Part 5 out of 11
to this or that political organization or party.
In 1858, came before the court the historic case of the Oberlin-Wellington
Rescue. The facts of the case were, briefly, that on the first of March,
1857, a negro slave named John, the property of John G. Bacon, of
Kentucky, escaped across the river into Ohio. In October, 1858, the negro
was traced out and arrested within the Northern District of Ohio, by one
Anderson Jennings, holding a power of attorney from Bacon. In company with
an assistant named Love, Jennings took the negro to Wellington, Lorain
county, with the purpose of taking the cars for Cincinnati, and thence
returning the negro to Kentucky and remitting him to slavery. A number of
residents of Oberlin concerted a plan of rescue marched to Wellington,
entered the hotel where John was kept, took him from his captors, placed
him in a buggy, and carried him off. Indictments were found against the
leading rescuers, who comprised among others some of the leading men of
the college and village of Oberlin, and they were brought to trial, fined,
and imprisoned. The trial created great excitement, and, whilst it was
pending, a monster demonstration against the Fugitive Slave Law was held
on the Public Square, midway between the building where the court held its
sessions and the jail in which the accused were confined. At one time
fears were entertained of violence, threats being freely uttered by some
of the more headstrong that the law should be defied and the prisoners
released by force. Cooler counsels prevailed, and the law, odious as it
was felt to be, was allowed to take its course. In this exciting time the
charges and judgments of Judge Willson were calm and dispassionate, wholly
divested of partisanship, and merely pointing out the provisions of the
law and the necessity of obedience to it, however irksome such obedience
might be, until it was repealed.
[Illustration: H. V. Willson]
In the November term of 1859, when the public mind was still agitated by
the John Brown raid and by the tragic affairs succeeding it, and when the
excitement of the Oberlin-Wellington Rescue had not wholly subsided, the
attention of Judge Willson was called to these matters by the District
Attorney, and in his charge to the grand jury he took occasion to define
the law of treason, with especial bearing on those events. It was a clear,
logical exposition of the law, pointing out the line of distinction
between a meeting for the expression of opinions hostile to the Government
and a gathering for the purpose of violently opposing or overturning the
In 1861, when the rebellion had broken out, and it was supposed
sympathizers with it were in Ohio plotting aid to the rebels, Judge
Willson delivered a charge to the grand jury, again defining the law in
regard to conspiracy and treason, and in the course of his address
took occasion to unreservedly condemn the motives and actions of the
rebels. He said:
The loyal people of this great nation have enjoyed the blessings of our
excellent Constitution too long and too well, to be insensible of its
value or to permit its destruction. They have not yet been schooled to
the heresy, that this noble Government is a mere myth, or that it is
destitute of the inherent power of perpetuating its own existence. On
the contrary, next to their religion, they love and cherish it above all
things on earth, not only because it is the rich and sacred legacy of a
revered and patriotic ancestry, but because it is a Government of law,
possessing the authority to maintain social and civil order, giving to
its citizens security of property, of person and of life.
It is not surprising, therefore, that this bold and mad rebellion in the
Southern States, has excited, in all patriotic hearts, a spontaneous and
indignant feeling against treason and traitors, wherever they may be
found in our land. It is a rebellion without cause and without
justification. It had its conception in the wicked hearts of ambitious
men. Possibly, some of the chief conspirators may be actuated by the
spirit of the sacrilegious incendiary who fired the Ephesian temple to
immortalize his name by the infamy of the act.
Let the motives of the conspirators be what they may, this open,
organized and armed resistance to the Government of the United States is
_treason_, and those engaged in it justly merit the penalty denounced
Nor should we be misled by false notions of the reserved right of the
States to secede from the Union. This assumed right, claimed by the
States in rebellion, is false in theory; it is of the highest criminalty
in practice, and without the semblance of authority in the Constitution.
The right of secession, (said the lamented Webster,) "as a practical
right, existing under the Constitution, is simply an absurdity; for it
supposes resistance to Government under the authority of the Government
itself--it supposes dismemberment without violating the principles of
Union--it supposes opposition to law without crime--it sanctions the
violation of oaths without responsibility, and the total overthrow of
the Government without revolution."
The history of this wicked rebellion already shows that many of those
who have shared the largest in the offices and emoluments, as well as in
the blessings of the National Government, have fallen the lowest in
infamy in attempting its overthrow.
If this Union is to be perpetuated, and the Government itself is to
exist as a power among the nations, its laws must be enforced at all
hazards and at any cost. And especially should courts and juries do
their whole duty, without respect to persons, when crimes are committed,
tending to the subversion of the Government and the destruction of our
At the January term, 1864, he delivered another admirable charge, in which
he discussed the questions arising under the then recent act of Congress
authorizing a draft under the direction of the President without the
intervention of the State authorities, and by a very logical and
conclusive argument established the constitutional validity of the act in
question. The crime of resisting the draft, obstructing its execution by
the officers appointed for that purpose, and enticing soldiers to desert,
were defined with great clearness, resisting the enrolling officer being
held to be within the offences embraced in the act. These were but a few
of the topics treated by the Judge. The entire charge was able, well-timed
and patriotic, and was admirably calculated to conciliate and unite public
opinion in support of the law and the measures of the Government to
In 1865, the health of Judge Willson began to give way and symptoms of
consumption appeared. He was strongly urged by his friends to leave his
business for a time and seek the restoration of his health in a milder
climate. As Winter approached he yielded to their persuasions and visited
New Orleans and the West Indies. Unhappily the weather was unusually
severe for those latitudes, and he derived no benefit from his trip. He
was glad to reach the quiet and comfort of home once more. His sense of
duty was so strong that, though unfit to leave his home, he came down to
the city, opened court, so as to set the machinery in order, but found
himself unable to preside and was compelled to return home, where he
awaited in patience the coming of the destroyer.
On the evening of November 11th, 1866, he died. A few hours before his
death he suffered much, his breathing being labored and painful. As his
end approached, however, he became easier, and his life went out without a
struggle. Some months earlier, the Judge, who had for years been an
attendant of the services in the First Presbyterian church, and an active
supporter of that congregation, made a profession of religion and received
the rite of baptism. He was perfectly conscious to the close of his life,
and although hopeful of recovery, as is usual with the victims of
consumption, had been fully aware of his precarious situation, and had
thoughtfully contemplated his approaching end. He left a widow and a
daughter, Mrs. Chamberlin, well provided for.
On the announcement of his death the members of the Cleveland Bar
immediately assembled, and young or old, of all shades of opinion in the
profession, vied with each other in bearing testimony to the uprightness,
ability, and moral worth of the deceased. His death occasioned unaffected
sorrow among those who had known him, and among the large number of his
legal brethren who had greater or less opportunities of official
intercourse with him he did not leave a single enemy. The Bar meeting
unanimously adopted the following resolutions of respect:
We, the members of the Bar of the Northern District of Ohio having
learned that our brother, the Hon. Hiram V. Willson, departed this life
yesterday evening, (Nov. 11,) at his residence, and desiring to pay a
tribute of affection and respect to one who was our beloved associate at
this Bar for twenty-one years, and anxious also to acknowledge our
obligation to him, by whose influence and labors the Courts of the
United States were established in our midst, and who has so ably and
uprightly presided over those Courts for a period of more than eleven
years, do hereby
_Resolve,_ 1st. That in the death of Judge Willson the Bench has lost a
learned, upright and fearless Judge, ever doing right and equity among
the suitors of his Court, fearing only the errors and mistakes to which
a fallible human judgment is ever liable. Urbanity and courtesy to the
older members of the Bar, protecting and loving kindness to its younger
members, and deep and abiding interest in the reputation of all, were
among his distinguishing characteristics.
2d. That in him we have lost a near and dear friend, disliked,
disrelished by none, but esteemed and loved by all.
3d. That we wear the usual mourning and attend his funeral in a body, on
4th. That the Chairman of this Committee present this report to our
Court of Common Pleas, and request the same to be entered on the record
of said Court.
5th. That the United States District Attorney for Northern Ohio be
requested to present this report to the Circuit and District Courts of
said District at their next term and request that the same be entered
and recorded in said Courts.
6th. That the officers of this meeting be directed to send a copy of its
proceedings to the family of the deceased.
At the opening of the next term of the United States District Court under
Judge Sherman, the successor to Judge Willson, these resolutions were
read, and warm eulogies on the deceased were made by U. S. District
Attorney, F. J. Dickman, U. S. Commissioner Bushnell White, George W.
Willey Esq., Hon. K. P. Spalding and Judge Sherman.
The funeral services over the remains of Judge Willson were held in the
First Presbyterian church, conducted by Rev. Dr. Atterburry, assisted by
Rev. Dr. Aiken. The Supreme Court of Ohio, United States Courts of
Pennsylvania and Michigan, the Cleveland Bench and Bar, and the City
Government were fully represented at the ceremonies, which were also
participated in by a very large concourse of citizens.
As a member of the legal profession, both on the Bench and at the Bar, as
the chief magistrate of the city, and as an United States revenue officer,
and as a citizen of Cleveland, Samuel Starkweather has held honorable
prominence for forty years.
He was born in the village of Pawtucket, Massachusetts, on the border of
Rhode Island, a village celebrated as the seat of the first cotton
manufactures in the United States. He was the son of the Honorable Oliver
Starkweather, an extensive and successful manufacturer, and grandson of
the Honorable Ephraim Starkweather, who was prominent among the patriots
of the Revolution.
The subject of this sketch worked on a farm until nearly seventeen years
of age, when he began to fit himself for college, after which he entered
Brown University, Rhode Island, where he graduated with the second honors
of his class, in the year 1822, and was soon afterward elected a tutor in
that institution, which position he held until the year 1824, when he
resigned, to commence the study of the law, which he pursued in the office
of Judge Swift, in Windham, Connecticut, and afterwards in attendance upon
the lectures of Chancellor Kent, of New York. He was admitted to the Bar
of Ohio at Columbus, in the Winter of 1826-7, and soon after settled in
Cleveland, then a village of a few hundred inhabitants, and was recognized
as a lawyer of learning and ability in this and the adjoining counties.
Mr. Starkweather was prominent among the leaders of the Democratic party
of this State, when its principles were well defined, and was a strong
adherent to the administrations of Presidents Jackson and Van Buren, but
his being always in the political minority in the part of the State in
which he lived, prevented those high political preferments which otherwise
would have been conferred upon him. In this connection it is proper to
say, that for Mr. Starkweather to have attained the highest eminence in
the legal profession, it was only necessary that he should have made it
Under the administrations of Presidents Jackson and Van Buren, Mr.
Starkweather held the office of Collector of Customs of this District, and
Superintendent of Light-Houses, and under his supervision most of the
sites were purchased, and the light-houses erected on the Southern shore
of Lake Erie. He continued to hold these offices in connection with his
practice of the law, until 1840.
In 1844, Mr. Starkweather was elected Mayor of the city of Cleveland,
having previously taken a leading part in the City Councils. He was
re-elected in 1845, and was again elected Mayor in 1857, for two years,
and in these positions was active in promoting those improvements in the
city which have tended to its prosperity and beauty. To Mr. Starkweather
the public schools of the city are much indebted for the interest which he
has always taken in their behalf; and to his advocacy and efforts, with
those of Mr. Charles Bradburn, the High School of the city owes its first
In the early struggles for advancing the schemes of railroads, the
accomplishment of which has made Cleveland the great city of commerce and
manufactures, no one was more active than Mr. Starkweather. When the
project of building the Cleveland & Columbus road was at a stand-still,
and was on the point of being, for the time, abandoned, as a final effort
a meeting of the business men of Cleveland was called. The speech of Mr.
