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Deceased Resident Members of the Bar53
(A - B)
Willard W. Achenbach
Willard W. Achenbach was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar, to No. 186, December Term 1891. He married Kathryn R. Sechler, daughter of John and Anna Sechler, in 1882. He is listed in the Williamsport City Directory as an attorney from 1892-1902, but does not appear in the 1903 or 1904 directories. Nothing is known of his subsequent career.
Mr. Allen was admitted to the bar the same day as Achenbach, I can not find him listed in the city directory or in Meginness.
Nelson LeRoy Allen
Nelson L. Allen, son of J. L. and Amitta Allen, was born in Clara Township, Potter County, Pa., May 25, 1865. He attended the public schools of his native township, and West Brook Commercial College, Olean, N. Y. He studied law with the firm of Dorman and Ormond, Coudersport, Pa., and was admitted to the Potter County bar, September 21, 1891. He was admitted to the U. S. District Court, August 19, 1902, and the Pa. Supreme Court, September 30, 1906.
Mr. Allen practiced law at Austin, Coudersport and Galeton in Potter County; he later removed to Emporium, Cameron County, where he practiced about three years. About six years before his death, he came to Williamsport and was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar, where he continued to practice until a few weeks before his death, October 26,1925. He was a charter member of the Coudersport Consistory, AASR, and of the First Presbyterian Church. He was survived by his wife, Mabelle, and four daughters, viz., Violette, a law student, New York City; Olive, Alice and Mabell, and two sons, LeRoy and Clark at home.
Robert Porter Allen
Charles Allen was a native of Hunterdon County, New York, and was of English descent. He was born September 24, 1796, and came to Lycoming County with his parents about 1800. On their arrival here, they settled on the “Long Reach” of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, a short distance above Newberry. Soon afterward they moved to a farm on Lycoming Creek. The next change was to the General John Borrows farm, near Montoursville.
Charles Allen’s father, Isaac Allen, then bought a tract of land in what is now South Williamsport, which was surveyed in the name of Samuel Galloway in 1769. It lies on the south side of the river opposite the old part of Williamsport. Charles Allen served in the War of 1812, and on his return located with his father on the Galloway tract, in 1816. Soon after he married the only daughter of George Porter, Miss Rachel, born February 26, 1793. Of this marriage, the youngest child was Robert Porter Allen. Mrs. Allen died August 28, 1865, in her 73rd year, and her husband followed her to the grave, May 1, 1882, aged 91 years. Both are buried in the Williamsport cemetery on Washington Boulevard, along with several other members of the family.
Mr. Allen was an agriculturist all his life and his farm was considered one of the best in the county. The old homestead on the South Side, lying between the railroad and Market Street bridges, was one of the landmarks on the river and many pleasant memories of the early days cluster around it. Mr. Allen was a quiet, unobtrusive man, social and hospitable, and in the closing days of his long life he was a familiar figure on the streets of Williamsport. He had lived to witness great changes in the county and quietly passed to rest honored and respected.
Hon. Robert P. Allen was the youngest son, born in the Allen homestead in Armstrong Township, February 6, 1835. His boyhood days were spent on the farm and he attended the public schools of Williamsport, Dickinson Seminary, graduating from the latter institution in 1852, and from Lafayette College in 1855. He studied law in the office of General Robert Fleming, for a year and a half, and then completed his legal education at the Harvard Law School. Returning to Williamsport, he was admitted to the bar of Lycoming County in January 1858. He was first associated with James M. Gamble (son of the Judge) and the firm of Allen & Gamble enjoyed a lucrative practice for several years. Mr. Gamble then retired because of ill health, and Mr. Allen practiced for a short time alone, and then took into partnership John G. Reading, Jr. Mr. Allen died December 4, 1890. He bore a high reputation in his profession, and accumulated through the passing years a handsome competence. As a lawyer he possessed great legal learning and strength, was a man of integrity, and was always faithful to the interests of his clients.
A prominent Democrat for many years in this section of the state, he wielded a great influence in the councils of his party. In 1874 he was elected to the State Senate from the 24th senatorial district for the short term under the new constitution, and was then returned as his own successor for four years. Though urged by his friends to accept the nomination of his party for Congress, and prominently mentioned on several occasions as a Democratic candidate for Governor, he always refused to permit his name to be presented. In 1883 he was a member of the State Executive Committee, and in 1884 he represented the 16th district at the national convention in Chicago which nominated Grover Cleveland for the presidency. In 1885 he was temporary chairman of the Democratic State Convention, and was ever foremost in supporting and defending the measures of his party.
Outside of his profession Mr. Allen was prominently identified with many leading business institutions of Williamsport, a director of the Lumberman’s National Bank and President of the Susquehanna Trust and Safe Deposit Company, the Williamsport Water Company, the Brandon Park Commission and the Williamsport Cemetery Company was ex-president of the Williamsport Street Passenger Railway Company, and a director of the Market Street Bridge Company, the Williamsport Hospital, the Williamsport Gas Company and the Central Pennsylvania Telephone and Supply. He was also a member of the Board of Trade, and solicitor for the Philadelphia and Reading, and the Fall Brook Railroad, as well as other corporations.
On January 5, 1864, Mr. Allen married Ellen E., daughter of General Robert Fleming, his first law preceptor, who survived him. Three sons and four daughters were born to them: Clara A., wife of John C. Reading, Jr. ; Rachel P.; Robert Fleming, a member of the Lycoming County bar; Charles; Nellie; Esther E., and Porter. Mr. Allen was a member of the First Presbyterian Church and an officer in that organization. He was a trustee of Lafayette College from 1881 to his death. He was a member of the Woodward Guards, one of the first companies to go into the service during the Civil War. He also served in Company A, 11th Pennsylvania Infantry, 3rd Pennsylvania Militia, 1862, as Lieutenant Adjutant. He died December 6, 1890.
Robert Fleming Allen
Flem Allen was named for his maternal grandfather, General Robert Fleming, an early leader of the Lycoming County Bar. He was thus of the third consecutive generation to be a member of our bar. He was born in Williamsport, August 4, 1868. He attended The Hill School, Pottstown, Pa., and was graduated from Lafayette College, 1891. He attended the Law School of the University of Pennsylvania. He read law with his brother-in-law, John G. Reading, Jr., with whom he formed a partnership which continued until Mr. Allen’s death, May 2, 1924.
Mr. Allen had a keen appreciation of the fine arts and was a musician of ability. He was one of the founders of the Symphony Orchestra and contributed largely to the public interests in music in Williamsport. No man had a more intimate knowledge of real estate titles than he, and as a public speaker, his utterances will be long remembered, especially his forensic efforts during World War I, on behalf of the American Red Cross and the Liberty Loans.
Tradition has it that on one occasion when the Bar Association was holding a banquet at the Park Hotel, and most of the members were suitably attired in dinner jackets (tucks to you), Flem Allen suddenly appeared a little late, but resplendent in full dress (swallow tail). This was just too much for some of the brothers, who no doubt had already imbibed rather freely of strong waters. So they took poor Flem to one side and calmly proceeded to cut off the tails of his coat. At that point we quietly drop the curtain on the proceedings and silently steal away. The comments of Mr. Allen have fortunately not been preserved for us.
Harmon B. Amerling
The only mention I can find of Harmon B. Amerling as a lawyer appears in the Williamsport City Directories for 1879-87. He is listed as having an office at 31 West Fourth Street . The date of his admission is not known, nor does he appear in Meginness’ History.
Henry Wharton Amerling
The same directories give H. Wharton Amerling as a law student in 1879-80, and as a lawyer from 1881-85, with offices at 31 West Fourth Street, so presumably there was some relationship between H. W. and H. B. Amerling. The latter, H. B., is listed as a lawyer two years earlier than H. W. Amerling. Meginness does not mention Harmon at all, but does say that H. Wharton Amerling was practicing elsewhere in 1891, but without disclosing where.
