Typed by Frank Manning.
BENCH AND BAR.
The Old Wheeling Court House - Some of the Early Members of the Bar - The Second Court House - Prominent Attorneys - The Bench - The Present Court House - Philip Doddridge.
We have already referred to the original Court House erected in Wheeling, and which was located on the present Tenth street between Main and Market streets, and we now present some brief facts in addition to those already mentioned. It was a small building about 30 feet square and set quite low on the ground, having a four-sided roof, with a sort of chicken coop belfry on the top of it. There were a few small windows, which were gracefully hung with dust and cobwebs, giving the rough seats and floor a still harder appearance than they would have presented at the best. This was the Wheeling Court House. Kentucky and Virginia travelers mistook it for the Virginia Hotel smoke-house, as it nearly adjoined that hostelry, and they thought they would be sure to get good home-made ham there, and so turned their steps to that hotel.
SOME OF THE EARLY MEMBERS OF THE BAR.
It may well be supposed that the surroundings were not calculated to refine and improve the bar, or call forth the most delicate style of eloquence. Yet there were among the early members of the bar in Wheeling some good and strong men. Noah Linsly was an able and prominent member of the bar at this time.
Samuel Fitzhugh, who had been admitted to the bar in New York State, came to Wheeling shortly afterward and practiced his profession in that old smoke-house. He was well educated, a genial companion, full of wit and anecdote, and a fair competitor of Tappan, Hammond, Goodenough and Wright, who often came over from Ohio to fire up the smoke-house with their speeches. He was a lover of nature in all her varied moods, and was in the habit frequently of turning aside from the dull routine of his profession and spending a large portion of his time in the forest. Clad in hunting shirt and moccasins, solitary and alone, he would penetrate the deepest recesses of the woods and absent himself for days at a time in tracing the haunt of the (leer and the lair of the bear or the hiding place of the wild turkey, and would generally return well ladened with the spoils of the chase or the smaller game which at that time abounded in the solitudes of nature. He returned to his old home in New York after several years' practice, but left a fund of anecdote behind him that was current for many years.
Samuel Sprigg. In addition to what we have already stated concerning this gentleman, we will be pardoned for making some further remarks. He was not only a prominent member of the bar, but stood at its head. He never studied or paid much attention to his practice. He preferred his sheep farm and he had a good one. He never studied language, the principles of law, decisions, or cases further than to ascertain their most simple points, but he had an intuitive perception of right, as he understood it, which made him powerful either before a jury or a mixed audience. He was rough in manner as well as in language and dress; but he had a large, kind heart, and pure thought, and when he addressed an audience he made himself felt. Few knew him well enough to know that like many of the old slaveholders you must meet him square up when he attempted to brow-beat you, and abuse him right soundly before you could be a friend of his. Then he was a warm friend so long as he respected your motives and actions. To the masses he loved to dictate, and sometimes to tyrannize over them. He was prosecuting attorney for many years and sometimes engaged in important suits outside.
Morgan Nelson was one of the early members of the bar in Wheeling. He came at an early day from New England, where he was reared and graduated in a law school. He was a kind-hearted man and strictly conscientious in all his dealings, and a hard student of all his cases in all their bearings: He was more of a counsellor than advocate and stated his cases to court and jury plainly and well. He was a public-spirited man, engaging earnestly in all measures which he considered beneficial to the city. Few men ever passed through a long life with more friends and fewer enemies than he did.
Frank Campbell was the son of Rankin Campbell, an eminent lawyer of Washington, Pennsylvania. He had a very clear legal mind and a humorous and quaint way of giving vent to no little wit, which made him a favorite with his associates. He never attained a fair practice, but neglected it and early in life fell a prey to his besetting propensity; but to the last his legal opinions were considered the most clear and satisfactory of any member of the bar in the city.
Zachariah Jacob was older than Campbell and commenced practice before him at an early day. He did not possess great talents. His manner was not pleasing; but he was a laborious and persevering person and studied his cases as closely as he had the power to do, which gave him considerable success. He entered into politics as a Whig, and occupied some political positions, but was too much of the old slaveholding school believer in the rights of the few at the expense of the many to be popular.
Moses C. Good was another of the old school lawyers, ? a native of the county, ? a gentleman of considerable study and good ability, social and genial, humorous rather than witty, highly honorable and a remarkably pleasant and affable companion. His manner and address to the court was more graceful and neat than that of any one at the early bar. He was very popular, and represented the district one or two terms in the State Senate. He as well as Mr. Jacob enjoyed a long life and the Major never felt old.
William McConnell was another attorney of the old school and also a native of the county. He was considered a fair lawyer, though his practice was never large. He represented the county faithfully and well in the Legislature for several years.
