As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 74, pages 735 - 736
JOHN TURNER WAIT, son of Marvin and Nancy (Turner) Wait, was born in New London, Conn., August 28th, 1811.
The Wait family, to which the late Chief Justice Waite of the U. S. Supreme Court also belonged, had been settled in Lyme from Colonial days. Mr. Wait's mother was daughter of Dr. Philip Turner, surgeon-general of the American army in the revolutionary war. He received a mercantile training in early life, and spent a year at Bacon Academy, Colchester, and two years at Trinity College.
After reading law with Hon. Lafayette S. Foster and Hon. Jabez W. Huntington, he was admitted to the bar in 1836, and practiced in Norwich till shortly before his death, April 21st, 1899.
He was state's attorney for New London county for ten years, and president of the bar association from its organization to his death. He enjoyed for many years a large civil and criminal practice in the State and United States courts.
Mr. Wait began life as a Democrat, and was candidate on the Democratic ticket for lieutenant-governor from 1854 to 1857, but, when the civil war came, he supported the government, became a Republican, and was in 1864 an elector at large on the Lincoln and Johnson ticket. He was a member of the General Assembly during five sessions, serving as chairman of the judiciary committee, speaker of the house, and president pro tem. of the senate. In 1874 he was candidate on the Republican ticket for lieutenant-governor. He was elected to the 44th Congress to till a vacancy, and continued to represent the 3d Connecticut district till the end of the 49th Congress. He received the degree of A. M. from Yale University and Trinity College, and of L.L. D. from Trinity College and Howard University. He married in 1842 Mrs. Elizabeth (Rudd) Harris of New York City, who died in 1868. He left two married daughters; his only son, Marvin Wait, lieutenant in Co. A, 8th Conn. Volunteers, having been killed at Antietam, after distinguishing himself by gallantry in battle.
Mr. Wait's manners were remarkably genial, but his popularity, which was evinced by his constantly increasing majorities in his congressional contests, had a more solid foundation than a pleasing address, for he was ever diligent in the performance of duty, whether professional or congressional.
The resolutions adopted by the bar on his decease contain this deserved commendation: "In all these various positions he was an honest, capable, faithful, and conscientious public servant, and one of the foremost citizens of the town. His legal reputation was not confined to this county, but all over the State he was known as a lawyer in the front rank of our profession. We testify of him that he was a good citizen, closely identified with movements to advance the best interests of the community in which he lived, an eminent lawyer, a wise counselor, a powerful advocate, a pleasing companion, a kind neighbor, a loving husband, an affectionate father, and a true friend."
*Prepared by Gardiner Greene, Esq., of the New London County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 19, pages 533 - 534
Judge [Henry Matson] Waite's absence from the court, during the whole of this term, was occasioned, by the illness of his son, GEORGE C. WAITE, Esq., and his expected return to his native place. His father wished to be at home to receive him; and he was not deprived of this melancholy satisfaction. The young man returned, with a fatal disease, fastened upon his lungs. Here he languished until the 4th of August, when he died.
"Purpureus veluti quum flos, succisus aratro,
He was born at Lyme, August 13th, 1820; and was graduated at Yale-College in 1840. He read law in his father's office, about a year and a half, and then removed to Troy, N.Y. and completed his studies, under the instruction of George Gould, Esq., a son of the late Judge Gould. He was admitted to the bar, in the state of New-York, in 1844, and immediately afterwards entered upon the practice of the law, in Troy. Although he began his professional career among strangers, without patronage, and in the midst of a crowded profession; yet by his industry, integrity and amiable deportment, he soon rose to an honorable rank among his brethren, and obtained a fair proportion of business. He won also the respect and confidence of his associates at the bar. During the last year of his residence in Troy, he was an active and efficient member of the board of education; and to him, is that city mainly indebted for its present free school system, which promises so much benefit to the rising generation.
His memory will long be cherished, and his loss mourned, not only by his immediate relatives, but by all with whom he was acquainted. On hearing of his death, the members of the bar of the county of Rensselaer, held a meeting, at the court-house in Troy, the Hon. Abram B. Olin being in the chair, expressing their grief at his departure, and their high appreciation of his professional and private character, of the soundness of his understanding and the goodness of his heart - with a tender of their condolence and sympathies to his parents and other relatives.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 15, appendix page 31
Born at Lyme in this State, February, 9th, 1787; and was educated at Yale-College, where he graduated in 1809. He studied law with Joseph Wood, Esq., of Stamford, three or four months, and afterwards with Matthew Griswold, Esq. of Lyme; was admitted to the bar in New-London county, in December, 1811; and immediately settled in the practice of law, in his native town. He was a representative from that town in the General Assembly in 1826; and in 1830 and 1831, he was a senator in that body from the 9th senatorial district. In May, 1834, he was appointed an associate judge of the superior court and of the supreme court of errors, to hold the office from and after the 30th of December, 1834, to fill the vacancy which would then occur, by Ch. J. Daggett’s going out of office and the succession of Judge Williams to his place.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 35, pages 597 - 599
HENRY MATSON WAITE, late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, was born at Lyme in this state, on the 9th day of February, 1787, and died at that place on the 14th day of December, 1869.
On his father's side he was descended from an old and highly respectable family, originally English. An ancestor moved from Sudbury, Mass., to Lyme about the commencement of the eighteenth century. Among the descendants of this ancestor who have been distinguished in this state may be mentioned Marvin Wait, a prominent lawyer of New London in his day, and John Turner Wait, his son, now one of the foremost lawyers of Eastern Connecticut. His mother was a Matson, of an equally honorable race. She was a sister of Gov. Buckingham's mother, who was in many respects a remarkable woman.
Judge Waite prepared for college at Bacon Academy, Colchester, then the most flourishing institution of the kind in the state, and had for his schoolmates the late Gov. Ellsworth, his brother Henry L. Ellsworth, Henry R. Storrs, and others who have since been men of mark in the country. In 1806 he entered the Sophomore class in Yale College, and was graduated in 1809 with high honors. Soon after this he taught school for a short time in Fairfield county, and began the study of the law with Joseph Wood, Esq., of Stamford. For about a year he was assistant preceptor of Bacon Academy, and then recommenced his legal studies with the Hon. Matthew Griswold at Lyme, occasionally reciting to and receiving instruction from Gov. Roger Griswold, one of the ablest men whom the state has ever produced.
After being admitted to the practice in New London county in 1812, Judge Waite opened an office for a short time at Middletown, and then returned and devoted himself to his profession in his native town. In January, 1816, he married Maria Selden, a daughter of Col. Richard Selden of Lyme, and granddaughter of Col. Samuel Selden, a distinguished officer of the Revolution. This family has given many eminent men to the country, among whom the most conspicuous at the present day are Judges Samuel Lee Selden and Henry R. Selden of the state of New York.
In the years 1815 and 1826 Judge Waite represented the town of Lyme in the General Assembly, and in 1830 and 1831 he was a member of the Senate for the 9th district. In both bodies his good sense, his rectitude of purpose, and conceded ability gave him, even when in a minority, a full share of personal influence. In politics he belonged to the old Federal party, and when that had ceased to exist, and had become with many a theme of derision, he adhered to its principles and defended its character.
In consequence of the pecuniary embarrassments and changes in the condition of property which followed the war of 1812, there was a large amount of litigation, and he went immediately into a full and profitable practice. This, his character for integrity, industry, promptness, and sagacity, and especially his prestige of success, enabled him to retain and increase during the whole of his professional career. It was his habit to be thoroughly prepared in season both on questions of law and fact, so as to be able to seize the earliest moment to press his cases to trial, and he thereby avoided, as far as lay in his power, "the law's delay," which has tended so much to sully the fame of an honest and honorable profession, and to bring reproach upon the administration of justice.
He never affected what is usually understood as the art of oratory, depending mainly upon voice, gesticulation, posture, and expression of countenance--what the great Athenian pleader denominated "action." But his judgment in selecting the prominent points of a case and skill in applying the evidence, his perspicuity of language, and earnestness of manner, and perhaps as much as any one quality, his subtle knowledge of character, rendered him a successful advocate with the jury.
It was, however, rather in questions of law that his strength especially lay; and his legal erudition, patient research, power of discrimination and terseness of argument, were fully appreciated by an able and learned court.
On the retirement of Judge Daggett in 1834, Judge Waite was elected a Judge of the Superior and Supreme Courts. In 1854 he was advanced to the position of Chief Justice, and this high office he held until the 9th of February 1857, when he arrived at the age of seventy, the constitutional limit of his official term. During this period of more than twenty-two years be enjoyed the perfect confidence, respect and esteem of the bar and of the entire community. To the younger members of the bar he was particularly kind, and many who now occupy the front rank in the profession remember gratefully the aid and encouragement which they received from him in their earlier efforts.
He was careful in forming and modest in expressing his legal opinions, but was firm even to boldness in adhering to them when he conscientiously believed them to be right. Hence it will he observed in examining the reports that he was not unfrequently in a minority, and sometimes stood alone among his brethren; yet it is safe to say that not very often have his decisions been reversed by the ultimate judgment of the bar. In the language of another, "he contributed his full share to the character of a court whose decisions are quoted and opinions respected in all the courts of the United States and the highest courts of England." The degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon him by Yale College in 1855.
Soon after Judge Waite left the bench he became subject to a painful malady from which he suffered greatly, but with entire patience and cheerfulness, with an unclouded mind and an undiminished fondness for intellectual and social enjoyment to the close of his life. Mrs. Waite, who was in every respect worthy of him, and contributed much to his success and incalculably to his happiness, died a short time subsequently to the fiftieth anniversary of their marriage. This occasion had been celebrated with great satisfaction by a large circle of relatives and friends.
Two of their sons, Morrison R. Waite and Richard Waite, are now eminent lawyers in the state of Ohio.
In his official stations Judge Waite was able, upright, and impartial; in private life he was just and true, pure in his morals, exemplary in his habits, and faithful in the discharge of all his duties.
*Prepared, at the request of the Reporter, by Hon C. J. McCurdy, Ex-Judge of the Supreme Court.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 10, page iii
Appointed Associate Judge, in May 1834, to hold the office from and after the 30th of December 1834.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 23, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice in May, 1854, to hold the office when vacated by Judge Church.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 25, page iii
Judge Waite's term of office expired by constitutional limitation on the 9th day of February, 1857.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 48, pages 602 - 610
LOREN PINCKNEY WALDO died September 8th, 1881, at Hartford, where he had long resided, in the eightieth year of his age. He was born in Canterbury in this state February 2d, 1802. Of French descent in the paternal line and (as his name indicates) of Waldensian blood, he inherited the energy and resolution, the love of civil and religious freedom, and the inflexible honesty which characterized him. His school education was completed when he was fourteen years of age. From that age to twenty-one he taught school every winter, devoting the rest of the time to labor on the farm in support of his father's family, the poor health of his father making it necessary that he and his brother should assume the entire family support. He however devoted all his leisure-time to study, and during this period mastered the higher branches of mathematics and then taught, and acquired a good knowledge of the Latin language. He also thoroughly studied Hedge's Logic in the fields, in the brief intervals of labor, and for two years before he became of age read law during the winter evenings.
At twenty-one he left home with nothing but the clothes he wore and entered the law-office of his uncle John Parish, in the town of Tolland, pursuing his studies and at the same time earning his living till he was admitted to the bar at Tolland County in September, 1825, at the age of twenty-three.
On the 22d of November of the same year he married Frances Elizabeth Eldridge of Tolland, and soon after removed to Somers in the same county and began the business of his profession.
Few men have commenced life under greater disadvantages, few have encountered such obstacles with equal courage and persistence, or have been more successful in surmounting them. His brave struggles for an education and his well-known integrity recommended him to public confidence and respect, and he soon obtained a good degree of prosperity in his business. In all his labors and trials at that time and throughout life he was sustained and cheered by his wife, a noble woman, whom he survived not many years.
He was postmaster in Somers for two years, and also one of the superintendents of public schools. For a considerable time he taught a private class of young men who were qualifying themselves for teaching. His interest in the cause of education was great and continued through life. He was also a zealous advocate of the cause of temperance, and practiced throughout life total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors.
In 1830 he removed to Tolland, where he resided until 1863. During this time he represented that town in the General Assembly in the years 1832, 1833, 1834, 1839, 1847, and 1848. He was State's Attorney from 1837 until 1849, and was Judge of Probate for the district of Tolland for the years 1842 and 1843. In 1847 he was chosen by the legislature one of a committee of three for the revision of the statutes of the state, since known as the revision of 1849. He was also afterwards appointed one of the committee which made the revision of 1866.
In 1849 Mr. Waldo was elected by the democratic party, to which he belonged through life, to represent the first district, comprising the counties of Hartford and Tolland, in the thirty-first Congress of the United States. He was distinguished in Congress as elsewhere for his untiring industry, and won universal respect and confidence by his faithfulness and integrity. At the expiration of his term he was appointed Commissioner of the School Fund for this state. During the administration of President Pierce he was appointed Commissioner of Pensions, in which service he continued until elected a judge of the Superior Court for a term of eight years. At the expiration of this term, having with Judge (afterwards Chief Justice) Seymour failed of a re-election on political grounds in circumstances which are explained in the obituary sketch of Judge Seymour next preceding, he removed to the City of Hartford, where he pursued his profession until his death, in partnership with Ex-Governor Hubbard and Alvin P. Hyde, his son-in-law.
Judge Waldo was a man of religious convictions and life. In early life he joined the Congregational Church of Canterbury, and during his residence in Hartford was a constant and devout attendant upon and communicant in the South Congregational Church in that city, although he had come to reject some of the tenets of the Calvinist creed and to hold the theological views of the conservative Unitarians. His unsectarian and Christian spirit made him not only a sympathetic attendant upon the public worship there, but a cordial participant in the Christian activities of the church.
The love of music was very strong in Judge Waldo throughout his life. In his earlier years he was a fine singer and to the last his deep bass voice was heard in the congregational hymns in public worship.
At a meeting of the Hartford Bar, called upon the occasion of Judge Waldo's death, the following admirable sketch of his character and tribute to his memory was given by Ex-Governor Hubbard.
GOVERNOR HUBBARD'S ADDRESS.
I have long had--I hope I may never cease to have--some of my choicest personal friends amongst my brethren at the bar. And so, as one after another has fallen from our ranks, I have occasionally, as a kind of pious duty, attempted a word or two of tribute. But to-day I hesitate. I have just come from chambers which lack a familiar presence, and where stands in its mute eloquence a vacant desk. If I were to consult my own feelings I, too, should remain mute. But when the whole bar is met to utter its common grief for one who has been to us all friend, father and brother in one, how can I, who have known him so long and loved him so well, refuse to break silence with a few broken words?
I have known Judge Waldo ever since my admission to the bar. For the last fourteen years I have been connected with him in business, and during all those years have been not only in daily but in intimate relations with him. Let me, then, measuring my words by my knowledge of the man, attempt a passing estimate of his professional and personal character.
He was not a man of large general knowledge nor of very extensive literary culture. I have heard him say that he never attended school after he was fourteen years old, and only two months after he was thirteen, and that he studied Hedge's Logic while at work in the potato field. But he had a marvelous genius of industry, and by force of this he came up out of the common school into the profession, and through the profession into distinguished stations in the state and general government.
Neither was he a brilliant lawyer. In a strict sense I hesitate to call him an eminently learned one. But his acquirements were very ample in all the common learning of the profession; and in particular branches, such as municipal, statutory, probate and practice law, and especially in the great field of elementary law which governs the common affairs of common life, he had few superiors. His opinions on these subjects had an almost judicial authority with the community; and so it resulted that not a few of the differences between man and man which in bad hands itch and fester into law suits, sometimes into hereditary enmities, were composed almost at the outbreak by his sagacious counsels and friendly mediations.
He lacked somewhat the qualities which give reputation to an advocate; that one-sidedness, or rather many-sidedness of intellect which lights up one side of a cause and casts the other in shadow, as the sun kindles in turn one hemisphere and darkens the other; that light artillery of wit, satire, invective and technical assault which always worries and sometimes wastes an antagonist; that deadly insight--Rufus Choate once called it an "instinct for the carotid"-- which discovers as it were by intuition an adversary's weak point and drives through it by strategy, surprise or main force. Some natures there are that seem strongest in repose; others that like an athlete need the point of an enemy's weapon to sting them into strength. His nature was not at all of this make and temper. Quite the contrary. The whole drift of his mind and the whole moral constitution of the man tended to the things which make for peace. He had little taste, therefore, for the hot and heady contentions of the forum, little stomach for its duels of wits and stormy antagonisms.
As a natural consequence his field of practice was more largely that of a counsellor than an advocate. This office is seemingly more humble than the other, but not, let me add, one whit less responsible, and I have sometimes thought, of higher grade and value, for it accomplishes some of the best professional results by reason and without the expense of bad blood and litigation. And then, besides all and above all, it comes home closer than any other to the conscience of a client, and, if well exercised, tries his reins and discovers whereof he is made. It is not unfrequently the great and solemn confessional of the law which carries with sealed lips the cares, and fears and perplexities of men, the peace and honor of families, the successions of children and of children's children, the casuistries and restitutions of the living and the anxieties and testaments of the dying. With what religious fidelity and good conscience our friend discharged this almost priestly function I have no need to tell; the name and fame of it are still fresh amongst us. More than any other man I have ever known in the profession--as much as any I have known even in the sacred calling--he was a peacemaker amongst men, a pacificator of their strifes and quarrels.
In a word, his practice represented not so much the battles and sieges of professional warfare as its truces, diplomacies and treaties of peace.
I have spoken of our friend as a counsellor. Let me now say a word of him as a judge. Without possessing great boldness of purpose or the highest range of intellect, he had--what else his mind might possibly have lacked--a most admirable poise for the judicial office and a very delicate appreciation of natural equities. He took pleasure in determining the controversies of man by the standard of the judicial conscience. He delighted less in the cast-iron forms and rules of law than in the flexible modes and "uncovenanted mercies" of chancery. Accordingly he used to stretch the administration of law as near as might be--a legal doctrinaire might say perhaps too near--to the lines of equity, and the lines of equity as near as possible to the lines of good conscience.
No judge was ever more patient and painstaking in investigation, more steady in temper, more courteous in bearing, more dispassionate in judgment, in a word, more clear and conscientious in his great function as a minister of justice. When he put on his office he put off affection and favor, as if always mindful that the measures we mete to others are to be meted to us in turn. We have had abler judges on our bench, without doubt, but never one I think more hard-working, faithful and useful.
I have already said that our deceased brother was greater as a counsellor and judge than as an advocate; let me now add that as a man he was greater than either, and equal, I think, to the best.
Without anything whatever of pretension, his life was a pattern of all those things which are honest and of good report amongst men. His industry was incessant; rest with him was rust; and he husbanded every day and hour of his life as if lent him on a usury for good. His chief purpose was not to gain riches or applause, but to walk justly in all things. Such qualities as these sometimes engender something of censoriousness in judgment, something of austerity in morals, but none of these things tended in the least to narrow the breadth of his social life or freeze up any of its warm currents. On the other hand, he was full of the gentlest humanities, singularly free from evil-speaking, and as large and tender almost as a woman in his love and sympathies.
Frugal and temperate in his habits, afflicted with neither poverty nor wealth, his manhood was passed in the practice of all those virtues which conduce so largely to the health both of body and mind; and he ripened at last into an old age that was almost youthful. If gray hairs be, as is so often said, a crown of glory, the crown is not seldom set with thorns; for with old age there come in the order of nature I know not what infirmities of temper, what physical dishonors like as it were a moth fretting a garment, what darkenings of the sun and the moon and the stars, what vain struggles by spent swimmers against the swift current, what enforced marches with reverted eyes and sealed orders into the land of shadows.
Nothing of all this in the declining years of our friend. The day was far spent and the night at hand, yet he was as trustful and even-tempered as a child. Nothing barren or wintry in this old age of his--I speak that which I have myself seen--but everything ripe and genial; as when a mellow autumn sets in upon the toil and scorch and sweat of summer, and, though verdure and flower and the voice of the bird are gone, yet the song of labor is on the hillsides, and the harvests gather themselves into garners, and the wasting of foliage flushes into purple, and the sloping sun yellows into gold. All this perhaps I have little need to relate, for you have seen it all under your own eyes; only I may add that with this disappearing old man disappears a life which would be thought as gentle as old George Herbert's, if as gentle a pen as good old Isaac Walton's could be found to sketch it. You may easily find greater men, but where a better, a more white-souled one?
I have thus given you my idea, founded on much observation, of the character of our deceased brother. `Tis a friendly portrait, I will not deny--I would not have it otherwise--but true, I hope, to modesty of nature.
I cannot close without calling to mind in a common memory those other patriarchs of our profession, the fellows of the deceased in age and rank--the roll of them I will not call--who have passed away since yesterday, as it were, leaving behind them--am I not right, or does affection mislead my judgment?--no successors of equal rank and stature. The last of that great patriarchate is gone. The roll closes.
"Abiit ad pluras."
And now as I look over our broken ranks, and my eyes miss this white-haired and venerable leader, this loved and fatherly presence gone hence where go the judges and counsellors of the earth till the heavens be no more, may I not here and now, before our ranks close again and we move on and leave our dead comrade behind--some short marches only behind--may I not here and now, in the presence of this brotherhood which knew him best and loved him most, borrow for my last words that golden benediction of our Supreme Counsellor and Judge--Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
The following extract from the sermon delivered at Judge Waldo's funeral by his pastor, Rev. Dr. Parker, gives a most felicitous sketch of his character, especially in its moral and religious aspects.
FROM THE SERMON OF REV. DR. PARKER.
Seventeen years ago Judge Waldo came from his family into this parish and entered into communion with us in this congregation and society. He has been with us until now, in all simplicity, sincerity, integrity, serviceableness, and honor. During that time no one has manifested a truer, livelier interest in the welfare and prosperity of this religious society, no one has been more personally identified with its various services and activities.
Till within a recent period his venerable figure was regularly seen in the Sunday-school, and up to the time of his last sickness he was a regular attendant upon all the public services of worship. How much he loved, prized and enjoyed the services of this sanctuary can hardly be told, the reason being, I suppose, that he put so much interest into them.
Speaking now as pastor of this congregation, I testify of his great and signal services to us, of our great and grievous loss in his death, of our universal esteem, respect, reverence, and affection for him. His was the towering form and commanding figure in this congregation even to the last. His counsels were as freely given as they were wise and prudent. Even in his old age he was a tower of strength to pastor and people.
Of my own personal indebtedness to him, friendship and affection for him, I cannot trust myself to speak. So had he dwelt with us here, going in and out before us in all humility, uprightness, purity, peaceableness, and godliness. And as in this congregation, so in this community, and so in the face of all with whom, anywhere, he has held relations, social or professional. There is but one testimony. It is multitudinous, but absolutely in unison. He was good all through--thoroughly good. For faithfulness, truthfulness and integrity, and for purity of life, the name of Judge Waldo is a synonym. But goodness means more than any combination of these qualities. Goodness is that supreme spirit which organizes all such separate virtues into a lovely, kindly, beautiful unity of character. This goodness was his pre-eminently. And it shone out more conspicuously, perhaps by reason of the fact that Judge Waldo was a particularly plain and simple-minded man--of transparent nature. What was in him shone out clearly, in word and deed.
Moreover he was what we may venture to describe as an old-fashioned man in many of his manners and habits. This he was by Puritan birth and training, by early conditions of life, by temperament and education. So that his goodness was manifested in certain quaint forms that were all the more delightful, as suggesting and perpetuating a type of manners, stately, yet benignant, dignified, yet simple, which was more prevalent among our fathers, in the grand old homespun age of New England which Dr. Bushnell has described.
