William Henry Perrin.

History of Jefferson County, Illinois online

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zen of this county, who had known him for
years and had grown old with him, how old
he was, he replied by saying, " I may be
fifty, sir, and I may be one hundred and
fifty; it is none of your d — d btisiness." I
have heard of but one instance where he
volunteered his age. In 1872, he was
pressed by his friends for the Democratic
nomination for Presidency, and had ho been
elected, he, no doubt, would have made an
administration that would have been at once
strong, honest, wise and popular. But, like

Clay and Webster, he was too great to be

Shortly before his death, he was called
upon by Maj. Johnston, who, in the course
of the conversation asked the Judge if he
would be a candidate for re-election. The
Judge's reply was : " I want to die in the
harness," and so he did die, working up to
the very last, and thus died one of the three
great men of Illinois.

Walter B. Scates. — The eminent character
of this gentleman requires more than a pass-
ing notice; in fact a history of the State
would be imperfect without an extended
notice of him and his many public services.
j For more than fifty years, his life has been
closely interwoven with the public affairs of
the State, and we very much doubt if there is
another man of Judge Scates' years that has
rendered more public service than he.

Walter B. Scates was born January 18,
1808, at South Boston, Halifax Co., Va. He
came from Revolutionary stock, his maternal
grandfather, Walter Bennett, for whom he
j was named, being a Surgeon in the war of
independence. In April, after his birth in
January, his parents removed to Tennessee,
and after a short residence in that State re-
moved, and finally settled upon a farm near
Hopkinsville, Ky., where Walter B. grew to
manhood. The Indians had btit recently
been driven from that country, the car of civ-
ilization had scarcely entered, and the subject
of this sketch was what now would be termed
"brought up in the woods." The principal
amusement of the young men of that day was
in riding the old. gentle horse, with a "turn
of corn," some miles to the old mill, and the
associations found upon these occasions were,
perhaps, about the extent of his mixing with
the outside world until he left home. His
parents being poor, and living on what would
now be termed the " borders," he had not the



opportunities of school, yet Lis mind dis-
pelled the cloud, and looked beyond for more
educational advantages than was afforded him
at home. By continued effort, and that same
energy which has marked his whole life, he
acquired sufficient education to enable him
to read, and from this time forwai-d it may
be said that his book was his constant com-
panion. At the age of nineteen, he broke
loose from the attachments of home, and
without his family's permission or knowledge
he went to Nashville, Tenn., and apprenticed
himself to a Mr. Wilson, editor and publisher
of a newspaper. WHson had a;good library,
and young Scates had it stipulated in the
articles of apprenticeship that he should have
the use of the library-. When he first went
to Nashville, it was his intention to study
medicine, but having no money and but little
education, he was unable to make the neces-
sary arrangements, hence his engagement
with Wilson, the printer. He continued with
Wilson for about three months when his father,
ascertaining his whereabouts, went to him
and proposed that, if he would return home,
he would lind some way to send him to school.
This proposition was accepted, and Walter
went with his father back to the home he had
three months before left.

Upon his return, he attended the neighbor-
hood school for about one year, the latter part
of which he received some instructions in
Latin and Greek from a Mr. Moore. It was
the intention of himself and father that he
should study medicine, and an arrangement
was made with a Dr. Webber, of Hopkins-
ville, Ky. , for Walter B. to enter his office as
a student, but being unable to make satisfac-
tory arrangements about board, the engage-
ment with Dr. Webber was abandoned. In
182S, he entered the law office of Charles
Morehead, afterward Governor of Kentucky,
and became a student of Blackstone. In

