Lawyers in Fayette County, IA
From: Past and Present of Fayette County, Iowa
B. F. Bowen & Company
Indianapolis, Indiana 1910

By Hon. William E. Fuller.

It is not intended in this chapter to publish a biography of all the lawyers who have practiced in Fayette county. Space will not permit, and therefore we shall only present a brief sketch of those who are deceased.

The first district court held in Fayette county, Iowa, was a special session which was convened in the West Union House, southeast corner of Vine and Elm streets, July 1, 1852, Thomas S. Wilson, judge of the second district, presiding. The first regular term of the district court was held in the old Methodist church in West Union, situated on a lot which was west of the present Universalist church. The court convened in the church or a hall until the court house was finished late in the year of 1857. The majority of the lawyers who practiced their profession in this county prior to 1875 were men of more than ordinary ability and legal attainments. Many of them became lawmakers in state and nation, judges of courts and officers in the war of the Rebellion. We recall as members of the bar prior to 1865 the names of William McClintock, M. V. Burdick, E. C. Byam, C. A. Newcomb, J. W. Rogers. L. L. Ainsworth, Milo McGlathery, S. S. Ainsworth, S. B. Zeigler, J. J. Berkey, Joseph Hobson, C. H. Millar, Henry Rickel, David P. Campbell, John P. Ellis, Fred A. Mitchell, W. B. Lakin, H. W. Harmon, Clark Newcomb, J. W. Towner. During the early years the best lawyers of northeastern Iowa followed the court and practiced in the different counties of the district. For many years Reuben Noble, Samuel Murdock and John T. Stoneman, of Clayton county. had a large practice in this county and other lawyers appeared in special cases.

William McClintock, a practicing attorney in Ohio, was admitted to practice in the courts of this state July 7, 1852. He was born August 13, 1821, and was descended from an old New Hampshire family. Judge McClintock was in practice until 1871. He established the Fayette County Union, and was its editor until 1878. He was postmaster at West Union in 1887-1890. He was one of the leading Democrats of the state, and was the nominee of his party for attorney general and supreme judge. If the Democratic party had been in force during his active years, he would undoubtedly have had much to do in shaping state affairs. Judge McClintock was a good lawyer, well read, and was especially strong in arguing a leading question to the court. He was very determined, and when he made up his mind that he was right he generally, when defeated, carried his case to the court of last resort. He died July 7, 1893.

Martin V. Burdick, at the July term, 1852, was admitted to practice after an examination. He became prosecuting attorney for the county. Prior to 186o he removed from the county and located at Decorah. Iowa. Judge Burdick was a member of the state Senate. He was the first judge of the circuit court of the tenth judicial district. He was a very kindly man and had many friends. He passed away many years ago.

Eber C. Byam was admitted to the bar at the June term, 1853, after an examination. He was born in Canada in 1826. Soon after being admitted to the bar he became a Methodist minister, being at one time presiding elder. He was prominent in connection with the early years of the Upper Iowa University, and was its agent. He left the county prior to the war. He was colonel of the Twenty fourth Iowa Infantry, but resigned in June. 1863. In 1871 he was appointed register of the United States land office at Ft. Dodge and was in the real estate business for several years. He moved to Rochester, New York, and died there many years ago. Colonel Beam had a quick mind but lacked staying qualities.

Carman A. Newcomb, at the June term, 1854, was admitted as a practicing attorney. He was born in Mercer county, Pennsylvania, July 1, 1827. He was elected county attorney in 1854. For three years he was county judge, and during his term he made the contract to erect the first court house in the county. In 1861 he became a member of the first board of supervisors, which office he held until he enlisted in the army. He was commissioned captain, May 27, 1861, of Company F, Third Iowa Infantry. He resigned April 8, 1862, on account of poor health. He moved to St. Louisa, Missouri. In 1864 he was a member of the Missouri Legislature. In the spring of 1866 he was appointed judge of the fifteenth judicial circuit of Missouri, and resigned to make the race for Congress in the fall of 1866. He was elected member of the fortieth Congress. Immediately after his term expired President Grant appointed him United States marshal for the eastern district of Missouri, which office he held several years. He died in St. Louis in April. 1903. The firm of Newcomb & Ainsworth was the leading legal firm in the county prior to the spring of 1861. Judge Newcomb was a fine looking man; he had a musical and far reaching voice and was a very eloquent advocate. The old settlers insist he was the most eloquent speaker who ever resided in the county. He was always invited to address the people on public occasions during his residence in the county.

