Crawford County, Pennsylvania
History & Biography
A History of the Bar of Crawford County.
(BY D. M. FARRELLY)
The county of Crawford was organized with its present boundaries by an act of the legislature passed in the early part of the year 1800. The record shows that the first court was held at Meadville, the county seat, by the associate judges David Mead and John Kelso on the 6th day of July, 1800, when the following named persons were admitted to practitioners at the bar of said county. Edward Work, Henry Baldwin, Stephen Sample, George Armstrong, Thomas Collins, Alexander W. Foster, Andrew Graff, Cunningham S. Semple, Elias W. Hale, John W. Hunter, Robert Callander. At subsequent courts in the early part of the century and in 1821 James Ross, John Woods, Parker Campbell, Patrick Farrelly, William Wilkins, Ralph Marlin, Samuel B. Foster, Richard Bean, John B. Wallace, George Selden, Thomas H. Sill. From 1821 to 1830 inclusive John J. Pearson, John Galbraith, David Derickson, John Stuart Riddle, Henry Baldwin, jr., James Thompson, Robert L. Potter, Samuel Miles Green, W. W. Dick, Cyrus T. Smith, T. J. Fox Alden, John W. Farrelly, Charles H. Power, D. M. Farrelly. From 1830 to the present time Gaylord Church, Alfred Huidekoper, Hiram L. Richmond, William H. Davis, Darwin A. Finney, Thomas VanHorne, A. B. Richmond, D. C. McCoy, M. P. Davis, A. S. Davis, S. N. Pettis, W. H. Doughty, J. Porter Brawley, W. R. Bole, F. L. Blackmer, C. M. Boush, J. B. Brawley, Thomas N. [page 136] Brooks, Pearson Church, A. G. Church, John B. Compton, George F. Davenport, Frederick H. Davis, Joshua Douglass, J. F. Dorrance, E. B. Flower, R. C. Frey, Arthur L. Bates, Norton L. Gleason, Robert G. Graham, P. F. Hallock, John J. Henderson, Harvey Henderson, William Henderson, H. J. Humes, L. H. Lauderbauth, Emmet McArthur, J. N. McCloskey, John O. McClintock, John D. McCoy, B. B. Pickett, M. C. Power, F. P. Ray, Roe Reisinger, H. L. Richmond, jr., A. G. Richmond, H. M. Richmond, James D. Roberts, Thomas Roddy, W. R. Scott, J. W. Smith, C. W. Tyler, John W. Farrelly, jr., Cornelius VanHorne, Lewis Walker, Jas. D. Minniss, Jas. Doughty, A. J. Harper, Wm. Reynolds, J. W. Spear, Chas. M. Wood., H. E. Russell, David T. McKay, George W. Haskins, G. B. Delamater, G. W. Delamater, Julius Byles, G. A. Chase, W. M. Dame, Samuel Grumbine, F. B. Guthrie[,] M. J. Heywang, F. L. Seeley, Samuel Minor, Roger Sherman, L. W. Wilcox, J. Willis Witherop, W. H. Addle, Charles A. Derickson, Clark Ewing, Charles Farber, Charles B. Guthrie, John W. Howe, Thomas Rustin Kennedy, William S. Morris, C. R. Marsh, B. F. McAllister, Henry Shippen, jr., William D. Tucker, Charles L. Wescott, Jas. B. White, George W. Hecker, William C. Bear, James R. Andrews, E. M. Guthrie, J. D. Bowman, Geo. Williamson, Luther Beatty, J. Kinniff, James Addle, W. B. Best, G. A. Nodine, Isaac Monderau, S. R. Miller, Chas. Boush, Frank Lowe, Otto Kohler, Charles E. Richmond, Harry Flood, M. W. Tate, John E. Adams, Martin A. Gilson, John H. Apple, John Apple, N. S. Ernst, R. P. Miller. All who were admitted as attorneys previous to 1830 are dead. Since 1830 those who have died are as follows: J. Porter Brawley, Gaylord Church, W. H. Addle, J. H. Baker, Arthur Cullum, David Derickson, Charles A. Derickson, Clark Ewing, Charles Faber, Patrick Farrelly, John W. Farrelly, jr., Darwin A. Finney, Charles B. Guthrie, John W. Howe, Thomas Rustin Kennedy, C. R. Marsh, B. F. McAllister, William S. Morris, Joseph Morrison, John Reynolds, H. M. Richmond, J. Stuart Riddle, George Selden, Henry Shippen, jr., H. L. Richmond, sr., John B. Wallace, William D. Tucker, Charles L. Wescott, James B. White, George Williamson, W. W. Dick, W. C. Bear.