Herbert Thomas Ames
The family name of Ames is an illustrious one in the history of this country, and Herbert Thomas Ames not only bore that name, but had coursing through his veins the blood of other families prominent in the early history of America. Some one has said, “We are the sum of all our ancestors,” and this can be truly said of Mr. Ames.
In the 1600’s we find the emigrant Ames in Dedham, Massachusetts, now a suburb of Boston. The family moved to Vermont in 1762, and to Pennsylvania in 1816, one branch going to Illinois in 1845 (this last branch at one time owned land in Chicago which today is worth millions).
Herbert Thomas Ames was born in Sullivan Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, June 7, 1844, the son of Thomas W. Ames, born in Vermont, and Mary A. Card, born in Bristol, Rhode Island, both of whom migrated with their parents into northern Pennsylvania, which was then a wilderness. It was in Mansfield that the parents of Mr. Ames became acquainted. His grandfather was working for a peck of buckwheat a day in order to maintain his family. His mother’s family moved near to Mansfield about 1816, and were well to do. In his mother’s family there was mingled a little Huguenot and a little Scotch-Irish blood.
The forebears of Mr. Ames were related to Governors Carver and Bradford, of Massachusetts; to the Whipple family of New Hampshire, one of whom was a signer of the Declaration of Independence; and the Borden and Monroe families of Rhode Island. He was related to Fisher Ames, a great Federalist and a friend of Washington and Hancock, the same Fisher Ames who was once elected president of Harvard, but because of ill health was unable to take up the presidential responsibilities. General Horatio Gates was also a relative. Mr. Ames came from a family that produced writers like Ben Ames Williams and Winthrop Ames, and the opera singer, Emma Eames.
Mr. Ames’ father was a farmer. The parents were married in 1829. Herbert T. Ames, living in pioneer surroundings, walked barefoot to school. At the age of ten he determined to become a lawyer, for lawyers belonged to one of the few classes of educated men in those days. He attended Mansfield Academy, later a State Teachers College. Shortly before his death, he attended a reunion as a special guest of the college, being the oldest living alumnus.
He managed to go to the University of Michigan in 1807, and was graduated in the law department of the institution. He studied under the renowned Thomas Cooley, author of Cooley on Constitutional Limitatians. This was no doubt the reason why he chose that particular institution. He probably was assisted financially to some extent by his father, but he also taught school for a short time to earn money to help pay his own way.
After his graduation, he came to Williamsport in July, 1869 which was then the lumber capital of Pennsylvania, and resided here until his death, August 3, 1936. When he came here he knew but very few people. He had picked Williamsport as it was one of the largest cities in this part of the state and near his home town of Mansfield. At that time, too, there were a number of eminent lawyers at this bar, including four who had been judges. Judge Armstrong made an opening for him in his office but about a year later he started to practice by himself.
In the 1875-76 Martindale Legal Directory, the names of only two Lycoming County lawyers appear: J. Clinton Hill and H. T. Ames. Referring to Mr. Ames, his age is given as 30, in practice 5 years, with references given by James L. Meredith, City Recorder, John F. Stevenson, Clerk of the Courts and Martin Powell, Banker and Mayor of Williamsport, who state under date of July 30, 1874: “H. T. Ames is a practicing attorney of our city and in our opinion may be relied upon as responsible, honest and competent to manage business entrusted to him.”
Mr. Ames was a successful lawyer and what was considered an old-fashioned lawyer. He did most of his briefing in longhand and would sit for hours at a time composing his briefs and arguments. When he first came to the bar he devoted a great deal of his time to titles and land cases, as there were many disputes especially over mountain lands in the Williamsport area. He thus acquired valuable experience which stood him in good stead as a litigant.
He was married in December 1876 to Miss Lizzie Weis, daughter of Jacob Weis, one of the oldest families in this vicinity. They had two children, Thomas W, Ames, and Mary, wife of Dr. Herbert P. Haskins.
In 1884 he took into his office a young Englishman, Thomas H. Hammond, who had devoted part of his time to school teaching, as an equal partner. Mr. Hammond was usually occupied in real estate and business matters, while Mr. Ames was busy in court. Mr. Ames did not know how to handle money nor invest it, primarily because he was not interested in the worldly value of things, but gave most of it away to others and to institutions. Although both Mr. Ames and Mr. Hammond earned nearly the same amount of money as lawyers, Mr. Ames died at 92 leaving an estate consisting of only a few houses, while his partner, Mr. Hammond, was reputedly worth approximately half a million dollars, in 1930. The firm of Ames & Hammond occupied the same quarters on West Third Street for 41 years, when a proposed sale of the building compelled them to move to Pine Street, opposite the Rialto Theatre.
Mr. Ames was the only man practicing in this county, at the time of his death, whose personal experiences spanned the entire history of Lycoming County’s 29th judicial district.
On many occasions, Mr. Ames offered his services without charge, and he became a regular opponent of the liquor interests by appearing and objecting to liquor licenses in the courts of Lycoming County. He had no fear of the higher courts, judges or lawyers. They knew that any unjust ruling or procedure would promptly be appealed. One case of his received considerable publicity in the early twenties and was not completed until 1935. This was Pyles v. Bosler(308 Pa, 297) and in the course of litigation there were eighteen preliminary motions and rules argued and decided as well as two appeals to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The opposing litigants had tried to get out of paying the money that was due, and so successful was their delaying action that when the bill was finally collected, the interest amounted to almost as much as the principal.
Mr. Ames appeared before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and argued a case when he was past 90, and the Court and audience of eminent lawyers were attentive and respectful.
In the political world, Mr. Ames commanded as much influence as any other person in Lycoming County. His decisions were always respected for people knew he could not compromise his principles, and furthermore, if he told you something it was usually right. In his earlier days he was a Republican and sat in the Republican councils . He was a boyhood friend of Governor Tom Stone, who once told Mrs. Ames that her husband could have been Governor of Pennsylvania if he had stayed a Republican. But he felt he could do more good in the Prohibition party. During his lifetime he ran for nearly every state-wide office in the Prohibition Party, and in 1934, at the age of 90, he was that party’s candidate for Governor. Although he scarcely expected to be elected, he took the position that if the Lord wanted it so, he would be elected.
Some of us may be amused at such ideas, and many opponents took a snide, joking attitude toward Mr. Ames and his candidacies, but on several occasions, they took this attitude to their sorrow.
He early acquired experience in municipal government by sitting on the old Select Council of Williamsport as its president, and also as chairman of the committee to refund the defaulted debt of the city. It was largely through his efforts that the city was saved the reproach of having repudiated its public debt.
He received considerable notice when he was elected Mayor of Williamsport at the age of 83. I recall sitting in the County Commissioners office, one day when one of them asked Pat McGowen who would be the next Mayor. Pat looked out of the window toward Third Street and saw Mr. Ames walking slowly along the street, “There goes your next Mayor, gentlemen,” said Pat, and a prophet he indeed proved to be. This was even before the primaries, when there were quite a few candidates aspiring for that office. He received a great many votes in Newberry and attributed his success to their prayers, as well as their votes. In fact he received twice as many votes as the Republican candidate, and in the west end of Williamsport amassed a big majority, the seventh ward giving him four times as many votes as any one of the opposing candidates. His victorious vote was not even close, he received 4,425 votes to his Democratic opponent’s 3,718, and twice as many as the Republican candidate.
Perhaps the biggest scare he gave the political experts in the county was in the early days of the century when he ran as a Prohibitionist against the elder Metzger, who had both the Republican and Democratic nominations. He had a good many people sitting on uneasy street for a couple of days, and the beer was running like water in that crucial period of the major parties.
His part in assisting to nominate and elect Judges Larrabee and Metzger has already been told. Judge Metzger had many times been his opponent in court on prohibition matters, but despite this, he thought he was the man for Judge and fought just as hard for him as he did for Larrabee.
