Recollections and Sketches of Notable Lawyers and Public Men of Early
Unless noted, biographies submitted by Dick Barton.
Galusha Parsons was a native of East Aurora, New York, where he was born in 1828. He came to Iowa and located at Fort Dodge in 1865, where he rapidly rose to be regarded as one of the first lawyers in that part of the State. He represented Webster County in the House of the Thirteenth General Assembly. He removed to Des Moines in 1873, and formed a partnership with John S. Runnells. He was notable for his legal learning and great proficiency. He removed to Tacoma, Washington, in 1890, and became distinguished there, and continued in the practice until his death in 1906. His body was brought to Des Moines and buried in Greenwood Cemetery. He was one of the most agreeable men in the world. I knew him well. When Archie Brown, who had been for years, the colored porter at the Savery House in Des Moines, was indicted for the murder of Ella Barrett, a milliner of Des Moines, who was found brutally murdered in her room, I was employed to assist in his prosecution after the case on change of venue had been removed to Ottumwa. The case, on account of the mystery connected with it, and the fact that it involved other persons than Brown, who was thought to be merely the hired instrument, created a good deal of public interest. Parsons was employed to defend Brown. Judge Edward L. Burton presided at the trial. It was a protracted one, and at its close, Mr. Parsons and myself had become pretty thoroughly known to each other. To show the custom of the times, I will state that during the progress of the trial, Mr. Parsons and myself were invited by the Judge to dine with him at his fine residence in the suburbs. We were the only guests. Judge Burton was not only a great lawyer, but a generous liver, and the table was bountifully supplied. He had some of the traits of his English ancestry, and his capacity for making good punch was equaled only by that of his guests in drinking it. A delightful conversation ensued, in which Mr. Parsons, who was a voluble and entertaining talker, displayed a wide range of knowledge. After a lapse of nearly forty years the recollection of that pleasant occasion is as fresh as ever. Some sixteen years ago I was in Seattle, and I thought of Mr. Parsons being at Tacoma, and resolved to stay over a day and visit him. I found him actively in the professional harness with one of his sons, I think, as partner. He was the same talkative, agreeable personage as of old. He was a learned and charming gentleman of the old school.