William Frederick Howat.

A standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) online

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ments with soils, plants and animals both at school and at home. Every
effort is made to connect the instruction with the home life of the pupil.
As an aid to the accomplishment of this aim the teachers are urged to
make occasional excursions to neighboring farms to see improved live
stock, fruits, grains and take notes on methods of cropping and cultivat-
ing. All these things tend to create an, interest in farm life, and en-
courage parents to make the farm more attractive to the children.

" As a result of the excellent work of Prof. Geo. L. Roberts of Purdue
University in the Lake County Teachers' Institute last year, many of our
school rooms are now provided with illustrative material for conducting
experiments in agriculture. Our school libraries are being supplied with
a few books on the different divisions of agriculture and bulletins from
Purdue experiment station."

Wide Usefulness of Consolidated Schools

The passing of the ''little red schoolhouse" and the general intro-
duction of the consolidated school, in place of the scattered and loosely-
jointed district schools, have been of great benefit to the rural communi-
ties. It has meant the abandonment of many small, inefficient schools
and the maintenance of a few strong, well-graded institutions.

Lake County has made a good start in this important work, and
twenty consolidated schools, maintaining a nine months' term, are now
in successful operation. Every township except Eagle Creek has estab-
lished such schools. The general movement toward the consolidation of
the schools has so enabled the trustees and the teachers to concentrate
their efforts that the other reforms along the lines of exterior and interior
improvements, and the introduction of special studies which require spe-
cial equipment and special teachers — such as agriculture, home economics,
manual training and music — have been materially promoted. In fact,
without the consolidated schools, many of the acquired advantages would
have been unattainable. ''These centrally located countiy life schools,
too, form convenient social centers for communities ; local interests and
activities affiliate with the schools, so that public use is frequently made



of their commodious class rooms or auditoriums. Encouragement is
given to the growth of literary and debating societies, social and agri-
cultural clubs, reading circles, athletic and other competitions among
pupils, and entertainment of various kinds.

"In thetraining was not a requisite for the minor
judicial positions, the associates of the circuit judge being often farmers,
teachers and physicians — but always men of good standing and pro-
nounced prominence. On the other hand, several of the pioneers of
Lake County, who had enjoyed a legal education and training in the
East, did not practice their profession in the new country, but attained
standing in their communities as farmers, merchants and utility citizens.
The legal field was at first too limited; an able, practical man found
too many things which had to be done at once for him to be content to
"wait for cases," or even to work for the small amount of legitimate legal
business which would have fallen to him.

Judge Willlvm Clark

In October, 1837, was held at Lake Court House, in the Robinson log
building, the first term of the Circuit Court for Lake County, Judge
Samuel C. Sample presiding and Judge AVilliam Clark acting as his
associate. Judge Clark had no legal training, but was one of the pro-
prietors of Crown Point, and a stout, active, enterprising and worthy

Judge Hervey Ball

At that time there was only one lawyer by profession in the county,
but after coming AVest he does not appear at first to have made any effort
to secure a practice. Reference is, of course, made to Hervey Ball, who,
with his family, established himself on the northwestern shore of Red
Cedar Lake a few weeks after the opening of this first term of the Cir-
cuit Court.

At that time Judge Ball was forty-three years of age, had practiced
his profession for fourteen years in Georgia, and also came to Lake
County wdth the prestige of the military^ rank of colonel. ' ' Through the
remainder of his life," says his son, "he gave much attention to farm-
ing, to keeping honey bees and raising some choice domestic animals.
As a result of his cavalry service in Georgia he always had some fine
horses in his possession. For some time he held the offices of county sur-


veyor and probate judge, and in his later years was justice of the peace.
He was clerk of the Cedar Lake Baptist Church, superintendent of the
Sabbath School at the lake for many years, clerk and moderator of the
Northern Indiana Baptist Association and a trustee of Franklin College.
In his college and his professional life he had mingled to quite a large
extent with the gay, the busy and the cultivated, was familiar with lead-
ing men of Georgia, and knew what life was among the wealthy planters
of that day. The result of his New England training and of his South-
ern professional life was of large benefit to his children and the young
people connected with them; and his home became and continued to be
for several years a religious, an educational, a literary and a social center.
Ministers of different denominations found there a welcome, and the
home M-as always full of healthful life. The Puritanic and the true
Western spirit blended well. The family library was quite large for
pioneer days, and periodicals, agricultural and political, literary and
religious, found their ^vay to the home in abundance, so that the seven
children and their classmates and visitors all were readers. Judge Her-
vey Ball lived thirty years in Lake County, building up good institutions,
and died on his farm, October 13, 1868."

