Jonathan Fairbanks and Clyde Edwin Tuck

Past and Present of Greene County, Missouri • ca. 1914

Early and Recent History and Genealogical Records
of Many of the Representative Citizens

Chapter 13
Bench and Bar

by O. H. Travers

Part 1

The lawyers of the Springfield bar have ever been recognized as among the ablest in the state. There has never been a time since the first lawyer opened his office in Springfield that any case, even one of the gravest importance and requiring the profoundest legal skill in preparation and in conduct, could not be as thoroughly sifted and as efficiently concluded right. Here as could any similar case arising not alone in this state but anywhere else. Not all of: them are or have been saints, but all of them, with very few exceptions, have held in highest esteem the honor and integrity of their profession. Some of them have attained to state and a few of them to national reputation. From among them have been chosen from time to time, the ones who have resided on the bench, and in every instance the choice has been a judicious one. From the very first the judges of our courts have been men of marked ability, of great legal acquirements and of peculiar fitness for the crime. Of the ones who have held and are now holding judicial positions shall first speak. Charles H. Allen was judge of the first Circuit Court held in Springfield. The opening day of the court was August 12, 1833. At that term of court but two lawyers were present. These were Thomas J. Gevins and Littleberry Hendricks, and they were admitted to practice at that time. Mr. Hendricks afterwards became judge of the circuit, but who Mr. Gevins was, whence he came or whither he went, no living person seems to know. Judge Allen is said to have been an impulsive man, but he was a jovial one withal. Not overburdened with legal learning, he was yet sufficiently read in the rudiments, and his natural ability was such as to render him fully competent to discharge the duties of his office. When riding the circuit, as all lawyers and judges in this section of the country did in those days, on horseback, would frequently come to a high point on the road which overlooked the surrounding- country for miles and miles. Riding to the front of those with whom he was traveling, and there were usually from six to a dozen or more brother lawyers, he would pull off his hat, wave as a general at the head of an army and exclaim: "Attention, universe; by nations, right wheel," so full was he of the Ozark ozone, and so exhilarated contemplating the unsurpassable scenery of the Ozark hills. On one occasion, going the circuit round, he was riding a stumbling horse. He remarked to Littleberry Hendricks and John S. Waddill, who were riding alongside of him, when his horse stumbled, "If I were the Almighty and owned the world I would kill all the bad men and stumbling horses." Judge Allen was a very profane man and on this occasion he was loaded with an overdose. He made the air so blue with it that Hendricks and Waddill were shocked. Foster P. Wright, who succeeded Judge Allen in 1837, was a man of far more than ordinary ability. He was well grounded in the fundamentals, was a close student, a well nigh perfect pleader and a dangerous antagonist at the bar. He practiced law for the law's sake, rather than for financial gain. As a judge his judgments were "true and .righteous altogether." He died at a ripe old age, possessing none of this world's goods, but rich, let it be hoped, in the rewards of the future life. After about four years' service on the bench, Judge Wright was succeeded by Charles S. Yancy, in 1841. Judge Yancy was born in Kentucky and settled in Greene county in 1833. He was not regarded as a profound lawyer, but he was upright, devoted to his profession, fairly successful in his practice, and his appointment to the judgeship was a recognition of professional fitness well deserved. Three years before he was made judge he was compelled to kill a man named Roberts in self defense. He was indicted, tried and acquitted in 1838 in the Circuit Court of Greene county, Foster P. Wright being then the judge and Littleberry Hendricks, circuit attorney. The only person ever executed for murder in Greene county was a man. named Washam. He was convicted of killing his step-child at the July term, 1854, of the Circuit Court. Yancy was judge and Littleberry Hendricks was attorney for the accused. The evidence was entirely circumstantial. It has been reported and currently believed that some years after the execution of Washam, his wife, the mother of the child, on her death-bed, confessed that she and not Washam had killed the child. This report, however, can hardly be received in full acceptance of its truth, for it is hard to imagine a woman would murder her own offspring. Anyway the report cannot be traced to any authentic source. The probability is that neither the man nor the woman was guilty of the child's death, and the execution of poor Washam, whose last words on the gallows were, "Boys, I never done it," will ever rise up a sorrowful reminder of the utter unreliability of circumstantial evidence. Mr. Hendricks did not appeal this case, and why has always been a puzzle to those who know his legal worth and his high professional attainments. He died February 7, 1887, and on March 12th of that year, W. C. Price became his successor, by appointment from Governor Polk. Judge Price was born in Virginia, April 1,1816, and came to Missouri in 1836. At odd times, while he was teaching school and clerking in stores, he read law and was admitted to practice in 1844. After serving a time as justice of the County Court, he was elected probate judge in 1847 and served one term. In 1854 he was elected to the state Senate, and was treasurer of the United States under President Buchanan. When the Civil war broke out he cast his fortunes with the Southern Confederacy, entering the army as a private. He rose to the rank of major, and returned, a wholly unreconstructed man, to Springfield in 1869, where he practiced a few years, and then gave himself up entirely to the contemplation of theology and the solution of metaphysical problems. He was fairly well educated, possessed an inquisitive and penetrating mind and as a lawyer was forceful, always relying more in the conduct of his cases on legal principles than adjudicated cases. Just before the clash of arms, in 1861, when prominent men in the state were defining their position, a large gathering was held at Marshfield. Among those who defined their positions were General Rains, candidate for congress on the Bell and Everett ticket; W. C. Price, on the Breckenridge and Lane ticket, and John S. Phelps, on the Douglas ticket. Judge Price died a few years ago at his daughter's home in Chicago, remembered here by all who knew him with affectionate regard. [443-445]


In 1857 R. Chenault was elected circuit judge and took the place vacated by Price. When elected, Chenault lived in Jasper County, but a short time after his election he removed to Springfield. His opponent in the race was Littleberry Hendricks.

