Emory A. Walling wrote a book called "Memoirs of the Erie County,
Pennsylvania, Bench and Bar", published by the Erie Printing Co.,
1928. "This book is the only accurate history of the Erie County bench
in existence", says "Erie: A Guide to the City and County", at Sutro.
Esther Sawdey Lennertz has a copy. It's one of the two or three best
things I've come across in eight years of genealogy. It is a series of
short bios, most of them a page or two in length, of lawyers and
judges in Erie, in rough chronological order, starting with Hon.
Thomas Hale Sill and ending with Lee Griswold, Esq. They are really
obituaries, since their subjects are all deceased. There are over 150
of them - one gets the impression he spent a lot of time at the office
(good place to get a break from the old lady, maybe). They are written
in good English, with the occasional incomplete sentence. His style is
insightful, compassionate and enlightened. He even tries his hand at
a little poetry at one point (p. 81), but he's not as good as Uncle
Will. He seems to find something uniquely favorable to say about
almost everyone, to the point where you almost wonder if the Erie bar
could really have had so many eminent and admirable men. (He does say.
on p. 131, "Strong lawyers make other lawyers strong. Our bar is
greater because of what our fathers were.") Quite a few of the
subjects are politicos, have Civil War connections, etc. Besides
describing the man's history, he usually gives a physical description,
says something about the personality, and names his family members,
including the children if there aren't too many.
    Though there is no actual bio of the author (a regrettable
omission on the part of the publisher) he manages to reveal a fair
amount about himself anyway. From the Samuel Selden Spencer bio: "He
was the first lawyer I ever saw as my mother took me to his office
when I was nine years old, he being the counsel in settlement of my
father's estate. He talked to me in such a friendly, encouraging
manner that I never forgot him. Many years later we were accustomed to
discuss health problems, and he informed me of his habit of daily
taking a cold bath. Inspired, at least in part, by his example, I
adopted that practice and have consistently followed it for nearly
twenty-five years.... His fondness for the bath continued to the end,
for he was fatally stricken while swimming in the sea at his winter
home at Daytona Beach, Florida, and died January 8, 1910, in the
eighty-fourth year of his age." Dr. Henry R. Terry, who was both a
lawyer and a doctor, used to "drive over from Edinboro in a double
carriage. I do not remember that he came in foul weather, but my first
trip over that road was by stage in March, 1873, when the road was so
nearly impassable that it took a whole day to make the journey,
stopping at Middleboro for dinner." He continues: "Being a doctor and
lawyer had some advantage, for if the patient failed to respond to the
treatment the attending physician was there to prepare his will." The
bio of Dr. Francis Newton Thorpe gives some info about his schoolboy
days: "Dr. Thorpe became a student in the Lake Shore Seminary, a
Methodist institution, located at North East, on its first opening in
the fall of 1871 and so continued until his graduation in the class of
1875. George A. Hampson, Esq., of North East and I were the other male
members of the class. Thorpe was a very diligent and exemplary student
with a remarkably keen intellect and great capacity for acquiring
education. The seminary continued as such for about ten years and he
was undoubtedly the best student it ever had. There were many
interesting incidents of our student days, one of which was a public
declamation contest, in which he and I were entered. I recited 'The
Polish Boy'; I do not recall his subject. The judges awarded him first
prize, but some of the audience, believing I should have had at least
an even break, took advantage of a public occasion to present me with
a copy of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary. The book was of great
practical use to me in those days and I have reverently treasured it
ever since. This was my first intimation that judges' decisions are
not always accepted as verity. I had on a previous occasion recited
'Darius Green and his Flying Machine' which was my initial appearance
before a North East audience." Thorpe went on to glory, writing no
less than 76 books, "an amount rarely, if ever, surpassed by any
author." Most of them were on constitutional questions, his books
often being cited by the U. S. Supreme Court; and "he was employed by
the United States Government to prepare for it works of the highest
authority." He daily read a chapter in the New Testament in the
original Greek. Next to him Judge Walling looks like a 40-watt bulb.