Mr. Ames wrote and introduced the memorial to the General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1904, which resulted in the organization of the Society for Temperance and Morals of that church. When Mr. Ames came to Lycoming County he affiliated himself with Pine Street church and was a leading member until his death. He was one of the organizers of the movement to build the present church building, and served on the building committee. He was the foremost Methodist layman in this city and was elected to the annual conference so many times too numerous to mention. The Central Pennsylvania Conference elected him nine times as a lay delegate to the General Conference, which meets every four years, in 1884, 1900. 1904, 1908, 1912, 1920, 1924 and 1928. He never failed to attend a preaching service or prayer meeting, except the few times when illness prevented.
He was universally considered to be one of the most active and influential men in the City of Williamsport. He took an active part in the Williamsport Dickinson Seminary, now Lycoming College, serving as a director for many years, and for a long time as Treasurer of the Preachers’ Aid Society of the Central Pennsylvania Conference, a position later held by his former partner, Judge Charles Scott Williams.
Marshall Reid Anspach
Marshall Reid Anspach was born in Milton, Pennsylvania, on October 4, 1895. He attended the Milton public schools, then Mercersburg Academy. He received his A. B. degree from Princeton University in 1919, his LL.B. from Harvard Law School in 1923, and was admitted to Lycoming County Bar that same year. He was sometime assistant city solicitor for Williamsport, solicitor for the County Commissioners, and a deputy attorney general of the Commonwealth. He was a veteran of World War I, having served in the Signal Corps.
Mr. Anspach was president of the Lycoming Law Association in 1933. Outside of the legal field, his varied interests included education, religion, history, Masonry and rare books.
For more than 20 years, he was a member of the Board of Visitors of the Theological Seminary for Franklin and Marshall College. His religious affiliation was with St. John’s United Church of Christ, where for 16 years he was president of that institution’s consistory. He had also been a member of the General Council of the Evangelical and Reformed Church, vice president of the Board of Business Management, president of the Church Historical Society, and also a member of its General Board of Home Missions.
Masonic activities involved him as master of the Milton Lodge, in the ritual work of Williamsport Consistory and past sovereign of that body’s Council of Princes of Jerusalem, and in other Masonic groups.
He was vitally interested in local history, and was active in the Lycoming and the Muncy Historical Societies. He was a founder, charter member, and past president of the Tiadaghton Chapter, S. A. R. For many years he edited “Now and Then”, the journal of the Muncy Historical Society, and served as its secretary.
Late in his life, at the request of the County Commissioners, he revised the history of the county prepared 30 years before. He also held long membership on the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s committee on legal history and biography.
Every member of our Lycoming County Bar is in his debt for his work entitled “Historical Sketches of the Bench and Bar of Lycoming County, 1795-1960”. The research involved was formidable; the preparation of the manuscript ultimately printed on 350 pages was arduous. Requests for copies were received from the Law Schools of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and Columbia, also from the Los Angeles City Law Library, the Pennsylvania State Library, and others. The best memorial to Marshall Reid Anspach is, therefore, his own “Historical Sketches.”
His death occurred on April 26, 1962. He was survived by his wife, Mrs. Eleanor W. Anspach. There were no children.
James Armstrong was born in Milton, Pa., February 15, 1794. He was educated in the schools of that place. He learned the trade of a tanner and when he settled in Williamsport, he engaged in that business. Having a taste for the law, he studied under Judge Joseph Biles Anthony and was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar to No. 60, October Term 1879. He married Sarah Hepburn, ninth and youngest child of James and Mary Hopewell Hepburn, born September 10, 1821. They had one son, William H. Armstrong and two daughters.
James Armstrong was the leader of the bar in his day. He could easily fill the court house when it was known that he was engaged in a cause of any importance, and his witty arguments and telling jokes commanded the applause of his audience. John W. Maynard was usually Judge Armstrong’s antagonist, as they were in nearly all the cases in the county when they were active at the bar. As a master of law, in a knowledge of its principles and intricacies, Judge Maynard never had a superior at the bar. He had the most delightful manners and was famed for his courtesy. He was one of the judges of the Allegheny County court as well as President Judge of Northampton and Lehigh counties.
On April 6, 1857, Governor James Pollock, of Milton, appointed James Armstrong a Judge of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Jeremiah S. Black, which he filled until December 1, 1857. Judge Armstrong died August 13, 1867, and is buried in the Williamsport cemetery. His wife died February 20, 1829, and is also buried there.
William H. Armstrong
William H. Armstrong was the son of Judge James Armstrong. He was admitted to the bar in Lycoming County, but according to Meginness, in 1891, he was practicing elsewhere.
It will be admitted that no firm of lawyers in Williamsport ever obtained a prominence or acquired a practice equal to that of the firm of Armstrong and Linn. William H. Armstrong inherited his legal talent from his illustrious father and caused it to increase tenfold. He was undoubtedly the finest orator that county has had for half a century, and being, with his other accomplishments, an indefatigable worker, won a fine practice. He represented this district in Congress in 1868-1870, and was appointed Commissioner of Railways by President Arthur, in 1881. He then retired from active practice and moved to Philadelphia. Samuel Linn had been a lawyer in Bellefonte in earlier life, and was later president judge of the sixteenth judicial district. In 1867, he joined his practice with that of Mr. Armstrong and together they led the bar of this section of the state. Judge Linn died in 1890. Congressman Will H. Armstrong helped to write the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1872-73.
William Hartman Askey
Bill Askey was born on June 21, 1919, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. He was educated in the Williamsport School District and graduated from Bucknell University in 1941, with a political science degree.
From 1941 to 1946, he served with the United States Army Air Corps. He was honorably discharged as a Captain and later promoted to the rank of Major while on inactive status.
In 1951, he earned his Juris Doctor degree from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and began a career as a practicing attorney in Williamsport that continued for 54 years.
During his active practice as a lawyer, he specialized in real estate and estate law. He also served as a United States Magistrate Judge, having first been appointed as a part-time United States Commissioner from 1964 to 1971. He retired from that position on December 31, 2007, after more than 43 years of service in the federal judiciary.
He was a dedicated and active member of the Lycoming County bar, serving as the Secretary of the Lycoming Law Association in 1959 and 1960 and serving as the President in 1968. At the 2003 banquet of the Lycoming Law Association, he was honored as a 50 year member of the organization. At the 2004 banquet, he received the Lycoming Law Association’s Equal Access to Justice Award in recognition for his extraordinary volunteer work which demonstrated outstanding achievement and commitment to equal justice for the poor.
He was a member of many professional organizations including the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the American Bar Association, the Federal Magistrate Judges Association, and the Federal Bar Association as an honorary member. He was also an active member of the Charles F. Greevy, Jr., American Inn of Court from its first meeting in September, 1998, to his death.
With regard to his civic service, he was a member of the Board of Directors of AAA North Penn since 1973, served as solicitor from 1973 to 1998 and as President from 1993 to 1995. He was active in the Red Cross serving on the local Board of the American Red Cross, as the Chairman of the Lycoming County Red Cross Blood Program from 1953 to 1954 and as the President of the Northeast Regional Red Cross Blood Program from 1962 to 1968. He was President of the Williamsport Community Concert Association from 1962 to 1968 and served on the Board of Directors of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Susquehanna Legal Services and the Appalachia Educational Laboratory. He was a former Trustee and Secretary of the YWCA and a former member of the Board of Directors and Past President of the local chapter of the American Cancer Society.
He received many awards, a few being, the Young Man of the Year, Williamsport Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1954; Benjamin Rush Award of the Lycoming Medical Society, 1956; Dedicated Volunteer Service Award, American Red Cross, 1973; Distinguished Service Award, American Cancer Society, 1978; Outstanding Service Award, Appalachia Educational Laboratory, 1985; Volunteer Service Award, American Cancer Society, 1992; and Proclamation in 1992 of William H. Askey Day in the City of Williamsport.
