History of Judges

 Thomas Smith2
THOMAS SMITH, 1791-1794

Born October, 1745, exact date unknown, Thomas Smith was born in County Aberdeenshire, Scotland.  Judge Smith came to this country in 1768 and originally settled in Philadelphia.  Through the influence of his half-brother, William Smith, Provost of the College of Pennsylvania, (now the University of Pennsylvania), Thomas Smith received a commission as a deputy surveyor for the surveyor General John Lukens in February of 1769.  The territory assigned to him included parts of what is now Clearfield, Blair, Centre, Cambria, Huntingdon, and Indiana, all of which was then in Cumberland County.  Surveyor Smith established his headquarters at Fort Bedford.  By January of 1772, Smith was practicing law in Bedford.  The majority of cases at this time were land cases.  On February 27, 1773, Smith was appointed by the Governor to be Prothonotary, Clerk, and Recorder for Bedford County.  On May 1, 1773, was named as Deputy Register of Wills for Bedford.  On May 3, 1774, Smith took the oath to serve as one of the county’s justices of the peace.  In May of 1775, the people of Bedford named Smith to serve on the county Committee of Correspondence.  On April 19, 1776, Smith was commissioned as Colonel of the Second Battalion of Bedford County Associators.  At about the same time he was named an additional member to the State General Assembly.  On June 5, 1776, the Assembly assigned him to the Committee that drafted the instructions to the Pennsylvania Delegates in Congress.  Smith was also a delegate to the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1776.  Smith participated in drafting of the 1776 Constitution and signed it although he objected to it strongly on several grounds.  These included concentrating all legislative power in a single body and making the judiciary dependent on that legislative body.  As a result of his opposition to the new charter, Smith was replaced as Bedford County Prothonotary and Clerk of Courts on March 21, 1777.  Smith’s replacement was Robert Galbreath, a friend and supporter of the “Constitutionalist” party which was in favor of the 1776 Constitution.  On November 17, 1777, the Supreme Executive Council issued an arrest warrant for Smith for refusal to surrender the Court’s records.  Thomas Smith was part of the political factor opposed to the concentration of power under the 1776 Constitution.  This opposition included such men as James Wilson, a friend of Judge Smith.  Wilson a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a future signer of the 1787 Federal Constitution, was one of the leading lawyers and political thinkers of the revolution, and was strongly opposed to the structural provisions of the 1776 Constitution, as was Robert Morris, “Financier of the Revolution” another signer of the Declaration and future signer of the 1787 Constitution.  These opponents of the 1776 Constitution became known as the “Republicans” and the supporters of the 1776 Constitution “Constitutionalists.”  Eventually the Republicans became known as “Federalist” and the Constitutionalists “Anti-Federalists.”  Upon his arrest, Judge Smith surrendered the records and seals he had in his possession, and was released.  In May of 1776, Judge Smith took the oath to the new Constitution and was readmitted to practice in the Bedford Courts.  However, he continued to oppose the Constitution of 1776 and this resistance was not ended until the adoption of the Constitution of 1790, primarily constructed by Smith’s friend, James Wilson, which divided the legislative power into two chambers with an independent judiciary and strong executive.  Smith was an active participant during the Revolutionary War, became a deputy quartermaster, and was stationed at Bedford.  The political strife between the Constitutionalists and the Republicans made prosecution of the war in Pennsylvania difficult.  The Constitutionalists opposed the efforts of Congress to encroach on the State’s sovereignty and resisted the attempts of the Continental Army to extend its authority in Pennsylvania.  In 1779, Smith was made Colonel of the First Battalion.  In 1780 and 1781, Smith served in the Continental Congress.  After retiring from Congress in 1782, Judge Smith again directed his activities to the practice of law, and became a leading land lawyer in Pennsylvania.  In 1784, General George Washington retained Smith to represent him in the Washington County Courts to resolve claims against his lands purchased by Washington between 1770 and 1774.  By 1791, Smith had successfully concluded the actions.  General Washington, in one of his letters to Smith, stated he had a “growing very great esteem for his lawyer.”  In 1790, the new Constitution was passed and on August 20, 1791, Smith was named President Judge of the Fourth Judicial District that included Bedford County.  On January 31, 1794, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and served until his death in Philadelphia on March 31, 1809.  He was buried in Christ Church Cemetery, where Benjamin Franklin was laid to rest.  The Judge was survived by his wife, Letitia, and their daughter, Elizabeth.  The image shown is from the only known portrait of Judge Smith, a miniature owned by Elizabeth Smith’s descendants.

At the first court, Judge Smith held in Carlisle on October 19, 1791 one of the attorneys rose to make a motion and addressed the court by stating, “may it please your honors.”  Judge Smith requested him to postpone his remarks for a moment and the Judge made the following statement.  “The gentlemen of the Bar,” said he, “frequently use this expression in addressing this court; but the appellation not being given to us by the Constitution or Laws of the Country, it will be agreeable to the court if you decline giving it in future.  The expression ‘This Honorable Court’ has indeed crept into one of the Acts of our Assembly; - should that form of address be used in other circuits, we shall not say that it is improper.  For as on the one hand, it would be false modesty or rather false pride, under the mark of modesty to refuse any titles given by the Constitution or the Laws; so on the other, it would disclose uninformed minds should we arrogate to ourselves appellations not given by either.  If we possess sufficient legal abilities and an intimate and accurate knowledge of the practice: - if we administer the Laws with decision, dispatch and rigid integrity: - if we consult and promote the real permanent interests, and social happiness of our fellow-citizens, as far as in our power in our present station, they will respect us without any titles:  But should we appear unequal to our office – should we betray the want of legal abilities, or should our judgments be bad or influenced by our affections, or passions, or by any personal or party considerations, no titles or appellations, however pompous, could secure to us the respect of an enlightened people.

In one of his obituaries published on May 13, 1809, it was stated, “his attachment to the liberties and independence of the United States was inviolable. . . ”  “and that he never knowingly recommended prosecution of an unjust cause.”

Sources:  1.) Life and Times of Thomas Smith 1745-1889 by Burton Alva Konkle, Compion & Company 1904.  2.) Interesting People of Bedford County – James Whisker and Kevin Spiker by Two Scholars Press, 2014.  3.) Introduction to the Ratification of the Constitution in Pennsylvania, Digital Edition, ed. John P. Kaminski, Gaspere J. Saladino, Richard Leffler, Charles H. Schoenleber, and Margaret A. Hagin. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2009 Original Source, Ratification of the States, Volume II, Pennsylvania.

James Riddle2
JAMES RIDDLE, 1794-1804

James Riddle was born in York on January 20, 1755, and educated at Princeton College, where he remained for a while after his graduation as a tutor.  He then entered the law office of Robert McPherson, then a leading lawyer at York, who afterwards became Mr. Riddle’s father-in-law.  After having been admitted to the Bar at York, Mr. Riddle located in Chambersburg, where he was admitted to practice in 1784.  He soon acquired the largest practice at that Bar.  He was well read in science, literature, and law, a good advocate and very successful with juries.  He resigned from the bench in 1804, and after his retirement returned to the practice of the law, and amassed a large fortune.  He died at Chambersburg on February 5, 1837.

Source:  Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania a History 1623-1923 Volume III, by Frank M. Eastman, The American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1922.

Thomas Cooper2
THOMAS COOPER, 1804-1805

Judge Cooper was born in England on October 22, 1759.  He was educated at Oxford where he studied the classics and became proficient in chemistry and the natural sciences.  He never completed his degree, leaving the university in 1779 after refusing to sign the 39 articles of faith required for a formal degree by Oxford, a measure to ensure degrees were only granted to Anglicans.  That same year he married Alice Greenwood with whom he would have five children.  Cooper studied medicine and law in London, was admitted to the Bar and travelled a circuit for a few years.  Cooper was active in politics and was sent by the Democrat Clubs of England along with the inventor, James Watt, to the Democrat Clubs of France as observers.  Cooper was an advocate of what was considered at that time, radical political sentiments.  Cooper’s conduct in France was criticized by Edmund Burke in the House of Commons.  Cooper responded with a pamphlet; the circulation of which was prohibited among the “lower classes” by the Attorney General.  While in France, Cooper learned the process of obtaining chlorine from sea salt.  Returning to England he tried to establish a business by becoming a bleacher and calico printer, but was unsuccessful.  In 1795, Cooper followed his close friend, Joseph Priestly, a theologian and fellow scientist, to America and settled in Northumberland, Pennsylvania.  Cooper’s first visit to America was in 1793 to prepare a settlement for English dissenters, the visit in 1793 followed a second warning by the English government against committing seditious libel.  The move in 1795 was permanent.  Cooper began the practice of law in Northumberland, and became active in politics.  In a series of newspaper articles later assembled in a volume titled “Political Essays” (1799), Cooper advocated for freedom of the press and viciously disparaged the Sedition Act.  Cooper and Alexander Dallas served as counsel for William Duane in 1809 when Duane, editor of the influential Republican paper “The Aurora” was charged with false statements by a Senate Committee.  When advised that Duane would be denied the privilege of counsel by the Senate, both lawyers refused to take part in the proceedings, Cooper declaring he, “would not appear in the Senate Chamber with this gag on his mouth.”  In 1800, Cooper was convicted under the Sedition Act for newspaper articles published in a Sunbury newspaper of which Cooper was editor, which libeled President John Adams.  Tried in Philadelphia, he was convicted, fired and sent to jail for six months.  During his incarceration, his wife passed away.  Fifty years later in 1850 Congress remitted the fines.  After the political defeat of the Federalist in Pennsylvania, Cooper was awarded the judgeship of the Fourth Judicial District in 1804.  In 1806, he became President Judge of the Eighth Circuit then composed of the counties of Northumberland, Luzerne, and Lycoming.  However, his strict discipline in court soon brought him into disfavor.  A petition was filed against him in 1806, but he was acquitted.  In February, 1811, another petition was filed charging him with official misconduct.  The allegations included “brow beating” counsel and witnesses, refusing to hear parties speak in their own defense, and allowing horse racing to go on in Sunbury after he had issued a proclamation against it.  Not much was presented in the way of credible evidence against him, but he had lost support of the radical Republican leaders and was removed from office by Governor Snyder for injudicious conduct.  It was reported that there was a great rejoicing in the Northumberland area and a cannon was fired in celebration.  While President Judge of the Eighth Judicial District, Judge Cooper presided over the settlement of the Pennomite land dispute between Pennsylvania and Connecticut.  Judge Cooper continued to practice law for a short period but soon accepted the offer of a professorship of chemistry at Dickinson College.  While at Dickinson College, he served as a science advisor to President James Madison.  His analysis of rocket fragments garnered him commendations from the President.  He retained this position at Dickinson from 1811 to 1814.  In 1815, Cooper moved to the University of Pennsylvania where he continued teaching chemistry, mineralogy, and plant physiology.  Judge Cooper published numerous scientific works, and became prominent in his field.  In 1819, he was elected Professor of Chemistry at Jefferson’s College, Charlottesville, Virginia.  He was also to teach mineralogy, natural philosophy, and law.  However, he never actually taught as the opening of the college was postponed.  He begin to teach chemistry at South Carolina College in Columbia in 1820.  He was also appointed Professor of Geology and Mineralogy and was elected President of the College.  While serving at South Caroline College (now the University of South Carolina), he battled encroachments of religion in education, and pressed for the formation of a medical school in the south.  Cooper was very popular with many leading political figures in South Carolina.  He wrote extensively on a variety of topics.  He was an ardent supporter of states’ rights.  Abandoning his earlier opposition to the slave trade, he owned slaves and expounded the biological inferiority of blacks.  Cooper left the College in 1833 and was appointed by the Governor of South Carolina to compile and edit the statute laws of South Carolina.  Judge Cooper died in 1841 and was buried in Trinity Churchyard in Columbia, South Carolina.  Judge Cooper was described as “eminent for his versatility and the extent of his knowledge.”

Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, a History 1623-1923, Vol. II, by Frank M. Eastman, The American Historical of New York.  2.) Penn Biography, University of Pennsylvania University Archives and Records Center.  Copyright 1995-2017.

Jonathan H Walker2

Judge Walker was born in East Pennsboro Township, Cumberland County, in 1756.  Walker was a member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1776 and served as a soldier in the Continental Army.  Walker’s father was killed in an Indian attack at McCormack’s Fort, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  He graduated at Dickinson College in 1787, read law with Stephen Duncan, and was admitted to the Bar of Cumberland County in 1790.  Judge Walker stood 6’4” and was commissioned President Judge of the Fourth Judicial District in 1806, and moved to Bellefonte.  Later he resided in Bedford County in the house later known as the Union Hotel.  He served until 1818, when he was appointed judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  While Judge Walker was on the bench of the district court, his second son read law and commenced practice in Pittsburgh in 1821, afterwards his son removed to Mississippi, where he became a distinguished statesman and Secretary of the Treasury during the administration of President Polk.  While visiting in Natchez, Mississippi, Judge Walker died in 1826.  He was an eminent lawyer and a distinguished jurist.

 The following is a newspaper account regarding Judge Walker’s charge to the Grand Jury assembled in Bedford in 1807.

 At the court of quarter sessions for the county of Bedford, held in the present month, the Grand Jury requested the president of the court (Hon. Jonathan Walker) to grant them a copy of his charge.  With this request he complied, and the charge is now before us. . . . Judge Walker, after doing justice to the republican institutions of the country, makes the following just, and at this time, very apposite reflections.  “If we are not, and do not continue to be, the most happy and prosperous people on the face of the globe, it must result from our own folly, wickedness, and corruption.  Our political rulers and functionaries, by their elevation to office, are not exalted above the reach of popular responsibility:  To their constituents they are amenable, through the constitutional corrective, for all corrupt violations of the plain letter of the laws and constitutions:  They are responsible to the powers of the people, constitutionally exerted for all ‘high crimes and misdemeanors’ who may not only remove them from office, but punish them exemplarily by fine and imprisonment upon conviction by indictment.”  After paying just tribute to the right of suffrage, and our present general prosperity as a nation, the Judge strongly recommends vigilance in the people as essential to the preservation of freedom. [Judge Walker continued] “But because we are at present cloathed in the superb robe of our sovereignty, and supreme in the exercise of our chartered and constitutional rights and privileges, we are not foolishly to infer that we are in no peril of losing that sovereignty, or that we can retain it without the exercise of temperance, virtue and patriotism:  It is in the downy and fatal sopha of vice, indolence, and security, that the inveterate diseases of republics are first generated:  It is when the sentinels of virtue at the outposts, unsuspecting of danger, nod, and the watchman of integrity at the gate sleep, that the ambitious and insidious enemy of man dares to mine the wall and raze the fortress, and, assisted by the slaves of vice, and the panders of ambition, impiously presumes to plant the blood-stained standard of usurpation over the liberties of the country.”  [Philadelphia Democratic Press. 22 April 1807}  This address was widely reprinted, including in Pittsburgh Commonwealth of 6 May 1807.

 Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History 1623-1923, Vol. III, Frank M. Eastman, The American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1922.  2.) Bedford County in Newspapers 1755-1818 – James B. Whisker and Kevin Ray Spiker, Jr., Two Scholars Press, 2014.  3.) U. S. Courts./gov./Jonathan Hoge Walker.

Charles Huston2CHARLES HUSTON, 1818-1824

Charles Huston studied law with Thomas Duncan and was admitted to the Bar of Cumberland County in August 1795.  In 1816 Judge Huston served as co-counsel for the outlaw David Lewis when he was charged in Bedford with passing counterfeit coin and bank notes.  Huston served as President Judge of the Fourth Judicial District, consisting of the counties of Bedford, Huntington, Mifflin and Centre, from 1818 to 1824.  He was the author of an excellent work on land titles.  He was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1826 and served until 1845.  He died in 1849.

Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History 1623-1923, Vol. III, Frank M. Eastman, The American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1922.  2.)  Reminiscences and Sketches Historical and Biographical by William Hall, Meyers Printing House, 1890.

John Tod2
JOHN TOD, 1824-1827 

John Tod was born on September 24, 1779, in Suffield Township, Hartford County, Connecticut, the son of David and Rachel (Kent) Tod.    With his older brother, George, he attended tuition schools and was prepared for college by the family pastor.  Tod graduated from Yale.  He studied law at New Haven, and was admitted to the Hartford Bar in 1800.  In about 1801, Tod moved to Aguasco, Maryland, where he became assistant master at Charlotte Hall School.  (a private academy).  In 1802, he came to Bedford.  It is said that he did not have a shilling to his name.  He pledged his only pair of silk stockings for his supper, lodging and breakfast at a tavern at Bloody Run (Everett, Pennsylvania) the night before his arrival in Bedford.  In those days, silk stockings on dress occasions were worn with knee breeches.  Judge Tod taught school and obtained employment as a clerk in the Prothonotary’s Office and was admitted to the County Bar in August, 1802, and commenced the practice of law in Bedford.  He was for many years, the leading lawyer of the Bedford County Bar and was painstaking, methodical and industrious.  Tod served as a clerk and attorney to the County Commissioners in 1805, 1806 and 1807.  Judge Tod was a Democratic-Republican and was appointed postmaster in 1805.  He was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and served from 1810 – 1813, serving twice as speaker of the House.  During the War of 1812, he served as a private in the military.  Tod served in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1814 – 1816 and was President of the Senate during those years.  Judge Tod was elected to the United States House of Representatives and served from 1821 to 1824, serving the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Congresses.  Governor Heister named him President Judge of the 16th Judicial District composed of Franklin, Bedford and Somerset Counties in 1824.  Judge Tod served as President Judge of the 16th Judicial District until May of 1827 when he was named Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to replace John Bonnester Gibson who had been appointed Chief Justice of the Court to succeed Justice Tilghman who had passed away.  While in the State Legislature Tod favored building a new capital and State library.  While a Congressman he opposed voting rights for soldiers, since their elected officers might persuade, even coerce, them into voting for their chosen candidates.  He favored a high tariff policy as a member of the committee on manufactures; in this he opposed James Buchanan’s low tariff advocacy.  Tod also supported an adequately funded and professionally staffed army.  He was one of the earliest advocates of Matthew Corey’s and Henry Clay’s American System.  Tod framed the Tariff of 1821.  He was a public spirited citizen and was largely instrumental in repairing the Bedford water works in about 1824.  This brought water from the Bedford Springs property, using pipes made of pine logs.  The water was free to all from several running pumps located in different parts of the town.  Judge Tod lived in a weather boarded log house, which stood on the public square opposite the Courthouse.

In 1810, Judge Tod married May Reed Hanna, daughter of General John Andre Hanna of Harrisburg.  Judge Tod and his wife had three daughters.  Judge John Tod died on March 27, 1851, at age 51 at his home in Bedford.  His obituary stated in part, “This gentleman was well known to those who have attended Congress heretofore and the County generally, as a man of great literary requirements and distinguished ability.  More than all he was known as a man of perfect political integrity and fearlessness in the discharge of his public duties.”  Judge Tod was originally laid to rest in the Presbyterian graveyard, but was later interred at the Bedford Cemetery.

Sources:  1.) Interesting People from Bedford County by James B. Whisker and Kevin B. Spiker, Jr., Two Scholars Press, 2017.  2.) Remembrances and Sketches – Historical Biographical by William Hall, Meyers Printing House, 1890.

Alexander Thomson2ALEXANDER THOMSON, 1827-1842

Alexander Thomson was born at Scotland, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, one of five children.  Judge Thomson’s grandfather, Alexander Thomson, emigrated from Scotland in 1771 with his wife and 12 children and settled in Cumberland Valley, about a mile from Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  His parents both died young and at age 15, Judge Thomson was apprenticed to his uncle, Andrew Thomson, to learn sickle making.  In those days the sickle was the primary implement to harvest wheat.  During this apprenticeship the Judge pursued private studies and became a self taught classical scholar, learning the rudiments of Greek and Latin.  During a visit to the Cumberland Valley, Reverend Isaac Grier of Northumberland County, Pennsylvania, met Thomson and offered him employment at his classical school as a tutor, and also would allow him to further his own studies.  Thomson taught for three years at the Academy and then moved to Bedford.  In Bedford, he taught languages at the Bedford Classical Academy.  While teaching at the Academy, Thomson studied law with Judge James Riddle, and was admitted to the Bedford County Bar during the October term of 1816.  In 1823, Thomson was elected to the State House of Representatives from Bedford County and in 1824 he was a member of the Eighteenth Congress from the 13th Congressional District of Pennsylvania, composed of the Counties of Bedford, Somerset and Cambria as the successor to John Todd after his resignation.  Thomson was elected at special election held on October 12, 1824, on the same date as his election to the 19th Congress.  Thomson ran unopposed and also won the same seat in the 19th Congress.  He resigned from Congress on May 1, 1826.  On that same day he was commissioned Assistant Judge of the District Court of the City and County of Lancaster, and the Counties of York and Dauphin.  Judge Thomson held that position until June 25, 1827 when he was appointed and commissioned President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District, composed of Franklin, Bedford and Somerset Counties, succeeding John Todd who had been appointed to the Supreme Court.  Judge Thomson would have been the first President Judge to preside in the present County Courthouse in Bedford, built in 1829, and the last Judge of the Bedford County Courts appointed under the Constitution of 1790.  Judge Thomson then moved to Chambersburg and lived there until his death on August 2, 1848.  In the fall of 1837, Judge Thomson opened a law school in Chambersburg which was subsequently made the law department of Marshall College.  Judge Thomson’s law school was originally established in a suite of rooms in the second story of the large double-front stone mansion which he owned and occupied on the Main Street not far from Centre Square.  There were no formal lectures; the course being conducted by oral instruction and examinations.  The Constitution of 1838 altered his term of office and by Amendment his term of President Judge of the 16th District ended on June 30, 1841.  Judge Thomson then returned to private practice using the same building for an office that he used as his residence and location of the law school.  The date of his admission to the Franklin County Bar was lost when Confederate Troops under General McCausland burned Chambersburg.

