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SOUTHERN STANDARD-MCMINN VILLE. TENNESSEE. SATURDAY, JUNE 14, l89o
Incidents and Anecdotes of the Moun
A. S. Colyar in The Round Tuble.
The anecdotes nnd incidents of the
bur, known forty or fifty years ago in
Tennessee, ns the mountain lawyers,
if collected !y a humorist, would
make a most readable book. My ac
quaintance with the mountain law
yers extended only to what was
known as' Judge Marchbanks' cir
cuit, including the lawyers that
cufne into the circuit from adjoining
counties. Among them were several
eminent lawyers. James Fulton, of
Fayetteville, Mioah Taul and Hop
kins L; Turney, of Winchester,
James 1 Thompson, of McMinn
ville, Sam Laughlin and Sam Tur
ney, of Sparta, and W. 1 Hickerson,
of Manchester, were all great law
yers, and I use the adjective great in
its true , sense. Mr. Fulton would
havii been a great lawyer before the
king's bench, but never left his own
county to practice; he sent all his
Supreme Court cases to Mr. Francis
1. Fogg, and uniformly refused the
most tempting I'. is to other counties.
The last argument lie cvrr made was
in a will case, and if not the best, it
was among the best of his life.
When he closed the speech he,
without waiting for the decision,
asked the writer to walk with him to
the office of Mr. John M. l'right,
who was his nephew, and a young
man of great promise, and upon en
tering the ofhVe, he told Mr. Uright
he had come to turn over his business
to him that he never intended to
make another speech and he gave
Mr. liriglit a list of his cases.
He was in fine health, a magnifi
cent man, more than six feet in
height and a most CHinmanding
man. Through his whole life he
had been a man of perfect health and
he was then not an old man, but that
night, the very night of his retire
ment, he was violently attacked and
dietl a few days after. He had accu
mulated a fortune of several hun
dred thousand dollars, from his
practice alone, and judicious invest
ments in Lincoln county lands and
Micah Taul was a man of much
culture, and a great lawyer, excep
tionajly neat in appearance ; he was
a Lord Chesterfield in manners and
address, lie was in Congress from
Kentucky, in 1S1., and voted for the
fiftcen-hundred-dollar salary, and it
beat him, as it did all who voted for
it except Mr. Clay. lie then moved
to 'It'iniossec. He was the father of
the very promising younir lawyer.
Thomas 1. Taul, who was killed by
Uufus Anderson in 18L".).
Anderson was acquitted under the
inspiration of Felix (Jruiuly, and
Col. Taul, with whom I read law,
often took up a list of the jury and
showed that all of them, every one
h id come to some bad end.
Taul was an impulsive, high
strung man; and to lose his temper
was to lose his case, and this was the
weakrress that his competitor at the
bar, Hopkins L. Turney, always
Sam Turney was a unique man,
slouchy, silent, gentle, kind, read
and thought much, talked but little,
but always used expressive words.
His thoughts were eminently origi
nal. In a temperance speech he
described a poor man that fell from
his horse while drunk and was
killed, as appearing at St. Peter's
gate so drunk that he could not an
swer the first question.
In describing his success in the
Supreme Court, he said yes, he
gained all his cases and could have
gained more if he had had them.
James P. Thompson was an im
pulsive old Virginian, who was as
innocent of the world's ways as if lie
had been born in another planet.
Crossing a mountain, he saw a deer
on a hillside, and during the week
while at court he bought a gun, and
coming back as he approached the
place he got ready to shoot, but with
astonishment, looking out on the
hillside, he exclaimed, "Why, the
darn thing has gone."
W. P. Hickerson was a younger
man, but came to the bar with gieat
promise. He had twenty-five hun
dred dollars in fees before he got li
cense, and certainly, I have never
known any man tocome into so finea
practice all at once. Speaking to a
jury at one time in great earnestness,
one of the jury, Mr. William Wat-ter-son,
the grandfather of Henri, a
very old man, went to sleep. Hicker
son was quite sensitive about it, and
asked the court to have him waked
up. Mr. Waterson was aroused by
the episode, and rising up, said in
the most polite manner, "Yes,
Judge. I was taking a little nap, but
I thought Major Hickerson would do
what was right about it.'
