THE OLD COURT-HOUSE AGAIN

      In the preceding pages I have, in case members of the same family were lawyers, "kept the family together," and so have given an account of some members of the bar, admitted in late years, directly after the sketch of the first member of the family admitted, and this same course will be followed hereafter. But now, in taking leave of those who came to our bar before any member of it now living was admitted, I wish to make a few corrections and additions in respect of the foregoing matter.

      I have not before me my manuscript describing the building of the first court-house in 1818, but think that it gives the idea that at that time State street was not in existence. If so it is wrong. State street was "staked out" in 1807, and completed so that when the first State House was occupied in 1808 it was open for travel. The old State House fronted on State street, as did the old court-house. Each had a cupola, and a sketch made by Mrs. WATROUS, from which an engraving appears on the old map, dated 1821, gives them in exaggerated glory. In this engraving the State House and the courthouse appear in a line with each other, somewhat farther back from State street than the Pavilion. On the south side of State street, and nearly opposite the State House, appears the old Eaton tavern; and to the west of the court-house, and I should say about where the southwest corner of the State House yard now is, appears the old BAYLIES residence.

      On the list of Mr. VAIL's scholars attending the academy in the winter of 1807-08, besides the name of Mr. E. P. JEWETT, is that of one other survivor of that winter's pupils, that of Eliza JEWETT, now Mrs. William R. SHAFTER, at present residing in her ninety-second year with her brother, Col. JEWETT. Her memory, like his, holds many interesting traditions, and is a mirror for the olden times. Most of the very interesting matter they have given me, however, does not pertain to the legal history of the county. Another name on that list of scholars is that of Eliza REED, sister of Thomas and H. H., who became the mother of James R. SPAULDING, a lawyer of this bar. Col. JEWETT tells me that there was no whipping-post in Montpelier m his time, but they had a whipping-place "at the hay scales," and that there he saw one Joe PILKEY whipped for stealing, twenty lashes he thinks, Nathan DOTY being the officer who wielded the cat; and PILKEY was to run away after whipping, and did so run.

      Col. JEWETT, by the way, is pretty well entitled to tell of law and lawyers, for his mother, Ruth PAYNE, was the daughter of Elisha PAYNE, who though of Lebanon, N. H., was chief Judge of the Supreme Court of Vermont in 1781-82; his wife, Julia Kellogg FIELD, is the daughter of Charles K. FIELD, and the niece of Roswell M. FIELD who started the Dred Scott case; and his daughter, Ruth Payne JEWETT, is the wife of John W. BURGESS, Ph. D., LL. D., professor of constitutional history, international and constitutional law, and political science in Columbia College School of Law. Now if the Colonel is not related to the law by consanguinity and affinity, I am mistaken. No thanks to the Colonel for this item about him; he gave me no information on that I knew it myself.