Judge Thomson was married twice, his first wife was Abigail Blythe of Bedford whom he married on October 21, 1817; after her death, he married Jane Graham, a daughter of General Graham of Stoystown, Somerset County.  Judge Thomson had seven children, five boys and two girls.  Thomson’s son, Frank Thomson, was on February 3, 1897 elected President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, a position he retained until his death.  Judge Thomson was an elder in the Presbyterian Church and is buried in the graveyard of the Falling Spring Presbyterian Church on the banks of the Conocochegue River.

In 1894, a law student of Judge Thomson recalled that, “His mind was as clear as a bell, and his painstaking accuracy made every proposition as clear and certain as knowledge could make it.  He had an inexhaustible fund of curious and out-of-the-way knowledge of the law centuries old, as well as of the current time.  He was one of the finest conversationalists I ever knew, and a born teacher, and these informal triweekly lectures were absorbingly interesting.  In charging juries or making a public address there was sometimes a slight impediment in his utterance, that seemed to be a natural defect, or more likely a hesitance in selecting the precise word to express his meaning; but in conversation all that disappeared, and his flow of thought an utterance was as ready and limpid as a mountain stream.  He was widely read in general literature, but his favorite authors with whom he seemed to be minutely familiar and deeply in love, were Shakespeare, Milton, Burns and Scott, and he never tired of quoting them, and the quotations were always apt and ready for his purpose.  He always felt a paternal interest in his students outside of specific instruction in the law, and for their encouragement, he would sometimes refer to his own early struggles to get an education, and rise in his profession.  Amongst other things he told us how, when an apprentice, he walked six miles to the house of a friendly clergyman to borrow a Latin grammar, and trudged back the same distance with his coveted prize.  Books were not as plentiful then in the Cumberland Valley, nor as easily obtained as now.  He clung to it even in his working hours, and propping the book open on his forge would run his eyes over a rule or a conjugation whilst blowing the bellows, and then hammer it into his memory whilst hammering the red hot steel, so he mastered it.  Such tenacity of purpose could not but achieve its own victories, and acquisitions thus made were not likely to be forgotten, nor were they.  What he knew, he know thoroughly and well, and needed no prompting to recall it.”

Sources:  1.) History of the District Court of the City and County of Lancaster.   2.) Judge Alexander Thomson Memorial Article, The Times, Sunday, January 27, 1895.  3.) Dickinson College Archives & Special Collections.   4.) Historical Sketches of the Sixteenth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Reminiscences and Sketches, Historical and Biographical by William M. Hall. Meyers Printing House, Harrisburg, PA  1890.  5.) History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, 1884, Waterman, Watkins & Co. 1884, Chicago.

Jeremiah S Black2
JEREMIAH S. BLACK, 1842-1851

Jeremiah Sullivan Black was born on January 10, 1810 in Stonycreek Township, Somerset County, Pennsylvania.  The Black family came from Ireland and settled in what is now Adams County, Pennsylvania.  Judge Black’s Grandfather, James Black, was born in 1743 in Adams County, Pennsylvania and settled in the Somerset County area in the 1770’s.  James Black in 1771 married Jane McDonough.  James Black was a farmer and a justice of the peace.  Prior to the formation of Somerset County in 1795, what is now Somerset County was part of Cumberland County from 1758 to 1771, and from 1771 to 1795, the area was part of Bedford County.  During the Revolutionary War, James Black served with the First Battalion of the Bedford Militia.  In 1780 James Black’s home in the Glades was designated by the Bedford County Commissioners as the place for tax appeals for Brothersvalley Township, Quemahoning Township, and Turkeyfoot Township.  In 1802, James Black was appointed by the Governor to serve as a Justice of the Peace for Stony Creek Township and he served as Trustee for the Somerfield Methodist Church.  James Black died on October 28, 1803, his wife, Jane, died on December 4, 1881.  James and Jane had nine children grow to adulthood, Polly Dorsey, William, David, John, Henry, Matthew, Margaret, Catherine and Jennie.

Judge Black’s father was Henry Black, born on February 25, 1783 in Somerset County.  Henry Black married Mary Sullivan who had been born at York, Pennsylvania on August 16, 1780.  Mary’s father was Patrick Sullivan a native of Ireland who came to this country at 15 years of age and became a captain during the Revolutionary War.  Mr. and Mrs. Sullivan owned an estate in Somerset County called “Rural Felicity.”  Judge Black spend much of his time with his grandparents at “Rural Felicity.”  James and Mary had two children, Jeremiah Sullivan Black, born as previously noted, and a daughter, Mary Sullivan Black, born in 1846.  Mary  Sullivan Black married a Henry Clayton and had two children.  Mary Sullivan Black died in 1880.

Henry Black was prominent in his community.  He served in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives 1816 to 1818, was a justice of the peace and from 1820 to 1840 as an associate judge.  Henry Black was elected as a Whig to the Twenty-Seventh Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Charles Ogle.  He served in Congress from June, 1841 until his own death in November, 1841.

Judge Black attended local schools at Stoystown, Berlin and Somerset.  He also attended a Classical School at Brownsville, Fayette County.  Judge Black as a young man was fond of the Latin classics.  Black was an eager student and involved himself in self-study whenever possible.  At age 17 he and his Father traveled by horseback to Somerset where he was entered as a law student in the Office of Chauncy Forwod.  Attorney Forwod was one of the area’s leading attorney’s and the leader of the Democratic Party and a member of Congress.  Attorney Forwod and Judge Black formed a close bond and Attorney Forwod was revered by Judge Black.  Although both sides of his family were either Federalists or Whigs, Judge Black became a life-long supporter of the Democrat Party.

In 1830 Judge Black was admitted to the Bar.  On March 23, 1836 Judge Black married Mary Forwod the eldest daughter of Attorney Forwod.  Black was vocal in his support of David Porter the Jacksonian Democrat candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania in 1838.  Soon after his admission to the Bar he was appointed Deputy Attorney General, or district attorney as that office is now known.  Judge Black actively practiced law in Somerset, Bedford and Blair Counties.  In 1842, he was appointed President Judge of the 16th Judicial District by Governor Porter.  After his appointment, Judge Black confined himself strictly to his duties of the Bench.

Black, a large man with a strong constitution, enjoyed the out of doors particularly horseback riding.  The only exception to his commitment toward his judge’s duties were two addresses he made, one in Bedford on the death of General Jackson and the other on Patriotism before the literacy society of Washington College.  After his addresses on Jackson, Judge Black was recognized as one of the foremost supporters of the Democrat party.  In 1850 the Constitution was amended to require the election of all members of the judiciary.  Judge Black ran for the Pennsylvania Supreme Court and was elected.  From 1851 to 1854 he served as Chief Justice.  Black was again elected an Associate Judge in 1854 and served on the Supreme Court until 1857 when he was chosen by President Buchanan in March of that year to serve as Attorney General.  Judge Black served as Attorney General for three and one-half years.  In November of 1860, President Buchanan asked Black to prepare a legal opinion as to the rights of the States to secede from the Union and the powers of the President in such a case.  In his response, Judge Black recited the following points as supported by the Constitution itself:

  1.  The Union is necessarily perpetual.  No State can lawfully withdraw nor be expelled from it.  The Federal Constitution is as much a part of the Constitution of every State as if it had been inserted therein.  The Federal Government is sovereign within its’ own sphere, and acts directly upon the individual citizen of every state.  Within these limits, its’ power and ample to defend itself, its’ laws and its’ property.
  2. It can suppress insurrection, fight battles, conquer armies, disperse hostile combinations and punish any and all of its enemies.  It can meet, repel and subdue all those that rise against it, but it cannot obliterate a single Commonwealth from the map of the Union or declare indiscriminate war against the inhabitants of a section, confounding the innocent with the guilty.”  

As can be seen, Judge Black’s commitment to the Union was very strong, in this respect his views and President Lincoln’s views were the same.

When President Buchanan was approached by a Commission from South Carolina demanding the surrender of the Southern ports, Judge Black threatened to resign from his post if the President conceded.  It is acknowledged by many historians that Judge Black’s influence prevented Buchanan from yielding to these requests.  Like Lincoln, Black understood that the nature of the Constitutional compact prohibits states from withdrawing from the Union.  Such an action would represent minority rule and is against the principles on which the Constitution is based.  In December, 1860 President Buchanan named Judge Black to be Secretary of State, in which post Black served until March 5, 1961.

President Buchanan also nominated him to the United States Supreme Court but the confirmation vote failed, ironically because so many southern democrats had withdrawn from the Senate.  After leaving office, he served as the sixth Supreme Court Reporter of Opinions holding that office until 1862.

In 1862, Judge Black was able to arrange the exchange of 93 men belonging to Company B of the 54th Pennsylvania Volunteers who were captured at Paw-Paw, West Virginia.  The Confederates ordered their execution in retaliation for execution of Confederate Gorillas in Missouri.  Most of the men of Company B were the sons of his friends and neighbors in Somerset County.  Judge Black had a personal relationship with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.  Stanton and Black had known each other since the time Black was Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.  Stanton had followed Black as Attorney General when Black became Secretary of State.  Secretary Stanton was strongly opposed to negotiating with the Confederate Government, but finally agreed as a personal request by Judge Black.  Boarding a steamer to travel to Fortress Monroe where Judge Black met with Judge Robert Ould, the Confederate Commissioner of Exchange who also opposed an exchange.  Judge Ould had been U. S. Attorney for the District of Columbia in the Buchanan administration and Judge Black and Judge Ould knew each other well from that time.  Eventually Black convinced Judge Ould to agree to the exchange.  On December 1, 1862 due to Judge Black’s effort, these Somerset County men were exchanged along with the men of Company K who also had been made prisoners.

