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Leander O. Hatch

HATCH

Posted By: Allamakee co. Coordinator (email)
Date: 3/3/2004 at 13:25:49

Leander O. Hatch was one of the first, if not the first, notable lawyer that settled at Waukon, for it did not become the County seat until 1853, and he settled there early in 1854, when, it is said, there were
not more than half a dozen houses there.* He was prominent while in Allamakee County, but may well be placed in connection with Clayton County, where he became equally distinguished. As, however, the first fifteen years of his professional life were spent in Allamakee County and interwoven with its early history, and especially as he was the preceptor and afterwards the partner of Charles T. Granger, I decided to place him there. I did not become acquainted with him until his removal from Waukon to McGregor, in 1869, whither he went to form a partnership with Reuben Noble. He, with Noble and James O. Crosby, were nearly always in attendance at the sessions of the Supreme Court at Dubuque, during my association with that tribunal as Reporter of its decisions, and through this I became personally acquainted with those gentlemen. I listened with interest to Mr. Hatch in his oral arguments, and read with like interest, his written briefs. He was a lawyer of great ability, and universally so recognized. His partnership with Mr. Noble lasted until the election of
the latter to the judge-ship of that District. The firm was one of the stongest in the State, and was engaged in cases of the highest importance. Later he, himself, became District Judge and displayed on the bench qualities in keeping with the high order of those he had displayed at the bar. He was elected in 1882, re-elected in 1886, and again re-elected in 1890, and died while on the bench, in 1894.

Judge Charles T. Granger thus spoke of Judge Hatch:

In my opinion, the State of Iowa never produced a lawyer of jurist of finer discrimination than Leander O. Hatch. Nature seemed to have endowed him with acute perceptions, and I think he could state a legal proposition as clearly as any man I ever knew. He was not an incessant worker, but when he did work he was able to accomplish much in a brief space of time. As a trial lawyer he was forceful, and in an argument to the cuort upon a legal proposition , I have never known his superior. He was on the bench about ten years and was an able Judge. He was a resident of Clayton County during his Judgeship, and died there.

Of him, another of his contemporaries says:

I practiced with and against him for many years. He was thoroughly a master of his profession. For keenness of analysis, clearness of statement and accuracy of reasoning he was unsurpassed by any of his associates.

He sprang from a New England ancestry. His parents went from Massachusetts to the wilds of Ohio, and settled in Trumbull County, where Leander was born in 1826. Here he lived and here he labored, from
the time he was old enough to work, in clearing and bringing the farm into cultivation. His early education was obtained through the district school, and later in the Farmington Academy, supplemented by reading such books as came within his reach, and which an instinctive thirst for knowledge prompted. For several years he taught school, studying law from borrowed books in the meantime. In 1849 he was admitted to the
bar, and after practicing for a while in Ohio, came to Iowa.

*Allamakee County was organized in 1849. the first county seat was Columbus, then Waukon.

- source: Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa; by Edward H. Stiles; 1916; pg. 885-891
-transcribed by Sharyl Ferrall


 

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