It is when I attempt to
write a fitting tribute to the memory of such a man as Judge Morrison,
that I feel the magnitude of the task I have undertaken, and my
incompetency to hand down to posterity and future generations, that they
may have a proper appreciation of his great legal ability, and his many
moral and social virtues.
with Judge Morrison began when I was a boy, and before he had reached
the noonday of life. Forty years ago I was often his fishing
companion upon the banks of White River and Fall Creek, he angling for
the fine black bass with which those streams abounded at that time, and
I for the tiny minnow he used for bait.
was a great smoker, and carried a tinder-box for the purpose of lighting
his cigars (this was before such a thing as locofoco matches was thought
of). I have often been attracted to his place of concealment on
the banks of these streams by the clatter of his tinder-box, or the
curling smoke from his fragrant Havana, rising above the bushes.
This was when the vanities of sorry conceits of the world were strangers
to me, and when my youthful spirit had known but little of the evils of
this inconstant world.
It was upon the banks of these
streams that I learned much of the true dignity of character he
possessed, and before either of us thought we would ever bear the
relation of attorney and client to each other, which we did for years
Although my hair is now silvered o'er, and my
brow bears the marks of time, I have not outlived the memory of those
happy days in the early history of this city; the days of so much
enjoyment that I passed when a boy, and the reflection of whose
pleasures linger with me yet.
In the "Indianapolis Journal" of the
22d of March, 1869, I find the following announcement of his demise:
"The early settlers of the State,
and the founders of our city are dropping off in such close succession
that we are warned of the near approach of the time when all shall have
passed away, and the birth of Indianapolis have ceased to be a memory to
any, and faded into history. Since the beginning of the year two
have left us, and in the last decade they far outnumber the years.
We cannot think but with profound sorrow of the inevitable hours when
all the names so long identified with our prosperity and honored as the
links that still bind the present to the past, have ceased to speak a
living presence, and to offer a living example of beauty, of goodness,
and a well spent life."
"Among all that have left such sad
vacancies, no one has filled a more prominent place than the Hon. James
Morrison; though for some years his failing strength and feeble health
have secluded him from active life, his presence has been felt, his
existence has been an influence, and his death is not so much the end of
a flickering light as the extinguishment of a gleam that leaves darkness
in its place"
"He died on Saturday evening, the 20th
instant, of pneumonia, after an illness of several days"
From the "Indianapolis
Sentinel" of the same date, I copy as follows:
"Judge Morrison was born in Ayrshire,
Scotland, the birth place of Robert Burns, in the year 1796. His
parents came to this country when he was quite young, and settled at
Bath, in Western New York. He studied his profession with Judge
William B. Rochester, a distinguished jurist of that State, and when
admitted to the bar he emigrated to Indiana and located in Charleston,
Clark County, where he practiced law for many years with the late Judge
Dewey, who was one of the truly great men of the nation."
"He remained in Charleston about ten
years, and a gentleman who knew him during his residence there, says his
devotion to his family (he was the oldest son) was most remarkable, and
that he was their main reliance."
"In the winter of 1828-29, he was elected
Secretary of State by the Legislature, and removed to this city, then a
town of 1,100 inhabitants, January 1st, 1829. Subsequently he
filled the offices of Judge of this Judicial Circuit, President of the
State Bank for ten years, succeeding Samuel Merrill, Esq., Attorney
General, the first to fill that office, and other trusts of less
importance. So high an appreciation had the members of the bar for
his qualifications for the judgeship, that they presented him with five
hundred dollars to induce him to take it."
"Of the Clark County bar he leaves but two
survivors, we believe, Judge Thompson, now in the city, and Judge Naylor
"Of the Indianapolis bar of 1829, the year
he became connected with it, he was, as we recollect, the last, not one
now left. Harvey Gregg, William Quarles, Hiram Brown, Henry P.
Coburn, B. F. Morris, Andrew Ingram, Samuel Merrill, Calvin Fletcher and
William W. Wick, who were his associates then, all passed away before he
was called to his final rest."
"As we call the familiar names of those so
prominent in the early history of the bar of Indianapolis, the
convulsive throbs of many hearts will attest their worth and the
appreciation with which their memories are still cherished. Yet
the sadness with which we recur to the ties of early associations, and
the early friendship of the past thus served, will give place to the
eheering thought that those endearing ties will be renewed, refined and
strengthened in the new life upon which they have already entered."
"Judge Morrison was also identified with
the history of the church in this city; he was one of the first
class that was confirmed here about thirty years ago, and the rite was
administered by the now venerable Bishop Kemper, of Wisconsin, who was
then Missionary Bishop of the Northwest. For twenty-five years he
was Senior Warden of Christ Church, in this city, and since the
organization of St. Paul's Church he has filled the same office in that
parish. He was educated a Presbyterian, but became a Churchman
after thorough investigation, and remained so with steadfastness through
"Judge Morrison was a man of decided
convictions, strong prejudices, with fixed habits that only physical
inability could change or overcome. He had opinions upon all
subjects and questions to which his attention was directed, and, as
would be expected from his peculiar mental organization, they were
always positive even to ultraism. His thoroughly a lawyer.
His eminent talents and active mind were peculiarly adaptd to the
profession in which he attained such high reputation, only yielding
active participation in it when compelled to surrender to the great
enemy of man. He was learned and profound, and had thoroughly
mastered the science of law."
"As a husband and father Judge Morrison
was affectionate, devoted and indulgent, and he leaves a wife, sons and
daughters who will, through life, cherished the memory of his many
virtues and unfailing affection and kindness."
I cannot add more than I have said in the
beginning of this sketch, and what is said in these Extract from the
"Journal" and "Sentinel," announcing his death.
"Friend after friend departs;
Who hath not lost a friend?
There is no union here of hearts
That finds not here an end."