If one stands in the nave of the cathedral of Cologne, he sees on one side two splendid windows of modern design, and opposite, two windows of older device. Both are beautiful, as the same light streams through them, but to most the older windows, by reason of their ancient and quaint patterns, are the more attractive and pleasing. And somewhat so we may compare the old men like Judge Waldo, in whom ancestral manners and habits have been preserved, with others who have grown up in new conditions of life when the same light and glory irradiate them.
It has often been my privilege and pleasure to hear Judge Waldo talk, in a free way, of the conditions, pursuits and struggles of his early life. He unconsciously showed in such conversations when and how the foundations of his success in life were laid. Quitting the school at the age of fourteen to help out the meager support for the family, taking upon him the burdens that belong to mature life, with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, studying by fire-light of evenings, and in the intervals of hard field-labor, teaching school from district to district in winters, and boarding from house to house, teaching private classes, studying law at evening after work-days, borrowing money to purchase law books, and so struggling and fighting his way--he came at last to the point of marrying the noble woman who was his help-meet almost through life, and starting in his profession with nothing Such was his heritage and discipline in youth--worth more to him probably than a princely fortune would have been. It was a charming story to hear from the old man's lips, as he told it with kindling eye and kindling spirit. That courage, perseverance, fidelity, integrity, and diligence were sustained throughout life, giving him success in business, the unbounded confidence and honor of men, and above all a character that no storms could shake. "The child was father of the man."
Of Judge Waldo's religious character I forbear to speak much. I should be ashamed to defend it. I should insult this congregation and this company of lawyers, and this community, and his memory, by stooping to suggest that notwithstanding some doctrinal variations from orthodoxy he was a Christian man.
The orthodoxy or unorthodoxy has nothing to do with it. Such characters as his demonstrate this. Would to God, gentlemen, that you and I and all who hear me this day, and all Christian men and ministers, were as good Christians as he was. His notions and opinions, never obtruded, and always held with equal modesty and firmness, were his own. His spirit was that which all good men and women have in common, from the time of righteous Abel until now: the spirit which pervades and unites the blessed company of all faithful people. But enough. It seems but a little while since we brought hither the body of his beloved wife. Her, too, we all knew and loved. That kindly face, those gentle eyes full of the pleasant light of a most lovely spirit, some of us will never forget. A mother in Israel!
And now his body awaits burial. Can we ever forget that tall frame, that white head, and rugged but often radiant face, that honest voice, that benignant aspect, that kindly courteousness of the gracious gentleman, that patriarchal simplicity of life? "The memory of the just is blessed." "The hoary head is a crown of glory, if it be found in the way of righteousness."
Farewell! oh friend and father, well-beloved! Farewell.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 233, pages 918 - 919
The Honorable Robert A. Wall died on February 19, 1995. He was eighty-seven years old. Following his discharge from the United States Army, where he served as a staff sergeant during World War II, Judge Wall became a prosecutor and then a judge of the City Court of Torrington. He held several public offices, including Litchfield County coroner, clerk of the Connecticut House of Representatives for the 1949 and 1951 sessions, and legislative commissioner. Judge Wall was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas in 1958 and was elevated to the Superior Court in 1966.
Judge Wall retired from the Superior Court bench when he reached the age of seventy in 1979, but served as a state trial referee until 1990. His numerous civic activities and affiliations included membership in the Elks Club, Knights of Columbus and American Legion Post No. 38.
A 1931 graduate of Georgetown University, Judge Wall received his J.D. degree from New York University in 1934. He was admitted to the Connecticut bar in 1935 and to the federal bar in 1953. Judge Wall was a resident of Harwinton and married to the former Eileen M. Fitzgerald. He was the father of two sons and one daughter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 135, pages 729 - 731
Judge Thomas J. Wall was born in Torrington, Connecticut, on February 19, 1879, and died in his home city on September 5, 1948.
He attended the local public schools, studied law in the office of Walter Holcomb, took his last year of law at the Yale Law School, from which he was graduated in 1906, and immediately started the practice of law in Torrington. While engaged in the study of law, and for some time after his admittance to the bar, he was active in the real estate market and was instrumental in the improvement and development of business and residential sections in the city of Torrington.
Being intensely interested in civic, fraternal and political activities, Judge Wall represented his native city in the legislature for two terms, 1921 and 1923. He was a past president of the Litchfield County Bar Association, a member of the American Bar Association, chairman of the committee which drafted the present charter of Torrington, an incorporator of the Charlotte Hungerford Hospital, and a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Torrington Lodge B.P.O. Elks, Mohawk Tribe I.O.R.M., Court Washington F of A, and the Robert Emmett Club. He was a sergeant in Company M, Second Regiment Connecticut Infantry, the forerunner of the present Connecticut National Guard. Having been in his youth a football and baseball player, he always retained his interest in athletic activities.
Judge Wall was prosecuting attorney of the local Police Court from 1917 to 1928 and was actively engaged in the practice of law until he was appointed to the Court of Common Pleas by former Governor, now Senator, Raymond E. Baldwin, on August 31, 1940, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Origen S. Seymour. Thereafter, he was appointed to full terms in 1941 and 1945.
As a trial attorney, Judge Wall was of untiring industry, a profound student of the law with an exceptionally good memory and a quick and active mind. He was deeply loyal to his clients, an advocate who placed himself in his client's position and was more interested in the outcome of the action, at times, than his client. He was fearless toward his adversary and an able advocate.
Judge Wall brought to the Court of Common Pleas a strong and vigorous intellect, good common sense and many years of experience as a practicing attorney and trial lawyer. He was patient, tactful and resourceful, had an analytical mind and could grasp the essentials of any given situation quickly and without effort. He was a tireless worker, a student of the law who kept abreast at all times with the higher court decisions and studied them with great care and research. He was conscientious to the highest degree, possessed with judicial temperament and had not only physical but moral courage. He thoroughly enjoyed his work and derived great pleasure and satisfaction in it. This was reflected in his decisions as a judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
Judge Wall was endowed with great wit and the ability to describe almost any event, which was apparent in his oft-repeated task as a toastmaster at public affairs.
He was intensely interested in travel, particularly sea voyages. Whenever possible he arranged his affairs so that he and Mrs. Wall could take trips to foreign shores. Of his many trips, one to the Holy Land furnished and impressed him with never-to-be-forgotten stories which he enjoyed recounting. During the war years he was unable to indulge in boat trips, but as soon as travel was resumed he engaged passage for Ireland, remaining there briefly.
Judge Wall was a student of Shakespeare and spent a great deal of time studying and memorizing his works and was wont to quote him both from the bench and in his memorandums of decision.
Surviving Judge Wall are his wife, the former Helen C. Hoffman of Winsted, to whom he was married on September 26, 1906; two sons, Thomas F. Wall, former municipal court judge and now public defender, and Robert A. Wall, now a judge of the Municipal Court of Torrington, both of whom practiced law with their father prior to his elevation to the bench; four daughters, Mrs. John J. Gatesy of Torrington, Mrs. Joseph B. Kenny of Hartford, Mrs. John J. Fay of Windsor and Miss Helene Wall of New York City; two brothers, Edmond J. Wall and William J. Wall; a sister, Miss Agnes C. Wall; nine grandchildren; and several nephews and nieces.
*Prepared by Eugene T. O'Sullivan, of the Litchfield County bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 143, pages 748 - 749
Charles Bishop Waller, a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of the state of Connecticut for thirty-eight years, died on June 10, 1953, at the age of seventy-seven. He was born in New London on July 27, 1875, the son of Thomas M. and Charlotte Bishop Waller. Except for a few years in his early teens when he attended a school at Margate, England, while his father was consul general at London during President Cleveland's first administration, he received at New London his primary school education in the public grammar school and his secondary school education at the Bulkeley School, from which he was graduated in 1892. He then studied electrical engineering for two years at the University of Minnesota. At that time his father, who had been state's attorney for New London County and later governor of Connecticut, was one of the most distinguished leaders of the Connecticut bar. Three of Charles's brothers were also practicing law with their father in New London. Charles Waller had felt that enough of the members of the family had entered the legal field and, although he was interested in the law, that he should turn to another profession. His father, however, was so fully persuaded of the great natural endowments of his son Charles as a prospective lawyer that he induced him to leave the University of Minnesota and enrol in the Yale Law School, from which he was graduated in 1896. He was admitted to the bar of the state that same year and later became a member of the bars of the United States District Court and the Supreme Court of the United States.
Shortly after his admission to the state bar, he formed an association for the practice of law, which later became a partnership, with his father, his brother Tracy, Christopher L. Avery of Groton, afterward a judge of the Superior Court and a justice of the Supreme Court of Errors, and Charles A. Gallup of Waterford, under the firm name of Waller, Waller, Avery and Gallup. In 1935, after there had been various changes in the membership of the firm, the name was changed to Waller, Gallup and Anderson; and Judge Waller continued as the senior partner in this firm until 1941, when the judges of the Court of Common Pleas were for the first time required by law to go on circuit and to devote their full time to their judicial duties. During his many years of active practice, he repeatedly demonstrated, in his participation in most of the important cases which arose in New London County during that time, his far-reaching knowledge and understanding of the law and his formidable skill as an advocate.
On October 4, 1899, he married Charlotte B. Rudd of New London, who predeceased him by a few months. They had four daughters, all of whom survived them.
In 1905 and 1907, he served in the General Assembly as senator from the eighteenth district. On September 28, 1907, he was appointed judge of the Court of Common Pleas for New London County. He retired as judge of the statewide Court of Common Pleas on July 27, 1945, under the constitutional limitation as to age. Few men in the state have held judicial office as long as he, and none has been better qualified for the position in mind and temperament. For many years he served as the Court of Common Pleas representative on the state judicial council. He was greatly respected for his ability to analyze a complicated set of facts and put in focus the basic issues of a case, and also for his profound knowledge of legal principles and his ready recollection of dozens of leading cases in various branches of the law. He was greatly beloved for his kindness and patience, his wisdom and understanding.
Besides his activities in law and politics, Judge Waller was a director of the Mariners' Savings Bank of New London, later consolidated with the Savings Bank of New London, and he continued to be a director of the consolidated bank. He was one of the original incorporators, a director and, at the time of his death, the president of the Winthrop Trust Company of New London. He was also a trustee of the Bulkeley School.
In spite of his great ability and attainments, he was a modest, self-effacing person who shrank from public acclaim. Those who knew him well in his family, in his personal friendships, in his law practice and on the bench knew that as a man, a lawyer and a judge he had few equals.
*Prepared by Hon. Robert P. Anderson, of Noank.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 103, pages 766 - 771
THOMAS MACDONALD WALLER died at his home in New London on January 25th, 1924. His death brought to a close one of the most brilliant and picturesque careers in the history of the State. He was born in the City of New York in 1840, the eldest son of Thomas Christopher and Mary MacDonald Armstrong. He was of Irish ancestry on both sides. By his parents, he was placed in school at an early age. When only eight years old, by the death of his father, mother and only brother, he was left an orphan and thrown at that tender age upon the world, practically unguarded upon the streets of a great city and dependent upon his own resources. The only relative known to him at the time was an aunt and she, by reason of her circumstances, could do little for his assistance.
Undaunted at the prospect and with the self-reliance and courage which never failed him throughout all the vicissitudesof a long and eventful life, he began the battle for existence as a newsboy on the streets of New York, his only capital a few newspapers furnished him by the generosity of a stranger.
His struggles as a newsboy were similar to those of many other poor boys following the same humble calling. He continued in this occupation during the months of one summer. The independence of mind and sound common sense which in later years characterized the man, appeared even at that early age. The newspapers which he then sold were the Sun, Tribune and Morning Star, and these papers, at that time, were filled with glowing and oftentimes exaggerated accounts of the recent discovery of gold in California. The boy was not even then swayed from his balance by the accounts which he read. In a speech delivered many years afterward at Brooklyn, he thus described his feelings at that period of his life: “I was a very small boy way back in ’49 when gold was discovered in California; but I remember that the papers I was then selling on the streets of New York were so filled with accounts of the discovery of mountains of gold, that I thought gold would not be ‘worth a cent’; and, with this apprehension, instead of going with the Star of Empire westward, I went to Connecticut.”
Selling his papers in Fulton Market, he met Captain Haven, the owner of a fishing smack, and shipped with him as a cabin boy, and a little later arrived at New London on that vessel. While wandering about New London, he made the acquaintance of Robert K. Waller, who kept a grocery store on the corner of Truman and Blinman Streets. Like all grocery stores of that day, Mr. Waller sold fruit and candy. The boy was fond of candy and frequently went to Mr. Waller’s store to buy it. A mutual liking developed and eventually the boy was adopted by the kindly merchant and was given his family name; and from that time on, he bore the name of Thomas MacDonald Waller, and New London was ever after his home.
By his adopted parent, young Waller was sent to the public schools of New London. At the age of seventeen, he graduated from the Bartlett High School, being awarded first prize in oratory. After graduating from high school, he studied law in the office of the late Andrew C. Lippitt, and in due course was admitted to practice in the courts of Connecticut. In his profession, his success was unusually rapid. He quickly gained a reputation as a successful advocate and acquired a lucrative practice.
A Democrat in politics but a loyal supporter of the Union, at the opening of the Civil War he responded to President Lincoln’s first call for volunteers in April, 1861, and enlisted in the Second Connecticut Regiment for a three months’ campaign and, with his comrades, went to the defense of Washington after the first battle of Bull Run. Because of a painful disease of the eyes, from which he suffered more or less during life, he was unable to continue in the army. He did, however, everything in his power by public speeches and otherwise to recruit soldiers and uphold the cause of a united country.
Mr. Waller was elected a member of the Legislature in 1867 and again in 1868; and we find him as a member of the Legislature at the age of twenty-eight taking a prominent part in promoting a great public improvement, the bridging of the Connecticut River.
In 1870 Mr. Waller was elected Secretary of State; two years later he was elected mayor of New London and at the expiration of his term of office, was reelected, serving the city nearly six years. In the centennial year of 1876, he was elected speaker of the House of Representatives. At the close of the legislative session, the judges of the Superior Court appointed him State’s Attorney for New London County. The appointment of Mr. Waller by the judges to be State’s Attorney signified that at the age of thirty-six, he had attained the highest rank in his profession; and, at that time, the bar of New London County had no occasion to apologize for the quality or character of its membership. Among the contemporaries of Mr. Waller at that bar, were such men as Jeremiah Halsey, Augustus Brandegee, John M. Thayer, Solomon Lucas, John T. Waite, and Lafayette S. Foster, lawyers whose professional attainments would have distinguished them anywhere and would have been an honor to any bar.
Mr. Waller held the office of State’s Attorney for New London County by reappointment until 1882, when he was elected Governor of the State. While State’s Attorney, he had occasion to conduct the trial of a number of criminal cases which attracted wide attention at the time, the evidence and arguments of which were published daily in many of the large metropolitan journals. Among the cases which attracted particular attention was the trial of Kate Cobb, indicted and tried at Norwich for the poisoning of her husband; and the trial of Herbert Hayden, a Methodist Minister, for the murder of one of his parishioners. The latter trial was conducted by Mr. Waller at New Haven by designation of the judges because of the disqualification of the State’s Attorney for New Haven County to try the cause, by reason of a previous professional connection with the accused.
The administration of the affairs of the State by Mr. Waller as Governor was recognized by men of all parties as dignified and conservative. The contemporaneous criticism of the press of the State shows that his messages, public speeches and other State papers, which are a matter of record, were accorded unstinted and general commendation. The delegates of the State Convention which first nominated him for Governor, were quite evenly divided in their preference between him and other candidates, but at the close of his two year term, his party convention re-nominated him without a division and with enthusiastic acclamation. He received in his second canvass for the distinguished office a plurality of the votes of the people and a larger number of votes than Grover Cleveland, who was the candidate for President at the same election and who carried the State. Governor Waller failed, however, to obtain a majority over all and as the General Assembly at the time was Republican, the candidate of that party, Hon. Henry B. Harrison, notwithstanding the popular choice, was chosen by the Legislature Governor of the State. President Cleveland offered Governor Waller the appointment as Consul General of the United States at London, the most lucrative office, it was said at the time, within the patronage of the Federal Government. Mr. Waller’s administration of the office was not only most popular among the people with whom he came in contact, both in business and socially, but, in addition, the Department of State expressed to him its official satisfaction on more than one occasion in the most complimentary terms. At the expiration of his term of office at London, Mr. Waller returned to this country and engaged in his profession as a member of the firm of Waller, Cook and Wagner in New York City.
Mr. Waller was nominated by Governor Morgan G. Buckley as a commissioner for Connecticut to the World’s Columbian Exposition held at Chicago in 1893 and was appointed to the position by President Harrison and elected by the National Commission its vice-president.
When, in 1896, the Democratic party took a position upon the currency question, which appeared to Mr. Waller to be unsound and to imperil the financial prosperity of the whole country, he did not hesitate, although a life-long Democrat and the recipient of signal and extraordinary honors from that party, to prefer the welfare of the whole country rather than party allegiance, and to come out squarely and without equivocation in favor of sound money based upon the single gold standard and against the policy of free and unlimited coinage of silver favored by his party. He supported Palmer and Buckner as against Mr. Bryan, the regular nominee of the majority of the Democratic party, and in that campaign by public speeches and every means within his power, Mr. Waller did all that he could to prevent the country from embarking upon what he regarded as the dangerous experiment of an inflated and fictitious currency.
Mr. Waller’s fellow citizens of New London, in appreciation of his political courage and admiration of his independence of mind, nominated and elected him, in 1902, as a Democrat, a member of the Constitutional convention of that year. The convention chose him one of its vice-presidents.
Mr. Waller was a born orator. He was perhaps best known to the public because of that gift. He had a marvelous ability to extemporize and was endowed with native Irish wit in its happiest form, the kind of wit which convulses with laughter but leaves no sting. He was heard at his best in the actual trial of cases and in public speeches when called upon unexpectedly and before a hostile audience.
Mr. Waller’s brilliance as an orator perhaps obscured in the minds of many his pre-eminent legal ability. As a matter of fact, he was first of all a lawyer, and devoted to his profession. Long after he ceased active practice, he read with interest legal publications and the decisions of courts and followed with eagerness the discussion of legal problems. During his active years at the bar, a law school education was not as general as at the present time; and he always had one or more students in his office. Everyone of these students will testify to the thoroughness of his instruction. In the preparation of cases, he was most diligent and painstaking, investigating every point of fact and law with the greatest possible care and overlooking nothing which hard work and diligent application could overcome. Fully conscious of his own strength, he scorned to gain advantage by the slightest approach to trickery or deception, and exemplified in his practice the highest standard of professional ethics.
As a citizen, Mr. Waller stood for high ideals, for liberty and law. He was congenial, democratic and approachable. He drew men to him by a charm that lured and fascinated. He was by nature conservative. He believed in progress but not in radical change. In the days of his practice, personal injury cases were defaulted and tried to the court. He urged the right of jury trial in place of the defaulting system. He contended for the property rights of women and for their emancipation from archaic forms of law. He spoke in favor of woman suffrage when it was everywhere unpopular. He lived to see his contentions become established facts. He believed in reform and progress but was not a fanatic.
Mr. Waller was a consistent and loyal member of the Episcopal Church. In 1859, when a very young man, he married Charlotte, the daughter of Mr. Charles Bishop, of New London. Mrs. Waller died in 1910. He was survived at his death by a daughter, the wife of William R. Appleby, a professor in the faculty of the University of Minnesota, and by five sons, Tracy, Martin B., Robert K. and Charles B., all lawyers, and John M., of the theatrical profession.
To have known Mr. Waller personally was a great privilege. The story of his life from such humble beginnings to positions of honor, power and usefulness to the whole community is an inspiration and shows what can be done by ability, energy and character in this blessed land of opportunity. God grant that so it shall always remain.
*Prepared by Judge Christopher L. Avery of the Superior Court, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 239, pages 964 - 965
The Honorable John F. Walsh died on September 23, 1996, at the age of sixty-six. He was remembered by colleagues as a man who was well liked and respected, and who ran his courtroom in a firm but fair manner.
Judge Walsh received his B.S. in 1953 from Niagara University in New York, and after serving in the United States Marine Corps, he received his J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center in 1958. Following his admission to the Connecticut bar, Judge Walsh was engaged in the private practice of law, until his appointment as a judge of the Superior Court in 1983.
Judge Walsh was active in numerous civic and community activities in his hometown of New Britain and in East Lyme, where he relocated in 1982. His civic activities included: the parish council of St. Maurice Church, New Britain, where he was president from 1977 through 1978; the New Britain redevelopment commission; the board of directors of Interfaith Housing, on which he served as general counsel, vice president and president; the New Britain Memorial Hospital board of directors; the Connecticut. board of parole; and the East Lyme High School advisory council and booster club.
Judge Walsh was married to the former Ann Shine and was the father of four sons.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 110, pages 701 - 703
DONALD TICKNOR WARNER, son of Donald Judson Warner and Lois Ball Warner, was born in Salisbury, Connecticut, December 15th, 1850, and resided there during his entire life. He entered Trinity College, Hartford, in the class of 1872, but after two years was compelled to leave by reason of ill health, later receiving from his college the degree of M.A. causa honoris. He studied law in the office of his father, was admitted to the Litchfield County bar in 1873, and practiced law in his native town until his elevation to the Superior Court bench in 1017. He was at one time postmaster in Salisbury, judge of probate from 1885 to 1917, member of the State senate in 1895 and 1897, chairman of the Statutory Revision Commission of the General Statutes of 1902, delegate from his town to the Constitutional Convention of 1902, State’s Attorney for his county from 1896 to 1917, a judge of the Superior Court from 1917 to 1920, and from that year a State Referee.
He married Harriet E. Wells, October 4th, 1882, who survives him, as do all his children, Donald J. Warner, Mrs. I. Krait Fulton, Lois C. Warner, Mary V. Warner, Philip W. Warner and Mrs. Jeanette W. Smithers.
He loved devotedly his town, county and state, and was always active and interested in movements looking toward civic and social improvements. Broad in his human interests, kind and considerate, he had a charity that overlooked the frailties of his fellow men and saw their best qualities. An enthusiastic fisherman and sportsman, he was never happier than when enjoying with others—always with others—his beautiful camp on Mt. Riga. He was devoted to his profession, and an untiring worker and deep student, but put the same energy and zest into his play.
The following resolutions passed by his own Bar give an estimate in some measure of his qualities as a lawyer and a man:
“The death, at his home in Salisbury, on November 24th, 1929, of Honorable Donald T. Warner, State Referee, a member of the Litchfield County Bar, since 1873, formerly a judge of the Superior Court, president of our Bar Association, and State’s Attorney for this county, brings a deep sense of personal loss to every member of this bar, and to those throughout the State who came in contact with him, both as a practising attorney and as judge.
“An able, fearless and militant attorney, there were no scars left at the end of a battle in court with him, but rather a sense of admiration at his dextrous and masterly handling of law and facts, and an affection and almost wonderment that a man could be such a gentleman always, courteous, dignified, fair and honorable, and still such a doughty opponent.
“His thorough preparation of cases, his knowledge of legal principles, his skillful cross-examinations, his apt and appealing illustrations, and his unique eloquence will never be forgotten by those who came in contact with him.
“Out of court, his good fellowship, hospitality and friendly relations with his brother attorneys endeared him to them beyond measure. We loved him and lovingly called him ‘Don.’
