The demolition of the McMorran mansion on Military Street has left a stain on the Port Huron community. 50 years later the topic is still discussed. The vacant lot serves as a shrine of our mourning. Make no mistake about it, we are not the only ones who cared about the passing of this architectural masterpiece of the past. Henry McMorran cared greatly about the aesthetics of his residence and its upkeep too. In fact, on his death in July of 1929, there was work being done on the home. His final estate expenses included payment to W.J. Scott, contractor and builder, for general labor and parts and to J.A. Davison Co. for gallons of paint the colors of mahogany, red, dark slate and moss green.
I will admit I love to read discussion posts about the injustice of it all. In the beginning of my research on McMorran, I concentrated heavily on finding proof of that injustice. But over time, I took a step back and shifted my focus away from the physical aspects of the house and its demise. Instead, I found myself engrossed in uncovering Henry McMorran’s passion for those he loved and the valuable principals he believed in and stood by. Like most people, he was complex in nature. He could be ruthless in business, yet be lovable and kind to his family and friends. When he believed in something he saw it through no matter the obstacle. I found myself beginning to connect to him on a personal level, and the question of why the house was demolished was replaced with wondering more about his life experiences and his personal connection to his home. While it is true a home can serve as tangible proof of existence, it is also a showcase of life. It is a personal space and reprieve from the world. The place where intimate bonds are created with loved ones, and we let down our hair. By sharing this story, it is my hope to give you a more intimate look inside his life instead of letting the demolition of his house or its contents dictate the narrative of his legacy.
Port Huron History
Like most things in Port Huron history, this story will start with one person, expand, and stretch out to include other people, eventually circling back to Henry McMorran. One thing I can tell you about my research on the history of the Port Huron area is that no one person, event, or thing ever stands alone. What starts out as one person’s experience eventually correlates to another person and before you know it you are researching five or six people or the whole town for that matter. I believe this reflects how small town living intricately links it citizens. With their lives so interwoven across time, the exploration of the area and its people make for a unique research experience.
John Howard was an early pioneer in the Michigan Territory. He came from Conneanut, Ashtabula County, Ohio to Detroit in 1821 aboard the small schooner, Walk in the Water. This vessel is vividly recalled by many pioneers and historians of the Detroit area as being the first small schooner to travel the Lakes beginning in 1818.
In a memorial to the Buffalo Historical Society in 1865, Mary A. Witherell Palmer described the vessel:
The first steamboat built on the upper lakes was named the Walk-in-the Water, not only for its appropriateness, but for a chief of the Wyandot Indians, who lived with his band about 12 miles below Detroit, on the margin of the Detroit River. His Indian name was Mier and signified a turtle and his totem or signature was the figure of a turtle.
The boat was built at Black Rock, which place continued for some time to be her most eastern port and the terminus of her route, Buffalo at that time having no pier or dock to accommodate her. She was hauled up the rapids by 16 yoke of oxen, aided by the power of her engine. She made her trial trip in August, 1818. I was a passenger on her first regular trip as well as her last. She left Buffalo on her first regular trip, Wednesday morning, Sept. 1, 1818. She carried at that time considerable freight and a large number of passengers, among them were the Earl of Selkirk, Lady Selkirk, and two children, Col. Dixon, the British Indian agent for the Northwest; Col. John Anderson, United States Engineers, his wife, and wife’s sister, Miss Taylor; Col. Levenworth, U.S.A., wife and daughter; Col. Joseph Watson of Washington City, and Maj. Abraham Edwards. She reached Detroit about 9 o’clock Sunday morning, Sept. 5, and as she ushered in a new era in the navigation of the upper lakes, her arrival was hailed with delight and announced by the firing of one gun, which custom was continued for many years. Capt. Job Fish, I think, was her commander at that time.
It so happened that on my return from New York with my husband, Mr. Thomas Palmer, and his sister, now Mrs. Catherine Hinchman of Detroit, we arrived in Buffalo just in time to take passage on her last trip. She lay at the pier on the middle ground. We went on board in a yawl. The Walk-in-the-Water immediately got under way at 4 o’clock p.m., the last day of October, 1821, and steamed up the lake. Before we reached Point Abino the wind came on to blow a gale. Captain Rogers, her commander at that time, made every effort to get behind the Point, but the wind was too strong ahead. It rained incessantly, the night was very dark, and to add to the danger of the situation, the boat began to leak badly. About 8 o’clock the captain, finding it impossible to proceed, put about and steered for Buffalo.
The sailing master (Miller) proposed running the boat into the river and anchoring, but the captain said it was so dark that she might strike the pier in the attempt, and in such case no human power could save a soul on board. The boat was run within a few miles of the pier, as the captain supposed, no light from the lighthouse being visible, although as we afterwards learned it had been kept brightly burning. Three anchors were dropped, one with chain, and two with hempen cables. The boat plunged heavily at her anchorage. This, I think, was about 10 o’clock in the evening. The leak continued to increase. The whole power of the engine was applied to the pumps. The boat dragged her anchors.
That night was one of terrible suspense. It was the impression of the greater number of those on board that we should never see the morning. The water gained gradually, despite every exertion, and it became evident as the night wore on, that the boat must founder or be run on shore, which the captain concluded, either from the sound of the breakers or from calculation of distances and courses, could not be far off.
Most of the passengers were calm. One instance of coolness I remember, a Mr. Thurston, when requested to go on deck and prepare for the worst, replied: “No, I have great faith in Captain Rogers. He promised to land me in Cleveland, and I know that he will do it.” He wrapt his cloak around him and lay down on a settee.
About half past four o’clock in the morning the captain sent down for all the passengers to come on deck. He had decided, although ignorant of the exact location, to permit the boat to go on shore. We could see no lights. The chain cable was slipped, and the two hempen ones cut. Drifting before the gale, the Walk-in-the-Water in about a half an hour, grazed the beach. The next swell let her down with a crash of crockery and glass, and the third lifting her father up the shore, fixed her immovably in the sand. The swells made a clean breach over the decks. Some of the ladies were in their nightclothes and all were repeatedly drenched.
When daylight came, a sailor succeeded in getting ashore in a small boat with one end of a hawser, which he tied to a tree, the other end being tied on board. By the aid of the hawser all the passengers were taken ashore in the small boat. I was handed down by the captain to a sailor in the small boat, who placed me on a seat. My husband was not so fortunate. A swell carried the yawl ahead just as he jumped and we went into the water about the lighthouse in dismal plight, but thankful for the preservation of our lives. In company with a Mr. Cahoon (Calhoun), who was engineer of the steamer, I ran to the lighthouse. After the lapse of so long a time, it seems to me that I almost flew along the beach, my exhilaration was so great.
The lighthouse-keeper, anticipating wrecks or disasters (I think signal guns had been fired during the night on board the Walk-in-the-Water), had a roaring fire in his huge fireplace, by which we remained until carriages came down for us from Buffalo. The citizens had supposed it impossible that the boat could live through the night, and when at break of day she was descried upon the beach, their efforts were directed to the care of the passengers and crew. All that could be done for our comfort was done. We were taken to the Landon House, a two-story frame building, then the principal hotel in Buffalo. It stood on the brow of the hill as we went up town from the creek.
We returned to Detroit by wagon, through Canada, a trip occupying two weeks. The day after we got back to Buffalo, Capt. Rogers called upon me, and, in the course of conversation, told me that his assurance to us of safety during the storm, were anything but heartfelt; that during the gale he had secured the boat’s papers on his person, thinking that should the boat and he be lost his body would be washed ashore and they would be recovered.
Among the passengers now remembered, were Major Jed Hunt, Lieut. McKenzie, U.S.A., John Hale, then a merchant of Canadaigua, afterwards a merchant of Detroit, Jason Thurston of Michigan, Rev. Mr. Hart, a missionary of Michigan and wife, John S. Hudson and wife, and a Miss Osborn, who were on their way to Fort Gratiot, Michigan, to establish a mission for the Indians; Mr. and Mrs. Latimer, Mr. Palmer, myself and Mrs. Palmer’s sister, now Mrs. Catherine Hinchman of Detroit.
A young gentleman of Buffalo, named J.D. Mathies, went down to the beach where the wreck lay, and being an amateur artist, took sketches of it in two different positions, painted them and sent them to me at Detroit. They are now deposited among the archives of the Michigan Historical Society.
The deck of the Walk-in-the-Water was like those of sailing vessels of the present day. The cabins were beneath the main deck, the afterpart partitioned off for ladies; the rest was devoted to gentlemen and answered for a lodging, dining and baggage room. The mast down through the gentleman’s cabin, and that part in the cabin was set in octagon with small mirrors.
In visiting the wreck a few days after the disaster, I remember that as it lay broadside on, I could almost walk around it dry shod, the sand had been deposited around it to such an extent. The oakum had worked out of the seams in the deck for yards, and the panel work had become disjointed in many places.
After arriving In Detroit, John ran a grocery business. It was in the exchange of business where he met his future wife, Miss Nancy Hubbard. Nancy was born in Hartford, Connecticut, the daughter of Jonathan Hubbard. Her family moved to Detroit in 1811 when she was only six years old. Growing up, Nancy lived doors away from General Hull. She experienced firsthand his surrender of Detroit and the War of 1812. Nancy has written accounts of her early childhood which can be found in the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society Collections. John and Nancy married in 1825.
In the early 1830s, Detroit experienced a cholera outbreak. Death from the disease forced people to migrate from the city. John and Nancy were among those who left Detroit. They packed up and moved upriver to the Port Huron area. They settled just north of the city and John opened a hotel business. This hotel would later be known as the Thompson House. John went into the lumber business, partnering at various times with other notable pioneers Cummings Sanborn, Jacob Batchelor and John L. Beebe.
Eventually, John would settle into the lumber business with his son, Henry Howard, as Howard & Son. Their mill was located on the north side of the Black River. In 1877, Henry would retire leaving his son to continue the business.
John Howard accrued a considerable tract of land located around the Military Street area where he made his home with his family. His neighbors being, Anson E. Chadwick better known as A.E. Chadwick, F.H. Vanderburg, Geo P. Voorheis, and James Beard. Being acquainted in politics and business with Henry McMorran, John sold him five acres of his land in 1879. The sale was documented in The Port Huron Daily Times on October 20, 1879, “Mr. Henry McMorran has purchased of Mr. John Howard five acres of land on Military Street, just north of Mr. A.E. Chadwick’s place and will build an elegant residence thereon.”
