The following sketches, while not in the nature of biographies, nevertheless, bear a relationship to the Lycoming County Bar, and are therefore appended for the edification, amusement and information of the members of the bar.
For some reason, unknown to the writer, the record of the transactions of bar association meetings have disappeared from mortal ken, excepting that the minutes since 1932 have been preserved. By action of the Executive Committee the four minute books no longer in regular use have been committed to the custodial care of the Brown Library. They will be catalogued as part of the Lycoming County Collection, and will be available to all interested persons, but cannot he taken out of the library. [Editor's note: As of 2011, the Brown Library had, at an unknown date, given these volumes to the Lycoming County Historical Society, and they reside in the Society's archive.]
Although our bar association was formally organized in 1870, neither Meginness, the city directories nor the newspapers seem to have even noted the names of the successive officers, and hence there will be considerable gaps appearing in the list appended below. Unlike our association, the Lycoming County Medical Society has always taken pride in the preservation of its history. It was organized prior to 1849, and since 1865 has continuous records. It published a history and biography in 1921, and also publishes a monthly (except in August) medical journal. However, we shall do the best we can with the material on hand to present a brief history of our organized bar. (Now I do not wish to he understood as preferring the medical profession to our own - far from it. Ever since delivering my grammar school oration in 1910, on the, Value of the Lawyer, I have yielded to no person in my admiration for the legal profession. Of course we too have our faults, but we do stand along side of the ministry and the medical profession, at least in my humble opinion, as rendering the most needed and useful service to our fellow man.)
The first meeting of the bar of which I can find any record, was held on May 5, 1827, at the house of John Turk, according to the Lycoming Gazette of May 9, 1927, page 3. Robert McClure was appointed chairman, and William Cox Ellis secretary. In addition to the members of the bar, Judge Seth Chapman and Associate Judges John Cummings and Dr. Asher Davidson were also present. The meeting was called on account of the death of Hon. William Tilghman, Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, which had been announced the preceding evening. The resolution adopted by the meeting was. "Resolved, that the members of the bar, as evidence of their respect for the memory and character of William Tilghman, and their sorrow at his death, wear black crepe for thirty days."
The next meeting of which I can find any record occurred on October 6, 1829, and was attended by lawyers from the counties of Center, Northumberland, Union and Lycoming who practiced in the Federal District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania (this being prior to the formation of the Middle District.) It appears that the purpose of the meeting was to ask Judge William Wilkins not to resign his position as judge.
Francis C. Campbell was called to the chair, and William W. Patton, of Center County, was appointed secretary. On motion, Hugh Belles and E. Greenough of Northumberland County, and James Merrill, of Union County, were appointed a committee to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiment of the meeting as to the personal and judicial conduct of the Hon. William Wilkins, District Judge for the Western District of Pennsylvania, and the committee reported the following resolutions:
1. That the members of the meeting entertain the highest regard for the Hon. William Wilkins whose demeanor has been uniformly marked by mildness and dignity; and whose official conduct has been characterized by the utmost impartiality, perfect integrity and distinguished legal ability.
RESOLVED, that we should most regret a final determination on his part to relinquish his present station, which he has filled with so much favor to himself and usefulness to the public, that we earnestly desire a continuance of his judicial labors, especially from the consideration that much important business has been commenced in this court which remains unfinished, amt in such a state as to occasion delay and public inconvenience by his resignation.
Resolved, that Robert C. Grier, of Columbia County, William Cox Ellis, and James Hepburn, of Northumberland County, be a committee to present his Honor with a copy of these proceedings duly attested, and to procure their publication.
The judge then responded that he could not give them a positive answer until he had returned home.
An account of the next meeting prior to the formal organization of the Lycoming Law Association is taken from the Lycoming Gazette of April 24, 1861, which indicated that the members of the bar of that day took an outstanding interest in the affairs of the nation.
Proceedings of the meeting of the Lycoming County Bar
Williamsport, April 18
Pursuant to call, herewith published the members of the bar of Lycoming County, together with a large number of citizens from all parts of the county, assembled at the Court House on Tuesday evening, 16th instant.
The meeting on motion of Henry Johnson, Esq., was organized by appointing
Francis C. Campbell, Esq., President
Hon. J. W. Maynard and Clinton Lloyd, Vice Presidents
Hon. James Gamble and R. Hawley, Secretaries
Mr. Johnson read the call.
