John Morley.

Album of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) online

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to his parents and journeyed on foot to Bridge-
port, where he became an apprentice in the office
of the Bridgeport Standard, a Whig newspaper.
With a company of ten young men, in the autumn
of 1844, ne emigrated to Illinois, and became a
student in Jubilee College, of Peoria County, then
presided over by Rev. Samuel Chase. A dis-
agreement arose between him and the Principal
after he had been in college for about a year, and
Mr. Kurd then went to Peoria, where he sought
employment, but unsuccessfully. He therefore
took passage on a baggage stage for Chicago,
where, in the office of the Evening Journal, he
soon secured work. This paper was then pub-
lished by Wilson & Geer. He afterwards worked
on the Prairie Farmer, and in the fall of 1847
began studying law in the office of Calvin De-
Wolf. In 1848 he was admitted to the Bar, and
formed a partnership with Carlos Haven, who
was afterwards State's Attorney. His next part-
ner was Henry Snapp, who later represented the
Joliet District in Congress, and from 1850 until
1 854 he was a partner of Andrew J. Brown. This
latter firm had large transactions in real estate, and
owned two hundred and forty acres of land, which
was platted as a part of the village of Evanston.
Mr. Hurd was one of the first to build in this
place. He began the erection of the home which
is still his place of residence in the summer of
1854, and moved into it in the following summer.
It is one of the finest homes in this beautiful sub-
urb, and at the time of its erection it stood alone
on a block of ground. Its owner enjoys the dis-
tinction of having been the first President of the
Village Board.

In May, 1853, Mr. Hurd married Miss Cor-
nelia A., daughter of the late Capt. James Hilli-
ard, of Middletown, Conn. Three daughters
were born unto them: Eda, wife of George S.
Lord; Hettie, who died in 1884; and Nellie, wife
of John A. Comstock. On the ist of November,
1860, Mr. Hurd wedded Mrs. Sarah Collins,
widow of the late George Collins. She died in
1890, and in July, 1892, he married Miss Susanna

Van Wyck, a lady highly esteemed in social
circles in Chicago and Evanston.

Mr. Hurd was an ardent Abolitionist, and took
an active part in the stirring events which occur-
red in Chicago before and after the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise. The result of this meas-
ure of Congress was to make Kansas a prize for
which both the free and slave States contended.
The slave-holders of western Missouri crossed the
border, driving out many of the free State set-
tlers and killing others, pre-empted lands, and
opposed the passage of emigrants from the North-
ern States through Missouri, compelling the latter
to take a more circuitous route through Iowa and
Nebraska. Kansas was the scene of continued
conflict between these parties during the spring
and summer of 1855, the border ruffians of Mis-
souri seeking to drive out the free State settlers
by murder and arson, and the free State settlers
retaliating. The cry of ' 'bleeding Kansas' ' echoed
through the North, and emigration societies were
formed in the free States to aid, arm and protect
the Northern settlers in Kansas. A convention
was held in Buffalo, N. Y., at which a national
Kansas committee was formed and Mr. Hurd,
who was a member of the convention, became
secretary of its executive committee, with head-
quarters in Chicago. His assistant secretary was
Horace White, afterwards editor of the Chicago
Tribune, and now of New York City. In 1856,
Kansas crops proved a failure, owing to the dep-
redations of the contending factions. In antici-
pation of a lack of seeds for the planting in the
coming spring, the committee in New York in
February, 1857, passed a resolution instructing
the executive committee in Chicago to purchase
and forward the necessary seeds, and at the same
time appropriated $5,000 to aid John Brown in
the organization and equipment of the free-soil
settlers into companies for self-protection. Mr.
Hurd found, on returning to Chicago, that the
funds in the hands of the treasurer were not suffi-
cient to meet both requirements. He therefore
decided to buy and send on the seeds. One hun-
dred tons, including spring wheat, barley, corn,
potatoes and other seeds, were purchased and for-
warded. When Brown applied for the money



appropriated to him, lie found the treasury of the
committee empty. At first Gerritt Smith and
other friends of Brown were inclined to find fault
with the action of Mr. Hurd, but in the mean
time the free settlers had been waiting anxiously
at Lawrence, Kan., for the seeds. They had
been forwarded by a small steamer, which was to
ascend the Kansas River to Lawrence, where the
settlers assembled to receive them. The steamer
was delayed two weeks by low water, and when
at last it did arrive, the settlers were overjoyed,
and the wisdom of Mr. Kurd's course was amply
vindicated. The settlers would have been obliged
to leave Kansas had not this timely provision for
a crop been made. As it was, the tide of emigra-
tion from the free States kept on increasing, and
the pro-slavery men, finding that they could not
win in the contest, soon abandoned it.