    Anyway, back on our subject: on p. 350 he says he taught school in
Venango township at some point - that's south of North East. On p. 220
he says he was a law student in Erie 1877/78. In the bio of Hon. John
C. Brady he says that Harvey B. Pullman of North East secured
clerkships for him and Brady at the same time, his being in the office
of Benson and Brainerd. He and Brady and Gen. A. E. Sisson had rooms
together on the 3rd floor of 31 North Park Row. "I will not attempt to
relate the practical jokes we perpetrated on each other during that
time; so how our clean linen was transferred to Brady's bed, or how
the wandering Indian came to appropriate Brady's favorite pipe may
remain unsolved mysteries. We all smoked at that time but I quit soon
after coming to the bar; Sisson, however, for many years had and
perhaps still has the curious habit of smoking every alternate year."
On p. 288 he confirms that he was admitted to the bar Sept. 4, 1878.
From p. 160: "In 1880 I was local chairman of a Garfield and Arthur
Club at North East", James Garfield and Chester Arthur being the
Republican ticket for President that year. So it looks like he went
back to North East for a while after being admitted to the bar. On the
Hon. John Barnette Johnson: "He was twice elected to the state
legislature and once to the senate; when chosen to the latter in 1846
he was the youngest man ever sent from Erie county to that body. I was
but a year older when elected in 1884." From p. 113, on William A.
Wallace, who at one point was a U. S. Senator: "...in 1882 Wallace was
again elected State Senator and I had the pleasure of serving with him
in the session of 1885, and found him a most charming gentleman." On
General David B. McCreary, who was "chosen state senator in 1888, to
which office he was elected, and reelected in 1892, with practical
unanimity. I preceded him in the senate and was one of the first to
suggest his name as my successor." From the bio on Judge William Ayres
Galbraith, a few years before Emory became a judge: "When I was about
thirty and had no thought of ever being a judge, I was walking along
the street with him when he stopped and said, 'Walling, I would like
to see you succeed me on this bench.' Fortunately, I was equal to the
occasion and replied, 'Judge, that is impossible, for no boy can
succeed you on that bench.'" Then, when Judge Frank Gunnison left the
bench, he "sent for Col. Sproul and myself to come to his home on a
Sunday afternoon and canvass the situation which we did. We had a nice
luncheon and a full discussion. The judge said our names had been
mentioned and that one of us should become a candidate as his
successor. Sproul declined to consider it, giving as one reason the
fact that he had planned a trip to Europe with M. W. Shreve (now our
Congressman) for that season and was unwilling to give it up. I was
loath to undertake it, because of the inadequacy of the judicial
salary (then $4000 a year) to meet my financial needs. However, I
finally decided to become a candidate, which proved the beginning of
my judicial work, now covering a period of thirty-two years." On Hon.
Samuel A. Davenport: "I was never a close friend of Mr. Davenport and
had tried some stubbornly contested suits against him at the bar, yet
he was one of the first to ask me to become a candidate for judge in
1896". On p. 122 he says he says he spent some days in Maine in 1904
with A. H. Caughey. In the bio on Judge Vincent, he says "my
reelection" - for President Judge - "in 1906 was the first break of
that rule" - that judges should only serve one term - "in this
disctict..." Also: Vincent allowed his hair "to come down in the back
with a square cut, a style I tried so successfully to imitate that it
became known as the 'Judge Walling hair cut'". On Dr. Thorpe again:
"He never forgot his old friends or the old school days and was one
who called my name to Gov. Brumbaugh's attention just prior to my
appointment as justice of the State Supreme Court in December, 1915."
On Hon. John Steven Rilling: "I shall never forget the effectiveness
with which he urged my appointment as successor to Judge Elkin." - I'm
guessing he's talking about the Supreme Court here. In the bio for
George Washington Barker, Esq.: "Mr. Barker and I had one thing in
common; our homes were burglarized the same night by the same thief.
As might have been expected his loss was greater than mine." This last
sentence is a bit cryptic.
    More on the versatile John C. Brady: he was admitted to the bar on
his 21st birthday, but had such a good business head that "Financially
he could not afford to practice law; for example, he had a case on the
list which he gave Mr. Allen one hundred dollars to try, while he went
down in the lumber woods and made three thousand dollars in a business
deal." He "established the Erie Electric Motor Company, the second
electric motor company established in the United States. Under the
magic of his genius the old unsightly horse cars were replaced by
beautiful motor cars... he planned and developed Waldemeer, that
beautiful resort on the shore of the lake three miles west of the city
which is still enjoyed by thousands of people." He quite inadvertently
became Mayor. "In 1887 a meeting was a meeting was called to decide
upon an independent candidate for Mayor; while the matter was being
discussed, Mr. Brady casually entered the hall and before he could
decline was unanimously chosen as the candidate. His triumphant
election followed and he made one of the most efficient executives in
the history of the city." He had national political connections and
was a founder of the Cascade Club, where he "frequently demonstrated
his exceptional ability as chef."