On motion of Mr. Johnson, a committee was appointed to draft resolutions. Henry Johnson, Robert Fleming, Henry C. Ulman, committee. Mr. Johnson, chairman, then retired with his committee, and Hart. James Armstrong explained the objects of the meeting. The committee then reported the following resolutions:
Whereas, a number of states of the Union, are in open rebellion against the government, and have seized the forts, arsenals, and other property of the nation, and have commenced an unprovoked, unjustifiable, and wicked war against the same; and whereas, the President of the United States has issued a proclamation, calling upon the States which remain true to their constitutional obligations for aid and assistance; and whereas, upon the successful issue of the War may depend the very existence of the United States as a nation; and whereas, in such an exigency, every citizen, in every connection of life, is bound by every tie of patriotism, and by every feeling of love for, and devotion to, the institutions formed by our Fathers, and covenanted by their blood, to support and sustain the constitutional authority of our Government, under which we live, and upon the maintenance of which all our hopes of success, or prosperity in life, are centered; we, the Members of the Bar, and the citizens hereby present representing all portions of Lycoming County, deem it to be our duty, in this solemn crisis of our national affairs, without regard to former differences upon questions of public policy, to express our determination to do all in our power to sustain the Government of the United States and of our own beloved Commonwealth, in all their efforts to maintain the National Honor, and defend the National Flag, THEREFORE, RESOLVED, That, we are unalterably and unwaveringly devoted to the Constitution and Government of the United States, as the best and noblest ever devised by man, and we will stand by the Stars and Stripes, which are its emblem; and will protect, and defend it from all assaults, from whatever sources they come, and from every foe, whether foreign or domestic:
RESOLVED, That the total disregard by the Confederate States, of the peace and harmony of the country, makes it the imperative duty of the patriotic citizen, to come out and declare himself in favor of the government of the laws:
RESOLVED, That we approve the message of Governor Curtin, and the action of the Legislature relative to the arming and equipping of the State, believing that a crises exists in the affairs of the country that demands it, a necessity, and that Pennsylvania will not be behind any of her sister states in rendering such assistance to the President as the emergency requires.
The meeting was further addressed by Clinton Lloyd, R. Fleming, H. C. Parsons, Hon. J. W. Maynard, Rev. Joshua Kelly, S. C. Wingard, and W. W. Willard, by able, eloquent speeches patriotic . . . all ignoring party names and opinions. . .declaring unwavering fidelity to the Union, the Constitution and the General Government and the determination to sustain the Administration in the discharge of all constitutional obligations and enforcement of the laws. . .
On motion it was ordered that the proceedings of this meeting be published in the newspapers of the County. With three rousing cheers for the Union and the Constitution of the United States of America, the meeting adjourned.
N.B. That same day, April 14, 1861, the Woodward Guards and the Williamsport Rifles, accompanied by the Repasz Band, started for Harrisburg to go into active service. Governor Curtin was the first Governor to come to Lincoln’s aid with regard to drafting men, and was assisted by Senator Armstrong at Washington, and Senator Johnson at Harrisburg. As stated above, under biography of Henry Johnson he is credited with later being instrumental in aiding Lincoln’s re-election, by forcing through the Pennsylvania Legislature special legislation permitting absentee balloting by soldiers in the field.
The first meeting was held in the United States Marshal’s office following the decree of the County Court dated January 25, 1870, on the second Monday next succeeding the decree. The charter will he found recorded in Deed Book 62, page 73. General Robert Fleming was elected president. The charter members were: Robert Fleming, John W. Maynard, B.S. Bentley, W. H. Armstrong, Henry C. Parsons, Robert P. Allen, Benjamin S. Bentley, Jr., Charles K. Geddes, T. L. Case, H. H. Cummin, J. O. Parker, H. C. McCormick and C. T. McCormick.
According to a newspaper item dated February 8, 1870: "The Lycoming Law Association was organized yesterday and the following were elected: 'President, General Robert Fleming, Vice President, H. H. Cummin, Secretary, H. C. McCormick and Secretary, Robert P. Allen.'”
It would appear that annual meetings were not held at regular intervals, and the only way to find who was elected President of the association from time to time would be to examine every issue for the missing years which would require more time that it would be worth. The Presidents for the years which can be located are herewith listed:
1870-General Robert Fleming
1892-1898- Henry C. Parsons
1899-1901- H. C. McCormick
1905- Herbert T. Ames
1906- S.T. McCormick
1907- J. J. Reardon
1908- J. Artley Beeber
1909- John T. Fredericks
19l0- Clarence E. Sprout
1911- Addison Candor
1912- Nicholas M. Edwards
1913- Hon. Max L. Mitchell
1914- James B. Krause
1915- Charles J. Reilly
1916- Walter C. Gilmore
1917-18- Hon. G. B. M. Metzger
1919- J. Fred Katzmaier
1920- H. C. Fithian, Sr.
