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clothing, it would be wearisome to tell and much more so to hear. But by the kindness of neighbors, whose names shall ever remain fresh in my memory, we suffered less than we expected.
Previous to removing to Geneva, Doct. McNish and myself made claim to a tract of land on the South bank of Geneva Lake, jointly, it being in part the present farm of General J. W. Boyd in Linn, and at the land sale in February following, we purchased it. That fall the Doctor put up and moved into a small house on his portion of this land, I intending to build and move onto my part in a year or two, but this purpose I never accomplished.
Change of climate and the labors incident to my journey and new mode of life, had restored in a considerable measure my health, so that I was enabled to some extent to resume the practice of my profession, which I found necessary to the support of my family.
I was, as I believe, the first lawyer who moved into the county and I venture to say that for at least six months, and perhaps a year, after my arrival, there was not a law book in the county except an old Michigan Statute book owned by Esq. McKaig. At least to my knowledge there was not. During this time, without any law books or jail, law and justice were administered under some disadvantages, and not as was laid down in Blackstone or Kent. As illustrative of this, I will briefly mention the first lawsuit, as I think ever tried in Walworth county. It was a criminal prosecution against two men by the name of Huff from near Bullen's Bridge, Fox River, who had been to Geneva to mill. On their return they stole an ox from P. K. VanVelzer, slaughtered him on their way home and hid the meat under their flour bags. It was tried before Justices Israel Williams Jr. and Thos. McKaig, I being employed by the citizens as attorney for the Territory & Genl. John Bullen for the defendants. After a tedious trial, they were convicted by a long train of circumstantial but very satisfactory evidence, and were sentenced to pay a fine of eighty dollars and to work it out on the highway. They gave bond to comply with the sentence of the court and were discharged, but the bond was lost and the sentence never performed.
That winter, without application and much to my surprise, I
received the appointment of District attorney for Walworth county for the term of two years, it being the first appointment of the kind in the county. As the Senator, or rather Member of the Council from our district, Col. James Maxwell, who controlled the appointment, was a Whig and I was a Democrat, I was not re-appointed, but was succeeded by Robert Holley Esq. who was a Whig. But I did most of the business during his term, acting under him, as I did also that of Judge of Probate, acting for and under Joseph Griffin Esq., the first Probate Judge.
In 1842 I was elected a member of the Council of State from the District composed of Rock and Walworth, being a colleague with the Hon. E. V. Whiton, and served four years. In 1847 I was chosen a Delegate to the First Constitutional Convention, was appointed chairman of the Judiciary Committee, and as such, drafted the Article on the Judiciary, which with but two or three slight verbal and a single material alteration was adopted verbatim by the Second Convention, and with these exceptions, stands as in the original draft, of which I have the manuscript.
In the summer of 1848, I was appointed by Governor Dewey, one of the Revisers of the Statutes under the new constitution, and having aided in this work, was subsequently appointed by the Legislature to arrange and index them, to make marginal notes and superintend their publication. These duties, the most severe and exhausting I ever undertook, I performed at Albany N. Y. during the Summer and Fall of 1859 .
In 1855 I was appointed judge of the First Judicial Circuit of Wisconsin to fill the short vacancy occasioned by the election of Judge Doolittle to the U. S. Senate. In May 1864 I was appointed commissioner of enrollment for the first Congressional District of Wisconsin and served one year, until after the close of the war in the Provost Marshal's office at Milwaukee.
In the summer of 1865 with my wife I visited New York and New England, and whilst at New London, Conn. was offered a position in the service of the Star Iron and Coal Companies, which I accepted for one year, with the understanding I should continue in their employment two or three years, if they should so desire. I immediately returned home, arranged my business, rented my homestead &c. for two years with the privilege of
another, and the latter part of October returned to New London and entered upon the duties of my new position. In January 1867 I was elected President of the Star Iron Company, and in April following removed to Pottsville, Schuylkill County, Penn. where I have ever since been and now reside, conducting the business of the company in the manufacture and sale of Pig Iron. Within a year, should I live, I expect and hope to return to my home in Wisconsin and take up my final residence with the good people of old Walworth.