    One able Erie lawyer was Capt. Myron Erastus Dunlap. His "great
fondness for the bay and lake caused him to engage at one time in the
fishing business. In fact, he was the pioneer pond net fisherman at
our port. This angered the grill net fishermen so they caused his
arrest. He lost in the lower court, but, acting as his own lawyer,
appealed the case and finally won in the United States Supreme Court."
He also wrote a law book called "Dunlap's Abridgement", very popular
with the law students. "After leaving Erie some forty years ago,
Captain Dunlap resided in Washington, D. C., where for years he filled
with credit an important government position."
    Judge Walling doesn't seem to have liked Samuel Loren Gilson, Esq.
much: "When practicing in Titusville, the town's fighting man,
attempted to beat him up for something previously said or done in the
trial of a cause, but Gilson disposed of his assailant so quickly and
decisively as to leave no room for a referee's decision. His untimely
death can only be accounted for on the ground that an all-wise and
benevolent Providence doeth all things well." Gilson died at age 34.
    Hon. Edward Camphausen was an interesting man with an interesting
life. He was born in Cologne, but "because of an active part taken by
him in favor of the Revolution for Democracy in 1848, was compelled to
flee from Germany.... After remaining in Erie a few months he became
so desperately homesick that he decided to return to Germany and meet
whatever fate awaited him. When there, however, he found the
revolution still on and at the earnest entreaties of his father and
other friends was induced to return to Erie, which became his
permanent home." He then married an Erie girl. "No other case, here or
elsewhere, occurs to me where an attorney, coming to the bar so late
in life (42 years of age) made a finer record than Mr. Camphausen." In
1885 he was made consul to Naples. "His success there was phenomenal.
Every American who met him came back sounding his praises, and that of
his family. We were probably never better represented at Naples than
during his consulship. In fact it is said he was the most popular
consul in Europe."
    On Lysander Sterrett Norton: he was "a successful and prominent
practitioner for approximately twenty years." He represented the
plaintiff in a case where "Dr. Lovett, a successful young physician at
Erie, had set a broken wrist for plaintiff and, the outcome resulting
in some deformity, the doctor was sued for malpractice. He was
defended by the prominent law firm of Benson & Brainerd and the
contest was fierce, the defense being largely that the deformity
resulted from the disobedience of the doctor's orders by going
swimming, etc. The jury after long deliberation found a very
substantial verdict for plaintiff, which was sustained. Dr. Lovett
soon abandoned the practice of medicine..." Norton had political
ambitions, too. He lost a stubborn contest for the Republican
nomination for Congress in 1882, getting beat out by S. M. Brainerd;
he supported the ticket anyway. Then in 1886, though well qualified
for the job, he was beaten for President Judge by Frank Gunnison, a
local favorite. "Norton took this defeat very seriously and soon began
to show a nervous trouble, which blighted his career. He went to
Dakota" for about a year, then returned "to try the important personal
injury case of Smith v. Springfield Township, in which he was attorney
for plaintiff while Judge Vincent and I were for the defendant. It was
a protracted trial, during which he displayed his usual ability; but
in the end, the court directed a verdict for the defendant. In two
days, Norton's nervous trouble was again upon him and so rapidly
developed that he was soon taken to Kirkbride Hospital, Philadelphia,
where he remained for some time. Then deeming his health restored, he
secured his release by a writ of habeas corpus, for which he prepared
the petition and conducted the hearing." The trouble recurred, though,
and he landed in a hospital in New York, where he died at the young
age of 47.
    William Griffith, Esq. didn't join the bar til he was 57. He was
never as eminent as he might have been had he gotten started earlier.
"On my admission to to bar in September, 1878, he handed me the keys
to his office, which I occupied for over three years, during which
time Mr. Griffith died in May, 1881. He had long been in failing
health and had on one occasion said he was going to have me draw his
will and told what disposition he desired made of his estate. He
neglected, however, to do so, but on the day of his death, the
attending physician sent his horse and buggy for me and I went to his
home and found Mr. Griffith in the throes of death. He said, 'Make my
will as I told you,' which I did and he said, 'Sign my name to it.'