1921- John T. Hyatt
1922- S. T. McCormick, Jr.
1923- T. B. M. Hicks
1924- Archibald M. Hoagland
1925- Ira F. Smith
1926- Otto G. Kaupp
1927- Charles F. Greevy, Sr.
1928- Oliver J. Decker
1929- Charles F. Bidelspacher
1930- Carl W. Herdic
1931- John G. Candor
1932- Hon. M. C. Rhone
1933- Marshall R. Anspach
1934- W. W. Champion
1935- John E. Cupp
1936- Chester E. Hall
1937- Joseph R. Straub
1938- R. K. Foster
1939- John C. Youngman, Sr.
1940-Thomas Wood, Sr.
1941- Harry Alvan Baird
1942- Dan D. Kline
1943- S. D. Furst, Jr.
1944- H. S. Phillips
1945- Clyde E. Williamson
1946- Harry R. Gibson
1947- C1yde L. Carpenter, Sr.
1948- Lewis G. Shapiro
1949- Hon. Spencer W. Hill, Jr.
1955- S. McC. Lynn
1951- Don L. Larrabee
1952- Alfred Jackson
1953- Michael J. Maggio
1954- Malcolm Muir
1951- H. C. Fithian, Jr.
1956- Thomas Wood. Jr.
1957- Nathan W. Stuart
1958- Katherine S. Carpenter
1959- J. Neafie Mitchell
1960- Allen P. Page, Jr.
The first instance I can recall in which members of our bar, as a group, rendered free services to a needy person occurred about 1931 following the 1929 depression. Six of the lawyer members of the Highland Lake Club, viz., S. Dale Furst, Jr., John C. Youngman, Michael J. Maggio, Samuel H. Humes, H. Alvan Baird and Marshall R. Anspach, all appeared before Judge Whitehead as attorneys for the defendant in a landlord and tenant case. Judge Whitehead, looking down benignly from the bench, inquired who represented the defendant. At once we all arose and said that we did. The judge smiled, and said that he would permit us all to sit at the counsel table, but would only permit two of us to actively participate in the presentation of the case. The poor attorney for the plaintiff (I have forgotten who he was) had looked very much alarmed and perturbed when he first saw us file in to appear for the defendant. I do not recall which side won, but I am sure it must have been the defendant.
From what minutes are available, the next reference I can find to legal aid, is on February 25, 1937, when Mrs. Chatham was authorized to inform the Pennsylvania State Bar Association that the Lycoming Law Association would be willing to have a representative appear before it and explain the purposes of legal aid. Accordingly on April 14, 1937, George Stuart Scott, Jr., of Philadelphia, was in attendance at our meeting and presented the matter. The next reference I can find in the minutes, for February 17, 1941, was that a Legal Aid Society was to be established through the Lycoming County Welfare Council, and it was specified which types of cases would not be handled. An office was established in the former McCormick Welfare Center, on West Fourth Street, and cases were assigned to individual lawyers who had volunteered for that service. A committee of five lawyers as an Advisory group was to be appointed, one by the Welfare Council, one by the Community Chest, and three by the Executive Committee of the Lycoming Law Association, said committee to adopt rules and procedures. One of its members to act as Executive Secretary, or administrative officer, and one paid clerk. At a meeting held on January 21, 1943, it was reported that the Legal Aid was functioning.
Apparently the matter continued there for some time, as the next reference to Legal Aid appears in the minutes of the Executive Committee of February 10, 1948, when the President was authorized to appoint a committee to study the advisability of establishing a Legal Referral Service for persons of moderate means. The committee appointed consisted of Katherine S. Carpenter, chairman, Malcolm S. Muir, Patrick H. Fierro, George T. Williams and J. Neafie Mitchell. This committee reported on November 2, 1948, and its report was adopted January 26, 1949. It reported at the meeting of January 9, 1950, that twenty-three members of the association had agreed to take part in the services.