Alexander Wilson was another of the prominent members of the bar in his day. He was born and educated in Washington, Pennsylvania, but had all the Southern feeling and some of the frailties. He was well learned in the law, quick in his perceptions, genial in his character and of quick wit rather than of general conversational power. Cynical of females, he never married. He was a fair advocate and popular with courts and juries. He expressed the common Southern dislike of "Yankees" on all occasions. There is one anecdote of him, which illustrates him and them pretty well. About 1846 he went to Boston on business and was detained some weeks. After his return a gentleman came into his office and almost the first words Mr. Wilson uttered were, “I wanted to see you to ask you what sort of fellows those Yankees of yours are?” “Why,” replied the gentleman, “did they not treat you well?” “Yes, I was never more hospitably entertained, and all I met were perfect gentlemen; a little more formal than we are, but I liked it. I was down at Lynn taking depositions and when returning, as I supposed, on handing my ticket to the conductor for Boston he told me I was going the other way. Asking what I should do, he told me I would have to go on to Salem, wait four hours and come in on the return train. Arriving there, I was looking around from the steps of the hotel when a man came up and asked me if I would like to go to the museum. He was drunk; however, he looked and talked like too much of a gentleman to be the runner for a museum; but I thought these Yankees will do anything for a few cents, and to pass away the time went with him. Coming to the door of a splendid building, I asked what was to pay. ‘Nothing, walk in.’ He went with me and for two mortal hours explained to me the thousands of curiosities from all parts of the world, with their uses, histories, with all of which he was perfectly familiar. I never spent two hours more profitably and pleasantly. I thought it would be a tall bill; but did not care, as it was worth it. We walked to the hotel, and there I again asked what was to pay. “Nothing.”said I, “Stranger, you have done me a very great favor, ? one I shall never forget; but will you please do me another?” “Certainly, sir, if I can.” Will you please tell me what you did all this for?” He seemed much amused, but replied, “Many years ago Salem was the most important commercial port in the country, our ships were on every sea, and officers and sailors brought curiosities from every land. Our fathers concluded to erect and endow a museum, collect all these things and make it forever free for the entertainment of strangers. I saw you was a stranger; I was at leisure, and it afforded me pleasure to take you to it.” “Well,” said the gentleman, “what did you say to that?”“Why,” he replied, scratching his head, “I told him we did not do that way down in Virginia.” After that when he was abusing the Yankees, the gentleman said I could shut him up by asking him if he had ever been in Salem.
Judge Fry was one of the most impartial judges that ever held that position. He was appointed for life as all judges at that day were, but when the constitution was changed making judges elective he was not elected, and was not a candidate. He subsequently entered into partnership with his son-in-law, the late judge Paull. He was a good counsellor, but no advocate.
McMahon, an Irishman, practiced in the old smoke-house for a year or two. This individual had many cases, but the most important was the defense of a man arrested for stealing. It was as good as a first rate show to hear the late William Shriver imitate McMahon's (as he was called) speech on the night when a supper complimentary was given to the Hon. Thomas Corwin at Austin Pease's eating house. There are some persons now living who saw Mr. Corwin laugh on that occasion ? cheeks rustling up like a balloon. McMahon left Wheeling and went to Webster, Ohio, and it is related by some who saw him there on 1840, engaged on naturalizing Germans, telling them on swearing to support the government and that they were to vote for Martin Van Buren.
Moses W. Chapline as a lawyer was coo1 and dispassionate and his style of address before a jury was argumentative.
Daniel Lamb was born on Connellsville, Pennsylvania, on time 23d day of January, 1810, and came to Wheeling with his parents when quite a small boy. At the age of twenty he had been made city clerk and a year later secretary of the Fire & Marine Insurance Company then just organized. Three years later he became secretary and treasurer of the Wheeling Savings Institution. He studied law with Morgan Nelson, and in 1837 was admitted to the bar and associated himself with Charles W. Russell. Russell was a Democrat and Lamb was a Whig. The law at that time was not a lucrative profession and in 1848 Mr. Lamb gave up the practice, and became cashier of the Northwestern Bank, which position he held until the opening of the war of the Rebellion. He was sought out by those who needed his help in the public crisis, and busy as he was on his responsible post, he gave his help without stint. Whether by nature or through training, or both, his mind was peculiarly logical and legal in its operation. He was judicial and dispassionate on temper. He was in all things, speaking or writing, the plain, sincere, unpretending yet wonderfully wise and able counselor. At the time of his death he was the Nestor of the bar and its ablest member, “None knew him but to love him ? none named him but to praise.”
Charles W. Russell was born in Tyler county, Virginia, July 19,1818, After receiving a common-school education he came to Wheeling, and entered Linsly Institute as a pupil, and later finished his education at Jefferson College. Canonsburg, Pennsylvania. He studied law in the office of Zachariah Jacob, Esq., of Wheeling and practiced his profession in this city. He was a brilliant man, as well as one of solid parts and extensive learning. Until the breaking out of the war in 1861 he was a most successful practitioner, when he went south and served several terms in the Virginia Legislature, and was also a member of the House of Representatives in both the Provisional and Permanent Congress of the Confederacy. He was a person of fine appearance and physically and mentally was a man of superior mould. He married a daughter of the late Henry Moore, Esq. Both he and his wife are now deceased. He died in Baltimore November 22, 1867, where he had located himself in the practice of the law a year or two preceding his death.
Edward H. Fitzhugh was at one time a partner of Daniel Lamb and later a partner of Charles W. Russell. He was a lawyer of fine ability and possessed a mind of great legal acumen. He was born in Caroline county, Virginia, at or near Zion in that county, about the year 1816. He died on Thursday June 26, 1890. At the time of his death he was judge of the Chancery Court of Richmond, Virginia. He left Wheeling at the breaking out of the Rebellion and went to Richmond, casting his fortune with the Southern Confederacy. He was a staunch Presbyterian and held the office of ruling elder in the First Presbyterian church of this city at the date he went south. He was a fine counsellor, but no advocate.
THE SECOND COURT HOUSE
On the 17th day of March, 1836, the General Assembly of Virginia passed an Act authorizing the selection of a site for the Court House and other public buildings for the county of Ohio. Under the provisions of the Act Zachariah Jacob, David Agnew and Robert C. Woods were appointed commissioners by the county court to borrow $20,000 on the credit of the county, $8,000 of which was to be without any limitation as to the time of credit for the same, to enable the commissioners to pay for the grounds taken and condemned for the public buildings.
