Charles T. Granger
Posted By: Allamakee co. Coordinator
Date: 3/3/2004 at 02:51:12
Charles T. Granger was probably the most highly distinguished lawyer and jurist in the history of Allamakee County during my day. He is still living at an advanced age. I saw and spent an afternoon with him only a
short time ago at Long Beach, California, where he was sojourning for the winter. He is verging close to eighty -- in his seventy-eighth year -- but time seems to have made no ravage on his intellectual strength
and clearness. His life has been an eventful one. Born of humble parentage, left a motherless orphan when a mere child, reared as a laborer on the farm, with limited means of early education, but acquiring enough by perserverance to teach a country school, reading law from books borrowed during the time, entering the army as a Captain, almost at the outbreak of the Civil War, leading his company in many hard-fought battles, serving to the close of that great conflict, then completing his law studies and afterwards entering the practice with his preceptor, he attained judicial distinction of the highest order, serving as District Attorney for four years, as Circuit and District Judge seventeen years, and daily as Judge and Chief Justice of the
Supreme Court of the State for twelve years, making in all, a judicial service of thirty-three years, including the period he was District Attorney. That he was a soldier of valor and intelligence, is the unanimous testimony of his commanding officers and comrads, and is well exemplified all by his "Recollections" of the bloody battle of Pleasant Hill, Louisiana, given of the request of Colonel William T. Shaw, the Commander of Shaw's Brigade (of whose staff Captain Granger was then a member) and appearing in Vol. III, of the third series of the Annals of Iowa, p. 416.
Among other battles in which he and his company participated were those of Yellow Bayou, Tupelo, Nashville, Mobile, and that which resulted in the capture of Fort De Russy, besides numerous minor engagements. That he was a judge of some discernment and lucid expression, may be verified by reference to but a single [illegible word] of his rendered as the decision of the Supreme Court, to be found in the Iowa Reports, and also in the third volume of the third series of the Annals of Iowa, p. 284, in the course of which the ownership of aerolights which fall to the earth is interestingly discussed. All of his opinions are characterized by a stong sense of justice and by the evident desire of their author to go to the very foundation of sound and thorough inquiry.
Knowing as I do, that in Iowa there are always competent aspirants, and that rotation in office is the general rule, I could hardly understand how it was that Judge Granger had been so long and continuously kept in
his judicial service, but when I examined into the causes of this and became more thoroughly acquainted with him, the matter became clear. The bases of his character were unswerving integrity and devotion to duty. Coupled with these were the superb characteristics of patience, willingness to hear, fairness and unfailing magnanimity. It was these qualities that endeared him to the people, and determined them not only to keep, but promote him in office. I had seen him a number of times at Long Beach, and the more I saw of him, the higher was my estimation of his fine qualities. He was without the least vanity or self-conceit. He was rather tall and slender in person and his amiable and interesting face bespoke the kindly feeling within. He had a high, bald head, and lustrous blue eyes. He must have been handsome as a young man, and the years had not destroyed his personal attractions. His voice was soft and pleasant -- in harmony with his character; his memory vivid, his conversation interesting. In one of our interviews, I said that to me autobiographies were far more interesting than what was said by one of another, and earnestly requested him to give my stenographer a brief outline of his career. I told him that a number of his distinguished compeers had done this for me, and he finally yielded to my request and gave to my stenographer the sub-joined narrative, which, from its modest simplicity and total absence of self-exploitation, justifies what have said respecting him. So reluctant was he, to in any wise vaunt himself, that he was not going to refer to the numerous battles in which he and his regiment engaged, until I specifically asked him to do so. This is the short and simple story:
My full name is Charles Trumbull Granger. I was born in Monroe County in the State of New York, 1835. I left the State of New York so early in my life that have no recollection of it. My first
recollection was living in Lake County, Ohio, in the Mormon town of Kirtland. I lived here until I was twelve years of age. My mother died in Kirtland, and I went to live with my sister near Norwalk, in Huron County, Ohio, where I remained little more than a year. Owing to some trouble with my brother-in-law, I ran away at the age of thirteen, and went to Illinois, where my home was until I was twenty years of age. My father had preceded me to Illinois and I went to him. I lived on a farm in Illinois with my father until I was twenty years of age. I was married the first time at that age and in 1854 we removed to Allamakee County, Iowa. In 1855 I returned to Lake County, Illinois, where I lived on the farm until the spring of 1860. In 1859 I entered the
Academy at Waukegan, Illinois, and in all was in the Academy for about nine months, teaching school during the winter, and part of the time reading law on the farm with books borrowed from a lawyer's office in Waukegan. In March, 1860, I returned to Iowa and entered the law office of Hatch & Wilbur, composed of L.O. Hatch and Richard Wilbur. In September 1860, I was admitted to the bar upon examination in open court, presided over by Judge E.H. Williams. In October, 1860, I went to Mitchell County, Iowa, where I engaged in teaching school until 1862, when my wife died. About the first of August I received a recruiting commission from Governor Kirkwood, and aided in recruiting what was afterward Company K, of the Twenty-seventh Regiment of Iowa Infantry, and was chosen Captain of the Company, and served in that capacity at the close of the war. I had been elected Superintendent of Schools, an office I resigned when I entered the army. James I. Gilbert was the Colonel of the regiment. I was in quite a number of monor engagements and in 1864 was with General Sherman in his campaign from Vicksburg to Meridan, Mississippi, and on our return to Vicksburg I was one of the ten thousand that is said to have been [illegible] to General Banks for the Red River expedition, and in that expedition with the Sixteenth Army Corps under General A.J. Smith, and participated in the battle of Pleasant Hill, April 9, 1864, and in numerous minor engagements (there was nearly a continuous fight), to the close of that expedition. We then returned to Memphis, and in July, 1864, under command of General A.J. Smith, we made the expedition to Tupelo, Mississippi, where we fought that battle on July 14th, and the battle of Old Town Creek on the following day. On our return from there we went to St. Louis and made an expedition after General Price across the State of Missouri, and returned to St. Louis and in the last days of 1864 we were sent to Nashville, and took part in the battle of Nashville, December 15-16, 1864, and followed Beauregard across to the Tennessee river, where we remained until the early spring of 1865 when we were taken to New Orleans, and thence through the Gulf of Mexico to Dauphin Island, and thence to Mobile and took part in the engagement at its surrender. Thence we went to Montgomery, Alabama, and from there to
Clinton, Iowa, were we were mustered out on the 8th of August, 1865.