Jacob W. Rogers, at the May term, 1855, of the district court, after an examination, Was admitted to practice. He was born in New Hampshire, August 15, 1820. He built the first house in the original town of West Union and was the first postmaster. He was appointed clerk of the district court, and was elected to the Legislature in 1854. From 1853 to 1875 he was in the real estate business. For two terms prior to 1861 he was elected county judge. He was captain of Company F, Thirty eighth Iowa Infantry Volunteers. After his return from the war he resumed real estate business. In 1872-3 he was engaged in the real estate business in San Francisco, California. In 1875 he entered the practice of law at Wiest Union with his son, Oscar W. Rogers, under the firm name of J. W. Rogers & Son. This firm had quite a practice for many years. Judge Rogers was a man of strong convictions and determined will. He was a forcible writer and a man of great industry. If he had spent the active period of his life at the law he undoubtedly would have gained more than ordinary success in his profession. He died February 8, 1900.

L. L. Ainsworth was born June 21, 1831, in the state of New York. He was admitted to the bar in Madison county, New York, in 1854. He presented his certificate at the October term of the district court, 1855, and was admitted to the Fayette county bar. He formed, in March, 1856, a law partnership with Judge C. A. Newcomb, which continued for several years. In 186o the firm was Ainsworth & Millar. January 31, 1863, he became captain of Company C, Sixth Regiment Iowa Cavalry. On his return from the army, in the fall of 1865, he returned to the practice of law. In 1875 he formed a partnership with A. N. Hobson (now judge) and the firm of Ainsworth & Hobson was the leading law firm in the county for over twenty five years. Mr. Ainsworth was a Democrat in politics. In 1859 he was elected to the state Senate. In 1872 he was representative. In 1874 he was elected a member of Congress for the third district. L. L. Ainsworth was a very successful lawyer. He had a bright intellect. He knew the strong points in his case, and the weak places in his adversary's armor. He was on the alert in the trial of a law suit. He had a remarkable memory that enabled him to recall the exact words of a witness. He excelled in cross examination. It is no reflection on any one to say that for forty five years he was the leading trial lawyer in Fayette county. During that time he defended in most of the criminal cases and in fact was engaged on one side of nearly every contested case in the county. The Fayette county bar for fifty years enjoyed the reputation of being able. Perhaps this is due largely to the fact that the lawyers, in order to compete with "L. L.," as he was always called, were obliged to study the law and carefully prepare their cases or be defeated by this alert lawyer. He Was a genial and companionable man, and had many friends. Great was the sorrow when he passed away April 19, 1902.

Judge Milo McGlathery became a member of the Fayette county bar at the October term, 1856. He was born in Lawrence county, Pennsylvania, November 20, 1834. On his arrival in this county he formed a partnership with S. B. Zeigler. In 1857 he was elected prosecuting attorney. In the fall of 1858 he was elected district attorney for the tenth judicial district, containing ten counties, and in 1862 was re-elected for four years. In 1866 he was elected district judge and in 1870 re-elected by a unanimous vote. Judge McGlathery made a very successful district judge. He 'was judicial in his temperament and quick to see a point in a case. He was a very popular judge. He died at the early age of forty two years, July 3, 1876.

S. S. Ainsworth was admitted to practice at the October term of the district court, 1856. He was an uncle of L. L. Ainsworth and came from the state of New York. For many years he had been a Baptist minister in his native state. He was a man of fine education and was especially qualified in the English language, Latin and Greek. He entered the practice too late in life to reach great success. He taught a private school many years in West Union and died here April 28, 1898.