In November 1950, action was taken to reactivate the Legal Referral Service, and a new committee was appointed, Mrs. Carpenter’s committee being discharged April 4, 1952. On February 6, 1957, a new committee was appointed to again study the matter of legal aid. The applicants were first to be screened by the Family Service and then sent to the Secretary of the committee. In 1957, only twenty-five clients were interviewed, and with a county population of over 100,000, according to the national average, this should have been nearer 700 cases, a year. (Our local situation was rather frankly criticized on page 164, of the 1960 Annual Report of the Pennsylvania Bar Association). However, since that report was prepared, possible early in 1959, it was not entirely up-to-date. On January 15, 1958, at the annual meeting, Thomas Wood, the new chairman, reported that an exhaustive study had been made, together with certain findings of fact and recommendations. Mr. Wood and John Campana filed this written report with the Executive Committee. On January 12, 1959, Mr. Wood again reported on the matter of Legal Aid, etc., and urgently requested funds to carry out their recommendations. He suggested a unified administration, with an office for a part-time clerk. It was impossible to obtain such an office because of continued lack of funds. None of the committee’s former reports had been acted upon, apparently for reasons of finance. On February 4, 1959, the Executive Committee of the association voted to ask the Court to increase the mastership in divorce fee by $10.00 for the purpose of financing legal aid, legal referral and public defender services. The Court made such an order effective as of April 1, 1959, and on March 4, 1959, Mr. Wood was authorized to go ahead with his committee’s proposal, and the association allocated $1,000 for the establishment of an office, such funds to come from the Lycoming Reporter account, if necessary.
The association opened an office at 25 West Third Street, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in March 1960, for administration of the legal aid, voluntary defender and lawyer referral programs on an organized basis. Regular business hours were established for personal inquiries. Assignments were made to volunteer members of the association on legal aid cases, to the last ten members admitted, on voluntary defender cases, and to all attorneys who register for referral cases. The availability of its services has been publicized by paid advertisements, and by wide distribution of informative circulars. Public acceptance has been such as to indicate that the service is meeting a definite community need. The voluntary defender program was expanded in June, 1960, to include service to the U. S. District Court during its Williamsport sessions. Both that Court and the Lycoming County Court have made public note of the value and usefulness of the service in conducting the work of the Court.
At the December 9, 1959 meeting, Mr. Wood reported that a new act of assembly had been passed allowing compensation for voluntary defenders. He also announced that the Legal Referral service would include advice to military personnel. It was also planned to employ a part-time clerk. Office hours were to be established and a five day a week schedule, the office to be staffed by lawyers’ wives, in order to handle the applications. A room was to be rented at the First National Bank Building, at $45 per month. On February 10, 1960, the committee reported to the Executive Committee that it had rented room 415, in said bank building. Employment of a part-time clerk was also included in the plan.
On November 17, 1941, a committee was appointed to look into the matter of establishing a legal journal, which by the Act of May 16, 1941, P. L. 43, was now permitted in counties of the sixth class. Then on February 10, 1948, the President again appointed a committee to plan for a legal journal for Lycoming County. Then a year later, another committee consisting of Muir, Greevy and Stuart was appointed, and this committee recommended, at a special meeting of the association held on March 11, 1949, that the Executive Committee proceed to publish a legal journal to be called the Lycoming Reporter, according to the plan submitted by Mr. Muir’s committee, after approval by the Court. The date of the first publication was April 1, 1949. The first and only editor has been Malcolm S. Muir. The first business manager was Edna A. Kitchen, and the first printer was Murelle Printing Company, of Sayre, Pennsylvania.. Mitchell of Philadelphia had exclusive sales outside of Lycoming County.
Thereafter, a new contract was entered into with The Three Towns Press, publishers of the Muncy Luminary, controlled at that time by Mrs. Henry Brock, but more recently by Robert N. Wilt, the editor. The Lycoming Reporter has been of invaluable service to the Lycoming Law Association financially, as the latter is a non-profit corporation, having adopted a new constitution and by-laws, accepted the 1933 Non-profit law approved May 5, 1933, and the provisions of the Pennsylvania Constitution of 1874. The new constitution and by-laws will be found in the issue of the Lycoming Reporter for March 30, 1951.
Many lawyers are no doubt familiar with the cause celebre in England, in the 1870's known as the Tichborne case.80 But few of the present members of our bar are familiar with a local case which aroused much interest in our county, in the 1900’s, and which I have chosen to call by the above title.
One of the first things a young lawyer searching titles in Lycoming County learns from the older lawyers, or perhaps from Walt Rhine, is about the “Towhead” Allen case. The first I ever heard of it was from R. K. Foster, some thirty-five years ago. The moral of the story, as it was pointed out to me, was simply this to be careful to ascertain the marital status of all grantors in deeds. However, in this case, as events will show, no amount of care on any lawyer’s part would have avoided the consequences of what transpired. I recall asking Tom Hammond at one time whether a member of the Oliver-Dove family was single, and if he knew, would he give me an affidavit. His reply was: “Marshall, I would not make an affidavit that my own brother was single.” And then he too mentioned the Pangborn case.
