Incidents in the Administrations of Justice During Territorial Period

J. K. Kelly was appointed District Attorney for the United States, 1 and Walter Forward, of Marion County, was appointed Marshal.

The first term of this Court was opened at No. 63 Front street, near Stark, on the third floor of the building, in 1859, and for many years the government afforded no better quarters for it, although the place was poorly adapted for its purpose. In 1871 the present government building was completed and the Federal Courts were assigned commodious and convenient quarters.

During the years that have followed the organization of this Court, the strong individuality of Judge Deady has made him a prominent and central figure in the history of the city. The events of his life are elsewhere related, and it is sufficient in this connection to repeat that his indefatigable industry and his retentive memory, together with his many years of experience in a Court whose broad jurisdiction embraces many of the most important cases litigated in the Northwest, and every variety of criminal and maritime cases, as well as actions at law and suits in equity, have combined to form the solid basis for an eminence that ambitious lawyers may strive for, but few attain. His personal appearance, always noticeable, is dignified and impressive when he is upon the bench, and the business of his Court is conducted with decorum and a due regard for the proper ceremonies of a court of law. Judge Lorenzo D. Sawyer, whose home is at San Francisco, has been Circuit Judge of the Ninth Judicial District, which includes Oregon, since 1873, and when business demands it, sits with Judge Deady on the bench of the Circuit Court at Portland. He is a careful and painstaking man, and an able and impartial judge. Associate Justice Stephen J. Field, of the Supreme Court of the United States also sits in the Circuit Court at Portland when business requires it, and Judge George M. Sabin, of the Nevada District, has relieved Judge Deady during a temporary absence of the latter from Oregon.

The attorneys already noticed as prominent at Portland before the admission of the State generally retained their position in this respect during the decade following. This period was noted for the brilliancy and ability of the bar. Judge Strong came up from his farm at Cathlamet in the winter of 1861-62, and soon secured a lucrative practice and a foremost station among the Portland lawyers. He became the regular counsel for the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, the richest and most powerful of corporations, and in criminal and civil actions he, with Logan and Holbrook, and afterward Geo. H. Williams, Shattuck, Reed, Stout, Gibbs, Grover, Page, Wait and Kelly were perhaps the most prominent at that time. Mitchell and Dolph went into partnership in 1864 and by 1870 they too, were in the lead, while others had long since dropped out of the race.

In 1863 there were twenty-one lawyers in the city; five years after, the number had increased to forty-one. The population was growing rapidly, the census of 1865 showing 5,819 inhabitants, an increase of over a thousand in one year. Law business, particularly concerning land titles, was flourishing.

The County Court was presided over by P. A. Marquam for many years until 1870, when he was succeeded by Edward Hamilton; and Judge Shattuck of the Circuit Court gave place to W. W. Upton, who was elected in 1868 and served until September 1874. Hamilton had been in partnership for a time with H. C. Coulson, who was afterwards elected Clerk of Multnomah County and gave satisfaction in that office, as he was a genial fellow and a well trained lawyer.

Smith, Grover and Page were in partnership early in the sixties but J. S. Smith dropped out and Grover and Page continued together . until Grover was elected governor in 1870. Logan was in partner-ship with Farrar, then with Friedenrich, who afterwards was city attorney for a short time; then after remaining alone for some time, went into partnership with Shattuck in 1868, and they soon after added Killen to the firm, and in 1871, Logan himself dropped out. Holbrook formed no partnerships. W. Lair Hill and Marion F. Mulkey formed a partnership in 1865 and were together a short time; Hill afterwards united with C. A. Ball as Hill & Ball, and in 1872 with W. W. Thayer 2 and R. Williams as Hill, Thayer & Williams. Stout and Larrabee and Larrabee, Stout & Upton, were quite prominent. Stout, an excellent lawyer and a consummate leader among men, acquired a large practice. A. E. Wait and J., K. Kelly were considered very able men and remained together as Wait & Kelly for some time.