“In him were exemplified the finest traditions of one of the noblest professions; he needed no code of ethics to tell him what was the right course to pursue; his own intuitive sense of the duty he owed his client and the court and of the great moral and spiritual laws never failed him. None of us escaped the contagion of his unconscious example, lifting the moral and mental attitude of the other members of this bar into an atmosphere of high and upright conduct. As a lawyer and jurist he was learned and industrious, yet with a sense of proportion and values that enabled him to escape the meshes of metaphysics in which many of us at times become involved, and to see straight through into the real, vital, human problems in question, and to know and properly apply the tight and sound legal principles.
“He was singularly blessed in his family life. He loved and knew nature and all the handiwork of the Creator. He was a citizen of inestimable value to his community and State.
“Resolved, that in his passing, we have lost a great lawyer and judge, a valuable member of society, an example of manhood and fair dealing, and above all a very dear and close friend.”
At the risk of repetition, the writer cannot refrain from commenting on the most prominent quality of this many sided man of many great traits—Judge Warner’s power of inspiring a deep affection in all who met him, even in a casual way, lawyer and laymen alike. Few men have the large following of personal admirers that he had.
*Prepared by Howard F. London, Esq., of the Litchfield bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 62, pages 607 - 614
Samuel Larkin Warner was born at Wethersfield, in this state, on the 14th of June, 1828, and died at Middletown, where he had for many years resided, on the 6th of February, 1893. His ancestors on both sides were among the first settlers of Boston and Ipswich, Massachusetts, and his father's family sprang directly from the sturdy founders of his native Wethersfield.
In his youth he attended the common schools of Wethersfield, and afterwards completed his home studies at the academy in that town. After this he conducted a common school for four years. At the termination of his career as a school-master, and about the time he had attained his majority, he determined to adopt the law as his profession. He commenced his legal studies in the office of William N. Matson, Esq., at Hartford. After remaining there some time, closely and thoroughly applying himself to the study of legal principles, he entered the Yale law school, and afterwards completed his course of study at Harvard law school. He was admitted to the bar in Boston, in 1854, and then returned to Hartford, intending to commence the practice of law in that city. But Governor Pond, then recently elected, proposed the make him his executive secretary, and he accepted the office. This was a responsible and honorable position for so young a man but was wisely bestowed as the result showed, for young Warner prosecuted the duties of the office with diligence, thoroughness and ability, receiving the commendation of the leading men of that time. At the close of Gov. Pond's administration he removed to Portland and commenced the practice of law in that town, where he soon secured a successful and lucrative practice. At this time he took quite an interest in politics, and by study and observation became well posted upon public questions. In 1858 he was chosen to represent the town of Portland in the state legislature.
As his practice increased his reputation as a painstaking and acute lawyer grew proportionately in Middlesex County, and he soon found it necessary, in order to accommodate his growing practice, to establish himself in the city of Middletown. Here he secured a large clientage and a reputation as a successful practitioner and jury lawyer. He soon attained a prominence in the courts of the state, where he contended against many eminent lawyers, holding his own, and often with excellent success.
In 1852 he was elected mayor of Middletown. He was ambitious to increase the popularity of his adopted city in every direction, and he applied himself earnestly to the task. It was mainly through his efforts that the splendid system of the public water supply and sewerage was established there. All this time he took a deep interest in politics and at the breaking out of the civil war, though a zealous democrat before this period, he arrayed himself on the side of the federal union. First, a union democrat, he soon became an ardent republican. His prominence in public affairs soon drew to him the voters in that part of the state, and in 1862 he was nominated for Congress against the late Gov. English, a strong and popular man in the district, and was defeated. In 1864 he was again nominated, and now, just at the close of the war, and upon the successes of the federal arms, he was elected by Congress by a handsome majority. His term in Congress was marked by the close attention to his duty, and by enthusiastic and efficient support of the republican administration. He was a warm supporter and great admirer of Abraham Lincoln, and at the latter's second nomination for the presidency he supported him as a delegate at the national convention.
At the centennial celebration of Middletown, held on July 14th, 1884, by invitation of the committee appointed for that purpose, he delivered an oration. It was an able presentation of historical information connected with the event.
After the close of his congressional career, although he always took a deep interest in political affairs, he turned his attention once more to his professional duties.
Mr. Warner was philanthropic in his nature; a lover of his fellow men, he hated slavery and oppression; and it was this sentiment that drove him from his old party and into the ranks of the union democrats just previous to the breaking out of the civil war. While he was an earnest student of public questions and dipped deep into the theories of political economy, he took a great interest in all measures pertaining to local affairs in his own town, county and state. He was foremost as an adviser and participant in all progressive movements looking to the improvement of the moral and material welfare of his own community.
As a lawyer he was studious and industrious and thorough in his investigation of legal principles and precedents. He was especially successful as an advocate in the trial of jury causes, and in the court of last resort, where he argued many cases of importance, his briefs were prepared with great care and thoroughness and his arguments were able and weighty. He had a profound love for his profession and always exhibited an unwavering devotion to the interests of his clients. He was invariably kind, courteous and accommodating in his treatment of his brethren at the bar, and this trait of his character was especially noteworthy in his conduct towards the younger members of the profession.
Mr. Warner was married in 1855 to Mary E., daughter of John Harris Esq., of Norwich, Conn. By this marriage he had two sons, Harris, born in 1858, and Charles Winthrop, born in 1863.
At a special session of the Superior Court called for the purpose and held at Middletown, February 13th, 1893, at which Judge Silas A. Robinson, himself a resident of Middletown, presided, appropriate resolutions expressive of the affectionate respect and high esteem in which he was held by his professional brethren were presented to the court by William T. Elmer, Esq., state attorney; upon which Mr. Elmer addressed the court as follows:
REMARKS OF MR. ELMER.
Before taking up the consideration for final disposition of these resolutions, your Honor, I would submit a few remarks with reference to the death of our brother. This is hardly the time or place for forensic display, but what we have to humbly offer to-day over his grave must be tributes moved rather by the heart than by the head. It would argue him unknown to his brother members of the bar who knew him in his career so well, and which is now so familiar to the public, if I should enter into elaborate biographical details. We all know how he was the product of the good soil of New England, and the commonwealth of our dear state; he was born in a neighboring town, he received a good education in his youth, and then later, that sharp and healthy discipline which every young man gets who undertakes his own education, the experience of the country school teacher. We know, also, how after that he drilled in the law in two different law schools, one in this state, and one in Massachusetts; how, after that, he went to Hartford, and in the office of an eminent lawyer there prepared for admission to the bar, and was there admitted. Then afterwards, going to Portland, he became a practitioner there, then to Middletown, and you are all familiar with his long and successful career as an attorney here, in all our courts, state and federal. You also know how he was elected to Congress, and his association with leading statesmen; how in this community, not only as a lawyer but as a citizen, he was one of the best advisors in all matters which pertain to improvements for the benefit of the city; how it was his intelligence and push and determination that established one of our greatest improvements, which, though then considered by many a useless luxury, has become a necessity and blessing to-day. All these things are familiar, I believe, to every member of this bar. As the resolutions say, your Honor, his devotion to his clients and his clients' interests, through all phases, I may add, of legal warfare, in advance or retreat, in storm or sunshine, was knightly in its character. The whole case was absorbed in his personality; so he stood the client himself, until every redoubt was captured and every obstacle overcome. With untiring watchfulness, with inexhaustible perseverance, with terrible earnestness, never looking back over his shoulder, he advanced when many faint-hearted dropped by the wayside. Though the two characters were totally unlike in many respects, as it was said of the late Martin Welles (of the same birthplace, by the way, and he an eminent lawyer in his day,) Mr. Warner never yielded, never struck his flag, until the case was pushed to that point beyond which there was no further remedy in law or equity, and then yielded gracefully, which never could be said of the late Mr. Welles. Though he won oftener than he lost, if the latter fate befell his client he could rest assured that every resource known to the law had been exhausted. He was a powerful advocate, and had many winning ways with the jury; but woe to the luckless man who trifled with him in cross-examination. The tide of his wonderful earnestness and powerful analysis in jury trials often carried the ordinary juror off his feet, and swept him into Mr. Warner's camp before he recovered his reason. He always preferred a fair field, and an open enemy, a trial upon its merits, to the pitfalls and briary mazes of technicalities and special pleading. While he was an unrelenting foe in professional contests, he nursed no bitterness afterwards; he cherished (I speak advisedly when I say cherished) no petty resentments. When the fight was over, whether he lost or won, his heart was too tender to plan or nourish revenges. It was easy to him to forgive and forget. This was the true nobility of his soul. It was my fortune for a quarter of a century to be associated with him or arrayed against him in the trial and management of many causes, and no word of acrimony ever passed between us outside of these rooms. I never asked of him a favor but, if in his power, it was freely conferred; and when once his hand was given, no more loyal friend lived on earth. The satisfaction of having helped a friend seemed to him to be reward enough for the favor conferred. As counselor in all important matters his advice was only given after diligent investigation and mature deliberation, and it was given as freely and as conscientiously to the young lawyer, only to him it was without money and without price. As was said of another eminent practitioner, now also gone, "with rare industry, with enthusiasm in his profession, with untiring devotion to the interests committed to his care, and with an unusual knowledge of men and tact in the management of causes, he united a high sense of professional honor and a firm allegiance to moral duty. He gained and retained to a remarkable degree the confidence of his clients, and even when the result of the litigation was less favorable then they had hoped, they were never disposed to attribute it to any failure of judgment, relaxation of effort, or want of ability on his part." He loved the law, and the logic involved in its investigation. To his profession he was devotedly attached. He loved its science, its eloquence, and its wit. As was said of the late Governor Hubbard, "he was proud of its history, of its contributions to philosophy and literature, of its manifold struggles in defense of human rights and assaults upon human wrongs." He loved his profession with the zeal of enthusiasm and the loyalty of chivalry. He gave to his client the best of his brain, the best of his experience, the best of his vital energy and of his waning health, even unto the door of death. It was my fortune to be associated with him in the last case he ever tried in this court, and one of the most important ever presented here, exciting great public interest; and when I congratulated him upon the survival of his old time energy and legal acumen, he said sadly-- "I think I shall not last until the end." Every man knows his own heart. He knew better than we, could see with clearer sight the clouds of decline that were settling slowly down upon his life; but he worked on until he realized his last triumph in court. But words, your Honor, will not add to his worth. We bow to the Almighty decree and to the fate that must come to us all. It will be well with us if, at the end, it can be said that our life work was so well finished. And over his grave, brethren, let us renew our allegiance to our noble profession and our loyalty to each other.
Other addresses were made by Messrs. A. B. Calef, A. W. Bacon, W. U. Pearne, D. W. Northrop, M. E. Culver, and D. J. Donahue.
Judge Robinson responded as follows: --
REMARKS OF JUDGE ROBINSON.
Does any other member of the bar desire to speak on this motion? If not, I wish to say a few words with reference to this matter and to our brother.
To say that in the death of our Brother Warner the bar of the state has met with a great loss, expresses but weakly my feelings. The bar of this county, to a man, I think, feels this loss more sensibly than they can express. It seems but yesterday that we saw him in this room, earnest, active and vigilant in the cause of a client. Our brother died, so to speak, with the harness on. I think he preferred it so; with the restless activity of mind which he possessed, a life of enforced idleness or a lingering death, would have been well nigh intolerable. He has gone direct from the activities of his profession into the rest which eternity affords. I think he had almost no doubt as to the future life. He always talked of it calmly, and never believed, at least in later years, that the growth and development of the human mind, and soul ceased with this existence. He believed that the present was but a preparatory school for the grander education to begin at death; and always said that he had no fear of the change. His faith in the wisdom and goodness of God was profound.
I think those who knew him best admired him most. No one who knew him well could retain anything but kindness for him. He had the frank, impulsive nature and sympathies of a boy, with the strong will and the strong intellect of a man. In many respects Brother Warner was a remarkable man. He came of an ancestry of hard sense; people who thought, and thought seriously; people who read and remembered; people to whom it was not the sole problem of life how to be fed and clothed; people who believed in character and character-building; an ancestry of hard, rugged sense, who believed in work and the benefits of work more than in the inspiration of genius. Born and bred in a New England atmosphere, with the education of the common school, the academy, and the law school, he, a boy from a farmer's home, rose to an enviable position at the bar of the state. Brother Warner was one of the best fruits of such an ancestry. Our friend had exceedingly bright talents, but he was a tremendous worker withal. He had a genius for work. He seemed to let go of work when obliged to, and take it up again with a facility that to me was astonishing. It seemed as if in the interim, whatever he may have been about, the unfinished work was carried right along in his mind. It seemed as if it never left him. He thoroughly believed in work, and the efficiency of work; and, as a worker, as an industrious, thorough preparer of cases, he has through his entire career been an example for the whole bar. No man ever sat down at the counsel table to try a cause with Mr. Warner for his antagonist who did not appreciate this, and who did not arise from it with a profound respect for his sagacity, his quickness, his learning, and his masterful strength. He was a hard antagonist, but he was a generous one. No one ever knew him to take a mean advantage of his opponent.
He was one of the most loyal men to his clients that I ever knew. So great was his sense of nearness to them that he disliked to hear them lightly spoken of as to matters even outside of a case. His clients he regarded as his friends, not to be spoken of in uncomplimentary terms in his presence without some protest from him. His clients rarely ever forsook him for anyone else. As a rule, once his client, always his client. He served to bind his client to him. He was a legal adviser who habitually inspired confidence. He was a courageous man, and an astute lawyer, and no one who advised with him could fail to see it. His great power as an advocate has for years been conceded by the bench and the bar of the state. He was, I think, you will all agree with me, facile princeps at the bar of this county, and the number of his equals in the whole state can easily be computed. When I was at the bar, I was with him in a great many cases as associate counsel, and I can say that he was always a most agreeable associate. He never concealed his ideas from his associate; his ideas were common property in the case, to be made the best possible use of to accomplish a successful result. No party jealousy of an associate ever entered his mind; and he always prompt and quick to give an associate credit for what was due him on the score of ideas. He never seemed to care whose idea or point won the case, so long as the case was won. He was always a strong, manly generous companion in arms; and I count among some of the pleasantest, most profitable, and instructive days of my professional life, those that I spent by his side in legal contests that took place in this county.
He was invariably kind to the young men in the profession. He seemed never to have forgotten his own timidity and sense of weakness as a young and inexperienced advocate, and it seemed to give him pleasure to offer encouragement to younger men. Many words of encouragement he has spoken to me. I remember with what trepidation I approached my first argument in the Supreme Court of this state. He had prepared his printed brief, and something occurred that took his associate out of the case, and he came in the office one morning and said--"You will have to argue this case for me." I said--"I can't do it Mr. Warner; I know nothing of the case. The facts are voluminous, and the law questions I am not familiar with." I said--"Do you think I can argue it?" "Certainly you can," he said. "There is nothing in the case that need cause you to hesitate." I looked at the brief, and looked through it, and I thought when I had completed the examination that there was a great deal to make me hesitate; but I thought, under the circumstances, I should be a great coward if I did not try to do what he seemed to think I could do; and so I went at the work of preparing a brief for myself to speak from. I argued the case; how I argued it I don't know. I managed to get through it in some shape; but the encouragement of his words, and the stimulus of such an experience, I had the greatest reason to be thankful for; and he paid me munificently for the work which I did; and he did this with great apparent pleasure. Such was his generosity and such his practical encouragement to one young man of little experience. And I am not the only one that he has helped and encouraged. He made no parade about it; he sounded no trumpet when he did it.
Our brother was also one of the most generous men towards the weaknesses and faults of those of our profession. He was loyal to the profession. If any one spoke of the faults or weaknesses of a brother lawyer he would say-- "Who has not his faults and weaknesses? I have mine. We must take men as we find them. There is good in everybody, if we get close to them and get to know them well." He tried to think well of his brethren and threw the mantle of charity over their shortcomings. I think I never knew a man whose sympathies responded so quickly to the voice of one oppressed or in suffering as his did; and his defense of such was always vigorous; and his assistance, pecuniary or otherwise, on such occasions, was rendered in such a way as to show that what he did was a real pleasure to him. Ten years and more we sat at the same desk, and in the same office, and I never knew him to refuse to espouse the cause of a man or woman because they lacked means to pay him.
No man that I ever knew was a better companion. He had a fund of humor and sincere good feeling that always made him enjoyable socially. He had a store of general information that always made him an interesting and instructive talker. His extensive reading, and his faculty for getting and retaining knowledge upon a great variety of subjects, and his facility in imparting it, made him a most desirable companion. His society was not shunned by the bar, but, on the contrary, was courted; and when he was a member of any little circle of lawyers, young or old, or both, whether gathered by accident or by invention, rarely did any one take his departure so long as Brother Warner remained. He was the life of such gatherings. He was not commonplace in his ideas or in his mode of expressing them. He always felt that he was a learner, and had the intellectual humility of a real learner; he was both a learner and a teacher; but what he said on such occasion was never said with air of an oracle, but as one friend would talk with another about something he had found which he wanted the other also to know and to enjoy the benefit of.
There were very many delightful traits in our brother's character; much in his life and habits worthy of admiration; much that it would be well for us all to follow; much that we can remember with profit and satisfaction; much the forgetting of which would make us losers. Much more could be said, and better than I can say it, of our brother's character. I have said but a little of what I feel; but what I have uttered has been prompted by a sincere affection, and comes from an intimate acquaintance with him of many years.
Gentlemen, the court heartily concurs in the set of resolutions presented, and hereby orders that they be entered by the clerk upon the records of this court, and made a part thereof.
*Prepared at the request of the reporter by William T. Elmer Esq., of the Middletown bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 127, pages 735 - 736
George Dutton Watrous died at his home in New Haven November 14, 1940, in his eighty-third year after a brief illness. He was born in New Haven September 18, 1858, the son of George Henry Watrous and Harriet Joy (Dutton) Watrous. His father was a distinguished member of the Connecticut bar and president of The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company from 1879 to 1887. His maternal grandfather was Henry Dutton who was governor of Connecticut 1854-55, an associate justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court from 1861 to 1869 and Kent Professor of Law in Yale University from 1847 to 1869.
He prepared for college at Hopkins Grammar School which he entered at the age of eleven and continued for six years, having to repeat the fourth class year because of illness. He entered Yale College in 1875 when he was barely seventeen years of age. He took his B.A. degree in 1879, taught his own private school for a year at Litchfield, Connecticut, and in 1880 entered Yale Law School where he remained for a year. He then spent a year at Columbia Law School, then a year abroad, after which he returned to the Yale Law School and took his LL.B. degree and was admitted to the bar of Connecticut in 1883.
He began to practice law in New Haven in the offices in the Leffingwell building which his father and grandfather had occupied before him for nearly thirty years. He joined with his practice through the next year the work of the M.L. course in the Yale Law School, receiving his master's degree in June 1884. On May 1, 1885 he formed a partnership with William Kneeland Townsend, and later with Edward Grant Buckland, which continued under the firm name of Townsend & Watrous until Judge Townsend was appointed to the federal bench in 1892, and thereafter until July 1, 1898, as Watrous & Buckland. He had received the degree of D.C.L. in 1890. Upon Mr. Buckland's withdrawal in 1898 to enter the service of The New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad Company, he formed a partnership with Harry Goodyear Day under the firm name of Watrous & Day which continued until 1921 when the firm name became Watrous, Day, Hewitt, Steele & Sheldon. In 1924 upon the retirement of Mr. Thomas M. Steele to become president of The First National Bank of New Haven (Mr. Day having died in 1922), the name was changed to Watrous, Hewitt, Sheldon & Gumbart. Later, upon the death of Mr. Sheldon, May 1, 1933, the name was changed to Watrous, Hewitt, Gumbart & Corbin, and following the death of Mr. Hewitt the present name of Watrous, Gumbart & Corbin was adopted.
Almost from the beginning of his practice he was associated with the Yale Law School. He was instructor in contracts and torts from 1889 to 1892, assistant professor from 1892 to 1895 and full professor from 1895 until his retirement from the faculty in 1920. Upon his father's death he was chosen to take his place in several of the local corporations as a director and to act as counsel for them. In public life he served as councilman of the city of New Haven in 1885 and as alderman in 1887 and 1888; chosen member of a commission to prepare a city charter for New Haven, 1893-1894; and of the state commission for uniform municipal charters, 1905. He served for many years as general counsel of The Connecticut Company and counsel for the National Savings Bank and director and counsel for the City Bank, the New Haven Water Company, the New Haven Gas Light Company, and the trolley companies preceding The Connecticut Company. In politics he was a Republican and in religion an attendant of the Congregational church of his father.
He was married at Hamden, Connecticut, June 7, 1888, to Bertha Agnes Downer, a daughter of Samuel Robinson Downer, who with five children, all born in New Haven, survive him. The children are three sons and two daughters, Charlotte Root, George Dutton, Katherine Eliot, Charles Ansel and Frederick Williams. Another son, Wheeler de Forest, died August 10, 1937.
To those who knew him best George Watrous' preeminent characteristics were an innate and unfailing courtesy in all of his personal and professional relations, and an intense conscientiousness in the performance of any task which he undertook, a conscientiousness which proceeded from a high ethical level and gained without effort for him the confidence of all those who knew him. Positions of professional and political preferment were repeatedly offered to him but he preferred to remain what he always was, an outstanding example of the best in the legal profession.
*Prepared by Edward G. Buckland, of the New Haven bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 57, pages 592 - 595
[The following sketch of Mr. Watrous was prepared by Ex-Governor Henry B. Harrison of the New Haven County bar for the American Bar Association and will appear in vol. 12th of its reports.]
The time has come when no man whose life has ended can be long remembered in this busy world unless he has had a career of eminent distinction.
He whose chief claim upon public regard consists in the fact that he has faithfully devoted high natural gifts of intellect and moral character, combined with thorough education and training, to the discharge of the duties of any profession, however honorable, must soon be forgotten.
It is right however that when such a man has lived, and loyally done his work, and finished it, and taken his departure, some friend of his should say for him a word or two of commemoration.
GEORGE HENRY WATROUS, whose paternal ancestors were natives of Connecticut, was born in Bridgewater, Pennsylvania, April 26th, 1829. Soon afterwards his father's family removed to Conklin, New York, where his earlier years were spent. After preliminary training in the common schools and at Homer Academy and, for a short time, at Madison University, he entered Yale College, as a Junior, in 1850, and there graduated as one of the most brilliant members of the celebrated class of 1853. In 1855 he was admitted to the bar at New Haven, where his subsequent life was past. In 1857 he became a partner of Governor Dutton in the practice of law under the firm name of Dutton & Watrous. This association continued until 1861, when Gov. Dutton became Judge of the Supreme Court. Mr. Watrous remained in practice, conducting a very large and profitable business, until 1879, when he was chosen President of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company, of which corporation he had long been a director and the principal legal adviser and representative.
In 1857 he married Harriet J. Dutton, daughter of Gov. Dutton. She died in January, 1873, leaving two sons and one daughter. In 1874 he married Lily M. Graves, daughter of Hon. Henry B. Graves of Litchfield, who, with four children, survives him.
Connecticut has always had its full share of able lawyers. Among those of his own time Mr. Watrous gained a conspicuous position in the front rank. It was inevitable, from his whole "make-up," that he should do so. His intellect was acute, his industry was indefatigable, and his ambition was directed exclusively to success in his profession. His scholarly education and habits had highly developed in him a natural capacity for logical reasoning and for nice and critical distinctions, together with a natural taste for the expression of his thoughts in choice and strong English. Above all he was in hearty sympathy with the moral elements of the English Common Law. He shared its spirit of absolute justice, its hatred of fraud, its love of good faith in all things, its charitable temper, and its sound common sense. In fact his personal characteristics were to a great extent, morally, the characteristics of the law itself.