Judge Chenault was followed on the bench by P. H. Edwards, who, in the summer of 1861, went with the Southern Confederacy, leaving the Circuit Court and all the appurtenances thereto belonging behind him forever. I have not been able to ascertain that he ever again returned to Springfield. As a consequence, there was no session of the Circuit Court till the spring of 1862, when Littleberry Hendricks assumed the bench as an appointee of Governor Gamble, and H. J. Lindenbower, by the same authority, appeared as circuit attorney of this, which was then the fourteenth judicial circuit. No nobler man or profounder jurist ever sat as circuit judge on the bench in Springfield than Littleberry Hendricks. He knew the law and was absolutely impartial in his administration of it. He was honored by every member of the bar for his learning and every one of them revered him for his integrity. He was a plasterer by trade in his younger days, and while pursuing his avocation was employed by Judge Leonard, one time judge, of the Supreme Court, whose eyesight was failing, to read and write for him. In this way he acquired a fondness for the law which later eventuated in his mastery of it. Hendricks died January 8, 1863, and his term of court, which began that month, was held by John C. Price, judge of the thirteenth judicial circuit. That same year John S. Waddill was elected circuit judge and made a most exemplary one. [445]

He was conscientious and honest in every act, and a thorough Christian gentleman. He was of the old-fashioned sort, of whom but few are left today. And he was never so absorbed, in instant official duty that he could not give attention to extraneous matters. At one time while he was in the midst of a case a countryman entered the court room, walked up to the bench and said something to him. He immediately commanded, "Mr. Sheriff, call J. R. Waddill." J. R. Waddill was the judge's son. At that time it was the custom of the sheriff to call at the front of the court house the name of any person whose presence was required in court. J. R. was on the opposite side of the public square when he heard the sonorous voice of the sheriff three times calling, "James R. Waddill." He was then a lawyer of only a few months' standing and started to the court house in a hurry, his heart palpitating with pride at the thought that the public had been informed by the sheriff that he had business in court. When he entered the court room his father said, pointing to the man who had approached him on the bench, "Jeems, I have just bought a load of corn from that man, go with him and show him where to put it." A ripple of merriment passed over the sombre surface of the case on trial, and "Jeems" went hence with feathers drooping. Judge Waddill was considerate of the worthy young lawyer just venturing himself on the dubious road of professional life. He would advise him as a father would a son, take him into cases and divide his fees with him, and point him to habits of soberness, industry and rightful living.

Riding the circuit one day with Alec Hudson, a young lawyer with a wife and two children, a lovable fellow, but addicted to looking all too often on the wine when it was red, he expostulated with him and said, "Now, Alec, you must stop this. Think of your wife and young children and the sorrow you will bring upon them; and then think of the injury to yourself as a lawyer by this drinking habit. Alec, I know you can quit." Hudson, with a devilish twinkle in his eye, kicked all the fat in the fire, when, looking at the judge, he replied, "O, yes, judge, I know I can quit, too; I have done it so often."

Just after the war many of those who "went south" were indicted for various offenses and many were sued in civil cases. Judge Waddill was retained to defend quite a number of them. The bitter feeling engendered by the war still lingered in the bosoms of the people. A man who "went south" was already condemned if an action were pending against him. A trial of his case, if criminal, meant a verdict of guilty; if civil, a judgment for the plaintiff. The only course, with any show of safety for the defendant, was to avoid trial by continuance after continuance. But continuances could not always and for indefinite times be had. To secure them taxed the ingenuity of defendants' counsel to the limit. Where all others failed, Judge Waddill would succeed. It is not recorded that he was ever unsuccessful in securing a continuance. A prominent attorney said of him something like this: "There is Judge Waddill, the hero of a thousand continuances. When he dies and there shall be a monument erected to mark his final resting place a fitting epitaph to be inscribed on the monument would be, 'Here lies the body of John S. Waddill. He is not dead but continued." At one time he filed an application for a continuance in a case after his client had already secured the continuance by shuffling off this mortal coil.

Judge Waddill represented this senatorial district in the Legislature and as appointed by President Johnson, register of the United States land office at Springfield in 1868, without his knowledge or solicitation. He died September 13, 1879 and his many excellent qualities are still held in fond remembrance by his associates who survive him. [446-447]


S. H. Boyd followed Judge Waddill. he was born in Williamson county, Tennessee, in 1828 and was brought with his father's family to Springfield when four years of age. He received a remarkably good education at the hands of private tutors which in those days was the manner in which the children of those who could afford it received their schooling. Before he attained his majority he crossed the plains to the gold fields and returned by way of Nicaragua. He was the first city clerk of Springfield and in his early manhood he took a train load of bacon to Texas which he sold out and returned, with the slaves who accompanied him and whom he refused to sell, to Springfield. He was in charge of the store of Johnson & Company at Forsyth when nineteen years of age. He studied law with W. C. Price, was the first clerk of the common pleas court of Greene county and was twice city attorney of Springfield. When the war cloud burst, in 1861, he entered the army as major in the regiment of John S. Phelps and was afterwards promoted to the colonelcy of the Twenty-fourth Missouri Infantry Volunteers, which he commanded, passing through several engagements, till he was elected to Congress over J. S. Phelps in 1864. He was re-elected in 1866 and 1868. He was more thorough as a politician than a lawyer, though he always enjoyed a good practice and on the bench acquitted himself with honor. In facial appearance he somewhat resembled Henry Clay, especially his mouth, which, like Clay's, extended almost from ear to ear. He was a captivating speaker and his eloquence frequently wrung applause from those who were opposing him and compelled verdicts from unfriendly juries.

He was one of the first Republicans in the state to advocate the enfranchisement of those who had been Confederates, and in 1872 supported B. Gratz Brown on the Liberal Republican ticket for governor. He entertained no revengeful feeling against his erstwhile foes and pleaded for the coming of the day when the wall between our Federal and Confederate cemeteries should be torn away, so that the daughters of the North and of the South could together place upon the graves of the victor and the vanquished alike flowery tribute to their valor. He was assured of the ministership to Venezuela but his appointment was thwarted by Lincoln's assassination.

