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his favorite theme his efforts would not suffer by being compared with those of the ablest apostles of temperance in modern times. His musical talent was far above the average and often after delivering a temperance lecture full of eloquence, interspersed with humor he would sing a favorite song called "Little Billy Neal" with an effect seldom surpassed, calling up an applause of such hearty, boisterous delight as had seldom greeted a star actor. He was master of most musical instruments but for drawing tunes out of that sweetest toned of all-the fiddle, he was particularly distin, guished. From this it is readily understood how Judge Williams managed to make his temperance meeting, on the evening of the first day of court, so interesting and how he managed so successfully to reach the hearts and consciences of that, the most eligible class of candidates for temperance reform-the lawyers. After his address all persons were called upon to sign the pledge. The pledge was very brief and simple, as brief and simple perhaps as any which have been used. It was as follows:
"We, the undersigned, by hereunto setting our names, pledge our sacred honor, each to the other, that we will abstain from all intoxicating drink as a beverage."
On the evening after the first court day in Keokuk county he received more than seventy-five names to the pledge, including all the lawyers and jurymen. In Mahaska county he was even more successful, more than one hundred and twenty five signing the pledge there. It is not best for the world to know how many who signed at Knoxville fell from grace so we refrain from publishing the list. It will be enough for the reader to know that in the list were the well known names of L. W. Babbitt, George Gillaspy, ex-Supreme Judge and ex-United States Senator George G. Wright, and that of one of Knoxville's oldest and most respected citizens. Admiral B. Miller, Esq.
After having accomplished an honorable and long career on the district bench Judge Williams was nominated by the Democratic party for the office of Supreme Judge to which he was elected in 1847, and again in 1849, and continued in the office till 1855. Judge Williams was always a staunch Democrat and the party to which he belonged falling into the minority, he was retired at the close of a long and illustrious career. What became of Williams is not definitely known, as he achieved no prominence after his retirement from the supreme bench; it is reported that he removed to Kansas many years ago where he recently died."
Judge McFarland was probably one of the most eccentric gentlemen who ever occupied the bench in this or any other judicial district of the State in early or later times. He was a man of fine appearance and one who would have attracted attention anywhere. He had a luxuriant beard which he per mitted to grow at full length, and always wore it in that style. He was a delegate to the convention at Cincinnati which nominated James Buchanan for President. It appears that McFarland was foreman of the Iowa dele. gation, and as such acted a very conspicuous part in the deliberations of that convention. A correspondent for a St. Louis paper, in giving account of the proceedings of the convention, took occasion to criticise the several delegations, alluding in rather a facetious way to the personal characteristics of some of the more prominent men. In speaking of the Iowa delegation he referred to McFarland as a man with a flourishing crop of whiskers whose extravagant luxuriance, doubtless, exhausted such a large proportion of nutriment as to greatly impoverish the nerve centers of the brain.
When McFarland saw the criticism he vowed vengeance against the incorrigible reporter, and doubtless would have given him a thorough castigation could he have found him.
Many anecdotes, relative to the eccentricities and peculiarities of this gentleman, are repeated by the early members of the Iowa bar. He first became judge by appointment of the Governor, on the resignation of the Hon. P. M. Casady, judge of the Fifth judicial district. This district consisted of quite a number of organized counties, among others Polk, to which was attached for revenue and judicial purposes a large tract of unorganized territory to the north and west, including what is now Boone county. Before the expiration of the term of office which Judge McFarland held by appointment Boone county became organized.
It seems that the act providing for the organization of Boone county failed to make any change in the relation which all that unorganized territory to the northwest originally sustained to Polk county; consequently, so far as the statutes were concerned, that territory was still a part of Polk county, while practically it was totally cut off from Polk by the organization of Boone county.
Thus matters stood when McFarland went before the people for election to the office of judge. There was quite a number of settlers scattered throughout the unorganized territory referred to and which belonged to the Fifth judicial district; being of the proper age and citizens of the United States they had a right to vote. When election day came no provision had been made for the opening of polls in the district referred to but the settlers waiving all formality proceeded to take a vote; those who were in favor of McFarland took their position in a row on one side of an imaginary line and those who opposed him took the other side. Nearly all the people there voted for McFarland and the result was transmitted to the board of state canvassers the same as regular formal elections. The result of the canvass showed that McFarland was elected, counting the vote of the unorganized territory; but by throwing out the returns from that region his opponent were elected. The board of canvassers declared him to be elected and issued to him a certificate to that effect. Steps were taken to contest the election and John A. Hull, now of Boone, carried the case before the proper tribunal. It was shown that the vote in question had been cast without any form of law but it was held that unless the contestants could show fraud the vote must be counted as cast. It seems that a short time prior to this election Mr. Hull had borrowed of the judge a barrel of lime, and when the latter ascertained that Hull was taking measures to contest his election, sued him for the price of the lime. Hull paid the bill to the magistrate but in the meantime the irate judge was somewhat pacified and refused to receive the money from the justice; Hull also refused to take it and the proceeds of that judgment still constitute a portion of the assets of that justice or his heirs.