It has been written James O’Sullivan was contracted to build the McMorran home and that it was modeled after the Mark Hopkins home in St. Clair, which was built in 1880. Both statements are conceivably true, as Henry had an established relationship with both men, one of a professional nature and the other a family connection.
James O’Sullivan was a carpenter by trade who came to Port Huron from Canada. James and Henry began a working relationship around 1876, when Henry employed him to build his Farmers Elevator on the corner of Water and Third Street. Subsequently, James would build Henry’s home on Military Street, the Port Huron & Northwestern Railroad Depot, and remodel McMorran & Co in 1882. James O’Sullivan is also known for completing the woodwork construction on the Port Huron & Northwestern Railway Iron Bridge across Black River.
In 1894, when James was elected Mayor of the City of Port Huron, the following Port Huron Daily Times article highlighted the early existence of the McMorran and O’Sullivan connection:
“Many years ago, a young Irishman left his home in Canada and took up his residence in the States. He learned the carpenter’s trade and knocked around the country for some time. He found his way to Port Huron nearly a quarter of a century ago. One day it was announced that Henry McMorran was going to build an elevator.
The young Irishman secured the contract to build the elevator and did his work well. By figuring closely he made $1,700 on the job. It was the only money of any consequence he had ever made and he was well pleased with his first venture.
One day, the young man went to Mr. McMorran and said that he had just received word from Canada that his father’s home was to be sold because he could not meet a $1,100 mortgage. He asked Mr. McMorran advice in the matter, but the gentleman refused to advise him and told him to decide for himself.
The next morning the young carpenter went to the bank, drew out his money and took the first train to Canada. He found the man who held the mortgage against the old home, paid it and took the discharge to his father’s house and placed it under the old gentleman’s dinner plate. It was a great and agreeable surprise to the father and a generous act of the son.
The young man returned to Port Huron, built more elevators, and has prospered ever since. The father has recently come to spend his declining years with his son, who is now Mayor of the City of Port Huron.”
Construction and the Military Street Neighborhood
Although the exact timing of when McMorran’s home was constructed or how long it took to construct remains unknown, if you follow the comings and goings of Henry McMorran in the local newspaper from 1879 to 1881 a rough timeline begins to take shape:
February 22, 1879 – “It is rumored that Mr. and Mrs. Henry McMorran will soon go abroad for a stay in Scotland and elsewhere for two months.”
February 26, 1879 – “Mr. Henry McMorran and wife left New York city this morning for Scotland by the Cunard line of steamers.”
March 19, 1879 – “It is rumored that Henry McMorran will collect a legacy of a hundred thousand dollars to himself and two sisters, Mrs. G.C. Meisel being one, during his absence in Scotland.”
March 21, 1879 – “It was just transpired that Henry McMorran’s visit to Scotland was to look after a legacy of $100,000 which was left him and his two sisters, by a grandfather. Mrs. G.C. Meisel, of this city is one of the fortunate three.”
April 19, 1879 – “Mr. Henry McMorran shows the effects of ocean voyages. He is “thin as a shad.”
April 19, 1879 – “Henry McMorran, who has been absent in Scotland during the last two months, has returned and it’s said has brought with him a fortune which three of his family fell heir to by the death of an uncle.”
October 8, 1879 – “The McMorran building on the corner of Huron Avenue and Butler Street is rapidly approaching completion.”
October 20, 1879 – “Mr. Henry McMorran has purchased of Mr. John Howard five acres of land on Military Street, just north of Mr. A.E. Chadwick’s place, and will build an elegant residence thereon.”
January 7, 1881 – “For Sale – My residence on Huron Avenue with 3 lots, 140 front feet. Terms Easy. H. McMorran.”
February 17, 1881 – “To Rent – My house on Huron Avenue. Possession given April 1. H. McMorran (215 22 w)”
March 22, 1881 – “Henry McMorran and family have occupied their new residence on Military Street. It is an elegant house, handsomely finished and furnished throughout and fitted up with all “modern improvements” and conveniences, including electric call bells and burglar alarms, special gas machine and fixtures, etc.”
Tracking Henry McMorran in the local newspapers during this time period one can also gain some insight as to how Henry felt about his new home and the active interest he and his neighbors took in their neighborhood as evidenced in the following:
May 14, 1881 – “Preparation for the great sale of short horn cattle next week are being made on the Avery Farm, in the southern part of the city. The sale will no doubt bring to the city a large number of cattle owners and breeders from all parts of the country. Mr. Henry McMorran evidently expected that the law prohibiting animals running at large will be enforced, as he has built no fence in front of his elegant new residence on Military Street. Mr. H.C. Sanborn has also removed the fence from the street front of his residence on Military Street.”
August 4, 1881 – “A.E. Chadwick, Henry McMorran and F.H. Vanderburgh are building docks and ‘jetties’ in front of their places on Military Street.”
August 17, 1881 – “I am directed to arrest all persons found trespassing on the grounds of James Beard, F.H. Vanderburgh, Ezra Carleton, Henry McMorran and A.E. Chadwick. James Gain, Chief of Police.”
Within the first 10 years of his Military Street purchase, Henry gained a new neighbor, John E. Botsford (as indicated in the 1897 map below) and his wife, Mary (Bristol) Botsford. Henry gladly welcomed the Botsfords into the neighborhood. After all, he and John were first cousins (their mothers were half-sisters), close friends and business acquaintances. Within the next year, McMorran would gain another new neighbor, the Dry Dock Iron Works Company. This new neighbor would not be so welcome.
In early January of 1892, the Dry Dock Iron Works Company was burned out. At the time, the business operated downtown where Casey’s is located today. The Dry Dock Iron Works Company was a shipbuilding and repair business owned by James and Thomas Fitzgerald, sons of the legendary shipbuilder Edmund Fitzgerald. Jim and Tom were extremely popular among lake mariners, so their business was in high demand and profitable. When it was burned out, there was no time to waste. The brothers had to get back up and running. They were able to do so by mid-January.
In February of 1892, the brothers decided to purchase 200 feet of frontage on the St. Clair River opposite of A.E. Chadwick’s homestead property on Military Street. Their intention was to build a machine shop, boiler shop and foundry and move the Dry Dock Iron Works Company to the new location. The property sat in between the property of Henry McMorran and J.E. Botsford. The brothers thought the location would be more advantageous for their customers. They broke ground on the new brick building in March and they purchased an additional 65 feet frontage south of A.E. Chadwick’s property.
On July 6, 1892, Henry McMorran and J.E. Botsford sought and received an injunction from the city against the erection of the building and all work was stopped. They claimed the business would ruin their fine $20,000 homes and the residential area with its soot, smoke, and noise.
The matter was presented before Judge Vance on July 9, 1892. The Fitzgerald’s hired attorney, A.E. Chadwick, to fight the injunction. The brother explained in open court that they had spent over $30,000 on the locality and could not see why people in the neighborhood had any right to interfere with what was done on their property. A.E. Chadwick was quoted in court as saying, “The Fitzgerald Brothers have perfect right to a machine shop or any other building they see fit on their own property and that Messrs. McMorran and Botsford have no right to object merely because they think it may interfere with their peace, happiness, and health.” He further stated, “It is my opinion if the works are built they will not prove a nuisance to the neighborhood. I want to see factories built and believe Port Huron wants more of them.”
McMorran and Botsford hired attorney, O’Brien J. Atkinson, to represent them at the hearing. Atkinson argued, “Property rights must always give way to health. If smoke is allowed to blow over McMorran and Botsford’s home, it is trespass.” He further argued that the area was residential, and the Fitzgerald brothers assumed the risk of locating their business in a residential area and reminded the court there was a statute in place that allowed the circuit court to step in to prohibit nuisances in a residential neighborhood.
James Fitzgerald also contended during his testimony at the injunction hearing that he had been threatened by Mrs. Botsford. In his testimony he stated, “Mrs. Botsford offered to give one thousand dollars for the bargain on the property. I told her I did not think it could be bought for that, in fact I knew it couldn’t and she told me that unless we accepted her offer, claiming she was making it on her own behalf, that Henry McMorran was Scotch and he would fight to the bitter end, that J.E. Botsford himself was too easy for a fight, but she, his wife, would fight as long as there was any show and ruin us financially and socially and correspond with our customers.”
Judge Vance decided to overturn the injunction since it was given by the city and there was no showing of a nuisance in the neighborhood as the buildings were not complete and no business being conducted on the site at that time.
A few days after the injunction hearing, James Fitzgerald was arrested for public intoxication. The arresting officer stated that he arrested Fitzgerald because he had a razor on his person and was threatening to kill everyone with whom he came in contact. His sentence the next morning was a fine of $3.00 or five days in jail. Fitzgerald chose to do the five days.
By September of that year, the Fitzgerald Brothers presented a communication to the city council requesting they establish the dock lines on St. Clair River. In this communication, they maintained that Henry McMorran and J.E. Botsford, who were the owners of the property above and below them had made threats to shut them out by building their docks out in the river.
In October the common council met to determine the encroachment on Military Street and a report was submitted by city engineer Rogers covering the portion of the street lying between the south line of land owned by Henry McMorran and the old city limits. In his report Rogers stated:
“Military Street was originally laid out as a military road by the United States Government, and Mr. Edgar White informs me that it was 100 feet wide. Subsequently property owners built fences making the street to vary from 50 feet to 66 feet in width. In 1875, the commissioner’s plat of the Petit estate was placed on record making the street 100 feet wide from the railroad bridge to Beard Street, but changing the line somewhat from the old road. In April 1880, a petition was presented to the city council by A.E. Chadwick and others asking that Military Street be widened to 100 feet below the railroad bridge.
I cannot find that the council took any further action on that petition than to refer it to a committee which apparently did not report. However, the street was widened on the west side as far as the angle in front of A.E. Chadwick’s residence, at which point an iron gas pipe was driven and witnessed. This land was given gratis, with the exception of the Freeman property, for which, I am told, $300 was paid. On the east side the street was conceded down to A.E. Chadwick’s north line, or the land now owned by Fitzgerald Bros. In this widening the line of the old street was also somewhat changed.”