     "When this old `shire' was new," and I have it not by tradition, but recorded in the clerkly hand of John BARNARD, merchant, rum was $1.75 a gallon, and loaf sugar thirty-four cents a pound. Sally HUTCHINS, the Saturday before the first term of court opened of a Monday, bought fifteen gallons of rum and didn't get it any cheaper,  -- perhaps that wasn't considered a wholesale transaction in those days, -- but by buying nineteen pounds and five ounces of loaf sugar she got that at thirty cents a pound. Sally was provident for her hostelry. A clergyman was charged thirty-four cents for his pound the day before, but he got his quart of rum for forty-four cents and his pint of brandy for forty-two cents. Samuel PRENTISS, Jr., November 28, 1811, bought three pecks of salt for $2.50. Freight from Boston was $2.50 a hundred, and ox-teams were in frequent use to bring it. Judge Salvin COLLINS, November 30, 1811, two days before court, was charged thirty-eight cents for three dozen eggs, one dollar for a pound of "Hyson Skin Tea," $2.57 for loaf sugar at thirty cents a pound, and what else he bought that day cost him $1.75 -- doubtless he was on hospitable thought intent; and the day court met he bought a forty-two cent "hair comb." Mr. PRENTISS about these days bought "H. S. Tea" at $1.13; perhaps better tea, perhaps not a one-price store. "B. Tea" was only fifty cents a pound and "B. sugar" twenty-two cents; molasses was $1.25 a gallon and calico fifty to fifty-six cents a yard; cotton cloth thirty to thirty-four cents a yard; a dozen needles eight cents; a paper of pins twenty-five cents, and a spelling book twenty-five cents. J. Y. VAIL bought a dozen "segars" for eight cents; good ones, too; they were bought by the barrel and sold singly for a cent a piece. Either the lawyers paid more for their rum or drank a better quality, for the charges against them are fifty cents a quart. Mr. BAYLIES about this time varied the ordinary routine of purchases by the lawyers by negotiating for a quart of gin -- twenty-five cents. It is likely that he was digesting that "Index," and it is presumed that there was no "celery compound" in the market. I am told that some of those (not of the professional men, however) to whom these charges appear "died of delirium tremens." And perhaps it should also be here remarked "by way of improvement" that the venerable and holy man who bought the rum and the brandy died fifty years after, having attained the age of ninety-five years only. "There 't is " again:" sometimes the spirits work and sometimes they do not."

OF WHOM SOME ARE LIVING

      Paul DILLINGHAM, of Waterbury, was admitted March term, 1823. He was then Paul DILLINGHAM, Jr., but now at almost ninety years is the Nestor of our bar. He was born at Shutesbury, Mass., August 10, 1799, and is the son of Paul and Hannah (SMITH) DILLINGHAM. He came to Waterbury in 1805, and nearing manhood attended the Washington County Grammar School at Montpelier, and afterwards read law with Dan CARPENTER, whose law partner he became immediately on admission. His grandfather, John, served under WOLFE and was killed at Quebec; and his father was three years a soldier in the Revolution. He represented his town in 1833, '34, '37,'38, and '39; was state senator from this county in 1841,'42, and '61; was state's attorney in 1835, '36, and '37; was a member of Congress from March 4, 1843, to March 4, 1847; was elected lieutenant-governor in 1862, 1863, and 1864, and governor in 1865 and 1866; and for more than fifty years drew tears and verdicts from juries. The jury was to him an instrument "easier to be played on than a pipe."

      Of noble presence and melodious voice, his were "words that weep and tears that speak." And bench, bar, and court-room audience, as the jury, like an old violin, vibrated to the sound he gave it, were "of one consent; congreeing in a full and natural close." I remember Judge BARRETT once told me of a famous case at Rutland (perhaps the STRICKLAND will case), where people packed the court-room as DILLINGHAM, whom they had heard of but had not heard, was to close against E. J. PHELPS, whose delightful oratory they well knew. PHELPS adroitly painted what was coming by such praise of his brother DILLINGHAM's eloquence as would have broken most men up and made them fail to meet expectation by performance. Judge BARRETT said that when DILLINGHAM ruse the whole audience eagerly bent forward to hear, but that under his slow and hesitating manner for the first ten minutes, as he stumbled along over some preliminary matter, they lost all interest in him and sank back against the seats with sighs of relaxation, merely wondering how such a halting speaker could have gained such a reputation. But in five minutes from that time, the Judge said, DILLINGHAM had put out from shore with bench, bar, audience, and jury all aboard, and with all sails set and filled with favoring breeze, ship and cargo all his own, was on his way on the open sea to the port of destination. It was a problem to Judge BARRETT whether the halting start was accidental or designed.

