G. (Gaston) Maspero.

The twentieth century bench and bar of Pennsylvania .. (Volume v.1) online

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at the opening of the old courthouse. For
over twenty years prior to his death he did
not appear in court on account of poor

Mr. Hamlin was always more or less
skeptical with regard to the immortality of
the soul, but in 1845 became a member of the
Presbyterian church of Smethport, which re-
ligion he followed at the time of his death.
He was a great lover of books and pursued
. his studies to the last. His death occurred
on February 13, 1880, after an invalid con-
dition of nearly thirty years' duration. Mrs.
Hamlin died April 17, 1881.

It was said after Mr. Hamlin's decease
that no man ever practiced before that bar
Avho had a more \inimpeachable record tlian
the deceased. There are few men whose
whole life for integrity was so unquestioned,
as Orlo J. Hamlin's, and his successful law

practice, up to 1851, is a testimonial to his
high reasoning powers and skill in handling
cases committed to him.

Byron D. Hamlin, senior resident member
of the McKean county bar, was born May 7,
1824, at Sheshequin, in Bradford county. Pa.
His father. Dr. Asa Hamlin, was of English
descent; his mother was French. His an-
cestors for many generations had lived in
Litchfield countj'. Conn., his father removing
to Pennsj'lvania in 1816. Dr. Asa Hamlin
was one of a family of twenty-one children;
was a Presbyterian farmer; had few oppor-
tunities for education, but by taking ad-
vantage of those few he attained to a posi-
tion of rank in the medical profession ; came
to Smethport in 1833 and died two years
later, leaving a Avife and six children, one
was Byron, the youngest and the subject of
this sketch.

Byron was then a lad of eleven years, and
at this tender age commenced to earn his
own living, besides saving from his income,
within a short time, sufficient money to pre-
sent his mother with a cream pitcher, which
cost five shillings and six pence, and is still
preserved and highly prized as a relic of the
struggles of his youth. The first employ-
ment he was offered was peeling bark from
old hemlock trees that had fallen, which he
delivered to customers and sold for fuel at
one dollar per cord. At the age of thirteen
he secured the position of mail-carrier be-
tween Smethport and Clean, N. Y., a ride of
fifty-six miles, which he made twice a week
on a mule, at seventy-five cents a trip. This
position he held for two years, and by the
improvement of odd hours he gained suf-
ficient education to teach a district school,
which he began at the age of sixteen years,
at ten dollars a month and "board around."
After a year and a half as a freshman in
Allegheny college, at Meadville, Pa., being
iniable longer to remain for want of funds,
he reluctantly abandoned the pursuit of a
classical education and took up the study of



the law On the advice of his brother, Orlo J.
Hamlin, and under his tutelage. He was
then nineteen years old, and was admitted to
the bar in McKean county in 1846. His
brother, who was twenty years his senior,
had become an eminent land lawyer and had
numerous agencies of large tracts of land
owned by distant holders. He became a
partner of his brother on his admission to
the bar and took the clerical part of the man-
agement of the several agencies. This espe-
cially led him to the study of land law and
land titles as applicable to the region of
northern Pennsylvania. Following this
bent, he become the purchaser of consider-
able bodies of timbered and oil lands, which
he has nianaged and turned to profitable ac-

"Sir. Hamlin has been a diligent worker in
the intej'ests of the Democratic party to the
time Bryan became the candidate for presi-
dent. In 1848 he was nominated for the
Legislature, but declined. In 1852 he was
sent to the state Senate, in which body, al-
though one of the youngest members, he
took a leading and prominent position, and
was elected as its presiding officer at the
close of the session of 1854. He was re-
nominated by the convention at the close of
his term, in 1855, but in the Know Nothing
whirl was defeated. In 1868 he declined the
nomination for president .judge of an adjoin-
ing district, but, against his will, in 1882 he
was induced for local reasons to i-un again
as candidate for the Legislature, but was
defeated, because of the large majority
against his party.

In 1846 Mr. Hamlin was married to Miss
Harriet Holmes, of Smethport, who has, by
her faithful devotion, constant sympathy
and good coimsel, contributed largely to his
success, and the records of McKean county
readily bespeak of the high esteem in which
he has always been held as a lawyer.

Mr. and Mrs. Hamlin have had three chil-
dren; the oldest a son, Delano R. Hamlin.

