Perhaps no body of men, not excepting the clergy, may exercise a greater
influence for good in a community than those who follow the profession of
the law, and it must be admitted that to no other body, not even to the
so-called criminal classes, are committed greater possibilities for an
influence for evil. What that influence shall be depends upon the
character of the men who constitute the bar of the community — not merely
on their ability or learning but on their character. If the standard of
morality among the members of the bar is high, the whole community learns
to look at questions of right and wrong from a higher plane. If the bar,
consciously or unconsciously, adopts a low standard of morality, it almost
inevitably contaminates the conscience of the community. And this is true
not only in the practice of the profession itself, not only because of the
influence of members of the bar as men rather than lawyers, but in the
effect upon other professions and occupations to which the bar acts as a
feeder. The members of the legislature are recruited largely from the
legal profession. How can legislation, designed solely for the welfare of
the public, be expected from one whose honor as a lawyer has not been
above suspicion? And since lawyers, outside of the legislature, have a
great influence in shaping the law, how can the people expect that
influence to be exerted in their behalf when the bar itself is unworthy "!
Still more does the character of the bar affect the judiciary, which is
supplied from its ranks. It is not always, perhaps not generally, the case
that members of the bench are chosen from those lawyers who have attained
the highest rank in their profession. If a judge be industrious and honest
but not of great ability, or if he be able and honest, though lacking
industry, the rights of the litigants are not likely to suffer seriously
at his hands. But there have been instances where judicial office
was bestowed solely as a reward for political service; and while it is
sometimes realized that one who has been a strenuous and not too
scrupulous politician up to the moment of his elevation to the bench, has
thereafter forgotten that there was such a trade as politics and has
administered justice without fear or favor, the experiment is a dangerous
one. No one need be surprised if in such a case the old maxim holds true:
"He who buys the office of judge must of necessity sell justice." Let our
judges be men who are subject to other influences than those of the facts
submitted to them and the law applicable to those facts, let them lack
that independence which is an imperative requisite to one who holds the
scales of justice, let a well founded suspicion arise that their decisions
are dictated by something outside of their own minds and consciences, and
the confidence of the people in the maintenance of their rights through
the agency of the courts is destroyed. It has been the good fortune of the
City of Manchester and the County of Delaware that the members of the bar
here have been, for the most part, men of high character as well as of
ability and learning, so that its bar has won a high and honorable
reputation through out the rest of the state and because of the high
character of the bar it has followed that those of its members who have
been elevated to the bench have enjoyed the confidence and respect of the
public and have been honored not only in their own locality but in many
cases throughout the state and in other states.
Yet the preparation of a
history of the bar,
so far at least as that part of it which lies back of one's own
generation is concerned, is attended with considerable difficulty.
Probably few men who in their time play important parts in the
community or even in the state or nation, leave so transient a
reputation as lawyers do. A writer on this subject who took for his text.
"The Lawyers of Fifty Years Ago, "said: "In thinking over the names of these
distinguished men of whom I have been speaking, the thought has
come to me how evanescent and limited is the lawyer's reputation, both
in time and space. I doubt very much if a lawyer, whatever his
standing, is much known to the profession out-side of his own state." Those who attain high rank in the profession must
realize that with rare exceptions, their names are "writ in water." One may turn over the leaves
of old reports and find repeated again and again as counsel in different
cases the name of some lawyer who must have been in his time a power in
the courts, only to wonder if he has ever seen that name outside of the
covers of the dusty reports in which it appears. Hamilton, in the
conventions, in the Federalist and in the treasury, and Webster in the
Senate and in public orations, have perpetuated and increased the fame
of lawyers Hamilton and Webster; but were it not for their services
outside the strict limits of their profession, one might come upon their
names at this date with much the same lack of recognition as that with
which one finds in a reported case the names of some counsel, great
perhaps in his own time, but long since forgotten.