The arrival of Ben Holladay in Oregon in 1868 marks the beginning of a new era in the history of the Bar of Portland. The railroad projects of the earlier part of the year were languishing and by dint of the free use of men and money, Holladay soon had control of the Oregon and California, and the Oregon Central roads. Mitchell & Dolph became the attorneys to represent his vast interests in the State. They were young men of ability and enterprise and well able to manage any business confided to them, and in a remarkably short time acquired a large practice representing the corporations and heavy commercial trade. When in 1876 this Holladay management of the railroads came to an end and the German bondholders took possession of them, Villard was put in charge and the firm of Mitchell & Dolph was continued as the attorneys. In 1877, the Oregon Steam Navigation Company was absorbed by the Oregon Railway & Navigation Company and Mitchell & Dolph became its attorneys, Strong practically retiring from business at this time, though his business has since been successfully carried on by his sons Thomas N. and Fred. R. Strong, who were for some time associated with him under the name Wm. Strong & Sons. From the inception of the railroad enterprises in 1867, the railroads furnished a great deal of important business for the attorneys, both in and out of court, and other corporation business has grown in volume and importance.

Early in the seventies, other firms grew into prominence. J. W. Whalley and M. W. Fechheimer, as Whalley & Fechheimer, succeeded to a large commercial business, particularly in connection with the United States bankrupt law. W. H. Effinger, an elegant and eloquent orator, and Richard Williams, who had lately removed from Salem, won a large damage suit at The Dalles against the O. S. N. Co., and subsequently each acquired a large and lucrative practice. Effinger gave little attention to business after a few years of success, and finally in 1887 removed to Tacoma. Williams, on the other hand, associated with Thayer as Thayer & Williams for many years, and later of the firm of Williams & Willis and R. & E. B. Williams, has developed with his years and still holds the full measure of the honor and success his earlier practice foreshadowed. John Catlin, E.. Cronin, Raleigh Stott, men differing in character, were all successful. When Mitchell was elected senator in 1872, the firm Dolph, Bronaugh, Dolph & Simon, was organized as successors to Mitchell . Dolph, consisting of J. N. Dolph, Earl C. Bronaugh, C. A. Dolph and Joseph Simon. Among the younger men of ability of this period, and who still sustain the reputation they gained at this time are Geo. H. Durham, H. H. Northup, H. Y. Thompson, W. B. Gilbert and H. T. Bingham. Hill, Durham & Thompson were together for a time and then Williams, Hill, Durham, Thompson & Mays organized as a firm, with a firm name only equalled in length by the firm of later times consisting of Stott, Waldo, Smith, Stott & Boise. Length of firm name seems to have been popular with the Portland bar, as is illustrated in the modern cases of Dolph, Bellinger, Mallory & Simon, and Whalley, Bronaugh, Northup & Deady, and Mitchell, McDougall, Tanner & Bower. Caples & Mulkey and Northup & Gilbert were two well known firms for many years, until the one was dissolved by the death of Mulkey and other by mutual consent. Bellinger was associated with Burmester for some time, and, after serving a time upon the bench as Circuit Judge, succeeding Shattuck in September, 1878, he united with Gearin as Bellinger & Gearin and later joined the firm mentioned above, while Gearin and Gilbert formed a new firm. Killen & Moreland in 1882, Mitchell & Dement, Adams & Welty, and McDougall & Bower in the same year, and later Watson, Hume & Watson, Woodward & Woodward, Smith, Cox & Teal, Johnson, McCown & Idleman, are among the notable associations. Besides these there are many of equal prominence who have either formed no partnerships or are better known aside from their affiliations of that kind, a separate enumeration of whom would extend this chapter far beyond its pre-scribed bounds. No attempt has been made in referring to those we have mentioned to choose between men, or to make any invidious selections, but our aim has been briefly to notice in a general way the groups into which the bar has divided itself from time to time. The whole number of lawyers at the Portland bar in 1889, was 122.