Judge, or as he is better known, Colonel Boyd, always stood in high esteem with and held the confidence of his party associates. His son-in-law, T. J. Delaney, has in his possession letters to Boyd from Lincoln, Seward, Chase, Grant, Sherman, Sigel, Blaine, Thad Stevens and other war-time leaders. In 1890, Colonel Boyd was appointed minister to Siam, where his health became impaired and on his return to his native land he died while on a fishing trip to the waters of the Ozarks which he loved so well. One of eleven brothers, he was the only one that espoused the cause of the Union. The other ten went with the Southern Confederacy. He was largely instrumental in bringing what is now the "Frisco" railroad to Springfield, and had his counsel prevailed in the first instance there would have been no rival towns of Springfield and North Springfield. He was sixty-six years old when he died and there are those left here yet who speak in endearing terms of "'Pony." Boyd. [447-448]

In 1868, R. W. Fyan was elected circuit judge, succeeding S. H. Boyd. He was a clear-headed man and dealt impartial justice on the bench though he was a man of strong prejudice. He was by nature a politician and one of the most efficient and effective stump speakers ever heard in this section of the state. He represented this district on two occasions in the national Congress and to his efforts there Springfield is indebted for the boulevard leading from the city to the National cemetery. He was never a resident of Springfield. At a special election in 1869, W. F. Geiger was elected to take the place of R. W. Fyan as circuit judge, and was re-elected from time to time, holding the office till 1886, when he died. Had he lived and so desired he would in all probability have continued as circuit judge till today, for no fairer-minded man ever sat upon the bench. He had not so fully partaken as had some others at the fount of legal lore, but he was keen of perception, right by intuition, broad visioned, exalted in thought and conformed his life to the admonition of the "golden rule." He was born in Ohio in June, 1836, and was admitted to the bar in 1858, and went to Steelville, Missouri, where he practiced till the beginning of the war when he organized a company, went into Phelps' regiment, soon became major and was in command of the regiment at the battle of Pea Ridge, Colonel Phelps being in command of the regiment at the battle of Pea Ridge, Colonel Phelps being in command of the brigade. In 1862, he organized the Eighth Missouri Cavalry and was commissioned its colonel. Six months later he was in command of the Second Brigade of the Army of the Frontier and at the close of the war was in command of the Second Brigade of the Seventh Army Corps. He fought at the battles of Prairie Grove, Clarendon, Brownsville, Little Rock, Bayou Metre and Prairie Long. His record as a soldier is one of honor, patriotism and bravery. He was truly one of nature's noblemen.

On the demise of Judge Geiger, James R. Vaughan was appointed by the governor to fill out his unexpired term. Judge Vaughan was born at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, January 6, 1845, and came in early life to Missouri. He enlisted as a private in Company C, Sixth Missouri Cavalry and was mustered out as sergeant-major. He graduated from the University of Michigan, at Ann Arbor, in 1868 and practiced his profession at Ozark until 1877, when he came to Springfield and associated himself with S. H. Boyd. As a lawyer he was studious and painstaking. He never took a step in a case without knowing where he was going. His legal ability was recognized by his professional brothers, and at the time of his death he was enjoying a lucrative practice. What little time he served on the bench was sufficient for the conviction that he possessed the qualities necessary to a prudent and upright judge.

Judge W. D. Hubbard was elected to succeed him. Judge Hubbard was born in Madison county, Kentucky, October 3, 1840, and came with his parents to Missouri in 1845. His education was acquired in the common schools of Clinton and Clay counties and at that time the common school system of Missouri was at a low ebb of efficiency. He was in the true sense of the word a self-made man and he produced a work of which the maker had no cause to be ashamed. He was little short of being a genius in mathematics. A problem which would require an hour or more in its solution by an ordinary person he would solve in his mind on the instant. He delighted in a game of checkers and every one who deemed himself an expert at the game sought a play with him, but each one retired a victim to his prowess. He was a penman of no small pretentions and was never happier than when manipulating a goose-quill pen, especially were it one he had made himself. He wrote all his record as justice of the peace with this sort of a pen and many papers among the court files will be at sight identified as his by the writing of the goose-quill pen. He was a brave soldier in the Union army. He enlisted as a private and was given his discharge as brevet lieutenant-colonel. He located in Springfield in 1866 and was admitted to the bar in 1870. He was a member of the city council in 1869 and 1870, afterwards justice of the peace, then prosecuting attorney, and later circuit judge. If Judge Hubbard ever on the bench made a wrongful ruling, it came from misconception of the mind, for his heart was always in the right place. He was a man of the very highest ideals, and if every one would walk as he desired how many so more would be traveling the straight and narrow path that leadeth to eternal life. He was sometimes irritable on the bench, but those who know the heavy domestic burden that verily crushed his spirit to the earth can forgive him for this. He fined more lawyers for contempt of court than all the other judges of our circuit court put together. He remitted nearly all the fines he imposed on attorneys practicing before him, for it was foreign to his nature that they should suffer hardships grievous to be borne by them. [448-450]


J. T. Neville was elected to succeed Judge Hubbard in 1892, and served for eighteen years, the longest time any judge ever held this bench, and he might still be circuit judge but for adventitious circumstances. Misplaced confidences often divert the stream of fortune that is running in one's favor. As judge he knew neither friend nor foe, either in the parties to the suit or the attorneys representing them. It was never said of him that he was influenced by any lawyer. He looked at the case and the case alone before him, and was as blind as a bat to the litigants and to their attorneys. His only object was to find the justice of the case and in doing this he hewed to the line regardless of where the chips fell. Metaphorical justice, blindfolded, never had in any tribunal a truer exemplar than J. T. Neville. He was born in Miller county, Missouri, October 30, 1860, and educated in the common schools and Marionville College. He graduated from the law department of the University of St. Louis, March 30, 1885, and from Washington University, April 10, 1902. He commenced the practice of his profession at Bolivar, April 5, 1885 and was prosecuting attorney of Polk county in 1887 and 1888. He came to Springfield in 1889, where he has since lived. After his retirement from the bench he formed a partnership with O. E. Gorman.

Guy D. Kirby followed Judge Neville to the bench as the result of the election in 1910 and is the present judge. He was born in Springfield, March 3, 1873,was educated in the public schools and Drury College, studied law in the office of O'Day and Travers, was admitted to practice in 1896 an followed his profession till his election to the judgeship. In all his professional dealings and intercourse with his fellowman he is the very soul of honor. As a judge he stands above suspicion or reproach, and guides his every act by the dictates of an uncorrupted conscience. He is untiring in his efforts to discern the true merits of every case before him and when he determines a question after research and consideration his conclusion is almost invariably correct, how difficult soever the question may have been of solution. [450]


In 1889, the Legislature established the Criminal Court of Greene county. Mordecai Oliver was instrumental in getting the bill establishing the court passed. In fact he was the author of the bill and was appointed by Governor Francis, the first judge of the court, and he performed its functions with marked ability and unquestioned knowledge of the criminal law. At the bar few were his peers as an advocate and none his superior. Before his appointment to the judgeship he had represented Missouri in the national Congress where he was conspicuous for his ability and acquired a reputation wide. He was always more than liberal to the defendant in his instructions to the jury, and the felon who was convicted and appealed had nothing he could rightfully complain of as error committed against him by Judge Oliver. After he retired from the bench he enjoyed until his death that ease and quiet which belong to all who are nearing the end of a well spent life.