Starkweather on that occasion, parts of which are quoted to this day, had
the effect to breathe into that enterprise the breath of life, and from
that meeting it went immediately onward to its final completion. So well
were the services of Mr. Starkweather in behalf of that road appreciated
at the time, that one of the Directors proposed that he should have a
pass upon it for life.
Mr. Starkweather, in 1852, was the first Judge elected to the Court of
Common Pleas for Cuyahoga county, under the new constitution of the State,
in which position he served for five years with ability and satisfaction
to the members of the Bar and the public generally. For a considerable
portion of his term, the entire docket of both civil and criminal business
devolved on Mm, when an additional Judge was allowed the county. He
presided at some very important State trials, in which, as in the
disposition of a very large amount of civil business, he exhibited
abundant legal learning and judicial discrimination.
Since he retired from the Bench he has been known as a citizen of wealth,
of retired habits, but of influence in public affairs, and retaining to
the full the conversational gifts which have made him the life and charm
of social and professional circles. Indeed it may be said that either at
the Bar, in well remembered efforts of marked brilliancy as an advocate,
or on the Bench, occasionally illuminating the soberness of judicial
proceedings, or in assemblies on prominent public occasions occurring all
through his life, eloquence, wit and humor seemed ready to his use. A fine
_belle lettres_ scholar, classical, historical and biographical adornments
and incidents seemed always naturally to flow in to enrich his discourse,
whether in private or public. He has often been spoken of as of the Corwin
cast, perhaps a slight personal resemblance aiding the suggestion. He
certainly has the like gifts of the charming conversationalist and the
popular orator, in which last capacity, for many years, he was the prompt
choice of the public on leading occasions, such as at the grand reception
given to Van Buren after his defeat in 1840; the magnificent reception
tendered by the city to Kossuth; at the completion of the Cleveland &
Columbus Railway on the 22nd of February, 1852; at the dedication of
Woodland Cemetery, and at many other times when the public were most
anxious to put a gifted man forward.
[Illustration: Truly Yours, Moses Kelly]
The subject of this sketch was born January 21st, 1809, in the township of
Groveland, now county of Livingston, then county of Ontario, State of New
York. He was the oldest son of Daniel Kelly, who emigrated from the State
of Pennsylvania to Western New York in the year 1797. He is of
Scotch-Irish descent in the paternal line, and of German descent on the
side of his mother. His great grandfather, on his father's side, emigrated
from the North of Ireland to America, early in the eighteenth century, and
settled in the State of Pennsylvania, within a few miles of the city of
Philadelphia; his grandfather, born there, was a Revolutionary soldier.
Mr. Kelly lived with his father, on a farm in Groveland, until he was
eighteen years old, having the usual advantages, and following the
ordinary pursuits of a farmer's son.
At the age of eighteen he entered the High School on Temple Hill, in the
village of Genesee, Livingston county, New York, and commenced preparing
for college, under the tuition of that eminent scholar and accomplished
educator, the late Cornelius C. Felton, who subsequently became President
of Harvard University. Mr. Kelly entered the Freshman class at Harvard in
1829, and graduated with his class in the year 1833. He immediately
commenced the study of the law, with the late Orlando Hastings, Esq., of
Rochester, N. Y., and read three years in his office and under his
direction, when he was admitted to practice. He came to Cleveland in the
year 1836, and formed a law copartnership with his old friend, college
classmate and chum, the Hon. Thomas Bolton; the firm name was Bolton &
Kelly. This partnership continued until the year 1851, when S. O. Griswold
Esq., who had been their law student, was taken into the firm; the firm
name thereafter being Bolton, Kelly & Griswold. This connection continued
until the close of the year 1856, when Mr. Bolton was elected Judge of the
Court of Common Pleas. Since Judge Bolton retired from the firm Messrs.
Kelly & Griswold have continued the practice of law under that firm name,
and are still engaged in the practice.
Mr. Kelly has made commercial law and equity jurisprudence his special
studies, and in these branches of the law his great skill and learning are
acknowledged by all his brethren. Indeed, as an equity lawyer he stands at
the head of the profession.
It will be seen from the year 1836 until the present time, Mr. Kelly has
devoted himself closely to the practice of the law; the only interruption
to this was a two years service as State senator in the legislature of
Ohio during the years 1844 and 1845. He was elected to the senate by the
Whig party of the counties of Cuyahoga and Geauga, these two counties then
composing one senatorial district. During the first session of the General
Assembly, of which he was a member, the Democrats had a majority in the
Senate while the Whigs had the control of the lower house. As is usual
when a legislature is thus politically divided, no measures of general
interest were adopted. But there happened during that session to arise a
question which showed Mr. Kelly's independence, and true character. The
Democracy had made complaint of the Whig extravagance and laid great claim
on their own part to retrenchment and economy in the State administration.
The Whigs to make political capital, proposed a bill reducing the salaries
of all State officers; the salary of the Judges was put at $750 per year
and the pay of all other State officials in the same ratio. The measure
was adopted by the party caucus, and was carried through the lower house.
It was hoped by many that the Senate, being Democratic, would defeat the
bill, and thus the Whigs would have credit for great economy at the
expense of the Democrats. But when it came to that body, the Democracy,
not to be out done by their opponents, favored the bill.
Mr. Kelly, singly and alone of all his party, opposed the measure, and
spoke and voted against it. The bill was finally carried but was repealed
in the course of a year or two afterwards.
The most prominent subject before the legislature at the second session
was the establishment of a suitable banking system for the State. The
business men of Cleveland were in favor of free banks, but the great body
of the Whig party were strongly in favor of a State Bank and branches, and
having a majority in both houses in the session of 1845 were determined to
establish that system. Mr. Kelly succeeded in engrafting upon the State
Bank scheme the Independent Bank system, with State stocks pledged to
secure the circulation, and also in adding additional checks and
safeguards to the State Bank. His efforts in this direction were duly
appreciated by his constituents, and at a public meeting, called by the
principal business men of the city, irrespective of party, his action on
the Bank bill was specially approved.
It is to be observed also that the present National Bank system is modeled
after the plan of free banking advocated by Mr. Kelly at that time.
During the same session a question arose in which Mr. Kelly took an
active part, in opposition to the great body of his party, the event of
which vindicated his sagacity and practical statesmanship. The question
was upon a bill to grant to the Ohio Life and Trust Company authority to
issue bills to circulate as currency, to the extent of half a million of
dollars. At the time this bill was introduced no banking System had been
adopted by the legislature; most of the charters of the old banks had
expired prior to that time, and the State was without an adequate bank
circulation of its own. The chief stockholders and managers of that
corporation were men of high character and great wealth. The company had
been successfully managed, and its credit was then deservedly high. Also
the principal men of the company were leading Whigs, among these were
Judges Jacob Burnett and John E. Wright of Cincinnati, Nathaniel Wright
of Cincinnati and Alfred Kelley Esq., who was also at the same time a
member of the senate from the Franklin district, and this application on
the part of the company was backed by the presence and Personal influence
of these gentlemen. The plea made by this company for this additional
banking privilege was exceedingly plausible, and the measure was approved
in a caucus of the Whig members almost without inquiry. The bill was
introduced into the Senate by the Hon. Alfred Kelley, and its success was
considered certain. Mr. Moses Kelly, alone of his party, expressed his
opposition to the bill. Urged as the measure was by so many leading men,'
and introduced by the acknowledged leader of the party, it seemed that
such opposition must be fruitless. But on the third reading of the bill
Mr. Kelly attacked it in a speech of great vigor, and strength of
argument. He opposed it as unjust towards any banking system that might
be established and as unwise in giving additional privileges to an
already powerful corporation. Bat he opposed it chiefly because it gave
to the corporation power to issue bills as money simply on individual
security. He contended that whenever the State permitted any corporation
or organization to issue bills to pass as money the faith of the State
should be pledged to their ultimate redemption. While paying a high
compliment to the ability and integrity of the managers of the Ohio Life
and Trust Company, he declared there was no security but what in the
future it might pass into the control of Wall street shavers and brokers,
and from thence to ruin, and the people of the State left remediless with
a worthless circulation in their hands. His vigorous opposition, and the
strength of his argument awakened the attention of the party to the evils
of the measure, and notwithstanding its powerful backing, the bill was
effectually killed by Mr. Kelly's speech.
Mr. Alfred Kelley was greatly grieved at the failure of this measure. He
however lived to see his error, and the ruinous failure of that company
through the recklessness of the Wall street management into whose hands,
as had been predicted, that company finally fell. Judge John C. Wright,
now in Columbus, advocated the aforesaid measure. He was then the senior
editor of the Cincinnati Gazette, and the influence of his paper was given
to the bill. Although old, he was in the full enjoyment of his powers of
intellect, and at that time wielded a great influence in the political
affairs of the State. It happened that he was present in the senate
chamber when Mr. Kelly made his speech against the bill; although
chagrined at the defeat of the measure in which he had such personal
interest, so struck was he with the originality and force of the argument
of Mr. Kelly, and with his independence of character, and ability to rise
above mere party considerations in his legislative career, that he sought
Mr. Kelly's personal acquaintance, and during the remainder of his life
there existed a warm personal friendship between them.
At the expiration of his term of service Mr. Kelly returned to the
practice and ever since has devoted his energies to his profession. The
office of Bolton & Kelly has been the school of many prominent lawyers.
Among the members of the Cleveland Bar who studied under them are Messrs.
F. T. Backus, George Willey, John E. Cary and his present partner, Mr.
Griswold. Mr. Kelly was City Attorney in the year 1839, and a member of
the City Council in 1841. While he was in the Council he was active in
support of the Lake Shore improvement, which stopped the rapid
encroachment of the Lake upon the shore in front of Lake street.
In 1849, Mr. Kelly was appointed by the legislature one of the
Commissioners of the city of Cleveland to subscribe on behalf of the city
to the capital stock of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad Company. He
accepted the trust, and for a number of successive years thereafter, until
the stock of the city in that road was disposed of, was chosen a Director
of the Cleveland & Pittsburgh Railroad Company, to represent the
interests of this city in the capital stock of that company.
In September, 1866, he was appointed by President Johnson District
Attorney of the United States for the Northern District of Ohio, and held
the office until the next March, not having been confirmed by the Radical
senate for the reason that he had been a member of the Philadelphia
Convention of the previous summer.
On the organization of the City Bank of Cleveland under the law of 1845,
Mr. Kelly became a stockholder therein and was a director, and its
attorney, during its existence, and has continued in the same connection
with the National City Bank which succeeded the former. He also for a
number of years has been a director and attorney of the Cuyahoga Steam
Mr. Kelly was one of the organizers of St. Paul's Episcopal church, and
has always remained a liberal supporter of the same.
He was married in the year 1839 to Jane, the daughter of Gen. Hezekiah
Howe, of New Haven, Conn.
In 1850, Mr. Kelly purchased a tract of about thirty acres, being a part
of what was then known as the "Giddings farm," fronting on Euclid avenue,
a short distance East of Willson avenue. Here he soon after erected a
tasteful dwelling, where he has since resided, and where in the leisure
snatched from professional avocations he has gratified his taste for
horticultural and agricultural pursuits.
In person Mr. Kelly is tall and spare, and dignified in demeanor, and
although he has reached three score, he is still active and in good
health. His character for integrity is unblemished and in his long
professional career has never been known to uphold or defend a
dishonorable cause. His rule has been to decline advocating causes which,
in his judgment, have neither merits nor justice. In social intercourse he
is affable and genial, and in public, private and professional life, has
always commanded the respect, esteem and confidence of his fellow men.
Firm in his convictions of duty, and resolute in doing it, yet so
respectful and courteous to opponents is he that he may be said to be a
man without an enemy.