\\liii became his law and business partner
and died in 1884, at the age of thirty-seven
years ; the second a daughter, who was mai -
ried to II. V. Redfield, a distinguished news-
paper correspondent, who died in 1881, at
Washington, D. C, and a third, the wife of
John Forrest, who is his law and business
partner at this date. He retired from the
active practice of law several years ago, and
now, at the age of seventy-nine years, in
normal mental and physical condition, is
devoting his time to the management of his
investments and the society of his devoted
life partner, with their seven grandchildren
and a^ great-grandson.

John P. Melvin.— The subject of this
sketch, though still a young man, has at-
tained a place in his profession entitling him
to an honorable mention in the Bench and
Bar of Pennsylvania.

He was born at Limestone, N. Y., July 17,
1870, to Thomas J. and Marian B. (Parker)
Melvin. His father, who was exteusivelj-
engaged in the production of petroleum, was
born and reared in IMcKean county. John
F. ilelvin, his grandfather, was born in New
Hampshire, and, coming to Pennsylvania,
was one of the early settlers in McKean coun-
ty, where lie engaged in the lumber business.

John received a good English education
in the common schools of his native city, and
at Phillips' Exeter aeax:leniy, of New Hamp-
shire, graduating from the latter institution
in 1888. He also took a course at Harvard.
Was registered in the ofSce of Mr. George A.
Berry as law student, and after three years
of study, during which time he was also en-
gaged in the merchandise business with L.
Emery. Jr., & Co., was admitted to the bar
at Smethport in October, 1895. He practiced
alone until 1899, when his brother, Thomas
J., having been admitted, formed a partner-
ship under the firm name of ]\Ielvin & ^lel-
vin, which still exists.

In political faith ]\Ir. ilelvin is a Repub-
lican. He was chairm'a.n of the Republican


county committee in 1898, and elected dis-
trict attorney for McKean county in 1899
and re-elected in 1902.

Mr. Melvin is also a member of the Ma-
sonic and Odd Fellows lodges and other fra-
ternal organizations.

On July 5, 1892, he was married to Miss
Adda Laney at Bradford. He is a member
of the Universalist church.

Thomas Jefferson Melvin, Jr., born at
Brf^dford, Pa., July 29, 1878, is the junior
jiartner of the firm of Melvin & Melvin, with
offices at Bradford.

Our subject received his education in the
public schools of his native county, and at
Burkley school at Boston, Mass. He then
entered the University of Pennsylvania at
Philadelphia, graduating in the class of 1899,
in the law department, and was admitted to
the McKean county bar at Smethport Octo-
ber 25, 1899, since which time he has been
engaged in an active general practice with
his brother, John P. Melvin.

Thomas is the son of Thomas Jefferson
and Marian B. (Parker) Melvin. His grand-
father, John F., emigrated to Pennsylvania
in an early day, settling in McKean county,
where he was extensively engaged in lum-
bering and where the senior Thomas, who
afterwards became a well-known oil pro-
ducer, was born.

Mr. Melvin is a member of Union Lodge,
No. 334, Bradford Chapter, No. 260, Brad-
ford Council, No. 43 of Masons and affili-
ates with the Universalist church.

William Walace Brown.— The subject of
this sketch, a native of Summer Hill, Cay-
uga county, N. Y., is a son of R Wilcox

and Mary (C ) Brown.

After leaving the common schools he at-
tended the academy at Smethport, Pa., and
later studied at Alfred university. New
York. He pursued liis law studies with
Hon. Byron D. Hamlin, at Smethport, and
was there admitted to the bar in 1867.

Mr. Brown first settled at Corry, Pa., and

there formed, with Mr. Manley Crosby, un-
der the firm name of Crosby & Brown, a co-
partnership, which continued nine years, and
during that time, from 1874 to 1878, served
as city solicitor. Removing to Bradford, he
soon associated himself with Messrs. W. B.
Stowell and Robert Rose, under the firm
name of Stowell, Brown & Rose, and so con-
tinued some four years. His next partner-
ship was with Mr. George L. Roberts, under
the name of Brown & Roberts, which was
dissolved in 1887. Mr. Brown then prac-
ticed alone until 1895, Avhen he became asso-
ciated with his present partner, Mr. T. P.
Schoonmaker. At Bradford, Mr. Brown
has served five years as city solicitor. His
]iractice has been large and lucrative, and
he has been connected with nearly all cases
iii which Bradford has been interested since
its organization as a city in 1879. Among
the many noteworthy cases in which he has
taken part may be cited the long contested
cases of Post vs. Boak^ Wilcox Bank vs.
Davis, and Brennan vs. Coal Companj^

Mr. Brown, a Republican in political opin-
ion, has held numerous local offices. He
has served as recorder of deeds, superin-
tendent of schools in McKean county, mem-
ber of the State Ijegislature from Erie coun-
ty two terms, 1872-76 ; congressman from
Sixteenth district, 1883-87 : auditor in the
War Department two years, and auditor in
the Navy Department three years.