Judge Black enjoyed a nationwide reputation as an attorney and he argued several major cases before the United States Supreme Court.  One of these cases was exparte Mulligan 71 U.S. (4 Wall) 2, 18L.Ed.281 (1866).  In this case Judge Black argued that military tribunal could not try American Citizens if the civil courts were operating in that district.  Judge Black was also a close personal friend of Andrew Johnson and for a while represented him in his impeachment trial.

From November 12, 1872 to October 2, 1973, Judge Black served as a delegate at large to the Convention to Reform the Pennsylvania Constitution.  He served without pay.  As a Democrat, Judge Black was committed before the Civil War to the proposition that “slaves” were a form of property.  Judge Black never engaged the larger question raised by Lincoln that slaves were also persons, neither did he grapple with the issue of how a government “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” can countenance enslavement of persons who had done nothing wrong.  In Lincoln’s words, “If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong.”  Judge Black was deeply committed to the principle that formed the foundation of the United States Constitution as he pointed out in his speech on religious liberty, “The right to live unmolested . . . is not a political privilege, but a natural, absolute, and indefeasible right, which human government may protect but cannot either give or withhold.”

Like Lincoln who claimed initially he did not espouse equality for blacks but only the end of slavery, it appears Judge Black, as a statesman, had to navigate within the majority opinion of the Democrat party.  It is worth noting that Judge Black’s view was not that blacks by their nature should be property, but that the sovereign states had the right to control the existence of the institution.  Both Lincoln and Black struggled to resolve the property issue raised by the institution.

Judge Black remained active in the practice of law until his death at his home “Brockie” in York on August 19, 1883.  Judge Black was survived by his wife Mary and four children, Rebekah Hornaly, Chauncy Forwod Black who served as Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, Henry Black an attorney, and Mary Clayton. A fifth child Nannie had predeceased her father.

One of his contemporaries, the Honorable J. Randolph Tucker said of Judge Black, “Jealousy of all power, political and corporate which threatened to abridge the freedom of the man, was the motive force in Judge Black’s life as a jurist and statesman.”  The late Professor Harry Jaffa, the pre-imminent Lincoln scholar of our day described Judge Black as “one of the sharpest debaters of the day.”

Sources:  1.) Bedford and Somerset Counties Vol.II, by William H. Welfley, The Lewis Publishing Company, New York, Chicago 1906.  2.) History of Bedford and Somerset Counties Pennsylvania 1884, Waterman and Watkins & Co. 1884.  3.) Essays and Speeches of Jerimiah S. Black, by Chauncey F. Black, Di Appleton and Company, New York 1885.  4.) The Speech That Changed the World, by Harry V. Jaffa, Claremont review of Books, 2009.

Francis M Kimmel2

Judge Kimmel was born in Berlin, Somerset County in 1817.  He was admitted to the Bar in Somerset County on March 19, 1839 and to the Bedford County Bar in 1841.  Prior to that he had been employed as Clerk in the Records Office of Somerset County where his Father, Jacob Kimmel was Recorder.  Judge William Hall, in his book Reminiscences and Sketches stated, “As an advocate he has few superiors.  His fine personal appearance and well modulated and silvery-toned voice make him a very attractive orator.”  Judge Kimmel was elected in the fall of 1851; prior to the election, he had been a Whig.  William Lyon of Bedford was the Whig nominee.  Somerset County Whigs were opposed to Mr. Lyon.  Judge Kimmel was supported as an independent candidate by the Democrats who did not nominate a candidate and by the Whigs of Somerset County he was elected by a substantial majority.

Judge Kimmel and Judge Black were brothers-in-law, having married sisters, daughters of Chauncey Forwod.

Judge Kimmel served one, ten-year term from 1851 to 1861.  On the expiration of his term he moved to Chambersburg and continued to practice until his death on May 19, 1900.  Judge Hall noted that Judge Kimmel was one of the few lawyers who had a successful law practice after having served as a judge.

Sources:  1.) Reminiscences and Sketches, Historical and Biographical by William M. Hall, Myers Printing House 1890.  2.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania 1623-1923 by Frank Eastman, Volume III.  The American Historical Society, Inc., New York 1922  3.) History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania 1889, Waterman and Watkins & Co. Chicago 1884.  4.) Bedford and Somerset Counties Vol. II,  The Lewis Publishing Company, New York: Chicago 1906.

James Nill2
JAMES NILL, 1861-1864

James Nill was born on December 16, 1802 in Quincy Township, Franklin County, Pennsylvania.  Judge Nill attended Common Schools and was admitted to the practice at Chambersburg on April 8, 1830.  Judge Nill soon acquired a large practice.  Judge Nill was nominated as President Judge of the Fifteenth Judicial District on March 23, 1847 and served until March, 1848 when his nomination was rejected by the State Senate.  Judge Nill returned to private practice at Chambersburg.  In 1861, Judge Nill was elected as President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District defeating Wilson Reilly the Democratic nominee.  Judge William Hall, in his book Reminisces and Sketches, described Judge Nill as a “painstaking, careful lawyer and honest judge.”  While still in the position of President Judge, Judge Nill died on May 27, 1864 and is buried in Chambersburg.

Sources:  1.) Reminisces and Sketches, Historical and Biographical by William H. Hall, Meyers Printing House 1890.  2.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania 1623-1923 by Frank Eastman, Volume III, The American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1922.

Alexander King2

Alexander King was appointed on June 4, 1864 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Judge Nill on May 27, 1864.  Judge King was elected in October of 1864 to a full term defeating Judge Kimmell the Democratic nominee.  Judge King was born in Huntingdon County on September 27, 1805.  He was the son of Revolutionary War Veteran Alexander King and Nancy King.  He was educated in the public schools and at the Bedford Academy.  Judge King read law in the Office of John Johnson of Huntingdon County, and was admitted to the Bedford County Bar on November 26, 1833.  In the spring of 1840, Judge King relocated to St. Louis, Missouri where he practiced law for two years then returned to Bedford and continued as a resident of Bedford the remainder of his life.  Judge King was married to Mary Watson of Bedford and they had two sons, William Watson King who was killed during the Civil War while serving with the Union Army, and Alexander King, Jr., who became a prominent attorney with the Bedford County Bar.  In 1847, Judge King was elected to the Pennsylvania Senate representing Bedford County, Blair County and Huntingdon County, the 19th Senatorial District, and served one term, 1848 – 1850.  The Judge had been elected as a Member of the Whig Party.  As noted above, in June of 1864, Judge King was appointed as President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District on the death of Judge Nill.  In October of 1864, he was elected to that position.

In 1864 the Sixteenth Judicial District included the counties of Bedford, Franklin, Fulton and Somerset.  In 1868 the business of the district having increased, an additional law judge was added and David Watson Rowe of Chambersburg was elected to this position defeating William J. Baer the Democratic nominee.

On January 10, 1871, Judge King died while still in office, and is buried in Bedford.

Sources:  1.) Reminisces and Sketches, Historical and Biographical, by William M. Hall, Meyers Printing House, Harrisburg, PA, 1890.   2.) History of Bedford and Somerset Counties, Pennsylvania.  Lewis Publishing Company, New York: Chicago 1906.  3.)  Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History 1623-1923 by Frank M. Eastman, Volume III, The American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1922.

David Watson Rowe2

 Judge Rowe served as the second law judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District from 1868-1874.  Judge Rowe was born at Greencastle, Franklin County, Pennsylvania, on November 12, 1836.  His Father was John Rowe, a Surveyor General of Pennsylvania.  His Mother was Elizabeth Pratter, whose grandfather was James Watson, a Colonel of the Second Battalion of Lancaster County during the Revolutionary War.  Judge Rowe attended Public and Classical School in Greencastle.  At approximately 15 years of age, he was sent to Marshall College in Mercersburg, Pennsylvania.  Judge Rowe studied law with Attorney William McLellon of Chambersburg and on August 15, 1857, he was admitted to the Bar.  For three years he practiced law, but enlisted in the Army when the Civil War commenced.  Judge Rowe joined Company C, Second Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers Infantry.  On April 18, 1861, he left for the front.  One week later he was made Sergeant Major of the Regiment and a few weeks after that was commissioned a First Lieutenant of Company C.  In July of 1861 at the expiration of his enlistment he returned to Greencastle.  In July 1862, he began to recruit a company at Greencastle and by August 5th of that year had recruited a full quota of 101 men.  On that same date he married Annie Fletcher.  The next day Judge Rowe and his men departed to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and were attached as Company K of the 126th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteer Regiment.  Judge Rowe was commissioned a Lieutenant Colonel at age 25.  The 126th was made part of the Tyler Brigade of Pennsylvania Division, Fifth Army Corp.  Judge Rowe served at the Second Battle of Bull Run, and at Fredericksburg he and his men participated in a series of charges at Marye’s Heights.  On the wounding of Colonel Elder, Lieutenant Colonel Rowe assumed command of the Regiment and remained in command of the Regiment until it was mustered out of service.  Judge Rowe and his men served at Chancellorsville on Sunday, May 3, 1863, and his bravery and that of his men was mentioned in General Tyler’s dispatches.  The Regiment was mustered out at Harrisburg on May 20, 1863 and Judge Rowe resumed the practice of law in Chambersburg.  At age 31,  he was appointed by Governor George as additional law judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District.  At the election that same year he was elected as a Republican to a full ten year term.  In 1874, the District was divided under the new Constitution and Judge Rowe was appointed President Judge of the Thirty-Ninth Judicial District composed of Franklin and Fulton Counties.  In 1878 he was elected to another ten year term.  Judge Rowe, to aid in the erection of a soldier’s monument, wrote a sketch of the 126th Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.  In 1904 he was again appointed to the Franklin County Bench to fill a vacancy, and served as the Republican candidate in 1905, but lost in the general election.  Judge Rowe died on July 15, 1923.