After retiring from the bench Judge McFarland resided at Boonsboro, leading a dissolute life until the time of his death. One incident connected with his residence in Boonsboro is worth reproducing here.
It was customary in earlier times, as our readers are all aware, to encourage the establishment of newspapers in new towns. In 1858 a man named Dennison established the Boone County Democrat. Judge McFarland subscribed fifty dollars toward raising a fund to aid in establishing the paper. He did not pay the money and Dennison brought suit for the amount
of the subscription. In way of defense the judge claimed that the money had been subscribed to aid in the establishment of a Democratic paper, and that Dennison had totally failed to carry out his part of the contract; that he had not advocated pure Democracy as laid down in the Cincinnati platform; that he had not vindicated the party in regard to the KansasNebraska act, nor defended the Supreme Court in its decision of the Dred Scott case; that the policy of said paper was not of a character to consolidate the universal Democratic party upon the acquisition of Cuba and South America, and the general spread and elevation of the American eagle. To this answer the plaintiff demurred as follows:
1st. Said count does not show that the Democratic party ever had any principles, or what those principles were, or whether or not they existed at the time of contract.
2d. It does not show that the said constitution and Cincinnati platform were sufficient to support said supposed principles of said supposed party. 3d. It does not sufficiently state what the action of the Democratic party was or was expected to be in regard to the Kansas act at the time of signing contract.
4th. It does not charge that said plaintiff promised that he would support the Supreme Court decision in the Dred Scott case, or that said principles were ever comprehended by the defendant, or that the defendant had any interest in the propagation of slavery as advocated by the said court.
5th. The said answer does not show that the said universal Democratic party was ever split upon the acquisition of Cuba, or the general elevation and spread of the American eagle.
6th. It does not show wherein said paper has failed, or defendant suffered damage by reason of being at any loss to know what said principles were through the negligence of the plaintiff, or that there ever was one principle of said party sufficiently large to be fully comprehended by said defendant.
The case was finally settled by McFarland paying the costs.
The following anecdotes are related of the judge, and their truthfulness vouched for:
Court had just been proclaimed one morning, the lawyers were standing idly about, the judge on the bench, when a very awkward looking and ims polite individual from some timbered region, recently elevated to dutieand emoluments of justice of the peace, entered the door and strode up the aisle, and with hat on and hands in his pockets, stopped immediately in front of the judge's desk.
"What do you want?" inquired the judge.
"I'm 'lected squire and want to be qualified," answered the interloper. "I'll swear you," said the judge, “but all h-1 can't qualify you.
On another occasion court was in full blast when a terrific thunder-storm came up, and between the thunder, lightning and rain the judge was unable to hear a word that was said. Springing from his seat, the judge cried out at the top of his voice: "Court's adjourned; the Almighty has invaded my district and there is no provision for concurrent jurisdiction; I withdraw."
Two individuals, acquaintances of McFarland, living in one part of the judicial district had occasion to visit another part of the district where the judge was holding court. Having transacted their business, which had
reference to the purchase of some lumber, they concluded to look in upon the court. It was a warm day, the doors of the court-room were ajar and the judge, as usual, was about half drunk and asleep. Being awakened by the noise of footsteps and beholding the visitors standing in the doorway, he arose, stopped the further progress of the case on trial, and proceeded to
"I behold two candidates for admission to this honorable bar. I appoint Messrs. Wood and Barnes to retire with the candidates and examine them touching their qualifications." It is said the committee retired with the visitors to the rear of the building and having fully tested their familiarity with the uses of a pint flask, returned into court and reported that they had passed a creditable examination, whereupon they were actually admitted to the bar as regular commissioned attorneys.
McFarland was a man of fine personal appearance, and by nature richly endowed with more than ordinary ability. Had it not been for his intemperate habits and a deplorable lack of culture he would undoubtedly have arisen to great distinction as a jurist. As it was he as frequently delayed or defeated justice as he advanced or administered it, and after years of indulgence and license, died a most frightful death. A true portrayal of his career would be a most effectual temperance lecture.
During the early history of the county revenues were light and the rate of taxation, although much less than now, was regarded as very onerous by the poor, struggling settler. During the first few years county expenses ranged from fifteen hundred to two thousand dollars. The books were not kept in a very systematic manner, and it is difficult now, even as it must have been then, to so far understand the system of book-keeping as to be able with certainty to ascertain the exact condition of county finances. This much we do know, that with the very limited resources at their command the persons whose duty it was to manage county affairs kept the machinery in operation and no large debts were contracted.
The following will afford some idea of early county finances, and early county book-keeping.
In July, 1852, Claiborn Hall, county treasurer, made a settlement with the county judge from which we are enabled to form a good idea of the county finances at that time: