Franklin Ellis.

History of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men online

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ard Coulter), and resided in Uniontown in the practice
of his profession during the remainder of his life.
His residence was a house on Main Street (adjoining
the office of Gen. Meason), which is still standing.
His extensive learning and manners secured
for him the confidence and good will of all who knew
him. No lawyer stood higher in his profession, and
his tombstone, erected by the bar of the county, bears
testimony to the high character he ever sustained
among his professional brethren. He died Aug. 27,

Another of the prominent early lawyers of Fayette
County was John Kennedy, afterwards a judge of the
Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He was born in
Cumberland County, near Shippensburg, and was a
son of Thomas Kennedy, a prominent public man in
that section of the St.ate. Graduating at Dickinson
College, in the same class with Roger B. Taney (after-
wards chief justice of the Supreme Court of the
United States), he studied law under Judge Hamil-
ton, and after completing his course married a daugh-
ter of Judge Creigh, of Carlisle, and removed to



Uniontown, where he was admitted to the Fayette
County bar in 1798, and soon became oneof tlie most
prominent lawyers of this section of country. On
the 23d of November, 1830, he was appointed asso-
ciate justice of tlie Supreme Court of Pennsylvania,
which high otfice he held until his death in 1846.
At a meeting of the Philadelphia bar on the 28th of
August in that year, the following resolutions were
adopted on motion of John M. Rsad, attorney-gen-
eral of the State :

"Resolved, That the members of the bar of Phila-
delphia have heard with feelings of deep sorrow of
the decease of the Hon. John Kennedy, one of the
associate justices of the Supreme Court of Pennsyl-

"Resolved, That by indefatigable industry, unre-
mitting devotion to the study of law, united with a
sound judgment, a calm temper and uniform cour-
tesy of manner, this able judge has left behind him
a reputation which will long live in the recollections
of the bench, the bar, and the community."

Upon the passage of these resolutions on the death
of Judge Kennedy, Chief Justice Gibson said, —

"As the presiding officer of the court, it is my
business as it is my pleasure to express its satisfac-
tion at the tribute of respect paid by the bar to the
memory of our lamented brother. It was my good
fortune to know him from boyhood, and we all knew
him long enough at the bar or on the bench to ap-
preciate his value as a lawyer and as a man. My
brother Rogers and myself sat with him in this court
between fifteen and sixteen years, and we had ample
reason to admire his industry, learning, and judgment.
Indeed, his judicial labors were his recreations. He
clung to the common law as a child to its nurse, and
how much he drew from it may be seen in his opin-
ions, which by their elaborate minuteness reminds
us of the over-fullness of Lord Coke. Patient in in-
vestigation and slow in judgment, he seldom changed
his opinion. A cooler head and a warmer heart never
met together in the same person, and it is barely just
to say that he has not left behind him a more learned
lawyer or a more upright man."

John M. Austin was a native of Hartford, Conn.,
born in 1784. He studied law with Judge Baldwin,
of Pittsburgh, and practiced his profession in that city
for some time. He was admitted to the Fayette
County bar in August, 1810, from which time for
many years he was ranked with the prominent law-
yers of the county. He was the leading one among
the attorneys whose names were stricken from the roll
by Judge Baird in 1834, as hereafter noticed. His
death occurred in April, 1864.

Thomas Irwin was born in Philadelphia, Feb. 22,
1784. He studied law in that city, and removed to
Fayette County in 1811, and settled in Uniontown,
where he was admitted to the bar in April of that
year. In 1812 he was appointed district attorney.
Soon afterwards he was elected to the liCgislature

from Fayette County, and served in that body with
fidelity to his constituents and honor to himself. He
represented this district in the Twenty-first Congress
of the United States, and in 1831 was appointed by
President Jackson judge of the United States Dis-
trict Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania,
a position which he held for nearly thirty years, re-
signing it during the administration of President Bu-
chanan, and being succeeded by Judge McCandless.
Judge Irwin was a man of noble impulses and un-
swerving honesty, and was always greatly admired
and beloved by his friends and acquaintances in Fay-
ette County. He was a steadfast Democrat, but took
little part in politics in his later years. He was a
zealous member of the Episcopal Church, "and through
his long life his Christian virtues shone conspicuously
in all his various callings." He was an able and fear-
less lawyer, always true to his client and as just to his
opponent. He was an honest legislator and a faithful
and impartial judge. He died in Pittsburgh on the
14th of May, 1870, at the age of eighty -six years.