Mr. Brown served in the war of tlie Re-
hellion, entering the service April 16, 1861,
ns a private in the Twenty- third Regiment of
New York Volunteers. He was afterwards
transferred to the First Regiment Pennsyl-
vania Rifles, and served there to the end of
his term of enlistment. Has been identified
with numerous business enterprises, and is
recognized as an able and progressive man of
affairs. He has been a member of the
Board of Trade of Bradford seven years, and
served as its president six years: organized
and aided in the construction of the B



B aud K ; the B , E and

, and the B and S Narrow

Gauge railroads; served as president of the
last named three years, and as vice president
of the first named two years, and has served
on the Smethport and Corry school boards.

Rufus Barrett Stone, of Bradford, was
born in Groton, Mass., November 24, 1847,
son of Warren and Mary (Williams) Stone.
He has two brothers, Charles Warren Stone,
of Warren, ex-lieutenant governor of Penn-
sylvania and secretary of the commonwealth,
and George Fisher Stone, late city superin-
tendent of public instruction of Bradford,
now engaged in the practice of law in South-
port, N. C.

Rufus was ten years old at his father's
death, and was reared on the farm, which
the three sons cultivated. He attended the
district school, high school and Lawrence
academy, where he graduated in the class-
ical department. Subsequently he took a
special course at Williams college in the
junior year of the class of 1869. The same
year he entered the United States Internal

Revenue service as chief clerk of the assessor
of the Third district of Mississippi, and
while so engaged he took up the study of
law and was admitted to practice in 1872 at
Hernando, De Soto county. Miss., before the
courts of that district, and later before the
supreme court of that state. He resigned
from the revenue service and commenced
practice. Was soon appointed United
States commissioner as well as district at-
torne.y, and in 1873 was appointed chancellor
of the Seventeenth Chancery district, and six
months later was unanimously chosen for the
Senate. In 1876 he resigned and removed to
Bradford. He was an active Republican
and held many political offices.

]Mr. Stone was married to Miss ilargaret
Sarah Baldwin, of Ashfield, Mass.. on April
]S, 1872.

]\Ir. Stone has many large business inter-
ests in Bradford and the surrounding coun-

For the above sketch we are indebted to
J. H. Beers. History of McKean County.








It is extremely difficult at this late day,
Avith our limited court records, to write a
satisfactory history of the Westmoreland
county bar. The leading featiires, however,
in the lives of some of the .judges and more
eminent lawyers, from 1773 to 1850, have
been partially preserved by the reminiscence
of Mr. James Johnson, late of "Kingston
House," and by the writings of Mr. George
Dallas Albert, late of Latrobe, Pa. To these
authorities and to newspaper files generally
the writer has had access, and has drawn
material from them freely, which he has
treated as aixthentic.

The act establishing Westmoreland coun-
ty was passed by the Provincial Legislature
on February 26, 1773. The county at its
formation included all the territory of the
present counties of Westmoreland, Wash-
ington, Fayette, Allegheny, Greene, Butler,
Beaver, Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Law-
rence, and ])art of the counties of Arm-
strong, Indiana, Venango and Warren.
Nearly one-fourth of the entire state of
Pennsylvania was embraced in Westmore-
land county, from which the above counties
were afterwards erected. . While she has
been the mother of counties in Western
Pennsylvania she is still territorially one of
the largest in the state, and the fourth in
population among the rural counties. It is
not uncommon that the first record titles of
lands lying in many of the other eovinties
are found in the earlv records of Westmore-

land county, particularly is this true of Al-
legheny county, which remained in our
county nearly sixteen years.