This I also did and he touched the pen and the doctor and I signed as
witnesses. Mr. Griffith asked, 'Is it done?' I said, 'Yes', and he
breathed no more."
    The Hon. James Darwin Dunlap was a pretty well-connected guy. "For
instance, he was so close to Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, one of the state's
foremost public men," - and one of the main radical Republicans in
Congress - "that he was accustomed to ride the latter's favorite
horse." Dunlap also "strongly supported the act of 1842, abolishing
imprisonment for debt, one of the most enlightened statutes found upon
our books", and was "a charter member and officer of a society aimed
to improve the condition of the colored race...". Genealogy alert:
"...his daughter, Mrs. Davis Rees still has the most wonderful
collection of autograph letters, written to her father that I have
ever seen." They include letters from Thaddeus Stevens, General
Winfield Scott of Mexican War fame, and many of the lawyers mentioned
in this book. Plus, his diary tells about meeting such people as John
Quincy Adams, Senator Thomas Hart Benton, and Henry Ward Beecher. 
    On the aforementioned Hon. Charles Ordean Bowman, who spoke at
North East in 1880: "In the course of his speech, Bowman told the
story of the pig and the pup, which caused great applause. Some days
later in speaking at Cherry Hill, I told Bowman's story with like
result. Some weeks later Olmstead" - one of Bowman's law students -
"in speaking at Cherry Hill repeated the same story, but got little
response from the audience. Then just before the election Bowmnan was
sent to Cherry Hill to close the campaign and innocently repeated his
story. This third repetition of the same story in the same campaign to
the same audience was too much for them; they not only refused to
applaud but nearly threw Bowman out the window." Also on Bowman: "He
was generous to a fault, wonderfully kind hearted and probably
careless about collecting his fees." 
    From the bio on Colonel Edward Powell Gould: "A surprise party was
tendered the Colonel on his eightieth birthday, which was a most
charming affair and largely attended by members of the bar and others.
We had arranged to present him with a gold headed cane, which, holding
out of site, I was about to do, when the Colonel, in response to
someone's suggestion that he looked fine, said, in effect, he had
never felt better, that although eighty years of age, he had never
carried a cane and never intended to. Then addressing the Colonel, I
told him that lawyers, while well meaning, were frequently
impractical, that his friends of the bar then associated in good faith
and as a token of their affection had delegated me to present him with
something utterly useless to him and for which he had no desire,
nevertheless, it was my duty on their behalf to present him with the
cane accompanied by their congratulations to him on the years that
were past and best wishes for those to come, and handed it to him. I
do not know to this day whether the joke was on me, on the bar, or on
the Colonel." He should have pulled out the cane and said, "Can I have
this?" Four months later Col. Gould dropped dead on the street.
    On the Hon. George W. DeCamp: "His most striking characteristics
were intense force and aggressiveness.... His client's cause was his
cause and he knew no such words as 'friendly enemies'. Such lawyers
usually make, as he made, warm friendships and lasting enmities." He
had a head for real estate, too: "He told me his income while in
Pittsburgh sometimes amounted to fifty thousand dollars a year, a very
large sum for those days." Once he was asked to introduce the
Governor before an audience. "This he did in a most notable speech. At
one time I asked him how he prepared that speech, and his reply was,
'By reading in the Book of Isaiah', which he said he had done that day
in his room at the hotel.... DeCamp in his own home was ever kind,
affectionate, thoughtful and all he should have been."
    There were four lawyers in Erie of the Galbraith family. Judge
John Galbraith (b. 1784) was the progenitor, and his son, the
previously mentioned Judge William Ayers Galbraith begat both John
William Galbraith and Davenport Galbraith. Judge John "did not believe
in capital punishment, but replied to a voter who objected to his
candidacy for judge on that ground that when his (the voter's) case
came up he would waive his objections." Judge William was an older
contemporary of Emory's, who heard him speak in North East in 1872 in
support of Horace Greeley for President. "His speech was one of the
best examples of campaign oratory I have ever heard and created great
enthusiasm. Our professor in rhetoric made it the subject of a lecture
to his class the following week in the course of which he
characterized it the greatest speech he had ever heard." In 1876
Galbraith launched an independent candidacy against William Benson for
President Judge. "While I voted for Benson because he was the regular
Republican candidate and because I was registered as a law student in
his office, I had great admiration for Galbraith." He and Galbraith
only ever disagreed on one thing and that was who to appoint as county
detective. "The judge had very strong human traits and a saving sense
of humor and would relate a good joke even at his own expense." When
bicycles were new he entered a riding academy in Chicago. He got good
enough to make "several laps, acquiring such speed as compelled the
instructor to release his hold, when for some unexplained reason the
judge took a header, skinned his nose, blacked his eye and broke his
glasses.... It would have been a rare sight to have witnessed the
dignified judge take that header."