John Dawson was one of the most prominent law-
yers of Uniontown, where and in its vicinity he passed
almost seventy years of his long and useful life. He
was born in one of the northwestern counties of Vir-
ginia, July 13, 1788, and when about twenty years of
age removed to Uniontown, Pa., where in 1810 he
commenced the study of law with Gen. Thomas Mea-
son. After the death of Gen. Measou he finished his
studies with Judge John Kennedy, and was admitted
to the bar as a practicing attorney of the courts of
I Fayette County in August, 1813. He practiced his
1 profession successfully for more than thirty years, and
was considered a sound lawyer and safe counselor,
standing in the front rank among the members of the
Fayette County bar. He was an agreeable companion,
and possessed a fund of pleasing anecdotes, with which
he frequently entertained his friends. He was re-
markably kind in disposition and liberal in his bene-
factions, ever ready to assist others.

In 1820 he was married to Miss Ann Baily (only
daughter of Mr. Ellis Baily, of Uniontown), by whom
he had thirteen childj-en.

In 1851 he was appointed associate judge of Fay-
ette County by Governor William F. Johnston, and
served in that capacity with honor and distinction,
and to the entire satisfaction of the members of the
bar and the people of the county. His term of oflice
continued until the constitution of Pennsylvania was
changed, making the office of associate judge elective.
After he retired from the bench his principal busi-
ness was farming, which he superintended until about
1865, after which time he resided with his children in
Uniontown. His sight for several years was so defect-
ive that at times it amounted to total blindness. He
died in Uniontown on the 16th of January, 187o, in
the eighty-seventh year of his age.

On the 19th, at a meeting of members of the Fay-
ette County bar, convened in the court-house, it was



" Eewhcd, That in the death of the Hon. Jolin
Dawson the bar has lost a member whose ability,
learning, and integrity adorned the profession ; the
community an upright and intelligent citizen, who
ever executed with fidelity and zeal the many honor-
able trusts confided to him ; the church a friend, who
propagated faith by example, and proved it by works;
and his family a fond and devoted father, whose prac-
tice of the domestic virtues illustrated a character as
noble as it is rare. No tribute to his memory can
speak too warmly of the manner in which he dis-
charged the duties of every relation in life."

Andrew Stewart, a prominent member of the Fay-
ette County bar, and the most distinguished man in
political public life that the county ever produced,
was born in German township in 1791, and passed the
early years of his life on the farm of his father (Abra-
ham Stewart) and as a school-teacher and clerk in an
iron furnace. He received his education at Washing-
ton College, and immediately after his graduation at
that institution, studied law, and was admitted to the
bar at Uniontown in January, 1815, soon after which
he was elected to the General Assembly of Pennsyl-
vania, and served in tliat body for three years. He
was appointed I'liitid States District Attorney by
President ]Monnie, but resigned tlie position in 1820,
on his election to Congress from this district. Dur-
ing the period extending from that time to 1850 he
served in Congress for eighteen years, and by his
constant and stanch advocacy of the system of pro-
tection to American industry received, in political
circles throughout the Vnited States, the sobriquet of
'•Tariff Andy" .-^tewait. At the age of thirty-four
years he'l a >laM/htcr of David Shriver, of
Cumberhind, M'l, aud tliev became the parents of six
children. He died in Tniontown on the 16th of July,
1872, in Ills ciLility-second year. More extended men-
tion nf the events in the life of the Hon. Andrew
Stewart will be found in the history of Uniontown.

Nathaniel Ewing, son of William Ewing, one of
the early settlers in Luzerne township, Fayette Co.,
was born in that township, near Merrittstown, in
179(5, he being the second in age of a family of ten
children, all of wliom were born in this county. His
early >rar. wnv ]>:issed on the farm of his father
until lie eiileiiMl .letfcrson College, at which institu-
tion he iiiadiialeil with tlie highest honors of his
class. Alter Kavin- e(. liege he spent a year teaching
school in Newark, Di-l. He studied law in Washing-
ton, Pa., with Tliiiiuas MeGiltin, and was admitted to
the bar at I'niontown in November, ISIG.

