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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



david k petersen

C.G.Wing recalls early Ludington part 4 of 6 As it appeared in the Ludington Daily News in 1920 "The dedication of the new courthouse took place January 14, 1874. It was of one story, the lower story of the building removed in 1920 from the site just east of the county jail. One half was a court room, the other half was divided between the county treasurer and the clerk and register--then united in one officer. The building committee of the board of supervisors, who had charge of the construction, were N. L. Bird, W. A. Bailey, F . F. Hopkins, Malon Abbey and B. J. Goodsell. Its cost was $6,127.11. On this important occasion Judge White led the speaking. He set up the claim of the city of Ludington to a history of 200 years, that is, since the burial of Pere Marquette in 1675, as a history entitled to be known and recognized by the world. His argument seemed belated. The opportunity to preserve that rich heritage was one year previous when the city charter was presented to a public meeting for discussion and ratification before it was sent to the legislature for enactment. If then the original name of the place had been insisted upon and inserted in the charter we might, by perpetuating the name, share the prestige of the great Jesuit explorer. Since Judge White, himself, as one of the committee to prepare the city charter, had at that decisive point acquiesced in the deliberate substitution of the name of James Ludington for that of James Marquette, his ornate claim appeared that of the lawyer rather than one becoming to a judge. The other speakers were Messrs. Fitch, Haight, Wheeler, Ewell, L. E. Foster and Daniel Prindle. The one speaker to sound a note of triumph was Luther H. Foster and rightfully so. Both the new court house and the new judge were trophies of his victory. In the struggle for supremacy between Lincoln and Ludington he had borne the brunt of the fight, first as superintendent for James Ludington, and since 1869 as secretary of the Pere Marquette Lumber Company. The first contested lawsuit in which the firm of Newcombe & Wing was retained was that of Murphy vs. O'Brien. One day in January Michael O'Brien entered the office, laid on the table a summons just served upon him together with $5.00 in money, and without taking a seat left with our assurance that we would be on hand at the appointed hour. The summons was issued by Levi Shackelton, justice of the peace, in an action of assumpsit in which Stephen Murphy was plaintiff. At the hour named in the writ Mr. Haight appeared for Murphy and a jury was empaneled. The evidence tended to show that O'Brien, a frequenter of Murphy's saloon, had sold Murphy a horse for five dollars and a quart botttle of whiskey. When, the next morning, Murphy went after his horse he found the horse there in the barn as represented but the horse was dead. O'Brien's testimony was that the horse when he saw it last was alive and that Murphy, under the terms of the sale assumed the entire risk of its term of life, but that in any event the horse, either dead or alive, was worth all Murphy paid. Since 1870 Mr. Haight had been prosecuting attorney and almost daily was conducting trials before Justice Shackelton. He was efficient and rapid in bringing out the testimony of witnesses on his side. My part as junior counsel was to act only as requested by Mr. Newcombe. Our side seemed to be getting the worst of the fight and. Mr. Newcombe, hesitant and not yet warmed up to the degree of quick action. I waited impatiently for signs of a thaw but finally broke loose and took the lead, both in the examination of witnesses and in argument to the jury. The verdict gave Murphy a judgment for $5.00. The value of the whiskey was not recoverable under the existing law. The next day when we were both seated and alone in the office Mr. Newcombe lectured me with the appearance of being deeply indignant. In substance he asked me to bear in mind that he was the senior member of the firm and that in the trial of future cases he would let me know when he needed my help I merely announced that our partnership was ended and left the office. The next day when I went back to the office for my books Mr. Newcombe's indignation had subsided. He offered a restoration of previous relations and perfect freedom on my part. In the most friendly way I explained to Mr. Newcombe that our attempt to work in double harness was a mistake and that each of us would be better off working alone. Six years later in the Garfield campaign the republican politicians, under the leadership of O. O. Stanchfield, united in a memorandum of assurance to Jay A. Bubbell, then our congressman, that if he would find a political berth for Mr. Newcombe at Washington, Mason county would agree to ask nothing further of the Garfield administration. Notice soon came to Mr. Newcombe of his appointment to a position in the pension office at Washington where he remained for the rest of his life."

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