He died on April 11, 2008 at the age of 88.
Harry Alvan Baird
Harry Alvan Baird was born September 3, 1902, son of the Honorable Eugene Baird, president judge of the judicial district comprising Clinton, Elk and Cameron Counties. Alvan received his bachelor of arts degree from Lafayette College in 1925, and his LL.B. from Pittsburgh Law School in 1928.
He first entered into active practice with the firm of Patterson, Crawford, Arensburg and Dunn, attorneys, of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he was admitted to Lycoming County Bar on February 4, 1929, upon the motion of Honorable Max L. Mitchell, and remained resident in Lycoming County until his death. Al, as he was known to friends, was married to Rita Stockwell, who predeceased him. They had one child, David S. Baird, of McLean, Virginia. He was also survived by three grandchildren, and a sister, Mrs. C. Fiske Geary, of Ridgway, Elk County, Pennsylvania.
Harry Alvan Baird was an outstanding trial lawyer, particularly in the defense of negligence cases. He represented a vast number of insurance companies. His court room demeanor was quiet and unassuming. Many a plaintiffs lawyer was surprised and disappointed, time after time, when the jury returned verdicts for the defendant.
On October 25, 1929, Samuel H. Humes, of Jersey Shore and Pittsburgh, was admitted to Lycoming County Bar. He and Alvan Baird then formed a partnership known as Humes and Baird, continuing thus until Mr. Humes went on the bench of Lycoming County in 1940. From that year until his death, February 3, 1973, Harry Alvan Baird was a sole practitioner.
A. C. Bartles
A. C. Bartles was registered as a student at law, to No, 19. May Term 1877, and was admitted on April 28, 1880 (320 May Term 1880). His name is not mentioned by Meginness so it is to be presumed that he did not continue to practice here.
Robert F. Banks
Robert Frederick Banks was born in Newark, New Jersey, on July 8, 1920 and died on April 18, 1984. He was the son of Edward L. Banks and Fala Kleh Banks.
Robert attended the public schools of New Jersey and graduated from Milford High School in 1938. Upon his graduation from high school he attended the University of Pittsburgh for two years and, thereafter, went into the service with the Army Air Corps and while in the service, completed his college education. He was demobilized from the service in 1946, having attained the rank of Captain. In 1949, he completed law school at the University of Pennsylvania and was admitted to practice in Allegheny County.
Immediately upon his admission to the practice of law, he became associated with the firm of Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay, with whom he practiced until 1958. Thereafter, he entered private practice in Greenville, Mercer County, Pennsylvania, until 1964, when he became an assistant district attorney for Mercer County until 1976. He then moved to Lycoming County, where served as first assistant district attorney until 1981, when he retired.
Robert Banks was qualified to practice law before all of the Courts of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and, in addition, he was also a member of the Lycoming Law Association and the Pennsylvania Bar Association.
On the March 10, 1942, Robert F. Banks married the former Mary F. Allen and at the time of his death was survived by his widow and four daughters.
Charles Bartles, Jr.
Charles Bartles was a native of New Jersey, born in Flemington, October 7, 1843. He was of German ancestry, his paternal grandfather, Frederick Bartles served in the Prussian army under Frederick the Great, was taken prisoner and later escaped to France, from whence he came to America, being still a young man. He settled in New Germantown, New Jersey, where he passed his life as a farmer, and his death occurred in Flemington. He married a Miss Plumb, and all their eight children, except one son who went to Indiana, settled in New Jersey, near Flemington, where they were farmers and merchants. This family was noted for its phenomenal longevity, all of the children living to upwards of eighty years.
Charles Bartles, the son of Frederick and father of Charles Jr., was born in Flemington, in 1801, and died there in 1882. He was a graduate of Union College, at Schenectady, N. Y., where he was a classmate of William Seward who became Secretary of State in Lincoln’s cabinet. He was a lawyer by profession. He married Eliza Holt, also born in Flemington and died there. Her family was of Scotch extraction, and she was a grandniece of John Holt, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. Charles and Eliza (Holt) Bartles were the parents of four children: George, who died in youth; Mary, who died young; William, a physician and Charles, the subject of this sketch. All the family were Presbyterians in religion, and Republicans in politics.
Charles Bartles obtained his education in Flemington where he attended a private school, and subsequently at Trenton Academy. He prepared for his profession at the Harvard Law School, from which he was graduated in 1866. He was admitted to the Superior Court in Boston, December 19, 1866. In 1867, he came to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where he thereafter resided. He entered the law office of William H. Armstrong, and in the same year was admitted to practice in the courts of this state. He was actively engaged alone in the practice of his profession for more than thirty-eight years. He was interested in many enterprises in Williamsport, and also in Clearfield County, Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Trinity Episcopal church. O n April 7, 1869, he married Mary Bell, a native of Virginia, but reared in Pittsburgh, the daughter of Thomas and Charlotte (Harvey) Bell. To this marriage, four children were born: Charles, Charlotte, Frederick and Mary. He died in 1929.
William K. Bastian
William K. Bastian was the son of Dr. John C. and Catherine (Moore) Bastian, and was born in Brady Township, Lycoming County, Pa, June 21, 1867. He attended the common schools in his township, and the Muncy Normal School from which he was graduated in 1891. He then taught school for five successive terms, when he entered Susquehanna University at Selinsgrove, where he was graduated in 1898. He next studied law in the office of Hon. Emerson Collins and was admitted to the bar, April 6, 1901.
He was a life long Republican and in November 1923, to the surprise of himself and every one else, he was elected District Attorney, for a four year term. He asked the commissioners to give him an office in the Court House which they did. It was located over the Third Street entrance.
Bill died in the Williamsport Hospital, June 9, 1928 after an illness lasting nearly a year. His widow, Helen Dimm Bastian, survived him, but there was no issue. He was a member of the Lutheran church and lived in Montoursville.
John Artley Beeber
John Artley Beeber, the eldest son of Teeter Dimmer Beeber and Mary Jane (Artley) Beeber, was born in Muncy, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, April 6, 1845.
The first ancestor in America was Valentine Bieber (born circa 1725; died 1782, in Virginia), emigrated from Zweibrucken (or Deux Ponts) in Alsace, sailing from Rotterdam, via Cowes, on the ship Betsey, S. Hawk, Captain, arriving at Philadelphia, October 16, 1768.54 He was accompanied by his three sons, Nicholas, Adam and Johannes. Valentine and his sons settled in Maxatawaney township, Berks County, Pennsylvania.
Johannes Bieber, the youngest son of Valentine and Catron (or Catherine) Bieber, served in the Revolutionary war in Captain Shadel’s company under Major Kercher, and at the close of the war, settled in Muncy Creek Township, Lycoming County, where he acquired land by means of war-pay warrants. His brothers, who also served in the Revolutionary war, came to Lycoming County about the same time, and all were active in the organization and building of Immanuel’s Lutheran Church, signing its constitution in 1794, this probably being the first church formally organized in Lycoming County. The descendants of Nicholas and Adam, brothers of Johannes, remained mostly in Muncy Valley, with the exception of two sons of Adam, one of whom located near Lewisburg, and one in Arkansas.
