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CHURCH, Judge Zala A. (ca. 1916)


Posted By: Jennifer Gunderson (email)
Date: 3/22/2021 at 22:48:46


Judge Zala A. Church, lawyer and jurist, whose ability has won him the well merited reputation of being one of the foremost members of the bar of western Iowa, possesses a mentality that has enabled him to attain success along other lines, which have been as well factors in the development of the community in which he lives. A native of Wisconsin, he was born in Dayton, May 28, 1852, his parents being Harvey and Emily (Tucker) Church. The father was born in the Genesee valley of New York in 1816 and the mother's birth occurred in Caledonia, New York, April 12, 1818. She became a schoolteacher at the age of seventeen years, having charge of the first public school at Rosso, New York, and later she promoted her own education by a course in the Methodist Wesleyan Seminary.

In 1844 was celebrated the marriage of Harvey Church and Emily Tucker and after two years spent in the Empire state they removed in 1846 to southern Wisconsin, the state being at that time under territorial rule. Mr. Church engaged in merchandising but at the time of the Civil war disposed of his store and joined the army, rendering valiant aid in defense of the Union. After the close of the war he settled on a soldier's claim in Dakota and turned his attention to farming, while his wife remained in Wisconsin, making a home for her son Zala, who was then a student in the State University at Madison. Later Mr. Church disposed of his claim in South Dakota and in 1878 became a resident of Jefferson, Iowa, where he continued to reside for almost twenty years, or until death called him in 1897. His widow survives and has now passed the notable old age of ninety-seven years. One of the local papers on the oecasion of the ninety-seventh anniversary of her birth said:

“Mrs. Church has a wonderful vitality for a woman of her age. Almost every day she walks around the block, goes in to call upon her neighbors, and works among her flowers when the weather is pleasant. Mrs. Church has a strong vein of sociability in her make-up and is always glad to welcome friends. She is a well educated woman, is well read in Bible history and can quote Shakespeare much more easily than many younger people. Her eyesight will not permit her to read a great deal now and yet the quilts she has pieced this winter, for neatness and accuracy, would put to shame many younger women who can't sew. Mrs. Church has seen a wonderful growth in the town of Jefferson since she came here in 1878 and she is still interested in all progressive affairs. Her many friends congratulate her today and sincerely hope she may live to reach well over her one hundredth anniversary.”

To Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Church were born a son and three daughters, of whom one daughter died in childhood, while the others are still residents of Jefferson, namely: Judge Zala A., of this review; Mrs. Thomas B. Ellis; and Mrs. Della Duncan. The last named lives with and cares for her mother.

Judge Church, the youngest child, supplemented a public-school education by study in the Baptist Seminary at Evansville, Wisconsin, and in the State University of Wisconsin, in which he took two years of collegiate work, after which he entered the law department and was graduated therefrom with the class of 1876. Two years later he became a resident of Jefferson and has since been actively identified with the bar of that city. He served as the first county attorney after the passage of the law dispensing with district attorneys and for sixteen years sat upon the bench of the sixteenth judicial district. He is devotedly attached to his profession, systematic and methodical in habit, sober and discreet in judgment, diligent in research and conscientious in the discharge of every duty. He has a thorough grasp of the law and the ability to correctly apply its principles, and this made him an effective and successful advocate and insured him equal rank with the leading district judges of the state. His recorded opinions show wide legal learning and superior ability, a thorough mastery of the questions involved, a rare simplicity of style, admirable clearness in a statement of the principles upon which the decisions rest. Aside from the offices which he has filled in the direct path of his profession he served as county recorder by appointment, has also been mayor of Jefferson, city solicitor and president of the school board. He takes a most active interest in all public affairs and has long been a recognized leader in the ranks of the republican party in Greene county. He has been chairman of the county central committee.

In addition to his professional interests Judge Church is president of the Farmers & Merchants Bank and his wise counsel proves an element in the successful direction of its affairs. He assisted in the organization of the bank and has been identified therewith since that time, yet he devotes practically his undivided attention to his law practice, in which he is associated with County Attorney D. C. McCully under the firm style of Church & McCully.

Judge Church was united in marriage to Miss May McCully, who was born in Scott county, Iowa, where her father settled at an early day. Removing to Greene county, he engaged in merchandising from 1874 until his death. He, too, was active in public affairs, serving on the board of county supervisors, and was an earnest advocate of republican principles. To Judge and Mrs. Church were born three children: Iza L., now deceased, who became the wife of C. I. Wells, of Dunbar, Wisconsin, by whom she had one child, Monica; Bessie, the wife of Dr. D. Ernest Lyon, a dentist of Jefferson; and Theo T., at home.

Judge Church belongs to the Knights of Pythias lodge, in which he is a past chancellor, and he was also a special commissioner for codifying the laws of the order of the Domain of Iowa for the Knights of Pythias. He is a past grand master of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and a past grand patriarch of the grand encampment, in fact he has filled all of the offices in both the local and grand lodges and was the first chairman of the board of trustees, having in charge the building of the orphans and old folks' homes at Mason City. He is likewise well known in Masonic circles, belonging to the Royal Arch Chapter, in which he served as high priest for three years, the Commandery and the Shrine. Both he and his wife take a most active and helpful interest in church work and Mrs. Church is equally prominent and well known in social and literary circles. His identification with the Baptist church covers thirty years and he has done everything in his power to promote its growth and extend its influence, recognizing its beneficent power as a factor in the moral progress of the community. The life of Judge Church has never been self-centered and he has ever enjoyed the respect and friendship of many of Iowa's prominent people.

Source: Brigham, Johnson. Iowa : its history and its foremost citizens. Chicago : S.J. Clarke Pub. Co., 1916. Transcribed by Jennifer Gunderson (Mar 2021).

Index of bios from Iowa : Its history and Its Foremost Citizens

Cerro Gordo Biographies maintained by Lynn Diemer-Mathews.
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