The niit charming man in
mountain circuit was Washington
Britton. For twenty-five years he
wa9 the soul of the bar, sweet, and
gentle ; he never lost his temper, un
less when some coarse man battered
down the standard of social life
which he had erected in his mind.
Nothing broughtout quicker the lit
tlo curses than the reading of some
dead man's will with the clause,' "I
give and bequeath to my wife for
life, or during her widowhood."
He often said no such man would get
to heaven. Britton was without
children and had a charming wife,
and he kept a will for many years
which read : "I don't want any of
my relations to have any of my
property; I don't want my wife's re
lations to have any of it. I give all
of my property to my wife to enable
her, if possible, to marry again."
His humor was unbounded; the
anecdotes of his life, if put in a book,
would be the delight of the drawing
room. His every act and every
word was luunor itself, and this pas
sion reigned to the last moment of
Poor Britton the beloved of the
mountain bar died of cancer, hav
ing lingered long and suffered much.
On his dying bed the ruling power
was strong. His old friend, George
J. Stubbleiield, called to see him,
and the conversation turned upon a
claim set up by the town of Alta
mont for property taken by the
Union soldiers during the war, when
Britton said: "George, that is not a
just claim ; before 1 got down I had
the account made out, between the
government and the Altamonters,
and I found on balancing the account
that the Altamonters stole $800 more
from the soldiers than the soldiers
stole from them."
Britton was counsel in the celebra
ted dog case between John W. Nun
nelly and Alex. Colson, which was
tried by Judge 8am Anderson, sit
ting by interchange with Judge
Marchbanks; and perhaps the best
humor the bar of Tennessee has ever
listened to, was Britton's rendering
of Judge Anderson's charge. The
law suit was for an injury done a dog
named Sharp, a slow-track dog,
which belonged to Colson. The taial
lasted one week. It was on top of
the mountain, where there were no
books, and the old Judge was greatly
perplexed about the law of the case.
The defense sought to be made was,
that Sharp was a dog of bad charac
ter, that he killed sheep, broke into
spring-houses, and gnawed hides in
Britton's rendering of the charge
was in substance this: Gentlemen of
the jury : I am embarrassed for the
want of books: we are out in the
woods (which was the case, for Grun
dy county had just been organized
and the trial took place on the top of
the mountain), and I do not remem
ber to have ever read any thing on
the dog law. It is said, gentlemen of
the jury, that a dog isirnv nadinr,
and that he is not and can not be
property, while on the other hand it
is said that he is a domestic animal
and not of a wild nature, and the
court instructs you that this action
can bo maintained, and that Colson
can recover of Nunnelley for setting
his bull pups on Sharp and tearing
his ears if he did it and of this,
gentlemen of the jury, you must be
the exclusive judges.
It is said on the part of the plain
tiff's counsel that the proof shows,
that Colson was a hunter, and made
his living by his gun and his clog,
and that Sharp was a slow track dog,
and that his value was impaired by
loss of hearing in consequence of his
ears being torn.
Gentlemen of the jury: the court
can not aid you upon the facts, the
court is of opinion that a fast dog
would be worth more than a slow
dog, but you must look to the evi
dence and not to the court on this
Gentlemen of the jury : the ques
that gives me most trouble is the
question of Sharp's character, set up
as a defense. I hesitated about leN
ting this evidence in : for I do not
remember in all my reading and I
have been forty years, either at the
bar or on the bench to have read
any thing on the subject of a dog's
(character. But for fear of making a
mistake, I have let in the evidence
of Sharp's character for what it is
worth. Assimilating the dog's char
acter to a man's I will state the law
to be, that a man's character is what
his neighbors say about him, and it
must be general, and now I further
charge you, that if Sharp's neigh
bors generally understood and be
lieved that he was a sheep-kiiling
dog that would constitute character.