Johannes Bieber married Margaret Julia Dimner (born March 15, 1762; died September 12, 1818). He was the first to change the spelling of his name to Beeber. Colonel Jacob Beeber, the eldest child of Johannes and Margaret, was born October 11, 1787, died May 14, 1863. He married first, on May 10, 1810, Mary Dimm (born circa 1790, died 1823), who bore him three sons and three daughters. He married second, Elizabeth Dimm, a sister of Mary (born 1792; died April 15, 1880), who bore him one son and two daughters. Colonel Beeber settled on a farm on elevated land two and one half miles south of Muncy, on the Milton road, where his widow continued to live until her death. Colonel Beeber was a farmer by occupation, an early militia colonel and a prominent figure in the annual “muster days”, as well as influential factor in the ranks of the Democratic party.55
Teeter Dimner Beeber, eldest son of Colonel Jacob Beeber, was born in 1815, died May 6, 1876. He was married in 1841 to Mary Jane Artley (born 1816; died December 2, 1869), a daughter of John and Christiana Artley, of Muncy township. Mr. Beeber was a farmer and blacksmith, and later a coal merchant. Locating in Muncy, they became the first ardent temperance advocates in that town, and assisted by Mr. Beeber’s brother, John, were instrumental in establishing the Lutheran Church in Muncy. He was a County Commissioner, was prominent in the Republican party, and an earnest supporter of President Abraham Lincoln.
John Artley Beeber was educated in the Muncy public schools, and graduated from Pennsylvania College, at Gettysburg, in 1866. He read law in the office of the Honorable William H. Armstrong, and was admitted to the bar of Lycoming County, May 5, 1888. He was president of the First National Bank of Williamsport from 1884 until his death on March 21, 1912. He was one of the managers of the Williamsport Hospital, and one of the organizers of the Board of Trade.
During Lee’s invasion of Pennsylvania, he served in the Twenty-Sixth Regiment, Pennsylvania Militia. In 1870, he married first, Alice Amanda (b. 1847; d. 1903), daughter of Daniel and Catherine L. (Updegraff) Clapp. Daniel Clapp (born 1821, died 1882) came of a family that settled in the West Branch valley in the early days. He moved from Northumberland county, where he was born, and eventually settled in Muncy. He was a merchant and lumberman. He helped organize the First National Bank of Williamsport. His wife, Catherine L. Updegraff (born 1822) was a daughter of Samuel Updegraff, a descendant of Abraham and Dirck Op Den Graeff, who were associated with Francis Daniel Pastorius in the original settlement of Germantown, Pennsylvania, and were two of the four signers of the first public protest against Negro slavery in America, known in history as the Germantown Declaration of 1688.
Of the first marriage, William Parsons Beeber was the youngest child to attain adulthood. John Artley Beeber married second, in 1904, Jessie E. DuBois, a daughter of Abel DuBois, a pioneer lumberman of Williamsport.
William Parsons Beeber
Mr. Beeber was born in Williamsport, November 25, 1873. He was educated in private schools, Dickinson Seminary, and was graduated from Cornell University, Litt. B., 1891. He studied law with his father, and also in the office of Judge Dimner Beeber, in Philadelphia, and later in the law department of the University of Pennsylvania, from which institution he was graduated in 1898, and awarded his LL. B., cum laude. He was admitted to the bar in 1898, and became a law partner of his father. After the death of his father, he became president of the First National Bank of Williamsport, until July 5, 1928, when he resigned and became chairman of the board. He was a director of Sweets Steel Company, Williamsport Furniture Company, Williamsport Hotels Company, Williamsport Water Company, and a member of the Lycoming Law, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations.
In 1902, he was elected a member of the Select Council of Williamsport, and two years later its president for a number of years. He was chairman of the City Planning Commission, past commander, Baldwin II Commandery, K. T., a thirty-third degree Mason, A.S.S.R., a Shriner, member of the Howard Club, K. T., Ross Club, Williamsport Country Club, Y.M.C.A., Alpha Delta Phi, and a trustee of the James V. Brown Library, the Wildwood Cemetery Company, and the Brandon Park Commission.
Mr. Beeber married first, Mary Carothers Holland, born 1878, a daughter of Samuel Smith (1846-1904) and Eliza (Davitt) Holland, of Pittsburgh. His wife died in 1906. She bore him three Children: Holland and John A., twins, born in 1903, and Margaret, born in 1906. On April 6, 1910, Mr. Beeber married second, Katherine S. Lawson, born 1877, of Williamsport, daughter of James S. and Delphine (Stearns) Lawson. One daughter, Elizabeth Jane, was born to this marriage, June 6, 1913.
William Parsons Beeber died an accidental death in Philadelphia, May 22, 1933.
Benjamin Speeze Bentley
Judge B. Speeze Bentley was born in Cairo County, New York, in 1808. He was educated at Hamilton, N. Y., and settled in Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, where he studied law with William H. Jessup and was admitted to the bar in 1839. He practiced law in Montrose until 1866, when he came to Williamsport in October of that year, and was admitted to the Lycoming County bar. When Lycoming County became a separate judicial district, he was appointed President Judge, March 17, 1868, the first judge of the new twenty-ninth district, and served until January 18, 1869, having been defeated by James Gamble. When Lackawanna County was erected, he was appointed President Judge, and served from August 1878 until January 1880, when he again returned to Williamsport and resumed his practice. He was twice married. His first wife was Josephine Searle, daughter of Leonard and Lydia (Dimock) Searle.
Constant Searle, whose name appears among the victims of the Wyoming Massacre, had a son, Roger, who at the time of the massacre was seventeen years of age. He escaped the fate of his father by a fortunate concealment among the willows and dense foliage of the river bank. The mother, whose maiden name was Catherine Scott, came of a family of emigrants from a place south of Albany, N. Y. They came to and down the Delaware river at a date not known. She had two married sisters, who, with their husbands, had gone up the Susquehanna River, and made their homes at or near Chenango Point, now Binghamton, N. Y. To these homes led a forest path from Pittston through Montrose. By this path she was accustomed, once a year, to visit these sisters, riding on horseback. On one of those occasions she carried her son, Leonard, born November 7, 1807, at Pittston, then a babe in arms, stopping at the old hotel in Montrose of which he afterward became the owner. The mother’s energy of character and business ability came soon afterward to more than a common test for in 1812, Roger Searle died, leaving the farm and eight children in the care of the widowed wife and mother. With the help of the two older sons, John, aged seventeen, and Daniel, fifteen, she proved herself equal to the emergency. Here she lived and died at a good old age, a highly esteemed member of the Pittston Baptist Church. The two boys soon developed that business ability which proved an important aid. Ark loads of plaster were run down the Susquehanna river and sold to the farmers. These boys secured the Pittston trade. They sold the lime, filled the arks with the coal that had been produced from the farm land, and sent them down the river to sell, thus making a double profit.
But that which had the most to do with their after lives was connected with the carrying of the U. S. Mail. Friends connected with the Post Office Department at Washington, secured for them several post routes along which they carried the mails on horse back. This soon brought the brothers into an energetic, active and sometimes trying life. The line of one of these routes ran through Montrose to the mansion of Dr. R. H. Rose at Silver Lake, thence by forest paths through old Lawsville to Great Bend. It was on this route that young Leonard’s future career began.
At fifteen he became the regular postboy, making weekly trips, and finding himself sometimes, as the literal postboys in the forests between Dr. Rose’s and Great Bend did after him, in a very uncomfortable proximity to howling wolves. The other brothers while serving similar routes, developed from mere employees to mail contractors. As a matter of convenience, connected with the mails and staging business, in which the Searles along with others became engaged, extending from Owego, N. Y. through Montrose to New York City, and from Binghamton to Philadelphia, Daniel and Leonard came to Montrose in 1827. The former became proprietor of the old post hotel. The latter, then a young unmarried man, at first clerked for him, acting in emergencies as stage driver on the different routes. On October 23, 1832, Leonard married Lydia C. Dimock, daughter of Elder David Dimock, the pioneer Baptist minister of the region, and fifth in a line of Baptist ministers. He engaged in the mercantile business for ten years, and then purchased the old post corner, and erected a first class hotel and residence. He died December 31, 1880. They had two sons and three daughters, among whom was Josephine Searle who married Benjamin Speeze Bentley.