Devoted as he was to the law he was not indifferent to the duties of good citizenship in affairs disconnected with his profession. His political convictions were strong, and in the earlier part of his career he was zealous among a group of young men who were specially active in originally organizing the Republican party in Connecticut. But his partisanship had no bitterness in it. In 1864 he represented New Haven in the General Assembly of the state, and at various times he was elected to municipal offices in that city, but every office that came to him came unsought.
His administration of the presidency of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad Company was eminently successful. He concentrated upon the management of that great corporation all his energies, both of body and of mind. The company grew steadily in strength and prosperity along many lines of development, until at last the health of Mr. Watrous broke down in its service and he consequently resigned his office in 1887. After more than two years of retirement from all business he died July 5th, 1889.
This is a very imperfect sketch of the life of an able and learned lawyer, an honest man, an accomplished scholar and a most kind and generous and courteous gentleman.
At a meeting of the bar of New Haven County held on the occasion of the death of Mr. Watrous, the following resolutions were passed:
"The members of the Bar of New Haven County have heard with deep regret that Hon. George H. Watrous, who for more than thirty years has been one of their most esteemed leaders, has departed from this life.
"During his long and eminently successful career at the bar he won respect for his commanding ability, honor for his rare integrity, admiration for his brilliant discernment and sound judgment, and affection for his unselfish nature. They unite with the citizens of New Haven in sorrow at his comparatively early demise and tender their profound sympathy to his bereaved family."
REMARKS OF EX-GOV. CHARLES R. INGERSOLL UPON THE FOREGOING RESOLUTIONS.
MR. PRESIDENT.--The resolutions presented by Judge Harrison so fittingly express the common sentiment of this bar that I know it is unnecessary for me to add to them a single word. But yet I cannot withhold the expression of my personal sense of the loss which has been sustained by this bar and the community by the death of Mr. Watrous. For although he came to the bar some years after I did, we have, ever since his admission to practice, been more or less associated, in many ways, both within and without the court-room.
And, Mr. President, no one could be associated with George H. Watrous in any way, and particularly in his professional practice, without being very soon impressed by the force of his individuality and his personal worth. He was emphatically a strong man,--intellectually and morally a very strong man. As a lawyer, I think all of us who have been his contemporaries in practice will agree that he was unsurpassed at our bar in mental vigor and acumen. He was a learned lawyer also, and, as we all know, a most effective trier of cases, whether before court or jury. His vigorous grasp of a case was always tenaciously held until everything on his side was exhausted to his satisfaction. Perhaps this trait of perseverance led him at times to over-elaboration, but it never degenerated into weakness. Beyond all this he was, under all circumstances, a man of wholesome integrity,--of uncompromising integrity I might well say, in speaking of him professionally; for it was doubtless this high sense of the abstract right that made him so averse, as we generally found him to be, to the settlement of cases in which he felt that the right was on his side.
I think, Mr. President, that we generally regretted his leaving the bar for the presidency of the railroad company, great as was the compliment to his abilities implied by the offer of that responsible and honorable position. We regretted to lose him as an associate, and we regretted to lose him from the profession. And I believe I can truly add that most of us also regretted it on his own account, for he had at that time achieved a position at the bar which, apparently, assured to him many years of successful leadership.
I have thought that some such regret came to himself afterwards. And when he had laid down the burden of his railway office he seemed to be instinctively drawn to this court-room as the field of his life's ambition and pleasure. There was very much of sadness to me in those frequent visits here, when the busy actor became only the passive listener. I would have had him here in the fullness of his strength and activity. But he recalled the forest oak that had been transplanted in the years of its maturity. Very sad, too, have been the slowly advancing evidences of his failing life. And how solemnly has come the final shock Only this week, on Monday, I saw him at this table listening with interest to a case then under argument, and a day or two afterwards he spoke to me of the impressions he had received. A great change had, however, then come to him, and the contrast with the old days was most painful. But I could not have imagined, Mr. President, that before the week should close I should be here participating in this tribute to his honored life and memory.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 90, pages 719 - 720
HOWARD CURTIS WEBB was born at Trenton, New Jersey, October 20th, 1861; he died at New Haven, Connecticut, July 23d, 1916. He was a son of Dr. Sumner C. Webb, born at Homer, New York, and of Cynthia A. (Pierce) Webb, born at Cooperstown, New York. His family were descendants of Christopher Webb, who was born in England in 1645, and who came to this country and settled in Massachusetts. His parents went to Homer, New York, to reside when he was four years of age and his education was obtained in the public schools of Homer and at the Homer Academy from which he was graduated. Upon leaving the Homer Academy, he learned the printer’s trade in the office of The Homer Republican and four years later became the editor of that paper.
He came to New Haven in 1882 to accept a position as reporter on The Morning News. In 1885 he became city editor of The New
Haven Union and afterward was employed on The Palladium. From 1890 to 1895 he was a member of the editorial staff of The Register. While employed on The Register he decided to study law. He entered the Yale Law School in 1893, and was graduated with the Class of 1895, continuing his newspaper work during the two years of the Law School course, and supporting himself and his family in this way. On graduation from the Law School he entered the office of Case, Ely & Case, and continued his newspaper work until he obtained enough law practice to permit him to give up reporting. Hard work soon enabled him to do this and in 1897, upon the appointment of William S. Case to the bench, he was made a member of the firm, the firm name becoming Case, Ely & Webb. That same year he was appointed Assistant City Attorney and, after two years of service, was made City Attorney, which position he held until 1905. In 1900 he severed his connection with the firm of Case, Ely & Webb, and since then had practiced alone.
In 1898 he served as a member of the commission to revise the charter and ordinances of New Haven. From 1887 to 1892 he served in Company F, Second Regiment, Connecticut National Guard, attaining the rank of corporal, and he was also for three years color sergeant on the major’s staff of the Second Company, Governor’s Foot Guard.
He was married June 12th, 1888, to Susie A. Hill, of Clinton, Connecticut, who survives him.
Few members of the New Haven bar had a wider circle of acquaintances or more loyal friends than Howard Webb. His acquaintances at the bar dated from the days of his newspaper work his years in the Yale Law School when studying law by day and earning a living by night. He won the respect of all who knew him by holding his own in a large class of students, nearly all of whom were better prepared and better circumstanced than he was. Although he began the practice of law somewhat late in life,
his earnestness, industry and integrity soon brought him a substantial and growing practice. His newspaper training gave him a clear grasp of a question of fact, and his industry enabled him to find and apply the law. He was one of those men to whom the lack of an academic education was not a handicap that barred his success in the law.
As a member of the bar he was universally respected because of these qualities of heart and mind and, above all, because of his fearless integrity and his ability to fight hard but clean, and to leave no ugly scars behind. He succeeded by hard work and faithfulness to his clients and to his profession, and left a clean record and many friendships that will long survive him.
*Prepared by Albert H. Barclay, Esq., of the New Haven County bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 102, pages 764 - 766
JAMES H. WEBB was born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, December 22d, 1855, and died at his home in Hamden, Connecticut, on April 20th, 1924. He was descended from Richard Webb, who came to Boston from Dorsetshire, England, in 1626, and later moved to Connecticut.
Judge Webb’s father, James J. Webb, was a merchant engaged in business over the Santa Fe trail. Judge Webb’s mother was Flora Mansfield Slade Webb. Judge Webb’s father retired from business about 1860 and purchased the Spring Glen Estate in Hamden, which he operated as a farm until his death on March 22d, 1889.
Judge Webb prepared for college at the Winchester Institute, Winchester, Connecticut, and the Hudson River Institute, in Claverack, New York. He was graduated from the Massachusetts Agricultural College, in Amherst, Massachusetts, with a degree of B.S. in 1873, and took a postgraduate course in history and political science at Yale University. He graduated from the Yale Law School in 1877.
After his admission to the bar, Judge Webb spent a short time in the office of the late William C. Robinson, who was for many years a professor in the Yale Law School; and later Judge Webb entered into partnership with James Gardiner Clark, under the firm name of Clark, Swan and Webb, where he remained until 1883. He then formed a partnership with John W. Ailing, under the name of Ailing and Webb. Somewhat later, Samuel C. Morehouse became a partner and the firm name was changed to Ailing, Webb and Morehouse. Judge Webb continued a member of this firm until his elevation to the Superior Court bench in 1914.
From 1895 to 1911 Judge Webb was a lecturer on medical jurisprudence and an instructor in criminal law and procedure in the Yale Law School. In 1907 he revised and adapted for American students the “Outlines on Criminal Law” by C. S. Kenny of the University of Cambridge, England. Judge Webb’s edition was used extensively in the American law schools. Judge Webb represented the Yale Law School as a delegate to the University Congress of Lawyers and Jurists at St. Louis in 1904, and was later a delegate to the International Congress of Lawyers in England.
As a lawyer Judge Webb was interested in court work. He was a very successful trial lawyer, and was engaged in many important cases. For the last three years of his practice, he devoted much of his time and attention to his duties as counsel for the receiver of the Aetna Indemnity Company. In the trial of a very large number of cases arising out of this receivership, Judge Webb devised methods of narrowing the issues and trying out only the essential points in dispute before the Committee of the Superior Court, which assisted materially in the speedy liquidation of the receivership. In the trial of these cases Judge Webb was always frank and fair with opposing counsel. He was patient; he was thorough in preparation of his cases, and always courteous to opposing counsel.
Judge Webb’s kindness to younger lawyers has left a deep impression on the lives of many members of the bar in New Haven County. He always welcomed younger men in his office. He never seemed too busy to talk to those who sought his counsel.
Judge Webb had a most charming personality which radiated sympathy and affection. He was learned, not only in the law, but also in cultural literature, and especially in philosophy.
Judge Webb became a most devout member of the Roman Catholic Church and was prominent in the ecclesiastical affairs of the diocese of Hartford. He was a frequent visitor at the rectory of the Dominican Fathers at St. Mary’s Church, in New Haven. Father Edward Downes, Pastor of the Chapel of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in Mt. Carmel, was for many years one of Judge Webb’s closest friends. The beautiful eulogy delivered by Father May at the funeral of Judge Webb will long be remembered by those who were privileged to hear it.
Judge Webb was interested in politics and on one occasion was the Democratic candidate for Congress. He was later elected a member of the Connecticut Constitutional Convention, from Hamden. From 1892 until the time of his death, he was a member of the Board of Control of the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station and for several years on its executive and financial committees. Judge Webb was much interested in the American Bar Association. He frequently attended the annual meetings and made many friends among the members from all parts of the country. He was also a member of, and a regular attendant at the meetings of, the State Bar Association of Connecticut. He was appointed to the Superior Court bench by Governor Baldwin to succeed the Hon. Marcus H. Holcomb, who retired by constitutional limitation in November, 1914. At the time of his death Judge Webb was the senior judge of the Superior Court.
Judge Webb was married June 29th, 1880, to Helen W. Ives, daughter of the late James Ives of Hamden. Mrs. Webb and six of their seven children survive Judge Webb. Their oldest son, James Ives Webb, died about ten years ago. The six surviving children are: Paul Webb, member of the New Haven County Bar; Henry A. Webb, Arthur Joseph Webb and Thomas A. Webb, all of whom are connected with the Spring Glen real estate development; Florilla H. Gosselin, wife of Edward N. Gosselin, and Lucy B. Bell, wife of Charles S. Bell.
*Prepared by James E. Wheeler, Esq., of the New Haven County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 70, pages 749 - 750
JOHN WILKINSON WEBSTER was, at the time of his death--which occurred June 4th, 1896--the eldest member of the Waterbury bar, and had been in continuous practice in this State for more than half a century.
He came of Puritan stock, and was born in what is now West Hartford, January 19th, 1817. His ancestor, John Webster, of Worcestershire, England, was one of the original settlers of Hartford, and in 1656 was chosen Governor of the Connecticut Colony. The direct descendant of John Webster was Noah Webster, 1st, who was grandfather of the subject of this sketch. Noah Webster left two sons, Charles, the father of John W., and Noah, the great lexicographer.
The early training of Mr. Webster was received at Wilbraham and Westfield Academies; he entered the Yale Law School in 1842 and graduated in course in 1844. The year of his graduation he entered upon the active practice of law in Waterbury, filling the vacancy in the profession caused by the removal to New Haven of Judge Alfred Blackman. In those early days Waterbury was not one eighth of its present size, and prior to the advent of Mr. Webster there was for many years but one attorney in the place, Norton J. Buel.
For many years Judge Webster was in partnership with Charles W. Gillette, Esq., but in 1865 formed a partnership with his former pupil, John O'Neill, Esq., and in that year was founded the firm of Webster and O'Neill, which lasted to the time of his death.
Judge Webster was the fourth mayor of the city of Waterbury, 1854-55, was twice judge of probate for the district of Waterbury, was many years city attorney, town attorney, and member of the lower and upper boards of the city council. He was a life long Democrat of the old school. He was one of the charter members of the board of agents of the Bronson Library, for over fifteen years a member of the board of education, and for many years its chairman.
His life was steady and active, well ordered and temperate. A wife and daughter (Mrs. George M. Allerton) survive him.
At a meeting of the Waterbury bar, of which Mr. Webster had for many years been the presiding officer and its senior member, Ex-Mayor Greene Kendrick paid the following tribute to his memory:--
"Of that bright legal triumvirate of our city's earlier days--Buel, Blackman and Webster--the last has now been summoned before the final bar, where the judge of all knoweth all. To the brethren of his high profession, to his kinsman, his neighbors and his friends, he has left the sweet memory of a life lived honorably, rounded also by the thoughtful performance of its every duty.
"Though for these many years Judge Webster may be said to have anticipated the virtues which belong to age, he has yet lived long without knowledge of its infirmities. His lengthened life has added a bright ray to the common lustre of the profession which he loved so well. His name has increased not only the number, but the high character of his generation.
"Mr. Webster was wholly self-made. He owed himself to himself. This fact, more than all else, made him the substantial man he was. He was honest, industrious, plain in his dealings, and faithful in his every undertaking. He was blest with rare contentment of mind. In his constancy, fervency and zeal in daily life he had a persistency almost religious. At the performance of a clean deed he never hesitated, nor did he avoid the glad doing of a generous act. To his last days he carried a most genial love of nature, and to him, holding, as was his wont, frequent `communion with her visible forms,' she ever spoke `a various language.' `He lived,' to borrow the quaint words of an old writer, `unto the dignity of his nature, and he left it not disputable at last whether he had lived a man.' He made good the manly principles of his nature. He was exactly what he was made to be.
"Besides all this, the Judge lacked not of the broadest charity. If, as he looked upon them, he saw the imperfections of his fellows, he had for them only an excess of kindness. He gave, without envy, full credit to all that was laudable in the character of those with whose lives he came in contact. If he felt that he had been wronged by anyone, he drew the curtain of night upon his injuries, and let them `be as though they had not been.'
"Judge Webster loved the profession of the law, not so much for its emoluments as for its dignity. He appreciated its wisdom. He was devoted to the principles of pure reason upon which its structure is wholly built. As for wealth, he possessed enough not to be poor. Content he was, if but rich enough to deserve and to attain success in the profession he so long adorned. His life exemplified the rule laid down by the great Latin jurist, for he `lived honorably, injured no one, and gave to each his due.'
"His career had a wide latitude of years. His earthly journey traversed a long stretch of the world's tempestuous ocean. He had a right knowledge of earth. Experience told him what it was, what it could afford and what the living in it signified."
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 20
Born in Hartford, (West-Hartford society,) October 16th, 1758; educated at Yale-College, and graduated there, in 1778; read law chiefly in his private apartments, but passed one summer in the family of the late Chief Justice Ellsworth, and another summer in the family of the late Judge Trumbull; was admitted to the bar in Hartford, April, 1781, being examined in company with the late Lt. Gov. Goodrich; began the practice of law in Hartford, in 1789; was admitted to practice in the courts of the United States, October, 1790, Chief Justice Jay presiding. At the close of 1793, he left the practice of the law, and removed to New-York, where he established a newspaper, with a view to support the administration of Gen. Washington. In 1798, he removed to New-Haven; and was a representative of that town in the General Assembly of this State, May and October sessions, 1802, May 1803, May 1804, October 1805, May and October 1806, and October 1807. He was a justice of the quorum for New-Haven County, from June 1806 until June 1811. In 1812, he removed to Amherst, Mass., where he continued ten years.
During this period he was twice a representative from that town in the legislature of Massachusetts, viz. in 1814, 15, and in 1819. While he resided there, Amherst College was established, and he was president of the board of trustees; and in that capacity, it fell to his lot to induct into office the Rev Doct. Moore, the first president of that institution. In 1822, he returned to New-Haven, where he has since resided. Much of the greater part of his life has been devoted to philological pursuits. The honourary degree of L L. D. has been conferred upon him, by Yale and Middlebury Colleges.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 36, pages 593 - 595
HENRY KIRK WHITE WELCH, an able and greatly respected member of the Hartford County Bar, died at Hartford, where he resided, on the 25th day of November, 1870, aged forty-nine. He was born in Mansfield in Tolland County in 1821, graduated with honor at Yale College in 1841, and after spending a few years in the Southern States, principally as a teacher, he returned to this state, and having gone through a course of legal study commenced the practice of law in Hartford in 1850. He married in 1851 Miss Frances L. Goodrich, daughter of the late Professor Chauncey A. Goodrich of Yale College, who died in 1855. In 1858 he married Miss Susan L. Goodwin, daughter of Mr. Edward Goodwin of Hartford, who survives him. He left five children of the second marriage.
Mr. Welch was modest and unobtrusive in his manner and worked his way slowly into public notice and professional practice, but he early acquired the respect and confidence of all who knew him as a man of uncommon purity and uprightness of character and as he became more generally known he obtained an increasing and ultimately valuable legal practice. During the last ten years of his life he was employed in some of the most important causes that came before the courts of the state, and he argued them with marked ability. His cases were always prepared with great care, especially upon the points of law involved, and his arguments were always thorough and exhaustive. His mind was in a high degree acute and discriminating. In his early practice he was too much inclined to rely upon the application of a close logic to questions of law, but as he grew older he trusted less to legal refinements and more to those broad and comprehensive views, which are of controlling influence with the best judges. In the latter years of his life his integrity and trustworthiness brought to him large and important private trusts, which he very faithfully discharged.
In politics Mr. Welch was associated in early life with the Whig party, and was a member of the Republican Party from its organization. Without leaving his professional pursuits he did his duty as a citizen, warmly supporting his political principles and ready to bear his share of political labors. He was often a delegate to state and other conventions. In 1862 he was elected a member of the state Senate. It was early in the war of the Southern Rebellion and he was placed at the head of the committee on finance, a position at that time of great importance. In 1864 he was a member of the lower house, and was appointed chairman of the same committee on the part of the house. Again a member of the house in 1865, he was placed at the head of the judiciary committee and was the leader of the house.
Mr. Welch was a man of much public spirit, devoting much time to matters of public interest. The cause of education was especially indebted to him. During the latter years of his life he stood almost constantly in some important official relation to the schools of the city.
The Hartford Times, a paper opposed to the political party to which Mr. Welch belonged, in a notice of his death paid him this just and generous tribute: "Mr. Welch was a man of the strictest probity and honor. We have rarely or never met, in any political party, a more honest and honorable man. The petty subterfuges resorted to, and the unfair advantages so often taken, in political affairs, by men of a less scrupulous sense of justice and right, were unknown to his precept and practice. He was a man who won and deservedly held the respect alike of political friends and foes."
Mr. Welch was a man of great natural refinement, and in both his manners and his feelings was a true gentleman. He was full of cordiality and kindness and lived in a rare degree in his affections. With all his fondness for the law and its practice his real life was at home, where he found his truest happiness. He was a man of thorough religious convictions, and was a member of the Pearl Street Congregational Church, and for several years superintendent of its Sunday school.
The Hartford County Bar, at a meeting called on the occasion of his death, and at which there was an unusually large attendance, passed the following resolution of respect to his memory.
"Resolved, That we contemplate with profound sorrow the death of Henry K. W. Welch, Esq., for the past twenty years an honored member of this bar. With an excellent classical education, a faithful study of his profession, a well disciplined mind of great acuteness, an unwearying fidelity to the interests of his clients, and with sterling integrity, he had a high position at the bar and had secured in an uncommon degree the respect of his professional brethren and of the public. He was sought for important private trusts, and discharged them with great fidelity. Without being an active politician, he occupied a position of influence in the political party with which he was connected, and received many expressions of its confidence. He had much public spirit and spent much time in useful labors for the promotion of the welfare of the city, and especially its educational interests. He was also deeply interested in all measures for the advancement of the moral interests of the state and country. He was a man of a refined nature and great purity of character, serious and sincere in his opinions, and in social life full of kindliness. In his professional demeanor he was always courteous, and in his professional practice always honorable. To his excellence as a lawyer and a citizen he added a true Christian character, which he manifested before the world both by a Christian profession and by a Christian life. In his death our profession has lost one of its prominent and most worthy members, the city an influential and valued citizen, and the public at large an active and earnest friend of all its best interests.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 30, pages 607 - 608
MARTIN WELLES was born at Wethersfield in this state on the 7th day of December 1788, and died at the town of Martin, in the state of Ohio, whither he had been called by business, on the 18th day of January, 1863, in the 75th year of his age. He was a son of Gen. Roger Welles, of Revolutionary memory, and a descendant of Thomas Welles, the fourth governor of Connecticut. He graduated at Yale College in the year 1806, and was admitted to the bar of Hartford County in 1810, and in 1813 removed to Newburgh in the state of New York, where he afterwards established himself, he successfully pursued the practice of the legal profession until 1820, when, his health failing, he returned to this state and settled in his native town. Here he devoted himself mainly to agricultural pursuits until the year 1850, when he opened an office in the city of Hartford and resumed the practice of law, taking at once a high position among the practitioners at the Hartford bar. He was a member of the State Senate in 1829 and 1830, and a representative in the General Assembly from the town of Wethersfield in the years 1827, 1828, 1831 and 1832. In the last two years he was Speaker of the House, and manifested great ability as a presiding officer. He was also for a few years associate judge of the county court of Hartford County. During the thirty years of his retirement from practice he engaged somewhat actively in politics, as a member of the Whig party of that time; and for some years labored indefatigably to procure the establishment of a new State Prison, in which, and in securing its location at Wethersfield, he was successful. After resuming the practice of his profession he continued to pursue it till the time of his death in 1863.
Mr. Welles had an intellect of great original force and vigor, disciplined by a thorough education, and well furnished by general and professional reading. He had at command an elegant and classical diction, while a stately form and dignified manner gave an impressiveness to all that he uttered in his forensic and public addresses. The great feature of his character however was his will, which for a firm and inflexible resoluteness has rarely been surpassed. Strong and clear as was his intellect, the decision of character for which he was remarkable was less the result of intellectual conclusions than that of the determinations of his will. With him to resolve was to execute, and resolution only gained strength from the difficulties which the attempt to execute it encountered. This inflexible adherence to his own determinations almost necessarily brought him into conflict with others, and as he had little tact in dealing with men and never understood how to conciliate an enemy, he never became a popular man, even among his political friends, and in consequence failed to attain, in public life, those high positions in the state and the nation, which, with so great abilities, he might otherwise easily have secured, and his failure to attain which was always a disappointment to him.