The next year he began practice permanently in
UniontDWii, where his eommanding talents and supe-
rinr legal attainments soon secured him an extensive
and lucrative practice, and before many years he be-
came the acknowledged leader of the bar in tliis
]ilace. In several instances he succeeded in obtain-
ing from the Supreme Court of this State a reversal
of their previous decisions.

In February, 1822, he was married to Jane, daugh-
ter of Judge John Kennedy. She died in 1825,
and in 1830 he married Anne, daughter of David
Denny, of Chambersburg. On the 15th of February,
1838, he was appointed by Governor Joseph Ritner
president .judge of the Fourteenth Judicial District,
to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Judge
Thomas Baird. He served the constitutional term of
ten years, and left the bench with the increased con- ■
fidence of the people in his integrity and legal quali-
fications, and without a stain on his judicial ermine.
He never again returned to the practice of law, ex-
cept in occasional cases in the interest of old friends,
but such was the confidence of his legal brethren in
his ability and sound judgment that his advice was
often sought in important cases. As a citizen. Judge
Ewing was ever ready and anxious to promote the
interests of the community in which he lived. An
evidence of this is found in the early history of the
Fayette County Railroad. At a time when none could
be induced to join him in the enterprise, he gave his
time, his talents, and pecuniary and aid to
carry it through, and it is quite certain that it could
not have been built at that time but for his energy
and influence. He died on the Sth of February,

John Bouvier was a resident of Fayette County for
about nine years, during a part of which time he
practiced as an attorney in Uniontown. He was a
native of the department of Du Gard, in the south of
France, and born in the year 1787. At the age of
fifteen he emigrated with his parents to Pliiladelphia,
where in 1812 he became a naturalized citizen of the
United States, and about that time erected a building
in West Philadelphia, which he used as a printing-
office, and w hich is still standing. Two years later he
removed to Fayette County, and located in Browns-
ville, where he established the American Telegraph, a
weekly newspaper. While publishing this paper he
was al.~o engaged in the study of law, and in Decem-
ber, 1818, he was admitted to the Fayette County bar
at Uniontown, to whioh borough he had removed in
the same year, and united his Telegraph newspaper
with the Oeiiiua of Libert//, being associated in the
editorship with John M. Austin. Bouvier, after his
admission to the bar, gave his attention principally
to the law, and iu July, 1820, sold his interest in the
paper. At the September term of 1822 he was ad-
mitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Pennsyl-
vania, and in the following year removed to Phil-
adelphia. He was appointed recorder of that city in
1836, and in 1838 was commissioned associate justice
of the Criminal Court. He continued to reside in
Philadelphia until his death, which occurred in 1851.

During the period of his residence in Uniontown,
Mr. Bouvier conceived the idea of compiling a law
dictionary for the use of his brethren of the Ameri-
can bar. He labored assiduously and constantly to
accomplish the work, and in 1839 published two oc-



tavo volumes, which he presented " to his brethren j
and the world at large" for approval, and which re-
ceived commendation in the highest terms from Chief ]
Justice Story and Chaucellor Kent. From 1842 to j
3846 he produced a revised edition of the work, com-
prising ten royal octavo volumes. In 1848 he pub-
lished the third edition, in which many of the articles
were carefully revised and remodeled, and more than
twelve hundred others added. After his death it was
found that he had partially prepared a large amount
of additional and valuable material, and this was put
in the proper form by competent persons, and incor-
porated in the fourth edition, which was published in
1852. At the same time that he was engaged on the
" Dictionary," Mr. Bouvier commenced tlie prepara-
tion of another work, entitled " Institutes of Ameri-
can Law," which was completed in 1851. Both these
works have received the highest encomiums from the
bench and bar for the extensive research and legal
knowledge exhibited in their pages, and it is ac-
knowledged that they rank among the best contribu-
tions to the legal literature of the country.

