Proceedings of the Springfield Bar Association regarding James H. Matheny, 20 December 18561
Meeting of the Springfield Bar.
A meeting of the Bar of Springfield was held at the Court House on the 20th inst. Judge Logan was called to the chair, and J. B. White, appointed Secretary.
E. B. Herndon, Esq.[Esquire], arose to state the object of the meeting, and said,
Mr. Chairman: It has been my happy fortune to have been a member of the Springfield Bar for the last ten years. Much of that time the gentleman, whom we all delight to honor, occupied the place from which he is now about to retire.2 As a lawyer, as an officer and as a man, amid interests various and sometimes conflicting, we have met, but I take great pleasure in stating that nothing has transpired to mar that intercourse or render it anything but pleasant and agreeable.
The object of this meeting, Mr. Chairman, is that we the members of the Bar in a manner suitable to this occasion make public testimonial of our regard for, and appreciation of the uninform courtesy and gentlemanly bearing of Mr. James H. Matheny in the discharge of the duties of his office as clerk of this court.
To say that he has discharged his official duties with distinguished abilities, is doing but meagre justice to his talents; and though I have always found in him a stern, uncompromising political opponent;3 yet none has ever suspected him of making discriminations in favor of party frfends[friends]. To litigants, witnesses, and lawyers his courtesy, kindness and attention have been extended alike, and equality to all.
Mr. Chairman, as a slight testimonial of our appreciation and regard for Mr. Matheny as an officer, and as a man, I move that the resolutions which I here beg leave to report, be read and adopted.
Whereas, Jas. H. Matheny, who has for a long period of time, whilst we have been practicing at the Bar of the court of which he is clerk, is now about to cease in the discharge of the duties of that station and unwilling that the relation in which we have so long stood should also cease without a proper testimonial of our high appreciation of his worth as a man and his remarkable efficiency as clerk of this court, therefore,
Resolved, That, we as members of the Bar do hereby present him our most hearty thanks for his civility and gentlemanly bearing, as shown to us and to the Honorable Court in the discharge of the many arduous and harassing duties of his office.4
Resolved, That as he retires from the office of clerk we do most cheerfully invite him to resume his position among us as a practicing lawyer.5
Resolved, That we do hereby request that his Honor, the Judge, may direct the above preamble and resolutions to be spread upon the records of this court.
Resolved, That the above be published in the State Register and Illinois Journal of this city.6
The resolutions were read and unanimously adopted. Mr. Cullom moved that the chair be instructed to present the preamble and resolutions to the Court and request that they be spread upon the records of the Court. Adopted.
Mr. Cullom then said, “Mr. Chairman; though I am one of the youngest members of this bar,7 yet I cannot allow this opportunity to pass without testifying personally to Mr. Matheny’s manly courtesy and gentlemanly bearing in the discharge of his official duties. The esteem we all have for him as a man, is as well known as that esteem itself is universal. That to Mr. Matheny’s return to the bar, we all, and particularly the junior members, give our most hearty welcome.
Mr. Lincoln said, “This is the first intimation I have had that any such meeting as this was intended. It takes me considerably by surprise, particularly as it might be expected that I am to say something. Much could be said of the man named in the resolutions, and of his public services. Indeed, much could be said, which, if said of other men, would be sheer flattery, whilst in respect to him it falls far short of the whole truth. That I have long esteemed Mr. Matheny as a man and a friend, is known to you all. But that I should meet out to you the full measure of his worth, I shall not now attempt to do. Besides, much of this has already been beautifully and graphically done by my friend Mr. Herndon. Mr. Chairman, allow me in conclusion to say that I fully concur in all that has been said and done on this occasion.
The meeting then adjourned, and the Court convened, whereupon Judge Logan arose and said—
May it please the Court, I hold in my hand a series of resolutions, unanimously adopted at a recent meeting of the Bar of this place. I am instructed to present these Resolutions to your honorable Court, and ask that your honor direct them to be spread upon the records.— The resolutions refer to the dissolution of relations heretofore existing between the Bar and one of its members, serving in another branch of ministerial duty to this court, and indicates the unwillingness of the Bar that these relations should be severed without a just tribute of respect to the officer and to the man. This is not, however, one of those cases, when the severance is violent and total; when we are to meet no more, but is such that we can all take pleasure in uniting in a just and proper testimonial of our confidence and esteem. I was present at the meeting and concurred in all that was done, and now I take great pleasure in moving your honor to direct the resolutions to be spread upon the records of his court.
Judge Davis replied— I have been upon the bench eight years. At first this court contained fourteen counties— it now is somewhat less.8 The Clerks in most of these counties were gentlemen of distinguished abilities, but none were superior to Mr. Matheny in any of the qualities of officer or man. This testimonial of respect and esteem on the part of the Bar, is in every respect merited by the man. The court orders the resolutions to be spread upon the records as requested.
S. T. LOGAN, Chairman.J. B. White, Sec’ry.[Secretary]
1These proceedings appeared in the December 24, 1856 issue of the Daily Illinois State Journal.
2James H. Matheny was elected clerk of the Sangamon County Circuit Court in 1852 and served one term for four years, with his term expiring in 1856. The court was part of the Eighth Judicial Circuit.
John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and the Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent (Chicago: Lewis, 1899), 1:192; “An Act to Reduce the Limits of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and Fix the Times of Holding Courts Therein,” 3 February 1853, General Laws of Illinois (1853), 63.
3Matheny initially supported the Whig Party, and at its dissolution he temporarily worked with the American and Republican parties before finally settling on being a Democrat. Elliott B. Herndon supported the Democratic Party.
John M. Palmer, ed., The Bench and the Bar of Illinois: Historical and Reminiscent, 1:184, 192.
4Circuit court clerks were responsible for documents such as summons, subpoenas, appeals, depositions, orders in the progress of a lawsuit and for other actions including calling and swearing juries, receiving and entering verdicts, assessing damages on bonds, entering special bails of record, and much more.
The Statutes of Illinois, Embracing All of the General Laws of the State, in Force December 1, 1857 (Chicago: D.B. Cooke, 1858), 510-11; “Chapter XXIX: Courts,” 3 March 1845, Revised Laws of Illinois (1845), 147.
5Matheny did return to his law practice, and in January 1857 he advertised in the Daily Illinois State Journal as an attorney and counsellor at law in Springfield.
Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 10 January 1857, 1:1.
6This announcement appeared in the December 25, 1856 issue of the Illinois State Register.
Illinois State Register (Springfield), 25 December 1856, 2:6.
7Shelby M. Cull0m was twenty-seven years old.
Gravestone, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL.
8When the Illinois General Assembly divided the state into judicial circuits in February 1839, the Eighth Judicial Circuit included eight counties: Sangamon, Macon, McLean, Tazewell, Menard, Logan, Christian, and Livingston. When the General Assembly reorganized the judicial circuits on February 23, 1841, the Eighth Judicial Circuit included the above eight counties and Shelby, DeWitt, Champaign, Mason, and Piatt counties. On February 27, 1841, the General Assembly added Woodford County. In 1853, the Illinois circuit courts were realigned, and the Eighth Circuit shrunk to the eight counties of Sangamon, Logan, Tazewell, Woodford, McLean, DeWitt, Champaign, and Vermilion.
An Act Dividing the State into Judicial Circuits; An Act to Establish Circuit Courts; An Act for the Formation of the County of Woodford; “An Act to Reduce the Limits of the Eighth Judicial Circuit, and Fix the Times of Holding Courts Therein,” 3 February 1853, 63.

Printed Document, 1 page(s), Daily Illinois State Journal (Springfield), 24 December 1856, 2:2.