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Ringgold Record, 1894


Ex-Judge W. T. LAUGHLIN Passes Away Yesterday.

Ex-Judge W. T. LAUGHLIN, one of Ringgold county's oldest citizene (sic) and ablest advocates at the bar, died at his home in Mt. Ayr, Wednesday morning, July 12, 1893. Mr. LAUGHLIN's death was not unexpected for he has been in declining health for a long time. Lately it has been felt that at almost any time, his physical powers might fail. His familiar form has been seen almost daily on our streets, but still he was known to be in feeble health, and not until within a few days has he been confined to his home. Death always comes as a surprise, no matter when or how it comes. It is an unexpected event perhaps in every case and is regarded as something strange and surprising. In any event a community is astonished.

Mr. LAUGHLIN was one of the oldest citizens of Ringgold county, though not yet old in years. He has been associated with much of her past history and progress. He was admitted to the bar in 1861, and in the fall of the same year located in Mt. Ayr, and opened an office for the practice of his profession. Being a man of unusually ready gifts and brilliant powers, he rapidly rose to the front in his chosen profession. He was recognized as easily chief in what is usually called criminal law practice. In his palmy days, when his mental powers were at their height, but few men could equal him in thrilling, pathetic oratory. When he was absolutely sure of the innocence of his client, his efforts were among the best in legal advocacy. As an advocate at the bar he was ever alert, vigilant and strong for his client and that which he felt sure was right and justice (sic). He in effect became wholly absorbed in his cause and felt as deep an interest as did his client himself. When in the enjoyment of good health and the active exercise of his vital powers Mr. LAUGHLIN was brim full of cheerful humor and sparkling wit. In fact he could be amusing, eloquent, instructive, pathetic or droll almost at pleasure and could rapidly step from one to the other with perfect ease and astonishing rapidity. Because of the spice, life, and cheerfulness that he threw into the practice of law, he relieved it of much of its forbidden severity and made it both agreeable and interesting to all. His fund of illustration and anecdote was almost inexhaustible and he could readily and deftly apply it to any case in hand. In a playful tilt of this kind with his fellow lawyers he generally came off best, but if not, he gracefully crowned the opponent.

Mr. LAUGHLIN has filled many positions in public life, and always filled them well. In 1863-5, he was the superintendent of the schools of Ringgold county and gave to our public school system the happy bent of thoroughness which has characterized it ever since. In Vol. 1, No. 1 of the Ringgold Record of April 7, 1865, there is a call for a teacher's institute to be held in Mt. Ayr, April 7, 1865. The call is signed by W. T. LAUGHLIN and is made in his clear cut and characteristic style. During the war, he was a member of the 46th Infantry and served one hundred days in the defense of his country. He was ever an ardent, patriotic citizen. In 1862 under the old constitution regime he served as county Judge for Ringgold and with general acceptance. In 1873 he was elected district attorney for the Third District, comprising the counties of Page, Montgomery, Taylor, Adams, Ringgold, Union, Decatur, and Clark. He excelled as a prosecutor but did not feel so fully at home in this department of law and hence after three years of service he resigned and resumed the regular practice. He was always recognized as a rising man but cared little for either honors or offices and pushed all such inviting offers aside in the interests of his profession. He seemed above all things to enjoy personal independence and freedom from official embarrassments. He first formed a partnership with I. W. KELLER which continued for over five years. He was for a time associated with Judge HENRY in law practice. For years he has been the senior member of the noted law firm of Laughlin & Campbell at Mt. Ayr. This firm was well known and recognized as among the first in legal ability in southwestern Iowa. For some time, because of ill health he has withdrawn from active duty.

Mr. LAUGHLIN was born in Clinton, DeWitt county, Ill., March 24, 1840, and died July 13, (sic) 1893, being aged 52 years, 3 months and 24 days. His father was a native of North Carolina, and his mother of Kentucky. His boyhood was passed at Clinton, Ills., the place of his birth. He attended the graded schools and progressed rapidly, and commenced teaching at seventeen years of age. At Springfield, Ill, he entered the law office of Hon. L. WELDON while yet quite young, and began the study of law. He was admitted to the bar in 1861, and on March 10th of the year, was united in marriage to Miss Louisa J. BATES. Soon afterward they came to Ringgold county.

His wife and two children, L. Weldon LAUGHLIN and Mrs. Lora B. RICHARDSON, both of whom reside in this city, survive him. Mr. LAUGHLIN has been the subject of long and severe affliction and the subject also of much sympathy.

It is perhaps well known that during his last years that Mr. LAUGHLIN and the Record differed politically and even sharply, but we are glad to record that for some time that we have been the best of friends and have deeply sympathized with each other in our mutual sorrows and burdens and all bad feelings which may have existed have been dropped from both memory and heart and the disagreeable part mutually forgiven and forgotten. With sorrow and sadness we can stand beside his funeral bier and pay the homage and respect due to a talented citized (sic) whose life among us is now ended.

NOTE: Judge William T. LAUGHLIN served during the Civil War with Company E, 46th Iowa Infantry. He was interred at Rose Hill Cemetery, Mount Ayr, Ringgold County, Iowa.

Transcription and note by Sharon R. Becker, 2008

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