As a lawyer Mr. Welles was remarkable for his familiarity with the principles of the common law, for great nicety of discrimination, and for the clearness and logical force of his arguments. His mind seemed to be specially adapted to the casuistries of the law, and in special pleading he probably had no equal in the state. He was also indefatigable in the preparation of his cases upon both law and facts, independent and fearless in asserting the rights of his clients, and pertinacious of his points in the highest degree. He rarely gave up a case that was decided against him until he had pursued it to the extreme limit of the legal remedy, and submitted to a final adverse decision only as to an accumulated wrong that he had no further power to resist. No client ever had reason to complain that his case had suffered from any want either of interest or of faithful attention on his part.
It was an evidence of rare ability in Mr. Welles, that after having retired from the practice of his profession for thirty years, he could return to it at the age of sixty, and stand at once among the leading men at the Connecticut bar, apparently as ready upon every question of law as if his whole life had been spent in practice.
Mr. Welles was long an earnest friend of the temperance reformation, and was very decided in his hostility to slavery.
On the death of the Hon. Thomas Day, for fifty years the reporter of the Supreme Court of this state, he was appointed by the Hartford Bar to present to the court the resolutions passed by the bar on that occasion; and his remarks in doing so, which were eloquent and affecting, are preserved in the appendix to the 23d Volume of Connecticut Reports. That address reveals, what he did not ordinarily disclose, a tender side of his character, and no one can read it without a sincere respect for its author.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 133, pages 747 - 750
Ralph Olney Wells was born in Hartford January 27, 1879. His father, Daniel Halsey Wells, was actuary of the Connecticut Mutual Life Insurance Company. From him Mr. Wells acquired proficiency in accounting. He continued to make his home in Hartford until he retired from active practice and moved to Andover a few years ago.
His early education was received in the public schools of Hartford. He then went to Yale, where he and William M. Maltbie, present chief justice, were roommates, and from which he graduated in 1901. He received the degree of LL. B. cum laude from Harvard in 1904. In 1908 he married Mary Ida White, who, with two adopted sons survive.
Following his graduation from law school, Mr. Wells was admitted to the Connecticut bar and commenced practice in the office of Robinson & Robinson. On April 1, 1908, he became a member of the firm of Perkins & Perkins. He remained with this firm under successive names until the time of his death, becoming the senior member of the firm on the death of Arthur Perkins in 1932.
In addition to his legal practice, Mr. Wells was interested in many public and private activities, having been a member of the Hartford common council, the city plan commission and the board of street commissioners of that city. He was a deacon of the First Congregational Church of Hartford, a charter member of the University Club and the Civitan Club, and president of the Get-Together Club, the Hartford Federation of Churches and Connecticut Congregational Club. As long as health permitted, he was active in both the state and local Y.M.C.A., for many years as director on the local board and, following World War I, as president of this organization. Among his professional associations, he held membership in the American Bar Association, the bar associations of the state and county and the International Association of Insurance Counsel.
He was an independent thinker and a staunch champion of any cause in which he believed. This led him to decline a most attractive offer of professional employment as he wished to remain entirely free to express his views on any moral issue. Those who have had the privilege of many years' association with Mr. Wells bear testimony to the seriousness with which he took the oft-repeated charge to new members of the bar, that "The law is a jealous mistress." It was his habit to reach the office earlier than most of his associates and invariably to stay until after all, or most, had left. Through many years of his practice he worked alone in his office Saturday afternoons and many evenings a week, as well as most of those days of the year which are commonly observed as holidays. This was not due to any inability to work rapidly but to his giving personal attention to each matter a client referred to him. He thought rapidly, and one of his outstanding virtues was his ability to think straight. He never fell into the error, which is not uncommon with members of the bar, of letting cases similar to, but not on all fours with, the case being discussed lead him aside from the real point in issue. He was very thorough in his study and in his preparation of cases, having such a desire for perfection that he was not satisfied with a brief until it had been entirely rewritten from three to five times.
Mr. Wells never in any way forced himself upon other lawyers as a teacher, but when any attorney, whether an associate or an outsider, sought his advice, as they frequently did, he was never too busy to hear his "brother's" problem and he was always ready with a helpful suggestion. The trial of a case was such a joy, he seemed to take greater pleasure and satisfaction in it than in any form of recreation. He was especially happy when working on a case which at the outset appeared to be hopeless.
Mr. Wells was commonly known as the author of the Public Utility Act of the state which has stood for many years with little change. He also played an important part in the writing of the Workman's Compensation Act, and, as much as any other lawyer, contributed to its interpretation by his many appeals in this field to the Supreme Court.
His ability to handle figures made him a formidable opponent in legal accounting cases, as was found by directors of the Columbia Trust Company and of the Windsor Locks Savings Bank. Reference is made to Lippitt v. Ashley and associated cases reported in 89 Conn. 451. After sitting as a committee of the Superior Court for more than forty trial days, the late Frank Hagarty remarked that there was not another lawyer in New England who could surpass Mr. Wells in his understanding of the interrelationship of law and figures and in a masterful presentation of a legal accounting case. This ability as a legal accountant well fitted him for his appointment as foreman of the grand jury which in 1928 investigated the stock brokerage activities of R. W. Watkins & Company. He was also foreman of the grand jury whose report checked wide-spread violation of the liquor laws in the early thirties.
To his opponents in the court Mr. Wells was known as a fighter, and any attorney when starting a trial knew that, if he was successful in the lower court, the chances were overwhelmingly in favor of Mr. Wells' taking him to the Supreme Court. This is borne out by the fact that personal records and briefs show that he appeared before the Connecticut Supreme Court in more than 135 cases.
For many years his health was such that he could have been justified in remaining at home. With indomitable will and courage, however, he continued his practice, appearing in court when it was difficult for him to get around and when his hand trembled so that it seemed impossible for him to read the paper he was holding. Until comparatively recently he attended every short calendar session of the Superior Court, and when his moving from the city made his attendance at court less regular he still continued to go to his office. His will to carry on was spoken of constantly by members of the bench and bar.
After a third of a century of almost daily contact, it is with deep satisfaction that one records an associate's absolute integrity and notes that, no matter how bitter the feeling between clients, he would never become a party to their bitterness nor stoop to any conduct even bordering on the unethical. It may also be recorded that in all these years Mr. Wells was never known to raise his voice in anger nor to use a word of profanity or irreverence.
Mr. Wells died December 16, 1946, and in his passing the bar has lost one of the best legal minds, but, by his life, the law of this state has been enriched, and those who had the privilege of association with him have been inspired to think straighter, to be calmer and to be more thorough in their handling of legal problems.
*Prepared by Roger W. Davis, of the Hartford bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 58, pages 599 - 601
GELON WILBERFORCE WEST, the subject of this sketch, was born at Columbia, in this state, August 31st, 1845. He died at Rockville, January 17th, 1890, at the age of forty-four. He was the son of Samuel F. West, who is still a resident of Columbia, and until he arrived at the age of seventeen years, lived and worked upon his father's farm. He was educated in the common and select schools, and finally graduated at the old High School at Ellington in this state. He never entered college, but taught school during the winters of 1862-3, and 1863-4. After a select course of reading, he began the systematic study of law, in the office of Waldo, Hubbard and Hyde, at Hartford, in January, 1866, and after passing an examination of great merit, was admitted to the practice of law at Hartford, July 24th, 1868. He located at Rockville, and there commenced the practice of law in November, 1868.
Mr. West possessed in an unusual degree all of those gentler qualities, so endearing to intimate acquaintances, and upon which the biographer delights to dwell, but which are frequently overwrought. He was popular as a man, and as an official, and in April, 1869, he was elected judge of probate for the district of Ellington, and served continuously in that capacity until the time of his death, being elected term after term by the people, irrespective of party. He was for the period of ten years acting school visitor and clerk of the school board, and held the position of town clerk, for the town of Vernon, from 1883 to the time of his death. He was also the register of vital statistics and town treasurer, and assistant clerk of the Superior Court. At the time of his death he was also judge of the City Court of Rockville. To the manifold duties of these various offices he brought a power and aptitude which a more ambitious man would have diverted into other channels. His seeming disregard of the allurements of personal ambition was the gain of the community in which he lived. His close application to the duties and routine of the many offices which came to him, prevented his taking that more prominent stand in his chosen profession to which he was entitled from the force of his acquirements and natural ability. As a judge of probate he was unexcelled, for he was interested in his work, and tempered with a sound judgment and tender sympathy that department of law which enters more closely than any other the domain of domestic life. His faithfulness and integrity were proverbial, and his word was as good as his bond. While often negligent of the duties which he owed to himself, he never failed in his obligations to his fellowmen. The perplexities of his many duties never tested beyond its strength that serene and abiding patience, which he always commanded, in sickness and in health.
His nature was never aggressive, yet he led in various enterprises which promoted the interest of the community in which he lived. He was the projector of the Rockville High School, and personally paid the expenses attendant upon issuing the first diplomas of that institution. He was the prime mover in the adoption of the city charter for Rockville, and the enterprise was largely due to his labor and zeal.
His mind was distinctively reflective, and upon the more important tenets of the Christian religion his views were pronounced. He was religiously inclined, but without a creed. He believed in God, and recognized man's obligation to his maker; but concerning those religious problems which others explain so easily, to their seeming satisfaction, he held his peace. In conversing with the writer on a certain occasion during the last year of his life, he made use of a stanza of Whittier's hymn as illustrating his position, and repeated the lines with an emphasis which made a lasting impression, and furnished a fitting close to the conversation.
"And so beside the Silent Sea,
I wait the muffled oar;
No harm from Him, can come to me,
On ocean or on shore."
He died almost in the harness, and was absent from his office only a little more than one day. He entertained a strong presentiment of his death, and in perfecting the organization of the City Court expressed his belief that he should not live to witness its completion. But this fact did not lessen his interest or his work; no murmur escaped him, and his cheerful, cordial manner seemed not to warrant the foreboding which he held.
He leaves a wife and two daughters, and a circle of friends, whose grateful and kindly remembrance of him is the most expressive and enduring tribute to his worth.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Charles Phelps, Esq., of the Rockville bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 54, pages 599 - 601
The death of MAHLON ROCKWELL WEST, on the 22nd of April, 1886, closed a life of most worthy aims and uncommon industry. A just estimate of its success involves the knowledge of his early struggle with and mastery of adversities, such as the lack of fortune and education ever opposes to the ambitions of youth.
Mr. West was born at Stafford in Tolland County, August 27th, 1826. His father was a farmer with a large family and small estate. Arriving at his majority, young West found himself the possessor of an ordinary district school education, and a few dollars earned by teaching. His resolution to seek a wider field of labor and influence found no encouragement except from his own earnest aspirations. But he determined to become a lawyer, and so, in 1848 we find him a student at Stafford, in the office of Mr. A. P. Hyde, since of Hartford, and daily going nearly three miles from his father's house to his books. His preparatory studies ended in 1850, by his admission to the bar at the March term of the Tolland County Court, and he immediately commenced practice in his native town, where he remained more than nineteen years, with a constantly increasing business, and the respect and confidence of every one; and he was finally recognized as the leading lawyer of the county.
In November, 1869, he removed to Hartford, and there successfully continued to practice until his last sickness, which was brief. From November 1st, 1869, until November 1st, 1876, David S. Calhoun was his law partner.
He was a delegate to the democratic national convention of 1860, and steadily supported the nomination of Stephen A. Douglas. In 1874-5 he was an alderman of his city, and for one year was president of the board. He represented the town of Hartford in the legislatures of 1877 and 1881.
On the 23d of May, 1854, he married Miss Julia A. Smalley, of Northfield, Vermont. A son was given them, his only child, who died at Hartford, January 24th, 1871. Mrs. West died, April 3d, 1880, after a protracted illness. Miss Marcia A. Fairman, of Stafford, became his wife October 11th, 1881, and she is now his widow.
In his private life Mr. West was not merely blameless. He was trusted and beloved. Tender in sympathy, steadfast in friendship, upright in all his dealings, sensitive to criticism but loyal to every command of duty, simple in habits and modest in manner, ready with head, hand and heart in every movement for the welfare of individuals or the community, he entered no relation, whether domestic, social or with the church of which he was a devout member, in which his affectionate, faithful self-denying nature did not compel a warm appreciation.
As honesty was the leaven of his private character, so it naturally pervaded his public and professional life. Public recognition was grateful to him; but when it came it was a tribute to his worth, and not dividend of a selfish trade or the reward of court paid to rascally jobbers in votes. Zealously attached to the political faith which was his by inheritance and conviction, he never forgot that he owed a higher fealty than to party.
As a lawyer he did not quote the precedents of legal license to satisfy the doubts of conscience; for his conceptions of right overlapped those of the law. And by this broader rule of justice he tested every proposed plan of professional action, apparently insensible to those temptations which many find so hard to resist. Clients, therefore, ever found him a reliable counselor. Courts and juries saw him candid, and his brethren knew him, both as an antagonist and an associate, as generous, truthful and fair. His early necessities had made him prudent and economical; but he prized the true honors of his profession more than its gains, and a just cause needed not the added stimulus of a full purse to enlist his interest and best service.
Mr. West's position at the bar was such as his diligence, ability and integrity had won and deserved. He always lamented the limited educational opportunities of his youth, and to them an occasional diffuseness in pleading and argument may be attributed in part, and partly, perhaps, to an imperfect faculty of method. But his reading was varied and accurate, his memory trusty, his judgments of men and their motives unusually quick and correct, his application of legal principles to facts ready and sound, and his care in the preparation of causes unlimited except by time; for he was an insatiable and tireless worker. Though of slight frame and a nervous temperament, and with no outward signs of uncommon vigor, his endurance of prolonged mental exertion was surprising. No point in a case escaped his scrutiny. In his office labors he was cautious, pains-taking and thorough; but in a trial he was alert, ready in resource and prompt to discover and to act; and in his arguments there came successive troops of crowding and fervid thoughts, which scoured the whole field of contest and left unnoticed no point of attack or defense. As a speaker he found force, earnestness and simple illustration more ready and effective than graces of style or arts of elocution. There was nothing in his presence or manner to alarm an opponent; but on the one who augured from them an easy victory, there always waited a bewildering surprise, and usually defeat. If any one of his fellows was more vigilant and devoted in the conduct and cause through all its stages, his name is unknown to the writer.
There was no secret in Mr. West's success. He attempted no grotesque imitation of some admired model. His faith in his professional future had this simple creed:--Labor is man's omnipotence, and it is best to be honest and true. Guided by these maxims his life attested their value.
It is but just to the memory of Mr. West to say that the death of his son, in 1871, quenched in the father somewhat of ambition and much of hope. Thereafter, though diligent and faithful, his work lacked its former inspiration, and in his last years, to a few, who knew him most intimately, he sometimes spoke with reverent yearning of the time when he might rest from his labors. And to him, so life-weary after thirty-six years of continuous toil in office and in court, and with such heart longings for dear ones sadly missed and with such a Christian hope, surely death was the door of life.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by David S. Calhoun, Esq., of the Hartford Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 260, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court, April 17, 2002, to take effect April 19, 2002.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 272, page iii
Retired November 13, 2004, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 123, pages 699 - 700
Alfred Newton Wheeler was born in Southbury, Connecticut, on January 2d, 1855. His father was Elisha Wheeler, formerly of both branches of the General Assembly of Connecticut, and his mother was Eliza Ann (Leavenworth) Wheeler, formerly of Oxford, Connecticut. He attended the Russell Collegiate and Commercial Institute of New Haven, and the Sheffield Scientific School--from which he was graduated in 1875, having taken a select course, and receiving the degree of Ph.B. He was a member of the Glee Club of the School, and had been president of his class since 1925. He attended the Yale Law School from 1875 to 1877; having taken honors in each year, and having won the Betts Prize in 1876. He was secretary of the class of 1877 Sheff.
Shortly after his graduation he was admitted to the Bar of New Haven County, and practiced law in New Haven thereafter. He was a member of the New Haven County Bar, the Connecticut Bar Association and the American Bar Association. He was assistant state's attorney for the New Haven County from 1896 to 1907. In that year he was appointed assistant clerk of the Superior Court in New Haven, and was clerk from 1912 until his death in 1937. He was greatly interested in church work; having been a vestryman of the Trinity Episcopal Church in New Haven from 1897 to 1934; treasurer from 1906 to 1934; junior warden from 1922 to 1925; senior warden from 1925 to 1934; and senior warden emeritus since 1934.
On September 30th, 1891, he married Miss Lillian Edith Wilson. Surviving him are his three children; Richard Elisha, who was graduated from Yale in 1915; Elizabeth Cruttenden, the wife of William S. Innis, of Yale 1914; and Alfred Newton, Jr., of Yale 1923. In addition to his three children, seven grandchildren survive him. Mrs. Wheeler died on March 18th, 1924. Mr. Wheeler's death was due to lobar pneumonia. He was buried in Grove Street Cemetery in New Haven.
Mr. Wheeler's capacities and tastes fitted him well for work requiring accuracy and precision. He had no hatred of form, as such, or of detail. He regarded attention to them as a necessity in many phases of the practice of the law. Accordingly his practice as a lawyer was largely given to the settlement of estates and allied problems. His integrity and devotion to duty were recognized by everyone. The late Judge William H. Williams, while state's attorney, secured the assistance of Mr. Wheeler, who devoted his time to the preparation of indictments and presentments, to the preparation of cases, and to the other matters requiring careful attention to the multifarious matters of form and detail which confront a state's attorney. As assistant clerk of the Superior Court, Mr. Wheeler performed a large part of the duties of the clerk of the criminal side of the court, and after he became clerk, he took charge of the preparation of records for the Supreme Court of Errors. In this field his work was of high excellence.
Mr. Wheeler was a devoted Churchman, as is indicated, at least in part, by the offices which he held. He was a pleasant companion, of quiet disposition, and enjoyed the society of his fellowmen, by whom, in turn, he was generally liked. His devotion to his family, in whose life he took great enjoyment, was notable.
*Partially prepared by Harrison Hewitt, of the New Haven bar, prior to his death on February 23d, 1938, and completed by George D. Watrous, of the New Haven bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 115, pages 731 - 734
George Wakeman Wheeler was born in Woodville, Mississippi, December 1st, 1860, and died at his home in Bridgeport July 27th, 1932. Though born in the south he had his roots deep in the soil of this State. His great-grandfather lived in Easton and was a judge of the Fairfield County Court. He prepared for college at Williston Seminary and was graduated from Yale University in 1881 and from the Yale Law School in 1883. Yale conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws in 1919, and Wesleyan that of Doctor of the Civil Law in 1931.
For ten years he practiced law in Bridgeport in association with Howard J. Curtis, his classmate and roommate in college. That partnership was dissolved in 1893 when Wheeler, at the age of thirty-two, was appointed to the Superior Court, upon the nomination of Governor Morris, and Curtis to the Fairfield County Court of Common Pleas. He went to the Supreme Court of Errors September 7th, 1910, and became Chief Justice of the State August 8th, 1920, serving until his retirement under the constitutional limitation, on December 1st, 1930, having completed nearly thirty-eight years of judicial service to the State.
The outstanding attribute of the late Chief Justice--the dominant note in his whole public career at the bar and upon the bench--was his love of justice. He said upon one occasion: "I began the life of a trial judge loving justice and longing to hold true and high her sacred shield," and on another: "In each day and each act I have tried with all my might to make the law truly serve justice." No one can say that he ever failed to be true to the high ideal which he had set before him. His life was truly one of service. His career upon the bench was marked by utter disinterestedness, undeviating courage, a rigid and unswerving devotion to duty and an unrivalled sense of justice. With a splendidly equipped mind, indomitable zeal and a passionate desire to do justice, he pursued his ideal of making the law the servant of justice. If upon occasion his decisions failed to be sustained upon appeal, who shall say that the cause of justice was more truly served by the decision of the appellate court than by that of the trial court? One cannot imagine him failing to meet any responsibility, or faltering in the performance of any judicial duty, or suffering any compromise with anything below his own high standards of conduct. As was said by Chief Justice Maltbie at the dinner tendered Judge Wheeler upon his retirement: "One thought and one thought alone at all times has moved him--to serve justice truly, to follow whatever path it might point out, blind, not to the conditions of life as it exists, or to the ever changing needs of the times, but blind to all interests and motives save those which can stand the bright light of disinterested service to society and his fellow men."
For twenty years Judge Wheeler sat upon the bench of the highest court of our State, for ten years as Associate Justice and ten more years as Chief Justice. These were the fruitful, culminating years of his career, fraught with so much of benefit for the State. His opinions are to be found in thirty volumes of our reports. They have left an indelible impress upon the jurisprudence of the State. The same striving to make the law truly serve the cause of justice is to be found in them, whether he wrote for a majority of the court or in dissent when it appeared to him that the opinion of the majority had failed in that attempt. His opinions construing the Workmen's Compensation Act established the broad and liberal construction adopted in this State, and have strongly influenced the trend of compensation decisions in other jurisdictions, where they have been widely cited and followed. Many of his opinions have established the substantive law of the State in matters of great public interest or have pointed the way to remedial legislation by the General Assembly. His long experience, his profound knowledge of substantive law and procedure and his sound judgment gave extraordinary weight to his opinions in the conference room, and caused his associates to question carefully a conclusion which was contrary to his considered judgment.
Upon his retirement the judges of the Supreme and Superior Courts adopted the following minute:
"The notable achievements of George W. Wheeler as a trial judge are preserved, for all time, in the records of the Superior Court, covering a period of seventeen years preceding 1910. Grateful memories of his helpful kindness to young and inexperienced practitioners are treasured by many.
"His contributions to substantive law and to the cause of justice generally during ten years of service as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors and a decade as Chief Justice are permanently evidenced in the decisions of that court and widely recognized by the profession and the public.
"Fruits of his expenditure of time and talent are also abundant in statutes passed at his suggestion, the reports of the Judicial Council, forward-looking rules and statutes adopted in consequence, the work of the Law Institute, and in countless other contributions to the cause of justice and the public welfare.
"We heartily join in the generally entertained and frequently expressed pride in and commendation of these manifestations of his ability, wisdom, industry, energy and other outstanding attributes of mind and character, sentiments which are intensified in us by that familiarity with and appreciation of these achievements which we have gained by association and lesser participation in endeavor in the common cause--the administration and promotion of justice.
"Rarely has a man so lived in, with and for the law as, for many years, has our retiring Chief Justice. With indomitable energy and fervent zeal he has devoted himself to constant, intense, and unremitting toil; not otherwise could labors and results of such magnitude and scope have been accomplished.
"Maintenance of high ideals of judicial administration, the probity and dignity of the courts, efficiency and progressive improvement of procedure, the patient hearing and careful consideration of each cause, have been among the objects of his keen solicitude and zealous care as Chief Justice.
"Although thus engrossed in and pressed by his heavy responsibilities and the tasks in which he has been so steadily engaged, his loyalty to associates and friends has remained true and constant, his interest in them and theirs alert, and his sympathetic response to bereavement or affliction unfailing, instant, and of rare helpfulness in expression. These manifestations of friendly solicitude and consideration have engendered in us a deep and abiding personal affection.
"We cannot permit the occasion of his retirement as Chief Justice to pass without this permanent expression, however inadequate, of our appreciation of the rare privilege of his friendship and of our association with him, which has been and will continue to be to each and all of us an incentive and inspiration to high endeavor."
This expression of the admiration and affection of his associates upon the bench bears witness to the high regard and strong personal attachment felt by each and every one of them for the Chief Justice with and under whom they had served.