In 1892, James J. Gideon was elected to take the place of Judge Oliver. He was essentially to the manor born, and grew to manhood a rugged, untamed scion of the "wild and woolly West." He is over six feet tall, rather slender and as wiry as a cat. They call him "Sleepy Jim." This nickname is said to have been attached to him because on the Shelby and Coffee raids he went to sleep on his horse, fell off and so soundly did he sleep that Confederate forces passed him by, supposing him to be dead, lying on the ground. He usually looks sleepy but any one who ever opposed him in a trial of a law suit or on the hustings found him very wide-awake. He is an exhaustive thinker and feels deeply. The whole force and intensity of his being is thrown into his argument before a court or jury. To the writer he is possessed of many of the characteristics which formed the foundation of Abraham Lincoln's greatness and resembles him more in mental build, than any man who ever practiced at the Springfield bar. As judge he was cautious, ever desiring not to infringe upon the defendant's rights nor to impede a full presentation of the case by the prosecution. He was born in Christian county, Missouri, December 11,1846, and educated in the common schools. Before he located in Springfield, he had been public administrator of Christian county, had been prosecuting attorney four terms, representative in the Legislature one term, and one term member of the state Senate. He was elected prosecuting attorney of Greene county in 1888 and served one term. During the war he wore the blue with credit to himself and honor to his country. He fought in many important engagements, a brave and faithful soldier. Since he retired from the bench he has pursued his calling in Springfield where his legal ability is recognized by all who meet him at the forum. [451]

He was succeeded by C. B. McAfee who was elected, in 1896 and held the position for four years when Gideon again held the office one term more. Judge McAfee brought a whirlwind to the fee buyers in Greene county. He carefully scrutinized every fee bill made by the clerk of the court, struck out item after item, which by the statutes should not have been there and brought consternation to those attempting to graft the state and county in charging for services for the payment of which the law made no provision. In this way he saved thousands upon thousands of dollars to the public funds. In the trial of every case before him he looked neither to the right nor to the left but traveled in the middle of the road. His knowledge of the law, which is extensive, he dug out by his own untiring and unaided efforts. He began the study of it at the age of sixteen and at spare moments when he was working at his trade, that of a carpenter, he would store away in his retentive memory the expositions of Blackstone, Kent and Greenleaf and was admitted to the bar before he was twenty-one years of age. He instructed his grand juries in writing, an ancient way of doing, which has not been improved by the modern way of giving oral instructions.

Judge McAfee was born in Fayette county, Kentucky, March 28, 1829, and was brought to Missouri when three months old. In 1865 he came to Springfield and associated himself with John S. Phelps in the practice of the law. In 1868 he was an unwilling candidate for Congress as a Democrat, and was defeated by S. H. Boyd. He was again, against his protestations nominated for the same office in 1872, and was defeated by H. E. Havens. In each instance he was largely, ahead of the local tickets of his party. In 1875, while he was in Jefferson City he was nominated as a delegate to the convention which framed our present constitution and was elected. At the bar he enjoyed a large and paying practice. In his speeches he was not ornate but powerful. His presentation of a point might be likened unto strong man driving a spike with a sledge hammer. On the bench he was the admiration of the bar by his fairness, firmness and fearlessness. As a soldier he enlisted as a private and three days later was elected captain of Company E, Third Missouri State Militia, and was afterwards assigned to Sixth Missouri Cavalry and acted as its major till the close of the war and on May 13,1865, was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of the Thirteenth Veteran Cavalry. Judge McAfee thinks as every other sensible person should think that the Bible is the greatest law book ever published. He has read it through repeatedly and knows the gospel as written by St. John by heart.

Judge McAfee was followed one term by Azariah W. Lincoln, who began the practice of law in Springfield in July, 1884. Before he was elected judge of the criminal court he had held the position of probate judge of Greene county f or two terms. He was born in Iowa county, Illinois, September 15, 1851, and was graduated from the Ohio Wesleyan University in with the Bachelor of Arts degree and was admitted to the bar in 1881. He is rather polished in his writings and speeches and is an entertaining and instructive speaker. His personality was always in evidence on the bench, and whatever he did he always carried with him the conviction that his action was right. When he left the bench he resumed his practice which he has since continued and is now associated with his son, Harold, who is displaying much aptitude for the profession he has chosen. Should he rise to higher heights than those attained by his father, let the father not complain but console himself with the reflection that it is poor stock that does not improve by reproduction. [452]

He was followed by Judge Alfred Page who held the position till the Legislature incorporated the criminal court of Greene county into the circuit court and designated it as division number two, when he continued his judgeship over that division till he was succeeded by the present incumbent.

Judge Page was born in Tipton county, Tennessee, and came from there with his father's family to Missouri, in 1885. He graduated from Drury College with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1887, was admitted to the bar and was elected judge in 1908. His whole course on the bench indicated a man who fully felt the responsibilities of his position and one who was determined to discharge them as an honest conscience directed him in the way. He is peculiarly adapted in distinguishing the true and the false and while sitting as judge could hesitatingly and almost unerringly determine whether a witness was telling the unvarnished truth or shading his statement in favor of the party who called him to the stand. No judicial act of his is open to adverse criticism. Before him Eugene Tucker was convicted of murder in the first degree and he imposed the death sentence him. His is the distinction of being the judge who held the first session of court in Greene county's new court house.

