Allamakee co. IAGenWeb

Chapter 14

Past & Present of Allamakee County
, 1913



In the preparation of a history of the county it is necessary to give a prominent place to those who naturally took a large share in the labors, as well as the honors, of formulating and interpreting the laws by which it is governed. The prosperity and well-being of a community, as well as of a state or nation, depend largely upon the wisdom and integrity of those who are commissioned by its people to establish the character of its government, and these are, naturally, drawn largely from the legal fraternity. To quote another writer, “It may be truly said of the legal fraternity that members of the bar have been more prominent actors in public affairs than any other class of the American people, the result of causes which need no explanation. The ability and training which qualify one to practice law is supposed to also qualify for other important callings in life; especially so in regard to legislative duties and the making of laws.”

In enumerating the practitioners at the bar of Allamakee county we must go back to the time when this was for all judicial purposes a part of Clayton county. In a previous chapter will be found a sketch of the early courts within or present territory, but it will be well to take a glance at the “itinerant” lawyers who practiced at that time and some of whom later became judicial timber.

The first term of the District court “for the county of Clayton, in the territory of Wisconsin,” was held at Prairie La Porte (now Guttenberg) the first Monday in May, 1838, Hon. Charles Dunn, District judge, presiding. Frederick Andros was appointed clerk. Allamakee county was then included in Clayton county and the jurisdiction of the court, and its first court, in one sense, was held while yet a part of Wisconsin. Before the next term of court, Iowa Territory was formed and the first term of the Iowa court for Clayton, including this county, was held September, 1838, Hon. T. S. Wilson, presiding judge. For five years there were no resident lawyers in the county, itinerant attorneys attending the courts and attending to what business there was. Among these was James Grant, who was afterward appointed judge and held the office from 1847 to 1852, and who heard cases in Allamakee county, whose boundaries were established by the General Assembly of 1846-7, at the “Old Mission” on the Yellow river, in 1849-1851. Mr. Murdock was the first resident lawyer of Clayton county, locating on a farm near Garnavillo in August, 1843, coming with dr. Frederick Andros, mentioned above, as guide. Reuben Noble located at Garnavillo the same year, and Elias H. Williams in 1846, all of whom became itinerant lawyers and practiced law in Allamakee and other counties. They were able men, and each of them was afterward elected to the office f district judge and they each filled the position with signal ability. Judge Williams also was a supreme judge for a short time. To these earliest itinerants were added Elijah Odell, John T, Stoneman and J. O. Crosby, of Clayton county, able men, who continued this method of law practice till along in the later ‘60s, making their trips by stage, livery, or private conveyance. Many stories are told of their experiences, for one spring term of court four or five started from McGregor for Waukon. Arriving at the Yellow river at Volney they found it overflowed, a “raging flood” which no team could ford and the bridge gone. Liberal pay induced a resident to risk his life and theirs, and take them over the river one at a time in an old boat. One refused to go; they urged him to “come on!” but appeals were in vain, he answered, “No! Good men are scarce,” and returned to McGregor while a fresh team brought the others to Waukon, and it was years before the retreating one heard the last of “No! Good men are scarce.”

Coming down to the time of the establishment of the first county seat of this county, at Columbus, and the holding of regular terms of District court, thereafter within our borders, it is found that the following named have at one time or another been admitted to the bar in this county. The list is probably not complete, but is an nearly so as the present data will supply, viz:

Lansing – John W. Remine, John J. Shaw, Sewell Goodridge, Cyrus Watts, Geo. W. Camp, S. H. Kinne, L. E. Fellows, M. Healy, H. F. Fellows, Dick Haney, W. W. Ranney, M. V. Burdick, Geo. W. Kiesel, E. M. Woodward, James McAnaney, A. J. O’Keefe, W. W. Peasley, Thos. J. Vinje, J. H. Trewin, J. P. Conway, Frank L. May. Three last named are still located in Lansing.

Waukon – John T. Clark, L. O. Hatch, M. M. Webster, L. G. Calkins, A. B. Goodwin, r. Wilbur, F. M. Clark, C. T. Granger, F. M. Goodykoontz, A. E. Goodykoontz, G. B. Edmonds, Henry Dayton, John F. Dayton, Dell J. Clark, Geo. M. Darling, J. W. Pennington, C. S. Stilwell, H. H. Stilwell, M. B. Hendrick, J. H. Boomer, A. M. May, D. W. Reed, A. G. Stewart, J. B. B. Baker, Rohert, M. B. Smith, H. L. Dayton, Douglass Deremore, W. S. Hart, C. C. Banfill, D. J. Murphy, H. E. Taylor, J. E. O’Brien, Burt Hendrick, Calvin S. Stilwell, W. W. Bulman, James Byrnes, C. M. Stone, B. W. Ratcliffe.