In 1862, Mr. Hurd formed a partnership with
Hon. Henry Booth, and at the same time accepted
the position of lecturer in the law department of
the University of Chicago, which Mr. Booth had
aided in organizing three years previous, and of
which he was Principal. In 1868 the partner-
ship was dissolved, Mr. Hurd retiring from active
practice. In April, 1869, he was appointed by
Gov. Palmer one of three commissioners to re-
vise and re-write the General Statutes of the
State of Illinois. His colleagues were William
E. Nelson, of Decatur, and Michael Shaeffer,
of Salem, both of whom withdrew in a short time,
leaving the burden of the work upon Mr. Hurd.
He completed his task with the adjournment of
the Twenty-eighth General Assembly in April,
1874, and was appointed by that body to edit and
supervise the publication, which he accomplished
to the entire satisfaction of the general public.
The labor which he performed in this revision is
such as only lawyers can fully appreciate. He
had not only to compile into one homogeneous
whole the various laws which from time to time
had been enacted at the biennial meetings of the
Legislature, but to adapt them to the new State
Constitution of 1870, discarding old provisions
which were in conflict with it, and constructing
new ones in conformity with it. The success of his
work was immediate, and " Kurd's Revised Stat-

utes' ' is an indispensable work in every law office
throughout the State, and in many public offices.
The State edition of 1874 of fifteen thousand
copies was soon exhausted, and Mr. Hurd has
been called upon to edit eight editions since, all
of which have received the unqualified commen-
dation of the Bar.

In the summer of 1876, Mr. Hurd was again
elected to a chair in the law school, which had
become the Union College of Law of the Univer-
sity of Chicago and the Northwestern University,
and he is now Professor of Pleading, Practice and
Statutory Law in that institution, it now being
the law department of the Northwestern Univer-
sity. He has here an occupation which is thor-
oughly congenial to him. He has always been a
careful student, and his arguments of cases before
the higher courts were always models of clear and
accurate statement of legal propositions and logi-
cal reasoning. In his academic work he displays
the same invaluable qualities, imparting to his
class a thorough understanding of principles, and
training them to systematic and methodical hab-
its. At the special election for a Judge of the Su-
preme Court of Illinois, December n, 1875, Mr.
Hurd was nominated by the Republicans, but
was opposed by T. L- Dickey, who was then Cor-
poration Counsel of the city of Chicago. Mr.
Dickey was a Democrat, and had the entire sup-
port of that party; he had, moreover, the whole
influence of the city administration, and, to crown
all, he had the backing of the railroad cor-
porations, who were disposed to revenge them-
selves upon him for the stringent measures of
railroad legislation which the General Assembly
had enacted, which were contained in "Kurd's
Revised Statutes," and with the framing of which
he had much to do. By the aid of this powerful
combination he was defeated. Just before the
election a defamatory pamphlet was published
against him by a member of the same church to
which he belongs, and, though it was of too
slight importance to influence the result, it was
not a matter to be overlooked by Mr. Hurd, who
had always borne an irreproachable character.
The author was tried and convicted of slander
and unchristian conduct by a church court, and