The great rise in real estate and his professional earnings have rendered
Mr. Kelly, if not what in these days would be called wealthy,
comparatively rich, and surrounded, as he is, by an affectionate family
and kind friends and possessed of all the enjoyments which culture and a
successful life brings, we trust he may long continue amongst us.
It has been said of history, that it should never venture to deal
except with periods comparatively remote. And this was doubtless true
when literature was venal, or in any way subservient to royal or to
It has been alike suggested of biography, that it cannot be securely
trusted in the portrayal of the living. And this is no doubt true where
political or partisan objects are sought to be subserved. But with this
exception the most faithful portraits may naturally be expected where
the subjects of them are before us, and familiarly known to us. And so
that the hand refrains from those warmer tints which personal friendship
might inspire, and simply aims at sketches which the general judgment
may recognize and approve, the task, however difficult, cannot be said
to be unsafe.
Thomas Bolton was born in Scipio, Cayuga county, New York, November 29th,
1809. His father was an extensive farmer in that section of western New
York, where rich fields, and flowing streams, and beautiful scenery, are
At seventeen he entered the High School on Temple Hill, in Geneseo, where
he fitted for college; and in the Fall of 1829, he entered Harvard
University, where he graduated in 1833, the first in his class in
mathematics. In this connection, it is pleasant to advert to the fact
that his most intimate schoolmate, classmate and fellow graduate, was
Hon. Moses Kelly, who was afterwards his partner in the law for many
years at Cleveland, and that between the two from boyhood down to the
present day, there has been a steadfast and unbroken life-friendship
almost fraternal, both now in affluence, but still living side by side.
Such life-long friendships are unusual, but whenever they do exist, they
imply the presence in both parties of true and trusty qualities which
preserve their character as pure cement, exposed to any atmosphere, or
tried in any furnace.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, Thomas Bolton]
After graduating, Mr. Bolton entered upon the study of law at
Canandaigua, in the office of John G. Spencer, now deceased, but then a
strong and distinguished name in the profession. At the end of a year he
came west, to seek a permanent location to further pursue his studies and
enter upon the practice, first stopping at Cleveland, on finding that any
further west was hardly within the pale of civilization. Cleveland itself
was then, September, 1834, but a mere village, of about twenty-five
hundred inhabitants. Superior street had not been graded, and at its
western terminus was higher than the first story of the Atwater Block, and
the bank of the lake extended fifteen rods out beyond the present Union
Depot. The village did not become a city till 1836, when at a public
meeting to determine upon the corporate limits, Mr. Bolton was appointed
on a committee to draft the charter, and urged that both sides of the
river should be embraced, but was overruled, and Ohio City was established
on the other side of the river as a sort of rival, but since consolidated
with Cleveland. His connection with city affairs was renewed as
Councilman in 1839, and as Alderman in 1841.
But to go back to his professional life. Having studied law in the office
of James L. Conger, at Cleveland, for a year, he was admitted to the Bar
in September, 1835, by the Supreme Court of Ohio, on the Circuit, Chief
Justice Peter Hitchcock, that Nestor among judges, then presiding. He was
in partnership with Mr. Conger for a year, when he bought him out and sent
for his old college friend, Mr. Kelly, with whom he formed a partnership,
which continued until the Fall of 1856, a period of twenty years, when he
was elected to the Bench.
As bearing upon his political career, it may be narrated, that in the Fall
of 1839, he was elected prosecuting attorney of the county, at which time
the Whig party was largely in the ascendancy, commanding from 1,500 to
2,000 majority, though he was a Democrat and nominated by the Democrats
for the office. Two years later, at the expiration of his term, he was
strongly solicited by both parties to take the office another term, but
declined in consequence of the inadequacy of the salary.
An incident occurred during his term as prosecuting attorney which had a
marked effect upon the politics of Cleveland and its vicinity. Up to 1841,
slave-owners were in the habit of sending their agents to Cleveland and
causing their runaway slaves to be arrested and taken before a magistrate,
when a warrant would be obtained to return the slave, and he would be
carried back into slavery. All this was done openly and publicly, creating
little or no excitement, and Mr. Bolton, in the practice of his
profession, was more frequently employed for this purpose than any other
attorney in the city. In the Spring of 1841, three negroes, who were
claimed as slaves, had run away from New Orleans and were in Buffalo. The
agent of their master applied to a law firm in Cleveland for assistance.
At that time, slaves arrested in Buffalo were in the habit of claiming a
trial by jury, which was granted. To avoid a jury, with its sympathies, it
was thought advisable to get the negroes into Ohio, and, accordingly, one
of the attorneys, the agent and a negro of Cleveland, repaired to Buffalo.
On their return the three negroes came with them, and it was said they had
been kidnapped. On their arrival at Cleveland, the negroes were arrested
under the law of Congress as fugitives from service, and lodged in the
county jail. This information coming to the ears of the few Abolitionists
then in the city, among others the late Hon. Edward Wade and Hon. John A.
Foot, lawyers at the time in full practice, they applied to the jailor for
admission to consult with the negroes. But public opinion was so strongly
prejudiced against the Abolitionists that neither the jailor nor the
sheriff would permit any of them to communicate with the prisoners.
Accidentally, a colored man inquired of Mr. Bolton if he would take up
their defence. He readily assented, and being prosecuting attorney of the
county, and it being well understood that he was not an Abolitionist, the
doors of the jail were readily opened to him, and he immediately made
preparations for a vigorous defence of the prisoners. A writ of _habeas
corpus_ was immediately applied for to Judge Barber, one of the associate
judges at the time; the negroes were brought before him, and their case
continued for ninety days, to prepare for a defence.
When it was known about town that Mr. Bolton had undertaken the defence of
the negroes, great indignation was excited, and many threatened to tear
down his office, and to use violence toward his person. This only aroused
him to greater energy and effort in behalf of the prisoners. In the
meantime indictments were procured in Buffalo against the alleged
kidnappers, and the excitement in the city greatly increased, so that on
the day of the trial the court-house was packed with people. After an
investigation, which lasted two days, the court discharged the defendants
and they went acquit.
From the iniquitous proceeding in the case, and the manner in which it
was prosecuted, and the excitement it produced, the community was led to
reflect upon the iniquity of the system and the oppression of the law;
and from that day till the slave-girl Lucy was sent back into Virginia
slavery, in 1862, (to appease, it is said, the wrath of the rebels,) not
a negro was sent back into slavery from the city of Cleveland, or county
Mr. Bolton left the Democratic party in 1848, or, as he claims, it left
him when it adopted its national platform of that year. He then joined the
Free Soil party, and was a delegate to the Buffalo Convention, and one of
its secretaries. In February, 1856, he assisted in organizing the
Republican party at the Pittsburgh Convention, and in the Summer of the
same year was a delegate from this Congressional District in the
Philadelphia Convention, which nominated Fremont and Dayton.
When he was admitted to the Bar, the Court of Common Pleas, under the old
Constitution, consisted of four members, a president judge and three
associates, elected by the Legislature, and the Supreme Court of the State
consisted of four judges, also chosen by the Legislature. A session of the
Supreme Court was held by two of its members once a year in each county,
and three sessions a year were held by the Court of Common Pleas in this
and the adjoining counties. In 1835, Hon. Matthew Birchard, of Warren, was
president judge. He was succeeded by Hon. Van R. Humphrey, of Hudson, and
he by Hon. John W. Willey, of Cleveland, who died during his term. Hon.
Reuben Hitchcock was appointed by the Governor to fill the vacancy, and
Hon. Benjamin Bissel, of Painesville, was elected by the Legislature during
the next session. Hon. Philemon Bliss, then of Elyria, and now Supreme
Judge of Missouri, was afterward elected, and his term was cut short in
1851, by the adoption of the new Constitution, under which the judges were
elected by the people for the term of five years. Hon. Samuel Starkweather
was the first judge elected under the new system, and in 1856. Mr. Bolton
was chosen his successor. In 1861, he was unanimounanimouslynated and
elected without opposition, and in 1866, at the expiration of his second
term, he retired from the Bench and the Bar.
We thus complete our outline sketch of the professional, judicial, and
political career of one of our most prominent and respected citizens.
He came to the Bar of Cleveland before Cleveland was a city, and entered
upon practice with that force and earnestness which were the ruling
elements of his nature. He had able competitors, but he was a strong man
amongst them. His promptness in the courts was proverbial. He was always
ready, and if he granted indulgences he never asked for any. He was less
given to books than his partner, Mr. Kelly, who was the student and
chancery member of the firm, but in the ordinary departments of the common
law and in criminal practice, he was always at home. He prepared his
causes with the most thorough premeditation of the line of his own
evidence, and of all the opposing evidence that could possibly be
anticipated. Hence he moved with rapidity and precision, and was never
taken by surprise. His arguments were not elaborate, or studied in point
of finish, but they were strong, downright practical, and to the point. In
this sense he was a fine and effective speaker to courts and juries.
These same characteristics he exhibited upon the Bench. Hardy and vigorous
in his perceptions and understanding--thoroughly versed and ready in the
law of pleadings and evidence--bringing to bear on the civil code, the
logical training of the common law system--his ten years of service as a
judge were honorable to himself and valuable to the public. In all the
phases of his career and life he has been thoroughly upright.
Retired upon an ample fortune, amassed by forecast and business
energy--fond of his home, and devoted with entire liberality to the
education of his children--independent of office and in all other
ways--strong and robust as ever in person and in mind--he is still a power
in any direction wherever he chooses so to be. His broad, projecting
brow, his direct and forcible speech and bearing, symbolize his character.
They assure you of vital energy, strong, practical comprehension,
directness and will. He may have more of the "_fortiter in re_" than of
the "_suaviter in modo_" but all who know him have faith in his truth,
implicit reliance upon the hearty fidelity of his friendships, and
assurance, that he is always loyal to his convictions, both in public and
in private life.
James M. Hoyt.
Several years since, the writer of this was in conversation with a poor
man who had a hard struggle with misfortune and sickness in his attempt to
rear a large family, and secure them a humble homestead. In the course of
conversation the name of James M. Hoyt was mentioned, and the poor man was
inquired of who that gentleman was. "Lawyer Hoyt?" he replied, "why he's
the _honest lawyer_, God bless him!" He who could acquire this title among
the poor must be no ordinary man.
[Illustration: James M. Hoyt]
James M. Hoyt was born in Utica, New York, January 16, 1815. The
circumstances of his parents were such that he was enabled to acquire a
good education, and graduated at Hamilton College, Clinton, New York, in
1834. On leaving College he commenced the study of law in Utica, but soon
removed to Cleveland, where, in February, 1836, he read law in the office
of Andrews & Foot. He remained with them in that capacity for one year,
when a partnership was formed under the name of Andrews, Foot & Hoyt,
which lasted about twelve years, and was dissolved only by the appointment
of Judge Andrews to the bench of the Superior Court of Cuyahoga county.
The firm of Foot & Hoyt continued four years longer, until in 1853, Mr.
Hoyt withdrew from the practice of law and turned his attention wholly to
the business of real estate, not as a broker, but as an operator on his
own account, or in company with others, nearly all his operations being
adjacent to the city. For the last twenty years his transactions have been
very heavy, having made of land belonging to him wholly, or in part, in
the city of Cleveland and its environs, thirty-one recorded sub-divisions,
covering an area of five hundred acres, on which he has personally, or in
connection with others interested with him, opened and named no less than
seventy-six streets, including the well-known Croton, Laurel, Greenwood,
Humbolt, Mahoning, Kelly, Lynden, Maple, Mayflower and Siegel streets, and
Longwood avenue. He was also largely instrumental in opening Prospect
beyond Hudson, and sold nearly half of the land on Kinsman street, besides
selling a large amount of land on Superior and St. Clair streets; also on
the West Side, Madison avenue, Long street, Colgate street and Waverly
avenue. He has sold in all 3000 lots in Cleveland.