S. B. Zeigler was born in Pennsylvania, December 6, 1831. He came to West Union in June, 1856, and immediately commenced the practice of law with Milo McGlathery as partner. He continued the practice of law with real estate business until 1866, when he opened up a private bank, continuing until 1872, when he assisted in organizing the Fayette County National Bank. He was vice president, and so continued until his death, April 19, 1909. He also was president of the Fayette County Savings Bank. During this time he continued in the practice of commercial law and engaged in buying and selling real estate. He was consul at Aix-La-Chappelle, Germany. Mr. Zeigler was mayor of West Union several terms. Be was quite successful in business. When he came to West Union he was poor, but by energy and business thrift he acquired quite a competence. Mr. Zeigler, being a German, had an extensive German clientage and if he had continued in the general practice he would undoubtedly have been as successful as a lawyer as he was as a general business man.

Joseph Hobson was a native of Pennsylvania, born October 17, 1823. He came to Fayette county in April, 18J5, and opened a law office at Fayette, Iowa. In 1858 he was elected clerk of the district court, when he moved to West Union. He held this office for ten years and made a most capable officer. In 1870 he was a member of the Thirteenth General Assembly. For three years he was United States assessor of the third district of Iowa, his office being in Dubuque. Mr. Hobson practiced law in this county for several years, but devoted much time to real estate and business. He was a man of more than ordinary force, a ready speaker, and if he had given his entire time to the law would undoubtedly have made a strong lawyer. He was one of the founders of the Fayette County National Bank and was elected its first president, which office he held for fifteen years. He died December 14, 1893.

William B. Lakin was born in Clermont county, Ohio, and came to Fayette county about 1858. He commenced the practice of the law at Fayette. He had a good education, was well read, and if he had been in good health, and had made the law his one business, would have become one of the successful lawyers. For a time he was an editor of a paper at Fayette. He was a member of the ninth General Assembly and clerk of the courts, 1869-1874. He practiced law a few years at West Union and for several years was justice of the peace. He again moved to Fayette, where he was afflicted with rheumatism for many years and was obliged to use crutches. A few years ago he removed to Miles City, Montana, where his two sons were in business and where he died in January, 1910, nearly eighty years of age. Mr. Lakin was a man of fine character, a versatile writer and a clean and forcible speaker.

A large number prior to 1865, not mentioned, were admitted to the bar, but they either did not practice or sought other fields. In the early days admission to the bar was largely a matter of form and little, if any, examination was required. From 1865 to 1875 several of the lawyers above mentioned continued in active practice. Other lawyers entered the practice, either as juniors in established firms, or alone. During these years we recall the following, many of whom have had successful careers: W. A. Hoyt, William E. Fuller, A. N. Hobson, D. W. Clements, O. W. Rogers, W. V. Allen, G. H. Phillips, A. M. Childs, B. F. Emery, Z. D. Scobey, George E. Dibble, D. G. West, A. W. Callender, James Cooney, L. M. Whitney, A. W. Hager, George B. Edmonds.

Of the members of the bar in this county prior to the year 1875, several sought other fields. We mention the following:

Henry Rickel, born August 16, 1835, came with his parents to Iowa in 1849 and sometime afterward moved to Fayette county. Mr. Rickel read law with L. L. Ainsworth. He was a lieutenant in Company C, Sixth Iowa Cavalry. In 1866 he formed a partnership with Judge McClintock, continuing until 1874, and from that time until 1878 with D. W. Clements, had a large practice. He was full of energy and expedients, and a hard worker. Mr. Rickel has been the architect of his own success for he had few early advantages. Through untiring efforts he has developed into a successful lawyer. In 1878 he removed to Cedar Rapids, where he has had a large practice, being engaged largely in the prosecution of personal injury cases against corporations.

C. H. Millar, born December 25, 1840, in Auburn, New York, came to West Union in 1855 and read law with L. L. Ainsworth, and became his partner. He was captain of Company G, Thirty eighth Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. After the war until 1873 he continued the practice with Mr. Ainsworth. Soon thereafter he left the state and has lived for many years at Denver, Colorado.

John P. Ellis, a very bright lawyer, entered practice in Fayette county about 1862. He was partner of Judge McGlathery about 1865. He moved prior to 1870, to Springfield, Missouri, where he had an extensive practice. Afterwards he became a member of a leading law firm in St. Louis. Mr. Ellis became an eminent lawyer in Missouri. He died in St. Louis several years ago.