And there is another difficulty in preparing such a history as this,
brief and therefore necessarily limited to a few names, and that is that
some may be omitted who are quite as worthy of mention as those whose
names appear. It is not often that any one man stands as a lawyer head
and shoulders above the other members of the profession ; and the same
may be said of any half dozen
men. In many cases the most careful measurement would fail to disclose
a difference of more than a fraction of an inch, if any. Lives of eminent
men who have at some period been practicing lawyers, have contained the
assertion that while they were engaged in the practice of their
profession they were the "leaders of the bar," but there is almost
always room for doubt as to whether the title is not a brevet bestowed by
the biographer alone. Therefore, the mention in this article of certain
lawyers must not be taken as any disparagement of those who are not
mentioned, and finally, it is to be observed that this article. so
far as the bar is concerned, will treat not only of those members who
are past and gone, but will make mention of some of those now in the flesh.
Let us first consider the early courts, as provided for by the general
government during the existence of the state while then a part of the
Territory of Michigan, Wisconsin, and under its own territorial laws: finally, the measures passed under the state constitutions creating
Iowa has an interesting territorial history. By an act
of Congress, approved June 28, 1834, the Iowa country was attached to
the Territory of Michigan. On April 20, 1836, it was made a part of the original Territory of
Wisconsin: and two years later, on June 12, 1838. Congress passed an act
establishing the Territory of Iowa. After eight years of territorial
existence, Iowa was admitted to the Union as a state on December 28.
There really was no judicial districting of Iowa
the two years that it formed a part of the Territory of Michigan.
However, on September 6. 1834, by an act of the Legislative Council the
territory lying west of the Mississippi and north of a line drawn
due west from the lower end of Rock Island to the Missouri River was
organized into the County of Dubuque. The territory south of this line was
organized as the County of Des Moines.
Moreover, section three of this
act of the Legislative Council of the Territory of Michigan provided that
"a County Court shall be and hereby is established in each of the said
counties;" while section six declared that "Process, civil and criminal,
issued from the Circuit Court of the United States for the County of Iowa, shall run into all parts of said counties of Dubuque and
Des Moines and shall be served by the sheriff or other proper officer,
within either of said counties: writs of error shall be from the Circuit
Court for the County of Iowa, to the county courts established by this act, in the same manner as they now issue from the Supreme Court to the several county and circuit courts
of the territory.
Thus it will be seen that
during the Michigan period the Iowa country formed an area which was
subject to the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court of the United States for
the County of Iowa.
Section nine of the organic act
establishing the original Territory of Wisconsin made provision for
dividing the territory into three judicial districts. Accordingly, among
the first acts passed by the First Legislative Assembly was one entitled
"An act to establish the judicial districts of the Territory of Wisconsin,
and for other purposes." By this act the counties of Dubuque
and Des Moines were constituted the Second Judicial District and Judge David
Irwin, of the Supreme Court of the territory, was appointed district
judge. During the Wisconsin period, therefore, the Iowa country formed a
distinct and independent judicial district.
The act of Congress dividing
the Territory of Wisconsin and establishing the Territory of Iowa,
provided that the new territory should be divided into three judicial
districts and that each district should have a court presided over by one
of the judges of the Supreme Court. Furthermore, and unless until the
Legislature should pass some act of the state, the governor shall be given
the power to divide the districts and assign the judges. In accordance
with this provision William H. Conway, secretary of the territory, who
had assumed the duties of acting governor prior to the arrival of (Gov.
Robert Lucas, issued on July 25. 1838, a proclamation dividing the territory into three judicial districts. The first district consisted of
the counties of Clayton, Dubuque. Jackson and Cedar and was assigned to
Judge Thomas S. Wilson. Delaware County was one of those attached to
Dubuque and consequently was in this district, and as we only have the
status of Delaware County in mind, no attention will be paid to the other
The first act of the Legislative Assembly of the Territory of Iowa,
to judicial districts, was to divide the territory into three judicial
follows. The First District was composed of the counties of Henry, Van
Lee and Des Moines, and was assigned to Chief Justice Charles Mason. The
Second District was composed of the counties of Louisa, Muscatine, Cedar,
Johnson and Slaughter, and assigned to Judge Joseph Williams. The Third
was composed of the counties of Jackson, Dubuque, Scott and Clayton, and
assigned to Thomas S. Wilson. Delaware County was attached to Dubuque
and consequently was a part of the Third Judicial District.