Sources:  1.) D. Watson Rowe obituary, Harrisburg Telegraph, July 15, 1913.  2.) Pennsylvania Genealogy Trails, Franklin County, Pennsylvania Biographies, transcribed by Carol Parrish.  Genealogy

William M Hall2

William Maclay Hall was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania on November 3, 1828.  His Father, William Maclay Hall, was a Presbyterian Minister.  Judge Hall was the great grandson of William Maclay of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who was a member of the Bar of York and Dauphin Counties, Pennsylvania, who with Robert Morris were the first United States Senators from Pennsylvania.  Judge Hall moved to Bedford with his parents in October of 1844.  Judge Hall graduated from Marshall College, Mercersburg in July, 1846 and was valedictorian of his class.  He read law in the Office of William Lynn of Bedford and was admitted to the Bar in August of 1849.

Judge Hall was appointed Judge Advocate with the rank of Major by President Lincoln in January, 1865, and served one year.  During this time he served as an inspector of military prisons and camps.  He was engaged under the special direction of Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, in examining the cases of military prisoners with a view to their being pardoned by the President when it could be done without prejudice to the service or to the Country.  In 1868 Judge Hall served as a commissioner to rename the statutes of Pennsylvania with Judge Derrickson and Wayne McVeagh.  In January, 1871 upon the death of Judge King he was appointed by Governor Geary as President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District.  In the fall of 1871 as the Republican candidate he was elected to this same position defeating William J. Baker of Somerset the Democratic nominee.  After declining re-nomination Judge Hall left the Bench on January 1, 1882.

Judge Hall has been described as having been deeply versed in the law, and an eloquent speaker.  After leaving the Bench, Judge Hall did not return to the practice of law, but turned to writing, and produced several books and a number of articles of historical interest.  His book, Reminiscences and Sketches, is one such example.  It is a window into a time long past and contains the thoughts of a logical and orderly thinker.  An admirer of Thaddeus Stevens, Judge Hall, like his father before him, was adamantly opposed to the institution of slavery.  Judge Hall’s article from Reminiscences and Sketches, “Slave Catching in Bedford County,” is a thoughtful statement of the political scene in the 1840’s.  Judge Hall, in 1859, married Ellen Rowan Cramer of Cumberland, Maryland.  The couple had six children who survived to adulthood; Julia Katherine, Eleanor Maclay, Richard Cecil Hall, William Maclay Hall, Esquire, Charles G. Brown and George Louis Hall.

Judge Hall died on September 10, 1899 at age 70.  He was survived by his wife and children and is buried in the Bedford Cemetery.

Sources:  1.)  More Interesting People from Bedford County by James Whisker and Kevin R. Spiker, Jr.  Two Scholars Press, 2014.  2.) History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, 1884, Waterman and Watkins Company, Chicago, Illinois, 1884.

Wiliam J Baer2
WILLIAM J. BAER, 1882-1892

Judge Baer was born at Berlin, Somerset County on January 20, 1826.  At an early age his parents moved from Berlin to Bedford County and the Judge spent his boyhood upon a farm.  The Judge’s father, Solomon Baer, was a prominent citizen of Somerset County.  The Judge attend the common school in the area.  Eventually he taught school for three years, but continued to pursue self-study.  The Judge also worked as a store clerk.  Judge Baer attended Marshall College at Mercersburg and as a student he was proficient in mathematics, but he returned home before receiving his diploma.  After leaving college he registered as a law student in the Office of Attorney F. M. Kimmel.  On May 7, 1849 after examination he was admitted to the Somerset County Bar.  Judge Baer entered into partnership with Attorney Kimmel until the election of Attorney Kimmel to the Presidency of the Sixteenth Judicial District.  As an attorney, Judge Baer was described as displaying great energy and skilled at direct and cross examination.  Judge Baer’s family was of German ancestry and the Judge made himself proficient in German.  This ability was a great advantage with the large German spreading population living in the area.  Judge Baer was committed to the Democrat party.  In 1872 he was elected as a Democrat delegate to the 1873 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  In 1881 his name was placed in nomination as the Democrat Candidate for President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District and was elected despite a Republican majority in the district.  Judge Hall, in his remembrances, described Judge Baer as one of the leading lawyers of Somerset County and a public spirited citizen who aided much in the improvement of Somerset County.  It has also been noted Judges Black, Kimmel, and Baer were born within three miles of each other and were not burdened with a college diploma.  Judge Baer died on January 28, 1908.

Sources:  1.) History of Bedford, Somerset and Fulton Counties, Pennsylvania, 1884.  Waterman and Watkins Company, Chicago, 1884.  2.) Reminisces and Sketches, Historical and Biographies by William M. Hall, Myers Printing House, Harrisburg, Pa. 1890.

Jacob H Longenenecker2

Judge Longenecker was born at Martinsburg, Blair County, Pennsylvania on September 17, 1839.  At four years of age, his family moved to Bedford County.  At age 16, Judge Longenecker entered the Allegheny Seminary at Rainsburg where he pursued an academic course.  He enlisted as a Private in 1861 and soon thereafter was appointed Sergeant Major of the 101st Regiment, Pennsylvania Volunteers.  He was afterward commissioned a Second Lieutenant of Company D and later Adjutant of the Regiment.  He was captured at Plymouth, North Carolina on April 20, 1864, and was confined in several prisons.  He escaped from the prison at Charlotte, North Carolina in February of 1865, only to be captured two weeks later.  On March 2, 1965 he was exchanged and on March 14, 1965, was honorably discharged.  Judge Longenecker was admitted to the Bedford Bar on September 3, 1866, and in 1867 formed a partnership with S. L. Russell.  He served in the House of Representatives in 1868 and 1869.  In 1882 he was elected to the State Senate.  He also served as Deputy Secretary of the Commonwealth, and afterward as Secretary of the Commonwealth of the Cabinet of James A. Beaver.  Judge Longenecker was elected President Judge of the Sixteenth Judicial District in 1891 and served until 1902.  Judge Longenecker died on September 23, 1916.

Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, 1623-1923, by Frank M. Eastmen, The American Historical Society, Inc. New York, 1922.

John M Bailey2
JOHN M. BAILEY, 1901-1903

By the Act of July 18, 1901, P.L. 669, Bedford County was added to the Twentieth Judicial District consisting of Huntingdon, Mifflin and Bedford Counties.  Somerset County remained as the sole county in the Sixteenth Judicial District.  Judge Bailey was born at Dillsburg, Pennsylvania on June 11, 1839.  He was educated in public school and at the Tuscora Academy.  He begin the study of law in the Office of Scott S. Brown, at Huntingdon in 1860.  He was admitted to the Bar in 1862, and soon after associated himself in practice with his former preceptor.  He was a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1873.  Judge Bailey was elected President Judge of the Twentieth Judicial District in November of 1895, and served until his death on September 30, 1903.

 Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History, 1623-1923, Vol. III, by Frank M. Eastman, American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1922.

Joseph M Woods2
JOSEPH M. WOODS, 1903-1916

Judge Woods was born at New Berlin, Union County, Pennsylvania on November 4, 1852.  He was educated in the Lewistown Public Schools, the Bellefonte Academy, and Princeton College from where he graduated in 1876.  He was admitted to the Bar in November, 1878.  He was elected District Attorney of Union County in 1881 and served a term of three years.  He was elected to the State Senate in 1888 and reelected in 1892.  He was appointed and afterwards elected to succeed Judge Bailey in 1903, and served until January, 1916, his term having been extended by the Constitutional Amendment of 1911.

Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History, 1623-1923, Vol. III, by Frank M. Eastman, American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1922.

Thomas F Bailey2
THOMAS F. BAILEY, 1916-1931

Judge Thomas F. Bailey was the son of Judge John M. Bailey.  Judge Thomas F. Bailey was born on November 15, 1870 in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania.  He was educated in Public Schools of Huntingdon and those of Blairsville, New Jersey.  He also attended school in Laurenceville, New Jersey prior to entering Princeton University, from where he graduated in 1894.  Judge Bailey read law with his Father and was admitted to the Bar in 1896.  Judge Bailey was elected President Judge of the Twentieth Judicial District in November, 1915, 20 years after his Father was first elected to that Office.  In 1931 Bedford County was by action of the legislature, made a single judicial district, the 57th.  Judge Bailey continued to serve as President Judge of the 20th Judicial District.  Judge Bailey died on July 11, 1949.

Sources:  1.) Courts and Lawyers of Pennsylvania, A History, 1623-1923, Vol. III, by Frank M. Eastman, American Historical Society, Inc., New York, 1922.

Benjamin Francis Madore2

In 1931, Senator Charles Ealy introduced a bill in the Pennsylvania Senate to make Bedford County a separate judicial district.  The bill passed in both the State Senate and the State House, and was signed by Governor Gifford Pinchot on May 22, 1931.  On June 19, 1931, Attorney Benjamin Francis Madore was contacted in writing by Governor Pinchot, and asked if he would accept the appointment as judge pending election that year.  Attorney Madore accepted the nomination.  On June 22, 1931 a commission was forwarded to Attorney Madore appointing him as the first judge of the 57th Judicial District.  Judge Thomas Baily held a special court at which time Judge Baily administered the oath to Judge Madore, also present were the County’s associate judges not learned in the law, Judge Anthony Sammel, whose term expired on January 1, 1932, and Judge Sylvester Mickle, whose term expired on January 1, 1936.  These were Bedford County’s last two Associate Judges not learned in the law.  As noted earlier, when a county became a separate judicial district associate judges were no longer elected.

Benjamin Francis Madore was born on August 16, 1872, a son of John Westley and Elizabeth Wilhelm Madore.  Judge Madore was educated in the public schools of Hyndman, Pennsylvania, in summer Norman Schools and at Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport, from which he graduated in 1892 with a Bachelor of Science Degree.  The following year he entered the Office of Attorney John S. Weller as a student-at-law and was admitted to the Bedford County Bar on June 13, 1895.  Judge Madore was also admitted to practice subsequently in the Superior and Supreme Courts of Pennsylvania, and the United States District for the Western District of Pennsylvania on June 25, 1902.  He married Nellie L. Amos.  They had two children, Robert Madore, who subsequently became an attorney in Bedford and practiced with his father, and Elizabeth Madore who was closely affiliated with the Madore Law Firm.  Judge Madore became active in Republican politics and served as Secretary of the County Committee during the Presidential campaign of William McKinley in 1896.  The Judge also served as Chairman of the Executive Committee of the County Republican Party for 10 years.  The Judge also served as a member of the State Republican Committee; was an alternate delegate at large to the Republican National Convention of 1912 and delegate to the Roosevelt National Convention of 1912 and 1916.  He was also a member of the Roosevelt State Steering Committee.