    The Sill family produced two Erie lawyers: Hon. Thomas Hale Sill,
b. 1783, who "was in Congress 1826, and reelected in 1828, being the
only anti-Jackson candidate elected that year in Pennsylvania..." His
son, Hon. James Sill, also took a stab at politics. When he was in the
State Senate back in the days when the State Senates chose the U. S.
Senators, he stuck with the instructions of his constituents and
voted, thru the ballots, for the same man. "It was, as I believe,
correctly stated at the time that Senator Sill would then have been
elected United States Senator had he not refused absolutely to violate
his instructions." This sounds like a prefiguring of the modern
practice of having senators be chosen directly by the people. They
threw a banquet for him later for this. Also, "When the members of the
bar made their first annual call at our home (January 1, 1900), he was
their spokesman, and as usual, his remarks were happy and appropriate.
That was the beginning of a custom which has continued for nearly
thirty years."
    Two members of the Walker family were in the Erie bar. Hon. John
H. Walker had the biggest law library in town, and was a hard-driving,
keep-it-simple kind of lawyer. When almost 70 he defended some
railroad conductors. "The cases were so important that the railroad
company brought in eminent counsel from away to assist in the
prosecution. Col. Thompson, who was with them, told me Walker's
defense was so masterly as not only to acquit his clients, but to fill
such eminent counsel with amazement and admiration. They freely said
they had never seen a case better defended." His son Major William
Walker was really a Lieutenant Colonel. He was appointed paymaster in
the U. S. Army. He was also a director of the Second National Bank for
44 years, probably during the time Will Kingsley Mosher worked there.
    Hon. Samuel Myron Brainerd was a brilliant lawyer who nonetheless
had a checkered life, both personally and professionally. Emory knew
him pretty well and lived across the street from him for a while. Both
his parents died when he was still a minor. "He acquired a great
reputation as a cross examiner, but it was quite often of the
brow-beating type and not always successful.... Brainerd had dynamic
energy, would be at his office by eight o'clock in the morning and
remain until nine in the evening." And he was quick on his feet: "No
advocate in our court, when driven from his position, could reform his
line of battle with more alacrity." And, "Brainerd enjoyed the trial
of cases even before magistrates and would frequently leave his office
for an entire day to try some not very important case in a remote part
of the county, to his financial disadvantage." He was DA for a while,
and later got elected to Congress, but when he came up for re-election
there was a messy battle between him and Capt. Mackay who had
supported him in the first election and wanted the favor returned. "No
man fit to go to Congress should be cut off with one term", says
Emory. The election was won by an independent candidate. "Those who
knew Brainerd only after he was fifty had little conception of his
former ability and fine presence.... Mrs. Brainerd, a woman of
remarkable beauty and charm, died before he was fifty." And, "He did
all the marketing. She never knew what they would have for dinner
until he sent it over, as he did in lavish abundance." His second
marriage ended in divorce; then he married again shortly before he
died. He made good money but didn't manage it too well. He bought a
farm at one point but had to sell it when it became a financial drag.
He moved into a house where he thought the rent was too high, but he
took it anyway because it appealed to him; then in his later years the
landlord raised the rent. "To which Brainerd promptly replied, 'Well,
if you can raise the rent you will do a d--n sight better than I can.'
However, when he died he left sufficient life insurance, payable to
his executor, to liquidate every claim." 