Arch A. Johnson is the second and the present judge of division number two of the circuit court. He was born in McLain county, Kentucky, June 9, 1869, educated mainly under private tutorage, studied law in the office of B. U. Massey and was admitted to practice by the Circuit Court at Springfield in 1891 and at once engaged in the practice. He was city attorney of Springfield from 1898 to 1902 and was elected to his present position in 1912. In his capacity of judge he has fully met the expectation of his friends. He has striven to overcome and to some extent has succeeded in overcoming the slip-shod way of transacting the business of the court, which of late years seems to have become a part of the regular procedure. He is strong and immovable in his convictions and is determined so far as he can suppress in Springfield and drive out from it "the pestilence that walketh darkness" and "the destruction that wasteth at noonday." In this strenuous effort he has the full hearted support of Springfield's best citizenship. [453]

If he shall succeed, we and all those coming after us will accord to him that chaplet of imperishable fame, the rightful possession of one who has accomplished a great reformation. May he succeed. Judge Johnson is learned in the law; he has a correct appreciation of the duties of a judge; he is performing his official functions in a way that meets the approbation of the bar, and his highest aim is to see that in his court, justice is impartially administered. He has been grand master of the grand lodge of Masons of Missouri and by the members of that fraternity as well as by his brother lawyers he is held in high estimation.


The bar of Springfield has had from its membership three judges of the supreme court. The first of these was James Baker, who was appointed to the position by Governor Fletcher in 1868. It cannot be said that he added any luster to the bench, for while he had a judicial mind yet it was adapted more to forensic practice than the calm determination of legal questions. He wrote but two decisions while he was judge. As a practitioner he was energetic, earnest and logical, though at times visionary in argument, and was fairly safe in counsel. For years he was in partnership here with John P. Ellis, one of the brightest intellects that ever shone at the Springfield bar. Judge Baker was born April 1, 1819, in Mason county, Kentucky. In 1843 he went to Ottumway, Iowa, where he practiced ten years and in 1853 he was appointed by President Pierce register of the land office at Chariton, Iowa, and held the position till 1861, when he recruited the Thirteenth Iowa Infantry and was commissioned its lieutenant-colonel. He engaged in the battles of Shiloh, Luka and Corinth, came to Springfield in 1864 and associated with Capt. A. M. Julian, who was a unique character. He began his study of law in a carding machine which belonged to himself and there his study ended, but the captain received his license, practiced his profession for many years in Springfield, made money at it, was a whole-souled, genial gentleman and never wronged a fellow man out of so much as even a penny. The firm of Baker and Ellis was for a number of years one of the leading law firms of Springfield. It terminated by the removal of Mr. Ellis to St. Louis, where he was afterwards followed by Judge Baker. During his eventful career Judge Baker was general attorney for the Atlantic and Pacific railroad and for the Missouri Pacific and was general attorney and vice president of the Frisco system.

The next member of the Springfield bar to be honored with a judgeship on the supreme court bench is Thomas Adiel Sherwood, who was a native of Georgia, having been born there June 2,1833. He graduated from the Cincinnati law school in 1957 and was admitted to practice the same year.

In 1858 he practiced at Neosho and came to Springfield in December, 1863, where he associated himself with Henry C. Young, who was in truth and in fact the Chesterfield of the Springfield bar, and continued in this association till he was elected judge of the Supreme Court in 1872, which position he held for thirty years. At the bar Mr. Sherwood stood as a lawyer of the highest class. He was studious, energetic, painstaking and worked incessantly. He was by no means an orator like Brutus was but was clear in his statement of a legal proposition and logical in going with it to the end. On the supreme bench he acquired a reputation which will ever rank him with the greatest jurists of the state. His opinions are written in faultless English and no lawyer can read one of them without knowing just what he decides and why he decides it. And while perusing his opinions the conviction steals over the reader that even though he may not have been a master of them yet he had delved in the fathoms of the classics. He is now living in California enjoying in the sunset of a useful life that ease and comfort which is the rightful heritage of one who has done all things well.

James Thomas Blair is the third member of the Springfield bar to become a judge of the supreme court. To this position he was elected in 1914. He practiced law in Springfield from 1903 to 1908, being a member of the firm of Wright Brothers and Blair. He is a native of Tennessee where he was born November 11, 1871. He received his schooling in the public schools of DeKalb county and Cumberland University and was admitted to the bar March 8, 1895. Prior to his election to the judgeship he served on the supreme court commission where his opinions display the fruit of well trained mind and give evidence that the faith his friends have in him that he will carve for himself an enduring name is not by any means misplaced. [454-455]


The bar of Springfield has also given two of its members to the courts of appeals, the first one, Richard Livingston Goode, who was elected judge of the St. Louis court of appeals in 1900, which position he held for nearly ten years when he resigned and became counsel for the Mercantile Trust and the Mercantile National Bank in St. Louis, in whose service he remained until January 15, 1915, when he resigned, and he will enter upon the discharge of his duties as dean of the Law School of Washington University, July 1, 1915, having already been selected for that position. During a space of four years while he was judge of the court of appeals he delivered a series of lectures on Equity Jurisprudence in said law school and the wide scope of his lectures and his thorough knowledge of his subject were inducing factors in his promotion to the office of dean. He was born in Campbellsburg, Kentucky, February 4, 1855, where he lived until he came, at the age of thirteen years, with his parents to Missouri. His youth was spent at Verona, Missouri, where he went to the public schools and where, in the neighborhood, he taught school. In February, 1875, he entered Drury College from which he graduated as valedictorian in 1876 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and later on received the degrees of Master of Arts and Doctor of Laws. Immediately after graduation he assumed the principalship of the Springfield high school which position he filled for two years and was then superintendent of the public schools of the city one year. While teaching he studied law with Bray and Cravens and was admitted to practice in June, 1879. He formed a partnership with J. C. Cravens soon after his admission to the bar, Mr. Bray having died and the firm of Goode and Cravens was soon recognized as one of the leading law firms in southwest Missouri. Mr. Goode is the most thorough and accomplished lawyer the bar of Springfield has yet had. From the very hour of his admission he went rapidly forward step by step and but few years came and went until he stood the acknowledged head of his profession. Of him it will not be gainsaid that he moved among his brother lawyers without a peer. He is an attractive speaker, not of great oratorical power, for he does not possess this, but because of the clearness of thought and intellectual ability he displays. His decisions are expositions of well digested law clothed in classic language. He is an omniverous reader and but few books of history, poetry, fiction and philospphy have escaped his insatiable appetite for general learning.