Benjamin Stuart Bentley
Benjamin Stuart Bentley, was born at Montrose, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, March 8, 1837. He was educated at Franklin, New York, studied law with Bentley and Fitch, located in Williamsport, Pa., October 20, 1866. The next day he wrote a letter to his wife from the Herdic House, which reads in part as follows:
“. . . We arrived here at about 6:30 Friday morning. I should have arrived at 4 but was delayed on the road some two or three hours. We expected a reasonably comfortable night’s sleep at Elmira, but found in reaching there that the time of the Williamsport train had changed and left at one a.m. instead of five, consequently we thought a bed for an hour would be but an aggravation. . .My impressions of Williamsport are decidedly pleasant and favorable, and if success attends us, and I can have my wife and child with me, I have no doubt but that I could and should be perfectly contented. We are at the Herdic House (now the Park Home) and comfortably situated (i.e., he and his father, Judge Bentley). We have two rooms adjoining with folding doors between. The rooms are of good size and finely furnished. Each room had a most beautiful cottage-bed, marble top bureau, wash stand, & cane seat arm chairs and Rockers, besides we have in each room, a center table, side lights and chandeliers. I have in my room, a beautiful walnut lounge, and father has a ward robe . . .The view from the windows is fine and everything in and about the house conducive to comfort. The hotel cost $250,000 and the furniture $25,000. We have secured an office in a new brick building near here and yesterday had the floor covered with matting and procured some furniture. We have gas and water, and water closets right in the office and everything convenient. We are to be heated by steam, so we, or rather I, will not be bothered with taking care of a fire.”
Another letter to his wife, dated December 5, 1866, is written on the letterhead of Benjamin S. Bentley & Son, Law and Collection Office, Williamsport, Pa.:
“Father went down town after dinner and has not yet returned so I am all alone in the office. If you will walk in I will welcome you to as cozy a little room for a Lawyer’s office as you were ever in. We have plently of chairs, tables, &c,. and our books are in order in a ‘neat though not expensive’ case. Our floor is carpeted with hemp and the whole taken as a whole is very pleasant. . .A man was hung here yesterday for the murder of his wife. I could have been a spectator of the scene had I desired, but my desires don’t run that way, there were a good many people in town although the execution was private. You can judge something of the weather from the fact that a party of Ladies and Gentlemen have been playing croquet in the Herdic House yard all afternoon. .”
Judge Bentley, the father, died March 6, 1882, and was survived by his second wife.
Benjamin Stuart Bentley served as a member of the School Board and Common Council of Williamsport. He was Clerk of the Circuit Court of the United States for many years, and at the time of his death, and for a long time before, U. S. Commissioner and Prothonotary of the Supreme Court at Williamsport. In 1888 he was Republican candidate for President Judge of Lycoming County, an office once held by his father as the first President Judge after the county became a separate judicial district. He was defeated by 129 votes, notwithstanding the county was then considered to be one of the Democratic strongholds.56
The Bentley home was located on West Fourth Street below Fifth Avenue. Their daughter, Louise Bentley, married H. A. Gibson, who were the parents of Harry Roman Gibson, a member of this bar, and Dr. Stuart B. Gibson. Mr. Bentley died in 1912.
Charles Franklin Bidelspacher
Charles Franklin Bidelspacher, Esquire, was a direct descendant of early pioneer settlers in Lycoming County. His grandfather, Ulrich Bidelspacher, settled in Rose Valley, Lycoming County, in 1832, where he built a log cabin out of massive native logs 38 feet in length and squared by hand hewed workmanship. The two-story building with full loft and attic still stands today in Lycoming County and is the present residence of the Charles Strouse family. A picture of this log cabin is on the wall of the Bidelspacher law office, 428 Market Street, Williamsport, and is part of the family tree dating back to 1415.
Mr. Bidelspacher was educated in the public schools of Hepburn Township, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania, graduated from the former Muncy Normal School and received the A.B. Degree from Bucknell University in 1901. A year later, he earned the Master of Arts Degree from Bucknell. He was a charter member of S.A.E. fraternity and also a founder of the D. U. fraternity at Bucknell University.
Mr. Bidelspacher had documents that he was a teacher of eleven subjects certified by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, among them Latin, Greek and mathematics. He taught school in Lycoming County for four years and was principal of Montoursville High School in 1901, 1902, 1903 and 1904. He was professor at Muncy Normal School where he met his future wife, Grace C. Raper, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Thomas W. Raper. Miss Raper’s grandfather was likewise a medical doctor practicing in Lairdsville, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. Both doctors were graduates of the Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1897 and 1854, respectively.
Mr. Bidelspacher, who was one of the leading members of the Lycoming County Bar, was also a teacher, a high school principal, professor at Muncy Normal School and a leader of the Pennsylvania Legislature for 16 years. In the state, he was known as “the father of clean streams legislation.” As chairman of the State Highways Committee of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bidelspacher was the author of the Pinchot Bill which placed 20,000 miles of rural roads into the state highways system. The bill was designed “to get the farmer out of the mud.” It was the most massive creation of state road mileage ever created by any state or nation by a single enactment.
Mr. Bidelspacher was born in Gamble Township, Lycoming County, the son of Jacob and Sophia Ulmer Bidelspacher. His paternal grandparents, Ulrich and Elizabeth Wagner Bidelspacher, migrated from Germany in 1832 and settled in Rose Valley, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania. As a young man in Germany, Ulrich Bidelspacher served under Napoleon in his invasions of Russia in the campaigns of 1813, 1814 and 1815. His maternal grandparents were Jacob and Margaret Helm Ulmer, who came from Germany in 1804 to settle in the Dunkard Colony in Bloomingrove, Lycoming County, Pennsylvania.
He read law in the office of Walter C. Gilmore and was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1908.
Subsequently, he went to Washington, D.C. in the employ of the United States government with the General Land Office. In 1911, he returned to Williamsport and opened a law office at 48 West Fourth Street, and subsequently the Bidelspacher law firm moved to their new modern office building at 428 Market Street, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, the Bidelspacher Building.
In 1958, the Lycoming Bar Association honored Mr. Bidelspacher on his 50th anniversary as an attorney.
Mr. Bidelspacher, at the time of his death May 7, 1959, was a member of the law firm of Bidelspacher and Bidelspacher, with his son, Charles R., chief counsel in the landmark recovery of over $6,000,000 for Williamsport Wire Rope stockholders against the giant Bethlehem Steel Company.
Mr. Bidelspacher was assistant city solicitor and in 1928 was appointed county solicitor for a four-year term.
In 1916, he was elected to the state legislature as a representative from Lycoming County and subsequently was re-elected for seven successive terms. He then held the longest tenure of any Lycoming legislator in Harrisburg. During the session of 1925, he was appointed chairman of the House Committee on Game and was a ranking member of the Committees on Public Roads, Forestry, Counties and Townships, Judiciary General, and Ways and Means. By executive appointment, he was a member of the Gen. George G. Meade Commission for the erection of the Meade Monument in Washington, D.C.
He was called the father of clean streams legislation while a member of the House and served as chairman of the Fish and Game and Highways Committees.
Active in church affairs, Mr. Bidelspacher was chairman of the building committee at the time First Baptist Church was constructed. He also was a member of the church board and superintendent of its Sunday School.
Later, he became a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church and served as Sunday School superintendent and a trustee.
He was a member and past master of Eureka Lodge No. 335, F&AM; the Williamsport Chapter, Royal Arch Masons; Adoniram Council, Royal and Select Masters; Baldwin II Commandery No. 22, Knights Templar; all the Scottish Rite bodies of the Williamsport Consistory; and was a past presiding officer of the Williamsport Council, Princes of Jerusalem.
He also was a past president of the Lycoming Bar Association: a director of the Lycoming County Tuberculosis Society; and held membership in the Acacia Club, Civic Club, Lycoming Historical Society, Knights of Pythias and Patriotic Order Sons of America. During World War I, he was a government appeal agent for District #2 in Lycoming County and as a “four-minute” man spoke in behalf of all Liberty and Victory Loan Drives.