Judge Wheeler's devotion to the law and to public service led him to give unstintingly of his time and energy to many causes outside of his judicial duties. He was largely influential in procuring the adoption by the Superior Court in 1890 of rules of admission to the bar providing uniform standards of admission and requirements of study to qualify candidates to take the examination, and establishing a state bar examining committee. He was one of the original members of that committee and its chairman from 1912 until 1919 when he resigned as such and from the committee in 1920, having rendered for thirty years invaluable service to the profession and the State in raising and maintaining the standards of admission to the bar.
In the formation of the Judicial Council, over which he presided from the time of its establishment until his retirement, the Chief Justice found a field of activity in which to do constructive work in an endeavor to make our judicial system a more effective instrument for justice. With characteristic zeal and enthusiasm he organized the Council and directed the work of initiating changes in the judicial system of the State and reform in practice and procedure. In this, as in every undertaking in which he engaged, he labored unceasingly and effectively.
From 1924 until his death he was a member of the Council of The American Law Institute engaged in the work of simplification and restatement of the common law of the United States. This work of tremendous magnitude and importance, engaging the services of the ablest jurists and legal scholars in the country, was one which made a strong appeal to the Chief Justice, and to it he gave unsparingly of his time and energy. He never missed a meeting of the Council and devoted untold hours of labor to the critical examination and revision of the restatements of the law which were submitted to the Council for approval. Sound learning, discriminating criticism, great industry and marked patience characterized his work, which was recognized as an outstanding contribution to the jurisprudence of this country.
Upon two occasions Judge Wheeler was tendered an appointment upon the Circuit Court of Appeals of the United States for the Second Circuit, which he declined. As a member of the State Council of Defense during the late war he was indefatigable in patriotic services of the highest order. No opportunity for public service and no call of civil duty ever found him unresponsive. He was especially interested in the work of Americanization among our citizens of foreign birth and antecedents and his labors in that field bore abundant fruit.
His public career is a priceless heritage of the State and an incentive and inspiration to all who were associated with him in the many activities in which he rendered such notable service to his city, his state and to the nation.
Judge Wheeler's private life was marked by devotion to his family and loyalty to his friends. His associates cherish memories of innumerable acts of kindness and expressions of sympathy in times of affliction. Many deeds of charity, never disclosed by him, are held in grateful remembrance by the recipients of his bounty.
Judge Wheeler was married July 5th, 1894, to Agnes Leonard Macy, who died August 24th, 1919. Two children, Mrs. W. Parker Seeley and George Macy Wheeler, survive him.
*Prepared by Hon. John W. Banks, of Bridgeport, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 83, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court April 14th, 1909, to take effect September 7th, 1910.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 94, page iv
Appointed Chief Justice February 13th, 1919, to take effect August 8d, 1920.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 111, page iii (also printed in volume 112, page iii)
Retired December 1st, 1930, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 88, pages 733 - 735
RALPH WHEELER, son of Hiram W. and Mary B. Wheeler, was born in Stonington, May 14th, 1843, and died at his home in New London, February 14th, 1913. He traced his ancestry, resident in New London County, through more than two and one half centuries.
The country school to which he went in his boyhood was largely attended and taught by men, and it was his belief that these schools, so taught, played an important part in the formation of strong, resourceful character. He often expressed the fear that modern schools lacked something of the sturdy strength of the schools of that day.
He prepared for college under the instruction of Dr. Thomas Hart at Stonington Borough, and was graduated with honors from Yale College in the class of 1864.
After graduation he was for one year principal of the Academy at Ewington, Ohio, and while there began the study of law in the office of Judge Holman. He returned to his home in Stonington and continued his legal studies in the office of Hiram Appleman at Mystic. He was admitted to the bar in New London County in June, 1867, after which he took up his residence in New London where he practiced his profession with marked success until he was appointed judge of the Superior Court in March, 1893.
Judge Wheeler was not blessed with robust health, but from heredity and environment he acquired a stamina which enabled him to live out the allotted span of life, nearly half a century of which he employed in the study, practice and administration of the law.
The childhood home of Judge Wheeler looked out over the rolling hills of Stonington upon the waters of Long Island Sound. Through these waters from the harbors of New London, Stonington and Mystic, names once known in every important seaport of the world, magnificent ships, built and manned by New England men and boys, went forth to circumnavigate the globe. Among the neighbors of Judge Wheeler in boyhood were the men and boys who built and sailed the merchant marine which made New England famous the world over. This hardy race of men, to whom perils of the sea had few terrors, brought great wealth to the ports of New London County.
During Judge Wheeler’s student days the country was in the midst of those historical contentions involving the fundamentals of government, the rights of man and the life of the Federal Union; then came the appeal to arms—the court of last resort of nations—followed by the period of reconstruction. These supplements to college training made a university indeed. To witness these wonderful events could not fail to make a deep and lasting, impression upon the student mind. Upon Judge Wheeler they had the effect to make him thoughtful and wise. The late Robert Coit said of him just before he was appointed judge of the Superior Court— “He is essentially a wise man.”
At a tender age Judge Wheeler witnessed justice trials, common in those days, conducted by his forebears and neighbors, worthy representatives of that body of men who, with the inheritance of the Common Law of England, succeeded to the dignity of the British esquire. These men not only took an important part in making and in the administration of law, but served a wise and useful purpose in sustaining the majesty of the law in public esteem. It is said that at this time Judge Wheeler had his first dream of forensic effort and determined to be a lawyer—a dream that persisted through the years.
While at the bar Judge Wheeler had a large clientage. His prominence and usefulness were more marked as a counsellor and adviser than as a trier of causes, although he achieved marked success as a trier.
As Mayor of the city of New London from 1891 to 1893, and as a member of the upper house of the General Assembly of Connecticut in 1874, he proved a wise and efficient executive and legislator. He was not fearless, but sensitive, not bold, but courageous, and he did not hesitate when the time for action came. Although he was firm in his convictions he was not opinionated or dogmatic. He was intensely practical and did not allow research to smother reason nor precedent to prevent justice. His directions to the jury were clear, comprehensive and in well chosen phrases. Upon the bench he was patient and courteous toward suitors and members of the bar. He entertained a strong sense of the obligations of attorney to court and client. February 28th, 1884, Judge Wheeler married Mrs. Helen M. Graves of New London, who survives him.
In his boyhood Judge Wheeler was received into the Baptist Church at Mystic, of which he remained a member till his death. Though he was not demonstrative, he attached great importance to religious convictions inculcated in youth. While he believed in religious training, he was not bigoted but tolerant and generous. His religious tenets were few and simple. He once expressed to the writer at the close of a criminal term of the Superior Court in New London, the belief that lack of religious training and conviction in youth tends to degeneracy and crime.
This brief tribute is in keeping with the taste and modest character of its subject.
To the complete exhaustion of physical strength. Judge Wheeler meted out the full measure of duty to the State. From the passing of judgment in an earthly court, he came before the seat of the Most High, who showed His statutes and judgments unto Israel and whose judgments are true and righteous altogether.
After a brief illness, which was more like the rapid lengthening of the shadows at the close of day, he entered the mystery beyond the valley of the shadow.
*Prepared by Hadlai A. Hull, Esq., of the New London County bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 65, pages 561 - 562
In the death of EDWARD S. WHITE, at Norfolk, Va., whither he had gone for a short interval of rest, the Bar of Hartford County and of this State has lost a sterling man, as well as an able lawyer.
Early in December he was confined by a sharp illness, which left him in a weakened condition and from which he was unable to make satisfactory recovery. Over-persistent devotion to his work led him to delay too long the entire rest which was needed, so that a fatal disease had already fastened itself upon him before he reached Virginia. There it developed into typhoid pneumonia and on January 12th, 1895, took his life.
Mr. White, or Judge White as he was familiarly called, on account of his connection for six years with the bench of the Hartford City Police Court, was a farmer's boy, the son of Spencer A. White, a highly respected citizen of Granby, Mass., where the boy, Edward, was born, March 12th, 1848. After preparation in the public schools of his native town and at Wilbraham Academy, he entered Yale University, with the class of 1870, where he maintained a high rank of scholarship. He had charge of the chemical department of General Russell's school, in New Haven, for a year after graduation. For two years he read law at Hartford, in the office of Chamberlin and Hall, was admitted to practice in 1873, and became a member of the firm of Chamberlin, Hall and White. Mr. Hall died in 1877. Two years later the firm became Chamberlin, White & Mills, and so remained until Mr. White's death. He was twice married, his first wife being Miss Alice E. Smith, of Granby, Massachusetts. She died, leaving two daughters, Ruth and Mary, and a son, Henry, and subsequently he married Miss S. Adelaide Moody, of Belchertown, Mass., who died February 13th, 1890, leaving a daughter, Gertrude.
Judge White was in many respects a rare man, --domestic, unassuming and even retiring in his habits and tastes, he was, nevertheless, combative, persistent, and fearless as an adversary. His character was intense, his integrity unwavering. Vigorous in thought and action, often quick and severe in expression, he was yet eminently kind and considerate at heart, quickly forgetting and forgiving all the wounds of heated contests.
He was deeply interested in educational work, serving on the Committee of the Hartford Public High School, and for several terms on the Committee of the School District in which he lived. He was a member of the South Congregational Church in Hartford and "exemplified a high christian ideal in his daily life." He avoided politics and all fraternal organizations, preferring the quiet of his home and the duties and attractions of his own chosen profession.
He occupied a high position in the esteem of his brethren of the bar. He was well read, possessed of an excellent memory, and had well classified and at his command the underlying principles of legal learning. Quick to perceive essential distinctions, he displayed a natural tact in their practical application to the ever varying peculiarities of each day's life and business, and though not possessed of unusual oratorical abilities, his powers in court were great. His researches were exhaustive, his analysis and distinctions clear and clean, and his presentations simple, vigorous and effective. For many years he had been considered a conservative and especially sound business lawyer and adviser. He was by nature and training well adapted for the practical and responsible business position at the Overman Wheel Company, to which he was called in 1893, and to the litigation and finances of which corporation he gave the last two years of his life.
Never possessed of great physical strength, he fell into the common error of excessive work, to which ambition and devotion in a chosen profession often lead. There are no pursuits so exhausting as those which tax heavily the heart and brain, at the same time forbidding the physical activities which are so essential to continued vigor. His devotion to the work or duty at hand overshadowed all selfish and personal inconveniences. With a strong will he rebuked all suggestions of weakness and pain until injured nature required the penalty, and the full fruition of his developed powers, strong character and ripened experience were forever sacrificed.
*Prepared by Hiram R. Mills, Esq., of the Hartford Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 47, pages 615 - 617
HENRY WHITE, of New Haven, died on October 7th, 1880, at the age of seventy-seven years.
His name seldom appears among the counsel in cases reported in these volumes, but he probably tried during the half century of his active professional life more causes as a committee, auditor, or arbitrator, than any other member of the bar.
Mr. White was born and bred in New Haven, where his father, Hon. Dyer White, was a lawyer before him, and a Judge of the Court of Common Pleas.
He was graduated at Yale College in 1821, taking the highest honors of his class, and after spending a year or two in the Divinity School, returned to the Academical Department as a tutor, holding this position from 1823 to 1825.
The next two years were spent at the Yale Law School, and in 1828 he entered the New Haven County Bar.
He had been, from boyhood, of a singularly gentle, modest, and retiring disposition, with none of the gifts of oratory, and little ambition for public distinction.
The only son of a family in easy circumstances, he and they were more anxious that he should make himself a good lawyer, than that he should strive to acquire at once a paying practice.
He comforted the writer of this sketch, when he found himself with little or nothing to do soon after his admission to the bar, by telling him that his own professional income during his first year was precisely six dollars.
The indexes to the land records of New Haven, at this time, were often untrustworthy. In 1832 Mr. White was left executor of a considerable estate, consisting largely of landed property, and his attention was particularly called to this and other difficulties in searching titles. The result was ten years of patient labor, often carried far into the night, in copying and bringing together in convenient form all the grants, devises, distributions and conveyances of land in the town, from the first settlement to the year 1800. This mass of material derived from the town, colonial and court records, was carefully digested and indexed, and, from that time forward, he was able, without going out of his own office, to trace the title to any land in New Haven down to within a few years, if not days. This soon became, in connection with the settlement of estates, the main business of his life, and the same system of investigation was, in several instances, extended to the records of neighboring towns.
He was probably the first Connecticut lawyer who deliberately selected a special line of professional practice as most suited to his tastes and circumstances, and pursued it almost exclusively. It was a bold undertaking in so small a place as New Haven then was, but the result showed that he was fully justified in believing that whoever did this one thing well would find it enough. A certificate of title from his office soon came to be required, as a matter of course, in almost all considerable real estate transactions, and though his customary charges were not predicated on the value of the property, and would seem absurdly small to a New York practitioner, he was so often called upon as to be for many years in receipt of a handsome professional income from this source alone.
For a long period of years Mr. White acted as executor, administrator, guardian, and trustee, more frequently than any other member of the profession in the city. There was probably hardly any large estate settled in the probate district of New Haven, between 1835 and 1875, with which be had not something to do. Two of the leading testamentary cases in this series of reports bear his name--White v. Fisk, 22 Corm., 31, and White v. Howard, 38 Conn., 342--in both of which he sued as executor for the construction of a will.
To these special branches of practice he confined himself closely, never taking part in the trial of contested cases except as a committee, auditor or arbitrator, in which capacity, as has been already said, his services were often sought, and in all parts of the state. His mind was eminently a judicial one, and whoever appeared before him felt that his case had been heard patiently and candidly, and that no pains would be spared to arrive at the right conclusion.
For a short time after the death of Professor Townsend Mr. White gave instruction in the Yale Law School. His style as a writer was clear and simple, and his lectures are spoken of with commendation by those who were then students there.
Mr. White was well known throughout the state as an authority in all matters of local history and family genealogy. He was for many years a Vice-President of the Connecticut Historical Society, and became, upon its formation, the first President of the New Haven Colony Historical Society, contributing two of the most important articles in the first volume of its published Papers. The map of New Haven in 1641, which is prefixed to Atwater's History of the Colony of New Haven, was made up, to a large extent, from data furnished by him. In 1876 he was requested by the Common Council of New Haven to prepare, as one of the memorials of the centennial year, a topographical history of the town, but failing health compelled him to decline.
In one way or another he was identified with most of the older institutions of the city in such positions as President of the Corporation owning Long Wharf, Chairman of the Committee of Proprietors of Common and Undivided Lands, Trustee of the Old Town Farm, and of the Hopkins Grammar School, and Auditor of Yale College.
Mr. White was one of those who, so far at least as human eye can see, seem to be Christians from their cradle. For more than half his life he was a Deacon of the First Church in New Haven, and his religion was an unmistakable part of his daily life. He was also a member of most of the national charitable societies, in which the Congregationalist denomination are especially interested, and long the President of one of them--the Society for promoting Collegiate and Theological Education at the West.
In 1830 he was married to Martha Sherman, a grand-daughter of Roger Sherman, the signer of the Declaration of Independence, and their golden wedding was happily celebrated a few months before his death. Four of his sons are members of the New Haven bar, and during the last few years of his life he left the active business of his office wholly to them, and except in closing up estates with which he was still connected, attempted nothing more serious than such light literary labor as his tastes inclined him to, in pursuing historical researches in his ample library.
At the time of his death he was the father of the bar in his county, a bar numbering a hundred and eighty-four members. When he entered it there were but nineteen lawyers in New Haven, four in Waterbury, and eight in other parts of the county. He long outlived all these, and he outlived also the next professional generation which came after them. He habitually worked late, often till past midnight, never was an early riser, and never took bodily exercise for the sake of exercise, but he probably survived his contemporaries because, without doing less labor, he took life more easily than they. He had not the ordinary conflicts of the bar or the excitement of the public platform to disturb the native serenity of his disposition. He was never in a hurry, and seldom had occasion to be. Kindness and courtesy, gentleness and moderation, belonged to his nature, and there was nothing in his professional life to make him ever forget them. It was a life quiet and peaceful, even in its flow, tranquil in its close.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter by Simeon E. Baldwin, Esq., of the New Haven Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 87, pages 717 - 720
HENRY CHARLES WHITE died at his home in New Haven February 7th, 1914. He was born in Utica, New York, September 1st, 1856, the son of Thomas Broughton White and Catherine Lydia (Stewart) White. His father, who had been a merchant in New York, died when Henry was but four years of age, and his mother two years later. He attended the Academy at Vernon, New York, the Hungerford Collegiate Institute in Adams, New York, and Phillips Exeter Academy, then entered Yale, graduating from the Academic Department in 1881 and from the Yale Law School in 1883, after which he took advanced studies in law and received the degree of Master of Laws in 1884. From that time he was in active practice in New Haven until within two years of his death. In 1889 he formed a partnership with Leonard M. Daggett, and they later associated with them for several years John Q. Tilson, who retired from the firm in 1908, then James Kingsley Blake until his death in 1911, then Thomas Hooker, Jr., and in 1913 the firm of White, Daggett and Hooker was consolidated, under the firm name of Bristol and White, with the firm in which Hon. Henry Stoddard, John W. Bristol and Samuel H. Fisher had been partners.
Qualified by character and temperament as a leader, and schooled from early youth in self-reliance by the early death of his parents, and coming to college somewhat older than his fellows, he from the start drew to himself the confidence, respect and devotion of all those with whom he worked and came in contact. While he always, in college and afterward, took a manly and wholesome interest in athletics and out-door life, and was active socially, yet his strong hold on other men, even in his early days, lay in his serious purpose and his resolution that he should bear his part in the serious work of life. While in college he took active part in the debating of his day, was a speaker at the Junior exhibition, a member of the Skull and Bones Society, a church member and active in church work.
Mr. White was a close student of the principles of municipal government and active in his advocacy of reform measures. From 1886 to 1892 he was an instructor in the graduate school of Yale, giving a course of lectures on the practical problems of municipal government, in 1889 was appointed by the legislature one of a special commission to investigate the New Haven town government, and in 1893 again one of a commission to report a revision of the city charter. The plan for consolidation of the Town, City, and School District governments, adopted in 1897, was largely the product of his labor, and in 1897 and 1898 he served on the newly constituted Board of Finance, by hard and effective work assisting in putting the new plan into successful operation. In 1899 he was appointed on the commission which made the Revision of the General Statutes adopted in 1902 and which at the same time drafted a new corporation law and a law for taxation of banks and insurance companies.
In his earliest years of practice he was employed by the New Haven Taxpayers Association, and later was frequently called upon by groups of public-spirited citizens to act in their behalf for the correction of public abuses. This interested and active service in matters of public concern naturally gave a characteristic color to his private practice. It would have been useless to ask his assistance to defend or perpetuate a wrong. His clients were not of the people who put the gains of commerce above the dignity of the law.
Though successful in trial work, most of his work was outside of the courts; he was often named and accepted as committee by both parties in important cases. Two cases in which he acted as committee, of special importance, in both of which his findings were affirmed by the courts, were: Norwich Gas and Electric Company v. City of Norwich, 76 Conn. 565 (appraisal of property of public service company), and Murdock, State’s Attorney, v. Elliott, 77 Conn. 247 (accounting of trustees of Morgan School in Clinton). Much of his best work was done in matters of great complication, where his real success lay in the prevention of ruinous litigation, and in receivership matters, where clear-headed administration was more valuable to those involved than insistence on technical rights.
He was constantly at work, and in all that he did his success was due to the same qualities, whether the problem was of government, of business, or of human nature. His purpose was always the same, and he always began his work by clearing away the rubbish. Confusion and complication were never a discouragement - they were his opportunity, even his incentive, - and he never wavered in his purpose or feared for the result, for with him the desired result was whatever consequence might follow from patient and honest effort to learn the truth.
In the negotiation of settlements, in the embarrassing differences which, are bound to arise in the administration of both business and charitable organizations, in fact, in all his dealings with other men, Mr. White’s judgment and tact were exerted with unusual force. Always straightforward, always ready to concede good faith on the part of others, always giving to opposing claims their full share of merit, he often opened the avenue to a solution and adjustment acknowledged as satisfactory to all parties. Seldom suspicious of the motives of others, he was seldom met by others in any but a trustful attitude. His unusual quickness, too, to discern and discard what rang false, with a readiness of decision and a willingness to abide its consequences, made him a helpful executive in the conduct of business and other enterprises.
As a reader, he sought and found not only stimulus from those who have thought deeply and spoken clearly, but also the cheering sympathy of those who have brightened the world by their wit. What he read and what he himself thought he translated into simple speech, often driven home by a homely, but forceful, metaphor. His company was sought no less than his advice, and whether in work or recreation, his friendliness was so evident and his own experience of life so rich, that he bound to himself all whom he met. These things are spoken of here especially because they will help one to understand his position at the bar and in our community.
He took an active part in the development of the Trust Company now known as the Union and New Haven Trust Company, was one of its directors and a member of its executive committee, was for many years a director of the First National Bank, of the General Hospital Society of Connecticut, of the Organized Charities, and a trustee of the New Haven Orphan Asylum; since about 1892 had been a member of the State Bar Examining Committee and for several years its treasurer, and one of the Executive Committee of the State Bar Association. For about two years before his death he was unable to give any continued attention to business, but until nearly the last still hoped to get back into the traces and bear his share of the world’s work.
He had been since 1882 a member of Center Church and had filled the office of deacon. Rev. Oscar Maurer, in a sermon delivered the day after Mr. White’s death, paid him a very unusual tribute, closing with these words:—
“There are some characters that are dwarfed by failure. They undertake some task and when they find it will not be successful, they begin to shrink. On the other hand, there are some great souls which seem to gain strength every time they are thrown to the earth. Not only this church alone, but the entire city, is mourning the death of a man who possessed this power. Mr. White knew what it was to suffer failure. Within the last few years again and again some treasured purpose of his has been thwarted by ill health and physical weakness; and yet the true greatness of Henry White’s character was never more visible than during the final weeks of his illness. Many a man in New Haven has gone forth from that bedside feeling that truth and honor and manliness are things worth while; and many a person too, who knew him in his last illness, has gained a new conception of the meaning of immortality, lived in the midst of time.”
Mr. White married May 5th, 1903, Lucy Sophia, daughter of Gustav and Catherine Elizabeth (von Post) Schwab, of New York City, who survives him. He leaves surviving so a sister, Miss Caroline S. White.
