gained admission to the bar
and practiced in that county some years, removed to Hillsboro in
1834. He represented Highland in the legislature of 1837-38, and
continued a citizen until his removal to return to Adams county
about 1841. About the close of his term on the bench he was a
member of the constitutional convention.

The first associate judges, Evans, Davidson and Berryman, served
for several years from 1805. In 1810 the places were filled by
Nathaniel Pope, John Boyd and Samuel Bell, and the first change
after that was George W. Barrere in place of Bell in 1816. Boyd,
Barrere and Moses H. Gregg were the associate judges in 1818-21 ;
Boyd, Barrere and Joseph Swearingen in 1821-29, and Boyd,
Moses Patterson and John Matthews in 1830. Judge Barrere's
long service then came to an end. Patterson and Matthews contin-
ued upon the bench until 1837, Hugh Smart and R. D. Lilly serv-
ing with them in succession. Lilly, William C. Scott and John
Matthews sat upon the bench in 1837-43, and Lilly, Philip W. Spar-
gur and John Eckman in 1844-49. Spargur, Eckman and John
Duvall served in 1850, Duvall, Thomas Barry and N. N. Delaplaine
in 1851, and then, by the virtue of the new constitution the office of
associate judge ceased to be.

The constitution adopted in 1851 provided for a supreme court
such as the people are now familiar with, its duties con^ned to hear-
ing appeals from lower courts. The State was divided into nine
common pleas districts, and associate judges were abolished. Each
district was subdivided into three parts, in each of which the people
should elect a judge of the court of common pleas. Thus there were
three conamon pleas judges to each of the nine districts. One or
more of the judges held a common pleas court in each county, and
the three judges of the district together constituted a district court
that succeeded to the functions of the old supreme court in theft
respective counties, and the new common pleas court succeeded to
the old common pleas court, except in probate jurisdiction, for which
probate judges were provided, to be elected one in each county.
Under this new system Highland county was a part of the Second
subdivision of the Fifth circuit, and it has continued in that classi-
fication. But the subdivision, at first composed of Highland, Ross
and Fayette, now includes Fayette, Highland, Madison, Pickaway
and Boss.

HвАФ 13



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194 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLANa

The first three judges of the Fifth district, beginning in February,
1852, were James L. Bates, of Franklin county; Shepherd F. Norris,
of Clermont, and John L. Green, of Ross.

Judge Green was succeeded in 1857 by James Sloane, of High-
land. Judge Sloane was a man of remarkable ability and will
always be remembered as one of the great lawyers of the county. He
was a native of Eichmond, Va., bom February 22, 1822, of Scotch-
Irish parents who came to the United States not long before his
birth. When he was five years old the family moved to Cincinnati,
and a year later they settled upon a farm in Brown county. The
father was an educated man, and taught school in addition to farm-
ing, so that the boy w^ fairly well educated in his youth. An acci-
dent that befell him while clearing away the forest caused him to
abandon farming and teach school and study law, and in 1844 he
was graduated at the Cincinnati law school. Then he began the
practice at Hillsboro in 1845, and four years later married Kate
White of Boss county. He was elected common pleas judge, as a
Democrat, defeating John L. Green, but he served hardly more than
a year, preferring to remain in the active practice, in which he had a,
field that embraced neighboring counties as well as Highland. When
the Union was in danger in 1861, Judge Sloane raised a company of
men at Hillsboro, of which he was made captain, and this became
Company K of the Twelfth Ohio regiment. He took part in the
famous early campaign up the Kanawha valley in Virginia, and the
fact that he was badly wounded at the noted little battle of Scary
Creek made his name widely known. After the battle of Camifik
Ferry he found that his early injury and the later wound made serv-
ice in the field impracticable, and he resigned his commission. After
the war he continued his practice, for a few years maintaining an
office at Cincinnati as well as at Hillsboro, until his sudden death
September 17, 1873. He was a man of brilliant gifts, but in his
social relations made no effort to gain friends, turning rather to the
world a bearing of apparent disregard if not contempt, but there was
a group of close friends that shared his confidence, and his ready
response to the call of his country showed the depth of his emotions.
His knowledge of law, his quick legal perceptions of the essence of
every case, and his effective pleading to a jury either in civil or
criminal cases, made him imrivaled. A ready and fluent talker,
master of all the passions of the human soul, his power to sway a
jury was almost resistless. To be cross-examined by Judge Sloane
was an experience that no man cared to go over the second time, and
woe betide the unfortunate victim who attempted to evade the truth,
or conceal from the cold piercing eyes of this keen questioner the
secrets hidden in his heart. It is no uncommon circumstance in
controversy, for the parties to engage in all the zeal of disputation,
without precisely knowing themselves the particulars about which