The four commissioners named in the first section of the Act of the General Assembly, made their report to the following effect: Upon careful consideration of the present reduced territory of the county, of the facility of traveling to and from every portion of it, of the present and prospective comparative population and business of the city and county, and of various other circumstances presented to their view, they had no difficulty in determining that the greatest good of the greatest number could only be obtained, and substantial justice between contending interests promoted by a location of the seat of justice within the city of Wheeling.
The commissioners selected two lots of land in Wheeling at the southeast corner of Monroe and Fourth streets, known as “lots numbered (1) and (2) two in square (15) fifteen.” The lot numbered (1, one, immediately upon said corner, was owned by Andrew Halstead and William B. Hubbard, the first named owning the whole except 45 feet fronting on Monroe street and running 60 feet in depth, which was owned by the last named. Lot numbered (2, two, immediately adjoining was owned by Zachariah Jacob. The commissioners fixed a value on the said lots. The valuation fixed upon his lot was assented to by Mr. Jacob, which was $3,000.
Messrs. Halstead and Hubbard refused to accept the valuation set upon their lot. Condemnation proceedings were instituted when the value of Halstead’s portion of the lot was fixed at $3,600 and that portion owned by Hubbard at $1,400.
The ceremony of laying the corner-stone of the new building took place on the 10th day of April, 1839, under the superintendence of Ohio Lodge, No. 1. A. F. & A. M. There was an imposing procession on the occasion, which for numbers and appearance was exceedingly creditable and was viewed by the spectators with great interest and pleasure. It was formed on Main street at eleven o’clock A. M. under the escort of the Wheeling Riflemen, a military company which was the crack military organization of the city, followed by a band of music. Behind the band came the members of the lodge of Masons clothed in full regalia bearing the appropriate insignia of the order. The lodge was followed by the members of the county and superior courts, the bar, the members of the city council and the officials of the city, and the procession was closed by a large number of citizens on foot. Proceeding down Main street until they reached Monroe (now Twelfth) street, they proceeded up the last named street to the proposed site of the Court House at the corner of Monroe and Fourth (now Twelfth and Chapline) streets, where it came to a halt.
After the offering of a prayer Dr. J, W. Clemens was introduced to the assembled audience as the orator of the occasion. His is address was brief, but pertinent and eloquent. At its conclusion the corner-stone of the edifice deposited in its place with appropriate ceremonies in accordance with the Masonic ritual and with due solemnity, a number of articles having been deposited at the time, The day was a gala day and almost the entire population was so deeply interested on the occasion that a general suspension of business took place and the city wore a holiday appearance.
Among those who practiced in this second Court House, the most of whom have passed away, we name the following: Daniel Lamb, Zachariah Jacob, Moses C. Good, Morgan Nelson, James Alexander, George W. Thompson, Charles W., Russell, James Paull, Edward H. Fitzhugh, James S. Wheat, Joseph H. Pendleton, Governor Stanton. A. A. Allison, William P. Hubbard, John J. Jacob, Henry M. Russell, Elbridge G. Cracraft, J. Dallas Ewing, Nathaniel Richardson, Joseph J, Woods, George Davenport, B. B. Dovener, Robert H. Cochran, Alfred Caldwell, Sr., George B. Caldwell, Alfred Caldwell, Jr., Aquila B. Caldwell and Daniel Peck, besides others whose names do not readily occur to the writer.
Has been occupied at all times by jurists of acknowledged ability and impartial minds. The first judge who sat upon the bench of the circuit superior court was Hugh Nelson, who served from April, 1809, until the fall of the year 1811, but little, however, concerning him can now be learned, but tradition gives him conspicuous prominence as a careful and able jurist.
Judge Daniel Smith was the successor of Hugh Nelson, having been appointed to the position in the year 1811 by the Legislature. For a portion if not for the whole time that he occupied the bench, he was a resident of Harrison county. The judicial district at this time was composed of the counties of Harrison, Ohio, Brooke, Wood and Monongalia. Judge Smith served the district with great acceptability from the time of his appointment to the fall of the year 1830, and next to judge Fry, his successor, served longer than any one who has since occupied the bench. His long term of service is a sufficient guarantee of the faithfulness with which he performed the duties of his arduous position. He is remembered as an upright man and judge.
The longest term of service upon the bench of this circuit was that of judge Joseph L. Fry. He was appointed in the year 1831 and first presided at the January term of that year. He served for twenty-one consecutive years, or until the constitution of 1852 provided that the election of judges should be by popular vote instead of by appointment by the Legislature. He became a candidate before the people, having Hon. George W. Thompson as his opponent. This latter was a person of superior social qualities, and in every sense a popular politician who mixed freely with the people, while the former, who was of a retiring disposition mixed but little with the people, and was austere, aristocratic and dignified in his bearing and manners. The result was the election of Mr, Thompson, and the consequent retirement of judge Fry from the Bench. After his retirement from the bench he practiced for a time in Wheeling, but during the Civil war he moved to Lewisburg, West Virginia, where he died. He originally came to Wheeling from Charleston, Virginia at which place prior to his appointment he had been engaged in the practice of his profession. On the bench he was always sedate and dignified. He was fair in his treatment of the members of the bar, but he was not popular. He was thoroughly versed in the law and it is doubtful whether a more capable judge or profounder lawyer ever sat upon the bench of the Wheeling circuit.