John S. Farrington is the second member of the Springfield bar to occupy a seat on the bench of the court of appeals. He was born in Howard county, Missouri, February 16, 1875, and graduated from Washington University in 1897 in which year he came to Springfield and started the practice of law, solitary and alone. The succeedingyear he formed a partnership with G. M. Sebree and continued with him for ten years, when he formed another partnership with S. M. Wear, with whom he remained till he was elected judge in 1912 and was fortunate enough in casting lots with the other two judges elected at the same time to draw the long term of service, which is twelve years. In his practice he was successful displaying the qualities of thoroughfares, energy and researchfulness. He is possessed of a fine sense of humor. He is making on the bench a record that will not be disappointing to his host of friends who rejoice in his elevation. His penetrating thought and logical mind are bearing fruit in well considered opinions. He is thoroughly democratic in all instincts and habits. He would be more likely pleased taking a meal with a dweller in a cabin among the hills, and spending a night on his pallet of straw than he would be feasting sumptuously on viands spread on the table of luxury and reposing on the downy couch of wealth; and he feels himself more at ease in the companionship of the common people than when moving among those who deem themselves of a higher and better breed. [455-456]

When the court of appeals was established at Springfield three judges not resident members of the bar here were appointed to the bench. At the election in 1910, of the three elected two were not resident lawyers of Springfield. One of them, Judge Sturgis, has taken his residence here since and of the first three appointed to the judgeships, Judges Cox and Nixon became residents. Judge Gray, one of the judges appointed, and Judge Robertson, one of the judges elected, were never members of the Springfield bar and so are not within the scope of this article. Since their retirement from the bench Judges Cox and Nixon have been practicing in Springfield. On the bench the opinions delivered by them hold their own in literary finish and sound exposition of the law with those delivered by any judges holding similar positions in the state. Judge Sturgis, the other resident member of the bench, was born in Smithville, Ohio, October 22,1861 and was brought by his parents to Missouri in 1865. He graduated from Drury College in 1886 with the degree of Bachelor of Arts and afterwards his alma mater conferred on him the Master of Arts degree. He was admitted to the bar in 1887 and practiced law at Neosho till he was elected to his present position. He is a warm hearted man and ties his friends to him with hooks of steel. He is a companionable gentleman and Nature has so formed him that he will be taken as a distinguished personage in any crowd. He has been an incessant worker his whole life long and his success is attributable to his untiring energy. His opinions tell of work and they read as the productions of a well trained mind.

The lawyers in Springfield before the war were John S. Phelps, John S. Waddill, Littleberry Hendricks, Andy T. Haun, W. C. Price, Runsford Baily, A. J. Beal, Nick Lain Jones, Charles S. Yancy, Jarvis Barker, Sample Orr, J. W. D. L. F. Mack, R. A. C. Mack, John A. Mack, James M. Lindenbower, S. H. Boyd, D. C. Dade, P. H. Edwards, A. M. Julian, Solomon Vaughan, J. M. Richardson, J. H. McBride, Mordecai Oliver, John R. Chenault, D. McKinney, Samuel A. Boak, — Geary, T. A. Ruffin, Peter Singleton Wilkes and John T. Coffee. E. D. McKinney was the first resident lawyer of Springfield. John T. Coffee and a lawyer named Payne had taken a horse on a fee. After putting a few under their belt, so to speak, they could not agree as to how they should divide the horse or they would dispose of him. Coffee got his pistol and started toward where the horse was. Payne asked him what he was going to do. His reply was, "I am going to shoot my part of that horse. You may do what you please with your part." All of these are on the other side of that river which we must all cross. Some of them won enduring fame. For years the names of Littleberry Hendricks and John S. Waddill were as familiar in the homes of all southwest Missouri people as were the names of their children, and even now an old timer is occasionally found who will speak of them as the great lawyers of the early days. [457]


John S. Phelps was the most distinguished citizen of them all. He was born in Connecticut December 22,1814, of Revolutionary parentage and was graduated from Washington-Trinity College in 1832. He studied law in his father's office and was admitted to the bar on his twenty-first birthday and two years later came to Missouri. Ascertaining that it was necessary to pass an examination in this state before he could practice he sought Judge Tompkins of the supreme court and found him hard at work in the woods of Cole county. The two sat on a log. The judge propounded and Phelps answered the questions, and there in Nature's home, roofed by Heaven's blue amid the singing of birds and the rustling of summer foliage, a future governor of Missouri received from a judge of its supreme court, scrawled on an unsightly page torn from a memorandum book, his license to practice law in all the courts of the state. He located in Springfield in 1837 and soon his practice was remunerative. In a short time he was admittedly the leading lawyer in southwestern Missouri. In 1840, he was a member of the state Legislature and in 1944 was elected to Congress where he was continued for eighteen years, twelve of which he served on the committee of ways and means, part of the time being its chairman. There he made a reputation nation wide and was a statesman in the true sense of the word. In 1861 he recruited the Phelps regiment which participated in the battle of Pea Ridge and lost severely. He was appointed military governor of Arkansas in 1862, soon after which he was forced by ill health to repair to St. Louis, where he sufficiently recovered to enable him to return to Springfield where he resumed the practice of his profession in 1864. In 1868 he was nominated by the Democratic convention for governor but was defeated in the election. He was nominated again in 1876 and elected by an overwhelming majority. His nomination occurred July 19th, and on the 22d day of the same month he returned to Springfield on the Frisco railroad. He was met at the depot by a large concourse of people with a brass band. As he alighted from the train the band played "Behold the Conquering Comes." The throng crowded the platform and filled the streets around. It was the spontaneous welcome of a people who loved and admired the man recently so highly honored. When he went to the governorship he virtually quit the practice and did not again resume it. [458]

J. W. D. L. F. Mack was clerk of the circuit court in 1859 and represented the Springfield district in the state senate from 1863 to 1866, and for a short time was adjutant of the Forty-sixth Missouri Infantry. From 1867 to 1870 he was county attorney of Greene county. He retired from practice in 1875 and devoted the remainder of his life to farming. R. A. C. Mack was clerk of the circuit court one term and was noted for the slow pace of his pen in writing which resembled that of a tortoise climbing a hill. Yet he was exact. John A. Mack was probate judge for a term and retired from practice at the expiration of his time. J. H. McBride was a brave and gallant soldier in the Confederate army. D. C. Dade was of a philosophical turn of mind, an entertaining speaker, full of apt illustrations and anecdotes and represented Greene county in the Legislature when the greenback simoom swept this section. Sample Orr was a man of big brain and strong personality—a born leader of men. J. M. Richardson one time held the office of secretary of state. He was then a Benton Democrat. In 1860 he was candidate in this district for elector on the Lincoln and Hamlin ticket. After the war was over he returned to his first love and was an ardent Democrat till he died. Geary, of the firm of Boak and Geary, became the judge who presided during the trial in Chicago of what is known as the Haymarket cases.