      The first time I ever heard Gov. DILLINGHAM before a jury was nearly twenty years ago in the GREGORY - ATKINS case, in which he had the logic; humor, arid sarcasm of Timothy P. REDFIELD to contend against. I had heard DILLINGHAM greatly praised as a jury advocate, and had heard him criticized by certain bright college students as a man who maltreated the King's English, and whose nouns and verbs did not well agree. So I thought I would be an impartial critic and watch and find whether he was strong or weak, and in what his strength or weakness lay. I carried out my plan for a few minutes, long enough to find that he let the parts of speech get along among themselves pretty much as best they could; and about an hour after, as .his last words fell on the hushed court-room, the fact dawned on me that I had for an hour forgotten all about criticism or the study of oratory and had become convinced his client was entitled to a verdict -- and to be honest about it he got to talking about one thing that started the tears in my eyes, and I remember what it was and that it justified tears, but what particular connection it had with that case is a little difficult to see now, though it was plain enough when he was talking.

      Mr. DILLINGHAM first married Sarah P. CARPENTER, eldest daughter of Dan; she died September 20, 1831. September 5, 1832, he married her sister Julia, and they had seven children. Of their three daughters, E. Jane, Ellen S., and Caroline, the second married J. F. LAMSON, of Boston, and died in 1875, and the youngest, Caroline, in 1855, married Matt H. CARPENTER, of Wisconsin. The four sons were Charles, who was lieutenant-colonel of the Eighth Vermont, and has since the war lived in Louisiana, and is now in Texas; Edwin; William P. and Frank.

      In the Biographical Encyclopedia of Vermont is a sketch of ex-Governor DILLINGHAM, and in Hemenway, vol. 4, p. 861, is an appreciative notice by Hon. B. F. FIFIELD, whose concluding words, as true now as when written seven, years ago, I quote:

With nothing to regret in his past, and a Christian's hope of the future, his present condition exhibits a restfulness and placidity which fittingly crown a life of labor not spent in vain."
 

      Edwin DILLINGHAM, of Waterbury, second son of Paul and Julia, was born May 13, 1839. He began the study of law with his brother-in-law, Matt CARPENTER, in Milwaukee, in 1858, went from there to a law school and graduated in 1859, came home and read with his father, and at September term, 1860, was admitted to this bar, after which he became his father's partner and practiced in Waterbury till July, 1862, when he recruited Co. B, of the 10th Vermont, and was made its captain. He was taken prisoner when an aide on the staff of Gen. MORRIS, at Locust Grove, November 27, 1863, and was in Libby prison four months. He was made major of the Tenth in June, 1864, and was, September 9, 1864, at the battle of Winchester, struck on the thigh by a twenty-pound shot and, borne bleeding to the rear, died in two hours. One of the members of his regiment wrote of him from the battlefield:


"While the fight was still roaring up over the hill he died, and this was the end of a beautiful, harmonious life, young, handsome, brilliant, brave amid trials, cheerful amid discouragements, upright, and with that kindness of heart which ever characterized the true gentleman, blended with firmness and energy as a commander, he was ever respected by all of his command and, loved by all of his companions.

A fairer and a lovelier gentleman
The spacious world cannot again afford.'
We shall long mourn him in our camp." 


 

      William Paul DILLINGHAM, of Waterbury, now governor of Vermont, is the third son of Paul and Julia, and was born December 12, 1843. He read law with his brother-in-law, Matt H. CARPENTER, in Milwaukee, from 1864 to 1866, two years; he also read with his father and was admitted to Washington County bar, September term, 1867. He was state's attorney from 1872 to 1876, and established his reputation as a skillful lawyer in his conduct of the bitterly fought liquor cases during the long jury term of 1873, and later in the Barre bank burglary case, and the trial of Asa MAGOON, who was convicted of the murder of STREETER and hung at Windsor. This reputation he has maintained in his conduct of civil cases.

      Mr. Dillingham represented Waterbury in 1876 and 1884, and was a senator from this county in 1878 and 1880. He was commissioner of taxes from 1882 to 1888. In 1888 he was nominated for governor, stumped the state for Harrison and Morton, and was elected governor by the largest majority ever given a candidate. His speeches during the campaign were, like his arguments before juries, logical, persuasive, and effective.