Mr. Hoyt united with the Baptist church in Utica in 1835. Soon after
coming to Cleveland he became connected with the First Baptist church
Sunday school, and was its superintendent twenty-six years, when he
resigned, and became teacher of a congregational Bible class, which labor
of love he has performed for about three years, and still continues.
In 1854, he was licensed to preach the Gospel, by the church with which he
was connected. He was never ordained, and never contemplated being, but
simply desired to testify to Christian truth as a business man on the
principle of "He that heareth, let him say come." For the past fifteen
years he has labored in that capacity more or less in nearly all the
Protestant denominations in the city and elsewhere.
In 1854, he was elected President of the Ohio Baptist State Convention,
and has been re-elected annually ever since, and has held anniversaries
in nearly every city of the State. In 1866, he was elected president of
the American Baptist Home Mission Society, being the national
organization for missions for North America, has been re-elected
annually, and still holds the office. Through all this time Mr. Hoyt has
made many public addresses, and given lectures on both secular and
religious subjects, in addition to publishing a number of articles,
reviews and other literary work.
He was married in 1836 to Miss Mary Ella Beebe, in the city of New York.
Of this marriage have been born six children, five of whom are living. The
oldest daughter, Mary Ella, died in 1854, aged fourteen. The oldest son,
Wayland, is in the Baptist ministry, and is now pastor of the Strong Place
Baptist church, Brooklyn, N. Y. The second son, Colgate, is now clerk and
assistant in his father's business. The daughter, Lydia, is the wife of
Mr. E. J. Farmer, banker of this city.
We do not think it is exaggeration to say, that not a man in the city has
more entwined himself with the affection of the people than Mr. Hoyt. For
many years he has had the power to do untold evil to the poor, and to do
it with a show of justice and legality, but this power was never
exercised. Of the thousands of lots sold by him, a very large proportion
have been for homesteads for the poor, hundreds of whom became involved
through sickness, or other misfortunes, and were not able to make payments
when due; many men died and left encumbered homes for widows to struggle
on with, but they never lacked a friend in James M. Hoyt. Other creditors
would sometimes crowd such persons, but to the extent of his ability he
always kept them at bay, and if the load was in any case too heavy, would
sell for the embarrassed owners, and give them the benefit of the rise in
property. Time and again have we heard such things from the grateful poor.
He is liberal with his means, contributing freely for religious and
charitable purposes. In politics he has ever sided with the party of
progress, and, although not a politician, has added his means and
exertions to the cause whenever necessary. During the war against the
rebellion he was an energetic supporter of the Government, and rendered
valuable aid to the cause of loyalty by his money and influence.
Mr. Hoyt, since his retirement from the legal profession, has devoted much
time to those liberal studies which are too apt to be neglected amid the
engrossing engagements of the Bar. He is a ripe scholar in English
history, and especially in the period between the Revolution of 1688 and
the accession of the House of Hanover. With an eminently practical turn of
mind, he is not disinclined to meta-physical investigations, and we well
remember the enthusiasm and keen zest with which he passed many winter
evenings at the house of a friend in reading, analyzing, and applying the
canons of criticism to Burke's Essay on the Sublime and Beautiful. His
article on Miracles, published in the October number, 1863, of the
Christian Review, contains one of the most searching examinations of
Hume's doctrines extant. It presents a vexed subject in a new and striking
light, and offers an unanswerable argument to the sophistries of the great
skeptic. The article has been widely circulated and much admired for its
logical acumen, and its striking simplification of an apparently complex
subject. With the faculty, in a large degree, of presenting abstract truth
in a form plain, attractive and intelligible to the common understanding,
it is to be hoped that Mr. Hoyt will continue to contribute to the higher
departments of our periodical literature, and thus by his studies and his
pen add to his present usefulness in his daily avocation, for we seldom
find one blessed with such a versatility of talent. He is methodical in
everything, and thorough in everything. In short, he is a good lawyer, a
good preacher, a good citizen, a good business man, a good father, a good
neighbor, and a true friend. He is now only fifty-four years of age, both
mentally and physically vigorous, and we sincerely hope his life of
usefulness may be extended many years.
Franklin T. Backus.
Franklin T. Backus, was born in Lee, Berkshire county, Massachusetts, May
6th, 1813. He was the son of Thomas and Rebecca Backus. While Franklin T.
was very young, his father removed to Lansing, New York, where he shortly
died, leaving a large family of young children to the care of his
surviving widow, with limited means for their support and education. In
consequence of this, the subject of this sketch was early in life inured
to hardy exercise upon a farm, to which, in after life, he has attributed
his strong constitution, and ability to endure confinement, and the
severest mental toil incident to an extensive legal practice.
It would be inappropriate in a brief sketch, to refer to and narrate
incidents of boyhood days, and they are therefore passed over. Mr. Backus,
while in early youth, became possessed of an unconquerable desire for
knowledge, and while laboring with his hands, his mind was busy
determining how he should secure the advantages of education. No
superficial acquirements could satisfy him. Added to native talents, of a
high order, were thoroughness and perseverance in everything which he
resolved to undertake, and these traits applied particularly to him as a
student. After resolving to obtain a thorough classical education, he set
about it in earnest, and in an unusually short period of time, prepared
himself, and on examination, entered the junior class of Yale College in
1834. Though the only time actually spent in college was during his junior
and senior years, yet his standing was very high, and he graduated at Yale
in 1836, occupying a position of one of the best mathematicians in his
class. Soon after, he was tendered the position of assistant professor, or
instructor in that venerable institution, an honor accorded to but few in
so short a time after graduation.
On leaving Yale, Mr. Backus settled in Cleveland, Ohio, where he
established a classical school, which at once became very popular and
successful, and shortly afterwards commenced the study of law with
Messrs. Bolton & Kelly, who were among the leading members of the
Cuyahoga county Bar.
In August, 1839, he was admitted to the practice of law at Cleveland, the
Supreme Court then being in session there, and entered at once upon the
practice of his profession, in which, from the beginning, he took a high
position. He was also an active politician, and as a member of the Whig
party, participated largely in its active operations in the State, as well
as in his own district, and was frequently a recipient of its honors.
In 1841, he was elected to the office of prosecuting attorney of Cuyahoga
county, having been nominated to that office in a contest in which several
who were older and more experienced in the profession than he, were
candidates. His administration of the office was in the highest degree
able and successful, and so met the approval of the public, that he was
renominated by his party and elected for the second term of two years.
In January, 1842, Mr. Backus was married to Miss Lucy Mygatt, daughter of
George Mygatt, Esq., then of Painesville, now of Cleveland. The choice was
a most suitable and wise one, and Mrs. Backus still lives, the light and
joy of their home.
In 1846, Mr. Backus was elected as a member of the House of
Representatives in the Ohio Legislature, and continued there only one
term, refusing a renomination. In 1848, he was elected to the Senate of
Ohio, in which he took a commanding position, and was widely talked of
among his friends in various parts of the State as a suitable candidate
for the United States Senate, as well as for the House of Representatives
From the breaking out of the Rebellion to its close, he was as strenuous
an advocate as any one could be, of putting down the Rebellion at any
hazard of blood and treasure, but differed widely as to some of the
measures and policy adopted by the Government, and consequently, did not,
at, or about the close of the war, act with the Republican party, nor has
he since; and though not an active politician, he is now generally
recognized as a member of the Democratic party.
In 1840, Mr. Backus associated himself in the legal practice with J. P.
Bishop, Esq., with whom he continued for fifteen years. Mr. Bishop was
afterwards chosen one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of the
Cleveland district. Afterwards, for several years, he was associated with
that able jurist, Judge R. P. Ranney, and now, for some years, he has been
associated with E. J. Estep, Esq., in his profession.
That he stood high in his profession in the State as well as in Cleveland,
is shown by the fact that he was nominated, by the Whig party, as
candidate for Supreme Judge of Ohio, and afterwards by the Republican
party for the same office, but failed of an election because the party
nominating him was unsuccessful each of those years in Ohio.
Mr. Backus' life for the last twenty years has been almost exclusively
devoted to his profession. When the railroads were projected which made
Cleveland one of their terminations he embarked in the enterprise of their
location and construction, and was early retained as their attorney and
counsel, and has been acting as such to the present time. The Cleveland,
Columbus & Cincinnati Railroad, from the beginning, so far as legal
services have been required, has been under his special supervision. His
knowledge of the department of law appertaining to corporations, and his
ability as a corporation lawyer, it is believed, is not surpassed. The
same may be said of him as a land lawyer, especially in regard to all
questions arising in the northern part of this State. In short, Mr. Backus
has had a very wide and varied experience in almost every branch of legal
practice, and in every case in which he has suffered himself to be
retained, he has made it a principle to be thorough and accurate, and to
possess himself of a full knowledge of his case in all its aspects.
As a summary as to Mr. Backus as a lawyer, it is the opinion of those best
acquainted with him and his professional ability, acquirements and
experience, that, as a whole, he is unsurpassed by any in the State.
In nearly all the great enterprises of the city his advice and
co-operation have been sought, and where legal advice and aid have been
required, his services have often been called into requisition by the
city. He not only has occupied the position professionally, before spoken
of, but has, and does, still occupy high positions of trust, both for the
city and individuals, and in such matters it may be safely said, there are
few men living in whom more implicit confidence is reposed.
The extent of his varied legal practice can only be judged of in part, by
his appearance in court. His business out of court has constituted by far
the largest and most important part of his practice, and has always been
done with a view to saving his client from litigation in future, so far as
possible, and this he has accomplished.
In pecuniary matters Mr. Backus has been successful, not only as the
fruits of arduous professional labors, but in other respects.
Mr. Backus is a very benevolent and liberal man, also, but his generosity
is not in the beaten track. It is bestowed unseen and unknown by the
public, and his own judgment selects the object of his bounty. His
friendship when once bestowed is undying and changes not with time or
circumstances so long as the person on whom it is bestowed proves worthy
of his confidence.
[Illustration: Yours truly, J. P. Bishop]
Jesse P. Bishop.
Judge Bishop was born in New Haven, Vermont, June 1, 1815, and was taken
with his father's family to St. Lawrence county, New York, whilst yet a
child. His father died when he was but nine years old, and his mother
returned to Vermont, taking her children with her. As soon as he was of
age to be serviceable, he was apprenticed to a farmer until his
fourteenth year, at the expiration of which time he resided with an uncle
until his seventeenth year, when he left farm work in order to acquire an
education. He studied hard for four or five years, partly maintaining
himself by teaching school, and at length had prepared himself for a
In 1836, he came to Cleveland, and after an experience in a counting-room
one season, he concluded that he was better adapted for a literary life.
Accordingly he entered Western Reserve College, and on examination was
admitted to the senior class.
In 1838, he began the study of law with Hon. Rufus P. Spalding, afterwards
with Andrews, Foote & Hoyt, and subsequently with Varnum J. Card, and was
admitted to practice August, 1839, when he immediately entered into
partnership with Mr. Card, who, however, died about one year later, and
Mr. Bishop formed a partnership with F. T. Backus. This business connection
continued fifteen years.
In 1856, Mr. Bishop was elected to the Common Pleas Judgeship of this
county and district, and served with great satisfaction both to members
of the profession and to the public. His decisions were characterized by
a painstaking research, and an exhaustless consideration of the
principles of law involved, indicating a clear, accurate and
discriminating mind. It is believed that very few of his decisions were
ever reversed by a higher court, which is of itself sufficient testimony
to his ability and industry. At the end of his term he declined being a
candidate, and at once resumed the practice of law. In this he still
continues, having associated with him Seymour F. Adams, recently of the
Lewis county Bar, New York.