Westmoreland county was erected during
the proprietary government of the Penns
and under the reign of the English law,
though the latter was somewhat modified- by
the constitution of 1776. The act of May 22,
1722. authorized the appointment of a "com-
petent number of justices of the peace" for
each county and any three of them had
power to hold the ordinary quarter sessions
court and common pleas court. The act of
September 9, 1759. provided that "five per-
sons of the best discretion, capacity, judg-
ment and integrity," should be commis-
sioned for the common pleas and orphans'
court, any three of whom were empowered
to act. All were appointed for life on good
behavior. By the constitution of 1776 the
term was limited to seven years, but the
constitution of 1790 restored the former
tenure. The act of 1722 also provided for
the appointment of a supreme court of three
judges (afterwards increased to foiir), be-
fore whom the proceedings of the county
court could be reviewed. This supreme court
had further jurisdiction over all capital
cases, and for this purpose they were com-
pelled to sit in each county twice a year.
Treason, murder, .manslaughter, robbery,
horse stealing, arson, burglary, witchcraft.
etc., were all punishable b.y death.

On February 27, the day following the
passage of the act creating Westmoreland



county, William Crawford, among others,
was appointed a justice of the new county.
The place of holding court was fixed at Han-
nastown and on April 6, 1773, the first court
of the county was convened with Judge
William Crawford on the bench. The first
business transacted by the court was to di- "
vide the county into townships. Then a
grand jury was called with John Carnahan
as foreman. This court was held in the log
house of Robert Hanna, as were practically
all of the courts of the county for the next
thirteen years.

The judges who sat on the bench during
this period of Westmoreland's history were
not learned in the law. They were men of
high standing in the community, but were
generally little more than justices of the
peace. This was the case all over the prov-
ince at that time, and yet a writer of no less
distinction than Henry Cabot Lodge, in his
"History of the English Colonies in Amer-
ica," page 232, speaks of the judicial sys-
tem of Pennsylvania as "far above the co-
lonial standard both as to the bench and the
bar. ' '

All of the judges and justices of the prov-
ince were appointed by the president of the
Supreme Executive Council under the act of
May 22, 1722, with the above modifications.
Their powers were very similar to those of
the present common pleas and orphans'
court judges. They were not only the high-
est judicial officers of the county, biit were
men of distinction in social life. Their
houses, it is true, were the ordinary log
houses, with perhaps a few supplementary
articles of furniture, but there was un-
doubtedly a higher standard of sociability
and a finer polish among them than among
the pioneers generally. There was a vestige
of the old world manners about them.

The distinction between the title "jus-
tice" and "judge" seems to have been that
when they sat on the bench of the county
court they were called "judges," and otl;i-

erwise they were known as "justices." All
were commissioned as justices.

Judge William Crawford.— Very early in
the Pennsylvania province it became the
custom to distinguish one of the justices as
president judge and this honor fell first to
William Crawford when he was present, but
the records sometimes show instances in
which Lochry, Gist, Hanna, Foreman, Jack
and Moore were named as president or
"precedent" judges. When they met to
hold court, if the regular president was not
present,^ they selected one of their number
to preside in his absence, but he did not
hold the ofSce of president bj' legislative au-
thority prior to the act of Januarj' 28, 1777.
This act has the following :

"The president and council shall appoint
one of the justices in each county to preside
in the respective courts, and in his absence
the justices who shall attend the court shall
choose one of themselves president for the
time being."

Crawford was a man, who, even in his
younger j'ears, stood very high among the
pioneers of both Pennsylvania and Virginia.
He came West on the Braddock road shortly
after the memorable defeat and took up
land in 1767 near Connellsville, where he
resided. He is described as a gentleman of
the old school. He was personally acquainted
with Washington before the latter was ap-
pointed commander of the American armies
(1775). He served under Washington in the
Braddock campaign, and is mentioned sev-
eral places in Washington's letters. He was
born in Virginia in 1733. In order to fully
understand his surroundings and his retire-
ment from the Westmoreland bench the
reader should acqiaaint himself with the
causes of "Dunmore's War," which per-
plexed our courts a great deal during this
period. It arose from a dispiite as to the
boundary line between Virginia and Penn-
sylvania. Virginia was granted by a royal
charter in 1609, and Pennsylvania by