Our story begins in 1867, which is the first year I can find the name of Winfield Scott Allen, otherwise known locally as “Towhead” Allen, in our city directories. Presumably he was called that because of his blond hair. He was first listed as a carpenter, then as a carpenter and builder, real estate agent, gun-smith, carriage dealer and dealer in guns and ammunition, with his place of business at 159 West Fourth Street, and later at 17 West Fourth Street.
The so-called Mr. Allen was indeed a very popular fellow, and quite a hunter, and an especially good salesman of real estate. And then in the language of Time, “death came, as it must to all men” to Mr. Allen, as the result of hunting accident, on October 25, 1888. At that time, so far as the people of Williamsport knew, he was happily married to Sarah J. Harman, whom he left as his widow, and four children: William S., Jr., Edward T., Sarah F., and Isaac B. Allen. The widow was named administratrix, and guardians were appointed for the three younger children. All apparently went well until the oldest son, William S. Allen, Jr., presented a petition to the Orphans Court, alleging that he had been in partnership with his father, in the green grocery and tobacco business, and that his mother had failed to make any accounting. This matter went before an auditor, who decided that the Orphans Court had no jurisdiction over a partnership. Mrs. Allen then resigned as administratrix and was discharged on April 23, 1889. George R. Leamon was appointed administrator d.b.n. in her place. So far everything was lovely, and the administrator d.b.n. proceeded with partition proceedings, and sold numerous tracts of land, under order of the Orphans Court. Unfortunately, the entire estate file is missing from the Court House, and we have to piece together what fragments we can find.
And then one day a cloud appeared on the horizon in the person of a lady from New Jersey by the name of Louisa L. Perrine. She went to the office of H. C. and S. T. McCormick and startled Mr. McCormick by announcing that she was the daughter of the so-called W. S. Allen, by a prior marriage, and that his real name was Stephen Pangborn; that her mother, Sarah Giles Pangborn, was living, and her parents had never been divorced. They resided in Plainfield, New Jersey, and that Mr. Pangborn (alias W. S. Allen) had deserted her mother and herself soon after she was born. She wondered why her mother had never been asked to sign any deeds! Well, Mr. McCormick was in a quandary, for he like many another lawyer had no doubt repeatedly passed real estate titles in which the so-called Mr. Allen and Sarah J. Allen, his supposed wife, appeared as grantors. And now it seemed that this supposed widow of “Towhead” Allen was not really his wife at all, and the four children not his legal heirs, he never having been divorced from his lawful wife. Suddenly then in 1900, the law business in ejectment began to boom.
As nearly as I can ascertain there were about forty properties involved, at least that is the number which Sarah G. Pangborn and her daughter, Louisa L. (Pangborn) Perrine, mortgaged to a New Jersey lawyer, James O. Clark, of Westfield, New Jersey, for twenty thousand dollars, to which apparently the titles were defective for the above reasons.81 No doubt this mortgage was given to raise money to pay detectives, and for the court costs and expenses of trial. Some of these cases must certainly have been settled out of court, for I can find only ten actions in ejectment in Lycoming County, brought by Mrs. Perrine, her mother having died in the meantime, leaving her daughter as the sole heir. (These cases are to be found in the Prothonotary’s office, to Nos. 288-297, March Term, 1900, which files are all there but contain very little information. However, by looking at the microfilm of the Appearance Docket, we find the dates of the ejectment suit, and that leads us to the appellate court decisions, and finally, from the date of the verdict to the newspaper files which give the testimony, whereas the decisions only state the facts briefly.)
This was the situation then, on January 24, 1900, .when these ejectments were instituted, alleging right of possession to all of the lands which George R. Leamon, as Administrator d.b.n. of W. S. Allen, deceased, had purported to convey. As a result of these cases, many innocent, bona fide purchasers suffered. These cases went before juries, and it was evidently found to their satisfaction that Louisa L. Perrine was in fact the daughter of the so-called W. S. Allen, by a previous marriage in New Jersey in 1863, her mother never having been divorced from her father, and he was later married to Sarah J. Harman under an assumed name. Only one of these cases was appealed to the Superior Court, that of Matilda Kohr et al.,82 which affirmed the lower court, vide Perrine v. Kohr, Appellant, 20 Pa. Super. 36 (1902), and reaffirmed by the Supreme Court, in 205 Pa. 602 (1903).
A great many lawyers of our local bar were involved in this litigation. It is said one law office had to expend $8,000 as the result of this deception by Allen. Nearly the entire bar was aligned against the McCormick office, and many had refused to take Mrs. Perrine’s case. The reported cases above cited show that John T. Fredericks, John G. Reading, Jr., Candor and Munson, James B. Krause and W. W. Hart appeared on the brief for the appellant Kohr.