The first constitution of the State of Iowa provided that "the judicial
power shall be vested in a supreme court, district courts and such
inferior courts as the General Assembly may from time to time establish."
It was further provided that "the first session of the General Assembly shall divide
state into four districts, which may be increased as the exigencies of the
may require." Accordingly, the four districts were created and Delaware
placed in the second, among the following counties: Muscatine, Scott,
Clinton, Jackson, Jones, Dubuque and Clayton. The counties north and west
of Delaware and Clayton were attached to the County of Clayton for
The act of 1853 was "an act fixing the boundaries of the several judicial
districts and the time of holding courts therein and constituted an
district. By its provisions the state was divided into nine judicial
and Delaware was assigned to the Second District, with Dubuque, Clayton,
Cherokee, Winneshiek, Fayette, Buchanan, Black Hawk, Bremer, Chickasaw
Under the Constitution of 1857 the General Assembly passed "An act
creating eleven judicial districts and defining their boundaries."
this measure was placed in the Ninth District, with Dubuque, Buchanan.
Hawk and Grundy.
An act was passed by the General
Assembly 1886, by which the judicial
districts of the state were reorganized and eighteen districts created. By
rearrangement Delaware came into the Tenth District, with Dubuque.
Black Hawk and Grundy, where it remains at the present day. By the Act
of 1894 the Nineteenth Judicial District was created and section one
"that the County of Dubuque shall hereafter constitute the Nineteenth
Judicial District." Section two defined the Tenth Judicial District as
being composed of Delaware, Black Hawk and Grundy counties. This section was
amended, so as to include Buchanan County. In 1896 the Twentieth Judicial
District was created and now there are twenty judicial districts in the
A number of able, painstaking men of high legal attainments and judicial
capacity have presided over this court in Delaware County. The first one
was Thomas S. Wilson, of Dubuque, who was not only judge when the county
was in the Third District, but also when it was a part of the Second and
districts. James Burt, of Dubuque, Sylvester Bagg, of Waterloo, Winslow T.
Barker, of Dubuque, and John M. Brayton, of Delhi, presided over this
among others, when Delaware County was in the Ninth Judicial District.
Since assigned to the Tenth Judicial District a long list of judges have
to hold court, as the following names show :
Judges, A. S. Blair, Manchester ;
E. E. Cooley, Decorah ; C. F. Couch, Waterloo;
L. 0. Hatch, McGregor ;
Husted, Waterloo; D. J. Lenahan, Dubuque; Milo McGlathery, West Union;
Charles W. Mullan, Waterloo; Samuel Murdoch, Elkader; John J. Nye, Independence; Reuben Nobles,
McGregor; Fred O'Donnell, Dubuque; Franklin C.
Piatt, Waterloo; Charles E. Ransier, Independence; James J. Tollerton,
Falls. The present judges of the district are Franklin C. Piatt, Waterloo;
George W. Dunham, Manchester ;
and Charles W. Mullan, Waterloo.
Under the Territorial Act of 1844, whereby the Third Judicial District was
created and the placing of Delaware therein, it was provided that the
Court should be held at Delhi, the county seat, on the first Monday after
fourth Monday in September of each year. Soon after the passage of the
Charles W. Hobbs was appointed clerk pro tem, of the United States
Court for the County of Delaware, by Judge T. S. Wilson. On the day set
apart for convening of the first District Court in Delaware County, judge,
officials, jurors, litigants and lawyers ( ?) were on hand, as the
excerpt from the clerk's record attests:
Territory of Iowa, County of Delaware, ss.
'This being the day fixed by law, to wit, 30th of September, 1844, for the
session of the District Court of the United States for said county, the
court met. Present, Hon. Thomas S. Wilson, one of the judges of the
Supreme Court and presiding judge of the Third Judicial District; William
E. Leffingwell, United States marshal ; John W. Penn, sheriff ; and
Charles W. Hobbs, clerk pro tem.