Judge George W. Thompson, who sat upon the bench as the successor of Judge Fry, was a native of Ohio and received his early education at Jefferson College, Pennsylvania, where he graduated in the year 1824. He then studied law under the late William B. Hubbard, a prominent and successful attorney of St. Clairsville, Ohio, and was admitted to the bar in 1826, when he went to Richmond, Virginia to improve his studies in his profession. He returned to St. Clairsville in the year 1828 and practiced there until the year 1837, when he came to Wheeling and engaged in the practice of his profession, continuing therein until his election to Congress from this district in 1851. He was appointed as a member of a joint commission, with William Green and Hon. William C. Reives, of Virginia, on the part of that state, and Hons. Thomas Ewing, John Brough and James Collins on the part of Ohio to settle the jurisdiction of the Ohio River between the two states which had given rise to a controversy of long standing between the states of Virginia and Ohio. He was appointed United States district attorney for the western district of Virginia by James K, Polk, which office he held until he was elected to the office of judge of the Twentieth judicial circuit. During his term in Congress he introduced a bill and secured its passage in opposition to a decree of the United States supreme court for the abatement and removal of the Wheeling suspension bridge. This was a most important achievement, and probably it was one of the finest constitutional distinctions ever made between legislative and judicial powers, as it in effect set aside a judicial decree of that court, by an Act of Congress, and secured a precedent for all future legislation on bridging navigable streams in the United States. In 1860 he was re-elected to the judgeship of the circuit court by a majority of two to one over his opponent, Ralph Berkshire. He held his office until July, 1861, when his removal was effected in consequence of his refusal to take the oath of office to support what we cannot but believe he conscientiously concluded to be the unconstitutional actions of those who inaugurated the present state of West Virginia. In addition to his distinguished services on the bench and in Congress he was the author of several works of literary merit. He left much unpublished manuscript at the time of his decease.
Judge Ralph L. Berkshire, of Monongalia county, Virginia, was a gentleman who pre sided over the circuit court in Wheeling from the fall term of 1861 until the sluing of 1863. He was a gentleman of fine legal attainments, After his retirement from the bench of the circuit court he was promoted to a place on the court of appeals of the state, After his retirement as one of the judges of the court of appeals he resumed the practice of his profession in his home county of Monongalia.
Judge E, H, Caldwell succeeded judge Berkshire in the year 1863 under the new state regime of that year. He was a descendant of the old Caldwell family, whose members have always been prominent in the states of Virginia and West Virginia, and a son of Alexander Caldwell, a prominent attorney in the early years of the last century. He was a native of Brooke county in this state. After obtaining the rudiments of an education he was sent by his father to take a special course in one of the New England colleges. After leaving college he came to Wheeling and married Ellen McMechen and located in Moundsville in the practice of his profession. At the time of the organization of Marshall county he was appointed commonwealth's attorney, and subsequently was elected clerk of the court, which position he resigned to accept a place on the bench. He served in the latter capacity until his death, which occurred in 1869. On the bench he was just and impartial and while not an extensively read lawyer he was considered a successful judge, and what he lacked in legal attainments he made up in good sense and sound judgment.
Hon. Thayer Melvin was born in Hancock county, West Virginia, and was admitted to the practice of the law in the said county in 1853, some time before reaching his majority. He was elected prosecuting attorney of his county in 1855, and re-elected during several terms. While serving in this capacity he resigned, and reproved to Wheeling and became the junior member of the law firm of Pendleton & Melvin, attending regularly the tennis of court in his native county. In 1861, in response to the call of his country, he exchanged the law book for the musket and entered the volunteer army as a private, serving until the close of the war, the greater portion of the time as adjutant general of the department of West Virginia, commanded by different general officers, viz.: Kelley, Siegel, Hunter, Crook and Emory. He was also on the staff of General Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley campaign of 1864. In 1866 he resumed the practice of the law at Wellsburg, Brooke county, West Virginia, and during the same year was nominated and elected attorney general of the state, to which office he was reelected in 1868. Before the expiration of his second term as attorney general he resigned this office and was appointed judge of the First Judicial District of West Virginia to fill the vacancy occasioned by the death of judge Caldwell. He was twice re-elected and served for a period of twelve years. After his retirement from the bench he engaged actively in the practice of the law in the courts of this and other counties as a member of the firm of Ewing, Melvin & Riley. While a member of this firm he was unanimously recommended by the members of the bar in the circuit as a proper person to fill the unexpired term of judge Paull, deceased, which position he now occupies. Whether on or off the bench, he is always the suave, genial and agreeable gentleman and is admired as such by everyone. To all positions he has filled he has brought a well trained mind. He is safe and cautious in practice; on the bench he is painstaking, and his decisions are reached only after being well weighed. He is regarded as an able and erudite lawyer, ? an honest and impartial judge.
George E. Boyd has served on both the county and circuit bench. He came to Wheeling from Ohio, his native state, when but ten years of age. His elementary education was obtained in the public schools and Linsly Institute of Wheeling, which was supplemented by the completion of a classical course at Washington College, Pennsylvania. After a thorough course of reading he entered the Cincinnati Law School, where he received his degree in 1860. He rose rapidly in his profession and in 1870 he was elected to the office of judge of the Ohio county court, which position he held until the abolition of that court. In 1880, although his party (the Democratic) was largely in the minority, he was elected judge of the First Judicial Circuit of West Virginia. His term expired January 1, 1889. His service on the bench has been entirely creditable to him and has added to the laurels won by him as an attorney. Of the highest integrity, with a clear grasp of the principles he is called upon to apply, and with an abiding sense of the righteousness of even-handed justice, he earned a reputation as a judge who has rendered more than ordinary service to the state. His opinions were given without hesitation, and his decisions were clear and pointed. The records of the supreme court shone that his decisions were seldom reversed.