Mr. Bishop's life has been one of constant application to business, having
no idle time, and scarcely any leisure moments. With him a decision is not
reached by intuition, but by careful study, but when he takes hold of a
subject he studies it thoroughly to its conclusion, and is master of all
its points. Although Mr. Bishop has never been what may be termed
physically robust, he possesses great power of prolonged mental
application. And being also endowed with a most remarkably retentive
memory, his mind is stored with a very comprehensive knowledge of law. And
if there be one faculty of his mind more than another, that gives
character to the man, it is his prodigious memory of facts. In a case that
recently came under our notice, Judge Bishop gave evidence pertaining to a
matter that occurred some twenty years since, with apparently as much
precision as if the events occurred but yesterday.
In social and religions circles Judge Bishop ranks high. He is agreeable
in private life, and thoroughly conscientious in moral and religious
matters. He has long been a valued and honored member of the Baptist
denomination. By his uprightness of character, courtesy of demeanor, and
general good qualities, he has won the respect and esteem of a very
Henry H. Dodge.
Amongst the very earliest settlers in Cleveland, was Samuel Dodge, the
father of the subject of this notice, who emigrated from Westmoreland, New
Hampshire, to this place, in 1797, being then about 21 years of age. On
arriving at Cleveland he built a log shanty, and remained about one year,
when he went to Detroit, and remained about the same length of time, and
returned to Cleveland, which he considered his home. Here and in the
adjoining township he resided to the day of his death, which occurred
October 3d, 1854, aged 78 years. About seven years after coming to
Cleveland he married a Miss Nancy Doan, of Connecticut, who died in
Cleveland, December 19th, 1863, leaving two sons, George C. and Henry H.
It is said that Samuel Dodge built the first frame building in this city,
about the year 1800, and which was a barn for Governor Samuel Huntington,
at that time living at Painesville. His proper business was that of a
wheelwright, but adapted himself to all kinds of wood-work in the new
country. During the war of 1812, he took a contract of Major Jessup, the
commander at this point, for building a large number of boats for the
Government, both here and at Erie.
[Illustration: Respectfully Yours, Henry H Dodge]
Henry H. was born August 19th, 1810, and enjoyed what educational
advantages Cleveland afforded, finishing his education under Hon. Harvey
Rice. At the age of twenty he commenced the study of law with Hon. John
W. Willey. In 1835, he married Miss Mary Ann Willey, a niece of Mr.
Willey, of which marriage seven children were born. Mrs. Dodge died
February 4, 1867.
Mr. Dodge was admitted to the Bar at the same time with H. V. Willson and
H. B. Payne, in 1834. He at once entered into partnership with Mr. Willey,
and continued with him until the latter was elected to the president
judgeship of the Court of Common Pleas, in 1840. Mr. Dodge then withdrew
from the practice of law to devote his whole attention to the duties of a
disbursing agent of the United States, for public works, to which he had
been appointed two years previously. He held that position until 1841. He
was also commissioner of insolvents during 1837 and 1838.
In 1850, he was appointed State engineer, having charge of public works,
and retained the position until 1855. On the organization of the United
States District Court for Northern Ohio, he was appointed United States
Commissioner, and held that office for three years. In 1859, he was again
appointed State engineer, and continued as such until 1862, since which
time he has devoted himself wholly to his real estate interests, opening
up new streets, building tenement houses, and materially aiding in the
growth and beauty of the eastern portion of the city. As early as 1837, he
built the large brick block on the corner of Ontario and Prospect streets,
formerly known as the Farmers' Block, which was, at that time, one of the
largest in the city.
Mr. Dodge, through all his offices of trust as well as private business,
has maintained a character for integrity and honor. He is unassuming and
affable, and well calculated to enjoy the handsome competency accruing
from the rise of his early real estate purchases, and being of a
remarkably kind and benevolent disposition, one of his chief pleasures
arises from the consciousness of doing good, by assisting those who are in
need, to the extent of his ability. During the war he was most active in
the country's cause, and spent his time and means freely in furnishing
substitutes and rendering comfort to the families of our brave defenders,
and we think, more than anything else, this desire to promote the
prosperity and happiness of mankind, gives character to him.
Mr. Dodge has resided on Euclid avenue over thirty years, having built
the residence now owned by General Oviatt, adjoining the present residence
of Mr. D. P. Eells, in 1838, the site at that time being outside the city
limits. After a few years he sold this to Thomas Bolton, and in 1840,
built a brick cottage opposite Brownell street, which he occupied about
fifteen years, when it gave place to the present edifice, the land having
been in the family since the year 1800.
James M. Coffinberry.
Judge Coffinberry is a native of Mansfield, Ohio, having been born in that
town in 1818. He studied law with his father, Andrew Coffinberry, Esq.,
then located at Perrysburg, in the western part of the State, and upon his
admission to the Bar in 1841, opened a law office in connection with his
father in Maumee City. He very early obtained the public confidence, being
appreciated for his high personal and professional integrity, and giving
evidence of fine abilities as a lawyer and advocate, he was elected and
served as prosecuting attorney for Lucas county for several years. About
the year 1845, he removed to Hancock county, and purchased and edited the
Findlay Herald, a Whig paper of that day, and for about ten years
practiced his profession with credit and success in the large circuit of
Hancock, Allen, Putnam, Van Wert, and Wood counties.
In 1855, he removed to Cleveland, where he entered very readily into a
good practice, and for six years confirmed the good reputation which he
brought with him, and took high rank at a Bar which numbers among its
members sortie of the best lawyers in the State.
In 1861, he was elected judge of the Court of Common Pleas, and performed
the duties of the office for his full term of five years, with credit to
himself and to the eminent satisfaction of the public, and an appreciative
Bar. The kind and genial traits are characteristics of Judge Coffinberry's
mind, and his quiet manners upon the Bench made it always agreeable for
both lawyers and suitors doing business in his court. His charges to the
jury were always plain, clear, and forcible, and in the course of his
judicial service, he delivered some very able opinions, verbal and
written, which elicited the favorable consideration of the profession, and
it is understood that no judicial opinion pronounced by him has ever been
reversed on review of a higher court. The charge to the jury on the trial
of Dr. John W. Hughes, for the murder of Tamzen Parsons, of Bedford, which
took place in December, 1865, was acknowledged by the Cleveland Bar to be
one of the ablest ever delivered from the Cuyahoga Bench.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, J. M. Coffinberry]
Judge Coffinberry is remarkable for an apparently intuitive perception of
legal truth, which gives to his argument at the Bar, and as a lawyer and
judge, to his opinions, a tone of originality. He has a fine appreciation
of the learning of the profession, but though not, strictly speaking,
technical in his administration of the law, he is never unmindful of its
nicest distinctions, but makes them subservient to his broad and liberal
views of the case. He has now returned to the practice of his profession,
and is regarded as among the best advocates of the Cleveland Bar.
While Mr. Coffinberry has won distinction as a lawyer, the following
record will show that he is amongst our most enterprising and energetic
business men, outside of his profession: He is president of the Midas
Insurance Company; a director in the Willow Bank Coal Company; a director
of the Tuscarawas Iron and Coal Company; was one of the projectors of the
People's Gas and Coke Company, of the West Side; has been a director of
the Mahoning Railroad Company; director and attorney for the Fremont and
Indiana Railroad Company; took an active interest in the construction of
the West Side street railroad, and also the Rocky River Railroad; he was a
member of the City Council for two years, and president of that body.
In politics, he was formerly a Whig, but now acts with the Democrats. He
was principal Secretary of the Great Union Convention that nominated the
late David Tod for Governor.
Judge Coffinberry has been successful in almost every undertaking, and has
richly deserved it.
No member of the Cleveland legal fraternity stands higher in the respect
of his colleagues and the general public, both for legal abilities and
personal qualities, than James Mason. As a lawyer he stands in the front
rank of the profession, his extensive reading, well balanced judgment, and
logical reasoning, making him one of the most reliable counsellors and
successful practitioners, whether before a court or a jury, whilst no more
valuable or respected citizen is found among the list of residents of
Mr. Mason was born in the Autumn of 1816, in Canton, Ohio, of Vermont
stock, his parents having early emigrated to this State. He was carefully
educated at a good school in Trumbull county, and spent two years in
Western Reserve College. In 1835, he entered the senior class in Jefferson
College and graduated with the class of 1836.
On leaving College he studied law with Hon. A. W. Loomis, in New Lisbon,
Ohio, and was admitted to the Bar in 1839, when he practiced in
partnership with his preceptor until 1845. With the close of this
partnership he went abroad and spent some time in foreign travel,
returning in 1851, when he removed to Cleveland and opened a law office.
His abilities and assiduous attention to business soon brought him a
large and remunerative practice. Among other business he became the
legal adviser of the Cleveland & Toledo Railroad Company, and also one
of its directors. The value of his connection with the company was
speedily recognized and acknowledged. Business of the highest class came
to him until he has come to find his time fully occupied by the best
class of practice.
The duties of his profession, though laborious, are not allowed to engross
the whole of his time to the exclusion of domestic pleasures and social
enjoyments. The general culture of Mr. Mason's mind, in addition to his
legal attainments, and his affable manner, make him an agreeable companion
for social intercourse, and together with his sterling qualities as a man,
and his patriotism as a citizen, have won for him a host of friends warmly
attached to him, and loyally resolved to do him honor.
Mr. Mason was married in 1853, to Miss Caroline Robinson, of Willoughby.
Of this marriage there are five children.
Daniel R. Tilden.
The name of Daniel R. Tilden has long been familiar in Cleveland and its
vicinity. For fifteen years he has held the office of Probate Judge of
Cuyahoga county, and from the nature of his office, has been brought into
connection with a large proportion of the citizens, and become intimately
acquainted with their personal and family affairs. Many of these business
acquaintances became warm personal friends, and it is believed that
neither by his official, nor by his private life, has Judge Tilden made
one real enemy.
Mr. Tilden was born in Lebanon, Connecticut, November 5th, 1806, He
received a fair common school education, and on reaching his eighteenth
year, left his native State for the South, residing four years in North
Carolina and Virginia. But the South was not a congenial soil for the son
of the genuine Yankee State, so he turned his steps westward, and set out
for Ohio. At Garrettsville, Portage county, he halted awhile, and then
went to study law with Mr. Pierson, at Ravenna. To complete his legal
education, he entered the office of R. P. Spalding, and studied with him
for some time.
In 1831, a movement was on foot to agitate the question of abolishing
slavery. The movement was exceedingly unpopular, and it required
considerable nerve to profess abolition sentiments. Now, when no other
principle is avowed, it scarcely seems possible that men, now among us in
the prime of life, had to endure obloquy, ridicule, and even danger, for
expressing sentiments that no one now dreams of dissenting from. Among the
first to espouse the abolition doctrines was Judge Tilden. With Robert F.
Paine he commenced the work of organizing an Abolition Society in
Garrettsville, the first of the kind in Portage county. In this work he
labored with unwearied zeal, and became extensively known as one of the
most prominent and active of anti-slavery leaders.
In 1832, Mr. Tilden was elected justice of the peace, and continued in
that office four years; soon after the conclusion of the term, he formed a
law partnership with Judge Spalding, at Ravenna. This arrangement
continued about four years, when he formed a partnership with W. S. G.
Otis, which lasted about three years, and was terminated by Judge Tilden
becoming prosecuting attorney, an office he held four years.