'By order of the court, the sheriff returned into court the venire for a
grand jury, issued in behalf of said county, the following persons
summoned and in attendance, viz: Gilbert D. Dillon, Henry Baker, John
Stansberry, Samuel Dickson, Oliver P. Anderson, Edward Flinn, John
Bradley, Daniel Noble, John Keeler, Fayette Phillips, Allen Wilson, Hiram
Minkler, Adin Paddleford, David Moreland, Daniel G. Beck, Morris M. Reed,
Joel Bailey, Drake Nelson, Ezra Hubbard and Liberty W. Cole."
It should be remembered that the first courthouse, built by the settlers,
was a very crude affair and for some years stood without a roof, owing to
inability of the county to raise funds for its completion. The upper
story, designed for a jury room, was reached by an outside ladder, and
with no roof and a single floor, was considered too open and public to be
used for the purpose designed.
So that, after the jury had been instructed by Judge Wilson as to their
duties, that body was taken, under escort of United States Marshal
Leffingwell, to a little grove, a short distance southwest of the primitive
temple of justice, for deliberation. David Moreland, foreman, sat on a stump, while his fellow jurors accommodated themselves to all that
Nature had provided for them in the way
of seats. There was little to be done by the grand jury. No complaints
were presented and consequently, they found no "true bills." There being
no necessity for a petit jury this first term, no summons were issued for
a panel. One day finished the business of the court and on the evening of
the 30th of September, 1844, the term was ended.
The only name appearing on record as an attorney at this time was that of
James Crawford. "At this time," Judge Wilson is said to have related, "the
log courthouse was the only building in Delhi. Mr. Hobbs, the clerk,
had a little cabin in which he was living west of the courthouse.
The road had not been opened to Delhi from Rockville, and I was obliged to
go by way of the military road and up to Hopkinton, where I stayed over
night with Mr. Leroy Jackson. The next day I went to Delhi and held
court, and took my dinner
out of Mr. Moreland's wagon." It is a far cry from the days of Judge
Wilson and Delhi's roofless courthouse and Judge Dunham and Manchester's
beautiful temple of justice.
The second term of court was a special one, commencing April 1, 1845,
Judge Thomas S. Wilson, presiding. The grand jury was made up of Leroy
Jackson, foreman; James Eads, Robert B. Hutson, William H. Martin, Lucius
Kibbee, Jr., Phipps Wiltse, Malcolm McBane, Lawrence McNamee, Missouri
Dickson, Robert Gamble, Daniel Brown, Moses Dean, William Phillips, Silas
Gilmore, James Cavanaugh, Henry W. Hoskins and John Hinkle.
The case of Missouri Dickson vs. Ezra Hubbard, an action to recover pay
for the building of a chimney, was continued from the first term and tried
by the first petit jury impanelled, which consisted of the following named
persons: John Flinn, O. A. Olmstead, John Paddleford, Eli Wood, Orlean
Blanchard, S. V. Thompson. Levi Billings, Jacob Dubois, James Collier.
Samuel P. Whitaker, John Corbin and John Clark, Timothy Davis, attorney
for Hubbard; Gen. James Wilson for Dickson. The plaintiff was given a
verdict for $5.33.
The first criminal case was that of the United States vs. Jefferson Lowe,
for the murder of Drury R. Dance, details of which crime are given on
another page of this volume. Lowe's attorney was Gen. James Wilson. James
Crawford was prosecuting attorney for the district, and was assisted by
Timothy Davis. Lowe was acquitted but public opinion was strongly against
him and the verdict was not a very popular one.
At this term, as far as is known, James Crawford, James Wilson. Timothy
Davis and William Hamilton were the only lawyers in attendance, and for
some years thereafter but few members of the bar had located in the
county. Probably the first lawyer to settle at Delhi was Arial K. Eaton.
Of him and other lawyers of the Delaware bar, Col. John H. Peters, one of
its oldest and
ablest members, has given for this article the following impressions. He
"I was admitted to file bar in Connecticut, then immigrated to Illinois
and practiced in the latter state a year or eighteen months. My associate
in Illinois was one Tom Turner, who had a friend here in the person of a
Methodist preacher. Turner induced me to come here and defend the
preacher, so I did, making my way to Delaware County on horseback. This
was about the year 1852, and upon my arrival in Delhi I found Arial K.