Ex-Governor John J. Jacob was for seven years judge of the First Judicial Circuit. He was a descendant of an old Maryland family, whose members were prominent in the Indian wars and that of the Revolution. After receiving an academic education he entered Dickinson College, Pennsylvania, from which institution he graduated in 1849. For eight years he filled the chair of political economy in the University of Missouri, and began the practice of his profession in Columbia, Missouri, but in 1864 he returned to his native county, Hampshire, West Virginia. The field of politics was at the time inviting to the young lawyer, and he was honored by his county by an election to the House of Delegates. His reputation as a lawyer of ability early gave him prominence in his legislative career, and long before the session closed he had shown himself the peer of the ablest statesmen in the body. In 1870 he was elected governor of West Virginia by the Democratic party, and was re-elected under the constitution of 1872. As a lawyer and a judge he deserves to be classed among the ablest members of the bar or of those who sat upon the bench. He was a careful, wise and safe counsellor ? an advocate earnest, convincing and effective ? a judge of the strictest integrity. He was well grounded in the elementary principles of the law and was wonderfully familiar with the rules of practice. His conclusions were reached after exhaustive research of the authorities bearing on the cause.
Joseph R. Paull, a member of the Wheeling bar, was nominated in 1888 by the Republican party for judge of the First judicial district of West Virginia, and was elected. He was born in Fayette county, Pennsylvania, December 9, 1848. His collegiate education was obtained at Washington and Jefferson College, where he attended for two years, and at Lafayette College, at which latter institution he graduated in 1871. Selecting the profession of the law as his vocation, he began the study of it with Daniel Kane of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and a year later he entered the Columbia Law College, where he pursued his studies for one year, and in September, 1875, he was admitted to the bar, and on the 15th of December following he removed to Wheeling and was admitted to the bar of this city. In the practice of his profession in this city he met with fair success and both as a professional man and as a citizen gained the esteem of the community. He was a close student, a man of strict integrity, and by his dignified bearing and gentlemanly demeanor won the confidence of his constituents.
Hon. John A. Campbell, one of the associate judges of the First Judicial Circuit, was elected to the bench in 1888. His practice as an attorney had been confined to the courts of the upper counties of the circuit in which he had gained an enviable reputation as an advocate of considerable force and eloquence. He was studious and his mind was rather of a philosophical turn. He was an acceptable judge and had the confidence of the bar.
The two associate judges at the present are Hon. H. C. Hervey and Hon. Thayer Melvin.
Hon. Robert H. Cochran was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Ohio in 1860, and first located in the practice of his profession at Martin's Ferry, Belmont county, Ohio, of which county he was elected prosecuting attorney. After the expiration of his term of office as such, he removed to Wheeling in 1869, and associated himself in practice with Hon. Daniel Peck. His knowledge of railroad law soon made for him a reputation which secured him an appointment as general counsel of the Wheeling & Lake Erie Railroad Company. In 1873 he associated himself as a partner with Hon. William P. Hubbard in the practice of the law, which was terminated by his election to the bench of the county court. He served four years in this capacity and refused a reelection. Upon his retirement from the bench, the bar adopted the following flattering testimonials which speak in unmistakable terms of his character and efficiency as a judge and citizen:
“Whereas it is desirous on the part of the members of the court to indicate to the Hon. R. H. Cochran, on his retiring from the bench, the esteem and respect in which he is held by us.
“Resolved by the members of the bar of this county that the many virtues which adorn the character of Hon. R. H. Cochran, and which have shown conspicuously in his character as judge of the County Court during the four years last past, have established for him the character of an able and upright judge, a courteous and accomplished gentleman and a sincere friend.
“Resolved, That on his retirement the bench loses one of its brightest ornaments and most honored examples of impartiality, firmness and all that goes to make up the perfect character of a just judge.”
Alexander Caldwell was for many years on the bench of the District Federal Court. He was a native of New Jersey, in which state he was born in the year 1774. He came to Virginia at an early age and studied law in the office of Philip Doddridge in Wellsburg. He was admitted to the practice of law in Wheeling in 1816, and for eight years was kept busy by his practice. On October 8, 1825, he was appointed judge of the Western District of Virginia, and his commission bears the signature of John Quincy Adams. Judge Caldwell served with much credit and success until his death, which occurred April 1, 1839.
James Paull was one of the prominent members of the old Wheeling bar and enjoyed a wide-spread reputation as a profound jurist and able public man. He was the only resident attorney ever elected to the Supreme Court bench of the state. He was born in Belmont county, Ohio, in the year 1818, and was the son of George and Elizabeth Paull. He was thoroughly educated in his childhood and youth. After completing his preparatory studies at Cross Creek, Pennsylvania, he entered Washington College in that state, from which he graduated in June, 1835. He then came to Wheeling and commenced the study of his profession in the office of Zachariah Jacob, Esq., and finished his legal studies in the law department of the University of Virginia. Nearly the whole of his career as a lawyer and public man was spent in Wheeling where he was esteemed as an estimable citizen. In 1872 he was elected a justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals, of West Virginia, which he filled with honor and credit, performing his laborious duties with such industry and application that it resulted in fatally impairing his health. His decisions rank with the permanent and valuable contributions to the law of the state. He represented Ohio county during two terms in the State Legislature at Richmond, Virginia, before the division of the state. He was a Presbyterian and a member of the session of the First Presbyterian church of Wheeling. He died May 11, 1875.
Moses C. Good was the first judge of the Municipal Court, and Held that office for nearly eight years. He began the practice of law in Wheeling in 1826. In 1846 he served as mayor of the city for one year and refused to receive any pay for his services. He was elected judge of the Municipal Court, in May, 1865. His death occurred in 1873.
Gibson L. Cranmer, the successor of judge Good on the bench of the Municipal Court, is a native of the Buckeye State and read law in the office of his cousin, the late Daniel Lamb, Esq. He was a member of the Legislature of Virginia during the years 1855-56. In 1873, on the death of Judge Good, he was elected judge of the Municipal Court of Wheeling, to which he was twice elected, holding the office for the term of eight years.