Judge E. D. Shattuck, of the State Circuit Court was succeeded by Judge W. W. Upton, in 1868. He held the office until in turn succeeded by Judge Shattuck in 1874, who retired 1878. In that year the Legislature reorganized the judicial system of the State by providing for the election of the judges of the Supreme Court and Circuit Courts in separate classes, and in accordance with the provisions of the Act, the Governor appointed three Judges of the Supreme Court, one of whom, J. K. Kelly, was from Portland, and another, R. P. Boise, had formerly resided there, the third was P. P. Prim, of Jacksonville. C. B. Bellinger was appointed to succeed Shattuck in the Fourth Circuit. The Circuit Judges now had no connection with the Supreme Court and could devote their attention to the business in their circuits, which, particularly in Judge Bellinger’s district, had grown to such proportions as to tax the capacity of a single judge for work. The Fourth District included the counties of Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Columbia and Clatsop; a different arrangement was made in the year 1882, by which Multnomah itself constituted the Fourth District. Bellinger was an able judge, and gave universal satisfaction. He was prompt and attentive to business and quick to perceive and apprehend. When he retired in 1880 he had an established reputation for legal ability that soon brought about him his old clients with many new ones, so that he has had a growing prosperity and has maintained a foremost position at the bar. Raleigh Stott, who had been District Attorney, succeeded him as judge. He, too, proved a man of ability and an honorable and upright judicial officer. The growth of the community and the increasing business of the Court, kept him constantly occupied, while the meager salary of the office illy compensated for its exactions. He resigned in 1884, and the members of the bar presented him with a handsome testimonial of their appreciation of his merits. On the petition of the bar, Seneca Smith was appointed in his stead, and held the office for the remainder of the term, to 1886. He at once adopted new rules for the purposes of expediting business, and devoted unremitting efforts to prevent the accumulation of cases. The Legislature of 1885 relieved him by dividing the Court into two departments and providing for the election of another Circuit Judge in the district. Judge Loyal B. Stearns, of the County Court, was appointed to the office until the regular election, , and Julius C. Moreland to the vacancy thus created in the County Court. At the election of 1886, Stearns and Shattuck were chosen for the full term of six years as Circuit Judges, and John Catlin for the term of four years, as County Judge. Of their conduct in these offices, nothing more need be said than that they have faithfully and earnestly devoted themselves to their work, and have fully sustained their honorable reputations previously earned, which led to their selection for the important trust.

Without commenting upon individual cases of public interest and of historic importance that have come before the Portland Courts for trial, it may be said that as trade and population have developed litigation of all kinds has increased and Portland have furnished nearly one half of the business of the Supreme Court of the State and the greater part of that in the United States Courts. The cases of the United States against Randall, postmaster of Portland, was watched with interest by Portland people and the public took sides for or against the defendant, who was accused of embezzlement. He was finally convicted, but still his friends were confident that he was innocent and he was at once given a prominent position of trust in the office of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which he-held for some years. Pending trial, and long after, the newspapers were full of the case, and excitement ran high. Strong and Logan, who were pitted against each other in this case, had a spicy newspaper correspondence afterwards; Strong still declaring the innocence of his client, and Logan insisting that he was guilty. The latter quieted his opponent with his last contribution by his sarcastic reference to the feelings that must rankle in his breast at the thought that the innocent client he defended was suffering the pains of conviction.

Another criminal case that was watched with unusual interest, was the cases against Archie Brown, James Johnson and Joseph Swards, who, on the 23d of August 1878, entered the pawnshop of one O’Shea, locked the door behind them, knocked O’Shea senseless, and took from his safe, near where O’Shea was assaulted, some articles of value. They were seen leaving the shop, and being closely pursued by a constable, stopped and Brown fired at him but missed him and killed a boy, Louis Joseph. They then leaped into a wagon standing near by and made their escape, but were finally taken, tried and convicted of murder in the first degree, after an exciting trial, and were finally executed.Citations:

  1. The District Attorneys of the United States have been J. C. Cartwright, 1868-71; Addison C. Gibbs, 1872-73; Rufus Mallory, 1874-82; J. F. Watson, 1882-86; L. I,. McArthur, 1886-90. Clerks-Hamilton Boyd, 1863-65; Ralph Wilcox, 1865-77; Edward N. Deady (pro tern) 1877; R. H. Lamson, 1877.[]
  2. See sketch of his life, in biographical portion of this volume.[]


Harvey Whitefield Scott. History of Portland, Oregon: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Prominent Citizens and Pioneers. Portland, Oregon. D. Mason & Company, 1890.

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