1831, he was admitted to the bar, and in
Mari.'h of that year started on horseback to
go to St. Louis to locate. On arriving at Old
Frankfort, then the county seat of Franklin
County, 111., he found his money matters get-
ting short, only having $12 in depreciated cur-
renc) of the old Commonwealth Bank of Ken-
tucky. Being thus depleted in his finances,
he concluded he could not maintain him-
self in St. Louis, and at once settled in Old
Frankfort To this place he brought his
clothes and books in his saddlebags. His
father had obtained 100 acres of land near
Belleville, this State, which he gave him.
He went to Belleville, sold or traded the land
for some old horses, shipped them to New Or-
leans, working as a deck hand to pay the
freight. Judge Scates remained at Old
Frankfort five years, in the practice of the
law in Franklin and fourteen other counties
— a territory SO by 120 miles. During
this period, he came in contact with many of
the strongest men of the State, many of whom
afterward attained distinction in their pro-
fession; among them were Breeze. Eddy,
Gatwood, Hardin, David J. Baker (father of
the present Judge Baker, of the Appellate
Court) — in fact, the bar of that circuit was
the strongest in the State. In 1885, Judge
Scates was elected County Surveyor of Frank-
lin County. He participated in the Black
Hawk war; was at the battle of Kellogg" s
Grove. In 1835, he was also a candidate be-
fore the Legislature for the office of Judge of
the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Dis-
ti-ict, but was defeated by Alexander Grant.
In 1836, he was appointed Attorney General
for the State and moved to Vandalia, then
the capital. About this time, November 21,
1836, he was man-ied to Miss Mary Ridgway,
at Shawneetowm, 111. In about 1837, Scates
was elected Judge of the Circuit Court by
the Legislature, in place of Hardin, resigned,



and removed to Mount Vernon. He held his
first court in McLeansboro. In 1840, a law
was passed, legislating all Circuit Judges out
of office, and imposing circuit duties upon
the Judges of the Supreme Court. The Su-
preme Bench was increased by the^election
of five new Judges. Under this law, Judges
Douglas, Ford, Treat and Scates were elected.
He occupied the Supreme Bench until 1847,
when he resigned, and was elected a member
of the Constitutional Convention from the
counties of Hamilton, Jefferson and Marion.
He was Chairman of the Judiciary Committee
of that body. In the convention, he was ac-
tive, industrious and able. He advocated the
'2-mill tax, an elective judiciary, universal
suffrage, prohibition of special legislation,
prohibition of banking, limited sessions of
the Legislature and strongly opposed the poll

In 1853, Judge Lyman Trumbull, of the
Supreme Bench, having resigned his seat for
the purpose of accepting the office of United
States Senator, Judge Scates was elected to
the vacancy, and continued as such until
1857, when he resigned and removed to Chi-
cago, and entered into the practice of the law
with William K. McAllister, John N. Jewett
and Francis B. Peabodj'.

In 1858, Mr. Peabody withdrew from the
firm, leaving the firm of Scates, McAllister &
Jewett — perhaps as strong a legal combina-
tion as then existed in the State. McAllister
afterward became a member of the Supreme
Bench, and is now on the Circuit bench in
Chicago. The firm continued in a growing
and lucrative practice until August, 1862,
when Judge Scates, thinking his country
needed his services in its hour of apparent
darkness, retired from the law firm of which
he was the head, and although beyond that
age in life when such a sacrifice could be de-
manded, volunteered his services to the army,

and wag at once assigned to duty as Adjutant
on Gen. McClernand's staff, and so continued,
in camp and in field, doing brave and gallant
service for the land of his birth until he was
mustered out in January, 1806. He was
brevetted Brigadier General for bravery and
faithfulness in the line of duty. Of Gen.
Scates, it is but just to history to say that he,
in every post assigned him, was vigilant, ac-
tive, faithful, brave and zealous. He was a
true and tried soldier, prompt in the per-
formance of every duty, undaunted in the
hour of danger, and. although comparatively
an old man, full of fire, courage and energy.
Upon his return from the army, he re-entered
the practice of his profession at Chicago, as
the senior member of the firm of Scates,
Bates & Towslee; but he was not permitted
to remain long in the piu-suit of his private
business; he had proven himself so faithful a
servant, and in the same year of his return
from the army, President Johnson appointed
bim Collector of Customs at Chicago, vice
Havan, deceased, and in this capacity he
proved himself the same efficient and faithful
officer that had characterized him throughout
life. Of his integrity and ability in the ad-
ministration of his duties, his regular reports
to the department bear the strongest evidence,
each showing an increase of receipts and a
decrease of expenses. Judge Scates served
his time as Collector of the Port with honor
to himself and credit to the department, and
it mar well be said that with more men of
the Judge's ability and integrity to superin-
tend and handle the revenue there would not
be heard so often the cry of fraud and em-
bezzlement. After bis retirement from public
service, he again entered the law, and is still
so engaged, although on account of his age
(seventy-five years) and feebleness, he at pres-
ent is not attempting the practic(> extensively,
and is perhaps only engaged in some few mat-