George W. Jeffers, a native of Wheeling, was the last judge of this court. He was admitted to the practice of law when quite young. He received from the citizens of Wheeling many evidences of the esteem in which he was held by them. He was for a number of years attorney for the city, and in 1871 was elected mayor, in which office he served the public with great acceptability. He was elected judge of the Municipal Court, in 1881, and remained upon the bench until the court was abolished in the year 1889 by Act of the Legislature. He has since deceased.
THE PRESENT COURT HOUSE
Occupies the north wing of the building originally built for the occupancy of the state as a capitol building, but upon the removal of the capital to the city of Charleston it reverted to the city, and has been and is now utilized by both county and city for their respective purposes, the northern portion of the same being used by the county and the southern portion by the city. There are two circuit court rooms, respectively designated as Part 1 and Part 2, in each of which a circuit judge presides. It is situated on the corner of Sixteenth and Chapline streets, and is an attractive specimen of architecture. It was erected in 1876 at a cost of $120,000. The court rooms are well adapted for their purpose, being light, airy and cheerful looking, as well as commodious, and are neat though plainly furnished. On the second floor also are the jury rooms, which are comfortable and pleasant, being well ventilated. On the third floor the law library belonging to the county is located and is intended for the use of the judges of the court and the attorneys, but is not exclusively confined to them, as an one can, who so desire, have the privilege of it.
It is not overstepping the line to classify the subject of this sketch amongst the old time Washington county, Pennsylvania, lawyers. He was not, it is true, an inhabitant of the county seat, but he was reared within the county limits, and for a number of years practiced lane in the county courts. A conspicuous figure he was alongside of James Ross, Parker Campbell Henry Baldwin, John Kennedy, et al., who together fought hard legal battles over land titles in the olden time. That is a subject somewhat unfamiliar to our modern lawyers, but then of vast importance and great intricacy, arising from the ill-constructed land laws of Virginia and Pennsylvania, under which unappropriated lands were seated and patented, and likewise from the unskillful manner of locating and surveying them. These difficulties moreover were augmented by the conflicting territorial claims of those states, causing rival warrants and surveys upon the same locations. The fruitful litigation engendered by these troubles led Doddridge, Baldwin, Kennedy and other foreign lawyers of distinction, to frequent our courts and enter the list with Ross, Campbell and others of our own bar.
It is not the writer's purpose to portray in detail the life of Philip Doddridge, if he possessed the ability or had the command of the needful information. After the lapse of half a century, it would be a difficult task for anyone to write a satisfactory biography of this great man, although he is eminently worthy of posthumous regard. It has been well remarked of great lawyers and advocates, that their learning, eloquence and intellectual achievements, exerted in the judicial forum, have left no memorial, but naked verdicts of juries and formal decrees of courts, which are silent as to the forensic power and ability which secured them. Philip Doddridge, however, was not only a great lawyer, but a distinguished statesman, and although, strictly speaking, no biography of him has been written, ? a circumstance which his law student and friend, Hon. W. T. Willey, late United States Senator for West Virginia, laments, yet he himself has seen to it that his preceptor's memory shall not be permitted to die out. In his admirable sketch of Mr. Doddridge, delivered before the West Virginia Historical Society, in 1875, the copious extracts made from his speeches in the Virginia House of Delegates, in her Constitutional Convention, and in the Congress of the United States, will impress the reader with a sense of the superiority of Mr. Doddridge's intellectual powers, and enable him to comprehend the exalted estimate put on his ability as a lawyer and sagacity as a statesman, by such men as Chief Justice Marshall, Judge Story, Daniel Webster, President Madison and others of like eminence. The purpose of this sketch is simply to furnish a few particulars of the early life; some anecdotes relating to practice at our bar and other circumstances, touching a man, remarkable in his clay, and in a certain sense, belonging to us.
Philip Doddridge was of English descent. At an early period not chronicled, but long prior to the Revolution, the Doddridge family left England and settled in the colony of New Jersey, but afterward transferred themselves to Maryland, where John Doddridge, the father of Philip, was born, in 1745. He married and removed to Bedford county, Pennsylvania, where his distinguished son was born, in 1772. In the following year, 1773, John Doddridge, with his wife and two children, Joseph (author of "Doddridge's Notes on the Settlement and Indian Wars of the Western Parts of Virginia and Pennsylvania, etc.") and Philip, then an infant, removed, as it was then supposed, to Western Virginia, and settled on land situated about two or three miles westward of West Middletown, Washington county. Afterward, when Mason & Dixon's line came to be extended and the western boundary line between Virginia and Pennsylvania definitely established, John Doddridge's possessions fell within the territory of Washington county, Pennsylvania. Here young Philip was brought up and worked on his father's farm until his seventeenth year. John Doddridge was a man of intelligence and religious principles. Shortly after identifying himself with the settlers in Washington county. He erected a house for public worship, designed also for educational purposes. which was called Doddridge's Chapel and is said to be still standing, in a dilapidated condition. Owing to the unsettled state of the country and Indian disturbances schools were rare, and it is probable his sons were dependent on himself for their early education. His granddaughter, Narcissa, in her memoir of her father, Rev. Dr. Joseph Doddridge, says, that her father and "his brother Philip had from childhood been associated in efforts to acquire knowledge and were both laboring by day in the field or forest and at night poring over books at the family hearthstone." At the age of seventeen he was put under the charge of a gentleman named Johnson, who seems to have maintained a classical school at Wellsburg, Brooke county, Virginia. Here young Doddridge soon displayed remarkable aptitude for study; his proficiency in Latin was something extraordinary. Dr. S. P. Hildreth, in the “American Pioneer,” says of him: “His vigorous mind drank in knowledge with the rapidity of thought, as a dry sponge absorbs water. It soon became a habit with him to exercise his memory in changing the conversation around him into the idiom of his studies; and following his father in his evening and morning devotions, he soon learned to render his prayers into very good Latin, and to converse with his teacher fluently.”