received its formal censure, while Mr. Kurd made
many friends by his forbearing and Christian
conduct toward his defamer. Since that time he
has not appeared before the public as a candidate
for any office, but seems to prefer the honorable
retirement which he has so well earned, finding
sufficient occupation in his academic duties, and
employing his leisure in the pursuits of a scholar.
Mr. Hurd was one of six gentlemen selected to
fill the vacancy on the Board of County Commis-
sioners of Cook County created by the conviction
of members of that board for defrauding the
county. He has the credit of being the father of
the new drainage system of Chicago, by which
the sewerage of the city, instead of being, as now,
discharged into Lake Michigan, the source of the
water supply, is to be carried into the Illinois
River, by means of a channel across what is
known as the Chicago Divide. While he does
not claim the credit of having first suggested such
a channel (indeed it has been long talked of), he
is, without doubt, the author of the plan of
creating a municipal district of the city of Chicago
the Chicago Sanitary District and getting it
adopted. Until he suggested this plan it was
generally conceded that there was no way of
raising the necessary money to construct the
channel without an amendment to the constitu-
tion, the city of Chicago having reached the limit
of its borrowing and taxing power. It was
through Mr. Kurd's suggesting of this plan to
Mayor Harrison that the drainage and water
supply commission known as the Herring Com-
mission was raised. He was the friend and ad-
viser of that commission, and was the author of
the first bill on the subject introduced into the
Legislature in 1886, known as the Hurd Bill,
which resulted in a legislative commission to fur-
ther investigate the subject and present a bill.
The bill reported by that commission, passed in
1887, although it differed in some respects from
the original Hurd Bill, was in the main the
same, and was supported before the Legislature
by him and his friends. He conducted the pro-
ceedings for its adoption by the people of the dis-
trict, and it was adopted at the November election
in 1887 by an almost unanimous vote. His resi-

dence outside of the district, in Evanston, although
not a legal disqualification, has in the minds of
politicians ruled him out as a candidate for Trustee;
still he has not ceased to devote his energies to
its success. The plan as outlined is now in a fair
way of being accomplished, as the channel is ac-
tually being constructed upon that plan, and
when it is done it will no doubt be regarded as
one of the grandest accomplishments of the age.
It will at once give to Chicago an excellent system
of drainage, pure water and a magnificent water-
way, connecting the Great Lakes with the Mis-
sissippi and tributaries and the Gulf of Mexico.

For several years Mr. Hurd has been at the head
of the Committee of Law Reform of the Illinois
State Bar Association, and is the author of the able
reports of that committee in favor of extending the
American policy of breaking up large estates
through the operation of the laws of descent and
wills, by so amending the laws as to limit the
amount one may take by descent or will from the
same person; and in favor of a system of registra-
tion of titles which will make transfers of real es-
tate as simple, inexpensive and secure as the trans-
fers of personal property. The latter of these re-
ports has already borne substantial fruit in the
shape of a commission to consider the matter of
transfers of title, which was created by the action
of the last General Assembly. Of that commission
Mr. Hurd was chairman, and in the report of De-
cember 10, 1892, it recommended a system of regis-
tering titles substantially embodying the essential
principles of the Australian or Torrens system.
The bill recommended to the convention passed
the Senate, but was defeated in the House of
Representatives of the Illinois Legislature, lack-
ing only seven votes, however, of a majority and
becoming a law. Since the report of the commis-
sion, commissions of a like character have been
raised in a number of States, and the bill which
was written by Mr. Hurd bids fair to become the
basis of bills for the adoption of the system in the
United States.

Among the charities which receive Mr. Kurd's
attention and aid are the Children's Aid Society
of Chicago, whose work it is to find homeless
children and place them in families,







in Kanawha County, Virginia (now West
Virginia), March 6, 1832. His father, who
was a physician, was bound his son should be a
medical practitioner, but the son had an early
bent for the law, which brooked no opposition;
on this account, as his father would not furnish
necessary funds, his early years were mainly
self-educated. When sufficiently advanced, he
taught district schools, thereby earning the means
wherewith to attend the Western Reserve College,
situated at Delaware, Ohio. By reason of his
father's death during his youth, he was obliged to
drop his books, leave college, and forthwith pro-
ceed to business life in order to support his wid-
owed mother and his sister.

Adopting for a season the journalistic field,
that he might lay up money to prosecute ultimate
legal aims, at the age of twenty-one he was ap-
pointed local editor upon the Republican, pub-
lished at Mt. Vernon, Ohio, removing in 1855 to
Zanesville, in the same State, to assume editor-
ship in chief of the Free Press. Although excep-
tionally brilliant in this sphere of occupation (a
fact amply vouched for by his rapid rise therein),
he felt that his powers were not called upon to
their fullest extent, and that he would be alto-
gether unable in any field, save the law, to find a
theme whose ringing echoes should sound the
melody of his life.