He also was active in the West Branch Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Mr. Bidelspacher was born June 26, 1876 and died May 7, 1959 in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, aged 83 years.
Surviving him were his wife; his son, Charles R., this city; a daughter, Mrs. John Wheeler, Jamestown, New York; a sister, Mrs. Lewis Edler, this city; and five grandchildren and ten great-grandchildren.
Upon his death, the Williamsport Sun editorial commented as follows:
“Charles F. Bidelspacher—Cleaner streams and better roads are the lot of Pennsylvanians today, due in part to the influence of Charles F. Bidelspacher whose death at the age of 83 years occurred here yesterday.
“An assemblyman from Lycoming County for 16 years—from 1916 through 1931—he was a man of wide political prestige. He came to be known in the General Assembly as the ‘father of clean streams’ and, during the first term of Governor Gifford Pinchot, sponsored legislation that ‘took the farmers out of the mud.’ Bills he introduced transferred 20,000 miles of rural dirt roads to the state highway system.
“Few Lycoming Countians have matched his influence in the halls of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.
“Mr. Bidelspacher was a native son of this county. He traced his family back to German grandparents who migrated into beautiful Bloomingrove as early as 1804. Proud of this heritage, he was numbered among the small group of persons who have preserved through the years such landmarks as the old Dunkard Church.
“Prominent in politics and law, he never forgot his youthful years as a school teacher and was always an advocate of high educational standards and opportunities.
“He proved himself a worthy son of those solid German immigrants who came into Lycoming County in the first decades of the 19th Century and who have contributed so much to the stability of this community.”
Charles Franklin Bidelspacher, Esquire, many times set forth the ideals he believed in about life and his nation by quoting James A. Garfield who once said while talking to a group of young people just starting out in the world:
“The strata of our society resembles the ocean where every drop, even the littlest, is free to mingle with all the others, and may climb the highest wave.”
“This is the glory of our country,” concluded Mr. Bidelspacher.
Charles Raper Bidelspacher
Charles R. Bidelspacher was born January 19, 1911 in Washington, D. C. when his father was in government service. He was the son of Charles F. and Grace Raper Bidelspacher. Mr. Bidelspacher departed this life on September 28, 1993.
Mr. Bidelspacher graduated from the Williamsport High School in 1929. In each of his three years at the Williamsport High School, he competed in the National Oratoricaloration on the United States Constitution and placed first in these competitions. While at Bucknell University, be was a member of the debating team that competed at universities all over the United States. He graduated from Bucknell University in 1933 with an A.B. degree. He was accepted at both Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania Law Schools. He chose to attend the University of Pennsylvania where he qualified for a scholarship and graduated in 1936. He passed the Pennsylvania Bar exam immediately after graduation at a time when passage rate was under fifty percent. He was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar on October 10, 1936 and maintained an active practice of law from that time until the time of his death.
Hr. Bidelspacher initially practiced law with his father, Charles F. Bidelspacher, Sr., a member of the Lycoming County Bar, who also served as a member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for eight consecutive terms from 1916 to 1932. Mr. Bidelspacher’s father was chairman of both the Judiciary and Forests and Waters committees. While Mr. Bidelspacher’s father was chairman of the Forests and Waters committee, legislation was passed to have the state take over thousands of miles of county roads as state highways. (This was the legislation that got the farmers out of the mud.)
He was a former City Solicitor of the City of Williamsport from 1938 to 1964. Mr. Bidelspacher was also Solicitor for the Borough of South Williamsport and Loyalsock Township for equally long periods of time.
As City Solicitor, he played vital roles in the inauguration of a whole series of institutions that have underpinned the development of Williamsport as a commercial, trading and industrial center. He had the foresight to advance an airport for the region at a time when the railroads exercised dominating influence over all transportation. He was instrumental in setting up the Williamsport Lycoming Airport Authority and served as its Solicitor until 1966. As Airport Authority Solicitor, he tried and won significant air route cases before the Civil Aeronautics Board of the federal government that enabled Williamsport to be a part of the route and structure of early aviation.
Mr. Bidelspacher also played a significant role in the development of the construction of the dike levee system on the Susquehanna River, He negotiated, as City Solicitor, for the contracts and financial backing of the federal government that enabled Williamsport and surrounding communities to build the dikes that have protected these municipalities from flooding--particularly the 1972 Hurricane Agnes storm.
As City Solicitor, Mr. Bidelspacher negotiated for the purchase of the privately owned water company from a public utilities consortium and was instrumental in the formation of the Williamsport Water Authority and Williamsport Sanitary Authority that put these agencies in municipal ownership.
Mr. Bidelspacher played a vital role in the formation of the Williamsport Parking Authority that has supplied off-street parking for the central business district and which has enabled Williamsport to serve the motoring public at no net outlay in tax dollars, and which today has a net worth in excess of $5 million dollars and over 1,000 parking spaces, all at no cost to the taxpayers and paid through user-fees.
In all of these actual areas of infrastructure of water, sewer, parking and air traffic, Mr. Bidelspacher was on the cutting edge of securing these vital services for the area that have served us so well and which we all now take for granted.
He acted as his own general contractor when he refurbished and constructed the four-story Bidelspacher Building office building at 428 Market Street in the mid 50s. This construction was the first major improvement in center city Williamsport in twenty-five plus years. During those twenty-five plus years, there had not been major construction in downtown. It was funded entirely with his own resources without federal, state or city financing or tax concessions of any type or nature. The building was demolished in 2006 for the new children’s wing of the James V. Brown Library.
He served on the Board of Directors of Allegheny Airlines, the predecessor of U.S. Air, that serves not only the Williamsport-Lycoming County Airport, but the world.
Mr. Bidelspacher was first and foremost a litigator and an advocate. He had a varied and extensive trial and appellate court practice involving all sorts of cases in innumerable jurisdictions in both the state and federal courts. His adversaries were invariably metropolitan law firms from New York, Philadelphia and Washington, including the likes of Cavath, Swain & Moore. He had remarkable success in redressing fraud. Two of his most notable cases were the “Wire Rope” and the “Fickle Fanny” cases. In the Wire Rope case, where he served as chief counsel with the assistance of the Charles F. Greevy (who was later elected judge), he overturned a sale of assets of the Williamsport Wire Rope Company after that company had filed bankruptcy and recovered (some fifteen (15) years after the sale) $10 million for the shareholders. The sale of Williamsport Wire Rope was overturned because of fraud on the part of the bankruptcy trustee and the Court. To put this matter in prospective, in 1952 attorneys were searching titles for $35.00. Directly as a result of this sale, a federal judge resigned while his impeachment trial was pending before the Senate of the United States; a Scranton attorney associated with this 1937 sale of Williamsport Wire Rope assets was convicted of a conspiracy to obstruct justice and was incarcerated in the Lewisburg Federal Penitentiary.
In the “Fickle Fanny” case, (Keta Gas and Oil Company vs. Jents), he championed the rights of a small landowner against an entrenched corporation and was able to prevail because he proved that “ancient documents” of the opposition were spurious and of recent origin and manufacture.
Mr. Bidelspacher served as pro bono defense counsel for the murder trial of George Junior McCoy (a direct descendant of the McCoy family of Hatfield / McCoy notoriety in famed Kentucky feud). George Junior McCoy was accused of murdering William Remmington at the U.S. Penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA who had been incarcerated in Lewisburg after his conviction of perjury in a Soviet spy case in the Alger-Hiss/ Whitaker Chambers cases, These cases related to spy activity and/or membership or knowledge about the Communist Party by Ivy League individuals. Both Mr. Alger Hiss and Mr. William Remmington were involved in the Senator Joseph McCarthy hearings in the early 1950s and both were convicted of perjury and both incarcerated in the Lewisburg Penitentiary in Lewisburg, PA.