ters in which he has a personal interest. He
recently told the writer that he expected to
visit Mount Vernon at the next session of the
.yuj)reme Coui't, in November, and there make
an argument in an important case. Judge
Scates was Chief Justice of the Supreme
Court several terms, and it is, jierhaps, as
such that he shines brightest. He has writ-
ten in many leading cases, and ably written.
His opinions are recognized to-day by the
courts and the bar as of the highest author-
ity — the peer of any, and second to none;
for clearness and analytical force, learned
and soundness of law, his opinions are re-
markable. To Judge Scates, together with
Gov. Casey, Jefferson County and Mount
Vernon to-day owe a debt of gratitude that
they will, perhaps, never be able to pay. It
was owing to their efforts, as members of
the Constitutional Convention of 1848, that
the Supreme Court was established there.
All of the towns in this division were appli-
cants, and pressed their claims with energy;
but by the skill of Judge Scates, who had
been a member of the Supreme Bench, and of
Gov. Casey and Maj. F. S. Casey, Mount
Vernon was selected, and has so far been
able to retain it. Perhaps if Judge Scates
was to be measured by the standard of great-
ness that is so prevalent to-day — so unjust,
so short-sighted — he would not bear the test.
We allude to the test of " means " —of
" money." Judge Scates lived in a day
when l)rains, not money-bags, constituted
worth. He engaged in a few business vent-
ures, but they were not successful, and to-
day he IS a poor man in money, but rich in
mental results, which will remain- an honor-
able monument to him long after a world of
money has passed away. In fact, no higher
compliment can be paid the public servant
who has spent a lifetime in office than to
truthfully say, " He closed his career a poor

man. " It is a sure record of honesty, and it
might be added that, in the present day, it is
a compliment too I'arely deserved.

David J. Baker was Associate Justice of
the Supreme Court, appointed by Gov. Cul-
lum to the vacancy occasioned by the death
of Judge Breeze.

Judge Baker was born in Kaskaskia, on
the 20th of November, 1834, and was the
third son of the late Judge D. J. Baker, of
Alton. He graduated at Shurtleflf College in
1854, carrying off the prize of the Latin ora-
tion. He read law with his father, and was
admitted in 1856. In the same year, he cast
his first vote, for John C. Fremont for Pres-
ident, and from that day to the present there
has been no perceptible change in his poli-
tics. Yet it is safe to say that the bummers
and corruptionists that have so neariy wrecked
the Eepublican party find no sympath} in
Judge Baker. In 1864, he was elected Mayor
of Cairo, and in 1869 was elected Judge of
the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit.

In July, 1864, h* was mai-riedtoMiss Eliz-
abeth White, daughter of John C. White, of
Cairo. He was re-elected Judge in 187-3; re-
signed, to accept the appointment of Judge of
the Supreme Court, in 1878; was again re-
elected to the Circuit Bench in 1879, and
was, by the Supreme Court, assigned to Ap-
pellate Com't duty — which position he now

As a Judge, he is logical, discriminating and
just; in private life, he is social, kind and

Judge John H. Mulkey, who now occupies
the Supreme Bench from this division, is a
man who has long been known to the bar of
Southern Illinois.

He was born about 1823, in Kentucky, and
with his father's family came to Illinois and
settled in Franklin County. The family,
with the exception of the Judge, were farm-



ers. He soon discovered that he was not
specially adapted to farm life. He obtained
a fair education, and by persistent reading
soon stored his mind with a fand of general

At twenty- five years of age, he entered the
commercial world, and opened a cross-roads
store in Franklin County, but he did not
continue long in this business. The " dogs
of war " were beginning to growl, and the
military spirit was pervading the country
with irresistible force, and Judge Mulkey
did not escape its attack. He volunteered as
a private of Company E, Second Illinois
Regiment, and took up the line of march for
the land of the " Montezumas." He was
afterward promoted to Second Lieutenant of
his company. Upon his return from war,
he taught school and began the study of the
law, reading, as some of his friends have
said, in " the brash." He afterward read
some at Benton, Franklin County, after which
he tried farming, but was not a success, and
again became a merchant for a short time.
His career in this direction was brought to
a sudden close, however, by an unfortunate
adventure; he invested largely in lumber
(hoop poles), loaded them on a flat-boat and
started for the market, but danger was ahead
of him. His craft struck a snag, and down
into the waters of the Mississif)pi wont bciat,
hoop poles, and about all of the Judge's earth-
ly effects, and left him in a seriously damaged
condition; in fact, he was a " busted mer-
chant." He then, with ax and hoe, under-
took to subdue the wild forest and make him
a home; but again he failed.