Upon the death of his dearly beloved mother
in the fall of 1856, he commenced the study of
law in the offices of Miller & Beck, of Fort Madi-
son, Iowa. The following year witnessed his
admission to the practice of the local bar of his
newly acquired home in Des Moines, Iowa, where
he first opened his office. Directly his unusual
abilities became voiced, he was sought for private
secretary by Governor Ralph P. I<owe (the first

Republican to assume the gubernatorial functions
in that State), as also by his successor in office,
Governor Samuel J. Kirkwood. Fancy can read-
ily picture what flames were added to his aspira-
tions by such distinguished environment at the
inception of his young career. Prosperity, how-
ever, far from spoiling him, amplified both his
talents and his tact; wherefore, recognizing his
fitness for so exacting a function, the proper au-
thorities selected our modestly-laureled subject to
act as Official Reporter of the Supreme Court of
the State of Iowa; the well-digested results of his
long incumbency of such office being embodied
in some fourteen volumes of Iowa State Reports,
containing decisions upon all branches of law as
issues were made on appeals, and which, as the
decrees of the court of dernier resort, are prece-
dents in that State for future adjudication.

In 1863 the deserts of his exceedingly enthusi-
astic political services were formally acknowledged
in his elevation to the highly responsible position
of Chairman of the Iowa State Republican Com-
mittee. During this period his alert faculties
were so impressed by the necessities calling for
better means for effectual campaign work, that he
originated a new code of methods, thereupon
proven to be so superior in conception that they
have been very largely followed and patterned
after ever since. The unusual needs of these ' 'war
times' ' so enthused his impressionable mind that
he foresaw and spoke as a party prophet or law-
giver. None has left a brighter, more wholesome
memory in the political annals of that State, so
long his honored and honoring home.

In 1866 he was made local Division Attorney
for the Rock Island & Pacific Railway, his ser-
vices manifesting such activity and success that
in 1873 he was rewarded by an advancement to
the chief post of his department, under the title



of General Solicitor, whereupon removal of resi-
dence was made to the situs of the general offices
of that road at Chicago. Litigation increased in
bulk to such a degree, that in after years they
found it would be expedient to select two such
solicitors, at which juncture Mr. Withrow was
installed in the newly created office of General
Counsel for the entire system, having a general
supervision over a corps of able legal subordi-
nates, in person only going into the highest
courts upon questions of weightier import. These
duties he continued with conscientious energy to
administer until the time of his decease, Febru-
ary 3, 1893, since which time the Rock Island
Railway has withheld from elevating any suc-
cessor to his so peculiarly honored seat.

On the occasion set apart by the Supreme
Court of Iowa for the delivering of eulogies upon
the life-work and character of Mr. Withrow,
among numerous eloquent tributes paid to his
superlative worth on the part of professional old
friends and associates, we find in the address par
excellence, spoken by Judge Wright, the follow-
ing passage: "As a lawyer, he was industrious,
conscientious, aggressive, and of the quickest
perceptions. He had a genius for hard and ef-
fective work, all of which was done thoroughly,
slighting nothing. * * He was the very
soul of fidelity to his client. * * His
greatest power was fertility of resource. * *
Generous and considerate, alas, that he must pass
away in the prime of life!"

It was this "genius for hard and effective
work" which led to his untimely, sudden death,
through heart failure. The fall previous, in the
retirement of his summer home at Lake Geneva,
he had spent several very laborious weeks in pre-
paring for hearing an extremely important case
for his corporation, from which particular over-
work, though he respited, he never fully recov-
ered. Sturdy as an oak, which under careful
cherishing outstands the violence of myriad sea-
sons, his ardent temperament recked not of the
prudences of life; with him it was always "This
is the battle! This must end in victory!" And
so into the seething flames of a too consumingly
brilliant professional life, he had cheerfully thrown

that score of years of reserved force which, along
more conservative lines, would undoubtedly have
sufficed him to meet with heroic fortitude the
slowly gathering shadows of a quite advanced
age. But who will take upon him to assert that
he was not well contented on the whole that it
befell as indeed it did? For had not the solicita-
tions of friends often cautioned him against his so
lavish expenditure of exceptional energies? Let
us take example of this ' 'faithfulness unto death, ' '
his most fitting eulogy, and rarest, pure balm oi
solace to the bereaved.

By religious faith he was a Unitarian; always
in attendance upon the inspiring services of the
Rev. Dr. Robert Collyer while he so long and
efficiently filled the pulpit of Unity Church of this
city. Of later years a warm friendship had grown
up between him and the late Rev. Dr. David
Swing, who officiated so feelingly at the obsequies,
unspeakably regretful over the loss of his lawyer-
naturalist comrade; for they were boon mates
together in the woods and fields, mutually wor-
shiping the omnipresent God as they walked.