Later in the month, an injunction was issued by the city to restrain the Fitzgerald Brothers from building their shops on Military Street on the present line of the street. In the injunction it was claimed that the proposed site encroached onto the street. The Fitzgerald Brothers fought back claiming that if the street is 100 feet wide the property owners on the west side of the street were the ones who are encroaching. This injunction was again presented by McMorran and Botsford.
By December Judge Vance heard the second injunction case. Again, he dissolved the injunction restraining the Fitzgerald Brothers from erecting their machine shop on the river bank. Mr. Vance declared, “I had to dissolve the injunction. The plaintiffs set up a claim, but presented no facts. The city engineer presented an affidavit that the fence was on the proper line and A.E. Chadwick presented an affidavit locating the original surveyor’s monument.” McMorran and Botsford took the matter to the Courts for clarification. It was determined the Fitzgerald’s would build on the line of the front street.
In late December McMorran brought a suit in police court against C.E. Mitchell who was operating a dredge in St. Clair River claiming that Mitchell was dredging in front of his property and doing great damage. The case was heard and during testimony C.E. Mitchell admitted they were dredging St. Clair River in front of the Fitzgerald Brothers dock and in doing so they dredged a few feet in front of Mr. McMorran’s property. They claimed there was no damage to his property. Mr. McMorran claimed that because boats were liable to stop in front of his property, the smoke from which would greatly damage his property. The court found for C.E. Mitchell.
After failing miserably to stop the building of the Fitzgerald Brothers shop, McMorran & Botsford filed suit in late 1892, claiming public nuisance. During discovery, deposition testimony was leaked to the local newspaper which began to stir the community. It was leaked that every possible effort was made to reduce the noise and jar resulting from the Fitzgerald’s business. It was implied that the Fitzgeralds were offered $1,000 more than they had paid for the property. John S. Beach, who was a neighbor of Botsford testified on behalf of the Fitzgerald Brothers and said:
“He found no serious objection to the smoke from the shops. He admitted that for a first class residence section the presence of the shops could be regarded as a detriment, and that the value of the property for that purpose could possibly be figured as having been depreciated by 25 percent, but asserted his belief that the increased valuation of the river front for business purposes far exceeded this depreciation. He claimed that he had made observations of the smoke and noise in the vicinity and believed that no more inconvenience could result to the residences of Messrs. Botsford and McMorran than to that of Mr. Chadwick.”
In June of 1893, a commissioner was appointed to hear testimonial evidence in the case before the matter was placed before the circuit judge for final hearing and decision. Testimony before the commissioner was followed closely and circulated in the newspaper.
“June 14, 1893 – In a local way the case of Messrs. J.E. Botsford and Henry McMorran v. the Messrs. Fitzgerald and their Dry Dock Iron Works, has been somewhat famous. The evidence is being taken before a commissioner today. The suit was brought to restrain the Fitzgerald’s from continuing their business to the great detriment of residences of the plaintiffs, which are located on Military Street near the point at which the Fitzgerald’s established their works nearly two years since. Injunction proceedings some time ago failed to accomplish the end desired in restraining Messrs. Fitzgerald from continuing their business, and the present suit is brought on the plea that the business is a nuisance.
Atkinson & Wolcott are the attorneys for the plaintiffs and A.E. Chadwick for the defendants. Mr. Chadwick also noted to the Fitzgeralds the property for the location of the business. By consent of the parties the evidence has been taken in the office of Atkinson & Wolcott. The claim set up by the plaintiffs is that the business of the dry dock is a nuisance by virtue of the noise of its machinery and also from the soot and smoke resulting from the burning of the necessary fuel. J.E. Botsford and Henry McMorran have testified that the property in the vicinity of the dry dock has been depreciated not less than two-thirds, for residence purposes at least. The claim is also made that the property has been, in deeds heretofore given, reserved for residence purposes, and the suit now in progress will determine the validity of such reservations. Mr. McMorran says that it cost him from $7 to $10 per week for keeping his house clean because of the dirt and soot of the dry dock business.
Mrs. Agnes Beach and Mrs. Frank Beard have testified to the filthy conditions in which their curtains and woodwork have been kept because of the dirt from the dry dock. Mrs. Mathers and Mrs. Elmer Brown, who have assisted families in the vicinity of the works in keeping their residences in order, have testified as to the unusual dirt which the works have occasioned, and John Jackson, a watchman at W.F. Botford’s house, has testified to the smoke and dirt of the works and the noise of the machinery.
The plaintiffs claim to have more than a score of witnesses for the sustaining of their case. On the other hand the defense believes that they will be able to show that the noise and jar of the dry dock’s hammer and other machinery is not sufficient to seriously discommode the people in the residences of Messrs. McMorran and Botsford, which are located fully 400 feet distant; that the burning of the two or three tons is not sufficient to create the nuisance claimed, the smoke from the fires being carried 100 feet above the river bank, and the east winds, which would carry the smoke to the residence portion of Military Street, do not blow often enough to bring about the unpleasantness asserted; and that added to all this is the fact that Mr. Chadwick’s residence is nearer the dry dock than are the McMorran and Botsford places and that he finds no occasion for complaint from the situations set up by the plaintiffs.
Incidental to the case in hand it has been found desirable to enter into a considerable amount of discussion as to the real estate values in the city from the southern limits to the beaches on the north, and the pointers to be gathered would not have been allowed to be present. The testimony of Capt. Slyfied, Mrs. Brown, Frank Beard, Wm. L. Thompson, J.B. McFarlane and Mrs. Botsford were taken this morning. At the adjournment at noon Mrs. Botsford was still on the stand.
Mrs. Botsford was the most careful and competent witness of this morning in sustaining the claim of the plaintiff. She made a careful statement of the facts as to the purchase of the dry dock property and of the nuisance which they proved to be for her residence, in that the working of the machinery was felt in her rooms and also that the smoke from the chimney poured down upon her house and the soot blackened her terraces, porches and rooms.”
“June 15, 1893 – The taking of testimony in the case of Messrs. Botsford and McMorran v. Messrs. Fitzgerald, of the dry dock and engine works on Military Street, was continued on Wednesday afternoon before commissioner Robertson. Mrs. Botsford’s testimony was completed but no new facts were developed. E.F. Percival testified for the complainants as to the fact of the depreciation of the real estate in the vicinity of the dry dock. He believed that the property was worth more for residence than for manufacturing purposes.
Mrs. Hulett, housekeeper at the residence of E.C. Carleton, testified as to the filthy condition which the smoke and soot from the engine works chimney produced in the house which she had charge of and also to the fact of having been disturbed by the noise of the machinery. The Carleton resident is located a considerable distance farther from the shops than are those of Messrs. McMorran and Botsford. A telegram from Homer Warren of Detroit asserted that the Avery farm, on which the shops and residences in question in the case are located, was held exclusively for residence purposes. The telegram was introduced into testimony.
The testimony of complainants was practically closed on Wednesday after and the examination was adjourned until Friday morning. The defense have 15 days in which to file their answer to the bill of particulars of the complainants.”
“June 20, 1893 – The examination of the case of Botsford and McMorran v. Fitzgerald was continued this morning, at the office of Atkinson & Wolcott. J.L. Paldi testified as to the smoke and soot which he had seen at the Botsford residence and the nature of the air currents in that locality. He regarded the smoke and dirt from the shops on the river bank as being matters which would render the locality practically uninhabitable as a residence section. Dr. C.B. Stockwell testified as to the serious effects of smoke and soot upon the residents in the vicinity of the shops on the river bank, and made a practice explanation of the air currents, showing that the smoke would be carried to the McMorran or Botsford residence from Fitzgerald shops and boats by the wind blowing in almost any direction under the peculiar conditions of the air currents in that locality. David McMorran testified to the unpleasantness of the residence of Henry McMorran by reason of the smoke and dirt of the shops and the offensive odors from the barns and shops. The complainant’s testimony will be completed on Wednesday morning.”
“July 6, 1893 – At the examination of the chancery case of Botsford and McMorran v. Fitzgerald on Wednesday afternoon at the office of A.E. Chadwick but two witnesses were examined for the defense. Bert Walker, engineer at the Fitzgerald works, testified to the facts as to the condition of things in the shops, as had previously been stated by the defendants. The amount of coal consumed was stated at from 500 to 700 pounds per day. The witness was unable to testify to the fact of the jar of the machinery in the shops, no disturbance for any of the workmen employed being noticeable. It was shown that the same winds which brought smoke to the residence portion of Military Street from the shops also brought the smoke from passing steamers.
John Rudge, the Merchant Street foundryman, testified that when the Fitzgerald shops adjoined his, no inconvenience from noise or jarring of their machinery was noticeable and the molders in his shop found no jar sufficient to disturb their work. The molding shop was located only about 40 feet from the trip hammer in the Fitzgerald shop. At the examination this morning Mrs. Bane, Mrs. Wm. B. Pace and Mrs. Charles Sissman, who lived in the vicinity of the old shops on Merchant Street, testified that they found no inconvenience from the jar of the machinery, and that since the removal of the shops they have had fully as much discomfort from smoke as before their removal, this coming from passing steamers.
On the cross examination of Walker, it was shown that he is but 19 years of age, that he went to his position from the high school and that he had had no experience as an engineer previous to his going to work at the shops; and that he had seen the smoke from the shops pouring down upon the Botsford residence.
On the cross examination of the ladies testifying for the defense, they admitted that the Grand Trunk trains were continually passing and that the noise of the shops may not have been heard in consequence; that they had been obliged to keep their washings in the house on account of the smoke and dirt of the shops, and that the locality of the shops was always untidy by reason of the machines, etc., standing around waiting for repairs. Mrs. Pace admitted her belief that the location of the shops near residence property could be regarded as a nuisance. At noon Mr. Pace was on the stand. The examination was adjourned until Friday morning at the conclusion of his testimony.”
“July 7, 1893 – The examination in the chancery case of Botsford and McMorran v. Fitzgerald was continued at the office of A.E. Chadwick this morning. Mrs. A.E. Chadwick and Mrs. W.R. Chadwick, whose house is near the Fitzgerald shops, testified that they found no special inconvenience from the smoke from the shops more that is found in other portions of the city; that their bed linen is regularly aired on their balconies; that the children of the household, while dressed in white play upon the lawns without any unusual amount of dirt on their dresses being known; they know of no disturbance from the noise and jarring of the trip hammer and other machinery in the shops; that in spite of all precaution much dirt will accumulate in their house from their own heating furnace; that the smoke from the shops is noticed to be of light color and of slight volume; that the annoyance from smoke and dirt is less this season than for some years; and that the dirt from the work of the construction of the tunnel and passing steamers has been more annoying than that from the shops.