Since all lawyers have access to the appellate court cases, which state the facts very briefly, I will now summarize the testimony as it appeared in the newspapers. In 1862, Stephen Pangborn, Sr., kept a hotel in Plainfield, New Jersey. Among those in his family was his name-sake, Stephen, Jr. He was wild and had no particular business. He courted Sarah Giles against her mother’s opposition, but the former received his attentions. He finally persuaded her to go to the home of the Rev. Sylvester Armstrong where they were married January 1, 1863. When they were married, Mrs. Pangborn asked for a marriage certificate. The minister said that he had no blanks, but she should send for it later. She did send twice, but he was too ill to be seen, and died six days later on January 7th.
Their daughter, Louisa, was born December 31, 1863. At that time there was no law in New Jersey requiring the registry of marriages, but a law did require the registration of births, and a certificate of the child’s birth is of record in this case. Three months after the birth of her daughter, Mrs. Sarah Giles Pangborn became an invalid, and Pangborn left and dropped out of sight entirely except to a few persons.
About that time, a young man came to Williamsport and applied for board to a Mrs. Swartz. He gave his name as W. S. Allen, and appeared to be afraid of strangers. He gave as his reason that he had accidentally killed a man in New York, from whence he came and that he feared arrest. About a year later he married Sarah J. Harman, who worked at the boarding house.
Meanwhile Pangborn or Allen kept in touch with certain members of his family through a nephew, Stephen Pangborn Brown, and returned to Plainfield secretly in 1882 to attend his father’s funeral.
Stephen P. Brown was the first witness called by the plaintiff. He lived at Dunallen, New Jersey, and was horn in 1856. He was a locomotive engineer on the Central Railroad of New Jersey since 1896. His mother was Anna Maria Pangborn, daughter of Stephen Pangborn, Sr. The witness first knew Pangborn, Jr., when he left his wife and came to stay at their home for a few days, although actually living in an old flax mill nearby. He remained a week or two and then returned to Williamsport. The next time Brown saw him was in 1866 or 1867, when he came to Brown’s father’s house at night. Witness heard him say that he went by the name of W. S. Allen and lived in Williamsport, Pa. He next saw him in 1870 or 1873, when he came in the afternoon and stayed all night. Pangborn said he was afraid that Giles, Sarah’s brother, would shoot him. He next saw Pangborn in the winter of 1875-76, when he again came to the Brown house. Witness met him in New York in 1885. Pangborn told him he was in the gun business, gave him a photograph of himself, and said that if anything happened to him Brown would get a telegram. Brown did in fact get a telegram from W. S. Allen, Jr., at the time of the fatal accidental shooting out west.
Brown notified Pangborn’s brothers and sisters of his death, and of the time of the funeral. He went directly to Mrs. Allen and told her her husband’s name was Pangborn and that he had a wife and daughter in New Jersey. He identified the body of W. S. Allen as that of Stephen Pangborn of New Jersey. Brown refused to tell Louisa Perrine anything, and had never talked with her about it since. However, he did tell his nephew, Isaac P. Runyan.
Brown testified that he did not know Pangborn had a wife in Williamsport until Pangborn was dead. He knew that he had registered in New York with a woman as Mr. and Mrs. Allen. About two years after Allen’s death, Brown again saw Mrs. Allen in Williamsport and she asked him to keep her posted if the family in New Jersey made any move, and the witness told her that they were looking for the heirs of W. S. Allen in New Jersey. He never admitted that Mrs. Perrine was a relative and never saw her at his home.
The next witness was Mrs. Emma J. Denton, a sister of Stephen P. Brown, who lived in Plainfield. She testified that her mother had a brother. Stephen Pangborn. She remembered hearing of his marriage and his coming to their home after he had left his wife and daughter. Her father and Stephen Pangborn corresponded, and the letters were addressed to W. S. Allen, Williamsport, Pa. Mrs. Denton identified a photograph of Allen as her uncle, Stephen Pangborn. Mrs. Sarah Giles Pangborn died in April, 1900.
James T. Ferry, Bound Brook, New Jersey, knew Stephen and his father, and met the former through the Giles family. Witness’ wife was an aunt of Mrs. Pangborn. Ferry believes that Pangborn married Sarah J. Giles, as he so introduced her to witness. Pangborn worked as a carpenter, and he and his wife boarded with Mrs. Giles. Pangborn told witness that the Rev. Armstrong had married them. Witness’ wife and Sarah Pangborn were present at the time and heard the conversation. Stephen Pangborn and his wife visited witness in his home, and Mrs. Pangborn suffered a paralytic stroke about three months after the child, Louisa, was born.