In 1842, Judge Tilden was elected to Congress as a Whig, from the district
composed of Summit, Portage, and Trumbull counties, and was in the House
of Representatives during the exciting debates relative to the annexation
of Texas and the Mexican war. He, with twelve others, took a bold stand
against the war, making several speeches of very marked ability. He and
his associates, among whom were Gov. Vance, Columbus Delano, and Joseph
Root, refused to vote for the bill furnishing means to carry on the war,
because of the preamble to the bill, which said: "Whereas, we are, by the
act of Mexico, become engaged in war," &c., &c. This, Judge Tilden and his
associates considered false, they would not vote for the bill until it was
stricken out, and the names of these thirteen were sent throughout the
country surrounded with a funeral border.
At the Baltimore Convention that nominated General Scott, Judge Tilden
represented Lake and Summit counties; and at the Philadelphia Convention
that nominated Taylor, he represented Summit, Trumbull, and Portage.
In 1852, Judge Tilden removed to Cleveland and formed a law partnership
with Hon. H. B. Payne. Two years afterwards he was elected Probate Judge,
of Cuyahoga county, and filled the position with such marked satisfaction
to his constituents that he was re-elected at the close of every term, and
still holds the office he has filled for fifteen consecutive years.
When practicing law, Judge Tilden was distinguished for his abilities as
an advocate, and his qualifications for the judicial office he fills is
attested by his repeated re-elections to it. His officiai conduct has been
marked by uniform kindness, attention to the duties of his office, and the
interests of those having business with it, and a constant endeavor to do
right by all, whether rich or poor, learned or ignorant. If he has
committed any errors--and no Judge, from the Supreme Court down, but must
plead guilty to some--they have been errors of judgment only, and not of
interest. No one can deny to Judge Tilden unimpeached honesty of purpose,
warmth of heart, and an earnest endeavor to deal justly with all men.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, C. M. Palmer]
Charles W. Palmer.
Prominent among the young men of the profession who promise to take
and worthily fill the places of the old leaders of the Cleveland Bar
now partly superannuated and soon to retire from active life, is
Charles W. Palmer.
Mr. Palmer was born in Norwich, New London county, Connecticut, September
8, 1826. Nine years after, his father, Joseph B. Palmer removed to
Cleveland with his family, and was for a time engaged in the storage
business on the river. He is now in the employ of the Cleveland &
Pittsburgh Railroad Company. Charles had only the advantages of the common
schools until he was sixteen, but before he reached that age he had
manifested an industry at his books which promised well for his future. He
taught school on "the ridge" West of Cleveland, walking out to the school
house and back before and after school hours, and at the same time
prosecuting his own studies. He prepared for College under Rev. S. B.
Canfield and W. D. Beattie, of Cleveland, and when nearly eighteen was
admitted to Western Reserve College at Hudson. He graduated in 1848, with
the highest honors of his class. For two years after graduation he was
principal of the High School in Akron, and the next year a tutor in
Western Reserve College. Coming to Cleveland again after this, he studied
law in the office of Judge Foote, and was admitted to the Bar in the Fall
of 1853. In the Spring of the following year he made his first success in
political life, being elected to the City Council. In the Spring of 1859,
he was elected city attorney. The duties of this office he discharged
satisfactorily to all, and found the practice it brought a material help
in his profession. In the Fall of 1863, Mr. Palmer was elected prosecuting
attorney for the county. Here he was brought very prominently into notice
by the successful prosecution of several important cases.
In his profession, Mr. Palmer has been a constantly rising man, until now
he is on one or the other side of most of the important cases in our
courts. His reputation as a criminal lawyer is especially high. In 1865,
he prosecuted the celebrated Hughes murder case successfully. Two years
afterwards he defended McConnell, the murderer, and in 1868, defended
Mrs. Victor, in one of the most remarkable poisoning cases ever brought
into court. His argument in the latter case was a masterpiece of legal
acumen, forcible exposition, and polished speech. Mr. Palmer began the
practice of law in Cleveland in the firm of Palmer & Austin. Afterwards he
was associated with R. B. Dennis, Esq., and at present he is senior in the
firm of Palmer & De Wolf.
In July, 1819, Mr. Palmer married Miss Sabrina Parks, of Hudson, Ohio.
This estimable lady died in little more than a year after the marriage,
leaving a son but a few weeks old. The son still survives. In 1855, Mr.
Palmer married Miss Minerva Stone, a sister of Mr. S. S. Stone, of
Cleveland. This second wife died in childbed eleven months after marriage,
and in 1858, Mr. Palmer married his present wife. She was Miss Lucy
Hubbell, a daughter of Calvin Hubbell, Esq., of New York. By this marriage
there is a son now about ten years old.
In politics, Mr. Palmer has been a member of the Republican party since
its organization. He gave the war for the Union an earnest, active and
powerful support. No man appreciated more thoroughly the principles
involved in that contest, and few indeed have the power to present those
principles so well as he. His party services have been numerous and
efficient. A man of fine personal appearance, with a fair, open face,
which carries with it the conviction of sincerity in all he says,
possessed of a grace of manner which makes it a pleasure to hear him on
any subject, and having such a command of language as to enable him to put
his thoughts in the fittest words, he is of course a favorite speaker
always. He has a conscientiousness in all he does, which never allows him
to treat carelessly any matter, even in an unexpected public speech. There
are few men in Cleveland who carry so much weight in speaking, whether it
be before a court and jury, or to a general assembly of people. Taking an
intelligent interest in all public affairs, he yet devotes himself
studiously to his profession, in which he has as bright prospects as any
man at his age need wish for.
William Collins was born at Lowville, New York, the county seat of Lewis
county, February 22, 1818. He was a son of Ela Collins, who was a son of
General Oliver Collins, of Oneida county, New York, and Maria Clinton,
daughter of Rev. Isaac Clinton, of Lowville.
Mr. Collins read law with his father, and was admitted to practice in the
courts of New York, at Rochester, in September, 1813. In October, 1843, he
formed a copartnership with his father, under the firm name of E. & W.
Collins. They continued in active and successful practice until the death
of his father, in 1849. Immediately after Mr. Collins' admission to the
Bar, he was elected, as the successor of his father, public prosecutor.
This office he held until 1846, when he resigned, having been elected, by
the Democratic party, in November, 1846, at the age of twenty-seven, a
member of the House of Representatives, in the Thirtieth Congress. The
district represented by him was composed of Lewis and St. Lawrence
counties. He was in Congress in the years 1847-8-9, during the first
agitation of the question of extending slavery to the free territories.
Mr. Collins opposed the proposed extension with much zeal and ability.
Among his speeches will be found one delivered July 28, 1848, on the "Bill
to establish the territorial government of Oregon," advocating the Wilmot
Proviso. Apart from its merit as a brilliant literary production, it
contains many passages that will be read with much interest by the general
reader, as showing the beginning of the end at which we have arrived.
Slavery itself having now become a matter of history, we think it will be
of interest to introduce the following extracts from the Congressional
Globe of July, 1848:
I shall assume, then, sir, that the institution does not exist in our
late Mexican acquisitions, but that it has been effectually prohibited.
The real question, then, is shall the laws securing _freedom_ in these
Territories be abolished, and _slavery_ established? This is indeed,
sir, a question of the gravest magnitude. To millions of the oppressed
and degraded children of Africa, it is an issue upon which depends all
that is dear to them in life--all that is bitter in the hour of death.
It seems to me, sir, that they are even now stretching forth their dark
hands, and beseeching us, in the name of the God of liberty whom our
fathers worshipped, to remove from them the poisoned cup of bondage--to
forge for them no more chains. The termination of this question also
involves the dearest interests of every person in this country who
desires to sustain himself by honorable labor. It intimately concerns
our national honor, reputation, and progress in the great family of
nations. The two hundred and fifty thousand immigrants who annually land
upon our shores are in pursuit of 'free soil and free labor.' Can we
pronounce in favor of slavery, without danger to our experiment at
self-government? If we thus decide, what will become of the cherished
hopes of the friends of civilization, Christianity, and human progress?
Those who insist upon preserving freedom in the Territories, have no
desire to disturb the institution of slavery in the States. The
Constitution confers upon them no such authority. They could not
interfere with it if they would, and they would not if they could. They
have ever heretofore been, and still are, ready strictly to fulfil the
constitutional provisions upon this subject.
I shall aim to discuss this question with a proper regard for the most
sensitive feelings of our brethren of the slave States, but also, sir,
with a plainness commensurate with its profound importance. The
legislatures of thirteen of the States of the Union, including Delaware,
which still has two thousand slaves, have passed resolutions instructing
their Senators and requesting their Representatives in Congress to
oppose any further extension of slavery. There is but one sentiment upon
this subject throughout the free States--it is that of eternal and
_uncompromising_ hostility to the project. They will never consent that
the free and virgin soil of the Territories shall be blighted and cursed
by the tears of the slave, while they have a will to determine, or a
muscle to resist.
The proposition to make this Government the instrument for planting
slavery upon soil now free, is regarded by a few at the North as so
improbable and monstrous, that they have refused to believe that it is
seriously entertained. Startling as the proposal is, it is nevertheless
* * * * *
Another argument employed by these apologists is, that the 'Proviso,' or
a law prohibiting slavery in these Territories, is unnecessary; that it
is an abstraction--a 'firebrand' employed by demagogues and factionists
to kindle strife in the Democratic party; that the Territories are now
free, and that they will so continue, unless an act of Congress is
passed establishing slavery. It is impossible to avoid asking ourselves
why, if these gentlemen are sincere--if they truly believe that slavery
can not and will not go there, and they do not desire that it
should--why they so strenuously oppose the passage of such a
prohibition? If their views are correct, then such a law would be a mere
harmless superfluity. But, sir, this '_firebrand of freedom_' is a thing
more exalted and noble than a mere abstraction. It is wielded by men of
strong arms, adamantine will, and hearts animated by the divine impulses
of patriotism and liberty. They have registered a vow in Heaven to
employ every lawful and constitutional means to roll back the dark tide
of slavery from the temple of Freedom, and vindicate the character of
the Republic from the disgrace and reproach of establishing slavery in a
free territory. We are no abstractionists. The Representatives in this
Congress from the fifteen slaveholding States of the Union, without an
exception, and without distinction of party, avow an intention to carry
their slaves into these Territories, and there hold them in bondage.
They assert, with passionate vehemence, that they have such a
constitutional right. They have even told us, sir, that, regardless of
the remonstrances of the people of the North--heedless of any
prohibitory law of Congress upon the subject, they would invade the free
soil of the Pacific, and take with them their slaves, and weapons of
defence! Are these declarations abstractions? Do they make no appeal for
immediate, energetic and prohibitory legislation?
[Illustration: W. Collins]
When driven from every other argument, gentlemen of the South
threaten, that if the 'Proviso' or a law prohibiting slavery in free
territory, is passed, they will dissolve the Union. At the North, the
dissolution of the Union is not regarded as among possible events. Its
value is never calculated. It has been cemented by too many common and
glorious sacrifices and struggles; it is protected by too many pious
invocations of its magnanimous founders, to be easily severed. The
cause by which these fraternal bonds are sundered must be other than a
refusal on the part of the free States to allow the Government to
establish slavery in free territory. A submission to the will of the
majority is a fundamental principle of our institutions. If the North
are overborne in this contest, they must and will submit. If the
demands of the South are denied by the decision of the majority, a like
cheerful and ready acquiesence is expected. Until, however, the
majority have decided, no legal and constitutional efforts to exclude
slavery from these Territories will be abated by passionate threats
against the peace and perpetuity of the Union. The Union would never
have been formed had the present demand of the slave States been made
and insisted upon. A proposition in the Constitutional Convention to
make the Government a propagandist of slavery in free territory, would
have been indignantly rejected.
