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Courts and the Legal Profession


Keokuk county was organized February 5, 1844. In April, 1844, John M. Waters was elected first judge of the county, and Edour Shugarth, clerk; W. H. Brown, treasurer; George W. Hayes, sheriff; J. H. Smith, J. Hollingsworth and Emos Darnell, commissioners. In July, 1844, Judge Williams held the first court at Sigourney. Previous to this time the county business had been transacted at Newton, where there was then a log cabin and a schoolhouse. Edour Shugarth built the first house in Sigourney in 1844. Town lots were sold at that time for twelve dollars. A court-house square was laid out in 1845, upon which a log house was built for the use of county officers and courts, at a cost of about two hundred and twenty dollars. J. N. and J. E. Paschall published the first newspaper of the county in June, 1854.


G. D. Woodin was one of the most prominent attorneys of the Keokuk county bar. He died in August, 1903. Mr. Woodin was born in Warren county, Pennsylvania, February 27, 1827. He worked on his father's farm summers, and attended the district schools winters. He spent one term at Waterford, Pennsylvania, academy, and two summers at Janestown, New York, academy, and was graduated from Allegheny College, Meadville, Pennsylvania, in 1851. He read law with A. B. Richmond of Meadville, and with L. D. Wetmore of Warren, Pennsylvania, and was admitted to the bar in 1852. He then formed a partnership with Mr. Wetmore. In 1853 he removed to Iowa City, Iowa, and began to practice his profession. In 1857 he came to Sigourney where he remained until his death. He was engaged on one side or the other of almost every case tried in the circuit or district court of the county, and for over twenty years he was not absent from the court-house one full hour at any one time during a session of court. In politics he was a republican. In 1854 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Johnson county. In 1855 he was elected mayor of Iowa City. In 1856 he was elected to the legislature, serving one term. In 1858 he was elected district attorney of the old Sixth judicial district, and served four years. July, 1859, he married Mary E. Skillman, of Keokuk county, Iowa.

Ezekiel S. Sampson was born in Pluron county, Ohio, December 6, 1831. His parents removed to Illinois when he was a small boy. In 1843 they located on a farm in Keokuk county, Iowa. He worked on his father's farm summers and attended the district school winters. From 1850 to 1853 he attended the high school at Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, and Knox College, at Galesburg, Illinois. In 1854 he began to read law with Enoch Eastman and S. A. Rice at Oskaloosa. He was admitted to the bar in the spring of 1855. In 1856 he moved to Sigourney and began to practice his profession. In 1861 he helped to raise a company for the Union army and was made captain of Company F, which was a part of the Fifth infantry. In May, 1862, he was promoted to major of the regiment, and he held that rank until he was mustered out in 1864. After the war he entered practice again with G. D. Woodin as a partner. He was county attorney from 1856 to 1859. In 1865 he was elected to the state senate and served in the session of 1866. He was then elected district judge, serving until 1874, when he was elected to congress. He served four years in the house of representatives from the Sixth district, retiring in 1879 and resuming the practice of law. He died October 7, 1892, at his home in Sigourney.

C. M. Brown was born in Knox county, Ohio, November 9, 1845. He spent his boyhood days in Ohio. His education was had in the public and high schools and at college. He read law in Ohio, and with Thos. Hanna, of Muscatine, Iowa. He took one year course at the Iowa State University, graduating in 1871. He was admitted and began practice at Sigourney, and was alone until 1873. He then formed a partnership with Judge McCoy, which continued until Judge McCoy removed to Oskaloosa. In 1878 Judge Sampson became his partner. Judge Sampson died in 1892 and Mr. Brown then formed a partnership with K. E. Willcockson which lasted about two years. Since that time he has been alone in general practice. In politics he is a republican; was state senator in the Nineteenth and Twentieth general assemblies.

K. E. Willcockson was born December 25, 1858, in Christian county, Illinois. He attended the common schools, and read law in the office of Judge A. McCaskill, of Taylorville, Illinois, and was admitted to the Illinois bar in May 1882. He practiced law with Judge McCaskill from 1882 to 1886. Mr. Willcockson then removed to Kansas, where he practiced his profession until May, 1901, when he removed to Sigourney, Iowa. He was in partnership with C. M. Brown from 1903 to 1905. He then practiced alone, until he was elected district judge in 1906. He was a member of the state senate of Kansas from January, 1893, to January, 1897. In politics he is a republican.

Daniel W. Hamilton was born in Ogle county, Illinois, December 20, 1861, where he spent his boyhood. In 1874 he came with his parents, Francis and Abigal Hamilton, to Keokuk county, Iowa. He was educated in the common school and the State University, and was graduated and admitted in 1884. In the fall of 1885 he began to practice law at Sigourney. He is now of the firm of Stockman & Hamilton. In the fall of 1906 he was elected to congress in the Sixth district to succeed John F. Lacey. In politics he is a democrat.

D. L. Stockman was born in Keokuk county, Iowa, March 7, 1858, and is the son of J. C. and Mary A. Stockman. He attended the common schools, and graduated from Iowa State College in 1882. He read law with C. H. Mackey, and was admitted to the Iowa bar in 1887. In 1888 the firm of Mackey & Stockman was formed, which continued until Mr. Stockman was elected in 1891 county attorney, which office he held four years. He then, in 1902, formed a partnership with D. W. Hamilton.

F. B. Goeldner was born on a farm in Keokuk county March 5, 1864. He read law in the office of Hon. G. D. Woodin at Sigourney, and was admitted in May, 1892. He began to practice in January, 1893, at Sigourney, where he has continued ever since. He served as county attorney from 1895 to 1899.

John P. Talley was born in Keokuk, Iowa, December 16, 1855. He read law with his uncle, W. G. R. Talley, at loka, and was admitted in 1877. In 1884 he removed to Sigourney. He is a senior member of the firm of Talley & Hamilton. He was clerk of the district court from 1893 to 1894.

Henry F. Wagner is a native of Iowa, having been born in Keokuk county February 11, 1874. He was admitted to the bar in 1898 and began to practice at Sigourney, where he resides.

William C. Gambell was born in Illinois September 25, 1856. He came to Keokuk county in 1882. He was elected prosecuting attorney in the fall of 1899, and in the spring removed to Sigourney. He was admitted to the bar in October, 1895.

Charles C. Henniger was born in Keokuk county May 21, 1874. He graduated from the State University in 1900 and was admitted to the bar. His home is at Sigourney.

W. H. Hamilton, mayor of Sigourney, was born in Keokuk county, May 1, 1877, and was admitted to the bar in 1900. He was county attorney from 1903 to 1904.

The Present Bar

The active attorneys of Keokuk county at this time are as follows:
C. H. Mackey
K. E. Willcockson
F. L. Goeldner
C. C. Heninger
H. F. Wagner
W. C. Gambell
C. M. Brown
Stockman & Hamilton
C. G. Johnston
Talley & Hamilton
H. F. Goeldner
W. D. Howard
J. H. Wyllie
J. C. Beem
T. C. Legoe
O. B. Jones
Frederick Smith
P. L. Moorman
George B. Baker

Source: The Courts and Legal Profession of Iowa, Vol. II
by Ezra Christian Ebersole, 1907