In 1857, he removed to Perry County, and
was admitted to the bar. It was not long un
til he and his friends discovered that he at
last had drifted to his element. He soon at-
tained a high rank in his profession — " rode
the «ircuit," as was the custom in those days.

It is, perhaps, not out of place to say that his
father, a prominent minister in the Christian
Church, long cherished the hope that his son
should follow his footsteps and likewise enter
the ministry, and made some effort to prepare
the Judge for clerical duties. And no doubt
the son made strong effort to comply with his
father's wishes in this particular, and while
he was noted for his early and exemplary
piety, this enterprise was no more successful
than his farming and merchandising. He was
plain, unassuming and fun-loving in his
young manhood, and yet he must have been
a close, hard-working student in order to
carve out the bright and honorable career that
lay before him. In 186l), he located at Cairo,
and formed a partnership with the present
Judge D. J. Baker, and from this time we
may date his rapid rise to the head of the bar
in Southern Illinois.

April 2, 1864, he was commissioned Circuit
Judge of the Third Circuit; but previous to
this he was, for opinion's sake, made one of
the victims of arbitrary arrest, and at the
suggestion of the authorities, for a time took
up his residence at the old capitol in Wash-
ington — a hotel conducted exclusively by the
Government — and while the accommodations
were not altogether of a desirable nature, yet
they were regular, and all the bills paid by
the Government. On June 2, 1879, he was
elected to the Supreme Bench, vice Baker,
and is at present tilling the high position.

Judge Mulkey owes nothing to fortunate
circumstances or sui'roundings. He has not
been favored with the aid of strong and in-
fluential friends; but alone, and by his own
inherent strength of mental jjower, he has
achieved, apparently without effort, the prize
for which so many ambitious men have toiled
and struggled.

Appellate Court. — The Constitution of
1870 provided for the creation of Appellate



Courts, after the year 1874, <jf uniform or-
ganization and jurisdiction in districts cre-
ated for that purpose, to which such appeals
and writs of error as the General Assembly
may provide may be prosecuted from Circuit
and other coui'ts, and from which appeals
and wi'its of error may lie to the Supreme
Court in all criminal cases and oases in which
a franchise or freehold or validity of a statute
is involved, and in such other cases as may be
provided by law. Such Appellate Courts to be
held by such number of Judges of the Circuit
Coui'ts, and at such times and places and in
such manner as might be provided by law;
but no Judge shall sit in review upon cases
decided by him, nor shall said Judges receive
any additional compensation for such serv-
ices. Under this provision of the constitu-
tion, the Legislatiu-e, in 1877, created four
Appellate Courts in the State; the first to
consist of Cook County, the second to include
all of the counties of the Northern Grand
Division of the Supreme Court except Cook,
the third to include all of the Central Grand
Division, and the f oui'th to include all of the
Southern Grand Division. The Judges of
these Appellate Courts to be assigned by the
Supreme Court from the Circuit Courts of
the State, and each court to consist of three
Judges thus assigned. Two terms each are
held every year.

On the organization of the court in this,
the Fourth District, Judges Tazewell B. Tan-
ner, James C. Allen and George W. Wall
were assigned by the Supreme Court to Ap-
pellate Coui't duty. Judge Tanner became
the first Presiding Justice of the coui-t, and
R. A. D. Wilbanks was its first Clerk, by vir-
tue of his offices as Clerk of the Supreme

In June, 1879, Judges Wall, David J.
Baker and Thomas S. Casey were assigned to
the Appellate Court, and now constitute that

court. While this branch of the new judicial
machinery of the State has only been in prac-
tical operation since 1877, yet it is in good
favor by the bar of the State. Its efifect has
been to greatly relieve the Supreme Court in
the then rapidly accumulating business. It
insures more promptness and greater dispatch
in the law than could have possibly been ob-
tained without it or some other relief meas-
ure. T

Judge Tazewell B. Tanner. — Perhaps no
member of the bar of this county became so
thoroughly identified with every material in-
terest as did the subject of this sketch.

