HON. EZRA WILLARD, ATLANTIC.
For a number of years after reaching his maturity living in widely distant parts of the country, and gathering wisdom in the school of daily experience with many different kinds and conditions of people, rendering efficient and appreciated service to his locality and his country in some of the lofty forums of judicial proceedings and on some of the famous battle fields of the Civil War, and now, for a continuous period of twenty-five years, peacefully practicing his profession in Cass county and elsewhere throughout the State of Iowa, Hon. Ezra Willard, senior member of the law firm of Willard & Willard of Atlantic, has had a broad and thorough preparation for his calling, and in the career which has made his name illustrious in this section of the ocuntry he has made excellent use of his naturally strong mental endowments and his wide and varied attainments. He is a native of the county of Wyoming in New York State, where he was born on December 22, 1840, and the son of Roswell and Phebe (Rich) Willard, both natives of Vermont. The father was a farmer and in early life moved to New York, where he passed the remainder of his life, lying there in 1841. The mother is living yet and makes her home with her daughter at Ogden, Iowa.
Judge Willard, an only son, who is the immediate subject of this sketch, grew to the age of fifteen in Williams county, Ohio, where he located with his mother in his childhood. At fifteen he became a resident of Elkhart county, Indiana, and there attended the public schools for a while, then entered the College of Notre Dame at South Bend, where he was graduated in the English course in 1859. He then began the study of law at Elkhart under the direction of Albert Heath, and in 1861 was admitted to the bar; but soon afterward he enlisted in the volunteer Union army, patriotically obeying the first presidential call for troops, and with his command, Company C, Ninth Indiana Infantry, was early in the field. At the conclusion of the ninety-days' service, he reenlisted in the same company and regiment for three years. His regiment became a part of General McClellan's army in West Virginia (where it participated in the engagement at Carrick's Ford), then in 1862 was transferred to the Army of the Tennessee and ordered to Nashville. It was then in the very maelstrom of the conflict, and took part in the sanguinary battles of Shiloh, Stone River, and numerous others of importance. The Judge went into the service with the rank of second lieutenant and after the battle of Shiloh was promoted to adjutant, with the rank of first lieutenant, an office which he resigned in 1863 owing to a serious wound received at Shiloh from which he has never fully recovered.
In the year named Judge Willard returned to Indiana and began the practice of law at Elkhart, remaining there until 1864, when he came to Iowa and located at Adell [sic Adel], Dallas county. At that place he practiced until 1876, when a desire to see something more of the country, with the awakening prospects of rapid improvement in and around Dallas, Texas, led him to that city, where he remained until 1881. While living and practicing his profession there, he was appointed a special judge for the trial of a number of special and important cases, and performed his duties, difficult and delicate as they were, in such a manner as to win the approval of both bench and bar generally throughout the section. Returning to Atlantic in 1881, he at once entered actively upon extended professional labors, which have grown heavier as the years have passed, and to which he has given his whole energy and attention, with the result that he has risen to a commanding position at the bar and in the public esteem of the State.
In 1861 the Judge was married in Indiana to Harriet Hopper, who was born in Michigan. They have but one child, their son Edward M., who is a graduate of the Iowa State University and a partner in business with his father. The Judge is an ardent Democrat in political affiliation, and although he is averse to official station and does not often enter actively into partisan contest, has frequently served a a delegate to the county and State conventions of his party, and rendered it good service in council. He is a Royal Arch Mason and a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and enters into the activities of both organizations with interest and energy. Now one of the oldest members of the Iowa bar in continuous practice, and eminent in his profession, which he adorns with great legal attainments and a high character, he is an ornament to the State and a fine example of the best American citizenship.
From "Compendium and History of Cass County, Iowa." Chicago: Henry and Taylor & Co., 1906, pp. 555-557.