The president judges of the court of Crawford county were Alexander Addison, from its organization to April, 1803, Jesse Moore, from April, 1803, until his death in 1829. Then Henry Shippen until his death in 1838. Nathaniel B. Eldred from 1839 to 1843, when he resigned. Gaylord Church was appointed in April, 1843. John Galbraith, after Church, until his decease in 1860. Rasselas Brown appointed to fill vacancy in consequence of the death of Galbraith. Samuel P. Johnson, elected in 1860. Walter H. Lowrie, elected in 1870. S. N. Pettis, appointed to fill vacancy at the death of Judge Lowrie. Pearson Church, elected in 1877. John J. Henderson, elected in 1887. Hon. James Thompson was appointed judge in 1839 pursuant to a law then in force authorizing the appointment of district judge for five years to bring forward unfinished business which had largely accumulated. His term was extended to six years.
Pursuant to a law providing for the election of additonal law judges, David Derickson was elected in 1856 for ten years, and in 1866 John P. Vincent was elected for a like term. Alexander Addison was an able and enlightened judge. His disposition, however, was overbearing and arbitrary, which led to his impeachment in 1803. Henry Shippen was as able, honest and impartial judge. Judge Eldred, I do not think, was as sound a lawyer as some of the others. He had, however, a large amount of good common sense, and a thorough knowledge of human nature.
Of the attorneys that practiced in the courts of Crawford county, many were eminent in their profession and filled public trusts with honor to themselves and usefulness to the country. Of such as are not living a short notice will be made.
James Ross, a member of the bar but a resident of Pittsburg, represented Pennsylvania in the United States Senate from 1794 to 1803, and for about two years was president pro tem of that body. He was prominent among the many able and enlightened men who stood at the head of the old Federal party.
William Wilkins was a senator from Pennsylvania from 1831 to 1834. During the administration of General Jackson he was minister to Russia for about one year. He represented Allegheny county in the State senate from 1856 to 1859.
Henry Baldwin was the first district attorney of Crawford county. The office was then called deputy attorney general. He removed to Pittsburgh in 1804, and rose to eminence in the legal profession. From 1816 to 1828 he represented Allegheny county in congress with distinguished ability. In 1830 was appointed a judge of the supreme court of the United States, and held the office until his death in 1844. For some years previous to his death his home was at Meadville. On his first visit to Meadville after his appointment as judge he was given a public dinner by his many warm friends, without regard to party, at the Gibson hotel. He seemed to appreciate this token of regard from his own friends, and addressed them, and in his remarks expressed his appreciation of their kindness and esteem. He was one of the really great men of the country.
[page 137] Alexander W. Foster practiced law in Crawford county for several years, removed to Pittsburg [sic] and afterwards to Greensburg, Westmoreland county, and attained a high degree of distinction in his profession.
Samuel B. Foster, brother of the preceding, one of the early members of the bar of this county, possessed high legal attainments, great reasoning power and a fine classical education. In addressing either court or jury his argument was clear and lucid, and when proper he spoke with impressive eloquence.
Patrick Farrelly came to the United States from Ireland, in 1798, studied law at Lancaster, Pa., came to Meadville and was admitted to the bar in 1802. He represented this district in the State legislature either before or about the beginning of the war of 1812. He was elected to congress in 1820, and twice successively immediately afterwards. Died at Pittsburg, on his way to congress, in 1826. He was well liked by his fellow members of the house of representatives, as the following circumstance, which was communicated to the writer by the late Hon. John Sergeant, of Philadelphia, will show: Farrelly offered an amendment to the general appropriation bill, then under consideration, appropriating several thousand dollars for the improvement of the lake harbor at Erie. At that day members of congress, generally, knew nothing of Erie or its harbor. After an explanation by Mr. Farrelly there was a quiet exclamation from members, "let Farrelly have his appropriation." The amendment was carried and became a law. Some members, paticularly from the south, declined to vote. They were not in favor of the amendment, but were friendly to its author and did not care to vote against it. This appropriation of $4,000 or $5,000, (the exact sum is not now remembered) as Mr. Sergeant at the time remarked, "was the commencement of appropriations of money by congress for the improvement of harbors and rivers, and other works of unquestioned national character and importance. Similar appropriations followed at almost every session of congress. In the present congress the bill reported by the proper committee appropriates sums exceeding in the aggregate nineteen million dollars. Mr. Farrelly was a thorough classical scholar, and in the list of attorneys in this county from 1800 until this time it is doubtful if he had an equal in that respect.
John B. Wallace came to Meadville, from Philadelphia, in 1821, and had a large general law business. He was an excellent lawyer, well read and informed in all its branches, and was well informed in the civil law, founded under Roman jurisprudence. He spoke ably and well and with great earnestness. His arguments on legal questions showed a profound and extensive knowledge of legal principles. By his refined culture and intelligence he was an ornament to society. His private character may be described as that of an accomplished Christian gentleman.
George Selden, in 1819, came to Meadville from Philadelphia, and engaged in the practice of law. He had a fine mind and rare legal abilities. The prospect before him was a brilliant success in his profession. But this hoped for success was destroyed by engaging in other kinds of business, in which he was not successful.