Of these, the following are still in practice here: Henry Dayton, John F. Dayton, H. L. Dayton, C. S., H. H. and Calvin S. Stilwell, W. S. Hart, D. J. Murphy, H. E. Taylor, J. E. O’Brien, Burt Hendrick, and C. M. Stone.

Postville – F. S. burling, H. A. Stowe, T. C. Ransom, S. S. Powers, T. F. Johnson, W. C. McNeil, Wm. Shepherd, and W. H. Burling. The Burlings and Wm. Shepherd are the only ones now located here.

Harper’s Ferry – P. V. Coopernoll.

New Albin – O. H. Maryatt.

Volney – E. W. Robey.

Rossville – Geo. R. Miller, H. W. Holman.

Of the foregoing it would be impossible to give here even a brief sketch of each. Indeed, it is surprising how little biographical material can be found for any but the most notable in the list, when you come to look for it. For these reasons no attempt is made to present a sketch of any except some of the older and more prominent in the profession, and in most cases briefly at that.

In addition to those here presented, biographical reference more or less extended of the following named will be found in other pages of this work, Viz: Judge Fellows, Dick Haney, J. P. Conway, Frank L. May, John F. Dayton, C. S. Stilwell, A. M. May, W. S. Hart, D. J. Murphy, and others.

John T. Clark was born in Madison county, New York, In 1811, attended the common schools, followed farming till 1843, when he began the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in 1851. He came to Waukon, Iowa, in the fall of 1853 and built the third frame dwelling in the town. He was prosecuting attorney for Allamakee county for several years, and was one of the delegates to the Iowa Constitutional Convention at Iowa City in 1857. He moved to Decorah in 1859 but returned to Waukon in 1874, and located at Postville in 1880, and later made his home with his son, F. M. Clark at Lime Springs. In the early days Mr. Clark was one of the most prominent attorneys in this part of the state.

Leander O. Hatch was born in Mesopotamia, Trumbull county, Ohio, April 13, 1826. His parents were natives of Massachusetts. He was the fourth son, attended the public schools, and worked on his father’s farm till sixteen years old. He graduated from the Farmington Academy in 1842, taught school in Ohio and New York, and studied law until 1849, when he was admitted to the bar at Chardon, Ohio, then taught school eighteen months. Came to Delhi, Delaware county, Iowa in 1853, and soon after came to Waukon. He taught the first school in Waukon, in the winter of 1854-5.

He was elected and served as county recorder and treasurer for the years 1855-57. He was elected district attorney forth the tenth judicial district in 1866 but resigned in 1868 and moved to McGregor, where he became a partner of Hon. Reuben Noble, continuing till 1874, when Mr. Noble was elected district judge. Mr. Hatch was elected judge of the District court and served for the years 1883-1894, in which year he died, having served nearly tree terms.

Mr. Hatch was married November 18, 1856, to Miss Albina Spaulding, a daughter of Asher Spaulding, of Waukon, who survived him until a year or two ago. Their children were four sons and one daughter.

Charles Trumbull Granger was born in Monroe county, New York, October 9, 1835, the youngest of eight children of Trumbull and Sallie (Dibble) Granger. In 1837 the family removed to Ohio, where his mother died when he was but a few years old. After this his home was with a brother-in-law for a number of years; but at thirteen years of age he left him because of ill treatment and went to Illinois, where his father was living, he having remarried. Up to this time his educational advantages had been very limited, and not fully improved. But now, a new ambition awoke within him, and he found time while tilling the soil to obtain a few months schooling, at Waukegan, Illinois; studying only the common English branches. In November, 1854, He came to Allamakee county with his people, and taught a district school on Yellow river the following winter. In August, 1855, he returned to Illinois, and again attended the academy at Waukegan for a few months. Subsequently while engaged in farming for a couple of years or more he improved his spare time in reading law books borrowed from lawyers in the nearby town.

In March, 1860, he returned to Allamakee county, read law with hatch & Wilber, of Waukon, and was admitted to the bar near the close of the same year. It was in this office, he has stated, that he received that substantial encouragement and assistance which marked the time as an epoch in his life, and his preceptors as true benefactors and friends.