Doctor and Judge H. D. Palmer

In 1838 Dr. H. D. Palmer, who resided on his farm two miles west of
the present Town of Merrillville, was elected associate judge to serve
with Judge Clark. The new occupant of the bench has a double distinc-
tion, since he was the first graduate or regular physician to reside in
Lake County. In 1834 he had completed a full course at a medical col-
lege in Fairfield, New York, and in 1836 located on his claim near what
was then Wiggins Point. With his farming, and practice, and the judge-
ship, which he held for about seventeen years, he was always busy and
became one of the most prominent men in the county. His services on
the bench were more than ordinarily able. As stated, generally the asso-
ciate judges of those days transacted very little court business, their
judgment usually being consulted by the presiding judge on such local
and personal matters as the standing of litigants, their characteristics
and peculiarities, and they were sometimes delegated to settle disputes
between citizens out of court. But Doctor Palmer was a man of breadth
and such good judgment, coupled with quick comprehension of legal mat-
ters, that it is said that twice in his term of service, in the absence of the
presiding judge, he conducted the entire business of the Circuit Court.

As a country physician, Doctor Palmer's practice became quite exten-
sive, his rides extending from Dyer to Hobart and Lake Station, espe-



cially during: the height of his professioiuil activity, from 1850 to 1860.
He also conducted his farm with success, and in connection with Solon
Robinson brought the first Berkshire pigs to Crown Point. In 1841
the Doctor erected the first frame house in the central part of the county.
His second wife was Miss Catherine Underwood, a sister of John Under-
wood, who possessed such decided poetic talents.

First Practicing Lawyer

The first lawyer to practice his profession in Lake eouiity was xVlex-
ander McDonald, who appears first to have settled near the mill-site of
what afterward became Lowell, but very soon, in 1839, opened an office
at Lake Court House ; his judgment undoubtedly was that the place
backed by Solon Robinson and Judge Clark was destined to l)e the county
seat and the best location for the practice of the law. ]\Ir. McDonald
first appears as an acknowledged leader in county affairs in March,
1839. when the Squatters' Union named him as one of the three official
bidders who were appointed to guard the interests of the bona fide set-
tlers at the land sale on the 19t]i of that month at Laporte. As every-
thing passed off quietly and to their satisfaction, it is evident that the
lawyer's services were as they should l)e. T^ntil his death at Crown
Point in 1866, Mr. ^McDonald was an earnest and lionorable lawyer.
For nearly twelve years he served the county as a representative in the
State Assembly— in 1844-48, 1850-55 and 1857-59.

Other Pioneer ''Judges''

Soon after he settled on his Eagle Creek claim, in 1838, Samuel
Turner was elected justice of the peace, and in 1842 associate judge of
the Circuit Court.

As early as the summer of 1834, William B. Crooks, with Samuel
Miller, made a timber and mill claim on Deep River, in what would
now be the southern part of Hobart Township, and probably came to
live in that locality not long afterward. At all events he was elected
an associate judge in 1837, although he is not recorded as being present
at the first term of court in October.

Welcome to the Marria(;e Feast

Robert Wilkinson, who was elected first judge of the Probate Court,
at about that time, was one of the pioneer citizens to take up claims in
Lake County. The Claim Register records his former residence as Attiea


Spring, and notes two of liis claims — the first made in November, 1834,
on Deep River, and the second, in March, 1835, on West Creek. He
divided with the justices of the peace the pleasures and the profits ( ?)
of tying the knots which seemed to bind the young men and women of
those days more securely than the couples of todaj'. A camp meeting
was held on the east side of Cedar Lake, on Cedar Point bluff, in the
summer of 1843. Then and there, Wellington A. Clark met Mary
Hackky; he met her several times thereafter, and their wedding was
fixed for December 7, 1843. Judge Wilkinson came up from his West
Creek farm, along the woodland belt, to conduct the ceremony. He
took his rifle Avitli him, and shot a fine red deer before he reached the
Hackley home. Besides the family of five, and the bridegroom and the
judge, there were present three guests within the cabin walls to partake
of the roast deer and other good things provided. In those times of big
hearts, the judge would have been ashamed to weigh his marriage fee
against the big fat deer Avhich he provided for the feast.