Mrs. Beach, who lives near the Botsford residence, testified to practically the same facts. On the cross examination of the Madames Chadwick, the prosecution’s attorney brought out the fact that there was in existence a desire to increase the value of the river front for manufacturing purposes and that in view of this they would be willing to undergo considerable annoyance without complaint. Mrs. Beach on cross examination, admitted that when she first went to live in her present home, she found no inconvenience from smoke and dust, and indeed she regards the section as the cleanest in the city, and the Fitzgerald shops were the first and only business enterprise to locate in that vicinity. Jas. Chambers an employee at the Fitzgerald shops testified to facts heretofore established by the defense regarding the machinery, etc. about the shops. At 2:00 p.m. the examination was adjourned until Saturday morning. It is possible that the defense may complete their evidence on Saturday.”
Almost a year after the evidentiary testimony was taken by the commissioner, the case finally came before Judge Eldredge in July of 1894. The evidence taken was referred to “as large a volume as Webster’s Dictionary.”
Judge Eldredge issued his decree on November 2, 1894. It read:
“State of Michigan
The Circuit Court for the County of St. Clair in Chancery
At a session of said court held at the court house in the City of Port Huron on the 2nd Day of November in the year one thousand eight-hundred and ninety-four.
Present Honorable James B. Eldredge, Circuit Judge
Henry McMorran and John E. Botsford, Complainants
James H. Fitzgerald, Thomas Fitzgerald and Daniel N. Runnels, Defendants
This cause having come to be heard on the bill of complaint herein together with the amended and supplementary bill and the answer and plea hereto and the replications of the complainants to such answer and the proofs taken in said cause and having been argued by counsel for the respective parties and the court having duly considered the same it is ordered, adjudged and Decreed as follows:
1st The complainants are entitled to so much of the relief prayed for as stated and decreed below.
2nd That the property on which the defendants’ shops are now situated including the lands on Military Street from Beard Street down to the Avery farm including the river front acreage has been used for residence purposes for nearly twenty years and that the Avery farm aforesaid has for many years been held for sale for residence purposes only.
3rd That during the time aforesaid the property owners in that vicinity have constructed only residences and their appurtenances for their homes and the neighborhood is a handsome quiet residence section of the City of Port Huron.
4th That the facts aforesaid regarding the residence neighborhood were well known to the defendants before they purchased.
5th That the smoke from the defendants shops and from boats calling there for repairs laden with soot, cinders and disagreeable odors, have penetrated the houses of the complainants rendering them unclean, uncomfortable and unwholesome and that the same with the noise produced in the operation of defendants shops including jarring by machinery have affected the health of members of complainants families and the wholesomeness and beauty of the complainants homes have been much marred and the defendants business has injuriously and offensively affected the complainants in the comforts of their homes and in the enjoyment of their property and has destroyed the comfortable, peaceful, and quiet occupation thereof and such shops and businesses constitute a nuisance which should be abated.
6th That the injury done to complainants is such as cannot be compensated in damages and is therefore irreparable from which the complainants are entitled to relief.
7th It is therefore ordered, adjudged and decreed that the defendants, James H. Fitzgerald and Thomas Fitzgerald be restrained and perpetually enjoined from carrying on the business now conducted by them or any other like business in the buildings and upon the premises described in the bill of complaint herein and that they be restrained and perpetually enjoined from so conducting and carrying on any such business or operating any plant as an manufacturing or business establishment of any kind upon the premises aforesaid on and after the 1st day of March, A.D. 1895 and in case of neglect and refusal so to do, that the same be abated and removed by the process of this court to be applied for in motion or petition and that defendants be punished for disobeying this decree.
8th It is further Ordered, Adjudged, and Decreed that the Bill of Complaint herein be dismissed as to the Defendant Runnels without costs; that as to the other defendants, that the complainants do recover their costs to taxed and that they have execution therefor. And it is further Ordered, and Decreed that the complainants shall have leave to apply to the Court for further relief if this decree should not be complied with or in case there is further occasion therefor by reason of the conduct of the defendants or of the use of the premises aforesaid. The premises affected by this Decree and occupied by these defendants are described as follows:
A piece of land in fractional section 16, town 6, north of range 17 East, being a part of the lower Westbrook farm so called, bounded as follows: on the North by the land of Henry McMorran; on the East by St. Clair River; and International boundary line; on the South by land deeded by Chadwick to Botsford October 29, A.D. 1883 and on the West by Military Street: being the northerly part of the lands conveyed by the estate of Newell Avery , deceased, by Deed December 4th, A.D. 1880, and recorded in Liber 77 of Deeds, at page 247 and 250; which said lands as appears by the descriptions in the deed, lies between the lands of Complainant Henry McMorran and Complainant John E. Botsford, and diagonally in front of the homes and residences of such complainants and being in the City of Port Huron, in the County of St. Clair and State of Michigan.
James B. Eldredge, Circuit Judge”
The decree was immediately published in the local newspapers and the Port Huron Daily Times reported:
“Judge Eldredge decided the celebrated McMorran – Botsford – Fitzgerald case in the circuit court this forenoon. He grants a permanent injunction against the running of the Dry Dock Iron Works, owned by Fitzgerald Bros. and gives them 60 days to close their shops and remove them. A few years ago Fitzgerald Brothers purchased of A.E. Chadwick land opposite the residence of Henry McMorran and J.E. Botsford, and located their iron works on the property. Messrs. McMorran and Botsford maintained that the plant was a nuisance and damaged the locality as residence property. They asked for an injunction restraining the plant from operating.
The case has been bitterly fought in the courts and has extended over several years. A month ago the arguments were made before Judge Eldredge, of the Macomb Circuit and today he rendered the above decision. Judge Eldredge also holds that the locality has been a residence neighborhood for 25 years and that it was not right for a manufacturing business to locate there. He says the evidence shows that Mrs. McMorran’s health has been permanently injured. The case will probably be taken to the supreme court now, where another long fight will take place.”
After the publication of Judge Eldredge’s decision, public statements caused a series of events to unfold, which prompted attorneys of the St. Clair County bar to evaluate A.E. Chadwick’s actions. They would investigate and file a petition to find him in contempt. The attorneys on the investigative panel were Lincoln Avery, William T. Mitchell, Joseph Walsh, Alex R. Avery, Frank T. Wolcott, P.H. Phillips, Charles S. Northup, Frank Whipple, H.W. Stevens.
A.E. Chadwick would appeal his conviction to the Supreme Court of Michigan. He would lose on appeal and be fined $150. The deposition testimony transcribed throughout this piece all stem from the records of his appellate case.
A few days after the decree was issued, the Fitzgerald’s reported to the local newspapers they would no longer seek to do business in the City of Port Huron and they would not take the matter to the Supreme Court on appeal.
“James Fitzgerald, senior partner of the firm of Fitzgerald Bros. owners of the Dry Dock Iron Works, informed The Times this forenoon that they had decided not to appeal from the decision of Judge Eldredge, as rendered in the Circuit Court last week, by which their works were declared to be a nuisance, and which ordered their removal.
Mr. Fitzgerald said: “We cannot afford to pay out $1500 per year in fighting law-suits with business as dull as it is at present, and have decided to let the case drop and remove to some other city. There are a number of places that stand ready to pay a good large bonus to have such “nuisances” as ours locate in their midst and we have made up our minds to avail ourselves of one of the opportunities which have been offered us.
At the time our works were burned, a few years since, Racine, Wis. Offered us a good round bonus to locate there, and also exemption from taxation for a period. We have not yet decided where we shall go, but you can say positively that we shall leave the town where we have lived all our lives, and where we have paid out many thousands of dollars in wages.”
Fitzgerald Statement – Supreme Court Record
Testimony of Charles J. Seeley, Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor.
Q.: Are you engaged upon the Port Huron Times a paper published in the city?
A.: I am.
Q.: And was published last fall?
Q.: I call your attention to a paper that is open there at the date of November 5, 1894, and ask you if you are the reporter who had that interview with Fitzgerald?
A.: The one headed “Will leave the city”? Yes.
Q.: Where did you meet Mr. Fitzgerald?
A.: To the best of my recollection, it was about the north end of Military Street bridge.
Q.: How long did you talk with him?
A.: I should say probably 5 minutes.
Q.: Did you fairly report him in that interview?
A.: I think I did, that was the intent.
Q.: You think it was a fair statement of what he said.
A.: Yes, Sir.
On November 8, 1894, A.E. Chadwick took the matter into his own hands and published the following public statement in the Port Huron News:
“EDITOR PORT HURON NEWS:
I am driven by the constant inquiries of citizens concerning the decision of Judge Eldredge in the case of McMorran and Botsford against Fitzgerald, and the impossibility of giving time for individual information, to beg as much space as your indulgence will grant in a matter of this importance to the citizens of Port Huron.
James B. Fitzgerald, being burned out, located his shops where he operated in the honest belief in his right to do so and positive knowledge that it was the best location possible for his convenience and that of his patrons. He and his counsel have no doubt of his right to operate them as long as grass grows and water runs without prohibition of any competent court on a fair hearing. It is not the question of what the court will do but of his ability in his circumstances with the present business depression to bear the burden of a long and expensive contest.
To the testimony taken it was proved that he has been threatened with financial and social ruin if he attempted to build and operate these shops on his own land at this point. So far they have attempted to keep that pledge. They caused, by misleading or other inducement, the common council of this city, without even giving Mr. Fitzgerald a hearing to order a suit and injunction to be brought and obtained against him to stop the erection of part of his buildings, thus compelling him to the expense of that contest in getting the injunction dissolved and the bill dismissed as well as the delay in his work.
Nobody doubts that the common council were moved solely by the influence of McMorran and his co-confederate to take this shop solely to help McMorran and others. This failing, McMorran and Botsford, and those joined with them, began their series of steps to ruin Mr. Fitzgerald financially and socially, and have rained down on him suits, threats against his customers, and every petty annoyance which could tend to destroy his business and eat up his profits. It has been, not a question of injunction and degree, but how long Fitzgerald could last under the enormous expense of continuous litigation. They have caused their lawyers to write threatening letters to every vessel owner on the lakes, such as threats of libel, should boats stop at Fitzgeralds in distress for repairs.