    Brainerd read law under and then became the law partner for a
while of William Benson, whose bio is a great read as well as being
the longest in the book, so I can only hit the highlights here. Emory
A. also read law under him. Uncle Will Walling was apparently named
after him, though Emory never actually puts this into words (he does
mention his wife a couple times, but none of his children are
mentioned in the book). After being admitted to the bar in 1846,
Benson went back to the farm for ten years. "The cause of this loss of
years has never been satisfactorily explained. He made to me the
wholly inadequate excuse of lack of funds." Finally at age 38 he came
to Erie and set up shop, and it didn't take him long to reach the
front rank of Erie lawyers. He had an amazing memory for law - while
teaching Emory, "I recall but one occasion when he took up the book
and that was some question in Parsons on contracts." He was a man of
high integrity, and a strong Union man during the Civil War, to the
point where he blocked the admission to the bar of a Southerner named
Sherman, who then set up shop in Crawford County. "A few weeks after I
became judge here, Mr. Sherman came in court on some business, and on
my suggestion, was qualified as a member of the Erie Bar." Benson took
one stab at politics, reluctantly becoming a candidate for President
Judge. He managed to alienate enough people who would otherwise have
been supporters that William A. Galbraith, son of the man under whom
Benson had studied law, entered the race. It was a bitter contest -
"affidavits were made and published charging him with being a
slanderer and a hater of women and an infidel.... It may be noted that
the saloons fought him because he was a pronounced temperance man and
the churches fought him because of his lack of faith. It illustrated
what Giles Price once said that 'the churches and the saloons usually
sleep together on election night.'" Benson lost. In later years, "he
never used a razor, nor patronized barbers but kept his face clipped
as close as possible with the shears." He slept in his back office and
took his meals at a boarding house. "He was kind-hearted and gave much
to the needy, and sometimes made improvident loans." His memory did
fail him one other time: two years after he gave a book to Emory A.
upon his admission to the bar, he said, "It beats hell how people do
steal books. Some thief has carried off that red book of mine.' I
replied, 'No, Mr. Benson, you loaned me that book and I have neglected
to return it.' He said, 'Oh, no hurry; I thought it was stolen.'
Needless to say I took it back." The way he died was tragic. He took
sick so they went looking for a doctor, but "as Benson had so recently
denounced the medical profession because he contended they had
improperly treated him during his recent illness, no one would
respond." Finally they got a druggist to help, but while his friend
Carse "went to the drug store to get the medicine Benson died alone in
his office.... Thus ended the career of the most unique character who
has appeared at our bar.... Benson lived alone and lacked human ties.
Had he married and raised a family it would have broadened and
strengthened his life. He had no church or lodge affiliations, avoided
crowds and I do not recall ever having seen him at a public gathering,
except at one of Col. Ingersoll's lectures.... I never knew a man who
would do more for a friend than Benson.... he was as apt to give a
poor client money as to take a fee from him."
    Before going into the Civil War figures in this book, here are a
few tidbits from some of the others. The Hon. George Ambrose Allen: "A
juror on one occasion asked to be excused because he was deaf in one
ear, when Mr. Allen remarked, 'Put him on the grand jury, they only
hear one side.'" Hon. Samuel A. Davenport: his "cross examinations
were searching, although his rule was never to cross examine a woman."
Judge John Pericles Vincent was an outdoorsman, fond of hunting and
fishing: "It is said that when the bar desired to get rid of the June
term of civil court, Col. Thompson would step up to the bench and
inform the judge that the trout were biting, and then by general
consent the whole list would be passed." On p. 193: "Judge Vincent
once said, 'A lawyer because of his practical experience always makes a
good preacher, while a preacher because of his theoretical tendencies
seldom succeeds at the bar.'" John L. Hyner ran for Sheriff once and
won, but "The victor was not known until the official count determined
that Hyner had won by a majority of seven votes." Hon. George H.
Cutler was such a popular guy that "in 1860, without suggestion from
him, his name was by both bar and public strongly urged upon the
Governor for appointment as judge." Judge Henry Souther, who after
selling his farm and "exhibiting to a brother lawyer a roll of some
four hundred and fifty dollars, said, 'This is the interest on my farm
mortgage and is the best way to farm it.'" Souther was also a delegate
to the Republican conventions where both Lincoln and Grant were
nominated for President. From the bio of Hon. Jerome Francis Downing:
"Some forty years ago I heard their oldest son, Wellington, make the
startling prophecy that he would live to see the time when a man could
eat his breakfast in Portland, Maine, his dinner in Omaha, Nebraska,
and his supper in Portland, Oregon; and he has." 