Martin Wood and His Good AYorks

Martin Wood was one of the early lawyers to settle at Crown Point,
as an aspirant for the business which always concentrates with more
or less volume at the county seat. For many years before the develop-
ment of the northern part of the county, in fact, the cream of the legal
business came to those who had their offices at Crown Point. Mr. Wood
located there in 1848, being then thirty-three years of age. First he
taught school, then practiced law and then married Susan G. Taylor,
daughter of the Pleasant Grove minister.

]\Iartin Wood was a compact man, in both body and mind; earnest,
forceful and brusque, but so genuinely kind that he was very popular.
He acquired a large law practice, served in the Indiana Assembly in
1871-73, and made himself felt for the general good in many ways out-
side the law and public life.

Few have lived in the county who have done so much for horticulture
and forestry as Mr. Wood. He secured a farm of fifty-five acres near
Crown Point, ten acres of which he enclosed with such varieties of trees
as arbor vitse, red cedar, Norway spruce, Scotch pine, silver spruce, Aus-
trian pine, balsam fir and juniper. He also set out orchards of apple,
pear, quince and peach trees, and did much to encourage the raising
of small fruits and the ornamentation of country homes. He was a
useful, able, good man and citizen, and was sincerely mourned by many
at his death on the 5th of September, 1892.


Timothy Cleveland

Timothy Cleveland, son of Epliraim, the Pleasant Grove pioneer of
1837, was eight years old when the family settled in the county. He
settled at the county seat as a lawyer in 1863, dabbled in journalism,
and also cultivated land. Mr. Cleveland was also honored for his Chris-
tion work, and all the members of his family have honored his good
name. Miss Helen Cleveland was for several j^ears a prominent teacher,
and several of his sons have become well known in the newspaper field
of the county.

Hon, Thaddeus S. Fanciter

Hon. Thaddeus S. Fancher is a name which the members of the bar
recognize with pride. In 1868, after being partially educated in Ohio,
he came to Crown Point, read law with Major Griffin and taught school.
He commenced practice after graduating from the law department
ol the Michigan State University, in 1871. Although elected county
superintendent of schools in 1873, he served in that office but a short
time, resigning to resume his practice. He was then prosecuting attor-
ney of the county for four years, and the republicans kept him in the
State Legislature from 1879 to 1883. During that period he served on
the Committee of Revision of the State Statutes. Since 1881 he has
been engaged in practice and in the draining and dealing of marsh

A Founder op the Drainage System

Mr. Fancher was instrumental in the passage of the law of 1881,
which authorized the construction of drainage ditches in the Calumet
and Kankakee regions. In 1885 he constructed what is known as the
Singleton ditch in the Kankakeee marsh, which runs for seventeen miles
through the southern part of the county. The drainage of the Calumet
marshes, which are still devoted to truck gardening and grain raising.
is also largely due to his efforts, and has been of much general benefit
find much personal gain. In a word, Mr. Fancher is a force in several
large fields outside the law and legislation.

Elihu Griffin

The Griffins, father and son, are worthy of more than passing notice ;
for they Avere both lawyers and leaders in public affairs. Elihu Griffin


came to Crown Point as a lawyer, probably in the early '50s. In 1859-61
he served as a representative in the Indiana Assembly and when the
Civil war commenced was one of the leading members of his profession
in the county. He at once entered the Union army and was appointed
paymaster with the rank of major. After the war he returned to Crown
Point and became identified with railroad work, holding a responsible
position connected with the location of the Vincennes, Danville & Chi-
cago line.