While the citizens of Port Huron universally believe Judge Vance to be an upright, independent judge and man, these complainants judged him so unrighteously, that on his refusal to give a private hearing one of the complainants wives, she took possession of his chamber and drove him out, and accused and declared if he was too honest to hear her case privately, he was to dishonest to decide it as she thought it ought to be decided, and by persistent attacks upon him and his motives drove him out of the case.
Since the decision a good deal is known of facts which she and the complainants thought warranted them in submitting this case to Judge Eldredge. These reasons are an insult to Judge Eldredge, but they care nothing about that, of course. It will surprise the good citizens to know that this principal manager and lobbyist of the complainants’ case undertook to and did make a trip to Mount Clemons, in state, to-wit: on their private yacht, to visit and interview the judge. She thinks she argued and submitted the case while there, and of course, the complainants agree with her.
Now Mr. Fitzgerald, having expended a large amount of money in his defense so far, and suffered inconceivable nuisances and injury from their conduct finds that an appeal to the Supreme Court, which he has no doubt will result in an entire reversal and dismissal of the bill, will cost him further large sums of money, and that he will be under the storm of petty annoyances in pursuance of the threat and effort to ruin him. What assurance has he that the city, through its council, will not again lend its aid to these people to oppress him, or having recovered a final decree, dismissing all of complaint suits and bills with full costs, and vindicating his right to remain and operate his business there forever, he will not still be subjected to other and constant trumped up suits, the defense of which will eat up all of his earnings.
The talk of good citizens and candidates for city offices about doing everything to promote manufacturing enterprises is sheer nonsense, when these same good citizens stand by and see their interests betrayed by their own officials, and see the destruction of existing industries by such means, which, of itself, is a warming to any new ones not to attempt to establish a business here. Mr. Fitzgerald cannot afford to work a lifetime merely to earn money to spend upon courts or counsel even to defend an undoubted right. To set at rest once for all any talk about any other site in the City of Port Huron for Mr. Fitzgerald, I desire to say that he will carry on his business where he now is, or if he quits will quit the city with that business. He knows, and we all know if we had any sense, that this decree as it stands is an absolute prohibition forever upon the erection and maintenance of any manufacturing plant within three or four hundred feet of any residence in the city limits, whether worth one thousand dollars or one hundred thousand dollars and will make the proprietor subject to be blackmailed or driven out through any conspiracy of the owner or others, unless it is money and not human rights that now control the judgment of our courts.
One word more, within the radius of one thousand feet from defendant’s smoke stack and steam hammer are eleven residences owned by the occupants. This appeared in the testimony, will it not shock the sense and judgment to men to learn that of these eleven but four, to-wit: John E. Botsford, Henry McMorran and E.G. Carlton desired the removal of these shops, or pretended to claim they were offensive in the least degree; but two of these residences were nearer than three hundred and fifty feet, the other two from 450 to 860 feet; three of those residences are but temporary homes for the owners, and they have not pretended for years to make them their permanent residences. Of the remaining seven residences, the owners and occupants of five testified positively that they were, so far from being a nuisance, that they were not in anything not the slightest annoyance, and that these comprised not only the nearest but the average much nearer than the others, and five owners were as clean in their habits, as intelligent, and respectable, if not as rich, as the complainants.
I will say one word more. It will surprise the great majority of the people of this city, who have used their eyes, ears, and sense of smell for the last three years, and utterly failed to discover the thing complained of by the complainants to find that Judge, who refused to examine the premises and locality, although urgently and repeatedly requested to do so by defendant’s solicitors, could find what they failed to discover.
This decree prohibits Fitzgerald from even carrying on the business of banking, hotel keeping, warehousing or merchandising on that property. Is that the law decree, or is it the decree of a conspiracy to ruin Fitzgerald? The citizens can now deal with this matter, but when they have decided, I caution them to look closely after their public servants to see that the cold blooded and silent lobby does not overrule them.
Chadwick Statement – Supreme Court Record
Testimony of O’Brien J. Atkinson – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor
Q.: Were you one of the complainant’s solicitors in the chancery case between McMorran and Botsford on the one part and the Fitzgeralds on the other?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: Whether you had the active charge of the case from beginning to end?
A.: I did.
Q.: In the letter published in the Port Huron News by Mr. Chadwick as to which this inquiry is proceeding, it is stated in effect that the complainants caused their attorneys to send threatening letters to vessel owners. I think the letter says every vessel owner on the lakes. What instructions if any to that regard were given you and what threatening letters did you send, if any, to every vessel owner on the lakes?
A.: None whatever.
Q.: Were there any other attorneys active in the case on the part of the complainants than yourself and your firm?
A.: No, no one else.
Q.: I don’t know that my question would cover the ground of causing to be sent, were any caused to be sent?
A.: None were caused to be send and none sent to my knowledge at all.
Testimony of O’Brien J. Atkinson – Cross Examination by Mr. Chadwick
Q.: How many members are there on your firm?
Q.: And how many chief clerks, or clerks have charge of departments?
A.: I have two.
Q.: And a couple of typewriters?
Q.: You wouldn’t of course know if letters had been sent on your letterhead unless your attention was called to it?
A.: I wouldn’t know of any letters except those sent by me. I rarely look over letters.
Q.: I don’t understand that you are the regular general retained counsel for complainants in all their business, but you are counsel in charge of this case. How is that? Am I right about it?
A.: I might be considered general counsel of Mr. McMorran.
Q.: But as to Mr. Botsford?
A.: I think I never had any business for Mr. Botsford except this case, possibly I may have something else but it does not occur to me just now.
Testimony of O’Brien J. Atkinson – Cross Examination by Mr. McIllwain, Counsel for Mr. Chadwick
Q.: After the decree in the case of McMorran against Fitzgerald was entered did you know of it being published in pamphlet form?
A.: I saw it, yes.
Q.: Who caused that to be published?
A.: I think we did.
Q.: And for what purpose?
A.: I think that it was desired to send some copies to some interested or friendly parties and it was the cheapest way to do it.
Q.: On behalf of whom did you cause them to be published in pamphlet form?
A.: I think we did it ourselves. It was easier than to make typewritten copies.
Q.: Did you mean you took to the printing office?
A.: I did not take it but I knew it was going.
Q.: Through whose hands did it go to the printing office?
A.: I couldn’t tell you. I couldn’t even tell you what office had it.
Q.: Wasn’t it Mr. McMorran?
A.: I couldn’t tell. I was trying to think whether it was at the News office or some other offices. I do not look at the printing in the office myself.
Q.: How many copies was ordered of that decree?
A.: I couldn’t tell you that even. My memory would be 30.
Q.: Wasn’t there one thousand?
A.: Not that I know of.
Q.: Who got those pamphlets from the printing office?
A.: I couldn’t tell you that.
Q.: Were they ever brought back to your office?
A.: I don’t know.
Q.: Do you know or have you not been informed, reliably informed, that these printed copies of the decree were sent to vessel owners on the lakes?
A.: I never heard of anything of that kind.
Q.: Was the decree in published pamphlet form before or after the letter of Mr. Chadwick?
A.: Judging from the letter I think it was before. Otherwise, I could not tell. I think the letter speaks of the decree, but it may have been after.
Q.: I speak of the pamphlet form were they published in pamphlet form and circulated before or after?
A.: I don’t know that they were circulated. The question came up whether the decree could be published or not. The editor wanted it very badly and I told him he could have it published if he would get the consent of Judge Eldredge and Judge Eldredge would not consent I remember.
Q.: That was the opinion?
A.: Maybe it was the opinion. I guess it was the opinion. I take it back on the suggestion of Mr. Chadwick.
Q.: Did the complainants ever disclose to you the real motive of getting the decree published that which I have given?
A.: I know of no motive except that which I have given.
Q.: Do you know John S. McNeil?
A.: I don’t recollect him.
Q.: Captain John S. McNeil?
A.: I do not recall any such man.
Testimony of O’Brien J. Atkinson – Examination by Mr. Avery, Prosecutor
Q.: Can you give the date that decree was rendered?
A.: I think it was November 2, 1894. I may be wrong about that too.
Testimony of O’Brien J. Atkinson – Cross Examination by Mr. McIllwain, Counsel for Mr. Chadwick
Q.: Did you see this letter in the Port Huron News about the time of its publication?
A.: I did.
Q.: Did you call Mr. Chadwick’s attention to the fact that you considered, prior to the institution of these proceedings, that you considered this a reflection upon the integrity of Judge Eldredge.
A.: I never did.
Testimony of Henry McMorran – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor.
Q.: How long have you resided in the city of Port Huron?
A.: 50 years.
Q.: You are engaged in the mercantile business here?
Q.: Wholesale grocery business?
Q.: Coal business?
Q.: Also an elevator?
Q.: Flouring Mill?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: And one of the originators and builders of the narrow gauge system of railroads?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: And engaged quite largely in the vessel business?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: And wrecking business as well?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: Were you one of the complainants in the case of McMorran and Botsford against James H. Fitzgerald and others?
A.: I was.
Q.: You remember the time of the hearing of that case and the argument before Judge Eldredge?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: How long a time prior to that did you first become advised of the fact that Judge Eldredge was to hear that case?
A.: I can’t say how long, not a great while.
Q.: What part if any did you take in procuring the heaving of that case to be assigned to some other judge than Judge Vance?
A.: Not any.
Q.: When did you become advised as to the fact that Judge Eldredge would hear the case as compared with the time that you heard that Judge Vance did not care to hear it?
A.: Oh it was a long time afterwards.
Q.: What part, if any, did you take in procuring Judge Eldredge to come here to hear the case?
A.: Not any part.
Q.: You saw, I presume a letter written by A.E. Chadwick to the Port Huron News?
A.: I did.
Q.: When did you see that article as compared with the time of its being written or published?
A.: I think I saw it on the same day it was published.
Q.: What step if any did you take or directions did you give or what knowledge have you of letters being written, to all the vessel owners on the lakes threatening them or making threats against them if they undertook to transact any business with the Fitzgeralds.
A.: I have no knowledge of any such letters.
Q.: Did you write any such letters or cause any such letters to be written?
A.: No, Sir.