Judge Madore was an organizer and first president of the Bedford County Bankers Association and solicitor for the First National Bank for many years; Treasurer of the Bedford County Farm Loan Association from 1922 until his death.  Judge Madore also served on the Advisory Board of the Job Mann Trust Fund for 14 years.  Judge Madore was a member of the Methodist Church and on the church’s official board for 40 years.  The Judge was active as a Minute Man in the Liberty Loan drive during the First World War, and served as Treasurer of the Bedford County Chapter of the American Red Cross beginning in 1917, and member of the Bedford Lodge 436 Knights of Pytheos and of the Royal Arcanum. 

As noted, Judge Madore was appointed President Judge of the 57th Judicial District (Bedford) in June of 1931.  However, Judge Madore only held the position until January, 1932, because he lost the election in 1931.  The primary election to fill the President Judge’s position was scheduled for September 15, 1931, with the General Election to be held on November 3, 1931.  These elections were part of the general municipal election that year which included election of County Commissioners, Register of Wills and Recorder of Deeds, Sheriff, Treasurer, Coroner, District Attorney and Poor Director of the Poor House.  Six attorneys, all Republicans, announced their candidacy for the Office of President Judge; these included Judge Benjamin Francis Madore, J. Colvin Wright, Simon H. Sell, Harry C. James, and John N. Minnich.  The results of the primary election showed Judge Madore had carried the Republican nomination by 25 votes; Attorney Harry C. James won the Democratic nomination by 700 votes over Judge Madore.  The General Election campaign, while brief, lasting less than two months was vigorously contested.  Judge Madore supporters urged party unity and a straight party vote and claims were made that Attorney James did not support the prohibition of alcohol then in effect by the 18th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Attorney James’ supporters argued the qualification of Attorney James and his knowledge of the law.  They vehemently denied that Attorney James did not support the 18th Amendment.  Judge James’ supporters claimed Madore was offering roads and jobs to secure his election.  Further, James supporters argued that Attorney James had financed his own primary campaign without the help of a committee.   Attorney James’ supporters also noted that Judge Madore had participated in “the organization of political groups and parties of short life in Bedford County.”  (Bedford Gazette, Friday, October 16, 1931).  Attorney James also secured the endorsement of the Bedford Gazette which published editorials on his behalf.  The result of the election gave the election to Attorney James.  Attorney James received 6,852 votes to 4,658 for Judge Madore, a 2,194-vote win.  The ballot count was supervised by Associate Judge Sylvester H. Mickle, assisted by Victor E. Barkman.  After leaving office, Judge Madore returned to private practice.

Judge Madore’s portrait was hung in the Courtroom of the Bedford County Courthouse on August 16, 1943; the Honorable J. Colvin Wright who had succeeded Judge James as President Judge presided.  The portrait presentation was scheduled to coincide with Judge Madore’s 71st birthday.  Judge Madore was not present due to health problems, but his two children, Elizabeth Madore and Robert Madore, Esquire, a member of the County Bar were present as well as Judge Madore’s wife, Nellie Amos Madore.  Several attorneys spoke at the ceremony; these included Attorney Howard Cessna who remarked that Judge Madore was a leader of his profession.  Judge Madore passed away at home on March 18, 1944.  Nellie L. Amos Madore passed away in 1948.

Sources:  1.) Portrait Ceremony Judge Madore, August 16, 1943, Court records of Bedford County.  2.) Bedford Gazette, October 16, 1931.  3.) Bedford Gazette, November, 1931.  4.) Obituary

 Harry C James2
HARRY C. JAMES, 1932-1942

Harry James was born on September 7, 1881, in the Borough of Bedford where he lived his entire life.  Judge James attended Bedford public schools.  At 19 years of age, entered the Office of John H. Jordan, Esquire as a student of law.  On May 23, 1904, having completed the required course of study he was examined in the “fullest manner” by a committee in admission to the Bedford County Bar.  That committee included Frank Fletcher admitted to the Bar in 1877, J. H. Longenecker, former Judge of the Bedford County Courts, Robert Clemens McNamara, former member of the General Assembly, Moses A. Points, Esquire, member of the Bar since 1864, and John M. Reynolds, 10th Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania, and Assistant Security of the Interior.  This very distinguished panel found James to be well qualified to practice law, and recommended his admission.  On May 25, 1904 he was admitted to the practice before the several courts of Bedford County.  Thereafter, he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court and Superior Court of Pennsylvania and the District Court of the United States for the Western District of Pennsylvania.  Judge James served two terms as District Attorney of Bedford County in 1915, and 1919.  Judge James also served as a Chairman of the County Republican Party; he was active in his church, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church.  Judge James also served as president of the Bedford County Bar Association.  In 1931 he was elected as President Judge of the Bedford County Courts defeating Judge Madore who had been appointed to fill the position when it was created that year.  In 1932, he ran for reelection and was challenged by J. Colvin Wright, a fellow Republican.  Both Judge James and Wright filed on both the Republican and Democratic ballots.  Robert Madore, Judge Madore’s son, also filed on the Democratic ballot.  J. Colvin Wright was able to obtain the support of the Democrat party.  At the conclusion of the primary in September 1941, J. Colvin Wright won the Republican nomination with 3,167 votes to 2,577 for Judge James, on the Democratic side; Wright had 2,137 votes to 1,444 for Judge James and 599 for Robert Madore.  In the subsequent General Election in November, J. Colvin Wright was elected President Judge of the district.  After leaving office, Judge James returned to private practice.  Judge James served as local counsel for the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad.  Judge James was married twice; his first wife, the former Anna C. Diehl, died in 1948.  He subsequently married Fannie Carpenter James.  Judge James’ portrait was hung in the Courthouse on December 10, 1943.  Judge James attended the ceremony.  At that time he thanked the Court and the Bar Association and offered his sincere appreciation.  Attorney Richard E. Lins, the County Solicitor, presented the portrait on behalf of the County Commissioners.  Attorney D. C. Reiley remarked that Judge James was wise in his decisions, was courteous, impartial and had an understanding of life in all its phases.  Judge James died on October 18, 1958.  Judge James was survived by his wife, Fannie Carpenter James and his son, John.

Sources:  1.) Resolution of Respect, In RE: Honorable Harry C. James, filed October 21, 1950.  2.) Bedford Gazette, September 12, 1941.  3.) Admission to the Bar, Harry C. James, filed September 3, 1907.

 J Colvin Wright2
J. COLVIN WRIGHT, 1942-1953

J. Colvin Wright was born in Bedford, Pennsylvania on November 20, 1901, the son of J. Anson and Anna J. Wright.  J. Anson Wright served six terms as the Bedford County Representative to the Pennsylvania General Assembly, and was vice president of the Hartley National Bank.  Judge Wright attended Bedford High School and graduated in 1918.  In 1922, he received a degree from Haverford College, Haverford, Pennsylvania, having been elected to the Phi Beta Kappa.  Judge Wright attended the University of Pennsylvania and received his L. L. B. in 1925.  At the University, he was awarded the Order of the Coif.  In that same year, he passed the final examination given by the Pennsylvania State Board of Law Examiners; also in 1925, he was admitted to practice in the several courts of Bedford County.  Judge Wright’s Law practice included the Superior and Supreme Courts, the Federal County including the United States Supreme Court.  In 1927, he was elected District Attorney of Bedford County to a four year term.  In 1931, he ran unsuccessfully for the judgeship in Bedford County, losing in the primary to Judge Madore.  In 1932, he was appointed County Solicitor for Bedford County.

On February 15, 1938, Judge Wright married Margaret Kathleen Colwell, a daughter of Floyd and Connie Colwell.  Ms. Colwell was also a graduate of Bedford High School, and was a graduate of Indiana University then known as Indiana State Teachers College, in 1932.  Ms. Colwell was a teacher at Bedford High School and resigned shortly before the marriage.  The Bedford Gazette of February 15, 1938 carried the following headline in bold typeface, “Prominent Bedford Attorney and Popular Teacher at local schools marry.”  The article advised readers the couple were married at the Presbyterian Manse (parsonage) by Rev. R. S. Caldwell.  The couple left for a wedding trip to Florida.  Several children were born of the marriage; John C. Wright, Jr., Margaret K. Wright, J. Anson Wright, II, and Juliet Wright.

In 1941, he defeated Judge James for the position of President Judge of the 57th Judicial District.  Judge Wright was active both in his local community and on a statewide level.  The Judge was a member of the Masons, the Grange, the Elks, Oddfellows, Sons of the American Revolution, Rotary Club, a trustee of the Bedford Volunteer Fire Company, and elder of the Presbyterian Church.  The Judge also served as a member of the American Bar Association, was a member of the Board of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, Member of the American Law Institute and on the Advisory Committee on the Decedent’s Estates Laws of the joint government commission, the American Judicature Society, and the Winter Golf League.  While serving as Judge of the Bedford County Courts, he agreed to serve in other Districts of the State when needed, eventually serving in more than one-third of the Judicial Districts of the Commonwealth, including nine months as the acting President Judge of the Twentieth Judicial District (Huntingdon County).  In 1951, he was reelected Judge of the 57th Judicial District.

In his travels, he regularly extolled the beauty of Bedford County and its courthouse.  In 1952, Judge Wright served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention from the Eighteenth Congressional District.  In February, 1953, he was appointed Judge of the Superior Court.  The following November he was elected for a full term and reelected to a second term in 1963.  On January 1, 1968, he became President Judge of the Superior Court.  During this time, Attorney John Minnich of Bedford served as his Law Clerk.  In 1973, Judge Wright retired from the Bench.  Judge Wright passed away on April 28, 1978; he was survived by his wife and children.  A memorial service for Judge Wright was held on May 1, 1978.  The service at the Courthouse was presided by President Judge Ellis VanHorn and former President Judge Richard C. Snyder, retired.  Judge VanHorn, in his remarks, described Judge Wright as possessing extraordinary legal talent and ability.  Judge VanHorn described Judge Wright as possessing a vast knowledge of the law.  Judge VanHorn went on to describe Judge Wright’s written opinions as models of clarity, brevity and logic.  Judge VanHorn also described him as a friend who encouraged him in Judge VanHorn’s early years as an attorney and later as a Judge and as someone he would never forget.

Sources:  1.) Memorial Service for the Honorable J. Colvin Wright held May 1, 1978, Bedford County Courthouse.  2.) Bedford Gazette, February 15, 1930.  3.) Estate records of the Estate of J. Colvin Wright.