Charles F. Griffin, Secretary of State

Charles F. Griffin, the son, became even more prominent than the
father. He was brought up in Crown Point, adopted the legal profes-
sion and successfully practiced his profession there until he commenced
his term as secretary of state in 1887. At its expiration in 1891 he
located at Hammond, the metropolis of the Calumet region. There he
entered a career of continuous advancement in professional and lousiness
life. He was also very prominent in church work and in connection with
the Sons of Veterans. But his strong ambitions and the stress of his
life overtaxed his physical strength and his death occurred at Hammond,
December 20, 1902, at the age of forty-six.

Hon. J. W. YoucHE

Another talented lawyer, who died comparatively young, was Hon.
J. W. Youche, who has already been mentioned in connection with the
fine collection of antiquities now installed at the Public Library of
Hammond. He was of Saxon birth and when an infant of two years
was brought to Ohio by his parents, earnest and firm Lutherans. The
young man w-as educated at the Indiana State University ; came to Crown
Point as a teacher, and in 1870 served as principal of its public school.
When twenty-two, he entered the university as a law student and in
1872 graduated from that institution. On January 1, 1873, soon after
returning to Crow^n Point to practice, he married Miss Eunice Higgins,
the only child of Dr. John Higgins; "and in that home, which became
the Higgins- Youche mansion, one of the costly and spacious and beau-
tiful residences of Crown Point, he resided for twenty-eight years. He
was a model son-in-law ; a good citizen ; an exemplary and devoted hus-
band and father; a man of refined feelings and of cultivated tastes.
He was scholarly in different lines. As a talented young lawyer he had
risen rapidly in his profession. He was a state senator, was vice presi-
dent of the Crown Point National Bank, was a trustee of the State Uni-


versity and was for many years, as said one of the best and most culti-
vated lawyers of the county, 'easily the leader at the bar of this county
and a leader in Northwestern Indiana.' " He died January 2, 1901,
nearly fifty-three years of age.

The Late J. Frank Meeker

J. Frank Meeker, who held the office of county attorney from Febru-
ary, 1901, until his death in June, 1914, was one of the leading lawyers
of the younger generation. He was born in Center Township, five miles
east of Crown Point, in 1868, and was educated at the county seat. Mr.
Meeker studied law with Congressman Peterson, and in 1892 graduated
from the law school of the Michigan University. With the exception of
a year spent in Hammond, his practice was at Crown Point, where for
two years he was in partnership with Judge McMahan. Previous to his
long and creditable service as county attorney, Mv. iMeeker was, for four
years, deputy prosecuting attorney. Besides ably conducting his prac-
tice, he served as president of the board of education and at the time of
his death was i)resident of the People's State Bank.

Hox. Johannes

Ex-Judge Johannes Kopelke. who was appointed a member of the
Superior l)ench in March, 1911, and was succeeded by Hon. Charles E.
Greenwald in 1914, has been a resident of Crown Point for thirty-eight
years. As a youth lie was thoroughly educated in the Royal Gymnasium
of his native Germany before coming to America. Soon after graduating
from the law department of the University of ^lichigan, in 1876, he
located at Crown Point, and for a time was associated in practice with
Hon. Thaddeus S. Fancher. From 1879 he was an independent practi-
tioner. He took an active part in all the civic affars of the town and the
county, and in 1884 was chosen a presidential elector on the Cleveland-
Hendricks ticket. In the early '90s he served in the State Senate, making
a fine record on the Judiciary Committee. Throughout his practice he
showed such solid traits and good judgment that his elevation to the
bench was taken almost as a matter of course.

Present-Day Judiciary

Hon. J. H. Gillett, judge of the Supreme Court of the State of
Indiana, is the most prominent member of the profession Avho has been
elevated to the bench.


Judicially, Lake and Porter counties form the Thirty-first Circuit,
the presiding judge for the former being Hon. Willis C. McMahan, of
Crown Point. Since 1895 there have been two Superior courts at
Hammond and one at Crown Point and Hammond. Hon. Virgil S.
Reiter presides at Room 1, Hammond, and Hon. Lawrence C. Becker at
Room 2, while Hon. Charles E. Greenwald is the presiding judge at
Room 3, Crown Point. Judge Greenwald was elected to succeed Hon.
Johannes Kopelke in November, 1914.