In June 1843 my first wife died, aged thirty seven years. She was a noble, Christian woman, and after enduring her last sickness without a murmur, died with complete resignation. To me it was a crushing blow and the horizon of my earthly prospects shut down in darkness. She left me five children.
I was married to Eliza Holt, my present wife, at Madison Wisconsin, in July, 1844. She has been a good mother to my children though she has had none of her own. She was daughter of David Holt, printer and editor of a newspaper published at Herkimer and one of the side judges of the county court of that county. He died at Janesville, Wisconsin, in 1853, being then the oldest printer in the state.
My father, originally a Presbyterian, became a strong and devoted Baptist and was for many years a deacon in that church. "He was a good man and full of faith and of the Holy Ghost." He died at Geneva in 1851. My mother, also a member of the Baptist church and a woman of strong mind & constitution, is still living at Geneva and in good health, being in the eighty eighth year of her age.
As to my religious history, it is in brief this. When I was thirteen years of age I obtained a hope I had experienced religion, or met with a change of heart. I felt a manifest change in my disposition and affections towards God, Christ and his people, which continues to the present time.
When I was sixteen I united with the Baptist church and continued in this connexion until after my second marriage, when for various reasons we both united with the Presbyterian church of Geneva, of which we are still members.
When I commenced, I intended to make only a brief jotting of some of the chief incidents in my life. But it has so swelled under my hand that it has become tiresome. I will not therefore enlarge it by narrating what we encountered the first winter in our log house, of our disappointment in not receiving our goods after I had made a cold and tedious trip to Racine late in December after them and of even not hearing of them till late the next Spring, of my journey on foot to the first land sale in November 1838 driving a yoke of oxen to be slaughtered for a friend and getting benighted alone of a dark night in Milwaukee woods on my return. Of my second trip to the Land Sale, when it came off in Feby. 1839, wading through slush and swollen streams in going and returning with the thermometer at zero, hiring an Indian pony of some squaws to ford Root river. Of my seven days trip from Geneva to Milwaukee in June 1839, through a deluge of rain with three ox teams and two lumber wagons after my goods, in which we did battle with the stumps and log bridges of Milwaukee woods, got "sloughed" on the prairies, pried out wagons numerous times, forded streams, broke wagon tongues and extemporized new ones from hickory trees &c. &c. Of my being carried down the torrent in an outburst of Geneva Lake in 1845 when attempting to cross the outlet on horseback, and being saved just before reaching the surging rapids by laying hold of the tail of my horse who brought me safe to land. Of various adventures and mishaps, and of perils on water and land, through all which the good hand of the Lord hath preserved me until now.
I have four children living, a daughter and three sons, and lost three in their infancy,—all by my first wife. The four living
Mary Louisa, my first born, who was born Sept 2nd 1831 at Seneca Falls N. Y., was married in Augt. 1851 to James Lidgewood of the city of N. Y., who died in June 1857. She was married again in Sept. 1864 to Geo. H. Browne of Providence, R. I., a lawyer, and late Member of Congress and Col. of the 12th Regt. of R. I. infantry in the late war for the Union. She now lives there. Charles H. my eldest son, was born in Seneca Falls N. Y. May 16th 1834. He married in 1858 De Lisca J. daughter of
Doct. Weld of Jamestown N. Y., and is now living in Chicago and is one of the mercantile firm of Chapin, Baker and Co. of that place.
Edward L. my second son, was born Sept. 8th 1836 at Hubbardton Rutland Co. Vt. He married Rosa, daughter of Harrison Rich of Geneva Wis. in 1859. He was Capt. in the 3d Regt. Minnesota Volunteers in the late war and served nearly three years. He is a hardware merchant at Redwing Minnesota.
Robert H., my youngest son, was born at Geneva, Wis. Terr. June 27 1839. He married Emily, daughter of Mr. Carswell of Racine, Wis. in 1860, where he now resides and is one of the firm of J. I. Case and Co., threshing machine manufacturers.
POTTSVILLE, PA. January 11th 1868.