Before commencing practice Mr. Granger went to Mitchell, Mitchell county, and commenced teaching. He was elected county superintendent of schools in 1861, and in August of the next year resigned that office and enlisted in Company K, 27th Regiment, Iowa Volunteer Infantry, of which he was commissioned Captain, and so served until the close of the war. He was very popular with his command; and his judicial mind was recognized by frequent calls to act as Judge Advocate. After he was mustered out, August 8, 1865, he returned to Mitchell county, but on January 1, 1866, commenced the practice of law in partnership with his former preceptor, L. O. Hatch, at Waukon. Three years later he was appointed district attorney of the tenth judicial district, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Mr. Hatch. At the general election following he was elected for the unexpired term, and at the election of 1870 for a full term of four years. However, when this term had but half expired he was elected circuit judge of the tenth circuit. For fourteen years he served in this capacity, until the circuit court was abolished in 1886, when he was elected judge of the district court, thirteenth district.

By this time Mr. Granger’s ability as a jurist had become widely recognized, and he was called to the supreme bench of Iowa at the election in 1888. again six years later was he complimented by the people of the state by a reelection for a second term of six years, ending with 1900, during which latter year he was chief justice of Iowa. Having thus rounded out twenty-eight years of judicial service, crowned with the greatest honor of all, and admonished by symptoms of failing health, Mr. Granger declined to consider further honors which would entail further labors, now becoming burdensome, and retired from public life to enjoy a well-earned competency and needed rest.

From the beginning of his public service Judge Granger’s familiarity with legal principles, his common sense in their application to the case in hand, and his clear, fair, and convincing style of argument, attracted at tone the attention of the bar and the people, and their judgment of his qualifications proved correct. As a judge that language of his decisions was always simple, clear and vigorous. The decisions themselves were models of clearness, and always unquestionably in harmony with a keen sense of justice.

In 1855 Mr. Granger married Sarah J. Warner, who died in 1862, just before he entered the army. In 1868 he married Miss Anna Maxwell, who death occurred in 1890. two children were born to them, the daughter, Ula, dying at the age of twenty-one; the son, Rollo S., now living in Arkansas. Judge Granger was a staunch republican from the organization of that party. He was very prominent in the Masonic order, his connection with this being more fully treated in the history of the Waukon Lodge. Mr. Granger continues to make his legal residence at Waukon, though spending much of his time in California and elsewhere.

Henry Dayton was born September 30, 1836, near Hadley, Saratoga county, New York. Telem Dayton, father of our subject, was born near Hadley, New York August 21, 1797, lived on the homestead fifty years, then moved farther up the Hudson river, and continued farming. Mr. Dayton, subject of this sketch, was the seventh of a family of eight children. He attended the public schools when young, and when eighteen years of age entered the Fort Edwards Collegiate Institute, New York, and completed a two years scientific course, then attended the New York Conference Seminary at Charlottsville, New York, then taught school in Warren county, New York, and came to Hardin, Allamakee county in December, 1859, where he taught school that winter. He then went to Arkansas where he studied law for a time, returning to Iowa in 1861, and read law with Hon. M. V. Burdick of Decorah, and was admitted to the bar at New Oregon, Howard county, in 1862, Hon. E. H. Williams presiding judge. For the next eight years he taught winter schools at Hardin, Lansing and Decorah, acting as deputy under H. O. Dayton, county surveyor, during the summers. In the fall of 1870 he became a law partner of G. B. Edmonds in Waukon, which continued for one year. In 1873 he formed the law firm of Dayton & Dayton, with his nephew, Hon. J. F. Dayton, the firm continuing ever since, and his son H. L. Dayton, being later added to the firm.

Mr. Dayton has always been a democrat. He was elected county surveyor in 1865 and again in 1867, and for eight years, prior to the change to county attorney he was attorney for the county Board of Supervisors, in 1888 was elected county attorney and held the office six years. In 1871 he was elected by a good majority to represent this county in the fourteenth general assembly at Des Moines, and made so good a record that he was reelected in 1873. During each session he served on important committees.

Mr. Dayton was married at Waukon, Iowa, May 24, 1874, to Miss Mary M. Wilcox, a native of fort Edward, New York. They have two children both now residents of Waukon.

Mr. Dayton has been one of the most successful and respected attorneys of the county, his upright business character and long residence have made him friends among all classes of the citizens of the county.