 Richard C Snyder2
RICHARD C. SNYDER, 1953-1974

Richard C. Snyder was born on January 13, 1902, the son of Edgar V. Snyder and Maude E. (VonStien) Snyder in Monroe Township, Bedford County.  Judge Snyder attended the schools of Bedford County, the Juniata Academy and Juniata College, Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania.  While at Juniata, he played football and other sports. Judge Snyder graduated from Juniata College in 1926.  He taught and coached at Hollidaysburg High School in 1926-1927 before taking a post graduate course in business at New York University.  From 1928-1930 he taught Mathematics and English at Bedford High School where he served as principal.  In 1930 he enrolled in the Dickinson School of Law and graduated in 1933.  Judge Snyder was duly registered in the Office of the Prothonotary of the Supreme Court as a student of the law in the Office of Simon H. Sell of Bedford.  After passing the Pennsylvania Bar examination in 1934, he was admitted to several courts of the County of Bedford.  Judge Snyder was also admitted to practice before the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts and the Federal Court.  In 1934, Judge Snyder opened his first law office in Everett, Pennsylvania, and in 1937, moved his practice to Bedford.  Judge Snyder married Louise E. Beachy of Hagerstown, Maryland, and had two children, a daughter Sharlet Louise, and a son, Richard Van.  Judge Snyder’s practice included serving 10 years as County Solicitor, and also served as counsel for the State Department of Forests and Waters, Highways, Labor and Industry, and Justice.  Judge Snyder was a member of the Masons, Elks, Lions, and taught the Men’s Bible Class at Trinity Lutheran Church of Bedford.  Judge Snyder also served as President of the Bedford County Bar Association.

On March 16, 1953, he was nominated by Governor John S. Fine to fill the vacancy created when Judge Wright was appointed to the Superior Court.  The State Senate approved the nomination on March 17, and on Saturday, March 21, 1953, a ceremony was held at the County Courthouse presided over by Judge Wright where Judge Snyder was installed as President Judge.  The term of the appointment was until the first Monday in January, 1956, meaning Judge Snyder would have to seek a full 10 year term in the municipal election in 1955.  In 1955, Judge Snyder ran unopposed for the position of President Judge.  Judge Snyder ran again for President Judge in 1965 and was reelected.  Judge Snyder was sworn in for his second term on Monday, January 3, 1966, by Judge Wright of the Superior Court.  Judge Snyder resigned in January 2, 1975 and became a Senior Judge before completion of his elective term scheduled to end the first Monday in January, 1976.  Judge Snyder died on April 7, 1989, and a memorial service was held at the Courthouse presided over by President Judge Ellis W. VanHorn, Jr.  Judge Snyder was 87 years of age at the time of his death, and was survived by his wife and children.  At the memorial service, President Judge VanHorn described Judge Snyder as competent, courteous, and ethical as an attorney and as a judge, these characteristics remained unchanged and these and his moral integrity were his dominant characteristics.  On April 20, 1998, a ceremony was held at the Courthouse for the purpose of hanging Judge Snyder’s portrait which was done by the artist Joaxian Hao.  A number of attorneys spoke including Attorney Gordon Stroup, a former District Attorney whose father, Senator Stanley Stroup, had been friends with Judge Snyder.  Attorney Gordon Stroup spoke of Judge Snyder’s love of the out of doors, and the Judge’s passion for hunting and fishing.  Further, how he was always sensitive to the needs of young people and the compassion he showed during Juvenile Court proceedings.

Sources:  1.) Transcript of the Memorial Service in Honor of Richard C. Snyder, April 10, 1989, records of the Bedford County Prothonotary.  2.) Transcript of the Portrait Ceremony for Richard C. Snyder, April 20, 1998, records of the Bedford County Prothonotary.  3.) Bedford Gazette, March 17, 1953, March 23, 1953, November 9, 1955, and January 4, 1966.  4.) Bedford Inquirer, September 6, 1974.

 Ellis W Van Horn Jr2
ELLIS W. VANHORN, JR., 1975-1985

Ellis W. VanHorn, Jr. was born on June 4, 1919, in Cumberland, Maryland, the son of E. W. VanHorn and Cora (Smouse) VanHorn.  Judge VanHorn graduated from the Replogle High School in New Enterprise in 1936.  He then enrolled in Juniata College in Huntingdon graduating in 1940.  He was registered as a law student in the Office of the Supreme Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on June 2, 1940, and on that same date as a law student in Bedford County in the Office of Richard W. Lins, Esquire.  He then attended law school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, graduating in 1943.  Judge VanHorn then enlisted in the United States Army and served during World War II in the field artillery and later as a member of the Judge Advocates Corp in Japan.  Following his Honorable Discharge as a Captain, he practiced law for a time in Easton, Pennsylvania.  On May 12, 1945, in Beaver Springs, Pennsylvania, he married Gladys M. “Sue” Koch.  In 1947, Judge VanHorn opened a law office in Bedford, Pennsylvania.  Judge VanHorn had a general practice, serving as County District Attorney from 1956 to 1963, and County Solicitor, as well as Solicitor for a number of municipalities.  Judge VanHorn also served as President of the Bar Association.  Prior to his appointment to the Bench, Judge VanHorn served as President of the New Enterprise Bank for several years.  He was also instrumental in organizing a National Guard Unit in Everett, and served as its Commanding Officer from 1949 to 1962.  Judge VanHorn was active in civic matters and belonged to the Elks, and the Lions.  The Judge was a member of the Lutheran Church as was his wife.

On Judge Snyder’s retirement in January of 1975, Judge VanHorn was appointed by Governor Milton Shapp in April of 1975.  Governor Shapp was a Democrat, Judge VanHorn a Republican.  By the time he received the appointment he was already an unopposed candidate in both the Republican and Democratic ticket for the 10 year term to begin in 1976.  Judge VanHorn was an extremely capable and astute jurist.  In 1985, he retired at the completion of his term and accepted Senior Judge status.  Judge VanHorn was active as a Senior Judge and served various courts of the Commonwealth, serving with such regularity in Blair County that some younger attorneys thought he was from that county.  Judge VanHorn and his wife moved to Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania in 1989.

On October 12, 2000, Judge VanHorn’s portrait was formally hung at the County Courthouse.  President Judge Howsare presided; also present on the Bench was Senior Judge VanHorn, and Judge Thomas S. Ling, who had been elected in 1999 as a second law judge for the county.  A large number of judges appeared, including the Honorable D. Brooks Smith, United States District Court for the Western District Court of Pennsylvania.  The portrait was completed by Joaxian Hoa, of Atlanta, Georgia, who also prepared Judge Snyder’s portrait.  In 2006, they moved to Homewood Retirement Community at Martinsburg, Pennsylvania in.  Mrs. VanHorn passed away on February 10, 2007, Judge VanHorn died on Monday, April 19, 2010, at age 90.  Judge VanHorn was survived by his son, Daniel F. VanHorn, and his daughter, Cheryl A. Gordon.    A Memorial Service was held to honor Judge VanHorn after his death; presiding was President Judge Daniel L. Howsare.  Also present on the Bench was second Law Judge Thomas S. Ling.  It was the great privilege of this writer to have appeared regularly before Judge VanHorn from 1981 to 1986.  As a Judge, he acted to instruct young attorneys in how to proceed in a case and he was always a master of the law.  His temperament on the Bench was commanding and his impartiality was beyond question.  It should also be noted that Judge VanHorn organized Central Court in 1980.  Originally held each Wednesday at the Magisterial District Judge Office in Everett, Pennsylvania, Central Court scheduled all preliminary hearings in the County to be held in one office.  This greatly streamlined the flow of criminal cases and ensured the presence of the District Attorney.

Sources:  1.) Records of Bedford County Prothonotary, Portrait tribute to the Honorable Ellis W. VanHorn, Jr., October 12, 2000.  2.) Obituary for Ellis W. VanHorn, Jr., at Timothy A. Berkebile Funeral

 Daniel L Howsare

Daniel Lee Howsare was born in 1948, and raised in the Colerain Township area of Bedford County, Pennsylvania, the son of Fred and Edna Mae Howsare.  Judge Howsare served in the United States Army Reserves in the 1970’s.  He received his Bachelor of Science Degree from Penn State University in 1971 and worked as a Juvenile Court Probation Officer in Allegheny County, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, while attending night school at Duquesne University School of Law from which he received his Juris Doctorate Degree in 1976.  Judge Howsare was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania in 1976, and was admitted to the Bar that same year.  Judge Howsare married Joan Regan, of Greenwich, Connecticut and has two children, a son, Brant, and a daughter, Ashley.  Judge Howsare served as Assistant District Attorney from 1976 to 1979, and District Attorney from 1980 through 1985.  Judge Howsare was also engaged in the private practice of law during that period.

After Judge VanHorn announced his retirement, three candidates announced for the President Judge’s position.  Attorney Gordon Stroup, who served as District Attorney for 16 years prior to Judge Howsare, and who had appointed Howsare as his assistant; District Attorney Daniel Lee Howsare, and Attorney Donley Logue, who was Chief Public Defender at the time.  All three were Republicans and Stroup and Howsare both cross filed on the Democrat and Republican ticket.  Attorney Logue changed his registration from Republican to Democrat and only filed on the Democrat ticket.

The Primary was held in May of 1985 and Attorney Stroup won the Republican nomination by less than 200 votes.  However, District Attorney Howsare won the Democratic nomination by a solid margin, thus pitting two Republicans against each other in the November general election.  This appears to be a repeat of the Madore/James race in 1931.  At the general election on November 5, 1985.  Attorney Stroup polled 5,657; District Attorney Howsare received 8,081, earning the election with 58.7 percent of the vote.  President Judge Howsare was reelected in 1995 and retained in 2005, becoming the first judge to be elected to the office for three full terms.  Judge Howsare resigned in July of 2010 and became a Senior Judge.  It is believed he will retire from his senior judge position in July of 2020.  Judge Howsare served as President Judge for 25 and one-half years, thus becoming the longest serving judge in county history.  During his tenure as President Judge, he supported the construction of the new addition to the County Courthouse.  President Judge Howsare was also instrumental in securing a second judgeship for the County.  This second position was filled in 2000.  As President Judge, Howsare also served on the Ethics Committee of the Pennsylvania State Judges Association.

