Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers...Iowa - 1915 - H

1915 Index

Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early Iowa
by Edward H. Stiles. Des Moines: Homestead Publishing Co., 1915.


Unless noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.

Frank Hagerman

Frank Hagerman was a brother of James, and like him, received his legal education and commenced practice in Keokuk. He, too, subsequently removed to Missouri, locating at Kansas City, where he rose to be one of the greatest lawyers that have figured in the professional history of that State. I knew him very thoroughly, as I was associated with him in winding up the affairs of the Lombard Investment Company, and those of the Kansas City, Pittsburg & Gulf Railroad Company, now Kansas City Southern Railroad Company - he as one of the receivers and finally sole receiver in the first named case, and as attorney for the receivers in the second one, while I was the Special Master in Chancery in both. These receiverships extended through several years, and Mr. Hagerman and myself were closely associated in winding up the affairs of those companies.

He was chosen as their legal representative by some of the largest interests and corporations in the country, among others that I remember, the Standard Oil Company, the Metropolitan Street Railroad Company, the Armour Packing Company, the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad Company, the Fidelity National Bank, and of all the Railroad Companies in the notable proceedings that grew out of the effort on the part of the State to enforce the law reducing transportation rates. These instances will doubtless give an adequate idea of the character and extent of his enormous practice. I say enormous, because I do not think any lawyer in the State has ever been entrusted with so many weighty interests; and his ability and success in conducting them was so marked that it had the effect of continually increasing his clientage along those lines. He was one of the few lawyers that was able to amass a fortune from the legitimate results of his practice.

In my long experience and observation, I have no hesitation in saying that, taken all in all, he was the most skilful lawyer I have ever known. His mind was strongly constructive. He had the peculiar and rare faculty of seeing through great transactions, of analyzing their frame work, of anticipating in detail the effect of their operations. The quickness of his apprehension in these respects was more extraordinary than I have seen in any other man. In laying the ground work, and in drawing the corporative articles of great enterprises, I do not think that he had any superiors in the whole country. To this was added resourcefulness of the first order, that enabled him to draw upon inventive faculties when needed for aggressiveness or defense, and a power of argument in enforcing his views, seldom surpassed. These forces were supported and kept in array by a laborious and unrelinquishing industry. Along the lines I have indicated, he was easily, in my opinion, the greatest lawyer in Missouri, and one of the greatest in this or any other country. It was these surpassing faculties that continued year after year to bring to him the powerful clientage he enjoyed.

In some respects, he was, so to speak, the antithesis of his brother. He was without his finished education and literary taste. He was not imaginative, not eloquent in speech, beyond the power of convincing argument.

The nobility of his character was in keeping with his professional fame. His nature was sympathetic, his disposition generous, his views of the world broad, his judgment of men lenient, his honor untarnished, his fidelity perfect. As one who knew him long and intimately, I write these lines with the consciousness that they are in no wise overdrawn.

James Hagerman became one of the most prominent lawyers of St. Louis and Missouri, as he had been of Keokuk and Iowa. He studied law with John W. Rankin and George W. McCrary. He was admitted to the bar before he was of age, by the Supreme Court of Missouri, not being eligible to admission under the laws of Iowa on account of his age. He remained with Rankin & McCrary until 1869, when he removed to Palmyra, Missouri, and entered upon the practice there, but returned to Keokuk late in the year 1870, and formed a co-partnership with John N. Irwin. He soon rose to prominence and became one of the leading lawyers of the State. He afterwards removed to Kansas City to enter a partnership with J. V. C. Karnes and L. C. Krauthoff, two of the most prominent lawyers in Missouri. He subsequently went to St. Louis, and as before indicated, became one of its most prominent lawyers. He was for a great number of years General Counsel of the Missouri, Kansas & Texas Railroad Company.

He was not only distinguished as a lawyer of profound learning, but as an advocate and eloquent public speaker. He was born in Missouri and was of southern extraction. His father was a native of Virginia, his mother of Kentucky. He was a graduate of the Christian Brothers College at St. Louis. While there, he displayed a taste for mathematics and literature and stood among the highest in his classes. In politics, he was a Democrat of pronounced liberal views, took an active part in the affairs of his party while in Iowa, and at one time was its candidate for Congress in his district, but while running ahead of the ticket, was defeated by his Republican opponent. He was a political speaker of great power, but his efforts in that behalf were for the advancement of his friends and not for himself, for he did not desire public office and frequently refused to become a candidate for it. He was rather short in stature, but stout and vigorous in his general make-up. His personal, as well as professional standing was high throughout the State and his removal therefrom was a source of general regret. He died a few years ago.

John Hale, who has been referred to as a partner of Mr. Hurley, was a native of Greene County, Ohio. He came with his father's family when a lad, to Louisa County, in 1839. His education was not liberal, but by reading and observation, he greatly made up for what he lacked in that direction. While a young man, he was elected Clerk of the District Court, and was re-elected several times to the same office. This delayed his entering upon the practice of his profession until comparatively late in life, but he soon attained the rank of being one of the best lawyers in the County. He is said to have had a large amount of common sense and a naturally legal mind. his long experience as Clerk of the Court was advantageous, he had formed a wide acquaintance with the people, and they had perfect confidence in both his ability and integrity.