O. W. Rogers, the first white child born in the town of West Union, October 2, 1850, entered the practice with his father in 1875 under the name of J. W. Rogers & Son. Oscar was full of energy and had a fine memory, and if he had continued giving the law his entire attention should have become a successful lawyer. In many respects he was a remarkable man. About twelve years ago he left West Union and devoted his time as an inventor, residing most of the time in New York City. He died August 16, 1905, and was buried in West Union cemetery.

William V. Allen was born in Madison county, Ohio, January 28, 1847. He came to Iowa in 1857. Read law with L. L. Ainsworth and was admitted May 31, 1869. He practiced for a time at Fayette, where he married. He moved from Iowa to Nebraska in 1884. In 1891 he was elected district judge in that state. He was elected United States senator, February 7, 1893, for six years. In 1889 he was appointed district judge to fill a vacancy and was elected for a full term. On December 13, 1899, he was appointed United States senator to fill a vacancy. Judge Allen is a man of strong mental force. Immediately on his advent into the United States Senate he took front rank as a debater and was able to hold his own against the most experienced senators. While a member he made the longest record speech ever made in the United States Senate up to the time of its delivery. He still resides in Nebraska

Several of the lawyers who commenced practice in Fayette county since 1865 and remained here have passed away. We mention the following:

W. A. Hoyt was born in Oswego county, New York, April 16, 1844. He had full legal training under the supervision of his uncle, Judge William Allen, a distinguished jurist of New York. Judge Hoyt graduated from Columbia Law School in 1866. He commenced practice in Iowa about 1871 at Fayette. He was elected judge of the district court in the fall of 1889. Judge Hoyt was a thorough gentleman and an excellent lawyer, and he made a successful judge. For several years he was the most active citizen at Fayette and for many years a trustee of the Upper Iowa University and secretary of the board. He died May 28, 1903.

C. H. Quigley was born in Highland, Clayton county, Iowa, December 22, 1853, and died June 2, 1903. He was educated in the common schools and at Upper Iowa University. He was admitted to the bar in 1878 and practiced two years at Waukon, Iowa. He opened a law office in West Union in March, 1891, and successfully practiced in this county until his death. Mr. Quigley was an honorable and upright man, steadfast as a friend and a lawyer of fine legal mind.

L. M. Whitney was born in Canada over sixty years ago. He came to West Union with his parents prior to 1865. He read law in West Union and was admitted to practice in the courts of the state. He practiced in West Union several years, also for a time in Grand Island, Nebraska, but returned to Fayette county and for a number of years practiced law at Oelwein, Iowa. He died about two years ago and was buried at West Union. Mr. Whitney had a good legal mind and was a man of generous impulses.

In the early days the best lawyers in northeastern Iowa practiced in the different counties of the district. For many years Reuben Noble, Samuel Murdock and John T. Stoneman, all of Clayton county, had a large practice in this county, and other lawyers from outside of the county were engaged in important cases. As the above named lawyers were so well known some reference to each should be made in this history.

Judge Reuben Noble was born April 14, 1821, at Kingston, Mississippi. He came to Clayton county, Iowa, in October, 1843. He was prosecuting attorney of that county for two years. In 1855 he was a member of the Iowa Legislature and speaker of the House. In October, 1874, he was elected judge of the district court, which position he held for many years. For at least thirty years of his most active life Judge Noble attended court every term in this county and was engaged in nearly all the important cases. He was a man of solid character, good legal mind and he excelled in the trial of cases before a jury. He possessed a magnetism in speech that was liable to carry a jury in favor of his client. There was an originality of manner and matter in Reuben Noble that was irresistible. He was the center when lawyers gathered together, and he was loved and respected by the entire bar. He was probably the most eloquent and successful trial lawyer in the district. He died more than a dozen years ago in Clayton county.

Judge Samuel Murdock was a native of Pennsylvania, born March 17, 1817. He came to Iowa in 1841, read law at Iowa City, and was admitted to the bar in 1843. He immediately removed to Clayton county. In 1845 he represented that county in the Legislature. He was school commissioner in 1848, which position he held four years. In April, 1854, he was elected the first judge of the tenth judicial district. He was a member of the Legislature again in 1870. Judge Murdock's name will always be associated with the early history of the state. He was original in speech and manner. He had a taste for scientific pursuits and gave much time to the study of astronomy, geology and archeology. Many of his ideas were, to say the least, original. He had quite a power over juries and was regarded as a successful lawyer. He died several years ago in Clayton county.