Jacob B. Miller was the son of John Miller, a tan-
ner, and an early settler in Uniontown, where Jacob
was born on the 21st of February, 1799. He studied
law with Parker Campbell, in Washington, Pa., and
was admitted to the Fayette County bar in Novem-
ber, 1821. He was the founder of the Pennsylvania
Democrat (now the Standard), at Uniontown. He
served in the Legislature of Pennsylvania in the
years 1832 and 1833. A just estimate of the charac- i
ter and standing which he sustained as a lawyer and
a man during the many years of his life is summed
up in a resolution adopted by the Fayette County bar
at his death, viz. : " That we regarded Mr. Miller as I
a man of ripe scholarship and character, of earnest
convictions, and of rare independence. What he be- i
lieved to be the right he upheld, and what he be-
lieved to be wrong he opposed, regardless of conse- I
quences. Although a lifelong and active party man, '
when his party's action did not coincide with his own :
views it found in him a determined and able foe." j
Mr. Miller died Dec. 6, 1878, in the eightieth year of
his age.

James Todd, who was for almost half a century a
resident of Fayette County, and an able member of
its bar for many years during that period, was of
Scotch descent, and born in York County, Pa., Dec.
25, 1786. In the early part of 1787 his parents re- '
moved to Fayette County, where his mother died
during the same summer. His father survived her I
only a few months, but previous to his death in- ,
trusted his infant child to the care of Duncan Mc- <
Lean, a Scotchman and an elder in the Presbyterian j
Church. In this family he was reared, and became
an indentured apprentice. Until after the expiration ^
of his apprenticeship his education had been of the I
moat limited character, such only as could be afforded
by a year and a half of attendance at the common

schools in a neighborhood recently settled. Being
very desirous, however, of improving his education,
he availed himself of every opportunity that pre-
sented itself, reading such books as were to be found
in a new settlement, and studying late at night after
the completion of his day's labor. He joined a de-
bating society, and was so successful in their contests
and developed such ready powers in debate that hi.s
attention was directed to local politics and (eventu-
ally) to the study of law. In the fall of 1815 he was
appointed one of the county commissioners (to fill a
vacancy by death) of Fayette County, and was in
1816 elected for three years. While commissioner he
began the study of law with Judge John Bouvier.
Upon the expiration of his term as commissioner (in
1819) he was elected to the State Legislature, and
was afterwards re-elected for four additional succes-
sive terms, taking an active and leading part in its
proceedings. Having continued his studies with
Judge Bouvier four years, he was admitted to the bar
in Fayette County, Oct. 30, 1823. He met with im-
mediate success, which continued through his whole
professional career. In September, 1825, he was ap-
pointed by Governor Shultze prothonotary and clerk
of Fayette County, but having been an active Adams
man in 1828, and a zealous advocate of the election
of Governor Kitner in 1829, he was in February, 1830,
removed by Governor Wolf.

During his tenure of these offices his practice as a
lawyer was necessarily restricted to the adjoining coun-
ties of Somerset, Greene, and Washington. In De-
cember, 1835, he was appointed attorney-general of
the State by the late Governor Iiidur, and thereupon
removed to Philadelphia. This ]iii>iii(iii lie IkM until
early in 1S38. The same Governor a|ip(>iiited him
president judge of the Court of Criminal Sessions of
the city and county of Philadelphia, in which position
he remained until 1840, when the court was abolished
by the Legislature. He then resumed the practice of
the law in Philadelphia, and at once took a front
rank among the leaders of the bar.

He continued there until 1852, when failing health
and the death of a son (David) induced him to re-
move to Westmoreland County, where he continued
to reside, in the quiet and easy pursuit of his profes-
sion and of agriculture, until liis death, which oc-
curred on the 3d of September, 1863, in the seventy-
seventh year of his age. No better summary of the
life and character of Judge Todd can be given than
that embodied in the resolution offered by the Hon.
Edgar Cowan, and adopted at a meeting of the
Greensburg bar, on the occasion of his death, viz.:

"Resolved, That while we lament the death and- do
honor to the memory of Judge Todd, the example of
his life, so eminent for ability, integrity, and patriot-
ism, ought not to be lost to the young, but be held
up for encouragement and imitation. He was the
architect of his own fortunes, and, subsisting by his
labor, without the aid of schools or masters, he won



his way to the Legislature, to the bar, to the cabinet, j
and to the bench, acquitting himself in all with dis- \
tinction. He was also an ardent lover of his country, I
a temperate and just man, and a sincere Christian.
His years were as full as his honors, and extended [
almost to fourscore years." I