Charles II. in 1682. The entire southern
boundary line of Pennsylvania was in dis-
pute. Lord Baltimore, governor of Mary-
land, arranged with the Penns, in 1767, that
two surveyors should determine the true
boundary between Maryland and Pennsyl-
vania. The surveyors selected were Charles
Mason and Jeremiah Dixon, but their au-
thority extended only west as far as west-
ern Maryland. The line they fixed is known
as Mason and Dixon's line. This settled
nothing therefore between Virginia and
Pennsylvania. The former claimed all the
territory between the Monongahela and Ohio
rivers, and when our county was organized.
Lord Dunmore became hostile and aggressive
in asserting the claims of Virginia. Arthur
St. Clair, a justice at Hannastown, had the
Dunmore agent, Dr. Connolly, arrested and
put in jail for interfering with armed men
on horseback with the Westmoreland courts.
When Connolly was released Lord Dunmore
appointed him a Virginia justice and he
proceeded to arrest the Westmoreland jus-
tices and imprison them.

Many good people and most of our own
settlers sided with Virginia, because that
province with its unlimited territory, was
selling Pennsylvania land cheaper than the
Pennsylvania authorities were. The contro-
versy was dropped by the breaking out of
the Revolution when Lord Dunmore fled to
the British army and never dared to return.
Mason and Dixon's line was afterward ex-
tended, and the boundary trouble was a mat-
ter of the past.

In this matter Judge Crawford sided with
Lord Dunmore and took the oath of al-
legiance to Virginia in 1775. He was at once
removed from office by the president of the
supreme executive council, and the order re-
moving him recognized him as the presiding
justice. But his memory has not suffered
in history because of his leaning towards
Virginia. When the war of the Revolution
came, he raised a regiment in western Vir-

ginia and Westmoreland county, was made
its colonel and with it did great service in
the Continental army. Toward the close of
the war he was sent to guard the frontier
against Indian incursions. To this end he
built Fort Crawford on the Allegheny river
near the present town of Arnold.

In 1782 he was appointed to command an
expedition against the Indians on the San-
dusky. It is known as Crawford's expedi-
tion and is the basis of one of the most heart-
rending chapters of border history. His
army was outnumbered and he himself was
captured by the Indians under the leadership
of the notorious Simon Girty. After much
torture he was tied hand and foot and amid
fiendish yells of joy, the Indians, thinking
they were avenging the red men who had
fallen before his command, put the bold and
intrepid frontiersman to a most cruel death
by burning him at the stake. Thus died the
first of Westmoreland's provincial judges.
He will ever be remembered as an honest and
upright judge, a true patriot and a brave

Judge John Moore.— As will be seen by the
foregoing, Crawford was retired from the
bench prior to the passage of the act (1777)
authorizing the appointment of a president
judge, and, therefore, this distinction by
legislative authority, came first in reality to
John Moore. For ten years after Crawford's
retirement, no one was appointed to the po-
sition. This was during the Revolutionary
war when the early settlers were largely in
the army and but few sessions of court were
held. John Moore was commissioned presi-
dent judge in 1785, after having been eight
3'ears a justice under two previous commis-
sions. His associates on the bench were
Christopher Truby and William Jack. Five
years later (1790) a new constitution was
adopted by Pennsylvania. This provided
that the judges were to be professional law-
yers, that is, men learned in the law. Under
this constitution, Moore, not being learned



in the law, was retired and was succeeded by
Judge Addison. .

lie was a son of William and Janet (Wil-
son) Moore, and was born in Lancaster
county in 1738. His father died when he
was a boy and his mother, in company with
her brothers, moved to Western Pennsyl-
vania in 1757. Moore was engaged in agri-
culture and house building like most pio-
neers of his day until the beginning of the
Revolution. He was a member of the con-
stitutional convention which framed the con-
stitution of 1776, and was appointed a jus-
tice of the peace in 1777. In 1779 he was
commissioned one of the justices of the civil
courts of Westmoreland county, and in 1785
he was made president judge. In 1792 he
was elected to the State Senate, representing
the counties of Allegheny and Westmore-
land. Little is known of his life after this
but that it was an honorable one, and that
he died in 1812, and is buried at Congruity-
Church, about eight miles north of Greens-
burg. He was married to a daughter of
Isaac Parr, of New Jersey, "a woman of
intelligence, vivacity and fine personal ap-
pearance," who survived her husband many
years. In personal appearance Judge Moore
was six feet high, had large brown eyes,
brown hair and an aquiline nose. He had
two sons and four daughters. One of his

Online LibraryG. (Gaston) MasperoThe twentieth century bench and bar of Pennsylvania .. (Volume v.1) → online text (page 15 of 95)