Judge Howsare’s portrait was hung on November 21, 2012 in the Courtroom of the 1829 Courthouse.  President Judge Thomas Ling presided; also on the Bench was Judge Travis Livengood, the second law judge, and Senior Judge Daniel Lee Howsare.  A number of Common Pleas judges appeared for the ceremony.  In the remarks made at the presentation, Chief Probation Officer Keith Bowser spoke of Judge Howsare’s love of and skill at softball.  Judge Livengood observed the time he spent clerking for Judge Howsare; and how that led to his decision to become a judge.  President Judge Ling noted that he had appeared in front of Judge Howsare for 13 years as an attorney on nearly a daily basis, and that in his observation Judge Howsare was conscientious, honest, and was always prepared and fully informed on the law of the case.  Judge Howsare thanked his wife and his parents; his family and his children for their support and that he appreciated the opportunity to serve.  Judge Howsare’s portrait was painted by Kevin Kutz, who attended the ceremony.

Sources:  1.) Bedford Gazette, November 6, 1985; November 7, 1985.

 THOMAS S. LING, 2000-2020,
President Judge, 2010 to January, 2020

 Thomas S. Ling was born on December 5, 1950, the youngest son of Sheldon and Anna (Neff) Ling.  In 1957 the family moved from the Village of Pavia to a 60 acre farm located in Lincoln Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  Judge Ling attended school at the Pavia Elementary School and at the Chestnut Ridge Middle School and High School, graduating from high school in June of 1968.  As a young man, Judge Ling was active in the Boy Scouts attaining the rank of Eagle Scout, was awarded the God and Country Award in 1968, and received his 50 Miler Award that same year.  In the summer of 1968, Judge Ling participated in a Wilderness Camping trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.  Judge Ling also earned his water safety instructor certification from the Red Cross.  In December of 1968, Judge Ling entered active duty in the United States Navy and was honorably discharged on March 2, 1973.  Ling attained the rank of Second Class Petty Officer (E-5) and worked as an Aviation Machinist Mate (Aircraft Engine Mechanic).  While in the service, he was attached to two squadrons, VA-42, and VXE-6.  VA-42 was a training squadron that flew the A-6 Intruder, and was based at Virginia Beach, Virginia.  VXE-6 was a cargo transport squadron that operated the C-130 Hercules.  VXE-6 was based in Quonset Point, Rhode Island.  However, it deployed each year to Christ Church, New Zealand and McMurdo Sound, Antarctica in support of the National Science Foundation, which conducted experimental and explorative research in Antarctica.  While serving in VXE-6, Judge Ling was able to visit the geographic South Pole, where the temperature in the summer months can be between 30 to 60 degrees below zero; these figures do not include any wind chill factor, which can reduce the felt temperature to 100 degrees below zero.  During the summer, the sun never sets.

While in the service, Ling took a correspondence course in law, which began a life- long interest in the nature and workings of the law.  After his discharge from active duty, he returned to his family home in Lincoln Township and applied to enroll at the University of Pittsburgh’s Johnstown Campus.  Also in that year, the Lincoln Township Supervisors asked that he consider filling a vacancy on their Board of Supervisors.  Ling applied to be appointed to fill the vacancy and his petition was approved by President Judge Snyder.  Ling served on the Board of Supervisors until the fall of 1977.  In 1976 he was elected Chairman of the Board of Township Supervisors.  Also during this period, he served as the Republican Committeeman from Lincoln Township.  Judge Ling, after separation from the service, continued to pursue outdoor activities including hunting, and fishing.  He also received his scuba certification and enjoyed scuba diving.  The Judge also enjoyed horseback riding and over the years owned several horses.

In the spring of 1977, Ling graduated from the University of Pittsburgh, Magna Cum Laude, with a Degree in Political Science with a concentration in State and Local Government.  In the fall of 1977, Judge Ling enrolled at the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.  In the spring of 1980, he graduated with a Juris Doctorate.  Ling was 18th in his class and was an Officer on the Moot Court Board, was admitted to the Wool Sack Honor Society, and the Order of the Barristers.  While in law school he had worked as a clerk in Carlisle for the Law Firm of Fowler, Addams and Shrugart.  After completing the Bar exam, he returned to Bedford County with plans to open a law practice.  In January, 1981, after receiving notice he had passed the Bar exam, Ling was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania and the Bedford County Bar.  Ultimately, he was admitted to practice before the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania and the United States Supreme Court.  That same year he opened a law office on the Mile Level area just outside Bedford Borough; in 1985, he relocated his office to Bedford Borough.  Judge Ling operated a general practice of law but represented a number of Municipalities and Authorities.  On July 21, 1984, Judge Ling married Mary Ann Mitchell of Somerset County, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Nevin and Dolores (Mosgrave) Mitchell.  The Lings have two daughters, Lori and Nicole, and reside in East Saint Clair Township, Bedford County.

In 1985, District Attorney Daniel Howsare hired Ling as Assistant District Attorney.  When Howsare was elected to the Bench in 1985, he selected Ling serve as District Attorney for the uncompleted portion of his term in 1986 and 1987.  Ling’s first term as District Attorney had its difficulties, including failing to obtain a conviction in a well published arson murder trial.  However, there was also successes.  Ling was able to help establish the first victim support service in the County and was able to obtain a separate room for crime victims at Central Court.  In 1987, Ling announced he would run for a full term as District Attorney.  The Public Defender, Donley Logue, filed on the Democratic ticket.  In the election on November 6, 1987, Logue received 6,842 votes and Ling received 6,761.  Logue won the election with an 81 vote margin.  After leaving office at the completion of his term, Ling served as County Solicitor and Public Defender from 1988 to 1991.  In 1991, Ling again announced he would seek the Republican nomination for District Attorney.  District Attorney Logue ran for reelection on the Democratic ballot.  In the General Election on November 5, 1991, Logue received 7,261 votes and Ling received 7,636.  Ling won the election by 365 votes.  In 1995, District Attorney Ling announced he would seek reelection as District Attorney on the Republican ticket and Attorney Logue changed parties to seek the District Attorney post on the Republican ticket.  Attorney Logue’s law partner announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for District Attorney.  At the primary on May 19, 1995, Ling received 3,864 votes and Logue 3,184.  Ling won the primary by 680 votes.  In the fall General Election Ling received 9,511 votes and Attorney Barry Scatton received 4,445.  Ling won the election by 5,066 votes.  This led a County newspaper to describe District Attorney Ling as the “most hunted man in Bedford County.”  During his tenure as District Attorney, Ling reestablished the Office of County Detective, and was a vigorous supporter of the right to keep and bear arms.  District Attorney Ling also prosecuted the only Bedford County case tried in another county.  This was a homicide case which was moved to Clinton County, Pennsylvania, after a jury panel could not be selected in Bedford County.  In this case, District Attorney Ling obtained a first degree murder conviction and a sentence of life in prison for the Defendant.

When the second law judge position became available in 1999, Ling ran for the position and filed on both the Republican and Democrat tickets.  Ling was unopposed and assumed office in January of 2000.  In 2009, he ran for retention and was retained with a favorable vote of roughly 75 percent.  In July, 2010, President Judge Howsare retired and took Senior Judge status.  Judge Ling was appointed President Judge by the Governor and continued as President Judge until his retirement in January, 2020.  Judge Ling applied for, and was granted senior status by the Pennsylvania Superior Court.  From July, 2010 until January 2012, Judge Ling served as the only judge, as the Governor, at the request of the Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, did not fill the vacancy.

During his term as President Judge, he was sued by the Bedford County Commissioners; the only such case to have ever arisen in county history.  The origin of the suit was the Commissioners’ desire to gain control of the Supervisory Fund and DUI (Driving under the Influence) fund administered by the Court.  The case began on March 18, 2011, when the Commissioners advised the Court that they would no longer fund the supplements paid to secure probation officers.  This had the effect of reducing the salary of the Chief Probation Officer, his assistant, and the nine probation officers by 25 percent each.  The practice had developed going back a number of years that the Commissioners advanced these funds and would be repaid at year’s end from the Supervisory fund, derived from costs paid by criminal defendants.  Since 2007, there was an arrears where the county fund would not fully repay the amount advanced at year’s end.  No concern was raised by the Commissioners until they stopped all payments with no prior notice.  The parties negotiated throughout 2012.  The Commissioners proposals always involved either a surrender of control of the fund or that supplements were not allowed due to Union concerns and salary board issues.  Finally, Judge Ling issued an administrative order in October, 2012, requiring the Treasurer to issue the supplements directly from the Supervisory fund.  In response, the Commissioners filed suit.  Negotiations continued but as no supplements were paid, seven of the county probation officers resigned and sought employment elsewhere.  In January of 2013, President Judge Pellegrini of the Commonwealth Court had the parties appear in Pittsburgh to resolve the matter.  However, this was unsuccessful.  On May 21, 2014, the Commonwealth Court entered a declaratory judgement.  This directed that unreimbursed funds owed to the County had to be repaid.  In Dicta, they affirmed the authority of the President Judge to direct the Treasurer to disburse money at his sole discretion from the Supervisory fund for salary and benefits.  As to the DUI fund which came from fees paid by drunk drivers for schooling and testing, the Court ruled President Judge Ling exceeded his authority by attempting to maintain the fund over the objection of the Commissioners.  While this decision did not resolve all issues, it provided a valuable framework on when to settle the issues.  In September of 2014, the case was ultimately settled.  During the years 2011 through 2014, the Court had raised the Supervisory fee paid by Defendants from $35.00 to $65.00 a month.  The additional funds enabled the Court to liquidate the arrearage and begin to pay supplements pursuant to the Court’s administrative order issued in 2012.  The DUI fund was surrendered, but the Commissioners agreed to be responsible for the costs of the program including payments for CRIN evaluations and driving school.  The Court retained sole control of the Supervisory fund and is able to use these funds for the needs of the probation office, as it was designed to do in the law.  Currently, the County Probation Office consists of four probation officers, the chief and his assistant.

Judge Ling has been active in a number of civic organizations including Pennsylvania Farm Bureau, Kiwanis, Masons and Order of the Eastern Star.  As of this writing, President Judge Ling’s portrait had not been completed.

Sources:  1.) Bedford Gazette, March 19, 1969, April 28, 1967, January, 1976, and November 6, 1991.  2.) Bedford Inquirer, May 19, 1995, November 16, 1987.



[Image of court houses: Copyright 2017 Larry D. Smith, used with permission. Images of Judges up to Judge Howsare are photographs of the paintings hung in Courtroom 1 of the Bedford County Courthouse.]