Testimony of Henry McMorran – Cross Examination by Attorney McIllwain, Counsel for Mr. Chadwick
Q.: Do you know of letters being sent to vessel owners in respect to the Fitzgerald shops?
A.: No, Sir.
Q.: Or telegrams?
A.: No, Sir.
Q.: Did you never send any letters to any vessel owner regarding their stopping at your dock adjoining Fitzgeralds?
Q.: So that when you say that no letters were sent regarding the Fitzgerald boys you make that as a distinction that the letters were with reference to stopping at your dock?
A.: There was no reference to Fitzgeralds.
Q.: How many of those have you sent with reference to stopping at your dock or lying in front of your dock?
A.: I do not recollect of more than one at present.
Q.: To whom was that letter sent?
A.: I wrote a letter to Mr. Bradley of Cleveland.
Q.: What was the purpose of that letter?
A.: His boat laid in front of my dock and I protested against their lying there.
Q.: What was the boat doing? How did it come to be lying in front of your dock?
A.: She was making some repairs at Fitzgeralds dock as I understand it.
Q.: And projected over on to your dock?
Q.: How many telegrams have you sent to the same effect?
A.: Well I cannot tell about that. I don’t think I ever had a telegram with anybody except Mr. Bradley; his captain refused to move off of my premises.
Q.: It was because the captain refused to move that part of the boat projecting over your premises while making repairs at Fitzgerald’s dock that you sent the letter?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: How many boats have you ordered away from your premises, I will put it, while making repairs at Fitzgerald’s dock?
A.: I can’t say while making repairs at Fitzgerald’s dock. I have ordered a good many boats away from my dock front.
Q.: While the boats were seemingly stopping at Fitzgerald’s dock?
A.: They were lying in front of Fitzgerald’s dock.
Q.: What kind of boats were they, large boats?
A.: Well yes.
Q.: From your knowledge of lake boats what would you say as to whether the boats were simply there for fun or for the purpose of having repairing done?
A.: I presume they called there for repairs in most all cases.
Q.: About how many instances would you say that you have ordered them away?
A.: I couldn’t say, a number of boats.
Q.: Quite a number?
Q.: And you know of Mrs. McMorran also ordering them away?
Q.: And you know of Mrs. Botsford also ordering them away, if they happened to drop or project onto her premises?
A.: I only know that from hearsay.
Q.: You have heard it to such an extent that you know it is a fact do you not?
A. I have no doubt of it.
Q.: After the decree was entered in this case how many copies of it did you cause to be published in pamphlet from in the Port Huron News?
A.: Well I cannot tell you now, I had some copies of the decision struck off.
Q.: About how many?
A.: I can’t tell you now what it was.
Q.: Didn’t you have 1000?
A.: It might have been a 1000.
Q.: What was your object in having such a number?
A.: Well I wanted them for my own use.
Q.: In what respect?
A.: Well I wanted to send it to some of my friends.
Q.: Well you call everybody nearly your friend do you not?
Q.: Specify a little more particularly?
A.: I couldn’t specify.
Q.: What class of business man were you sending these to?
A.: Men that I was dealing with in a business way.
Q.: Vessel owners?
A.: Some of them, yes.
Q.: About how many have you sent to vessel owners?
A.: Very few, it might have been 4 or 5 possibly.
Q.: Among those to whom you sent them would there be any of those who had been in the habit of stopping at Fitzgeralds dock?
A.: I think I sent a copy of the decision to Mr. Bradley, that is the only one I now of.
Q.: What was your object in sending that decision to Mr. Bradley?
A.: Nothing more than in a friendly way that he might see the result of the litigation.
Q.: And take warning accordingly?
A.: No there was nothing said about it.
Q.: But was that the object of your sending it?
A.: No, I don’t think so.
Q.: You did not have in mind giving him notice that the case had been decided in favor of your side in sending that?
A.: Well there was no notice about it.
Q.: But you had written to him prior to that had you not ordering his boats away from your place?
A.: No, there was a boat there at one time and their captain refused to move and I telegraphed to Mr. Bradley the facts that his captain was on my premises and refused to move and Mr. Bradley wrote me a very nice letter about it and I answered it in a business like way. I had a great deal of business with Mr. Bradley back and forward and quite well acquainted with him and I didn’t believe that he would encroach on my property and destroy my home if he knew the facts that his boat was there and he wrote me so saying that he wouldn’t do so.
Q.: And then afterwards you sent him a copy of the decision?
Q.: What other vessel owner have you sent this copy of the decree to?
A.: I can’t give you them in detail. I don’t think I have sent it to more than 4 or 5 and I don’t know that I sent it to that many.
Q.: What was your object in sending it to that number?
A.: Well I had no particular object.
Q.: You just did it for a past time?
A.: Yes, call it that if you wish.
Testimony of Henry McMorran – Examination by Attorney Phillips, Prosecutor
Q.: You had a great many personal friends engaged in the vessel business?
Q.: Men who had known of the existence of this litigation?
Q.: Who were you thought as friends of yours interested in the outcome?
A.: Yes, Sir.
Q.: And whether or not those are the persons, if any, to whom you sent the copies of the decree?
A.: They were.
Testimony of Henry McMorran – Cross Examination by Attorney McIllwain, Attorney for Chadwick
Q.: Do you mean to say you did not send it to anybody other than your personal friends?
A. Yes, Sir.
Q.: What persons did you send it to other than vessel owners?
A.: That I cannot say. I know of one instance I think I sent a copy of the decision to the Avery heirs at their request.
Q.: They are the owners of property adjoining you on the south?
Q.: Then what was your object of getting a thousand struck off if you only sent 4 or 5?
A.: I presume they could strike off a thousand for about the same expense they would 4 or 5.
Q.: That was the only reason?
A.: That would be the only reason that I know of.
Testimony of Judge Vance – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor
Q: You know the complainants in the chancery cause of McMorran and another against Fitzgeralds?
A.: I do.
Q.: You know Mrs. Mary L. Botsford?
Q: Have you seen the letter of Mr. Chadwick that is under inquiry here?
A: I have.
Q.: In that letter it is stated in effect that Mrs. Mary L. Botsford by persistent attacks upon you drove you out of the case and drove you out of your office at one time. Will you state whether Mrs. Mary L. Botsford ever drove you out of your office by attempts to interview you?
A.: She never did.
Q.: Did you ever see her in your office in which the subject of this case, or that chancery case was brought up?
Q.: Now will you please tell us when it was; all about that?
A.: Yes, from my memory I wouldn’t be able to fix the date.
Q.: Go on and tell us the transaction then.
A: I think I was working in the law library in the White Block and a telephone came to Mr. Atkinson’s office, which is next to the bar library, and they came in and called me and I went to the telephone and the clerk stated there was a lady up here that wanted to see me. I asked him who it was and he said it was Mrs. Botsford, and I told the clerk to tell her I wouldn’t be up to the office, or something to that effect. I wouldn’t just say the exact words, but the substance of it was that I was not going up to the office and I continued my work there until the noon hour. When I went home to dinner and on coming back after dinner when I went into my office, Mrs. Botsford was there. She commenced to talk to me about matters which I supposed referred to this suit and yet were somewhat indirect. I said nothing to her until she talked a few moments and when I felt sure that the matter she referred to applied to the McMorran-Fitzgerald case I told her that it would be improper for her to talk with me about it and I couldn’t have any conversation with her privately about it. Now just all that occurred there I do not pretend to say. I remember very distinctly one thing that in the conversation she said to me that she understood the Fitzgeralds had talked with me about it and told me their side of the case and she said if that was true she didn’t see any reason why she should not tell me her side of it, that I ought to know both sides of the case. I assured her that that was not the fact that they had never spoken to me indirectly or directly about it and that seemed to satisfy her. She talked there some little time and I think once again during the conversation it alluded back towards the case and I reminded her of the fact and she begged my pardon and when she was going out she said that she didn’t intend to do anything wrong in coming there to talk with me, that she had been informed that Fitzgeralds had told me their side of the story and that she thought it was proper that she should tell me hers and so far as I know we parted in the best of relations. I do not pretend, as I said before, to give all the conversation but that is the substance of it.
Q: Did she say to you during that conversation that if you were too honest to hear her case privately you were too dishonest to decide it as she thought it ought to be decided, or words to that effect?
A: There was nothing of that kind said.
Testimony of Mary Botsford – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor:
Q: You are the Mary L. Botsford referred to and wife of J.E. Botsford?
A: I am wife of J.E. Botsford, Mary L. Botsford.
Q: Do you remember the occasion of your visit to Judge Vance’s office that he was speaking about a few minutes ago?
Q: You heard his statement of what occurred there?
A: He didn’t speak very loud I couldn’t hear it very well, but I remember the occasion.
Q: Then you may go on and tell us what occurred there that day, what talk you had with him about the Fitzgerald case?
A: I had been told that Mr. Chadwick was not going to allow me, being the wife of J.E. Botsford, one of the complainants, to testify in the case at all. I went to Mr. Atkinson’s office asking him, early in the morning. It was a very rainy day. It was rainy and would brighten up and I went to his office to ask him; he was not in town. Mr. Wolcott was very busy and Mr. Botsford’s partners wife was very ill, Mr. Johnston’s wife, was very ill in Detroit. I couldn’t see my husband very well about it and Mr. Johnston was in Detroit with his wife at the hospital, and Mr. Botsford was very busy that day. I took the car I came here and thinking in a public office I could see the judge. I did not suppose there was anything wrong whatever, I came here and I asked somebody —I came in here, there was court in session, I sat here a while and listened and then I publicly —- I didn’t make any private matter of it at all. I didn’t suppose there was anything wrong in it, and I then started to go out and a man followed me to the door and ask me what it was I wanted and I said I wanted to see Judge Vance and asked him when that case was coming up and I wanted to ask him if I wasn’t going to be allowed as a witness.
Q: Stop right there, you say there was a case going on here in court?
Q: Who was presiding as judge?
A: A judge from Mount Clemens, I think his name was Canfield. I think he was presiding before I afterwards asked who that man was and they afterwards told me it was Judge Canfield.
Q: Do you remember what case was being tried?