And the next question is, whether
his ears were torn off by John W.
Nunnelley's bull pups with a good or
purpose. It Niarp Killed sheep,
New Spring and Summer
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ciOUR GROCERY DEPARTMENT
As usual is supplied with a full stock of Fresh Family Groceries and Household Supplies.
Everybody invited to come and see us
"w. o. &d jb. ie"1. womace:
Opposite Warren House, - - McMinnville, Tenn.
T. H. ft.VSTWOOD,
T. It. ( 'ARSON'.
EASTWOOD BROS & CURSOR,
-Manufacturers of The Giant Gane Mills,-
IUOX COLUMNS, LINTELS, FENCING, GRATES g FRONTS,
FURNACE GRATE BARS, STOVES, DOG IRONS,
HOLLOW WARE, VENTILATORS,
Brass Goods, Plow Repair's, Etc.
msm wmim or m. um dor os skoii iqugk.
STEAM ENGINES and BOILERS,
AND MILL SUPPLIES IN GENERAL.
. TIN, SHEET IRON and COPPER WARE.
Special Attention (iiven to Guttering, Roofing, Repairs.
the i I mil
yer, he knew but little of the world.
Charles Heady and Ed. Keeble,
with the assistance of Mrs. McBroom,
at Woodbury, succeeded in convinc
ing the old judge that it was the gan
der and not the goose that laid the
to farming with his high
sense of the laws of propriety, he
bought an equal number of males
and females in laying in herds of
cattle, sheep, and hogs.
The central figure, and the most
unique of all the men of the moun
tain district, was the circuit judge,
Andrew J. Marchbanks. The most
elegant and refined man was the
chancellor, Broomfield L. Ridley
They both lived at McMinnville,
and in early manhood came near
fighting a duel growing out of an in
cident in court. I have now all the
original papers in my possession.
Judge Marchbanks was brought up
in the same county, Overton, with
Judge Catron. Judge Catron had the
better advantages, but in my opinion
Judge Marchbanks was the greater
lawyer. lie was more than twenty
years on the bench, first elected by
the legislature, and then twice by
'fiOOi : hr
Nunnelley might kill Sharp, if done
without malice, but if John V.
Nunnelley out of malice to Sharp's
master set his bull pups on Sharp
ZZ, TJSrr'Z" STOVES, TINWAR and HOUSE FURNISHING GOODS
iously and not to rid the community
of a bad dog then the fact that
Sharp killed sheep, if he did, and the
court does not mean to intimate that
he did, that being a question for the
jury, but if he did it would be no
justification for Nunnelley to set his
bull pups on Sharp and tear his ears
that is, if it was done out of malice.
Then again, gentlemen of the jury,
it is said Sham broke into sirinr-
houses and gnawed hides at the tan-
yard, and on this point the court in
structs you that if Sharp did these
things wantonly and maliciously
they would be circumstances to be
looked to.by you on the question of
character. But on the other hand, if
Sharp broke into spring-houses and
lapped up the milk, and gnawed the
hides at the tan-yard just as a matter
of diet and not out of malice to the
owner, then these things would not
affect his general character, and after
all, gentlemen of the jury, it is that
general character and not particular
habits which you are to look to, for
with a man, and the rule I suppose is
the same, is that he is always pre
pared to defend his general character
but not the particular traits of it.
No one can appreciate this charge
without knowing the noble judge
who delivered it. A well-read law-
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in H (liMimo ni y, tht-tihnr of tor ottiT nv. I)im wo
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STITl'i'R f.ir JM.ASTKR on wnllj. Urnnmrnul CAKPKTS
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seasons with the best and fattest
BEEF, PORK, AND MUTTON
To be found in the country.
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Mc M I N N N VI LLE, TEN N.
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AUTHORIZED DEPOSITORY OF STATE FUNDS.
J. F. MORFORD, 8. L. COLVI LLK,
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FRANK COLVILLE Cashier.
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