      Gov. DILLINGHAM married Mary E. SHIPMAN, December 24, 1874, and they have one child, Paul Shipman DILLINGHAM, born October 27, 1878.

      Roswell N. KNAPP, of Montpelier, was admitted at September term, 1823, and practiced in Montpelier about two years. He was born in Berlin. His name is given in the Registers as Roswell H., but I have followed the record of his admission. He moved to Ohio, practiced, and died there.

      Nahum PECK, of Montpelier, was admitted at the September term, 1823. He was an elder brother of Asahel PECK (see next notice), and settled in Hinesburgh and practiced there for many years. He survived his brother Asahel. Cicero G. PECK is his son.

      Asahel PECK, of Montpelier, the son of Squire and Elizabeth (GODDARD) PECK, was born in Royalston, Mass., in September, 1803. His folks came to Montpelier in 1806, and he received his early education in the district schools of the town and in the Washington County Grammar School. He has told me how he studied arithmetic lying on the floor and ciphering by the light of pine knots in the fire-place. He was for a time in the University of Vermont, left and went to Canada, where he studied French, returned and read law with his brother Nahum, and with BAILEY and MARSH, and was admitted to the Chittenden County bar, March 29, 1832.

      He was circuit Judge from 1851 to 1857, and Supreme Court Judge from December 1, 1860, to August 31, 1874, when he resigned. He made his home in Burlington till after his election as Judge of the Supreme Court, but soon after presided in Washington and Orange counties and made his home in Montpelier till he made it on his farm in Jericho in 1872. He was elected governor in 1874; and after his term expired resumed practice until his death, May 18, 1879.

      Judge ROWELL's admirable sketch of him is printed in the Vermont Bar Association's Report for 1884, and to that I refer the reader. Stories of his great and peculiar personality would crowd so on each other that none can be admitted. I much doubt whether he did not know more law than any other man.

      Horace STEELE, of Montpelier, practiced here from 1824 to 1827. I am told he went to Chelsea to be cashier of the Bank of Orange, and was there soon succeeded by Jason STEELE and then went to Windsor. I think he was an uncle or other relative of Judge B. H. STEELE.

      Oramel HOPKINS SMITH, Of Montpelier, was admitted March term, 1825. He was born in Thetford, October 16, 1798, and read with Judge PRENTISS. He was state's attorney from 1841 to 1844, and his professional life was long and honorable. In 1830 he married Mary Warner, daughter of Samuel GOSS, who survives him -- a most charming lady of the older days. They had four children, one dying in infancy; Charles F.; Ellen J., wife of C. J. GLEASON; and Lucy A., wife of Charles A. REED. Mr. SMITH died in Montpelier, January 23, 1881. Reference is made to Hemenway, vol. 4, p. 471, for more extended notice.

      Charles Franklin SMITH, son of O. H., was born in Montpelier in 1833, graduated at Dartmouth in 1854, read law with his father and was admitted here, November term, 1856. He went west and for a time practiced in Chicago, but moved to Hancock, Mich., about 1861. He died at Hancock, April 23, 1864.