His close application to study enfeebled his health so that it became necessary, for awile, to suspend his studies. Being still in his minority, he was allowed to take a river trip on a flatboat to New Orleans then, with the adjacent territory, under the dominion of Spain. Senator Willey gives this account of it: “Young Doddridge, not yet arrived at his majority, curious to see something of the world, made an engagement with the proprietors of one of these boats to accompany them, partly in the character of a common laborer, and partly as supercargo, rendering such services, in consideration of his passage and support during the voyage. Whilst the boat had stopped at Natchez, where the Spanish governor then resided, the youthful traveler availed himself of the delay, to stroll about the town, occasionally to gratify his curiosity. During one of these rambles he met the governor. Finding that neither of them understood the vernacular of the other, Doddridge addressed his excellency in the Latin language, and was responded to in the same tongue. Surprised that one so young and withal so coarsely clad could converse in a dead language, the governor prolonged the interview, his surprise being continually augmented by the sprightliness, intelligence and general information of the uncouth lad. The result was an invitation to dine at the executive mansion and other flattering attentions."
John Doddridge died in April, 1791; his son. Joseph, who was several years older than his brother Philip, having as executor settled up his father's estate, took his brother with him to Jefferson Academy, Canonsburg. Joseph remained there for several years preparing for the ministry. How long Philip stayed is not known; he returned home upon quitting the academy and provided himself with a few elementary books, such as “Blackstone's Commentaries,” “Bacon's Abridgement,” “Coke upon Littleton,” and depending on his own researches began the study of law and for several years perseveringly pursued the course he had marked out for himself. He settled permanently in Wellsburg, about 1796, and ever afterwards made it his residence. His rise at the bar was rapid; his reputation soon extended beyond Brooke county and embraced most of the counties of Western Virginia. As Mr. Willey expresses it, “The clear, rapid and comprehensive mind of Mr. Doddridge was peculiarly fitted to grapple with the difficult questions” arising from the complicated and confused land system.
After his practice became so enlarged and particularly after his great abilities were turned to other spheres of labor, his attendance on our courts became less frequent and finally ceased. Many stories of him were current when the writer was a student at law. His pupil, Mr. Willey, narrated one, the same in substance as I have heard from the lips of my own preceptor, William Baird, differing only in some of the details. At a certain time in our criminal court three men were indicted for a high crime. The commonwealth employed one of them as a witness against the ether two. Ross, Campbell and Doddridge were retained as their attorneys. For some reason, the defendants were awarded separate trials: on the first trial the testimony of the accomplice was positive and explicit, and being slightly corroborated, all the skill and eloquence of Ross and Campbell failed to convince the jury of the innocence of the defendant. Campbell insisted that Doddridge should stake the lead and make the speech in the next trial, and so it was arranged. Doddridge succeeded in putting the second jury in a good humor by using all his arts in persuasion, invoking their independent action and urging the dangerous character of the testimony, where it lacked strong corroboration. He inveighed strongly against the meanness of a witness, who, whilst admitting his own guilt, seeks to shuffle the crime on the shoulders of another, under the promise of pardon to himself. He then proceeded to tell the following story: In the old Virginia times, it was the custom for the lawyers to follow the judges round the circuit from town to town: and on Sundays to go to church in procession, with the senior member at their head. On one occasion, in a small Virginia town, Gabriel Jones, an old school Virginia gentleman, headed such a procession (here Doddridge described him to the jury, as “arrayed in a cocked hat, frilled shirt bosom and wristbands, powdered hair, blue coat, white vest and cravat, silk stockings, and silver knee and shoe buckles”). When the procession reached the church, the preacher who was to occupy the pulpit of the town that day and who was an eccentric personage, had commenced his discourse and was inveighing against worldly vanity and fashion. Gabriel Jones, at the head of the procession of lawyers, put his cocked hat under his arm and reverently walked up the aisle. The preacher's eye lighted upon him and pointing his long finger at him, he exclaimed: "Ah! you old sinner with your cocked hat under your arm; your hair not white enough but you must powder it, ? you come into the house of God, after His services have commenced. I will appear as a witness against you in the day of judgment!” Jones stood still till the preacher paused, then looking him calmly in the face, said, “I have no doubt you will, for after a practice of forty years in the courts of Virginia I have always found that the grandest rascal turns state's evidence.” The jury, impressed by Doddridge's wit and eloquence, acquitted the second defendant to the amazement of the commonwealth. Before relating what occurred afterwards, it may be well to state that the old time lawyers were much given to conviviality; particularly at the close of the term. There ensued then a brief period when, like boys out of school, they gave themselves up to joviality, beyond what would be allowable nowadays. The times were different; it was life on the borders of civilization. These seasons of revelry, however, were short in duration and did not disqualify them frown business. Falstaff was thrust aside when serious things were to be considered. It was related to the writer that Doddridge, as was his custom, broke away from his associates when he had partaken of the revels, and mounting his horse, pursued his journey along the Wellsburg road till he reached the well-known Davis Tavern, six or seven miles from Washington; here he stopped, and putting away his horse, went into the house and obtained from the woman in charge a blanket, which he folded round him and lay down on the floor. Shortly afterward several men came in, one of whom had been to court, and the conversation turned on the strange trial at Washington. The speaker told of the conviction of one defendant upon the clear evidence of the accomplice, and of the general expectation that the other would share the like fate. Doddridge pulled the blanket over his head and enjoyed the dialogue that followed. “But how could such a thing be ? one couldn't be guilty and the other innocent, if the accomplice told the truth. How did it happen?” “Well, our big lawyers, Ross and Campbell, couldn't do anything with the jury in the first case, but in the second a big fellow like a bullfrog got up and spoke for the other fellow and as it seemed to me just led the jury by the nose; 'tis a puzzle to me, too, how one rascal could be guilty and tother innocent, but law's a queer thing.” Doddridge lay quite still till they went away, then betaking himself to his horse, he rode on. But this was not the end of the day's adventures; on arriving at West Middletown, Doddridge learned of an Irish wake to take place that night near the state line, and on leaving the town, he rode thither. On arriving, he tied his horse to the fence and went in; at first he was not very well received; the assembled company, however, were in a merry mood, and he soon made himself agreeable. The whiskey was freely circulating, and after a time Doddridge was called on for a story. He said in reply, that there lived on the top of one of the river hills an old heathen that wouldn't give a penny to priest or preacher. On a certain day a preacher, against the advice of his friends, paid him a spiritual visit, but could make nothing out of him. At last, he said to him, “I will ask you a question out of the catechism. Who made you?” “How should I know,” said he. “Don't you know,” said the preacher, “that God made you?” “Did he,” said he. “Don't you know,” said the preacher, “that God made all things?” “Did he,” said he, ‘Did he make all the wild Irish up here on the hills?” “Why certainly he did.” “Well, thin, he'll repint that the longest day he lives.” The story was not well received and Doddridge found it necessary to beat a hasty retreat and take to horse. When he drew up the bridle rein at his own door, in Wellsburg, the revel doubtless was over and sobriety and dignity of demeanor resumed their sway.