Judge E. H. Williams was born in Ledyard, Connecticut, July 23, 1819. He was graduated from Yale and removed to Iowa in 1846, and located at Garnavillo. He served as county judge in Clayton county and was elected district judge in 1858 and served until 1866. In January, 1870, he was appointed supreme judge to fill a vacancy. Judge Williams for a number of years was engaged in the promotion of railroad enterprises. He was a positive character and a man of marked ability. He died August 20, 1891.

Judge Charles T. Granger was born October 9, 1835. He was admitted to the bar at Waukon in 1860. He entered the army as captain of Company K, Twenty seventh Regiment Iowa Volunteer Infantry. He became district attorney in 1869 and served until 1873. He then became circuit judge and held that office fourteen years. From January, 1887, to January, 1889, he was district judge. He was elevated to the position of judge of the supreme court, which office he held two terms. His home is at Taukon, Iowa. Judge Granger's name was inserted because he was so well known to the people of this county, he being at every term of court, either as district attorney or judge, for twenty years.

John T. Stoneman. of McGregor, and L. O. Hatch, of Waukon, were frequent practitioners in the district court in Fayette county. The latter was district attorney and judge of the district court.

These lawyers herein sketched have all passed away, except Judge Granger, or removed from the county. They were all eminent in their profession, good citizens and left state wide reputations.

Our limits will not permit a sketch of the members of the bar who were admitted since 1875. The following names appear on the bar docket other than those heretofore mentioned: F. M, Aylesworth, A. J. Anders, C. H. Quigley, C. G. Graham, H. P. Hancock, John Hutchinson, B. F. Little, D. Palmer, T. D. Peterman, R. R. Pember, H. S. Sheldon, C. Seeber, I. M. Weed, J. F. Cornish, W. B. Clements, D. McDonald, Loven Risk, E. L. Elliott. W. H. Thompson, John R. Thompson, H. Hollingsworth, L. J. Palda.

The following judges have presided over the district and circuit courts in Fayette county: Thomas S. Wilson, Samuel Murdock, E. H. Williams, Milo McGlathery, Reuben Noble, E. E. Cooley, B. T. Hunt, C. T. Granger, L. O. Hatch, W. A. Hoyt.

For about sixteen years our present judges, L. E. Fellows, of Lansing, Allamakee county, and A. N. Hobson, West Union, Fayette county, have presided over our district courts. They are held in high esteem by the bar and people and are worthy successors to the able judges who have presided over our county in the past.

The last bar docket, April, 1910, gives the following names as members of the Fayette county bar. These lawyers are doing the legal business of the county and are capable successors to the eminent lawyers who preceded them in practice in the county and district: A. J. Anders, W. J. Ainsworth, H. L. Adams, J. J. Berkey, G. W. Backus, J. R. Bane, D. W. Clements, James Cooney, A. W. Callender, Jay Cook, C. W. Dykins, G. E. Dibble. E. H. Estey, William E. Fuller, H. P. Hancock, A. N. Hobson, C. B. Hughes. W. B. Ingersoll, A. E. Irvine, John Jamison, William Larrabee, Jr., W. C. Lewis, E. J. O'Connor, E. R. O'Brien, D. D. Palmer, G. H. Phillips, M. D. Porter, W. J. Rogers, C. H. Rohrig, O. W. Stevenson.

As an evidence of the prominence and ability of the foregoing list of present day lawyers in the county, be it said that it includes the names of three ex-county attorneys and the present incumbent; a state senator and representative in the Legislature; one ex-congressman and ex-assistant attorney general of the United States; one ex-judge of the superior court and the present incumbent in that office; a judge of the district court now serving the sixteenth year in that office, and the grand master, jurisdiction of Iowa, Free and Accepted Masons.

They also figure prominently in the business and social affairs of the towns which they represent, and wield a commanding influence in the politics of the county. Every political party having an organization today has its representatives in the Fayette county bar, which is practically true of the churches and fraternal organizations.

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