      Daniel Pierce THOMPSON, Vermont's novelist, was the son of Daniel and Rebeckah THOMPSON, and was born in Charlestown, Mass., October 1, 1795. He was a relative of Sir Benjamin THOMPSON, Count Rumford. His folks came to Berlin in 1800. He graduated at Middlebury in 1820, went to Virginia, taught and studied law, and was admitted to Washington County bar, March term, 1825. He was clerk of the House, Judge of probate, clerk of the court, secretary of state, and an editor. May MARTIN and the Green Mountain Boys, and all the rest rush to mind. He married Eunice Knight ROBINSON, of (Concord ?), Vt., who survives him, and is living with Mr. BURROUGHS in Madison, Wis. Their children were Charles, who died in infancy; George R.; Frances, died aged sixteen; William, died at Madison some fifteen years ago; Alma, married Hon. George B. BURROUGHS, of Madison, and died in 1882; and Daniel G. I attempt no notice of Mr. THOMPSON, but refer to 4 Hemenway 69; his own History of Montpelier and his novels should be familiar to all, as they are to most Vermonters. I scraped acquaintance with him in November, 1863, on the cars near Ogdensburg, when on a night ride on the way to Wisconsin, and at midnight we were cast away on the cold shores and in a newly-plastered "hotel" of Prescott, Canada, where we had to stay twelve long hours; and from his presence my remembrance of that night, after a son of Africa stuck his head in the car door with the exclamation, "Laved A'mighty, de train 's gone," is pleasurable instead of horrible. He died of paralysis, June 6, 1868. He apparently believed, as many do to-day, in the Berlin murder myth.

      George Robinson THOMPSON, his eldest son, was born in Montpelier, January 3, 1834, graduated at U. V. M. in 1853, was admitted March term, 1856, and practiced in Montpelier a year or so. He was clerk of the House in 1856 and 1857. He began practice in New York city in 1857, and was a successful lawyer till his death, when on the way to Albany to argue a case in the Court of Appeals, on the night of February 6, 1871, at the New. Hamburgh disaster. He was of fine literary taste and good legal ability. He married, October 19, 1858, Serafina, daughter of Dr. T. C. TAPLIN, of Montpelier, who has resided here since his death. Their son George Clinton, born in, 1860, died in 1863, and their youngest son, Charles Miner, born in Montpelier, March 24, 1864, graduated at Harvard in 1836, and is now literary editor of the Boston Advertiser.

      Daniel Greenleaf THOMPSON, youngest son of D. P., was born in Montpelier. February 9, 1850, was assistant secretary of state while a student, graduated at Amherst in 1869, taught in Springfield, Mass., and published a First Latin Book in 1872. He went to New York, studied law, and has for years practiced there with success. He is now the head of the law firm of THOMPSON, ACKLEY & KAUFMAN, at 35 Wall street. As Oviatt was wont to refresh his mind by reading Marshall's opinion in the Dartmouth College case, so my friend, Daniel G., has his recreation in conversing with Herbert Spencer, reading John Stuart Mill, and writing works on metaphysics. "Type metal, once hold, never lets go." He began publishing philsophical articles in 1878, in Mind, a London quarterly devoted to psychology and philosophy; and from 1884 has published four works. His publishers are Longmans, Green & Co., London, and his works to date are: A System of Psychology, two vols., 1884 ; The Problem of Evil, 1887; The Religious Sentiments of the Human Mind, 1888; and Social Progress, 1889. He is president of the Nineteenth Century Club, and I am half curious to know what proportion of that body of extremely liberal thinkers go with their president when he says: "I am inclined to the opinon that the ground for the assertion of post-mortem self-consciousness in identity with ante mortem self-consciousness is firmer than for the contrary belief." It is possible I don't get hold of Dan's meaning, but if I do he votes "yes" on the old and biggest question, "if a man die, shall he live again?" and I say "hit 'em again"; but if I don't apprehend him and he means something else, then, as Jere Mason said to Rufus Choate, "why did n't you say so?"

      To get back from metaphysics and opinion to known fact, Mr. THOMPSON married Henrietta GALLUP, of Cleveland, Ohio.

      William WATKINS was admitted September term, 1825, and a William WATKINS was practicing in Reading in 1827.

      Asa WHEELER, Jr., was admitted September term, 1825, and I am glad I don't know anything more about him; "a short horse is soon curried."

