Attorneys of Washington County, Nebraska

In all parts of the civilized world the legal profession is in constant demand, especially is this so of later years, when great state, interstate and international questions must be solved. New laws governing our own, as well as foreign people coming to our shores, have to be enacted and executed under our constitutions, state and national, and this is largely the work and duty of a well-read and practical expounder of the law. It is no sign because a person "goes to law" that they are mean and quarrelsome, for the rights of all citizens in this country must be respected and the law vindicated for the poor as well as for the rich. This is the business of the attorney-at-law.

There have been many lawyers in Washington County since its organization. The record they made before passing away from here has not been kept, except in the few instances where obituary notices, or removal notices have been published in local newspapers. There are but few now living within Washington County who remember the earliest lawyers who practiced when courts were held at Fort Calhoun and De Soto, before the removal of the county seat to Blair. However, the author of this work is fortunate in having the memory of Judge I. C. Eller, still a resident of Blair (and who has practiced the profession of a lawyer in this county since 1880), to prompt him in the personnel of these various members of the Washington County Bar. From an interview had with Judge Eller recently, as well as from other sources, this may be said concerning the past and present lawyers of this county:

When Judge Eller came here in 1880, he found Elias H. Clark, who had located at Fort Calhoun in 1856. He surveyed and platted the Village of Fort Calhoun and was active in all the public interests of this newly formed county. He practiced law until Blair had got to be quite a village, down at Fort Calhoun and De Soto. About 1904 he moved from Blair to Omaha; he is now deceased. The early history chapters of this work has further in regard to this man who was among, if not the first attorney within the county.

In Bell's Centennial History of Washington County he mentions the following lawyers of this county: At Fort Calhoun is named, E. H. Clark, Levi Kime, Clark Irvine, George W. Doane, W. W. Toole, E. N. Grennell and John D. Howe; also United States Senator A. S. Paddock, who was admitted to the bar while a resident of Fort Calhoun. At De Soto was listed P. C. Sullivan, Charles D. Davis, Thomas P. Kennard, Roger T. Beal, Jesse T. Davis, John Carrington and W. W. Foote.

Levi Kime, noted above, was a partner of E. H. Clark at Fort Calhoun back in territorial days in Nebraska.

George W. Doane settled at Fort Calhoun late in the '50s, established his law practice and was very successful. Late in the '60s he moved to Omaha and was often elected as judge of the Third Judicial District and resided at Omaha.

Eleazer Wakeley established his residence in De Soto in 1857-58 and when the county seat was moved he followed it and practiced law. He was from Wisconsin and was appointed a supreme judge for the Territory of Nebraska, under James Buchanan. He moved to Omaha, practiced law there and was elected judge of the District Court. He was the father of Judge Arthur C. Wakeley, present judge.

Roger T. Beal came with the elder Wakeley to this county as his clerk, and remained until about 1869, then went to Omaha, where he died in the early '70s. During Beal's practice in this county, he associated himself with Edwin A. Allen in the practice of law at De Soto. He dealt in real estate and especially in tax-title lands, in which he made much money.

Edwin A. Allen, a bachelor, was appointed as receiver of the land office in Western Nebraska and died a few years ago ; once an attorney here.

Another very early lawyer in Washington County was Hon. Thomas P. Kennard who established a law business at De Soto in the '50s and remained till Nebraska was admitted to the Union, when he was elected secretary of state. He died in the spring of 1920.

Jesse T. Davis settled at De Soto about 1856. He studied law and was admitted to practice in this county. He became county judge and held other county positions. When the county seat was moved to Blair he went there and practiced until he removed to Washington or Oregon, where he died about 1900. He was an able man and enjoyed a good law practice.

In the early days of the county. Gen. John S. Bowen of Philadelphia settled between Arlington and Kennard. When the railroad was built through the county it went directly through his farm. He farmed and attended to his law practice; he was an able lawyer and well-liked by the community in which he located. He was later employed by the railroad company and moved to Blair, served as county judge of this county and had a large law practice until about 1880, when the Sioux City Railroad Company and its successors employed him as their land agent to handle their real estate in Washington County. This position he held until death, about June, 1889.

John Carrigan settled at De Soto late in the '60s. He was a returned Civil war soldier and he died in 1880. He was a great criminal lawyer. Martin Ballard, father of the present county attorney, Grace Ballard, practiced law in Blair till 1885, when he moved to Chadron, Nebraska, where he died. He was associated in Blair with Wellington C. Walton, who came here about the time Blair was laid out. Walton was admitted to the bar about that date. He came here from Michigan and built up a large law practice in Blair, where he remained until 1917, when he died. He was also judge of the District Court at one time here. His daughter, Mrs. Farnham, still resides in Blair.