Formerly there were circuit attorneys whose sphere of official duty was coextensive with that of the circuit judge. Thomas J. Gevins was the first of these for this judicial circuit. Benjamin F. Robinson succeeded him. The third circuit attorney was E. B. Boone. He was followed by H. J. Lindenbower, who was followed by J. A. Mack, and he by G. W. Randolph. R. W. Fyan then came by appointment of Governor Fletcher to be circuit attorney. He was succeeded by W. F. Geiger, who was followed by J. M. Patterson the last of the circuit attorneys. Mr. Patterson was a strong man before a jury and as a criminal lawyer has never had a superior at this bar. As an expert in the cross-examination of a witness he elicited the admiration of his brother lawyers. By intuition he seemed to know what answer the witness would make to his question and he seldom asked one that did not bring the desired result. No one could know J. M. Patterson without loving him. Through his veins the milk of human kindness flowed abundantly. He was generous to a fault. He gave to every one that asked of him and from him that would borrow he turned not away. At the expiration of his term the system of prosecuting attorneys went into operation. Joseph T. Rice was the first one being elected in 1872. He served one term, then abandoned the practice and became a commercial traveler. After him came James R. Waddill who was elected in 1874. Mr. Waddill was one of the most efficient and effective prosecuting attorneys the county has ever had. He was a power in argument before a jury. He was city attorney of Springfield, represented this district in Congress and was commissioner of insurance during the administration of Governor Stone. He was succeeded as prosecuting attorney by W. D. Hubbard, who was elected in 1876 and he was followed by O. H. Travers, who was elected in 1878. Mr. Travers was born in Baltimore, Maryland, April 3, 1846 and was educated by private tutors and at St. Mary Academy. He located in Springfield, April 1, 1867. He studied law in the office of McAfee and Phelps and was admitted to the bar in 1869. He has remained in the practice here ever since.

Col. S. H. Boyd followed Mr. Travers, being elected in 1880. He served one term and was followed by P. T. Simmons who was elected in 1882 and served till the summer of 1883 when he died. Mr. Simmons was a man of fine promise. His moral character stood high above even the breath of suspicion, and as a lawyer he was rapidly establishing himself in the confidence of the people and in the admiration of his brother members of the bar when death cut him down. He walked the straight and narrow way of the true Christian man. His foot never trod within a brothel, nor did his eye ever behold the inside of a saloon. The legacy of an honorable name which he bequeathed his wife and children is more precious to them that than all the sordid wealth of questionable accumulation. [459-460]


T. J. Delaney was appointed by Governor Crittenden in September, 1883, to fill out the unexpired term of Mr. Simmons. He was born May 10, 1859 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and was graduated there from St. Mary's Academy, in 1880, and also from the law department of Washington University where he took the Bachelor of Law degree. He soon afterward came to Springfield and engaged in the practice of his profession. To enable himself to complete his law studies he worked as fireman on an engine of the Frisco railroad. He married Cordie Boyd, daughter of Col. S. H. Boyd. Of his union with her there is now living one son, James B. Delaney, a young man of ability. T. J. Delaney was elected city attorney of Springfield in 1882. As prosecuting attorney Mr. Delaney performed the duties of his office, as he performs every duty imposed upon him, faithfully and well. As a practitioner of the law he has from his very beginning stood in the front rank of his profession. He is resourceful to an exalted degree. When his opponent thinks he has him beaten, quicker than a lightning's flash he will change his tactics and appear more formidable than before. The lawyer against him is ever wondering what he is going to do next and how he going to do it. He knows the law. He found it in musty tomes under the flicker of midnight lamps. He is safe in counsel and as true to a client as the needle is true to the pole. In argument before a court he is logical and concise. Before a jury he plays on human nature's chords and the music of his speeches also was burnished with choice diction and vivified by classic thought awakens responsive echoes in their bosoms. He is a genial, jovial gentleman and in an assemblage of friends he is always the central and enlivening figure. In conjunction with his partner, S. H. Boyd and O. H. Travers, he defended the Bald Knobbers in the circuit court of Christian county. The defendants, and there was a score of them, to pay their lawyers deeded to them their farms. On trial of their cases they were convicted. Delaney, Boyd and Travers deeded to their wives all the lands that had been deeded to them and never received a dollar for their services. Mr. Delaney spent a large sum of his own money in getting the cases of four of them who had been convicted of murder in the first degree before the supreme court. The supreme court affirmed the judgment of the trial court and the writer says the judgment was rightfully affirmed notwithstanding the dissenting opinion of Judge Sherwood which years after the supreme court decided was the law. [460]

Mr. Delaney was followed in the office of prosecuting attorney by J. A. Patterson who was elected in 1884 and again in 1886. Prior to his coming to Springfield Mr. Patterson had been superintendent of public schools of Webster county and before he became prosecuting attorney he was elected and served one term as city attorney of Springfield. Mr. Patterson is a man of deep convictions, and a stickler for his friends. He loves the right; the abhors the wrong. His example in life has been one of rightful conduct. By his straightforward manner in his professional life he has won for himself the sobriquet of "honest John"; and his speeches as prosecuting attorney always convinced the jury that he was conscientious in asking the conviction of the defendant. During his period of prosecuting attorney he was required to participate in the trial of a murder case that caused more interest and excitement than any case ever tried in Greene county. The citizenship of the county was thoroughly and wildly aroused. The case was the State Missouri vs. Cora Lee, charged with the murder of Sarah E. Graham, whose mutilated body was found in a cavern some miles southwest of Springfield. In the conduct of this case Mr. Patterson displayed marked ability. The evidence was wholly circumstantial, but the circumstances he wove together with a dexterous hand and in his closing argument to the jury threw them around the defendant so closely that apparently there was no escape. The chain of circumstances however, was not without its weak places, and the jury returned a verdict of not guilty. Mr. Patterson has surpassed every other member the bar has ever had or probably ever will have in that he has brought to it three sons, Orin, Roscoe and Otis, all robust in mind and body, fine lawyers, clothed with the respect and ingratiated into the confidence of the community. Mr. Patterson was followed by J. J. Gideon who served two years and was succeeded by H. E. Havens. For a long time Mr. Havens was the leader of his party in this section of the country. He represented this district several terms in Congress, where he was a conspicuous member, and his ability was recognized in the legislative assembly of the Union. He is somewhat austere to the ordinary man but to those who break the ice and get close to him he is a warm hearted individual. He always gave freely of what he had to the one in need, and is sociable, entertaining and instructive in his conversation. He is more of a politician than a lawyer. In fact, he never made much effort to practice law being rather averse to its drudgery, yet he filled the prosecuting attorney's office with commendable skill. [461-462]