*Prepared by Leonard M. Daggett, Esq., of the New Haven County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 43, pages 605 - 606
NELSON LLOYD WHITE, of Danbury, died at that place, on the 17th of November, 1876. He was born in that town on the 7th of April, 1812, in the house so long occupied by his father, Colonel E. Moss White, and which, through the generosity of a member of the family, is now the property of the Danbury Library Association. On the 5th of July, 1836, Mr. White was married to Miss Sarah Booth, daughter of David Booth, Esq., of Kent, who, with four children, survives him. He studied law under the direction of Hon. Reuben Booth, and in 1840 was admitted to the bar of Fairfield County. He was clerk of the State Senate in 1844 and 1845, and in 1847, 1848, and 1849, was Judge of Probate for the district of Danbury. In 1856 he was a delegate to the first Republican National Convention, at Philadelphia. From 1868 to 1874 he was State's Attorney for Fairfield County, and discharged the duties of the office with singular ability and faithfulness. On the breaking out of the rebellion in 1861 he joined the Wooster Guards of Danbury as a private, and drilled in the company at New Haven, but was rejected by the marshal, because his age was beyond the limit fixed by law. Governor Buckingham immediately commissioned him as a field officer in the 4th Connecticut Infantry. This regiment enlisted for three years, was called to the field in May, 1861, was sent into Virginia early in the summer of that year under General Banks, and was afterwards transferred to the 1st Connecticut Artillery, and took part in guarding the defenses at Washington. It was then joined to the siege artillery, and served gallantly in the peninsular campaign, and under General Grant in the siege of Petersburg and Richmond. Mr. White was lieutenant-colonel of his regiment and sometimes served as inspector-general. He was mustered out in 1864. His conduct in the army was uniformly that of a high-toned gentleman. His moral influence and weight of character were felt throughout the regiment, and he was universally honored and beloved by officers and soldiers. His labors in behalf of the great temperance movement, as well in the army as after his return, were rewarded by the benedictions of the wives and children of many men who had been saved from ruin by his example and warnings. He loved his profession ardently, and always stood up in defense of the right. He had peculiar power as an advocate, and sometimes spoke with a fervor that made him a dangerous antagonist before a jury. He was courteous in his demeanor, liberal and unostentatious in his charities, and public-spirited to the full extent of his means. He was fond of having pleasant little chats with his neighbors, and was very sprightly in conversation. He had a temperament eminently hopeful, which could over-ride losses and disappointments in the anticipation of something better. He was devoted to his home and friends. He was fond of books, especially those relating to history and poetry, and his love of flowers and trees amounted to a passion. He was a man of courage--moral, intellectual, and physical. He did not know what fear was in any of the relations of life. He was a man of impulses and intuitions. He never waited to hear the opinions of others in order to modulate the expression of his own and shape them to some private end, but spoke as he thought and thought as he breathed, with a spontaneity vital as his life. His intellect was moved by his sensibilities, and these were in accord with a sense of right which could hardly have forsaken him even in his sleep. Colonel White came of an old colonial family, and lived up to its record. He possessed great personal advantages and a peculiar patrician style and manner, but at the same time seemed unconscious of them. The thought of himself found little place in his sympathetic and impulsive nature, while the kindliness of his heart yielded only to his sense of justice and his fidelity to truth.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Hon. Gideon H. Hollister, of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 81, pages 725 - 726
WASHINGTON FREDERICK WILLCOX was born in Killingworth, Connecticut, August 22d, 1834, and died March 8th, 1909, at Chester, where he had resided for about forty years. He was the oldest son, in a family of nine children, of Hervey and Lydia Wright Willcox. His early training was obtained at the district school and upon his father's farm. Having determined in his boyhood to be a lawyer, he gained his more advanced schooling by his own efforts, by teaching school and manual labor.
After attending private schools in his own and adjoining towns, he finished his preparation for college at the Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven, and in 1858 entered Yale College as a member of the class of 1862. He left college during freshman year, on account of trouble with his eyes which prevented all reading for about a year. He then took the course in Yale Law School, and after graduation and admission to the bar in 1861, practiced his profession at Deep River continuously, his ability early winning for him a large clientage.
Mr. Willcox was prominent in public life for many years. He represented Killingworth in the legislature in 1862 and 1863; was a State senator in 1875 and 1876, being chairman of the judiciary committee each term, and the only Democratic senator from that district during the last fifty years; State's Attorney for Middlesex County from 1875 to 1883; member of Congress from the second district from 1889 to 1893; and chairman of the board of railroad commissioners from 1897 to 1905. In 1907 he was named by the legislature as a member of the public service commission, which reported at the following session in favor of a public utilities commission. For years he was a director and vice-president of both the National and Savings banks in Deep River, and was president of the former at the time of his death. He served the town of Chester as a member of its school board, and in other public capacities; and was a member of the Chester Congregational Church. He was one of the organizers, and in 1902 a vice-president, of the American Bar Association.
He married, January 1st, 1868, Salome C. Denison of Chester who, with two daughters and two sons, survives him. The younger son, Donald D. Willcox, is a member of the Middlesex County bar.
Mr. Willcox was one of the kindest of men, and a most agreeable companion. He performed many quiet and unobtrusive acts of charity and sympathy. He was a careful adviser, and had the judicial temperament to an eminent degree. He regarded the merits of a case rather than its legal technicalities. He hated all sham, pretense and show. His work as a trial lawyer was characterized by careful preparation, self-reliance, persistence and courage. He was a skilful examiner of witnesses, a master of the rules of evidence, and a forceful speaker. He had faith in men, and he was not easily imposed upon. He was upright himself, and believed in the good intentions and possibilities of others.
In the words of the resolutions adopted by the bar on his decease, he possessed a strong character, a rugged integrity and a genius for hard work; and by his death the State has lost an able lawyer, an honorable public servant and a distinguished citizen, who for many years gave the best that was in him to the service of his fellow men.
*Prepared by Rollin U. Tyler, Esq., of the Middlesex County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix pages 22 - 23
born at East-Haddam, Connecticut, September 15th, 1776; commenced the study of law at Hebron, in this State, in June 1795, with John Thompson Peters, late a judge of the supreme court, and read law with him until February 1798, when he was admitted to the bar in Tolland county, and commenced the practice of law, the same year, at Chatham, in this State. From thence he removed to Stafford, in 1800, and in that town pursued the practice of law until March 1808, at which time he removed from Stafford to Tolland, where he has since resided, and still resides.
While he lived in Stafford, he twice represented that town in the General Assembly of this State; and in 1806, was appointed the first postmaster at Stafford Springs, which office he held till he removed to Tolland, in 1808. Since he has resided in Tolland, he has been eight years postmaster in that place, and seven years judge of probate for Stafford district, which contained, during that time, six whole towns and a part of Ellington. In 1824, he was an Elector of President and Vice-President of the United States; and has seven times represented the town of Tolland in the General Assembly of this State; has been two years a member of the Senate of this State; and six years a member of the Senate of the United States, which term expired March 1831. Since that time, he has held no public office, save that of justice of peace, but has pursued, with assiduity, the profession in which he has been so long engaged, and to which he is strongly attached.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix pages 8 - 9
BORN at Wethersfield, June 26th, 1777; educated at Yale-College; graduated in 1794; attended Judge Reeve's lectures, at Litchfield, from March 4th, 1797, until sometime in the summer of 1798 ; then read law with Zephaniah Swift, Esq., of Windham, (afterwards Chief Justice,) from August, 1798, until February 1799, when he was admitted to the bar in Windham county; settled in the practice of the law, at Mansfield; removed to Hartford, in December, 1803. In 1809, he was appointed attorney of the Board of Managers of the School Fund, and held the situation about a year, when the Board itself was superseded, by the appointment of a Commissioner. He represented the town of Hartford, in the General Assembly, October, 1813, October 1815, (when he was appointed Clerk of the House of Representatives,) October, 1816, (and again Clerk) in 1819, 1825, 1827, and 1829. He represented this State, in the fifteenth Congress of the United States, viz., from March 4th, 1817, to March 4th, 1819. In May, 1829, he was appointed an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors, and of the Superior Court; and in May, 1834, he was appointed Chief Justice, from and after the 30th of December, 1834. He was Mayor of the city of Hartford from March, 1831, until April, 1835. In August, 1834, he received from the Corporation of Yale-College the honorary degree of LL. D.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 29, pages 611 - 614
THOMAS SCOTT WILLIAMS, who was Chief Justice of the state from 1834 to 1847, died at his residence in Hartford, on the 15th day of December, 1861, at the age of eighty-four. He was born in Wethersfield, in this State, on the 26th of June, 1777, and was the son of Ezekiel Williams, for many years High Sheriff of Hartford County. At seventeen years of age he graduated at Yale College, and after attending the lectures of Judge Reeve, at the Litchfield Law School, he entered the office of Chief Justice Swift, then at the bar of Windham county, and in 1799 was admitted to the bar of that county. Removing to Hartford in 1803, he commenced his long career of usefulness and honor. He was a member of the General Assembly in the years 1815, 1816, 1819, 1825, 1827 and 1829, and was a representative in Congress from 1817 to 1819. In 1829 he was appointed an Associate Judge of the Supreme Court, and in 1834 Chief Justice of that court, which office he held until the constitutional expiration of his term in 1847, by his attaining the age of seventy. In 1812, he married a daughter of Oliver Ellsworth, Chief Justice of the United States. She died in 1840, and he afterwards married Miss Martha M. Coit, of Boston, who survives him. He leaves no children.
Judge Williams was distinguished when on the bench as a judge of great decision, of vigorous and comprehensive mind, and of great moral excellence. His perfect integrity, and his intrepid assertion of his views of right, commanded the highest confidence of the community, while the determinations of his intellect were regarded as almost infallible. His knowledge of the law was not so much the fruit of constant or extensive reading, as of a thorough study of a few elementary books and the mastery of elementary principles. He seemed to have an almost intuitive perception of the merits of a case, and of the principle which was to be its solvent. He united great modesty and quietness of manner with the utmost firmness. His mind was eminently safe in its operations, as he was never led astray by any false lights from the imagination. He looked wholly at the reality of a thing, and was never disturbed by the gloss which it wore. With all this matter of fact habit of mind and this absence of imagination, he had yet a most genial disposition, and one of the kindest of hearts. His sympathies were warm and active and wide reaching. Few men have been so liberal with their means in helping every good work, and very few have identified themselves personally to such an extent with the cause of Christian benevolence in its various forms. He was long an active member of the American Board of Foreign Missions and of the American Bible Society, and at the time of his death was President of the American Tract Society of New York. He was also a very earnest supporter of the temperance cause. I can not forbear to give here a picture of him in his old age, from a published sermon of Rev. Dr. Hawes, his pastor, preached at Saratoga, a short time before the judge's death, on "The Treasures of a Well Spent Life." It is as follows:
"I may mention, too, another example; it is that of Chief Justice Williams, a member of the congregation to which I minister. He is now in his eighty-fourth year, cheerful, healthy, active, found at the head of his Bible-class every Sabbath morning; always in his place in the sanctuary, and at our occasional meetings; his heart warm and sympathizing as ever in all good objects, and his hand ready to help them forward; his influence, though less public than formerly, hardly less effective and beneficent in the noiseless teachings of a consistent, ripened Christian character. He stands forth a fine example of the rich treasures which a well-spent life gathers around itself in its close, ready to be transferred to enrich the life which is to come."
The Hartford County bar, at a meeting called to express their respect for his memory, passed the following resolutions:
"WHEREAS, After a life of untiring and successful industry, of eminent purity, of great excellence and religious consistency, the Hon. THOMAS S. WILLIAMS, late Chief Justice of this state, has, at a mature and ripe old age, been gathered to his rest; therefore,
"Resolved, That few men have left behind them higher claims to public respect and esteem, and none a stronger hold upon the grateful remembrance of the legal profession, of which he was so long an honored and distinguished member. His industry, untiring zeal and professional ability and integrity; his learning, wisdom and conscientiousness in the administration of the laws; and the purity and excellence of his public and private life, afford an imperishable example to the living, to guide them in the sure paths to honor and happiness, and to a successful and well-spent life.
"Resolved, That in his death this bar has lost one of its most esteemed members; the community in which he lived one ever ready to co-operate and bear his share in promoting its interests and advancing its prosperity; the young a faithful friend, counsellor and guide; the charities of the day and the great benevolent institutions of the age, a systematic, cheerful and liberal supporter; the religious community and the Church an earnest, sincere and devoted Christian, and the world a truly good man."
In bringing into so close proximity these brief notices of Chief Justice Williams and Chief Justice Storrs, both so eminent in the exalted positions which they occupied, it becomes very natural to compare them, and to throw into contrast their more striking individualities. While belonging in common to the list of great chief justices, they were yet very dissimilar. Indeed two men of superior intellects and of the same general tenor of life, could hardly be found more unlike in the leading characteristics of their minds. That of Judge Storrs was polished in the highest degree by classical study and a life-long familiarity with the best English literature, and his utterances were always in the most elegant diction of the schools; the mind of Judge Williams had derived from his collegiate education little but discipline, and he generally spoke and wrote in a condensed and vigorous Saxon, with little regard to the balance of his sentences or the grace of his periods. Judge Storrs had a mind of extraordinary penetration, that could look down the deepest abysses of thought without agitation, and could explore the profoundest depths without losing its way; Judge Williams saw whatever he was looking after without seeming to search for it, the nearer and the remoter all coming before his mind alike, as obvious truths which it was a matter of course for every body to see. The mind of Judge Storrs was stimulated and excited by the adventurous character of any mental exploration; that of Judge Williams found every thing so plain before him that he was never excited by any consciousness of great intellectual effort. Judge Williams came to his conclusions by a single step, and with something like intuition, and looked about afterwards for his reasons, and then, less to satisfy his own mind than to convince his associates on the bench, or the public in his written opinions. Judge Storrs, in seeking his results, moved along down the line of a close logic, and reached his conclusions by a prior consideration of the reasons. I can hardly conceive any thing more exquisite than the movements of his mind, as it was feeling its way along through a maze of perplexities, in the consultations of the judges, which it was my privilege to attend as reporter of the court. Both were men of strong common sense. With Judge Williams this common sense dictated the result and left his reason to defend it; with Judge Storrs logical reasoning worked out the result and then an almost unerring common sense came in to test it, and to prevent the too common mistake of taking what seems a necessary logical conclusion as a safe and correct one in so practical a matter as the administration of justice. The mind of Judge Williams was eminently practical; that of Judge Storrs more inclined to the speculative. The one would have made a successful worker in almost any department of labor that required a vigorous and self-reliant intellect; the other would have made a philosopher of the best age of philosophy. Judge Storrs had read law more extensively and was more familiar with the whole range of law as a science; Judge Williams had dealt with it as a practical thing, rather inhaling it as an atmosphere in which he lived, than systematically pursuing it as a study. Judge Williams rarely hesitated in his conclusions, and if he did, seemed to desire only time for reflection, and to care little for consultation with others; Judge Storrs worked easily to his conclusions, but was always glad to an opportunity to compare his views with those of his brethren. Judge Storrs would sometimes let considerations of policy enter his mind; Judge Williams never. The mind of Judge Williams seemed to work by a law of its own, so that even without the control of his high moral qualities it could hardly have gone astray; that of Judge Storrs seemed to involve the whole aggregate of his faculties, so that with a bad heart he would have made an unsafe judge. When a case seemed to Judge Storrs imperatively to require a decision which some general principle seemed almost as imperatively to forbid, he would find his way to the predestinated result with surprisingly little injury to the general principle. I hardly know what Judge Williams would have done; but I think he would have drawn upon his courage more than upon his ingenuity. The manner of Judge Storrs on the bench was more courteous and affable; the quiet firmness of Judge Williams approached very nearly to sternness; yet the former would often, especially in later years, manifest an impatience under a lengthy argument, that the latter would never have shown under an inexcusably tedious one. Judge Storrs was never very fond of work, and in his later years was a little too much inclined to avoid it; Judge Williams never knew what self-indulgence was, and worked through the allotted hours with no thought of his own ease. Judge Williams must have made an able judge at the outset; to Judge Storrs the training of judicial experience was more necessary. The judicial qualities of Judge Storrs would be called splendid, a term which seems hardly appropriate in such a connection, yet is perfectly applicable here; those of Judge Williams were great in the true sense of the term, but with no quality of brilliancy. Both brought honor to the exalted office which they held, and have left to their associates and to the profession, not merely great examples for imitation, but a burden of increased responsibility in preserving the high character of the judicial office.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 7, page iii
Appointed [Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] May 1829.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 10, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice in May, 1834, to hold the office from and after the 30th of December 1834.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 18, page iii
Resigned May, 1847.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 18, pages 254 - 256
AT the meeting of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Errors, at Hartford, in November, 1846, for the purpose of revising their opinions in the cases decided by them the preceding summer, the Associate Judges deemed it a suitable occasion, the last that would occur under the same circumstances, to give the Chief Justice an abiding and appropriate testimonial of the estimation in which he was held by them. They accordingly presented him a copy of Storey's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, in three volumes, elegantly bound, accompanied by the following inscription: THESE VOLUMES ARE PRESENTED TO THE HONOURABLE Thomas S. Williams, CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT OF CONNECTICUT, BY THE ASSOCIATE JUDGES, as a token of their respect and veneration for his many virtues as a citizen, and his distinguished purity and abilities as a Judge, as well as an expression of their obligations to him for the courtesy and kindness which they have ever received from him.
Hartford, Nov. 19th, 1846.
HENRY M. WAITE,
WILLIAM L. STORRS,
To this communication the following answer was returned:
"Hartford, Nov. 20th, 1846.
The Hon. SAMUEL CHURCH,
" HENRY M. WAITE
" WILLIAM L. STORRS and
" JOEL HINMAN.
Upon going to my house, after we parted, I was much surprised to find on my table a splendid copy of Storey's Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States; and, upon opening it, was still more surprised with the note accompanying it. A token so unexpected from those with whom I have been so long associated, adds another proof of the respect and kindness which I have ever received from you, and each of you.
I know that my duties have been very imperfectly discharged, although my sincere desire has been to perform them aright.
This testimonial of your approbation is a cordial to my heart, and I shall carry it with me into my retirement, cheered with the consolation that my endeavours to discharge the high trust with which I have been honoured, have not been entirely in vain, since they have met with the approval of those who have had your means of observing them.
Friends and associates, farewell! Although I meet you no more in counsel, I shall watch, with kind solicitude, your results; and pray, that guided by wisdom and integrity, your path may be like that of the just, shining brighter and brighter unto the perfect day.
I am, with great respect,
Your friend and obedient servant,
TH. S. WILLIAMS."
During the session of the General Assembly, in May, 1847, Chief Justice WILLIAMS, in view of the approaching period when the constitutional limitation would disqualify him for the exercise of judicial functions, resigned his office; and the HON. SAMUEL CHURCH was appointed to succeed him in the office thus made vacant. The Hon. WILLIAM W. ELLSWORTH was thereupon appointed to fill the vacancy occasioned by the promotion of Judge Church.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 105, pages 777 - 780
WILLIAM HENRY WILLIAMS, son of Elisha and Laura (Baldwin) Williams, was born in Bethany, in this State, on June 7th, 1850.
After spending his early boyhood working upon farms in Bethany and Durham, he found employment in the Alling Woolen Mills which were then located in the town of Orange. He next engaged in peddling and drove a tin-peddler’s wagon about the southerly central section of the State. He later returned to farming, taking employment upon a farm located in that part of Bethany which is now a part of Beacon Falls.
On September 12th, 1870, shortly after having passed his twentieth birthday, he gave up his employment on the farm in Beacon Falls, went to Seymour and began the study of law with the late Judge Harris B. Munson, who, in addition to being an active practitioner of the law, was a large land and live-stock owner and carried on the business of general farming in a manner that was extensive for those times. The embryo lawyer lived in Judge Munson’s family, caring for the stock upon the farm and helping with the farm work in payment for his tuition and board. His opportunity to go to school was of the most meager character. It is doubtful if it can be said that he attended any school whatever.
During the third year of his study of the law he began the trial of cases before justices of the peace. Upon the completion of the third year of study Judge Munson endeavored to get together the board of examination, as it was then called (which consisted of eight lawyers), for his examination. Being unable to accomplish this before the adjournment of the September term of the court in 1873, his admission to the bar was delayed until January 6th, 1874.
Upon admission to the bar he established himself in practice in the town of Seymour, and during the years of 1878 and 1879 he maintained a branch office in Naugatuck. From April 1st, 1880, to April 1st, 1885, he maintained an office in Birmingham, now Derby, and also the Seymour office.
On April 1st, 1885, the late Chief Justice David Torrance having then become a Judge of the Superior Court, retired from the firm of lawyers located in Derby of which he was then a member. This was the firm consisting of Col. William B. Wooster, Col. David Torrance and Edwin B. Gager, Esq., all distinguished lawyers and widely and most favorably known. Judge Williams had gained a substantial clientele and had established a reputation as a lawyer of marked ability, a sound adviser, thorough in the preparation and trial of causes. He was invited to become a member of this firm and upon the date of the retirement of Judge Torrance, the firm became Wooster, Williams and Gager. This firm continued to enjoy the exceptional reputation that its predecessor had established. After about ten years Col. Wooster retired and the firm became Williams and Gager and continued as such until 1901 when Judge Gager was appointed a Judge of the Superior Court, later to become a Justice of the Supreme Court of Errors. Upon the retirement of Judge Gager from the firm, Judge Williams associated with him Edward A. Harriman. Esq., previously of the Chicago bar, which association continued until March 25th, 1909, when Judge Williams became a Judge of the Superior Court, having been appointed upon the nomination of Governor George L. Lilley.
Judge Williams avoided public office other than office immediately identified with his profession. In 1874, directly after his admission to the bar, he was appointed a prosecuting agent for those towns lying in the Naugatuck valley below Waterbury, including the towns of Southbury, Oxford and Milford. This office he held for nearly four years. In the discharge of the duties of this office he early displayed those qualities of courage, thoroughness, and conscientious administration of the law that characterized his entire life. He became State’s Attorney for New Haven County on January 7th, 1896, which office he held until he became a Judge of the Superior Court, a period extending a little over thirteen years. In this office he was a most vigorous and thorough prosecutor, sometimes referred to as “the terror of evil doers.” Yet with one who had fallen into error and who desired “to set his house in order,” and “to go right,” Judge Williams had a discerning sympathy and to such his encouragement and help were extended.
As a Judge of the Superior Court he brought to the bench a wide knowledge of the law, the result of most persistent and conscientious study and of a very active and extended practice. Here the same traits of industry and conscience were employed that had characterized his whole life and he became universally recognized as an able and just judge. On December 7th, 1915, shortly after having adjourned for the day a session of the criminal side of the Superior Court at Bridgeport, and while on his way home, he suffered a severe shock which rendered him an invalid, seriously affecting his speech and his ability to walk. From this affliction he recovered only sufficiently to get about and keep in touch with the activities of the courts and the members of his profession, in both of which he continued to evidence a lively interest. He never again, however, presided in court, but upon the expiration of his term, March 25th, 1917, he retired from judicial office with the sympathy, affection and respect of the entire bench and bar. On the morning of June 10th, 1926, a fall in his home caused a fracture of his hip which aggravated his condition caused by the earlier shock. He endured the few days which followed with patient resignation and on July 1st, 1926, he calmly approached the Great Beyond.
Probably his reputation was greatest as a sound adviser and as a trial lawyer. In preparation and trial no detail escaped his attention. In examination and cross-examination of witnesses and in argument he was incisive and clear.
He was an indefatigable worker, “the midnight oil” being in almost constant use. He was devoted to his profession and entertained a keen appreciation of its ethics, especially with reference to his duty to clients and his obligations to the court.
While his educational advantages were most limited, he overcame this handicap and gained a position as one of the leaders of the bar of the State. His practice took him into the courts of the counties in the central and western parts of the State and in these counties he participated in many of the most important trials, both civil and criminal.
Judge Williams had a keen sense of humor. He enjoyed good literature, travel, music, tragedy and drama of the better type. He abhorred sham and hypocrisy. He was generous and kind. He knew life and he felt the common touch; there was no one too poor or humble for him to receive and help, provided his condition was not the result of some vicious quality within himself.
He was prominent in Oddfellowship and had traveled in Masonry. He was a regular attendant at the Second Congregational Church of Derby, and was generous in the support of all of its activities.
Judge Williams was three times married. Iris Munson, daughter of Judge Munson with whom he studied, survived only a little more than a year after their marriage. On June 17th, 1878, he married Eleanor A. Johnson, of Oxford, who deceased March 31st, 1900, and on September 18th, 1901, he married Helen E. Bailey, of Groton, who survived him.
He was a most excellent example of a self-made man.
*Prepared by Hon. Alfred C. Baldwin of Derby, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 13, appendix page 12
was admitted to the Bar, in Litchfield, in April, 1839; having read law with David C. Sanford, Esq., and immediately commenced practice here [New-Milford].