Hon. John H. Gillett

Hon. John H. Gillett, ex-judge of the State Supreme Court of In-
diana, is one of the strong men of the Hammond and the Lake County
bar. He is a native of Medina, N. Y., born September 18, I860; was
educated in the public schools of Valparaiso, and at his admission to the
Indiana bar in 1881 commenced practice at Hammond. In 1886 he
served as assistant attorney-general and was judge of the Circuit Court
from 1892 to 1902. He was elevated to the bench of the State Supreme
Court, by appointment, in 1892, and in November of that year was
elected to a six-years' term. Judge Gillett was honored with the chief
justiceship from 1903 to 1908, and since the latter year has been engaged
in a large and lucrative practice at Hammond. As an author he is well
known for his works on "Criminal Law" (1888 and 1895) and "Indirect
and Collateral Evidence" (1897).

Hon. Willis C. McMahan

Judge Willis C. McMahan, of the Circuit Court, is a native of Car-
roll County, Indiana, born August 2, 1858. He graduated from the
Delphi High School and in his early manhood was a teacher. From
1881 to 1882 he studied law at the University of Michigan, continued
his studies with a Logansport firm, and in 1883 was admitted to the
bar at Delphi. He began practice at Crown Point in April, 1884, and
from 1886 to 1901 acted as its town attorney; served as prosecuting
attorney of the county in 1890-94, and as county attorney from 1900
until Governor Durbin appointed him judge of the Thirty-first Judicial
Circuit in 1902. Judge McMahan was elected to the bench in Novem-
ber of that year and reelected in 1908 and 1914.

Hon. Virgil S. Reiter

Judge Reiter was very active and prominent in his profession
before his appointment to the bench of the Superior Court in August,


1907, In 1908 he "was elected for the six-year term. He is a Hoosier
by birth and commenced practice at Rochester, Indiana, where he also
served as city attorney. In August, 1893, soon after the expiration of
his term of office, he located at Hammond and at once took high rank
both as a lawyer and a republican leader. From 1898 to 1902 he was
chairman of the Lake County Republican Central Committee, having
been appointed United States commissioner in 1900. He served as city
attorney of Hammond from 1902 to 1904. On the first of October, of
the latter year. Judge Reiter becante associated with L. L. Bomberger
under the firm name of Reiter & Bomberger, Mr. Bomberger having
previously been in partnership with the late Charles F. Griffin from
1900 until the death of the latter in 1902.

Hon. L.uvrence Becker

Judge Lawrence Becker is another native German who has made his
legal and judicial mark in Lake County. When he was but ten years
of- age his parents brought him from AVestphalia, with other memliers
of the family, and for four years they resided at Tolleston. They then
moved to Montana, but as a young man of twenty-three Lawrence re-
turned to Indiana and completed his legal education at the Valparaiso
University, from which he graduated in 1896. He located at Hammond,
was city attorney from 1898 to 1902, and mayor from May, 1904, until
March. 1911. After being elected to the head of the municipal govern-
ment for three times, he resigned the mayoralty at the latter date to
accept the appointment of judge of the Superior Court of Lake County,
which had been tendered to him by Governor Marshall. He has since
served with credit on that bench, and for more than a decade has been
a member of the Hammond Public Lilu-ary Board, of which institution
he is one of the founders.

Hon. Charles E. Greexw"ald

Before his election to the bench of the Superior Court in November,
1914, Judge Greenwald was a leader of the Lake County bar, resident at
Whiting for about sixteen years. He is a native of the City of Cleve-
land and has but just entered his thirty-ninth year. A graduate of the
Universit}^ of Michigan law department in 1895, three years later he
located at Whiting, and during the following decade made a good record
in the office of the prosecuting attorney of the county, of which he was
head for two terms. His career, both as a private and a public practi-
tioner, earned him the judicial election of 1914.


James A. Patterson

The present prosecuting attorney of the county, James A. Patterson,,
is a member of the Indiana Harbor bar, is a graduate of the Chicago Law
School and located at the point named in 1902.

Father of the Superior Courthouse

Probably no single individual should have more credit for the build-
ing of the Superior courthouse than James M. Bradford, an able busi-
ness man of Hammond, who has held important otSces both in the serv-
ice of the city and county. He was one of the founders of the water-

Online LibraryWilliam Frederick HowatA standard history of Lake County, Indiana, and the Calumet region (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 44)