Luther Washington Osborn, a native of New York State, settled in Blair about the year of its organization, and became a partner of John Carrigan in law until Mr. Carrigan died in 1880, after which he had numerous partners. One of his associates was William H. Farnsworth, who read law under Mr. Osborn and practiced law until 1890; he moved from Blair to Sioux City, Iowa. Mr. Osborn enjoyed a lucrative law practice many years in this county. He was appointed by President William McKinley as Consul-General to the Samoan Islands, where he died and was brought to Blair for burial. He was a brilliant man, honored his profession and had legions of friends.

Potter C. Sullivan laid out the old Village of De Soto in the early '50s and practiced law there a number of years successfully. Judge Edward C. Jackson was elected county clerk about 1875 for a four-year term. He was a partner with William H. Eller about 1879, continued until 1881. Judge Jackson was appointed clerk of the District Court and served till elected county treasurer, then for eight years was county judge of Washington County. He practiced law for a time with Colonel Osborn. In 1911 he was appointed clerk of the District Court and then elected to the same office and is still serving. William H. Eller read law under Carrigan & Osborn; was admitted to the bar in 1878, continuing until 1892, when his health failed and he moved to South Carolina and became a Baptist minister there. At one time he owned a Keeley institute or "cure" for drunkenness, but later sold out at an advance of the amount invested in the concern. Judge I. C. Eller, brother of William H. Eller, just mentioned, came from Iowa in 1880 and read law with his brother and was admitted at Tekamah, Nebraska, in the autumn of 1882. He at once commenced the practice of law. He was clerk of the District Court for eleven years; served as county judge eight years and engaged in realty and title specialty cases. Ed T. Farnsworth read law under Colonel Osborn and in 1882 was admitted to the bar and practiced until 1888 in this county and then moved to Douglas County, where he still practices law. John Lothrop, of Michigan, came to this county in 1880 from South Dakota and has practiced law in Blair ever since. David Z. Mummert came in from Illinois, read law under Judge Walton and was admitted to the bar about 1887 or 1888; he still practices and makes tax-titles his specialty.

Clark O'Hanlon, a Washington County boy, born in 1869, read law under Colonel Osborn at Blair and was admitted to practice early in the '90s; at one time he was a partner of Colonel Osborn. He has held many important positions in this county; attorney several terms; county judge from 1908 to 1911. He is now associated with his son. Reed O'Hanlon and William J. Maher, as the firm of O'Hanlon, Maher & O'Hanlon. The elder O'Hanlon is counsel for the Commonwealth Life Insurance Company of Omaha, where one-half of his time is spent. Henry Mencke is a native of Washington County, Nebraska, born in the '70s and reared in Blair. He graduated from the Blair High School. His father was sheriff of Washington County many years, and under him he received his first instructions in public office. He read law under Judge Walton and was admitted to the bar about 1902.

Edmund Burke Carrigan, son of John Burke Carrigan, read law with Judge Walton and was admitted to the practice of law at Blair. He continued in law until 1918, when he was elected county judge, which position he still holds.

Perry Selden was admitted to the bar about 1882. Most of his life was devoted to newspaper work. He was with the Blair Pilot as editor and proprietor; was county judge in the early 80s and mayor of Blair several terms. He died about 1896.

William S. Cook, of Arlington, has a fine farm and resides there most of his time. He read law and was admitted to the bar and is still in the practice, at Arlington, but resides on his farm. His son, J. C. Cook, is present county attorney of Dodge County and very successful in his practice of criminal cases.

Another lawyer of this county who should not be overlooked was Alonzo Perkins, who first practiced at Fort Calhoun, then in Fontanelle, after which he moved to Blair; was elected county judge in 1878, served ten years; was admitted to the bar at Blair, practiced in Herman and Blair; was mayor of Blair in the 80s and died in Portland, Oregon, in 1919, aged ninety-three years.

In the autumn of 1920 the following attorneys were resident lawyers of Washington County:

Grace Ballard (county attorney)
E. B. Carrigan
W. S. Cook
A. C. Debel
I. C. Eller
E. C. Jackson
John Lothrop
William J. Maher
Henry Mencke
D. Mummert
Clark O'Hanlon
Reed O'Hanlon

Nebraska AHGP

History of Dodge and Washington Counties, Nebraska, Rev. William H. Buss and Thomas T. Osterman, Volume 1, The American Historical Society, Chicago, 1921.

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