A: I said to the man I heard Mr. Chadwick make a statement that amused me, I asked what the case was, and they said he made the statement that the person didn’t know what a hole was and he was describing a hole in the sidewalk. I asked what that was and they said some woman was hurt at the Huron House, had hurt her foot and this case was on trial that day. Then the man said to go right into Judge Vance’s office. I said when is that case to be heard. He said I don’t know, what case? Why I said our case. I thought everybody knew it. I said Botsford and McMorrans case against Fitzgeralds. He said go right into this room. The door was open and I went in there and stayed there. I supposed of course that Judge Vance possibly was on this case. I didn’t know Judge Vance, never to know him when I saw him. I had met him different times but I didn’t know him enough to know him when I saw him. I didn’t know but what he would be here. Then after staying in his room a little while the man said he didn’t know when he would be there. He thought he would be in shortly. It rained very hard, and I remained during the hour, because it rained furiously during the noon, and then he said, I guess Judge Vance will be here in a short time. At 1 o’clock or very near it, it commenced to pour again and then when Judge Vance came in —- I didn’t know that any telephone had been sent to Judge Vance. The first I learned of it was here, hearing Judge Vance say it on the stand.
Q: Judge Vance finally came?
A: Judge Vance came into the room. I said, Judge Vance, when is that case coming off? He didn’t seem to know what case I mean either. It was a surprise to me of course. I didn’t suppose but it was a case of interest to everybody. I says, what the Fitzgerald and McMorran and Botsford case, I says. I understand Mr. Chadwick is not going to allow me to testify and I have been told that old Mr. Fitzgerald went to you with tears in his eyes and told you different things about me. He says, Mrs. Botsford I guess you are mistaken and he says, you must not talk to me about the case. After he said that I didn’t say any more to him at all. It cleared up and brightened up a little and I put on my cloak and went away. I had to go to Chicago anyway and I couldn’t see him the next day and Mr. Atkinson was out of the city. I had only this way of seeing him. I didn’t know it was improper to remain to see the Judge in a public room. The door was not closed and people coming in and out and I didn’t make any private affair at all. I thought I could see a judge in his office like that.
Testimony of Judge Vance – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor:
Q: Whether she (Mary Botsford) undertook at any other time than at the time and in the manner you mention, to discuss the case with you?
A: She spoke to me one time right near Sweetzer’s, a drug store, subsequently to that it was before the hearing of the case and she just stopped for a minute and asked me when there was a likelihood of my having another judge here to hear it and I told her that the matters were a little uncertain but I was going to get a judge here as soon as I could. I think that was about all that was said about it, and she passed on and I passed on. There was no talk concerning the merits of it at all. I think those were the only times that Mrs. Botsford ever spoke to me about it, that I have any recollection of.
Q: How long was that before the case was heard and whether anything was then said as to what judge would hear it?
A: I wouldn’t be able to fix the time when that conversation was at Sweetzer’s.
Q: Can you approximate?
A: About the best I could say was it was before the hearing. I have not any idea how long.
Q: Then answer the other part of the question as to whether anything was said as to what judge would hear it?
A: My memory would be that when I talked with Mrs. Botsford in my room that day that I then told her that situated as I was and knowing the parties and knowing the facts surrounding the controversy, I thought it was a case that I wouldn’t hear myself that I would get another Judge to hear. I think I told her so at that time. Whether it was that time or whether it was Mrs. Botsford that suggested it or not I am not sufficiently positive to swear, but my impression is that she suggest that if I was going to get another judge I ought to get a judge from Detroit. I am not clear enough to say that it was Mrs. Botsford that suggested that, but that is my impression.
Q: Did she say why she thought you ought to get one from Detroit?
A: I think that was the only reference that was ever made as to who should hear it.
Q: This letter states, referring to the action of Mrs. Botsford, “and by persistent attacks upon him” referring to yourself and “his motives drove him out of the case.” I now ask you whether anything that Mrs. Botsford said or did influenced you in not hearing that case?
A: Not at all, she never questioned my motives that I know of. Atleast not to me.
Q: Who was it that secured the attendance of Judge Eldredge to hear that case?
A: I did.
Q: At whose suggestion?
A: At no one’s suggestion but my own.
Testimony of Judge Vance – Cross Examination by Attorney McIllwain, Counsel for Chadwick
Q: You say you learned through the telephone that Mrs. Botsford was at your office?
A: Yes sir.
Q: Did you give a reason why you didn’t go to the office? If you did not I wish you would?
A: Well I inferred that perhaps she wanted to talk with me about the case and I refused to come up for that reason.
Q: Will you give the court the reason why you inferred that she probably wanted to talk with you about the case?
A: I can’t just give the source of my information, but I was aware at that time that Mrs. Botsford was very much worried over the case and felt very badly about the trouble that was going on.
Q: And doing a good deal of talking about it?
A: I had learned in some way as I said before, that she was very much exercised and was liable to talk about it, that it was worrying her. I just don’t remember who told me or from what source I got it, but I know I had that understanding.
Q: Was that after you modified the temporary injunction?
A: My impression would be that it was, and yet I wouldn’t be very positive about that, but that would be my best impression.
Q: As I understand the fact an injunction had been issued restraining them from driving any piles.
A: The temporary injunction, yes.
Q: On the showing made you dissolved the temporary injunction?
A: I dissolved the temporary injunction.
Q: Now from the library you went home to your dinner and what time did you get back to your office after dinner?
A: I usually get back, that is about the only way I can fix it, between 1 and 2 o’clock.
Q: And when you got back you say that she was still in your office?
A: Well she was there when I got back.
Q: Did you learn whether she had remained there during the entire noon hour?
A: Well I learned it but I don’t know how.
Q: What was the fact as you learned it at that time?
A: I don’t know whether Mrs. Botsford told me or somebody else.
Q: Didn’t she say in effect to you at that time that she had come to see you and she was going to see you and talk to you if she had to stay there all day?
A: I wouldn’t be able to say from memory now whether she told me that or not. I have heard that, whether it was from her or not I couldn’t tell you. It was a good while ago.
Q: It is a matter that was talked quite generally was it not that she made a determined effort to have an interview with you, it was a matter of public talk?
A: I don’t know about that.
Q: You have heard it have you not from good many sources?
A: I have heard the attorneys speak about it. I never heard it outside. I couldn’t say it was public talk.
Q: Now when you returned she did accuse you of having listened to the Fitzgeralds?
A: She said, as I stated before, that she understood that they had told me their side of the case and that she thought it was nothing but right that I should hear her side.
Q: Whether the fact of her visit to you and her excited manner did not influence you at all in desiring to stop out of the case and have some other judge come and hear it?
A: Not at all, Mr. McIllwain, my mind was made up to that before I ever spoke to Mrs. Botsford about it. I think my mind was made up upon that point from the discussion and the breadth that it took upon the application to dissolve that injunction.
Q: Do you remember when you announced it first to counsel that you wouldn’t sit in the case, to Mr. Chadwick, for instance?
A: I do not.
Q: Whether it was a long time subsequent to that?
A: My impression would be that it was very shortly after the hearing upon the application to dissolve the injunction but I could not fix any date, I have no memory. I know that is what settled my mind on it.
Q: What would you say with reference to the time they obtained leave to file a supplemental bill?
A: I do not connect that with it at all in my memory. I connect the discussion on the application to dissolve the injunction as the basis that lead me to the conclusion I ought not to hear this case.
Q: Do you remember whether you took any part in the case after you had come to the conclusion that you wouldn’t sit in the case?
A: I am inclined to think I heard some motions and things in it. I think there was an amendment of the bill or something of that kind.
Testimony of Mary Botsford – Cross Examination by Attorney McIllwain, Counsel for Chadwick
Q: Now who told you that Fitzgerald went to Judge Vance with tears in his eyes?
A: I don’t know as I can tell you who told me. I don’t remember.
Q: Have you recollection whether it was a man or a woman?
A: Well, I think it was a man.
Q: Whereabouts was he when he told you?
A: I haven’t any recollection.
Q: Do you remember how whether at the time you went to see Judge Vance you had any recollection then who told you so?
A: Well I should remember it now, if I did.
Q: So at the time you saw Judge Vance you didn’t know who told you that?
A: I don’t remember that I did.
Q: Who told you that Mr. Chadwick said that you couldn’t be sworn in the case?
A: I don’t remember that.
Q: Have you any idea whether man or woman?
A: No, I remember somebody said that Mr. Chadwick is not going to let you testify because you are the wife of the complainant.
Q: You did stay up in the judge’s office during the noon hour?
A: It was raining and I stayed until it stopped raining.
Q: You staying during the noon hour?
A: I stayed until it stopped raining. I don’t know whether it was from 12 to 1 or from half past 12 to 1.
Q: Did you have your sewing with you?
A: I did not.
Q: And didn’t you state to one of the officers that you were going to stay there until Judge Vance did come if it took all day?
A: I don’t think so. I don’t recollect any such statement.
Testimony of Mary Botsford – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor
Q.: Did you have any other talk or interview with Judge Vance about this case at any time?
A.: I never saw Judge Vance from that time until shortly after I met him on the street and I had been to Detroit and the doctor said I must give up this case, this case was going to kill me worrying me. I must give go away from here he said but I couldn’t give my home up. I told the judge I just got that word a day or two before that day. I said to the judge when are they going to hear that case. He said I don’t know. I believe Judge Eldredge is sick. I said for goodness sake get somebody else. I said it will kill the whole of me off.
Q.: At the time you were in Judge Vance’s room state whether anything was said about Judge Eldredge hearing the case.
A.: I never heard of Judge Eldredge. I didn’t know he was at that time judge. The time I was in his room, I think as near as I can remember that was June 1, 1893, or May 31st.
Q.: Did you during the progress of the case see Judge Eldredge at any time?
A.: I never saw Judge Eldredge. When I was a girl, I visited at his father’s house. I have been married 24 years. I don’t think I have seen Judge Eldredge in that time to speak to him until the case was called, which I think was August 8, 1894. We had been to Chicago, and we returned in July, and we have been south and remained in Chicago and returned in July. When the case was called, I took the streetcar from Beard Street and came up here at 11 o’clock. It was after 11 o’clock before I got here. The case was called at 11 and a man came to me and asked me what I wanted. I told him I came to the case that was to be called before Judge Eldredge. He showed me to the room and said I suppose it is in that room, pointing in there. I went in there and sat down. Pretty soon a gentleman came in. He looked at me and stared at me as much as to say what is it you want. I looked at him a minute. I supposed of course he knew what I was there for. Then I says I am Mrs. Botsford. I have come to hear that case to be called today. Is it to be called today? A day before that I had seen Mr. Chadwick on his lawn with his dressing gown on. I was told it was to be postponed again because he was ill. I said I hope for goodness sake Chad is not going to be sick and we will have to postpone this case. That is all the conversation I have had.
