Monday, October 06, 2014

I.F. Mack’s Address on “The Four Pioneers”

On June 8, 1881, I.F. Mack, the well-known publisher of the Sandusky Register, gave an address at the twenty fifth annual meeting of the Firelands Historical Society in Norwalk, Ohio.

His address, entitled “The Four Pioneers,” featured sketches of four well known pioneer attorneys in the Firelands area.

In the eight years prior to the 1881 meeting, four respected judges from Erie County had passed away. They were: Walter F. Stone, William G. Lane, Joseph M. Root, and Cooper K. Watson. Mr. Mack had known each of these men personally. He gave a brief biography of each of the deceased attorneys, and then he examined the character of each of the men. According to Mack, Walter F. Stone was very gentle in nature, and was a man of peace. “He was a gentleman always, in the practice of his profession as well as social life.”  

William G. Lane was described as having the combination of diffidence, mental strength, fidelity to the highest duty, patience and courage. Mr. Mack also said that Judge Lane had “sincerity, coupled with unquestioned purity of thought and feeling,” and claimed that he was the “wisest counsellor we ever had at our bar.” 

About Joseph M. Root, I.F. Mack said that he was sincere, honest, and brave, but “his prejudices were too intense to make him an agreeable social companion.” When someone disagreed with Joseph M. Root, his wrath was often excited and he was known to “draw forth a torrent of abuse.” Mr. Mack said simply that Root “was not a great lawyer.”

According to Mack, Cooper K. Watson “possessed legal ability of the highest order.” He had a consummate knowledge of the laws, and a thorough understanding of the intricate rules and modes of practice, and was known to be severe in the sentencing of criminals. Mack wrote that Judge Watson “read books, law, theology, poetry, history, romance, and science greedily, remembered what he read, and made it useful, in the practice of his profession and in his intercourse with friends.”

Mr. Mack concluded by stating that all four of the pioneer lawyers were regarded as honest men, in a profession popularly believed to contain its full share of dishonest men. He stressed the importance of honesty and integrity as the chief cornerstone of character, to be regarded as more important than owning lands, stocks and bonds. 

To read I.F. Mack’s address “The Four Pioneers,” see the Firelands Pioneer of June 1882. His address is found on pages 62 to 70. You can see a framed picture of each of the four attorneys discussed in Mack’s speech on the third floor of the Erie County Courthouse.

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