Abraham King, a resident of Plainsfield, knew Pangborn and congratulated him on his marriage to Sarah Giles.
Harriet J. Hoagland, Bound Brook, New Jersey, a sister of Sarah Giles Pangborn. Witness testified her sister and Pangborn were married on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. When they returned to the Giles home, they announced that they had been married. They lived together at witness’ home and occupied the same room. Witness was present when Louisa was born and identified the plaintiff as that child.
Sarah E. Wyckoff was called and stated that she lived at Mendham, New Jersey, was sister of Mrs. Armstrong, and was living with the Armstrongs at the time of Rev. Mr. Armstrong’s death. She was present at the marriage and gave testimony as to why no marriage certificate was given. Rev. Mr. Armstrong died on January 7th.
Henrietta C. Armstrong, Moorestown, New Jersey, widow of Rev. Sylvester Armstrong, the pastor of the Plainfield Methodist Church in 1826. She explained about the marriage, and the reason why no certificate of marriage was issued, as stated by the previous witness.
A deposition of Phoebe Ann (Giles) Staats, since deceased, was read. This deposition was made at Plainfield and was to the effect that she was a sister of Sarah Giles Pangborn, that Sarah and Pangborn were known as man and wife, and that she remembered the birth of their daughter, Louisa.
Another deposition, that of Mary E. Cooper, was then read to the effect that she went with Phoebe to Rev. Armstrong’s to obtain the marriage certificate, and that he was too ill to be seen.
Martha E. Doebler, Glenwood Avenue, Williamsport, Pa., testified that her mother’s name was Swartz and that she was the one who kept the boarding house where Pangborn-Allen stayed. She knew that W. S. Allen had come there to board shortly before the 1865 flood.
Cornelia Varmule, of Plainfield, New Jersey testified that Sarah Giles was her niece; that Pangborn had told witness a few days before his marriage that he and Sarah were going to be married and wanted a witness to go with them. The witness had refused because her sister did not approve. The day after New Year’s, Pangborn had told witness he had married her niece, and that Rev. Mr. Armstrong was too ill to give them a marriage certificate but they would get one in a few days. They were recognized in the community as man and wife. Witness also saw Louisa when she was a day old. She also heard Pangborn introduce Sarah Giles as his wife. He deserted his wife and child about a year and a half after their marriage. She also identified the plaintiff as Louisa, the child of Pangborn.
H. S. Lucas testified that he came to Williamsport in 1864 and knew W. S. Allen, and that he was in the gun business at the time of his death. The witness first met him in 1865, and he was attracted by his appearance, his hair and his peculiar dress. He knew him by his nickname, “Towhead” Allen. Photographs of Pangborn were produced and shown witness, who identified them as being of Allen.
S. P. Gable first met Allen in 1865 and saw him at the Beaver dam after the flood when Allen was helping to build platforms. He also identified the photographs shown the previous witness.
P. W. Pierson, a book-keeper at the First National Bank, Williamsport, Pa., testified that he knew W. S. Allen, and identified a letter to Stephen P. Brown as being in the handwriting of Allen. He especially identified the signature.
D. A. Sloatman, a teller at the same bank, testified to the same effect. W. H. Holloway also identified the photograph and signature.
A deposition made by Sarah A. Wilson, of Plainfield, N.J., was then read to the effect that she knew Stephen Pangborn and Sarah Giles as man and wife. Likewise, similar depositions were introduced made by Elizabeth Demler, Laura A. Armstrong, Anna Maria Brown and Mary A. Brown as to common knowledge of the marriage.
Walter G. Runyan’s deposition was to the effect that he knew of the marriage and the desertion by Pangborn; that Pangborn came to his house with Stephen once after Pangborn ran away. He gave his address as W. S. Allen, Williamsport, Pa., and told Brown he had changed his name.
The deposition of Charles Carpenter, a telegraph operator at Dunallen, New Jersey, in 1882, identified a telegram introduced in evidence, regarding the death of Stephen Pangborn, Sr., which had been sent to W. S. Allen. The deposition of Charles English, another telegraph operator was to the same effect.
A deposition of Dallas Reeves, Registrar of Vital Statistics of the State of New Jersey, stated that birth records were now in his care, and further testifying as to the genuineness of the birth certificate of Louisa L. Perrine, nee Pangborn.
