History Courts and the Legal Profession in Saunders County, Nebraska
From: Past and Present Saunders County, Nebraska
A Record of Settlement, Organization, Progress and Achievement
Charles Perky Supervising Editor
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co. Chiago 1915



The bench and bar of Saunders County has, since the beginning in the late '60s, held a place of honor in the State of Nebraska. The judges and lawyers who have practiced their profession in and made Saunders County their home have, with noticeably few exceptions, been of the higher order, men of sterling worth and business integrity. Not only have they been men of character, but have possessed marked ability in their chosen profession. Some of the lawyers who began their work in this county now occupy high positions in this state and other commonwealths.

The attorney's vocation is one of the most dignified among the various occupations of men. Their mission is one that breeds respect; the fact that they interpret the laws of civilization and society, assist in changing chaos into serenity, and aid their fellowmen in solving troubles, gives them authority and power which could be procured in none other of the commoner professions, or occupations, of life.

An early directory of Saunders County, 1876, gives the names of the following men as practicing their profession in the county: M. B. Reese, George W. Burton, Perky and Gilkeson, N. H. Bell, C. S. Copp, Frank Dean and S. H. Sornberger. T. B. Wilson was an early and able lawyer in the county and now lives at Ashland. C. Thompson was another and is now dead. M. B. Reese is now residing in Lincoln where he holds the office of chief justice. A. L. Sprague practiced in the county early. H. D. Perky was a prominent attorney in the county for many years; he is now deceased. N. H. Bell was a familiar lawyer in the Saunders County courts and is now dead. J. R. Gilkeson, a notable figure in Wahoo, is now living in Worcester, Mass. Joseph Arnold lived in Wahoo, as did Charles S. Copp, M. H. Sessions and G. W. Burton. S. H. Sornberger, one of the most highly respected attorneys of the county, is now living in the State of Oklahoma. Frank Dean resides on a farm in the county. C. S. Johnson, later federal judge in Alaska, then district attorney, now deceased, was an early lawyer in the county.

The firm of Copp & Copp was at one time well known. Both of the brothers, C. S. and C. M., are now deceased. Ellis and Sturdevant were the names of two others who labored here. J. K. Landmark, noted elsewhere in this volume, was a very prominent man and was sent to the Legislature. F. V. Kratky was once associated with C. M. Copp. G. I. Wright had an office in the county. A. N. Hancock was here but a short time. Frank A. Scoville, of Valparaiso, practiced law, was elected to the Legislature, and then became a prominent banker of the county. W. S. Stratton was here, also Henry C. Brown, the latter a short time in Ashland. E. S. Merritt, now of Des Moines; G. W. Simpson, deceased; W. A. Stoddard; H. Gilkeson, deceased; V. L. Hawthorne, now in Philadelphia, were other attorneys of this time. The firm of Good & Good was a prominent one in the county. E. E. Good is now serving as district judge and B. F. Good is living in Lincoln, Nebraska. O. C. Tarpening practiced here, but now lives in Oklahoma. Freeman Knowles of Mead and Ceresco was afterwards elected to Congress from South Dakota. W. C. Wright read law here for several years. W. D. Guttery, here at one time, is now the head of the Norfolk (Nebraska) Asylum. M. Newman and B. F. Hines lived here, K. I. Perky became an Idaho senator, George Elbling was a justice of the peace, L. E. Gruver is now living at University Place, William N. Silver practiced with Wright & Guttery. John H. Barry was an early lawyer and still in the practice at Wahoo. H. A. Reese now lives in Lincoln. J. Lawrence Sundean gained quite a reputation in Saunders County; he is now a resident of Minnesota. T. O. Moon is practicing at Ashland. Charles H. Slama was county judge of Saunders County. Judge Slama was well known over this part of the state as a lawyer and jurist. Frank W. Barry, E. E. Placek, Jesse K Galloway, J. F. Berggren, P. P. White are now practicing in the county. A. Z. Donato is the present county judge. C. Petrus Peterson, one of the best know lawyers in Lincoln, Nebraska, now, practiced for years in Saunders County.

A complete list of the attorneys now practicing in the county is as follows: J. F. Berggren, J. H. Barry, A. Z. Donato, J. M. Galloway, P. P. White, E. S. Schiefelbein, Irvin E. Jones, B. E. Hendricks, E. E. Placek, G. H. Simpson, G. N. Parmenter, Charles H. Slama, W. W. Weastrand, Franklin Dean of Wahoo, and H. A. Bryant of Ashland. The firms are Parmenter & Jones and Bryant & Bryant, the latter of Ashland.


The first court in Saunders County was held in the brick schoolhouse on old Main Street at Ashland. This was part of the Second Judicial District. The date was October 23, 1868; George B. Lake was the presiding judge; Henry Reasoner was the sheriff; and Dennis Dean the clerk. The first case to be tried at this court was entitled:

Sarah M. McClure
by her next friend
Joseph McClure - T. M. Marquette, attorney


Isaac Clark and Levi Clark. - W. Pattinger, attorney.

The plaintiff maintained that defendants detained from her four black mares, four cream colored mares, three sorrel mares, four iron gray mares, three gray mares, five bays, one roan and one black horse, valued altogether at $1,500. The case was overruled at the cost of the plaintiff.

The first grand jurors were: B. F. Parker, John Aughe, Andrew Marble, William H. Dech, Addison Carr, Griffith Stevens, William Webster, Thomas Valentine, Hobart Brush, T. D. Look, William Batman, George W. Dean, S. E. Ballow, Calvin Crane, Leonard Dodge and George Cox.

The first petit jurors were: L. K. Bell, W. A. Saunders, W. P. Snell, John Cadwell, James Green, Volney Morgan, A. P. Goulds, Joseph Stambaugh, John Borrow, Jacob Saunders and Andrew Marble.

The first meeting of the jurors was short. There was no business to take their time, consequently they were discharged.

The first district court judge, as written above, was George B. Lake. Following him have been the Hons. George W. Post, Samuel Maxwell, William Goslin, Jr., F. B. Tiffany, A. 31. Post, William Marshall, Edward Bates, Robert Wheeler, S. H. Sedgwick, S. H. Sornberger, B. F. Good, A. J. Evans, George F. Corcoran and E. E. Good.

The following gentlemen have held the office of clerk of the District Court: Dennis Dean, C. H. Walker, F. M. Stratton, B. IL B. Weber, E. E. Lyle, S. G. Chaney, W C Kirchman, Guy A. Brown, L. E. Gruver, P. J. Carey, E. Baker, J. H. Crawford, H. A. Nichols, H. N. Miller and Henry Pickett. The latter is now in office.

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