Joshua B. Howell was a native of New Jersey, and
pursued the study of the law in Philadelphia, where
he was admitted to the bar. In the latter part of
1827 he removed to Fayette County, and made his
residence in Uniontown, where he was admitted to the
bar Jan. 5, 1828. In 1831 he was appointed district
attorney by Attorney-General Samuel Douglass, and
served to and including the year 1833. He formed a
law partnership with Judge Thomas Irwin, and later
with Judge Nathaniel Ewing. Mr. Howell was a
careful and able lawyer, a man of fine address, a good
speaker, and very successful in his pleadings before
juries. In 18G1 he raised a regiment (mustered as the
Eighty-fifth Pennsylvania), and entered the service
as its colonel in the war of the Rebellion. He served
in command of the regiment until the 14th of Sep-
tember, 1864, when he was killed by a fall from his
horse, on the lines in front of Petersburg, Va.

Moses Hampton was an eminent lawyer, but only
a few years a resident of Fayette County. He was a
native of Beaver County, Pa., born Oct. 28, 1803. He
graduated at Washington College, and soon after re-
moved to I'niontown to accept a professorship in
Madison Cnllrjc at that place. He continued in that
positiMii foi- aliniit two yrars, during which time he
commenced the study of law in the office of John M.
Austin. In 1827 he married a daughter of John sill-
ier, and sister of Jacob B. Miller, of Uniontown. He
was admitted to the Fayette County bar in March,
1828, and in 1829 removed to Somerset County, where
he became associated in business with tlie Hon. Jere-
miah S. Black and Charles Ogle. In 1838 he removed
to Pittsburgh, which was his place of residence during
the remainder of his life. He was a member of the
Congress of the United States in 1847-49. In 18.53 he
was elected president judge of the court of Common
Pleas of Allegheny County. He died June 24, 1878.
James Veech was one of the most widely-known
and able lawyers of Fayette County or of Western
Pennsylvania. He was a native of this county,
bom near New Salem. Sept. 18, 1808. After gradu-
ating with tlir hiLrlio>t lii>nors at Jefferson College he
came to riiioiitowii. and liccame a law-student in the
office of Judge Todd. He was admitted to the bar in
October, 1831, and commenced practice in the Fay-
ette County courts, where by unswerving integrity
and close application to the business of his profession
he soon took rank among the leading practitioners of
that day. A just tribute to the admirable qualities of
Judge Veech, together with a brief sketch of some of
the leading events of his life, is found in the record
of the proceedings of a meeting of members of the
Pitt-burgli bar, convened upon the occasion of his


From that

death, which occurred Dec. 10,
record is taken the following, viz. :

" The departing year takes with it James Veech,
whose threescore years and ten are now closed, years
of labor, honor, and professional excellence. Before
he is committed to that narrow house appointed for
all living men let us pause and estimate his worth
and character, and make an enduring record of the
virtues that adorned his long life and gave him that
high place in the profession and the State to which
his ripe learning and unvarying integrity entitled

" In stature, mental and physical, nature had marked
him as one born to brave the battle of life with un-
flagging courage and tireless industry, and to secure
a triumph not more honorable to himself than useful
in good deeds to his fellow-men. He graduated at
Jefferson College, being the youngest member of his
class, and acquired an education which in subsequent
years he greatly improved, keeping up his study of
the classics during his professional labors and be-
coming familiar with the standard Greek and Latin
authors. There were with him at college many who
have risen to places of honor and usefulness, and, like
him, added to its long roll of distinguished men.

" After leaving college he went to Uniontown, Pa.,
and in 1829 began reading law under the direction of
the late Judge Todd, who was then one of the promi-
nent lawyers of the western part of the State. In
October, 1831, he was admitted to the bar, and began
a career which has shed lustre on his name and his
profession. There were then in full practice Andrew
Stewart, John M. Austin, John Dawson, of Fayette
County, now all gone. Thomas M. T. McKennan and
Thomas McGuffie appeared among its members at
times, — men whose reputations are yet fresh in the
recollection of many persons now living. Surrounded
by such men, and inspired by their influence, Mr. Veech
became an ardent student in the true meaning of the
term, and read and loved the common law, because it
laid open to his view the foundations of those great
principles upon which the most sacred rights of per-
sons and property rest.

"After some years of constant and continued ap-

Online LibraryFranklin EllisHistory of Fayette County, Pennsylvania : with biographical sketches of many of its pioneers and prominent men → online text (page 32 of 193)