J. H. Duncan came to this office after Mr. Havens. He filled the office with honor and faithfulness. He proved a master workman in manipulating the facts in the case he was trying, arranging them in forceful way before a jury and always fair in their presentation. He was admitted to the bar in 1876 and in 1878, also in 1879 he was elected recorder of the city of Springfield, and was four years justice of the peace of Campbell township. As a party manager he displayed transcendent acumen. For years he upheld his party in Greene county by the word of his power and carried it to success through hard fought campaigns. To his efforts and magnificent generalship may be ascribed the fact that Greene county is politically Republican. He is a clever gentleman withal and notwithstanding his strong party feeling he is devoid of partizan bitterness.

Mr. Duncan was followed in office by A. H. Wear, a man who illumined the position with the light of a brilliant mind, and discharged its functions with unswerving fidelity. One charged with an offense of whose guilt was not reasonably satisfied he would not prosecute but the one whose was established in his conviction he prosecuted with relentless determinate Consequently, there were comparatively few acquittals in the cases tried during his incumbency. His speeches before a jury were logical, persuasive and convincing, illustrated the while with anecdote apt and telling. He was a fascinating speaker and possessed that peculiar faculty that enabled him to pick a jury up and carry it whithersoever he would—sometimes beside a smoothly flowing stream along whose banks flowers bloomed and where the fragrance of summer's breath filled the air, and. then again along the clouded mountain tops where the angry elements fought and rattled the thunders of their wrath. He had a magnetic disposition and drew all men to him. His friends were legion and to them his heart and pocket book were always open. He was touched with human infirmities and gave liberally of his substance to those in need. He was succeeded in office by A. B. Lovan who was elected in 1898 and again in 1900, holding the position two terms. Mr. Lovan was born March 24, 1865, at Buffalo, Missouri, where his education began at Bolivar and the State University at Columbia. He was admitted to the bar at Buffalo in 1880 and soon thereafter came to Springfield and entered the practice and served as city attorney in 1894 and 1895. In the office of prosecuting attorney he performed his duties with fidelity and was then as he has always been, a strong advocate of the law's enforcement. He discountenances any attempt at its evasion. During his first campaign the "slot machine" was holding high carnival in Springfield. The burning question was, Is the "slot machine" a gambling device? On this question even legal minds held conflicting opinions. Lovan maintained the affirmative and on that position made the race. After his election he proceeded against them, having a number of them destroyed and their operators arrested. About then it was determined by the supreme court in some case from another circuit that it was a gambling device, and the "slot machine" went out of business in Springfield.

In 1902, Roscoe Patterson was elected to succeed Mr. Lovan and held the office two terms. He is one of the youngest as well as one of the brightest members of the bar ever elected to this position. He was born in Springfield, September 15, 1876, attended the public schools and Drury College here and was graduated from Washington University in 1897 and wears the degree of Bachelor of Law. He was a vigorous prosecutor. Before a jury he marshaled his facts in a masterly way and pressed them home with all the strength and discipline of a well trained mind. His speeches are incisive and convincing and in delivery he possesses many of the graces of the true orator. During his administration several of those supposed to be implicated in the lynching of some negroes on the public square were indicted; one of them was tried; the jury failed to agree; and after his term of office expired the cases went off the docket. Looking back over the records of all the prosecuting attorneys Greene county has yet had, it would be hard to say there has been a more thorough and efficient one than Roscoe Patterson.

W. R. Self succeeded Mr. Patterson. Before his accession to the office Mr. Self had been city attorney of Springfield and representative of Greene county in the Legislature. Prior to his advent to Greene he represented Dallas county in the Legislature. He is a man of winning personality and has a peculiar way of drawing about him men of influence and of means. He is not inapt in applying financial methods to the affairs of life whereby he finds his earthly possessions are augmented by daily gain. He is distinctively a church man, and the reflection that he is a member of the official board of the South Street Christian church and the superintendent of its Sunday school, brings him more genuine pleasure than all the honor given him by his fellow citizens in placing him in positions of honor and trust. Faithfully and well he performed his official duties and the pronouncement of his fellows regarding all his public acts is, "Well done thou good and faithful servant. [462-463]

After Mr. Self came J. C. West. He had formerly been prosecuting attorney of Christian county. He is one of the most companionably and friendly gentlemen that a person meets in a life time. He will never be rich in worldly wealth as a Morgan, a Carnegie or a Rockefeller. There is too much of genuine human kindness in him for that. The needy mendicant, the destitute widow, the homeless orphan, the wanderer on life's highway never escape his kindly eye, nor ever appeal to him in vain; and he is ever ready and willing to share his last dollar with a friend in need. He conscientiously and honestly performed the functions of his office and is now enjoying a paying practice which is his merited meed.

After Mr. West, J. H. Mason came to the office of prosecuting attorney. He was elected in 1910, and assumed the duties of the office immediately following the expiration of his term as city attorney of Springfield. In 1912 his party honored him with a distinction never before held by a member of the bar here—the nomination for attorney general of the state. As a prosecutor he was energetic and sought always to ascertain as the bottom fact whether the defendant was innocent or guilty. To the guilty one he showed no mercy and in his prosecution he asked no quarter.

Sam M. Wear, who is at present holding his second term, succeeded Mr. Mason. Mr. Wear brings to his office a mind of classic education and ambition fired with all the enthusiasm and expectancy of aspiring youth. He is well prepared in every case he tries and in his speeches are often seen unmistakable traces of genius which his father, A. H. Wear, transmitted to him. He sometimes regales the jury with the pyrotechnics of oratory, and anon he elucidates his case with apt illustration and logical demonstration. He is a likeable fellow and among his many friends may be reckoned every member of the Springfield bar. [464]

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