    Probably the most illustrious of the earliest generation of
lawyers in Erie was Hon. Elijah Babbitt. "In his day he was the best
technically read lawyer at our bar... He told me a lawyer should not
be wrong on the law in his case once in a hundred times." He kept
going til he was almost 90, when he prosecuted a personal injury case:
"I have never heard a physician cross-examined more successfully than
he cross-examined the defendant's doctor, and his summing up to the
jury was a classic.... Sometime after Mr. Davenport had returned from
Harvard law school, Babbitt warned the jury to beware of him, saying,
'The gentleman has been to a school where they teach young men to make
the worse appear the better cause and he graduated at the head of his
class.'" He drew up the charter under which Erie became a city. "His
outstanding public service was as a member of congress from 1859 to
1863, the most tense period in the nation's history. It was his
privilege to be the friend and supporter of President Lincoln, of whom
he gave me some interesting facts, among others that the President had
very large hands."
    Colonel William Wallace Brown fought in the Civil War, served in
the State Legislature and was appointed Assistant U. S. Attorney
General by Roosevelt. His brother Major Isaac Brownell Brown was a
patriotic Civil War vet, having fought in the siege of St. Petersburg.
He did six years in the State Legislature and held a number of other
offices. He and his two brothers, "while serving under different
commands near the close of the Civil War, all accidentally met on the
same spot." Later, at the "World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, he
deliberately took down a Confederate flag, which was floating over a
southern engine." He was a genealogy fan, and published a book on the
Rasselas Wilcox Brown family. "The major asserts, this New England
stock contains America's best blood, and being of that general
ancestry, I cannot too strongly dispute it; but our country contains
much other good blood, for example, that of the Scotch-Irish." Mrs.
Walling, remember, was Scotch-Irish.
    Gen. David B. McCreary was an admirer of Henry Clay, got to meet
the Great Pacificator and was even invited to his funeral. At
Lincoln's call for 75,000 volunteers, McCreary was one of the first to
sign up and was made a Lieutenant Colonel. Half his regiment got wiped
out at Fredericksburg. He was captured twice, imprisoned twice, and
released twice to rejoin his regiment. Later on, he made many friends
in Harrisburg during his time in the State Senate. "Probably no member
of our bar had a more extended acquaintance among men of distinction
than the General.... He never, to my knowledge, spoke unkindly of
    The most illustrious Civil War figure to come out of the Erie Bar
was Strong Vincent, after whom the high school in Erie that Mom
attended is named. His grandfather John Vincent came to Erie Co. in
1797 and was a judge there for 30 years. "Soon after coming to the
county he had a controversy with a neighbor over a strip of land and,
the laws at the time affording no adequate means of adjustment, they
agreed to and did settle the question by wager of battle." That's like
a duel. "Vincent, a man of great physical strength won, and the
defeated litigant moving to a western state, later became its
governor." General Strong Vincent, on the first call for volunteers,
"joined as a private, was elected second lieutenant," and worked his
way up to Colonel, participating in the battles at Gaine's Mills,
Antietam, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. At Gettysburg, he "led
his brigade against the enemy at the foot of Little Round Top. He
faced superior numbers, the fighting was terrific. The ground must be
held to prevent the flanking of our left wing and possible loss of the
battle. He told his comrades that here Pennsylvanians must defend
their own soil to the last man. He was as firm as the rock whereon he
stood. He saw where bullets from sharpshooters were hitting the dust
nearer and nearer to him; he knew and was warned of his peril but
never flinched. The place was held, the day was won, but ere its close
the sharpshooter's bullet had found its mark and Strong Vincent fell
mortally wounded. The effort to break Mead's right wing also failed.
So the only hope left Lee was to break through the center which he
attempted the following day by Pickett's brave but fatal charge."
Vincent lingered for 5 days. If the South had won that battle, they
might have been able to surround Washington, and the whole thing might
have been over; so Strong Vincent was really one of the most important
men in the whole war. "It is a coincidence that I have written this
sketch on July 2, 1927, the sixty-fourth anniversary of the day Strong
Vincent fell at Gettysburg."
    There is only one black man mentioned in the book. In the bio of
Col. Benjamin Grant: "There was a well-known colored wag in Erie named
Jim Stewart, who swept Col. Grant's office and one day a woman came in
while Jim was alone in the office and asked if he was the lawyer to
which he gave an affirmative reply and seated himself in Col. Grant's
chair. The woman stated her case and Jim with due solemnity advised
her as to her legal rights, for which he charged and received two
dollars. It is also related of Jim that he stole Senator Morrow B.
Lowrey's chickens and then sold them back to him as those of a
superior breed."