John Stuart Riddle was a well read and eminent lawyer. He was industrious, careful and correct, and was always well prepared when he went into court to try a cause. He had a large practice and was very successful. He was pleasant and gentlemanly in his manners, and his private life was without reproach. He held no public office, but a judicial position would have been his save for his untimely death.
John Banks was distinguished for directness and force of argument, in addition to his character as an excellent and able lawyer. He was appointed judge of the court of Berks county by Governor Ritner, and discharged his duties with fidelity and great ability. He was state treasurer in 1847.
John J. Pearson was one of the distinguished members of the bar. He was appointed by the governor president judge of the courts of Dauphin county. This is one of the most important districts by reason of the legislature investing the court with the trial of important cases in which the commonwealth is concerned. He discharged the duties of his office for thirty years—ten by appointment of the governor and two terms by election of the people.
Thomas H. Sill, of Erie, practiced at the Meadville bar. He was a first-class lawyer and an excellent man. He was distinguished for great power of argument and for chaste and effective eloquence.
David Derickson was an able lawyer and thoroughly versed in legal learning. There was but little oratory in his efforts before a jury. He, however, spoke with force and earnestness, and was in every respect an able and successful attorney. He was elected additional law judge in 1856, for ten years, and discharged the duties of his office ably and in a manner satisfactory to the public.
James Thompson had considerable legal practice in the courts of Crawford county. He was an eminent attorney and was employed in many important cases. He had a strong mind, was a good reasoner and ready in applying legal principles to the facts as given in evidence. In his argument to the court or jury he spoke well and eloquently. He at first resided in Franlkin, Venango county, and afterwards in Erie, but attended the courts here. He represented the Erie district in congress from 1847 to 1851. He was judge of the supreme court for fifteen years, the term commencing on the first Monday in December, 1857.
John P. Vincent succeeded him as additional law judge, for the same period, and discharged the duties of the office faithfully and well.
Gaylord Church was a pominent attorney, tried his cases well and was always well prepared for trial. He spoke easily and fluently and made himself well understood by the jury. He was elected to the Legislature in 1840 and 1841. In 1843 he was appointed by Governor Porter judge of Crawford and Erie counties. He was an able and honest judge. He was appointed by the governor judge of the supreme court, to fill the vacancy in consequence of the resignation of Judge Porter. He served as such for about a year, until his successor was elected.
John W. Farrelly was an able lawyer. He was admitted to the bar when he was less than 21 yers old. Judge Shippen refused to admit him as he was not of sufficient age. The late John B. Wallace proposed to Judge Shippen that Mr. Farrelly should go to Pittsburg, apply for examination for admission to the bar there. Mr. Farrelly went to Pittsburg, passed an excellent examination and was sworn in as a member of the bar. He returned, presented his certificate as a member of the bar of Allegheny county and was admitted as a member of the bar of Crawford. He rose rapidly to distinction in the legal profession. He had a thorough knowledge of legal principles. He was remarkable for the quickness with which he perceived all the points in the case, no matter how numerous the questions presented by complicated array of facts. He was equally remarkable for the skill with which he elucidated his case and the clearness with which he presented it to the jury. He was not a good speaker. He nevertheless had great influence with the jury. They generally knew him and had confidence in his integrity. He never misstated the evidence in his argument. In 1836 he was elected to the Legislature. In 1841 he was elected to the State Senate. In 1848 he was elected to Congress. In 1849 President Taylor appointed him Sixth Auditor of the Treasury Department.
Darwin A. Finney was a distinguished [page 138] member of the bar of this county. Like the last mentioned attorney he was quick to perceive the true points of a case. He was a sound and able lawyer and a ready speaker. He argued a case forcibly and well. He was a good reasoner. Besides argument in his speeches to a jury, there were occasional touches of wit and humor, and not seldom remarks full of keen and cutting sarcasm. He died in the prime of life, with bright and cheering prospects before him. In 1856 he was elected to the State Senate. In 1866 he was elected to Congress and died before his term had fully expired.
H. L. Richmond, at the time of his death, was one of the oldest attorneys of the county. He was an able attorney and an eloquent speaker. He argued his case either in addressing the court or jury clearly, forcibly and fairly. He was elected to Congress in 1870, and served one term.
William H. Davis was an earnest and zealous lawyer, a good scholar, and well versed in law, history, English classics and general literature. He was elected to the Legislature in 1852 and served two terms. He served ably and faithfully as district attorney. He discharged the duties of the office with singular fidelity and earnestness.
Walter H. Lowrie was judge of the courts from 1870 until November, 1876, the time of his death. He was distinguished for his learning and talents. He was an able and upright judge.
In the list of attorneys who served in the courts of Crawford county, I have said nothing as to character and qualifications of those who are living. Those of whom brief mention has been made have closed their earthly career. They are examples for the living and their successors, and if their lives are studied with a sincere desire to reach their high character as lawyers and men, the living and their successors of this bar will be an honor and blessing to the county of Crawford and the Commonwealth.