He was born in Henry County, Va., :ind
died at his residence in this place on the 25th
day of March, 1880. He came to this coun-
ty in IS-tG or 1847, and took charge of the
public schools, after which he became con-
nected with the Jeffersonian, a Democratic
newspaper then published here. In 1848 or
1849, he was taken with the gold fever, and
crossed the plains in search of wealth. He
met with some success, retm-ned in 1850 or
1851, was elected Clerk of Circuit Court,
served two years and resigned. He had taught
school in Belleville before he came here, and
while there read law with Gov. Matteson.
While Clerk of the Circuit Court, he contin-
ued the study, and upon his resignation he
was admitted to the bar, and at once entered
upon the practice with the now Judge Thomas
S. Casey. In 1854, he was elected to the
Legislature, and while there secured an ap-
propriation for the building, at this place,
of the Supreme Court House, and was made
one of the Commissioners to superintend its
construction. In 1862, he was elected a
member of the Constitutional Convention.
He early attained a high standing in the pro-
fession as a lawyer, and while " riding the
circuits" always had his share of the busi-
ness. In 1867, he was a candidate for Judge



of this circuit, but was defeated by the Hon.
James M. Pollock. In 1873, he was again a
candidate, and was elected over Judge Pol-
lock and Col, John M Crebbs, of White
County. In 1877, upon the organization of
the Appellate Court, he was, by the Supreme
Court, assigned to the Appellate Bench, and
became its first presiding officer. In June,
1879, he was, for a time, a candidate for
Judge of the Supreme Court, but withdrew
before the election. Upon his retirement
from the bench, he again engaged in the ac-
tive practice, and so continued until stricken
down by the disease which terminated his
life. It is not our purpose to give an extend-
ed sketch of Judge Tanner in this chapter —
his full biographical sketch will be found
elsewhere — biit a history of the bar would
not be complete without something of him.
He was a kind, social gentleman, full of in-
teresting anecdotes, and always fond of relat-
ing them. There are many good stories told
of him, one of which the writer hereof well re-
members: He was defending a man charged
with shooting at some negroes. The prc>se-
cuting witness wiis a colored gentleman known
here as George orCapt. Scott. The Captain
had sworn very positively to the shooting, and
had made a rather strong case against the
Judge's client ; but the cross-examination
came, and Tanner took the Captain in hand
txD break the force of his evidence, if possi-
ble. He commenced by asking him if he
was in the house at the time the shooting

Scott answered, "No."

" Were you out doors?" asked Tanner.

" No, sah."

"Were you under the bed'?"

"No, sah,"

" Were you in the loft? "

" No. sah."

" Were vou under the floor?"

" No, sah."

" Were you in the chimney X"

"No, sah."

Tanner, now thinking he had him fast:

" Well, sir, if you were not in the house,
out doors, under the bed, in the loft, under
the floor nor in the chimney, where were
you, sir? Now, answer me that, sir; " and
he di'ew down his eyebrows and closed his
eyes, as was his custom when he thought he
had his man fast, and paused for the answer.

The answer came with promptness: "I
was a-standing in the door, sah; that's whar
I was, sah."

It is needless to say that the examination
proceeded no further.

Judge Tanner was a profoimd lawyer ;
well read in all the books. In practice, as
well as ou the bench, he went to the bottom
of every case presented. Ho brought to his
aid an intelligent industry, that made him a
better lawyer at the end of each year than he
was at the beginning. To young men just
enteriug the profession, he was most kind: he
always had words of encouragement for them.
It was the good fortune of the writer to study
law with the Judge, and no man was ever
kinder to a student; he always had a good
word. To his client he was honest and just.
If the client did not have a case, the Judge
did not hesitate to tell him so; and fre-
quently has he lost clients because he did
not advise success; but his principle and
theory was that if the client did not have a
case, to frankly tell him so.

On the bench he was most painstaking.
He sifted every case and brought to the
front the equities. Of unimpeachable integ-
rity, a purer man never sat in judgment.

"A judge — a man so learned
So full of equity, so noble, so notable;
In the process of life so innocent;
In the management of his office so incorrupt;



Online LibraryWilliam Henry PerrinHistory of Jefferson County, Illinois → online text (page 20 of 76)