Mills County, Iowa

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"Recollections of Early Lawyers"
Written by Edward H. Stiles

      These men were the only ones I knew of the early lawyers of Mills County. Of Daniel H. Solomon, I have been able to find but little data. He was one of the early settlers, as well as one of the earliest lawyers of Mills County, and took a prominent part in its organization. He was a prominent member of the Constitutional Convention of 1857, and took a leading part in the discussion of some of its measures (Annals of Iowa, Vol. II, third series, p. 563), and at the Reunion the survivors of that body at Des Moines, in 1882, he was present and made an eloquent address. Whether he remained in Glenwood up to the time of his death, I am unable to say. The last time I saw him was at that place some twenty-seven or twenty-eight years ago. In company with John Y. Stone and William Hale was invited to dine at Mr. Solomon’s house. His hospitality was abundant, and he and his wife gave us a gracious welcome and entertainment. She, I recollect was a daughter of the distinguished Colonel Hardin, of early Illinois.

      Mr. Solomon was a gentleman of pleasing manners, companionable and highly entertaining. He had a keen sense of wit and was a delightful raconteur. I have always distinctly recollected this incident which he related: He said that he went on a business to mission to St. Louis, and going to the residence of the person he desired to see, he was met at the door, in response to a ring of the bell, by an airy, colored servant, to whom he expressed a desire to see her master. She retired and soon returned, saying that her master desired to know where he was from and what his business was. Where-upon Solomon said, “Tell your master that I am a lawyer from Glenwood, and my name is not Marks.” To those who are familiar with Uncle Tom’s Cabin--and it was familiar to everybody at that time—it will be remembered that one of its characters frequently appears in one part of the book, and on each occasion pompously thus announces himself: “I am a lawyer and my name is Marks." The incident illustrates the quickness of Mr. Solomon’s wit. But Mr. Solomon was not only a gracious gentleman. but a learned and able lawyer, well known in the early period of that part of the State.

      Of William Hale, I have no particular data in regard to his nativity and boy­hood. My recollection is that he was born in my own County of Wapello, where occasionally came to visit an aunt and other relatives. He studied law in Oskaloosa, and I think, with Judge Crookham, for of that eccentric gentleman he told me number of anecdotes. He must have gone to Glenwood soon after his admission to the bar. I first met him on the convening of the House of the Tenth General Assembly, of which we were fellow members fifty-two years ago from this writing, he being elected from Mills County, and I from Wapello. Two years after, in the fall of 1865, he was re-elected to the House, and I to the Senate, which gave us a mutual opportunity to continue our acquaintance. In the House we co-operated c1osely in regard to the swamp land title controversy which greatly affected his part if the State. He was devoted to the interests of his constituents, and was a leader, in every measure designed to relieve or benefit them. He worked with an ardor hat made him conspicuous. He became influential in politics, was most favorably mentioned for Congress, and in 1868 he was one of the Republican presidential electors and cast his vote for General Grant. During President Grant’s administration Mr. Hale was, by him, appointed Governor of Wyoming, and died while occupying that position.

      He was a good thinker and a good lawyer, and one of the best fellows in the world; bright, witty, good natured and companionable in the highest degree. To me his presence was always a charm. The last time I saw him was shortly before his death. While trying a case at Glenwood I was informed by my associate, John Y. Stone, that Governor Hale was a guest at a hotel at Omaha, and we went together to see him. He was the same frank and charming man. He had not outgrown the personal fascination which attracted everybody who knew him when was young. I had learned that he was not in good health, but during the interview I remarked that I thought he looked as if he were. He shook his head and plied that he feared he was suffering from an incurable malady. He was a victim of Bright’s disease. His untimely death is mourned to this day by those who knew him.

      John Y. Stone was a native of Sangamon County, Illinois, born in 1843, of Virginian extraction. His father, with the family, settled on a farm in Mills County, Iowa, in 1856. On this farm John was reared and thoroughly learned the art of agriculture, for which he always continued to have a decided inclination, and with the farming class, the true yeomanry of every country, he was always a favorite. At the outbreak of the Civil War he enlisted as a soldier in Company F, of the Fifteenth Iowa Infantry. Gen. W. W. Belknap and John M. Hedrick were successively Colonels of that regiment. General Hedrick and myself were fellow townsmen, and on different occasions he extolled in the highest terms, as did also General Belknap, the bravery of John Y. Stone as a soldier. The year following his enlistment he was promoted to Second Lieutenant of his company. He participated in all the battles in which Crocker’s famous brigade engaged, and accompanied it in Sherman’s March to the Sea. He became a member of the commanding officer’s staff, and in the fierce battle before Atlanta, had three horses shot from under him. On all occasions he displayed intrepid courage and was regarded one of the bravest of the brave.

      On his return from the army he studied law in the office of William Hale and became his partner after being admitted to the bar. They established a highly successful practice and became known as among the ablest lawyers of the western slope. I was once associated with Mr. Stone in a highly important case, referred to in my sketch of Judge Joseph R. Reed. It occupied several days and the skillful management he evinced in it from beginning to end and placed him in my estimation as one of the strongest trial lawyers in the State.

      He had made good use of his opportunities for studying the elementary principles upon which the law is based, and was apt and strong in applying them as occasion required. He was a keen judge of human nature, of men, and the various motives that are likely to influence their conduct. He took quite an active part in politics during the early and middle portion of his life, but relaxed his efforts in that direction as the years advanced, devoting himself to his large practice.

      His career, both professional and political, had been highly successful. In 1867 he was elected to the House of the Twelfth General Assembly, and in 1869 he was elected to the House of the Thirteenth General Assembly. In the fall of 1871, he was elected to the Senate of the Fourteenth General Assembly, and in 1875 he was again elected to the House, and again in 1877, and was made Speaker of the House of the Seventeenth General Assembly. In all of these legislative bodies he was a prominent leader and exercised great influence upon the legislation of that period. In 1876 he was a delegate to the Republican National Convention from 1876 to 1880 he was a member of the National Republican Committee, and in 1884 he was again a delegate to the Republican National Convention. In 1888 he was nominated and elected Attorney-General of the State; at the end of that term he was renominated and re-elected, and at the end of that term again renominated and re-elected. He served in that high capacity with great credit to himself and the State. He would have ably filled any office within the gift of the people. As already indicated, he largely withdrew from active politics in later life, devoting himself to and gratifying his natural inclination in the cultivating and bringing into bearing, it is said, the largest apple orchard in the State. I do not know whether he be living; if he is the stirring events of his long and diversified career must furnish him with a gratifying retrospect in his declining years. It is pleasant to think and write of these men, and as I do, my remembrance expands like the circle on the water.

Source: Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa, 1916
Transcribed by Roseanna Zehner; Proofread by Darlene Jacoby

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