The plaintiff then took the stand. She testified that her mother was Sarah Giles Pangborn with whom she lived until her marriage to Charles M. Perrine twenty years ago. She lived with him for three years when he was sent to the state prison for ten years. After he was sent to the penitentiary, she married Louis A. Miller. She explained that this was because Judge Ulrich, city judge of Plainfield, N.J., told her that when a man got ten years in prison in New Jersey, it amounted to an absolute divorce, so she married Miller while Perrine was still living, and she did not know until three years ago that such was not the law, and she has not lived with Miller since then. Perrine was killed on the railroad in February 1900, Miller is still living. (This was in reply to some questions as to why some witnesses knew her by the name of Miller.)
Mrs. Perrine testified that she first saw Pangborn when she was a child of six or eight. She was playing in the brook which divides Plainfield and North Plainfield. He gave her five paper ten cent pieces and told her not to tell anyone that her father gave them to her, and not to let anyone take them away from her. She next saw him in a candy store in Plainfield a few years later. Mr. Woodin, the proprietor, called her into the store and said to a man there: “Steve, look at that !“ The man said: “My God, is that my child in such a destitute appearance ?“ Mr. Woodin said: “Yes, Steve, you ought to be ashamed of yourself.” He wanted her to go with him and said he would take care of her but she refused, because she could not leave her crippled mother. About 16 years later, she saw him again, when she was washing and hanging up clothes. He wanted her to go with him but again she refused and said she would not leave her badly crippled mother.
She identified the photographs in evidence as the man who had said he was her father, the photographs of W. S. Allen. She stated that it was Isaac P. Runyan who had told her that her second marriage was illegal. She never knew this until about three years ago when he became her counsel. The plaintiff was the last witness and her case was closed.
James B. Krause opened the case for the defense. He stated that W. S. Allen had been buried from the First Baptist Church of Williamsport, recited the proceedings in the estate, the sales in partition. The defense claimed that they had a right to rely on the deeds which had been made under Order of the Orphans Court of Lycoming County. Mr. Krause further stated that they would show that sometime in the 1870’s, this same Sarah Giles married a man by the name of Smith, and was thereafter known as Mrs. Smith. He remarked that it does seem singular, if she supposed herself to be married to Pangborn, that she should marry again while he lived.
The first witness for the defense was Mrs. Lizzie Castello who testified that she had lived in Williamsport for fifty years. She was a sister of Sarah J. Harman. She knew W. S. Allen. He married her sister in Williamsport and the witness was present. They were married by Squire Hepburn at her father’s home, in the presence of the parents. Mr. and Mrs. Allen had five children, one of whom died. They first lived at her father’s home, for a year and then went to housekeeping on Hepburn Street, and later on West Street, where they lived when Mr. Allen died. Her sister, Sarah Harman Allen died last spring. (A record was introduced to show that John Hepburn was a Justice of the Peace.)
The defense then offered the Letters of Administration in the estate of W. S. Allen, which offer was objected to as the Orphans Court had no jurisdiction because of failure to serve the plaintiff (the real heir) with notice.
Matilda Kohr, widow of Rev. Emmanuel Kohr, who bought the property in question from the Administrator D.B.N. testified as to that transaction.
O. J. Travis was then called. The object of his testimony was to show that he had known Allen in Philadelphia in February 1863, and also in Williamsport in March 1863, which C. LaRue Munson then contended, showed that Allen could not have conceived Louisa in New Jersey at about that time.
Lyman Dewitt testified that he remembered seeing Allen in the fall of 1862 when he went to work at the old Water Mill, near the foot of what is now Locust Street.
It was then proposed to prove by John Stewart, of Plainfield that Sarah Giles had lived with another man as his wife and was reputed to be married to him, this for the purpose of showing that she did not regard herself as previously married to Pangborn. This was objected to, but admitted. The witness said that she was known as Sarah Pangborn when he first knew her in 1875. Then the next time he met her, he said in effect: “Permit me to congratulate you, Mrs. Smith,” and she accepted the congratulations. She told him that she had the same right to be married as any one else. Two other witnesses, W. S. Terry and Wallace Vall, both of Plainfield, also testified to the same effect.
William N. Pangborn, a nephew of Stephen Pangborn, Sr., testified that he knew the plaintiff’s mother when she lived on Stiger’s land in 1859. That she was there first known by the name of Pangborn, after her marriage; and then later by the name of Smith. She changed her name about 1877. She and Smith lived together as husband and wife. Smith died in 1881.
The case was then closed. The jury deliberated for about three hours, and returned a verdict for the plaintiff.
80See Famous Trials of the Century, by J. B. Atlay. London: 1899, pp. 100-393. This trial lasted 188 days.
81Lycoming County Mortgage Book 81. P. 746 — May 1, 1899.
82See No. 291, March Term, 1900.