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THE BENCH AND BAR. I95

they differ. We then have fruitless parade of argument, and those
opposite pretenses to demonstration, with which most debates on
almost every subject have been infested. This was not the case with
Judge Sloane. He was always sure of his own meaning and had
the ability to communicate the sense of that meaning to the minds
of others in plain terms, delighting more in the intellectual effort
than in the conquest over his adversary.

Judge Sloane was succeeded in 1858 by Alfred S. Dickey, an
eminent jurist who sat upon the district bench until 1872. Judge
Dickey was bom in. Tennessee in 1812, of a sturdy Scotch-Irish
anti-slavery family, and when four years old was brought by his par-
ents to South Salem, Koss county. When he was of legal age he
entered upon the practice of law, and being appointed prosecuting
attorney of Koss county in 1838 he soon established a handsome prac-
tice. In 1847 he removed to Greenfield, but after his appointment
as common pleas judge by Governor Chase in 1858 he resided in a
beautiful home at Lyndon, Koss county. He died not long after his
retirement, August 22, 1873. Judge Dickey was pronounced by
Judge Chase an eminent judge and worthy of the great esteem in
which he was held. Personally he was kind, tolerant, genial, and
with rare powers of social entertainment. Judge Dickey was suc-
ceeded by Judge Samuel F. Steel of Hillsboro, who sat upon the
bench from February, 1872, until the year 1881. From October,
1881, to February, 1882, Judge James H. Thompson filled the posi-
tion. He was succeeded by Henry M. Huggins, of Hillsboro, who
served until February, 1892, and the next upon the bench was
Cyrus Newby, whose service extended from February, 1892, to Feb-
ruary, 1902.

Other judges of the district have presided in the common pleas
court of Highland county, among them Judge Robert M. Briggs, a
native of Virginia who was reared from boyhood and educated at
Greenfield, but resided at Washington Court House after he began
the practice of law. He was common pleas judge in 1858-63.

Tlie circuit court was established in Ohio in 1884, and since then
Highland county has been a part of the Fourth circuit, but as yet
the bench of that court has not been filled regularly by a citizen of
this county.

The probate court was established under the constitution of 1851
and has since then been filled by some of the best citizens of the
county. First was Jonas K. Emrie, elected in 1851 for the statu-
tory term of three years. His successors have been A. G. Matthews,
1854-57; K. D. Lilley, 1857-60; Albert G. Matthews again,
1860-63 ; William M. Meek, who was three times elected and served,
1863-72; J. C. Norton, twice elected, serving 1872-78; George B.
Gardner, 1878-81 ; K. M. Ditty, 1881-87 ; Le Koy Kelley, 1887-93 ;
Frank Wilson, 1893-96; Oliver H. Hughes, 1896 to the present.



