Lew Wallace, Law Partners

By: Karen Zach

My idea for a column this week could actually probably be quite the interesting book, but I’ll give ya’ the condensed version of some (most) of the law partners and “students” of our famous Lew Wallace, probably not in order, likely not all of them, but these four, for sure!

Nabbed this idea as I was researching one of my favorite Montgomery Countians, Major Charles Monroe Travis (sketch from the Indianapolis Journal 24 June 1882), whom I’ve written about in a couple of articles but just mentioning him and didn’t highlight him in the Wallace relationship. Charles Monroe Travis was born 20 Oct 1845 in Edgar County, Illinois and when he turned 16, he immediately joined-up for the war (Co E, 12th Ill) and served with honor until the war’s closing. Afterwards, he read law under Lew then served as his partner until 1872 (Indianapolis Journal 24 June 1892). One of his major accomplishments was serving as the US Consulate in Brazil where he and his wife, Mary Salisbury had their only child, Claude, who became a well-known minister. An Odd Fellow and Knight Templar, he served as quite an active state commander of GAR (Grand Army of the Republic, the large Civil War organization). As such, he headed-up the great dedication exercise for the Soldiers Monument in Indianapolis with much flair and even laid its cornerstone. Over 50,000 were tallied as visitors to the capital city that day. He was a major of a colored unit during the Spanish-American War. His expertise was aiding soldiers to obtain a pension; however, he was involved in various aspects of law and business (insurance salesman in later years). Buried Oak Hill.

Next up is Michael Daugherty White, an early partner of Lew. Born in Springfield, Ohio 8 Sept 1827, he was the son of Albert Lanson and Mary Daughtery White, but mainly grew-up on a farm in Tippecanoe County. “Alanson’s” father was a Revolution soldier. Mike White came to Crawfordsville to attend Wabash but because of poor health left his senior year. After a year on his father’s farm and working in the family mill, Mike’s health returned and he joined Lew in a law firm until 1858 when “Honest Mike White” (loved by everyone in both parties) accomplished quite a feat by beating General Mahlon Manson in a run for the senate. White was a great orator, patterning his career after Henry S. Lane (PBR of Montgomery, Parke and Fountain County p 141). Quite an active Mason and involved in the Christian Church, he married Dr. JG McMechan’s daughter, Millie, a cultured well-admired religious woman and they parented John, George and Grace. Buried Oak Hill Grant Avenue (photo from FindAGrave -Bill McKern).

Really admired this fellow and his relationship with Lew. Born in Fountain County, he grew-up in Hillsboro and Waynetown and one day he saw Lew, asking LW if he could borrow his law books to read. Lew noted, “One at a time, you’ll take a detailed test, get another and repeat the process.” When he had devoured and promptly passed all of Lew’s books, Thomas Fleming Davidson then tackled all of Lew’s partner, Michael Daughtery White’s law books and did the same. Davidson worked in his father’s (Samuel Hughes Davidson) mill and farm, teaching all the time while studying at night. He married Eliza Tice and they had one daughter, Annie. Don’t believe he was ever partners with Lew or Willson but their influence carried him on to serve as circuit court judge from 1870-82, serving a wide number of nearby counties. Interestingly, he served as judge in the John C. Henning case, Henning being the second and last person hanged in Montgomery County. A Civil War soldier Co B 120th Indiana, he is buried in Oak Hill with quite a unique tombstone!

(Col) Samuel Campbell Willson was born in Cherry Valley, Otsego County NY in September 1810 (Crawfordsville Star 23 June 1881 p 4) and came to MoCo in 1836, entering a law partnership with Col. H.S. Lane the next year. In 1853, Lane retired from law and Willson became associated with Joe McDonald and six years thereafter with Lew Wallace. This lasted until the outbreak of the Civil War, after which Sam and his son, Levi were partners. Col. Willson (Lew somewhat as well) was an avid railroad enthusiast, in 1831, having ridden from Albany to Schenectady NY behind the first locomotive in America. In 1872, Willson rode the palace car from here to San Francisco in an unbroken trip. His grandfather was in the Revolutionary War, as well. At his death it was said, “None can fail to admire his well-moulded life, full of active, earnest work for the common good!” Great epithet! He, too, rests in OH. Bless each of you and wow that you were connected to Lew!

– Karen Zach is the editor of Montgomery Memories, our monthly magazine all about Montgomery County. Her column, Around the County, appears each Thursday in The Paper of Montgomery County. You can reach her at [email protected].