Eaton already enjoying a practice at the bar. He was probably the first
lawyer to take up a permanent residence in the old county seat. When 1 met
him he was a man of middle age and I soon discovered he was more of
a politician than a lawyer. He induced me, however, to locate in Delhi and
we had arranged to enter the practice together but he was appointed
receiver of the land district at Washington and pulled out.
"The next lawyer to settle in Delhi, if my memory serves me right, was
Daniel Baker, a man of but little education and a lawyer of no very threat
ability or attainments.
"Zina A. Wellman came from the State of New York and located here for
the practice of his profession. He was well read in the principles of law
but had no pugnacious attribute in his composition. He was easily
discouraged and did not amount to much of a lawyer. I practiced with him
about a year but never could get a decision from him on any legal question
of importance. He
died a few years ago in Cherokee.
"A. E. House was a natural lawyer. If he had had energy in proportion to
his ability, he would have made one of the best attorneys of the state,
for he was highly successful. House was a major in the Sixth Iowa Cavalry
and fought the Indians in the Northwest for three years. He returned to
Delhi but never practiced after he got back and died three or four years
ago in the insane asylum at Independence.
"Col. N. L. Ingalls came from Jefferson County, New York, two or three
years after Colonel Peters, and located at Delhi. Col. S. G. Van Anda
appeared about the same time. Ingalls was a finely educated man and
successful lawyer. Van Anda was also a good lawyer. The latter died in
an insane asylum at Independence. Ingalls went to Kansas on a visit, which
was coupled with a
business matter, took sick, died and was buried there.
"William Crozier stood high at this bar and was a very fine lawyer. He
only practiced a year or two, however, and then went into the army.
"Wesley A. Heath had a natural
legal mind and I think was as fine a craftsman of legal papers as any
lawyer in Delaware County, but he was extremely modest. We practiced
together for years. He would prepare a case so thoroughly that I could
take his brief and try the cause as if it was my own. He spent his last
days in Delhi and was buried there.
"George Wattson and his brother John were both fairly good lawyers
intemperate habits got the better of them, so that they failed to prove a
success in their chosen profession.
J. M. Brayton practiced under the firm name of House, Hrayton & Wattson.
He was elected to the bench in 1871 when this county formed a part of
the Ninth Judicial District. He had not the judicial mind of an order that
fitted him for the bench, so that his friends prevailed upon him to
resign from the position lie had attained.
"Jerome B.. Satterlee was one of Delaware County's able lawyers. For
some years past he has been in the land department at Washington.
"Samuel Hussey and Eli C. Perkins early began practice at Delhi and the
latter is still enjoying a good legal business.
"Ray B. Griffin was a good lawyer but had only a limited practice, as he
devoted most of his time to speculation in real estate, in which he was
very successful and became a large landowner. His practice was confined
mostly to real-estate matters. Mr. Griffin served the county both as
treasurer and recorder. He died some years ago while attending to
some business matters at
"Charles S. Crosby was a very good lawyer and at one time was attorney-
general of New Hampshire. He was a large hearted man and was well equipped
with a thorough education. He lived in Manchester but has long since
passed away. He was a brother of a member of the firm of Washburn-Crosby,
the great millers of the Northwest.
"Simeon L. Doggett located in Delhi about 1858. He was a good man, a
leader in the Congregational Church and was justice of the peace while he
lived here. He had no force, however, and was not a success as a lawyer.
He moved away some years ago and is now deceased.
"Charles Husted had a natural
legal mind and was well versed in the principles of law but did not
succeed in practice. He was a soldier in the Twenty-first Iowa Infantry
and died some years since. One of his daughters, Mrs. Robert Denton,
resides in Manchester.
"Dennis Ryan was admitted to
the bar at Delhi, having read in the office of Griffin & Crosby. He
practiced but very little here and finally removed to one of the Dakotas,
where he continued in practice with more success. He is still living."