Harrison W. Holman was born in Erie county, Pennsylvania, August 22, 1841. He attended the common schools, and a higher school and taught school for nearly a year, when answering Lincoln’s call for volunteers for three months, at the beginning of the rebellion, in April, 1861, he enlisted and served three months, then reenlisted for three years in the 83d Pennsylvania Infantry. In January, 1862, he was transferred to the signal corps of the army, was with the Army of the Potomac, taking active part in all the important battles fought by that army including the battle of Gettysburg. Being mustered out August 22, 1865, he shortly afterward came to Rossville, this county, and began reading law with the Hon. George R. Miller, who afterwards moved to Mason City. He was admitted to the bar at Waukon in December, 1868, and remained here till 1871, when he moved to Waterloo, Iowa, and became a member of the law firm of Lichty & Holman. In 1872 he was appointed official court reporter for the district court for that judicial district and removed to Dubuque. In 1877 he resigned and opened a law office in Independence, where he continued in successful practice till his death a few years since. He was a man of fine attainments, a good speaker, and excellent social qualities. In October, 1867, he was married to Miss Harriet Smith of Rossville, and their family consisted of four children, all of whom attained honorable positions.

Albert G. Stewart was born at Broadhead, Wisconsin, March 1, 1854, of Virginia Parents. His father, Thomas, was an early steamboat captain on the Ohio, and a graduate of William and Mary College, Virginia. He settled in Wisconsin in 1841, and A. G. was the fifth of a large family. The subject of this sketch came to Waukon march 1, 1875, studied law in the office of Granger Stilwell, and was admitted to the bar in October, 1876. In 1877 he entered into partnership with C. S. Stillwell, and ten years later with H. H. Stilwell. Mr. Stewart was chairman of the republican county central committee for twelve years, and mayor of Waukon three years. He made an excellent record in the Iowa National Guard, attaining the rank of colonel, and later commanding the Waukon company during the Spanish war. Of recent years he has resided in the east.

James Henry Trewin was born at Bloomingdale, Illinois, November 29, 1858. He was educated in the public schools of Illinois and Iowa, at Bradford Academy, Chickasaw county, and Lenox College at Hopkinton, Iowa. His first sixteen years were mostly spent on a farm. He taught school when sixteen years old, and for seven years was attending school or teaching. He began studying law with Robinson & Powers of Dubuque in 1881, and was admitted to the bar April 27, 1882. For six years he practiced law at Earlville, Iowa, a part of the time being mayor of the town. In February, 1889, he came to Lansing, this county, where he continued to practice till he removed to Cedar Rapids. In 1893 he was nominated by the republicans to represent Allamakee county in the twenty-fifth general assembly and was elected, though the county had been democratic by a large majority. In 1895 he was elected as a republican for state senator from the fortieth Iowa district, composed of Allamakee and Fayette counties. Mr. Trewin soon became the leading lawyer of the county, as he also soon became one of the leading politicians of the state. He secured, when a member of the house, the passage of a bill for the recodification of the laws of the state, became the chairman of the committee which had charge of the work, and the result was largely due to his active work. He has continued to be a power in the politics of the state, and has been classed as the leader of the “stand-pat” wing of the republican party. When the Legislature created the “Board of Education,” approved March 29, 1909, Governor Carroll appointed the nine members composing it, with Mr. Trewin as president of the board. No question before the 1913 Legislature caused more differences of opinion and discussion than the changes in the management of the state’s educational institutions proposed by this board, Mr. Trewin being the leading spirit for the changes. A compromise was reached, deferring the matter to the next assembly.

Mr. Trewin was married at Earlville, Iowa, April 14, 1883, to Miss Martha E. Rector, a native of Earlville. A son, Harold R., was born May 30, 1890, a most promising young man, whose untimely death last year was a great affliction to the parents.

Earl M. Woodward was born in Truxton, Cortland county, New York December 16, 1848, of New England ancestry. He obtained his preliminary education in the common schools and an academy, and when a mere boy enlisted in the 142d Regiment, Illinois Infantry, served six months and was honorably discharged before he was sixteen years of age. In May, 1874, he was graduated from the Albany, New York, Law School. Soon after he came to Lansing, Iowa, which was his home, except a few years passed in Minnesota. Having a good knowledge of law, conscientious, ambitious and energetic, he soon made an honorable position for himself. He was city solicitor of Lansing for two terms, and was elected county attorney in 1894, and was thorough and successful, faithfully serving the people in that capacity for successive terms. He was also for a time interested in the Lansing Mirror and was a writer of ability. He was a pleasing speaker. Politically he was a republican and was an important factor in securing success for the party. He was greatly handicapped by ill health, which undoubtedly considerably shortened his life, his death occurring in January, 1898.