      Simeon SMITH, of Northfield, the first lawyer to practice in that town, was admitted September term, 1825. He was the son of Levi and Catharine (WALCOTT) SMITH; was born at Williamstown, September 4, 1797, graduated at Dartmouth in 1822, read law at Barre with Newell KINSMAN, practiced but a few months in Northfield, moved to Kentucky and afterwards returned to Williamstown for a time, but finally settled at Covington, Ky. He married. Mrs. Mary Ann (HALL) SMITH, of Kentucky, the widow of his brother Zebina, which was about as near marrying his widow's sister as marrying his deceased wife's sister would have been.

      It may here be said that Elisha W. KEYES, born in Northfield, is a prominent lawyer of Madison, Wis.

      John L. BUCK, of Northfield, was horn in Reading, January 1, 1802, began reading with Reuben WASHBURN, of Cavendish, and afterwards read with J. LOOMIS and Mr. PRENTISS. He was admitted September term, 1825, and in October settled in Northfield, where Simeon SMITH had already located. Mr. BUCK was state's attorney. He practiced in Northfield till 1851, when he went to Lockport, N. Y., to live. He married Mary Ann HILDRETH, of Montpelier, November 29, 1826; she died in Lockport, November 6, 1864. Their children were Mary D., who died in 1852, in Lockport; George B., who died in Northfield in 1841; and John H. See Gregory's Northfield for more.

      John Hildreth BUCK, son of John L., born in Northfield, November 22, 1827, graduated at U. V. M. in 1850, began reading law with his father, went with him to Lockport, N. Y., in 1851, and was admitted in New York in 1854. He married Harriet M. FLETCHER, of Bridport, August 24, 1854. He was mayor of Lockport in 1874.

      Calvin Jay KEITH, of Montpelier, son of Chapin KEITH who was sometime Judge of probate, and who, when sheriff, once ended a proclamation with "God save the King" instead of "God save the People," -- an early case of heterophemy, -- was born in Uxbridge, Mass., April 9, 1800, and was an infant when his folks moved to Barre. He graduated at Union College in 1822, read law with William UPHAM, and was admitted September term, 1825. He was the first state librarian of Vermont -- 1825 to 1829. He practiced in Montpelier; became attorney for the heirs of one ELKINS who went from Peacham to New Orleans and was a merchant; it took years to unravel the matter and he spent much time in New Orleans; by skillful management he saved a fortune for the heirs and made one himself. He visited Europe in 1852, and died of brain fever at Montpelier, September 23, 1853. He was at one time partner of William UPHAM, and was an able lawyer. See Thompson's Montpelier.

      Lucius Benedict PECK, of Montpelier, son of John PECK who was first sheriff of this county and married Anna BENEDICT, of Underhill, was born in Waterbury, in October, 1802, beginning in July, 1822, was in West Point Military Academy one year, read law with Mr. PRENTISS, and with Denison SMITH, of Barre, was admitted September term, 1825, and went into partnership with Mr. SMITH at Barre, where he practiced till 1832, when he moved to Montpelier. He was member of Congress from 1847 to 1851; United States' district attorney for Vermont from 1853 to 1857; and would have succeeded Judge PRENTISS as district Judge had the wish of his party in Vermont prevailed; but the man who took PECK's petition to Washington brought back the appointment of himself, and made no answer to W. H. H. BINGHAM and the rest of a committee, who went to see him and represent that it wouldn't do and to suggest that he decline the appointment, than to take his commission from his desk and remark that he had figured it up and that paper was worth so many dollars each day in the year. Mr. PECK was for a third of a century the leader of this bar. He was, the last years, counsel for the Central railroad. He married, in 1830, a daughter of Ira DAY; she died in 1854, and a daughter survives. He died at Lowell, Mass., of apoplexy, December 28, 1866. See sketch by Mr. Fifield in vol. 4, Hemenway.
 
 
 

Gazetteer Of Washington County, Vt. 1783-1899, 
Compiled and Published by Hamilton Child,
Edited By William Adams.
The Syracuse Journal Company, Printers and Binders.
Syracuse, N. Y.; April, 1889.
Pages 73-82

Transcribed by Karima Allison, 2003