Whilst we stand here, upon the floor of the American Congress, at the
noon of the nineteenth century, gravely discussing whether or not we
will extend and perpetuate slavery, the monarchical governments of
Europe are striking off shackles and 'letting the oppressed go free.'
Slavery has been abolished by the French colonies. Portugal, Spain,
and Russia, are moving in the work of emancipation. Within a few
years England has given liberty to eight hundred thousand slaves. She
has expended, within the last forty years, one hundred millions of
dollars in suppressing the slave trade. Is it reserved for the
Government of 'free, happy America,' in the midst of examples like
these, to be fastening corroding chains upon human beings? Sooner
than be involved in such stupendous guilt, let our name and existence
perish among the nations.
On the part of the North no 'compromises' can be made. But one answer--
a stern, unyielding NO--will be given to all such proposals. We have
made all the concessions that we can make, or ought to make. If a law
under the name of a 'compromise' is passed, planting slavery upon a
single square mile of free territory, it will have no rest. REPEAL! will
be shouted from the mountain tops of the North, and reverberated in
thunder tones through the valleys. The preservation of 'free soil for
free men,' will alone be satisfactory. For this purpose, the passage of
an act of Congress prohibiting slavery in free territory, will be
unceasingly urged, until the great measure is consummated.
During this Congress, although the anti-slavery-extension men were in a
minority in both branches, all compromise bills were defeated, and their
defeat was due in a good degree to the industrious and vigilant efforts of
Mr. Collins, and a few associates in the House.
Mr. Collins was tendered a renomination to the thirty-first Congress, but
having determined to remove to the West, he declined, and Preston King was
elected in his stead. He continued, with much success, the business of
the late firm of E. & W. Collins, until December, 1853, when he removed to
Cleveland and opened a law office. He was soon elected a director of the
Merchants Bank of Cleveland, and of the Lake Shore Railway Company.
Subsequently he became a director in the Bellefontaine Railway Company;
the Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis Railway Company; the
Jamestown and Franklin Railway Company, of Pennsylvania; the East
Cleveland Street Railroad Company; the Mercer Iron and Coal Company, of
Pennsylvania, and the Merchants National Bank, of Cleveland, the active
duties of which positions have absorbed very much of his attention and
time. He has occasionally appeared in the courts here in litigated cases,
but has mainly confined his professional work to his office. Mr. Collins
had a high standing as a lawyer in New York, and has fully sustained his
early reputation here. He is most remarkable for an admirably fair and
clear way of stating and arguing to the court and jury, the questions both
of law and fact. This contributed greatly to his success, not only as a
forensic advocate, but as a political orator, and legislative debater.
The sympathies of Mr. Collins having always been on the side of freedom,
he joined the Republican party on its organization, and has remained
faithful to its principles. When the Rebellion broke out he threw himself
heartily into the cause of the Union, and contributed freely with money
and labor in every available way for the furtherance of the Union cause.
He served on the local military and other committees, working faithfully
and energetically, and contributing largely to the excellent record
Cleveland and the county made during the war, by repeatedly and promptly
filling the quota of troops required, and by liberal contributions in aid
of the sick and wounded soldiers. Whenever an effort was needed, the voice
of Mr. Collins was heard exhorting the people earnestly to energetic
action and liberal contributions, and his exhortations were promptly and
efficiently seconded by his own example. With him precept and practice
Such men as Mr. Collins would do the people valuable service were they
chosen to fill responsible places in the legislative councils and
executive departments of the State and Nation. But in these days something
more than--or it may too often be said--something different from abilities
of the description possessed by Mr. Collins, seems to be required to
secure the favor of the people, or rather of the political managers. He is
of too ingenuous a nature to yield to the intrigues and servility, too
often, now-a-days, demanded of political candidates by the managers.
On November 20th, 1816, Mr. Collins was married at Columbus, to Jane,
second daughter of the late Alfred Kelly--the two families having been
early neighbors and friends in New York. Two children of this marriage
survive, Frederick and Walter, the former seventeen years of age at the
present time, and the latter fourteen.
Rufus Percival Ranney.
Rufus P. Ranney, one of the most profound jurists this country has
produced, was born at Blandford, Massachusetts, October 30, 1813. His
father, Rufus Ranney, was an honest, industrious farmer, of Scotch
descent. His mother, whose maiden name was Dottie D. Blair, came from
About the year 1822, Rufus Ranney removed with his family to Ohio. After a
short stay at Fairport, Lake county, they finally located at Freedom,
Portage county, where they made a permanent settlement upon a farm. It was
there that Rufus P. Ranney spent the years of his early manhood, and there
his parents lived until their decease. Judge Ranney's father was highly
respected in the neighborhood where he lived, and, though in humble
circumstances, did all within his power for the education of his children,
training them in the pathway of honesty and integrity--traits of character
which have marked the public and private career of his distinguished son.
His mother, an amiable woman who had received a good education, was very
attentive to her children, and her son, Rufus P. doubtless owes much of
whatever he has been in life to her early teachings.
Until he became of age, Rufus P. Ranney was engaged upon his father's
farm, obtaining, during the winter season, a few weeks education at such
schools as a country village then afforded. He attended the college at
Hudson for a season, but circumstances prevented his remaining long enough
to graduate with his class.
In the year 1835, having determined to make a start in life for himself,
he left his home and traveled on foot to Jefferson, Ashtabula county. In a
speech made by him at Ashtabula in September, 1868, he referred to the
time of his arrival at Jefferson, his worldly goods consisting of the
clothing upon his person, and _one_ extra shirt, which he carried in the
top of his hat.
Entering the office of Benjamin F. Wade, he applied himself with
diligence to the study of the law, and after a clerkship of one year was
admitted to the Bar. Soon afterward he entered into partnership with his
preceptor. The firm of Wade & Ranney was a powerful one, and "ruled the
circuit" of North Eastern Ohio. For several years it enjoyed an extensive
practice. The firm was dissolved upon the removal of Judge Ranney to
Warren, (1844,) and Mr. Wade was soon afterward chosen President Judge of
the Third Judicial District, from which position he was transferred to the
Senate of the United States.
In 1846, and again in 1848, Judge Ranney was an unsuccessful candidate for
Congress. In the Trumbull district the Whig party was largely in the
majority, and though Judge Ranney was defeated, he ran considerably ahead
of the general ticket, reducing the Whig majority to hundreds, when
before, that party had triumphed by thousands.
The people having determined that a convention be held to form a new
constitution, Judge Ranney was chosen to represent the counties of
Trumbull and Geauga. The convention was held in 1850. It was composed of
the first men of the State; both parties seem to have vied with each other
in sending their ablest representatives. There were William Medill, its
President, who afterwards became Governor of the State; the venerable
Ex-Governor Vance; Henry Stanbery, late Attorney General of the United
States; Peter Hitchcock, for thirty years a judge of the Supreme Court;
Benjamin Stanton, long a member of Congress; Judges Joseph E. Swan,
Sherlock J. Andrews, Simeon Nash and William Kennon; Charles Reemelin,
D. P. Leadbetter, William Sawyer, and others not less prominent in the
Judicial and political annals of Ohio.
In that convention, Rufus P. Ranney greatly distinguished himself.
Although but thirty-six years of age he commanded the respect and
admiration of all its members, and won for himself a high reputation as a
sound lawyer and ready debater. No one was more looked to for advice, and
none more generally correct in giving it. He was, in fact, a leader, whose
council, in almost every instance, was acceded to by the convention. All
the propositions which he introduced were for the welfare and benefit of
the people. In the official report of the debates will be found his views
upon nearly or quite all of the questions which agitated the convention.
He was the champion of the people against monopolies, and many of the most
important provisions in the constitution are the work of his hand.
The course which he pursued met the hearty approval of the people and
made his name prominent throughout the State. In response to the wishes of
the members of the legal profession, and the general desire of the public,
he was, by the legislature of 1851, chosen one of the judges of the
Supreme Court. When the new constitution went into effect, he was elected
to the same position by a large majority.
Judge Ranney occupied a place upon the Supreme Bench until 1856, when he
resigned on account of ill health. That year he was a member of the
Cincinnati National Convention, which nominated James Buchanan for
In March, 1857, Judge Ranney, unsolicited on his part, received from
President Buchanan the appointment of United States Attorney for the
Northern District of Ohio. This position he held until July, when he
resigned. He then removed to Cleveland, where he resumed the practice of
his profession, as a member of the firm of Ranney, Backus & Noble.
In 1859, Governor Chase tendered him the appointment of commissioner to
examine and report upon the condition of the State Treasury, this being
soon after the Gibson-Breslin defalcation, by which the State lost several
hundred thousand dollars. Judge Ranney declined this appointment. The same
year he was unanimously nominated by the Democratic State convention as
the candidate of that party for Governor--his opponent on the Republican
ticket being the Hon. William Dennison, of Franklin county, late
Post-Master General of the United States. After a most gallant canvass,
Judge Ranney failed of an election, though he ran ahead of the other
candidates on the ticket in all parts of the State.
In 1862, against his personal wishes, he was nominated by the Democracy
for Judge of the Supreme Court. He consented to be a candidate only
after the convention had _positively refused_ to accept his declination.
The Republican nominee was his law partner, the Hon. Franklin T. Backus,
one of the most prominent members of the Cuyahoga Bar. The result was
the election of Judge Ranney by a decided majority, and although party
lines were closely drawn, he again ran ahead of his ticket several
He held the position of judge of the Supreme Court until 1864, when he
resigned. Some months afterwards he resumed the practice of his profession
in connection with his son-in-law, Mr. T. Kelley Bolton.
During the same year, (1864) he was chosen one of the delegates at large
to the Democratic National Convention, which nominated George B.
McClellan for President, and was selected by the Ohio delegation as the
member from Ohio of the Democratic National Committee, holding that
position until 1868. In the late Presidential campaign, his name headed
the Democratic electoral ticket. This closes his public record. It is an
interesting one, and though briefly given, exhibits this fact, viz.: the
confidence and regard in which he has ever been held by the Democracy of
Ohio. Year after year his voice has been heard throughout the State in
defence of the Constitution and laws, and the honors which his party have
bestowed upon him, are but a merited tribute to his energy, ability, and
integrity of character.
As a lawyer, Judge Ranney has ever held the front rank in his
profession. His practice has been extensive and important; probably no
attorney in the State has, during the past ten years, been retained in
as many cases. Possessed of a strong, discriminating mind, capable of
enduring long continued mental labor, he unites with activity and energy
a determined spirit, which enables him to overcome obstacles which would
appal most men.
Judge Ranney is as logical as eloquent, and when his great reasoning
powers are brought into full sway, formidable must be the opponent to
overcome him. His arguments in court are peculiarly appropriate, clear,
calm, and strong; without wordy declamation, vehement gesture, or
passionate appeal; he seldom fails to carry his point, even when the odds
seem overwhelmingly against him.
Judge Ranney has a mind richly stored with not only the treasures of his
profession, but of ancient and modern classics, and the best literature of
the day. He is a great reader, and though he writes but little, whatever
proceeds from his pen is marked by elegance and culture.
As a Judge, he was courteous, affable and indulgent. His decisions are his
best _monuments_. They exhibit profound learning, sound judgment and
extensive research. No judge was more popular upon the Bench. Dignified
and benevolent, he enjoyed in an eminent degree the confidence of the Bar
and the public. He had the constant respect of those who differed from him
in opinion, and when he resigned his seat upon the Bench, the best men of
all parties expressed regret at his retirement from a position which he
had so much adorned. Pre-eminent in legal knowledge, Rufus P. Ranney has
reflected honor upon the judiciary of our country, and is one of the
ablest of the many learned men who have graced the Supreme Bench of our
State with their presence.
[Illustration: Yours Truly, C. T. Sherman]
Charles Taylor Sherman.