Like his father, Mr. Withrow was an exceed-
ingly devoted abolitionist, at a period when Vir-
ginia was not at all prolific of such citizenship.
Many a colored man was able through their
agency to breathe the free air of the North. In-
deed, so bitter grew the local sentiment engen-
dered by the temerity of so exceptional an
attitude, altogether hostile to southern tenets,
that it became expedient, and was the chiet
cause of, the family removal to Ohio. No less
zealous in this new field, and grown to great
prominence in the dominant party, what pleasure
our friend must have experienced over that im-
mortal proclamation of President Lincoln, with
its ensuing complete practical ratification! We
sincerely believe that no happier moments than
these crowned his life, unless, possibly, the con-
templation of these signal, national transactions
in later years, while seated upon his own mag-
nificent premises overlooking Chicago Lincoln
Park, of which he was a Commissioner, being
thus in full view of the superb bronze statue of
the President himself, of the fund for erecting
which he had been a trustee.



Vivacious and sociable, a semi-public life had
found him a member of many choice clubs and
societies; but with growing domesticity necessi-
tated by maturer years, added to the drains made
by constant prefessional duties upon his vitality,
he withdrew more and more into the quiet enjoy-
ments afforded by home life, especially delighting
in belles lettres, in whose rich domain he was
during the thirty-five most busily occupied years
of professional activity, never less than an ambi-
tious student and philosophic meditator. Here
the richest verbal expressions of genius became
again his living legacy, always ready at a neces-
sitous crisis to do his eloquent bidding. At the
time of his demise he was still enrolled with the
Chicago Literary Club, as for the many years
past, as well as with the famous Grolier Club of
New York City.

Mr. Withrow was married October 27, 1859,
at Hamilton, Madison County, New York, to
Miss Jane Frances Goodwin, who survives him,
together with three children born unto them, as
follows: Henry Goodwin Withrow, born April
29, 1861, whose advanced education was com-
pleted in the University of Michigan, now being
engaged in railroading; Charles LeBaron With-
row, born in June 1866, matriculated at the Cam-
bridge (Massachusetts) Law School, but now in
journalistic labors with the Associated Press in
New York City; Bonnie Withrow, born in Au-
gust, 1867, educated at Ogontz, near Philadel-
phia, now largely devoted to philanthropic work,

especially the welfare of young women whom fate
has thrown upon their own resources.

Mrs. Withrow is a daughter of the sea captain,
LeBaron Goodwin, of Old Plymouth, Massachu-
setts, and Mary, his wife (nee Leggett), of Sarato-
ga Springs, New York. Her father removed in
mature years to De Ruyter, Madison County,
New York, where he led a retired and studious
life. The said Mary Leggett was a daughter of
Samuel and Susannah Leggett (nee Smith) ; Sam-
uel being a son of Isaac and Rebecca Leggett (nee
Starbuck), a daughter of Benjamin and Hepsibah
Starbuck (nee Bunker). The said LeBaron Good-
win was a son of William and Lydia C. Goodwin,
(nee Sampson), the former a son of Nathaniel
and Lydia Goodwin (nee LeBaron) , a son of John
and Mary Goodwin (nee Roby), a son of Nathan-
iel (who died in 1754) and Elizabeth Goodwin.

Mrs. Withrow is related to eminent families,
as will be seen from the fact that through her pa-
ternal grandmother, Lydia C. Sampson, she traces
back to Nathaniel Gushing, born in 1588 (a son
of Peter Cushing, of Norfolk, England), an early
American colonist; also to Henry Pitcher, born
in 1586, who came early to Hingham, Massachu-
setts, in the ship "Delight;" also to Capt. Miles
Standish, famous of the "Mayflower" crew; also
to Henry Sampson, compeer of Standish, whose
grandson Isaac married Lydia, a granddaughter
of Captain Standish, and who became in due time
grandparents of the said Lydia C. Sampson, the
grandmother of Mrs. Withrow.

Online LibraryJohn MorleyAlbum of genealogy and biography, Cook County, Illinois : with portraits (Volume 1900) → online text (page 51 of 111)