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 131, pages 727 - 728
Abraham Wofsey was born in Russia in 1889 and came to this country at the age of seventeen. He devoted a good portion of his youth to educational pursuits, and the improvement of his mind was uppermost in his thoughts throughout his life. The pressure and necessity of earning a livelihood while obtaining his legal education proved no insurmountable obstacle either to his scholastic attainments while at college or to his subsequent admission to the bar. He received his legal education at New York University Law School, from which he was graduated cum laude in 1913. Admitted to practice in Connecticut in 1914, he came to Stamford in the fall of that year and throughout his legal career maintained his office there. In 1922, he became associated in practice with Samuel Gordon, and in 1933 formed an association in the practice of law with his brother, Michael, which continued until the time of his death December 27, 1944.
In 1918, Abraham Wofsey was appointed assistant prosecuting attorney of the City Court of Stamford and through progressive steps advanced to the respective position of prosecutor and judge of the City Court, which he fulfilled with integrity, outstanding ability, devotion to a public trust and fairness and justice to both the individual and the state. Possessing a keen, brilliant and analytical mind and loving his profession, he became an outstanding lawyer and won the respect of his brethren at the bar throughout the state. His good judgment, vision and sound logic made him a safe adviser. He excelled in the ability to present his arguments and facts with tact, dignity and patience. He was earnest and sincere in his efforts to avoid litigation on behalf of his clients where results could otherwise be obtained, and by his fairness, logic, and persuasion often solved the most perplexing problems to the mutual advantage of all concerned. He never talked down to anyone and was a good listener, quick to appreciate another's point of view. He was able to express, with entire clarity, his conclusions in an argument or a brief. He derived the utmost satisfaction from a job thoroughly done, regardless of his client's ability to pay for the time consumed. His experience, energy and helping hand were always at the disposal of the younger members of the bar, many of whom came to him for guidance and advice.
As a citizen, his life abounded in service and friendships. Charity, kind words and thoughtful deeds, both in private and public life, marked his every move. He was a leading member of the Jewish commonwealth, both locally and nationally, and headed a great many of the philanthropic, religious and cultural undertakings. He likewise devoted much of his brief, unselfish life to furthering worthwhile civic enterprises, and at the time of his death was actively and conscientiously serving as secretary of the Stamford Consolidation Commission.
He is survived by his wife, Emma Bluming, whom he married in 1914; by two sons, Earl J., a member of the armed forces of the United States and himself an attorney at law, and Robert, a student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and by his daughter, Sybil, a graduate of Michigan University.
Judge Wofsey will perhaps be longest remembered for his capacity for making and keeping friends. Rarely has there been a member of the Connecticut bar and of the community in which he lived whose death has so sincerely affected so many people in so personal a way. His character and ability would have entitled him to profound respect, but the feeling which most men had for him went far deeper than that. It was a spontaneous tribute to a kindly, learned and cultured gentleman whose natural courtesy and friendliness were at once a distinction and a happiness. He lived in accordance with the true law of life. He loved God and was faithful to his country and honest with his neighbor.
*Prepared by Samuel Gordon, of the Stamford bar.
As Printed in Day's Reports, volume 2, pages vii
[Note from a table of the members of the Supreme Court of Errors, from the organization of that court in 1784, until the transfer of its powers to the nine judges of the Superior Court in 1807]
Elected lieutenant-governor, in 1787; governor, in 1796; and died December 1, 1797.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 126, pages 728 - 729
Isaac Wolfe was born in the city of New Haven on November 2, 1859, the son of Cerf Wolfe and Mina Wolfe. His parents moved to this country from Alsace, Germany, in the year 1848. His early boyhood days were spent in that section of New Haven known as "The Hill" where as a youth he attended the old South School until he reached the age of twelve years.
Upon leaving school he secured employment at the New Haven Register where he worked as a printer's apprentice, and after having served his apprenticeship he became a qualified printer, and in the course of time rose to the position of foreman in the composing-room. While employed by the New Haven Register, he attracted the attention of the Hon. Samuel A. York who was editor of the New Haven Register, and through the influence of Judge York, he attended the Yale Law School while employed at the Register and graduated from this school in 1887, at which time he was admitted to practice. Upon admission to the bar, he became associated with Judge York, where he practiced under the guidance of Judge York, and later on became associated as a partner with Samuel A. York, Jr.
While employed at the Register and while attending Yale Law School, he was elected to the common council of the city of New Haven and later became president of that body. In 1889 he was elected representative from the city of New Haven to the General Assembly. Later on in life after his retirement from the bench, he was a delegate from New Haven to the state ratification convention in 1933.
Twenty years after his admission to the bar, he succeeded his close friend, Hon. Jacob Ullman, as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas for New Haven County serving with great distinction in this capacity. It was here that he realized the need of a helping hand for the younger lawyers who tried their cases for the most part in this court. He was indeed sympathetic and kind to all young and inexperienced attorneys and his office was always open from the time he took the Common Pleas bench until the date of his death to discuss the problems which necessarily confronted those who were starting in practice.
In the year 1920 Governor Marcus Holcomb appointed him to the Superior Court, which appointment he held until he reached the constitutional age limit in November, 1929. He was the first member of the Jewish faith to become a Judge of the Superior Court and he acquitted himself upon the bench in a manner that acquired for him thousands of admirers throughout the state and during his life as a Superior Court judge, he rendered untiring, devoted and excellent service to the people of the State of Connecticut.
Upon his retirement from the bench, he became a state referee but retirement to him was only a word because he continued to carry on as a state referee working constantly in that capacity and assisting the judges of the Superior Court in carrying on the many burdens heaped upon them. The work on the bench seemed to be his chief source of happiness.
His civic activities were numerous. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut State Bar Association and the New Haven County Bar Association, and in the latter he played an unusually active part. He was secretary of the Yale Law School class of 1887, a director of the Union & New Haven Trust Company, the New Haven Hospital, the New Haven Chamber of Commerce, the New Haven Community Chest, the Young Men's Hebrew Association, the Jewish Welfare Society of New Haven and the Yale Law School Alumni Association. He was a member of the advisory committee of the Visiting Nurses' Association, chairman of the Committee on Professional Ethics of the New Haven Bar and a member of the Congregation Mishkan Israel.
In his chosen profession he manifested a keen interest. As a lawyer and jurist he labored to the end that justice might at all times prevail. He understood human problems and emotions. He possessed an uncanny faculty of reaching a practical solution to the many problems that confronted him. None of us will forget his smile of satisfaction when he had successfully adjusted litigation that had all the indicia of bitter controversy, tedious days of trial, the costly appeal and all that procedure which usually left the victor with a naked legal right but very little in substance. He taught lawyers the lesson of give and take and the value of compromise. He loved to send litigants on their way with the feeling that the utmost sympathy and attention had been given to all their grievances and that they had parted good friends rather than lifelong enemies.
He treasured more than anything else in life the many friendships he had made throughout the bench and bar of the State of Connecticut. His kindly nature, his sympathetic understanding, his devotion to duty and his simple, sincere, humble manner won for him the love and respect of all who knew him. Their friendships to him made life really worth while; nothing was dearer; nothing more cherished. Is there a richer or more priceless heritage?
*Prepared by Thomas R. FitzSimmons, of the New Haven bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 54, pages 596 - 598
GEORGE CATLIN WOODRUFF was born on the first day of December, 1805, in that portion of the town of Litchfield known as South Farms, which has since been incorporated under the name of Morris. The eldest son of Major General Morris Woodruff and Candace Catlin, he was the fruit of the union of two of the oldest families of Litchfield County, families on both sides illustrious in the annals of that county.
His early education was pursued at the then famous Morris Academy, where he fitted for college. Entering Yale in 1821, he graduated four years later among the foremost scholars of his class. After graduation he studied his profession under Judge Gould at the Litchfield law school. Wishing to select a favorable place for the practice of his profession he took, for those days, an extensive journey through the Ohio valley, but finally deciding upon Litchfield as his home, he opened an office there in 1827. From that time on Mr. Woodruff took a leading position at the bar of Litchfield county, gradually rising until he became its acknowledged head. This of itself is no small praise when speaking of a bar that was second to none in the state, where in early life he was daily thrown into conflict with those giants in our profession, the two Churches, Huntington, Bacon, Smith, and others of their able contemporaries. Early sought out by his fellow citizens for offices of public trust almost every official duty that could be performed by an American citizen was at various times confided to him-justice of the peace, grandjuror, postmaster, town treasurer, town clerk, bank director and president, clerk of the Superior Court, colonel in the militia, member and clerk of the General Assembly, judge of probate, member of congress-the duties of each in turn performed with that rigid exactness and scrupulous integrity which marks the perfect man. As a member of the thirty-seventh Congress he served with distinction on the committee on public lands, his exact legal training fitting him to be of special use to the country in legislation affecting the lands and titles of our public domain. As chairman of the judiciary committee in our own state legislature his legal talents had a wide range of topics and more clearly demonstrated his varied learning. To him the state at large owes many of the best features of the revision of our statutes adopted in 1875. In 1873 he was elected by the senate a judge of the Superior Court, but owing to the influence of "King Caucus" his election was not concurred in by the House, and a life devoted to the legal profession was denied this crowning honor.
As a lawyer Mr. Woodruff was prominent in those branches where certainty is possible. The law of real property, of descent, of construction of statutes, was to him an exact science. He searched the books for principles and authorities with an industry that never tired till the end was reached. He began the trial of a cause with every point guarded, and if the evidence sustained his theory, or an adversary inadvertently granted his premise, then his law, his authorities, his logic were incontrovertible. It was in the trial of questions of law, the drier and more abstruse the better, that his most consummate skill was shown. In the Supreme Court of Errors not infrequently his entire argument was written out with the most pains-taking care.
That all classes of people should implicitly trust Mr. Woodruff was natural. That confidence was begotten of an honesty, a faithfulness, a zeal that was unswerving. No better proof of this could exist than the fact that at some time he was not only the counsel for every town in Litchfield county but of many of the towns in adjoining counties.
It need hardly be said of Mr. Woodruff that he was a religious man; few gain the highest rank in our profession without being such, so firmly are the everlasting principles of law and equity based on the justice and love of God. In his personal character he was the embodiment of the best elements of Puritanism-a democrat in politics because he believed not only in man's ability to govern himself, but in the absolute duty of self-government, he carried the same principle into his religion and his worship. A Congregationalist by instinct and education, he not only believed in the principles of Congregational government, but his sturdy manhood could brook no interference with its exercise. The liberty of worshipping God after the dictates of his own conscience was to him no meaningless phrase. To him the fatherhood of God was man's proudest claim to manhood. In his intercourse with his fellow men he was quiet, unobtrusive, reserved; he was of that honesty that loathes dishonesty, of that truth that hates a lie, of that manliness that despises a sham. To him life was duty, duty life. Even his pleasures were tinted in that hue. Fond of nature, it was after all in his garden and orchard, gathering their fruits, rather than skeptically examining the mysteries of nature's laboratory, that his greatest pleasure was found. His favorite reading was history, and he was himself the author of a history of Litchfield; genealogies delighted his leisure hours.
Of Mr. Woodruff's domestic life, pleasing a picture as it presents, crowned as it was by a golden wedding, this is not the place to speak, and yet there is one feature of it so intimately connected with his professional life and which had so powerful an effect upon it, that a word may not be amiss. Early in life he married a sister of the late Chief Justice Seymour, and Judge Seymour married the only sister of Mr. Woodruff. Side by side these gentlemen lived and practised their profession. Sometimes as associates, and again as opponents, so zealously contended each for the rights of his client, that jealousy itself never harbored a suspicion that all honorable means were not used to succeed. These conflicts were often close and exciting, and yet their friendship was never broken; rather was their esteem increased as their days lengthened. Such contests left each combatant stronger, better able to serve his clients and the state.
Mr. Woodruff died at Litchfield on the 21st day of November, 1885, in his eightieth year. In whatever relation of life one looks at him, as citizen, as neighbor, in private life or public station, as counsellor or judge, he was one of the best products of our American civilization.
Strong and hale up to his last sickness, possessed of the respect and esteem of all, every faculty perfect, he passed away, leaving one more of those noble examples of which our bar and state may justly be proud.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 54, pages 603 - 606
DEXTER RUSSELL WRIGHT. who died in New Haven, July 23d, 1886, was a member of the New Haven County Bar for nearly forty years. He was born at. Windsor, Vt., June 27th, 1821. The days of his childhood were passed in and near St. Lawrence County, N. Y., where his father was engaged in the milling and lumber business.
Mr. Wright was prepared for college and entered the Wesleyan University at Middletown, where he graduated in the year 1845. After teaching school, as principal of the Meriden academy, for a short time after his graduation from college, he entered the Yale law school at New Haven, from which he graduated in 1848. While a member of the law school, he was a clerk in the office of E. K. Foster, Esq., of New Haven. He was admitted to the bar in the fall of 1848, and opened an office at Meriden, where he continued to practice until 1862, with the exception of a brief period of business and legal experience with the pioneers of California in 1850 and 1851.
In November, 1863, Mr. Wright opened a law office in New Haven, and continued in the active practice of his profession in that city from that time until his decease. While in Meriden Mr. Wright had much experience as the counsellor of many of the leading business men and corporations of that growing town, and his early practice there made him a thoroughly well-equipped business man's lawyer. He came to New Haven with a good reputation which he had earned by hard work in Meriden, and a large and lucrative practice soon came into his hands from many prominent business firms of New Haven and vicinity.
Mr. Wright, during his long and busy career as a lawyer, was one of the hardest workers in the profession. Devoted to the interests of his clients he neglected no opportunity to protect them. His mind was naturally logical, and his tenacious memory enabled him to hold at command the leading principles of the common law and the decisions of the courts. He rarely counselled litigation if the rights of his clients could be fairly protected by an honorable settlement. In his early life he had been an extensive reader of the best English literature, and his command of the English language was remarkable. His briefs for the Supreme Court were prepared with great neatness, skill, and ability. His urbanity to his fellow members of the legal profession and his courtesy to the court and jury were marked. His commanding form and fine carriage, added to his learning and eloquence, gave him much influence in all his forensic arguments, with both court and jury.
Mr. Wright began life as a democrat, and was a warm adherent of the principles of that party as they were declared in the period prior to 1861. In 1849 he was elected to the state senate from the sixth senatorial district, being supported by both the democrats and free-soilers, who in that election united upon many of the congressional and legislative candidates for office. During the next few years he was frequently considered as a coming candidate of the democratic party for congress from the second congressional district. In the election of 1860 Mr. Wright agreed with those democrats who, under the lead of the Hartford Times, supported the nomination of Senator Breckenridge of Kentucky for the presidency, but when in the following winter the secession of the southern states began, he, and his long-time intimate friend in business and politics, Charles Parker of Meriden, discussed the grave situation of public affairs, and their loyalty and devotion to the cause of the Union were such that when Fort Sumter was fired upon in April, 1861, both of them became attached to the cause of the war for the Union. Mr. Wright made several speeches in support of the government, and with Mr. Parker, James T. Pratt, Roger Averill, and other democrats, made earnest efforts to bring the democratic party of the state firmly and decidedly to the support of the administration at Washington in its efforts to preserve the Union. In this effort they were partially successful for a time, and in May, 1862, Mr. Wright was commissioned as lieutenant colonel of the 14th regiment then being organized at Hartford. In August, 1862, he received a commission as colonel of the 15th or New Haven county regiment of Connecticut volunteers. Col. Wright took this regiment to Washington, and with great zeal, and by hard study, soon made it one of the most promising of the new regiments stationed in or about that city in the fall of 1862. Four other regiments were brigaded with the 15th, and Col. Wright, as senior colonel, had command of the brigade thus provisionally formed. Gen. Casey, then in command of the defenses of Washington, admired Col. Wright's ability, which displayed itself in constant thoughtfulness and care for the men of his command, and also by hard study of text books and military tactics both in theory and in practice. His headquarters tent was constantly a place for study, and the military instruction of field and line officers. Gen. Casey promised Mr. Wright all his influence for the early bestowal of a commission as brigadier general, and had the latter possessed the political influence of many men who were his inferiors in other respects, he would doubtless have received the star then so much coveted by every colonel in the service. Mr. Wright, however, was then known only as a union democrat and he had no political influence with the leading men of the republican party either in Connecticut or Washington.
Early in December, 1862, Col. Wright was directed to take his brigade to Fredericksburg. Although he had been recently injured by being overturned in an ambulance while riding near the railroad which ran from Washington to Alexandria, he led his brigade promptly to Falmouth, and there reported for further duty. To the surprise of the 15th regiment and its colonel, the brigade which Gen. Casey had formed was broken up, and Col. Wright found his regiment attached to one of the older, but numerically weaker brigades, with but little prospect of receiving a commission as brigadier general. He was under the command of men younger than himself, and with less ability, except that they had had a few more months of military experience. After a few months Col. Wright found himself still suffering from the injury he had received near Alexandria, and also from sickness contracted by exposure in Burnside's futile movements near Fredericksburg, and in March, 1863, he resigned his commission by the advice of his surgeon, and returned to Meriden. Here he threw himself into the cause of the union republican party as an orator in the campaign then in progress between the democrats, with Thomas H Seymour as their candidate upon a peace platform, and William A. Buckingham as the candidate of the republican party. Mr. Wright was nominated by the republicans of Meriden as their candidate for representative, and was elected by a handsome majority. During the sessions of May and November, 1863, he acted as chairman of the committee on military affairs, which, during the civil war, was considered, with the exception of the judiciary committee, the most important in the Assembly. Mr. Wright, through the whole of that session and the extra sessions of November, 1863, and January, 1864, was one of the acknowledged leaders in a house which contained such men as Chauncey F. Cleveland, John T. Adams, John S. Rice, David Gallup, Alfred Coit, William W. Eaton, James Gallagher, Harris B. Munson, and others. A long debate, continuing for many days, was conducted by these gentlemen over resolutions denouncing the arrest of Clement L. Vallandingham of Ohio, and eloquent speeches were made concerning the powers of the federal government in the prosecution of the war, and it was conceded that that made by Mr. Wright was the most logical and eloquent of all. Mr. Wright reported the bills at the extra sessions of the Assembly for the organization of colored regiments from Connecticut, and the 29th and 30th regiments were organized under the provisions of the bill reported by him.
In the summer of 1863 Mr. Wright was made a commissioner of the enrollment board for the second congressional district, acting with the late Dr. Park as surgeon, and Captain Richard A. Clark as provost marshal. He filled this office with general acceptance to the government and the public until the termination of the war. From this time Mr. Wright allied himself with the republican party and became one of its recognized leaders in the state.
As a presiding officer he had no superiors and few equals; he was president of the convention of 1866 which nominated Joseph R. Hawley for governor. He was devoted to public affairs as a citizen of New Haven, and for several years was a member of the board of common council and of the board of aldermen. In 1872 and 1873 he was corporation counsel of the city of New Haven; from 1865 to 1869 he was assistant U. S. district attorney for Connecticut; in 1878 he was elected as representative from the town of New Haven to the General Assembly, and at the session of January 1879 was elected speaker of the House of Representatives, which position he filled with signal ability and with great popularity. In 1880 and 1884 he heartily supported the nominations of James A. Garfield and James G. Blaine for the presidency. During all these years, while he was interested in public and political affairs, Mr. Wright never neglected his duty to his clients nor his earnest work in his profession.
As a citizen of Meriden in his early life, and of New Haven in later years, Col. Wright was always deeply interested in the improvement, growth and prosperity of those cities; he served upon several public boards connected with the local government, and was frequently a commissioner having charge of the erection of public buildings.
He was married, February 3rd, 1848, to Miss Maria H. Phelps, daughter of Col. E. L. Phelps of East Windsor, Conn., and had six children, four of whom survive him. His youngest son, Arthur B., who was admitted to the New Haven county bar in 1884, practiced his profession in the same office with his father until the death of the latter.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Lynde Harrison, Esq., of the New Haven Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 161, pages 612 - 613
After several years of retirement, on August 19, 1971, Kenneth Wynne, a former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Connecticut, died. His last years had been spent at his home in Woodbridge.
The son of Attorney John F. Wynne and Henrietta Barnes Kinney Wynne, his long and active life commenced on May 6, 1888, in Unionville, Connecticut. Shortly thereafter the Wynne family moved to New Haven, where the elder Wynne opened an office for the practice of law.
Kenneth Wynne attended the New Haven public schools and, after graduating from the New Haven High School, was engaged in newspaper work as a reporter until he entered the Yale Law School. Before graduating from the law school in 1910, he was a member of its debating team and on the board of the Yale Law Journal. He was admitted to the Bar in 1910. In 1913 he was clerk of the State Senate; in 1923 he was appointed assistant city attorney for New Haven. He also served as acting coroner for New Haven County.
The years when Kenneth Wynne was most active is the political arena were those following his graduation from law school and those commencing with the political changes of the 1930's. In each of these periods, during which the Democratic Party made profound changes in the political atmosphere of the state, he was the executive secretary of a Democratic governor, Simeon E. Baldwin in 1914 and 1915, and Wilber L. Cross from 1931 to 1935.
Kenneth Wynne and his father maintained an active law practice in New Haven under the firm name of Wynne and Wynne until his father's death in 1921; thereafter, until appointed a Judge of the Superior Court, he practiced in association with other attorneys and became a member of a partnership with the late Herbert L. Emanuelson.
His broad experience made him particularly qualified for service on the Superior Court Bench, which he graced from 1936 to 1953, when he became a Justice of the Supreme Court. He served as the Chief Justice from 1957 to his retirement in 1958 at the age of seventy.
On the bench, he was noted for his constant courtesy, maintaining decorum in the courtroom without seeming to be strict or solemn. His ability to see the humorous aspects of life never deserted him, and he was replete with amusing anecdotes. He was ever aware of the vicissitudes of life and had full comprehension of the problems of the litigants as well as of the attorneys who appeared in his court. His decisions were succinct and incisive, reflecting a complete memory of the facts with few, if any, notes.
Kenneth Wynne was particularly proud of his family, with all of whom he maintained a close relationship. He was, indeed, a modern paterfamilias. His beloved wife, Mary Fielding Wynne, of Derby, survives him, as do his six children. He left four daughters, Mrs. William J. Secor, Jr., of Middlebury, Mrs. R. William Bohonnon, of Guilford, Mrs. George Giggon, of Ridgewood, New Jersey, and Betsey Wynne, of Southbury; two sons, Kenneth Jr., of North Haven, and John F., of Woodbridge; and a brother, Donald Wynne, of Port Chester, New York. It was a source of great satisfaction to him that two of his sons-in-law were members of the Bar, that his son John was carrying on the family tradition by practicing law in New Haven in the third generation, and that the practice of law in Waterbury by W. Fielding Secor carries the family tradition into the fourth generation. He was survived by nineteen grandchildren.
Judge Wynne was an avid reader, excellent conversationalist, and especially gifted as a correspondent. He made notable contributions to legal periodicals.
Optimism and humility were his hallmarks. The most lowly and humble, as well as the political and business leaders of the state, were, without regard to party affiliation, the recipients of his friendship and consideration.
He served Connecticut and its people well. His memory will survive the lives of those with whom he came in contact.
*Prepared by J. Warren Upson, of the Waterbury bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 140, page iii
Appointed to Supreme Court May 7, 1953, to take effect October 26, 1953.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 144, page iii
Appointed Chief Justice April 5, 1957, to take effect upon the retirement of Hon. Patrick B. O'Sullivan.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 145, page iii
Retired May 6, 1958, under constitutional limitation as to age.
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