I then returned to Mitchell County, Iowa, where I remained until October and then returned to Waukon, Allamakee County, and entered into partnership for the practice of law with my former preceptor, L.O. Hatch, a partnership continued to January 1, 1869, at which time, Mr. Hatch removed ot McGregor, Iowa, resigning the office of District Attorney. I was then appointed District Attorney to succeed him and served in that capacity to January 1, 1873. In the fall of 1872 I was elected as Circuit Judge, for the district embracing the counties of Allamakee, Winneshiek, Howard, Chickasaw, Fayette and Clayton. I served as Circuit Judge for fourteen years, and in 1886 I was elected District Judge when the judicial system of the State was changed by the abolishment of the Circuit Court, and served as District Judge to January 1, 1889, a position I then resigned, having been elected to the Supreme Bench of the State, in which capacity I served to January 1, 1901. The length of my judicial service as Judge was twenty-nine years in all. The Supreme Court at that time was composed of Justices Beck,
Rothrock, Robinson, Reed and myself. Judge Reed having been elected a member of Congress, resigned his office as Judge about March, 1869, and Judge Josiah Given was appointed his successor. Judge Beck remained on the bench about three years, when L.G. Kinne became his successor. Of Judge Kinne I want to say that he was a very painstaking laborious man, and a good jurist.
As a man Judge Given was one of nature's noblemen. As a jurist he was reasonably painstaking, careful and correct. where Judge Given particularly excelled was as a trial Judge. He had great executive force, was quick in his conclusions and I think it may be truthfully said that his first conclusions on a legal proposition were his best, and, generally, correct. He had a very sunshiny disposition. He was not what was called a plodder, but a man of very keen
perceptions. Without going into details, I may say that my estimate of Judge Deemer is a very high one. He was not only a man of acute perceptions, but one that went to the bottom of every
investigation. The next change was the retirement of Judge Rothrock, Judge Ladd, of O'Brien County, who is still on the bench, taking his place. He is a man and a jurist of decided ability. The next retirement was that of Judge Robinson, succeeded by Judge Sherwin, of Mason City. My opinion of Judge Robinson is that he never passed in the public judgement for what he was really worth, for he was a very painstaking, laborious man, and an able Judge. He was patient in investigation, and difficult to move -- perhaps too difficult -- when he had formed his conclusions. He was a man without very great warmth or personal magnetism, but taken all in all, I considered him a rare man.
Judge Waterman came to the bench as the successor of Judge Kinne. On the Supreme bench he was an incessant worker and really a strong and able jurist. He resigned before the close of his term to engage in a partnership with Joseph R. Lane, who I think was fully as great a lawyer as his father, James T. Lane.
Since the close of my judicial service I have not been engaged in active business, and aside from caring for my personal interests and being associated with business interests largely managed by others, I have been enjoying myself, traveling about, some, spending my winters in Arkansas, and at Long Beach, California, in which latter place I am holding the present interview with Mr. Stiles.
I was married a second time in 1868, to Miss Anna Maxwell, of Waukon, Iowa and two children were born to us, Ula A. and Rollo S. My wife by the second marriage died on the 17th day of August, 1890, and my daughter the following May, so that my son is the only living member of my immediate family.
- source: Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa; by Edward H. Stiles; 1916; pg. 885-891
- transcribed by S. Ferrall
~source of photo: Freemasons, Grand Lodge Bulletin, January, 1916, Notable Deaths
(added 05-08-2010 by S. Ferrall)
Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.
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Allamakee Biographies maintained by Sharyl Ferrall.