For nearly twenty years Mr. Doddridge labored with herculean assiduity in his profession; he was retained in important cases, in the Court of Appeals, at Richmond, Virginia, and in the Supreme Court of the United States, and his reputation as a great lawyer and eloquent debater became national. From 1815 to 1828 he was repeatedly elected a member of the Virginia House of Delegates; in 1829 he was chosen to represent five of the counties of Western Virginia in the State Convention to amend the Constitution and took a prominent part in its deliberations, along with Chief Justice Marshall, James Madison and James Monroe, both ex-presidents of the United States; John Randolph, Benjamin Watkins Leigh and many other distinguished men. In 1829 he was elected to Congress from the Wheeling district, and re-elected without opposition. His congressional career, though of comparatively short duration, was quite a brilliant one and gained for him the friendship and admiration of the most noted men of the day. In November, 1832, Mr. Doddridge went to Washington City, some weeks in advance of the assembling of Congress, to meet with a committee on the District of Columbia. He was taken suddenly ill and died the 19th of November, and was buried in the Congressional cemetery. Upon the meeting of Congress, appropriate honors were done to his memory.
A curious circumstance is related of him which happened ten years prior to his death. In 1822 he was engaged in business in the Supreme Court of the United States when he was suddenly seized with some disease which entirely suspended the powers of life. In the “Life and Letters” of Judge Story, a singular account of the case is given by the judge in a letter to his wife: “The physicians,” he writes, “declared him dead, and the persons in the house proceeded to lay out the corpse. During all this time, he says, he was perfectly in his senses, hearing all that was said, but was totally unable to move a muscle, or to make the slightest exertion. While these things were going on, his wife thought she perceived a slight motion in one leg, the knee being drawn up. She supposed it an involuntary muscular motion and on placing the limb down, it was again slightly moved; she was struck by the circumstance, raised his head upon the pillow, rubbed him with brandy and soon perceived a slight indication of returning life. He slowly revived, and is here now arguing cases. He says that the motion of his knees was voluntary; aware of his situation and all its horrors, he was just able to make the slightest motion, and every time any one came near the bed, renewed it, until the motion was observed. This story is marvelous; but the gentleman has told it himself to one of the judges, and the story has been confirmed by other gentlemen well knowing the facts.” Fearing a recurrence of so perilous a mistake, Mr. Doddridge instructed his family and friends never to bury him, however apparent his death might be, until every precaution had been exhausted to ascertain that he was certainly dead. He related the foregoing circumstances to his attending physician during his last illness. Governor Johnston, who visited Mr. Doddridge a day or two before he died, in a letter referring to judge Story's published account of his former illness, says: “Warned by this occurrence, Mr. Doddridge charged his friends not to bury him too hastily when his death should occur. I stated this to the physician who attended him, during his sojourn in Washington, who replied that Mr. Doddridge had made the same statement to him and others. The several physicians present said there was no doubt of his death at this time; yet to satisfy his absent family and friends the large crowd assembled to attend his funeral, amongst whom were the President, heads of departments, &c., dispersed and reassembled on the following day, when the burial took place.” The civic authorities of Washington, many of the public functionaries of the United States government, and John Quincy Adams, ex- President, were present at the funeral obsequies. Thus died and was honored a self educated man, of whom Daniel Webster, in the year after his death, standing before his portrait, in his own house, at Wellsburg, having turned aside from his western tour expressly to pay his respects to his widow, said: “He was the only man I ever feared to meet in debate.”
Of Mr. Doddridge's descendants, the writer has but limited knowledge. A daughter became the wife of Benjamin Ramsey, Esq., who studied law and settled at Portsmouth, Ohio. After the death of his wife, he returned, with his infant daughter to the old homestead where he was born, in Franklin township, Washington county, a few miles from Washington. Here he lived and died many years ago, and here his daughter was raised by her paternal aunts and was married to a well known citizen of the community, William B. McKennan, Esq. She is now living with her family on the old Ramsay farm. Mrs. Ada D. McKennan and her children are the only descendants of Philip Doddridge of whom any account can now be given.