The Sherman family was among the earliest settlers in Massachusetts and
Connecticut. They and their descendants were men of note in their
respective Colonies, of strong, practical minds, pure and lofty in moral
tone and character.
They were early actors in the settlement and development of Ohio. Taylor
Sherman, the grandfather of the subject of this sketch, was a judge of
one of the Superior Courts of Connecticut, and was one of the trustees of
the Fire Land Company, to whom was granted, by the State of Connecticut,
the lands now comprised by the counties of Huron and Erie, in Ohio. As
early as 1800, he was in Ohio, and also in subsequent years, attending to
the surveying and allotting the lands to the owners, who suffered from
fire in the excursions of Arnold and Tryon, in Connecticut, in the
His son, Charles R. Sherman, and father of Charles T. Sherman, emigrated
to Ohio in 1810, and settled in Lancaster, Fairfield county, Ohio. He
early became distinguished at the Bar, among the strong and able lawyers
then practicing in Central Ohio. In 1824, he was elected one of the judges
of the Supreme Court of Ohio, and died in 1830, whilst in the performance
of his duties.
Charles T. Sherman, of whose life these notes are made, was born in
Lancaster, February 3, 1813, and is Ohio born and reared. He was educated
and graduated at the Ohio University, in Athens, Ohio, in 1832, and
admitted to the Bar in 1835. He settled in Mansfield, Richland county,
and continued in the practice of his profession until he was appointed
judge of the United States Court for the Northern District of Ohio, in
He never sought to obtain any public office, but rather carefully avoided
it. He always esteemed it fortunate that he resided in a county and
section in which the majority was opposed to him in political sentiments.
He however took a leading part in developing and forwarding public
improvements in his county. He contributed liberally by his labors and
influence in locating and constructing through his county the Pittsburgh,
Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, and the Mansfield & Sandusky Railroad. For
many years he was a director in both roads, and general soliciter of the
Pittsburgh, Fort Wayne & Chicago Railroad, and a leading spirit in its
He was also appointed by Mr. Lincoln to serve four years as one of the
Government Directors of the Pacific Railroad, and largely contributed to
its success in its early days.
The Bar of Richland county always ranked among the first in Northern Ohio.
Among the oldest members who were in full practice when Judge Sherman went
there, were Jacob Parker, afterwards Judge of the Common Pleas, Andrew
Coffinberry, one of the most genial and kind hearted men, and, withal, an
excellent lawyer, John M. May, who commenced the practice of the law in
1815, and is still living, and James Purdy, Orris Parrish of Columbus,
William Stanbery, of Newark, Hosmer and Henry B. Curtis, of Mt. Vernon,
and Edward Avery, of Wooster, afterwards Judge of the Supreme Court, all
practiced in that county. In later days and cotemporaneous with Judge
Sherman, were Thomas W. Bartley, Jacob Brinkerhoof, and Josiah Scott, all
of whom occupied the Bench of the Supreme Court of Ohio, James Stewart,
Judge of the Common Pleas, S. J. Kirkwood, afterwards Governor of Iowa, and
U. S. Senator from that State, together with R. G. Hurd and Columbus
Delano, of Mt. Vernon, and C. L. Boalt and J. M. Root, of Norwalk.
Judge Sherman ranked with those later and younger members of the Bar, and
enjoyed a practice equal to any, and more lucrative probably, than any of
them. He was quiet and unostentatious in his profession, and, seemingly,
only sought to do his whole duty to his clients and obtain the good will
of his fellow citizens.
A short time after the breaking out of the rebellion, he was appointed
Provost Marshal of some twenty counties in Northern Ohio, by the War
Department, and organized four regiments that went into the service, and
subsequently served on a commission to settle and adjust claims on the
Government arising in the West.
Upon his appointment to the Bench he resigned his position on the
Railroads, with the intention of devoting his whole time to the duties of
his judicial office. For more than two years he has presided with entire
satisfaction to the public and the members of the Cleveland Bar, proving
himself to be a strong, capable, common-sense, business judge; and by his
habitual courteous demeanor has made a host of legal and other friends
during his short residence in this city.
[Illustration: Very Respectfully, R. P. Spalding]
Rufus P. Spalding.
In a work professing to deal with the "representative men" of Cleveland,
it is eminently proper that he who has represented the interests of
Cleveland in Congress for six years with a fidelity unsurpassed by any of
his predecessors in the national councils, and who won for the district he
represented a prominence hitherto not accorded to it, should find a
conspicuous place. The six years' service of Judge Spalding in Congress as
the Representative from the Eighteenth Ohio District forms a period in the
history of the city of which the citizens, irrespective of party
predilections, have reason to be proud.
Rufus Paine Spalding is a native of Massachusetts, having been born on the
3rd of May, 1798, at West Tisbury, on the island of Martha's Vineyard. The
remote ancestor of the Spaldings was Edward Spalding, who is recorded as
having been "made a Freeman" at Braintree, Massachusetts, in 1640. Edward
Spalding's son Benjamin emigrated from Massachusetts to Connecticut about
fifteen years after that date, and settled in Plainfield, Windham county.
The great grandson of Benjamin Spalding, and the father of Rufus Paine
Spalding, Dr. Rufus Spalding, had in 1798, been for some time a resident
of West Tisbury, where he practiced medicine.
When his son was fourteen years old Dr. Spalding removed to Connecticut
and resided in Norwich. Rufus P. Spalding, having been prepared for
college, entered Yale at the proper time, and graduated in 1817, with the
degree of Bachelor of Arts. The class in which he graduated contained
names that afterwards acquired lustre in judicial, legislative, and
From the first Mr. Spalding's tendency was towards the legal profession,
and immediately on leaving college he prepared himself by study for the
practice of the law. He was fortunate in the choice of an instructor,
having entered the office of the Hon. Zephaniah Swift, Chief Justice of
Connecticut, who is known to the profession as the learned author of the
"Digest." He profited so well by the instructions he received, that, on
his leaving the office, Judge Swift complimented him highly on his
proficiency, and predicted for the young lawyer a successful career, if he
remained true to his profession. On completing his term of reading law,
and being admitted to the Bar, he left New England to push his fortune in
the West, and in December, 1819, reached the old "Post of Arkansas,"
removing soon after to Little Rock, where he put out his shingle as a
lawyer, in partnership with Samuel Dinsman, who has since reached the
gubernatorial chair of New Hampshire. Here he remained about a year and a
half, when he turned his face eastward, and in passing through Ohio,
stopped at Warren, the county town of Trumbull county. Here he was induced
to remain, the chances of practice being represented as good, and his
profound knowledge of law, ability in making that knowledge serviceable,
and unwearied industry, enabled him to soon build up an extensive legal
connection, which he retained and increased during his sixteen years stay
From Warren he removed to Ravenna, in the adjoining county of Portage. He
had not long been in the county before the people recognized the abilities
and power of Mr. Spalding, and he was chosen to represent that county in
the State Legislature. The contest for the position was sharp, for Mr.
Spalding was a new man in the county, and it was considered by many proper
that older residents should represent so important a constituency. But the
recognized ability of Mr. Spalding outweighed all objections on the ground
of recent residency, and he was elected by a majority of one.
During his term in the Legislature, and mainly through his efforts, the
county of Summit was erected, and Mr. Spalding at once became a resident
of the new county by removing his place of residence to Akron. At the next
election he offered himself as a representative of Summit in the
legislature, and was accepted. On the organization of the House of
Representatives he was chosen speaker, and won the approbation of the
whole body by the ability and impartiality with which he presided over the
proceedings. During this term of office the question of repudiating the
State debt was broached. Mr. Spalding took strong ground against such a
course, holding it not only disgraceful but suicidal. In this he was
supported by the late John Brough, then Auditor of State, and largely
through the bold and persistent opposition of these gentlemen the scheme
In the Legislative session of 1848-9, the two houses of the General
Assembly united in electing Mr. Spalding a judge of the Supreme Court of
the State for the constitutional term of seven years. But when four years
of the term remained unexpired, the operation of the new constitution
ended the pending terms of all offices, and devolved the election of
Supreme Court judges upon the people instead of on the General Assembly.
Judge Spalding declined being a candidate for the office in a popular
canvass, and so the advantages of his ripe legal and judicial knowledge
was lost to the Bench of the State. Concurrent testimony shows that no
decisions were held in greater respect by the lawyers and the public, for
their uprightness and justice, whilst to the legal fraternity in
particular, they commended themselves by their logical force, and terse,
clear, emphatic style and precision of expression that rendered them
models of judicial literature. His judicial opinions are contained in
volumes 18, 19 and 20 of the Ohio Reports.
On his retirement from the Bench of the State, Judge Spalding returned to
the practice of the law with renewed ardor. Cleveland, presenting a wider
field for the exercise of his abilities, he removed to that city and at
once took front rank among the many able members of the profession. His
profound knowledge of the law, power as a debater, and his ability of
creating a strong impression on both courts and juries, built up for him
an extensive and lucrative practice. When he spoke he carried conviction,
it being all but impossible to resist the solid array of arguments and
terse, incisive style. The same characteristics that made him afterwards
so powerful in Congress had great effect on the most intelligent juries,
and exercised a marked influence on the judges engaged in trying the
causes in which he was interested as advocate.
Although the law claimed his first attention, and was his choice, Judge
Spalding was no indifferent spectator of the course of politics. He had
been trained a Democrat, and was a powerful worker in that party. But all
his convictions were on the side of justice and freedom, and when, in
1850, the Fugitive Slave Law wedded Democracy to slavery, Judge Spalding,
in common with thousands of others, broke through the party traces, and
joined the "Free Soil" party, opposed to the extention of slavery. At the
Free Soil convention of 1852, he was an active and prominent delegate, and
on his nomination, John P. Hale was made the candidate for the Presidency.
On the formation of the Republican party, pledged to the restriction of
the slave power, Judge Spalding took an active part in carrying out the
principles of that organization. He was a member of the Pittsburgh
Convention of 1856, at which the party was organized, and was a delegate
at large for the State of Ohio at the Philadelphia Convention that
nominated John C. Fremont. From that time he labored earnestly for the
success of Republican principles, and the good effect of his efforts
were frequently acknowledged by the party.
In October, 1862, he was chosen to succeed Mr. Riddle as Representative of
the Eighteenth Congressional District in Congress. The wisdom of the
choice was almost immediately made manifest. Judge Spalding had not long
occupied his seat in the House of Representatives before "the member from
the Cleveland District" became noticed for the interest he took in
questions of importance, the soundness of his views, and the ability with
which they were urged. He took part in all the leading debates, and with
such effect that he commanded the attention of the House whenever he
spoke, and the leaders listened respectfully to his suggestions. He was
appointed a member of the Standing Committee on Naval Affairs, and of the
Committee on Revolutionary Pensions, and on the formation of a Select
Committee on the Bankrupt Law, he was made its Chairman. In committee he
was noticeable for his punctuality, patient and conscientious attention to
the drudgery of committee work, and the system with which he was enabled
to despatch large amounts of it satisfactorily.
In 1864, he was re-elected to his seat, and in that term was made a member
of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, and retained his former
position on the Committee on Bankruptcy, the chairmanship of which was
held by Mr. Jenckes. In this Congress Judge Spalding took a leading part
in the important debates on the subject of Reconstruction, and impressed
his influence on the Legislation upon this matter. In the early days of
the session he made a speech, in which he indicated the measures he
regarded best adapted for the for the purpose of properly reconstructing
the rebel States. The speech attracted great attention, both within and
without Congress, and the suggestions therein contained were for the most
part subsequently adopted, and worked into the Reconstruction Laws. The
military features of Reconstruction, which formed an integral part of the