Of the present members of the Delaware County bar but little will be said
in this place, as sketches of many of the more prominent ones can be found
in the second volume. Col. John H. Peters is the nestor of the bar and
is enjoying the shady side of life in retirement. He came to the county
about the year 1852 from Freeport, Illinois, to which place he had removed
Connecticut. He was one of the leading lawyers of his day and is the
only living member of that body of men who gave to the State of Iowa its
present constitution, which was adopted in the year 1857. Colonel Peters
made a brilliant record in the Civil war.
Charles E. Bronson was born at
Lee Center, Oneida County, New York, November 21, 1841, came to Iowa City
with his parents in 1855, studied law with the firm of Fairall & Beal, was
admitted to the bar in 1866, and came directly to Manchester, where he
practiced law until his death. In 1868 he married Jennie E. Shelden, who
still resides in Manchester. Unto this worthy couple were born five sons,
four of whom are still living and one of them, Henry, is practicing law in
Manchester. Charley Bronson was elected to the State Senate in 1877 and
made a valuable member. One of the prominent business men of Manchester
was asked the question why he always consulted Charley Bronson. He
replied, "because he is a good lawyer and an honest man." When Charles E.
Bronson passed away Manchester lost one of its best citizens. For many
years he was the .senior member of the law firm of Bronson & Carr.
Judge Blair came to Delaware County from Huron County, Ohio, in 1858, his
parents locating in Delaware County in 1855. Here the father, David J.,
died in 1861, and the mother followed him some years later. Judge Blair
received a collegiate education in the Buckeye state and read law at
Norwalk, Ohio, where he was admitted to the bar in 1854. He was a lawyer
by nature as well as by adoption and has been very active in the
profession. He traveled the circuit in early days and became what is known
as an "all around lawyer." While actively engaged in the profession,
he had a large practice, many of his
cases being of more than ordinary importance. He was elected to the bench
and served as judge of the District Court from 1894 until 1906, opening
the first term of court held in the new courthouse at Manchester in 1894.
Yoran, senior member of the firm of Yoran & Yoran, came from his native
state, New York, to Delaware in 1870. He began the practice of law in
1871, at Manchester, at which time he was admitted to the bar. He is still
in practice here and is one of the leading men at Manchester in his
Carr is not only one of the leading members of the Delaware County bar,
but also is recognized as an editorial writer of force and fluency. He is
a native of New York and of Irish parentage. Mr. Carr immigrated to Iowa
with his parents in 1856 and located in Buchanan County. His entry at the
State University culminated in graduation from its law department in 1872.
Locating at Manchester that year, Mr. Carr formed a partnership with Ray
B. Griffin, which continued until 1884, when the firm of Bronson & Carr
was formed. Since Mr. Bronson's death he has practiced alone and at the
same time given attention to his newspaper, the Manchester Democrat.
William H. Norris has been a very successful lawyer at this bar, coming
with his parents to Iowa from Massachusetts in 1861. He received a common-
school education, spent a short time in college, taught school, and in
1881 graduated from the law department of the State University. He removed
to Manchester in 1882 and began the practice of his profession. The next
year he formed a partnership with A. S. Blair, which continued four years.
In 1888 the firm of Blair, Dunham & Norris was formed and continued for
some years as the leading law firm of the county. Mr. Norris is not only
prominently identified with this bar, but is also largely interested in
several banks of the county.
Stiles is the present county attorney. He is a son of E. R. Stiles, a
former pastor of the Congregational Church. E. B. was superintendent of
the Manchester schools for several years. He then read law, was admitted
to the bar and commenced the practice in Manchester. He is not only an
able lawyer but a Christian gentleman and one of Manchester's reliable
citizens, having before him a bright future.
practicing at the Delaware County bar at the present time are : E. B.
Stiles, W. H. Norris, R. W. Tirrill, Henry Bronson, Arnold & Arnold (H. P.
and Floyd H. Arnold), Carr & Carr (E. M. and Hubert Carr), J. H. Peters,
Hugh Clemans, Fred B. Blair, A. M. Cloud, Yoran & Yoran (Calvin and Melvin
J. Yoran), at Manchester; P. M. Cloud and W. I. Millen, Earlville; E. C.