In the trial of a case some years later, in which Grandma Griffin (as she was known), of Green township, was plaintiff, and the Commissioners of Highways of that townsnip were the defendants, an incident occurred in the evidence of the old lady which caused tne Judge's usual rigid smile to change to a hearty laugh.
Mrs. Griffiin had sued the Commissioners for damages, claiming that they had damaged her property in opening a new road through her farm. Mr. John C. Pepper, a former attorney of Aledo, but now of Punta Gorda, Florida, was her attorney. Mr. Pepper was noted for his elegant language before the court and jury, and his courteous manner in questioning his clients and their witnesses. In the progress of the trial and after having proved the damages by the plaintiff and her witnesses, in order to clinch the thread of testimony for Mrs. Griffin, it being necessary to prove the title to the land, Mr. Pepper asked Mrs. Griffin this question: "Now, Mrs. Griffin, I will ask you, in conclusion, to state to the jury if, to your personal knowledge, your husband died seized in fee of the premises on which these defendants committed this damage
." The old lady, being very prompt and quick in her answer, thundered out to the astonishment of the Judge, counsel and jury, "No, sir; he died with the rheumatism." This answer was a clincher. The jury, after hearing the arguments of counsel, retired and, after an hour's consideration of the case, returned a verdict in favor of the old lady.
Thirty years ago there was a row of hitching racks around the old court-house in Aledo, and during the sessions of the court there were always a number of horses tied to them. Judge A. A. Smith was, in those days, the presiding Judge and Samuel W. McCoy, a member of the bar. One day the Judge called Mr. McCoy up to his desk and informed him that he had appointed him to defend a penniless prisoner who was charged with stealing a horse.
Mr. McCoy was not pleased with the appointment, but had to take it; so he asked the court to give him a few minutes to talk with his client, who was a villainous looking man. The Judge told him to retire to the courthouse yard and talk the case over. After getting outside Sam asked him what evidence the prosecution had against him. He said, "The man I stole the horse from is in the courtroom.
" He was asked if there was any one else to testify against him. "Yes," he said; "two men who saw me steal the horse are also there." Sam again asked if there were any other witnesses. "Yes," he said; "the man I sold the horse to is also there." "Well," said Sam with a smile, "it strikes me you don't want a lawyer at all; what you need is another horse." Sam's client then whispered into his ear, "Say, partner; that's bully advice you're giving me. I'll just take it"—and before Sam could do anything to stop him he made a bee-line for the hitching rack, took the best horse there and rode away towards Sugar Grove at a full gallop. Sam reported the circumstance to the Judge, and the sheriff was ordered to pursue the fugitive, overtaking him at the county farm. He was tried and sent to Joliet, but Sam always said that he still thought his advice was the best possible under the circumstances
History of Mercer and Henderson County
Submitted by the Webmaster
©Wini Caudell and Contributors
All Rights Reserved