H. H. Stilwell was born in Wyoming county, New York, in 1841; came to Janesville, Wisconsin, where he lived a few years and then removed to Stephenson county, Illinois. He came to Allamakee county in 1864, served as county treasurer one term, 1868-9, and ever since has been engaged in the practice of his profession, with his home at Waukon. In the fall of 1862 he married Miss Eliza Bowen, His Brother, C. S. Stillwell, Marrying her sister at the same time and place. Mr. Stilwell has been very prominent in the councils of the republican party, both in the county and the state.

Herbert E. Taylor was born at Postville, July 3, 1876, and became a graduate from the State University at Iowa City, in the liberal arts class of 1898, and from the law course in 1900. Admitted to the bar in June, 1900, he practiced at Lansing until April, 1905, when he removed to Waukon, having been elected the office of county attorney in the fall of 1904. He was twice reelected to this position, which he ably filled until January, 1911, and since then has continued his practice at Waukon, with gratifying success. While at Lansing he married Miss Thomas, daughter of the pioneer banker of that city.

Many amusing incidents occur in the court room. A case was on trial before Judge Noble in Waukon with a German complaining witness on the stand who was asking for damages for injuries received by a blow on the heard. It was difficult to make him understand the questions. He was told to “show the jury how he struck you on the head,” but seemed not to comprehend what was wanted. Finally the judge turned in his chair toward him and direct him to show the manner of the action when the defendant struck him. Quickly he rose from his seat, turned and gave Noble a good whack on the head, saying: “shust like dot, Shudge!” the judge and jury understood and after the laughter had quieted down the trial proceeded.

Another instance was in the early days when the lawyers went about the county trying cases before justices of the peace. About forty years ago during the trial of a case wherein a tenant was charged with appropriating some undivided grain, the prisoner took the stand to testify in his own defense; and after stating that he had weighted up some grain to use and given his landlord credit for his share, the prosecuting attorney, a small man, commenced a rapid fire of cross questions, and finally said, “You understand you are under oath, do you?” “Yes,” said the witness. “You know you must tell the truth, do you?” “You must not tell me I am not telling the truth,” replied the witness. “You dare me do you?” said the little lawyer. “Don’t you tell me I lie,” said the prisoner. “I believe you are lying,” was the reply. The prisoner was sitting in front of the prosecutor, and the constable was immediately back of the latter, sitting on the floor with his back against the wall, fast asleep. At the accusation the witness, a wiry young man, suddenly leaped and struck the prosecuting attorney with great force, but the lawyer quick as a flash slipped from his chair to the floor and his assailant went through thin air head foremost and landed on the stomach of the sleeping constable. Half awake he sprang up exclaiming. “What’s all this about?” “Just exemplifying the testimony,” said the little lawyer; and the case went on.

The subjoined is a verbatim copy of an old legal document of sixty years ago, which was supposed to be a certificate of divorce.

May 3 the 1852 St of Iowa Alemakea County Linton Township Know allmen Buy these Presantes that the under sind Partes Wm Hale and Mary Ann Hale whwo was joined to gether in the Solomon bond of matrimono on the fourth of Aprele Eighteen fifty two Has this day Buy Mutul Cont of Booth Parteyes Desolvd the solem bond of Matrimoney Now in the presentes of these witness wee doc Fermly vow and Protest aggans tring tolive to gether any longer. For Reson Best none tourselfs We doe further eck nolleg that Wee have taken oureon time to Reflect on this mater and it is uter im Posible For us to attemp any to liv to gether in Peece and Hapines Now in the Presents of these witness I doe Here Buy asine all of My Lawful and just Clame Against Wm Hale as alawful and wed husban and also to all Pursonal Property or Real Estate Aires or Enter for ever in the Present of the witness I doe Here Buy eck knoleg this to be afree and coluntary Act of my will I doe here buy ack this to bee My Bond An seel.
Mary Ann Hale [seal]

Wee the under sind Witness doe here buy Eiknolleg that wee have this day seen Boath Partis to gether and it is Em Posibel for them to liv together any longer Sian seeled and delivrd in the Presons of
Wm L Cowes
Thomas Dickson [seal]

~transcribed by Lisa Henry

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