Biography of Joseph V. Quarles

This biography appears on pages 565-566 in
"Men of Progress. Wisconsin. A selected list of biographical sketches and portraits of the leaders in business, professional and official life. Together with short notes on the history and character of Wisconsin."

QUARLES, Joseph V., one of the distinguished members of the Milwaukee bar, was born in Kenosha, formerly, Southport, Wis., December 16th, 1843. His father's family came originally from New Hampshire, and his father, Joseph V. Quarles, Sr., was a native of that state, but his mother was a native of New York. Both his parents were among the earliest settlers of Southport, and were married there when it was a mere hamlet. J. V. Quarles, Sr., was the founder of the Bain Wagon works at Kenosha, which, prior to 1857, was one of the noted manufacturing establishments of the state. The financial panic of that year brought disaster to the business and left Mr. Quarles is straitened circumstances. But with that appreciation of the practical value of a liberal education for which the people of New England are noted, Mr. Quarles determined that his children should not fail of receiving this capital which panics cannot destroy, although it necessitated no little self-denial on the part of the parents. Young Quarles pursued his studies in the public schools and the high school of Kenosha, graduating from the latter when he was seventeen years of age. The following two years were spent in teaching and in earning money in other ways for the expenses of a college course, which he had set his heart upon pursuing. In 1862 he entered the University of Michigan as a freshman. He was conspicuous among his classmates from the start, and, upon the organization of the class, was chosen its president and class orator for that year. The struggle of the government with the rebellion enlisted his sympathies and aroused all his patriotic impulses. He left his studies and enlisted in the Thirty-ninth regiment of Wisconsin infantry, and was mustered into service as first lieutenant of Company C. At the expiration of his service he returned to the university and was graduated with the class of 1866, with the degree of A. B. He then entered the law department of that institution, spending a year therein. Having exhausted his financial resources he returned to Kenosha and continued his law studies in the office of O. S. Head, a distinguished lawyer of those days; with whom, upon his admission to the bar, in 1868, he formed a law partnership, the firm name being Head & Quarles. As the senior member of this firm was advanced in years, the young lawyer was assigned to the heaviest burden of the work, and soon became one of the most prominent members of the Kenosha bar. The firm continued until the death of Mr. Head in 1875, and during six years of its existence Mr. Quarles was district attorney of Kenosha county. His ability and activity soon led to his being called to duties outside of his profession. In 1876 he was elected mayor of Kenosha, and the two following years he wa president of the Kenosha board of education. In 1879 he was a member of the legislative assembly, and in 1880 and 1881 he was the representative of Kenosha and Walworth counties in the state senate. Removing to Racine, he formed a law partnership with John B. Winslow, which continued until that gentleman was elected judge of the First judicial circuit. Afterward he had for partners, successively, T. W. Spence, formerly of Fond du Lac, and Joseph R. Dyer. Afterwards the firm became Quarles, Spence & Quarles, the junior member being a younger brother. In 1888 this firm came to Milwaukee, where it commands a very large and diversified business. Mr. Quarles, as the head of the firm, takes charge of the more notable cases, and in this capacity has been connected with some of the most celebrated cases in the history of the state. He was employed by the state to assist in the prosecution of the Hurley bank robbers, which resulted in the conviction of Leonard Perrin; the trial of the alleged murderer of Mead, the Waupaca banker, in which he also represented the state; and he defended one of the ex-treasurers in the suits for the recovery of the interest on state funds deposited in banks, and he has been connected with other celebrated cases.

As a lawyer, he has been very successful, and has acquired a reputation as one of the clearest, most forcible and eloquent advocates in the state. His manner in the conduct of a case in such as to command the respect and confidence of all parties, on whatever side interested. His style as a speaker is very pleasing, whether at the bar or in the forum, being adorned with such classic and historic allusions as serve to illustrate and enforce his subject. He has always been a Republican in politics, and by reason of his great abilities as a public speaker, he is called upon in every important campaign to sustain the principles of the party upon the rostrum, and in this way has rendered his party great service. He has frequently been mentioned as a suitable man for the United States senate, and his selection as a candidate for that high office would no doubt meet the approval of very many voters throughout the state.

Mr. Quarles war married, in 1868, to Miss Carrie A. Saunders of Chicago, and they have three sons, two of whom have graduated from the University of Michigan, the oldest now being connected with the law firm.



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