Mr. Bidelspacher had many other successful cases and was recognized by metropolitan newspapers for his successful prosecution of these cases.
Mr. Bidelspacher was an avid sportsman and environmentalist and had particularly strong feelings about the preservation of West Branch River and the Eagles Here Lake. To that end, he organized the Williamsport Yacht Club and the Eagles Here Association. He was also a co-founder of the St. Croix Yacht Club in the United States Virgin Islands.
He was survived by his daughter, Ann Treneer Bidelspacher Groves and Lundie Castle, Edgell, Angus, Scotland and Capetown, South Africa, and identical twin sons, Charles R. Bidelspacher, III of Montoursville, Pennsylvania and Robert Bideispacher of St. Croix, United States Virgin Islands. He was preceded in death by his wife of forty-eight years, Margery Treneer Bidelspacher, who died on February 15, 1986. Mr. Treneer, Margery Treneer Bidelspacher’s father, developed the process (that was patented) that allowed Alka SeIzer to be capsulated and sold with shelf life.
Anne Treneer Bidelspacher Groves, graduated from Tufts University and had a career in the Secretariat of the United Nations. She was married to attorney, John Groves. Charles Bidelspacher, III and Robert Bidelspacher, graduated from Denison University. Charles Bidelspacher was associated with his father in his business interests and worked as a paralegal with his father. Robert Bidelspacher worked as a real estate broker in St. Croix, Virgin Islands.
Willis R. Bierly
Mr. Bierly is given by Meginness as a member of the bar but engaged in practice elsewhere. He taught at the normal school in Montoursville in 1870. By 1892, he was located in Grand Forks, and ran a daily newspaper. He married Flora H. Bosard, daughter of A. K. Bosard, of Osceola Mills, Pa., on May 23, 1872, so he must have left here after that date. He had formerly edited some reports, I believe it was the Weekly Notes of Cases, and also written a book on The Rights and Duties of County and Township Officers (1879).
George Frederick Boal
George Frederick Boal was born in Muncy in 1811, the son of James and Nancy (Frederick) Boal, who were married in 1808 by Rev. John Bryson. His father owned a store in Muncy and was its first Post-Master after the incorporation of that Borough in 1826. James was one of the founders of the Pennsborough Library, of which James Henderson (whose family later moved to Montgomery) was librarian. Many of the books belonging to this former library are still to be found in the homes of Muncy citizens, yet unfortunately most of its history is lost to us. This library gave the first impetus to the rather high literary standards of the people of Muncy, which compared favorably with those of neigh boring communities. It appears that this family, with the exception of George F. Boal, moved to Pequa, Ohio, and later to Laporte, Indiana.
After receiving a common school education, he became a student at the Milton Academy, when it was conducted by the celebrated Dr. Kirkpatrick. After leaving the academy, he commenced reading law under the direction of the Hon. William Cox Ellis, of Muncy and one of the leading lawyers of that day, often called the John Randolph of the West Branch Valley. In due course he was admitted to the Lycoming County Bar, September 5, 1832. He was Deputy Attorney General, 1843-47; and after the office became elective in 1850, from 1850-1853.
Mr. Boal was a pleasant speaker, full of humor, and was fond of embellishing his speeches with choice poetic quotations. He had a good memory and could repeat page after page of the Iliad and Odyssey in a fine voice and style. He had a taste for the study of the ancient classics and pursued them for recreation. He was a lover of a free and easy life and never studied more law than became necessary in the preparation of his cases. His natural abilities were fine, and would have, if properly cultivated, given him high standing at the bar. For a time he conducted a high class boys school for the silk stocking element of the town, in contradistinction to that conducted by George Hitesman, who lived in Port Penn, in hostile competition to that of Boal’s. The patricians displayed their superior learning and refinement in epithetical effusions like the following:
“Hitesman’s hogs are in the pen,
And don’t get out but now and then,
And when they get out,
They root about
George Boal’s young gentlemen.”
It was the custom of Messrs, Boal, Hawley, Petrikin, Langdon, Levan, C. B. Shoemaker Parker Col. Bruner, Cooke and others to gather in Boal’s office to discuss the newest books, one of which was noteworthy at that time, Muncian Jacob A. Hazen’s Five Years before the Mast. And in that office were also laid the plans for the great Fourth of July celebration formerly held in Muncy with much aplomb.
Boal was chairman of the committee on resolutions on the death of President Harrison one month after his inauguration (1840-41). He was elected to the Legislature in 1842. In 1854 he was elected Prothonotary of Lycoming County on the famous Know Nothing tidal wave, which swept over the State that year. The campaign was an exceedingly interesting one. There were three candidates in the field: George F. Boal, Muncy; Thomas J. Gallagher, Porter township; and George A. Cramer, Jersey Shore. Dr. Green was the regular Democratic candidate and was running for re-election.
The Know Nothing part of the campaign was conducted in secrecy, and all the candidates, save Mr. Boal, were very much deceived. Some one wrote a parody on Hood’s Song of the Shirt which elicited much fun during the campaign. The opening verse was as follows:
“Boal, Cramer and Gallagher.
Gallagher, Cramer and Boal,
A pretty trio, whichever way read-
The same — upon my soul.”
But when the votes were counted, Mr. Boal was found to be elected by a handsome majority, much to the surprise of the Democratic candidate, Dr. Green, who had declared that there were not over four hundred Know Nothings in the county, and could not believe that he could be defeated. Mr. Boal was sworn in as Prothonotary, on November 7, 1854, but he did not live long to enjoy the fruits of his office. He died January 18, 1856, and Robert Hawley, Esq., was appointed by Governor Pollock to fill out the unexpired term.
Peter Dock Bricker
Peter Dock Bricker was born in West Pennsboro township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, March 8, 1840. He was educated at Big Spring Academy, Newville, Pa., and Union Select School, Plainville, Pa.
On September 5, 1862, he enlisted as a private in Company F, 13th Pennsylvania Cavalry, afterward a part of the 117th Pennsylvania Volunteers, and soon became a Lieutenant. He was made acting Adjutant of the regiment, May 11, 1863 to July 10, 1863; promoted to 1st Lieutenancy, July 16, 1863. and Acting Adjutant General, June and July 1864 on the staff of Brig. General John Irvin Gregg, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division of Cavalry.
On April 11, 1864, when but twenty-four years of age, he was made a Captain, and March 13, 1865, breveted Major for gallantry in the field and mustered out July 28, 1865. He was twice captured and was confined in Libby and Andersonville prisons. He had the distinction of bringing through the Confederate lines the first wagon train of Negroes after Jefferson Davis’ order to kill any Union soldier caught in this act.
He participated in many of the great battles of the Civil War, among them Gettysburg, Harper’s Ferry, Culpepper, Sulphur Springs, Spottsylvania, the Seven Days Battle of the Wilderness, Beaver Dam and Cold Harbor. At the close of the war, he studied law with General A. B. Sharp, at Carlisle, and was admitted to the bar there, August 26, 1866, and was a member of the Lycoming County bar for forty-five years, having been admitted to our bar in April 1867.
During his long residence in Jersey Shore, he occupied at different times nearly every official position in that borough. He served terms as Burgess and held that position at the time of his death, January 5, 1913.
53By action of the Lycoming Law Association, on October 15, 1958, biographies of living members of the bar are to be confined to the “bare bones”, or minimum facts. Much to the editor’s regret, they will be so dealt with in these sketches. For convenience, therefore, the deceased members will be listed first in alphabetical order, to be followed by short sketches of the living members.
54Penna. Archives, 2nd Ser., Vol. XVII, p. 467.
55The interested reader will find an article on Militia Days, in Now and Then, Vol. VII, 231, 269, 282. For more complete information, on the Beeber family, see Genealogy of the Bieber-Beaver Family by Rev. I. M. Beaver, Reading, 1939.
56For a further account of the election contest, see ante.
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