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196 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

Gren. Eichard Collins, notable among the pioneer lawyers of tho
<50unty, was a native of ^N'ew Jersey and son of a Methodist minister.
Born February 22, 1796, he was reared in Clermont county, Ohio,
and had the privilege of reading law under Judge John McLean.
After admission to the bar at Cincinnati in 1816, he removed to
Highland county and made his home at Hillsboro. He continued
in the practice of his profession in Highland coimty for fourteen
years, and was one of the most brilliant men of the region. In 1818
he was appointed prosecuting attorney, and in 1820-25 represented
the county in the general assembly. In 1826 he was the Whig can-
didate for congress, but was defeated by a division in his party, and
ever afterward he declined renomination. He was married in 1823
to Mary Armstrong, daughter of a famous merchant at Maysville,
Ky., and in 1830 he moved to that place and formed a mercantile
partnership with his father-in-law, and in association # with Greorge
Ceilings established a wholesale house. But he now and then vis-
ited Hillsboro, and occasionally appeared in the courts of Ohio in
cases of importance. He was elected to the Kentucky legislature
three times and declined nominations for Congress as well as the
office of United States senator for Kentucky. He was the warm
friend and supporter of Henry Clay and the noted editor Col. Sam-
uel Pike. In 1853 he emancipated his slaves and removed to Cler-
mont county, where he died May 12, 1855. His title of general was
founded on his rank as major-general of militia in Ohio, conferred
in 1828.

Gen. Joseph J. McDowell was another eminent lawyer of the
Highland bar for forty years from 1836. His career is mentioned
with more detail among the congressmen of Highland county. Col.
William Oliver Collins, his partner for some time, was for many
years one of the most prominent men of the county. Colonel Col-
lins was bom in Connecticut August 23, 1809, in direct descent
from an English settler of Boston in 1630. His father was an offi-
cer of the war of 1812 and his grandfather in the war of the Eevo-
lution. In 1833 he was graduated at Amherst college, and in the
same year removed to Massillon and began the study, completing
his preparation in the Cincinnati law school, founded by Edward
King, of Chillicothe, during the lifetime of that well-remembered
gentleman. He settled at Hillsboro and began the practice in 1835,
and was soon afterward made prosecuting attorney. He was a
leader at the bar for many years, and in other fields demonstrated his
remarkable ability. He was secretary and Allen Trimble president
of the first turnpike touching Highland coimty, the Milford & Chil-
licothe, president of the Hillsboro & Cincinnati railroad at its
organization in 1849, and director of the Bel Pre & Cincinnati for
three years ; was prominent in the support of the Hillsboro academy,
and president of the Hillsboro agricultural society in 1859-60,



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THE BENCH AND BAR. I97

when the fair grounds were purchased and improved. At the time
of the crisis of 1860-61 he was a member of the state senate, and
when the organization of troops began was honored by the govern-
ment at Washington with authority to raise a regiment of cavalry.
He first recruited the First battalion of cavaby, and when this was
merged in the Eleventh regiment he was made colonel, a command
he held with honor and credit throughout the war, serving mainly in
the far west. After the w^ar Colonel Collins withdrew from the
practice of his profession.

Col. Moses H. Kirby was another well-known lawyer and distin-
guished citizen prior to 1832, and notable among the probate judges
of the county was William M. Meek, bom in Adams county in 1818,
son of Eev. John Meek, a famous pioneer Methodist itinerant.
Judge Meek began his practice at Ilillsboro in 1844, but soon moved
to Adams county, and did not make his permanent residence at
Hillsboro imtil 1855. Another probate judge was Albert G. Mat-
thews, bom near Hillsboro in 1819, and a practitioner for many
years from 1845. Henry Luther Dickey is another who is men-
tioned among the congressmen of the county, an honor conferred
upon him in 1878. James H. Kothrock, who lived at Greenfield in
1853-50, and was prosecuting attorney one term, removed to Hills-
boro in 1859 and thence in the following year to Iowa, where he was
honored with a seat upon the supreme bench of the state in 1876-
1885. William Harvey Irwin, bom in Madison township in 1832,
was a student of law under Judge Rothrock, was graduated at the
Cincinnati law school in 1856, and afterward was eminent in hia
profession, serving six years as prosecuting attorney. Henry Luther
Dickey, of Greenfield, a son of Judge Alfred S. Dickey, began his
.professional career as a partner of Judge Rothrock at Green,field in
1859. He was bom in Ross county October 29, 1832, and did not
make his home at Greenfield until 1847. He was educated at the
Greenfield academy, and after a time spent as engineer of construc-
tion on the Marietta & Cincinnati railroad, began the study of law
with his father, completing his professional preparation at the Cin-
cinnati law school. When his father became judge he succeeded to
his practice, but also gave much time to politics, in which he had a
conspicuous career, referred to in another place. He has honor-
ably served his county, not only in the state and national legisla-
tures, but as engineer of turnpikes in the important era of construe^
tion, 1872-73, and has contributed in the most generous and public
spirited manner to the building up of his town, where he is yet an
honored citizen. He is regarded as a high-minded, honest public
man, a good lawyer and a good citizen.

Ruel Beeson, a prominent citizen for many years, and a member
of the State senate, was a native of Liberty township, bom April
12, 1811. He was admitted to the bar in 1843, and continued in



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\



19g THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

the practice and in the care of his farm near Leesburg, until near
the time of Jiis death, May 15, 1877.

James H. Thompson, whose brief service in the common pleas
bench has been mentioned, was an aged man when appointed, but
of fine personal appearance and had for many years practiced law
in Highland and adjoining counties. He was born near Harrods-
burg, Ky., in 1812, the son of John B. Thompson, an eminent law-
yer in that state, and before he was twenty-one he was admitted to
the bar and became sheriff of Jessamine county. He practiced at
Versailles, Ky., after the cholera epidemic, that made ravages
among the attorneys there, and remained in Kentucky until his mar-
riage in 1837 to Eliza J., daughter of Gov. Allen Trimble. He
made his home at Hillsboro in 1844, and there passed the remain-
der of his life, doing a large business in the various courts of the
state. For eleven years from 1867 he was register in bankruptcy
for his district. He is to be remembered as the compiler of the
Centennial (1876) sketch of Highland county history, and other
valuable contributions to history and the literature of his profession.
In the days of his prime he was regarded as one of the finest trial
lawyers in southern Ohio. His long residence in the county made
him familiar with the land problems of the section, and his advice
and services were in great demand when real estate was the subject
of litigation. Judge Thompson outlived all his pioneer friends of
the Highland bar, but seemed in. his declining years to take new
hold of life with renewed hope and vigor. His warm espousal of
the Murphy temperance movement and his strong appeals to others
to avoid the deadly foe of their moral and intellectual manhood will
not soon be forgotten, and his honest practical illustrations of the
power of his own strong will to hold and keep him in the path of
sobriety and total abstinence is worthy of all praise and honor. His
widow, daughter of Governor Allen Trimble, survives, loved and
revered by all, and as long as the cause of temperance endures, her
name will be found in, letters of light upon the pages of history.

iN'elson Barrere, an eminent lawyer and public man, was bom at
New Market, April 1, 1808, received a common school training in
youth and entered college at Augusta, Ky., where he graduated with
the highest honors of his class. He studied law under Judge J. Win-
ston Price, was admitted to the bar in Columbus superior court and
began his practice in Hillsboro. Such was his strength and skill,
and literary and legal attainments, that he soon became its most
brilliant leader and ornament. His legal methods were original
and personal, and his mind so evenly balanced .and trained
that nothing escaped its grasp. Shorthand writing was in his day
almost unknown, yet he had invented a system of unique symbols
which represented thoughts and ideas, and sometimes facts. He
never "took notes" as they called it then, in any case in which he



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THE BENCH AND BAR. I99

was engaged, but would allow a witness to tell his story in his own
way and with pencil and paper would seem to be drawing "pictures"
while others talked, yet every dot and dash, crook or curve, that
grew under his noiseless pencil was understood by him, and to it he
would refer in his plea to the court or jury. Familiar with the
classics, his scope of words was large and varied, and his perfect
understanding of the Greek and Latin languages gave him words
for every shade of meaning he wished to convey. In politics in his
young manhood he was a Whig and he had the honor of being the
last candidate for governor of Ohio upon that ticket in 1853, when
he was defeated by William Medill, a Democrat He was a mem-
ber of Congress at the time of his nomination and strongly objected
to his name being used before the convention, foreseeing, doubtless,
as he did, the disruption of the Whig party in the near future. He
died in Hillsboro, August 20, 1883, in the seventy-sixth year of his
age. Mr. Barrere never married, but made his home with his
brother Benjamin up to the time of his death. It was reported of
him that in early life he was impressed with the conviction that he
must become a minister of the gospel and many believed that he had
mistaken his calling when he turned from divinity to the law, but
we think not. The writer knew and loved Xelson Barrere as a per-
sonal friend, and while much younger in years, was on intimate
and familiar terms with him. We have gone over in conversation
with him his life's history and we never heard even a hint of disap-
pointment over the choice of his professional career, and in conver-
sation with Judge Gardner, his nephew and friend, he can recall no
expression of his uncle's that seemed to imply a mistake in regard
to his calling. Xo, Mr. Barrere made no mistake, his mind was
cast in a different mould. No creed in Christendom could have
bound in dogmatic fetters that free and independent spirit, who
loved truth for its sake alone, and was sincere and honest to the
very core. Yet we do not mean to say in all this that Xelson Bar-
rere was destitute of religious convictions and a firm and abiding
confidence in the immortality of the soul. Barrere and Durbin
Ward were special and strong friends, and would visit each other
when time would allow. We heard a gentleman say just a little
while ago that the most precious hours of edification and comfort
he had ever spent was listening to conversations he was permitted
to hear between these intellectual giants, upon questions of Chris-
tian faith and Bible teaching. Both were strong believers in the
Man of Xazareth.

Judge George B. Gardner, nephew of iN^elson Barrere, was
admitted to the bar in 1846 at Columbus. He had before taking
up the practice of law resided in Fayette county and published the
Fayette Xew Era. He held the office of mayor of Washington
Court House, and after coming to Hillsboro \vas elected mayor of



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200 THE COUNTY OF HIGHLAND.

the city about 1870 and was again elected in 1900. As probate
judge for one term he filled that office with dignity and honor. He
is still living in Hillsboro, a veteran of the war of the rebellion,
and an honesty upright citizen and a first-class lawyer in every way.

Judge Thompson, in 1876, compiled the following list of High-
land county lawyers then in practice:

At Hillsboro: William Scott, Xelson Barrere, William O. Col-
lins, Joseph McDowell, C. H. Collins, William M. Meek, J. H.
Thompson, Albert G. Matthews, John A. Smith, W. H. Trimble,
George B. Gardner, Jacob J. Pugsley, B. Y. Pugsley, Henry A.
Shepherd, E. D. Lilley, Jr., H. M. Huggins, R L. Johnson, M. T.
Nelson, E. M. DeBruin, Ulric Sloan, Kirby Smith, Henry Ehoades,
Jesse K. Pickering, R T. Hough, L. S. Wright, R M. Ditty, John
Hire, B. F. Beeson, Cyrus Xewby, Augustus Harmon, Carlisle
Barrere, James Dumenil, Samuel F. Steel, Samuel Scott, W. H.
Soule, E. E. Hohnes, Flint Kockhold.

Greenfield: Henry L. Dickey, W. H. Irwin, W. H. Eckman, H.
L. Meek.

Leesburg: Ruel Beeson, Robert Elwood, George Hardy, L. O.



Online LibraryA. E. Hough J. W. KliseThe county of Highland: a history of Highland County, Ohio, from the ... → online text (page 22 of 63)