Q.: You learned that gentleman was Judge Eldredge?
A.: Than he said that he was Judge Eldredge. I don’t know but what the man said to me after he saw us both looking at each other. He simply said Judge Eldredge. I hadn’t seen him for a great many years. I don’t think I have seen him for 24 years. I have been married and I don’t think I have seen him since I was married. I know I never had any conversation with him for 9 years anyway. I had not been in Mt. Clemens for over 8 years. The last time I was in Mt. Clemens was in the spring of 1886 and only for a short time.
Q.: Didn’t you go to Mt. Clemens last summer with your yacht to argue this case with Judge Eldredge?
A.: No, sir, never.
Q.: Did you go to the mouth of the Clinton River?
A.: No, not any nearer than the cut on the way past there. We just passed though the cut. I don’t know how near the mouth of the Clinton River comes to that. We never went near the mouth of the Clinton River.
Q.: Did you ever leave Port Huron with the intention of going to Mt. Clemens to see Judge Eldredge?
Q.: You have read this letter of Mr. Chadwick’s in the News?
A.: I have.
Q.: He states in that letter in effect that you went to Mt. Clemens on your yacht and then he states that you think you argued and submitted the case while there. Have you ever had any such thing?
A.: I have never argued or submitted the case. It is as false as other statements in the letter.
Q.: Did you at any time under any circumstances have any talk with Judge Eldredge before the submission of the case and before its decision, about the cause except as you have stated in the small room here?
A.: No, sir.
Q.: Who was present at that talk do you remember?
A.: Judge Stevenson. In a minute after Judge Eldredge said I can’t talk to you about it, Judge Stevenson was there. We began to talk about hunting and fishing. I asked him if his stepmother – she is a very fine shot – I asked him if she sill used the gun. We began to talk about different games. She could always shoot snipe on the wing, and I asked him if she could still bring down the snipe.
Q.: You had formerly known his father’s family?
A.: Yes, but I don’t think Judge Eldredge ever visited there while I was there.
Q.: Was your acquaintance after he had ceased to be a member of the family, after he had established a home of his own?
A.: He never was there. He was not a member of the family. I never ate a meal with him, and he never sat down to the table.
Q.: This lady you spoke of is his stepmother and not his mother?
A.: His stepmother and her daughter is about my own age, and I used to visit there, and she visited me, but I have not been at Mt. Clemens since 1886 and I don’t think any member of my family.
Q.: How long before the hearing of the case, if you remember, did you know that Judge Eldredge was to hear it?
A.: We came here in July 12th. I think 1894 after being in California and Chicago part of the winter and a few days before that I had asked, just a short time after that. I should say, Mr. Atkinson said that the case was to be heard before Judge Eldredge. The first I ever heard of it. I wanted to hear the argument when it was brought up.
Q.: Judge Vance when upon the stand said that somebody suggested to him and he does not know whether you or not, that if some other judge was to hear it he ought to get a Detroit judge.
A.: I said so. I said to him I ask you to get a judge from Detroit where they know the value of river front. I said that to him then. Whether anybody else did to him or not of course I don’t know.
Testimony of Mary Botsford – Cross Examination by Attorney McIllwain, Counsel for Chadwick
Q.: You say that you wanted a judge from Detroit somebody that would know the peculiar value of river front?
A.: I said that to him.
Q.: And you wouldn’t be satisfied with a judge that didn’t know that.
A.: No, I didn’t say so. I didn’t say I wouldn’t be satisfied with a judge that didn’t know that.
Q.: I think you were very much interested in the case of McMorran & Botsford against Fitzgeralds.
A.: It is my home. I am interested in my home.
Q.: Is it yours or your husbands?
A.: I live with my husband.
Q.: Well you were very much interested in that case weren’t you?
Q.: And took quite an active part in getting the proofs together?
A.: I don’t know as I was very active.
Q.: And did a good deal of talking during the pendency of the case?
A.: I don’t think so. I think I am rather a quiet woman.
Q.: You don’t talk very much?
A.: Only when I am obliged to answer your questions.
Q.: Didn’t you argue that case with most everyone who would listen to you?
A.: I did not.
Q.: And weren’t you unceaseless in your reflections upon the parties as well as their counsel on the other side of the case?
A.: I was not.
Q.: And haven’t you been at every time you got an opportunity whether on the street or coming down the elevator of the White Block?
A.: I have not. If you refer to coming down the elevator in the White Block I would like to tell you that. When this case was here, we were called here as witnesses in this case. I was notified I was to appear a witness in the case against Mr. Chadwick, the contempt case, or whatever it is called. I was waiting to come down the elevator. The elevator came up and there was a man in it. We stood there and he began to say, this is very heavy, this is a big load in here, as much weight at all and I stepped in the elevator. But I began to think what does Mr. Chadwick mean by this being so heavy. As I read his letter when he said I went to Mt. Clemens with the yacht. It was utterly false. I could only think that sin was heavy and when I came out I said, I am glad to get out of that I never was with such a load of sin before. Mr. McIllwain, his partner who evidently knowns him very well. He says, Mr. Chadwick she means you and when he slid the coat on so easily it wasn’t my place to take it off.
Q.: And haven’t you been keeping it just about that warm for the Fitzgerald boys down to the place where they are doing business? And to every person who comes there to do business haven’t you been making it just about that hot for them?
A.: I haven’t.
Testimony of James B. Eldredge – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor.
Q.: Do you remember the date of the rendering of the decree in McMorran and another against the Fitzgeralds?
A.: No. I do not but I think it was about November 1st or 2nd.
Q.: How long was the case carried after argument before decision?
A.: I do not remember, some few weeks.
Q.: When did you first learn that this case was to be submitted to you?
A.: It was some little time before some testimony was taken in open court. A few days I would say, Mr. Avery, though that it had been spoken of, I think by Judge Vance, and I think by Mr. Robertson here, as a case that I might probably have to hear.
Q.: And do you remember what testimony was taken in open court?
A. It was the testimony of 2 or 3 physicians.
Q.: Whether that was shortly before the argument or a long time?
A.: Shortly before the argument, I mean shortly, there was a number of days, quite a number of days elapsed between the two.
Q.: Was your attention called to this letter by Mr. Chadwick that was published in the Port Huron News?
A.: It was.
Q.: In respect of that will you state when and under what circumstances you had any interview with the complainant or either of them prior to the hearing of that cause in respect to the case?
A.: Neither of the complainant ever said a word to me relative to the case at all.
Q.: When and under what circumstances did you have any interview with Mrs. Mary L. Botsford, about this cause prior to its being heard and give us the interview?
A.: After taking testimony of 2 or 3 physicians, I cannot call to mind their names. It was arranged that I would take the testimony, the balance of the testimony and read it and a day should be fixed for the argument of counsel. I would do that to avoid the labor of reading all the proofs in open court. I took the testimony to Mt. Clemens and read it, examining it in connection with the exhibits and a day was fixed for argument and I came here because of the appointment, and I think it was upon that day, but I cannot say what day of the month that was. It was in the judge’s room I saw Mrs. Botsford. As I understood and as I think it was expected, the argument was to proceed there. Mrs. Botsford was there. She made herself known to me. Although I had known her years before and spoke of the fact that the case was to be heard and as she understood there would be an application for a continuance and commenced to protest against the arguments being continued. And upon suggesting that she ought not to talk to me about it she changed the subject and made inquires in regard to other matters, in regard to my father’s family, members of my father’s family with whom she used to be quite intimate.
Q.: Whether anything further was aid about the case?
A.: Nothing was said by her at the time or at any other time to me prior to my decree relative to the merits of the cause by any person in the world except in the way of argument by counsel and the testimony of witnesses.
Q.: Whether she saw you at any time at Mt. Clemens?
A.: I am quite confident that I had not seen Mrs. Botsford before that occasion to recognize her for a number of years. I wouldn’t say how many, but quite a number of years.
Q.: The statement is made in the letter substantially that she went to Mt. Clemens upon a yacht for the purpose of interviewing you that she thinks she argued and submitted the cause there and of course the complainants agree with her. What happened if anything to your knowledge on which that statement could be based?
A.: Nothing in the world.
Q.: Did Mrs. Botsford see you at Mt. Clemens and make any attempt to argue her cause?
Q.: Or anywhere in the vicinity?
A.: Never there nor anywhere else.
Q.: You spoke of some conversation between yourself and Mrs. Botsford as to the members of her father’s family?
A.: My father’s family.
Q.: Now in one of the answers, in the answer of Mr. Chadwick or one of the writings filed as answer to the original paper filed here or else the answer to one of the interrogatories, he uses the term “relations” and speaks of your families being related and in answer to an inquiry, as I now remember it, he claims to have received that information from you. Will you tell us what there is about that and what you said to Mr. Chadwick if anything on which he bases that statement.
A.: I never knew of any relationship between Mrs. Botsford and any member of my father’s family myself. After I had a family of my own or lived apart from my father’s family she used to visit there quite frequently and I know her as a girl that visited there and saw her a number of times there when at the house, but only knew her in that way. My half sister and she, I think, were quite intimate and I do not know but my own sister also. When Mr. Chadwick, after I had announced my opinion, asked me to endorse upon the opinion or to put a note to the opinion that I was unacquainted with the witnesses, I simply spoke of the fact that I had known Mrs. Botsford as a girl, she used to visit my father’s family.
Q.: Let me stop you right there as to this question. Mr. Chadwick says in the answer which he filed here not an interrogatory, but an answer to the charges made against him, he says that he was further informed by Judge Eldredge on the day he announced his decree or filed his opinion that he had known said Mary L. Botsford intimately since her childhood, that she was a frequent visitor in the family and a relative of his, Judge Eldredge’s father’s family.
A.: That is an entire mistake. The facts are as I have stated them.
Q.: Did you tell him that you had known her intimately since childhood?
A.: No, I merely spoke of the fact that I had known her as a frequent visitor in my father’s family after I had become not a member of the family and knew her simply as a girl visiting there.
Q.: In respect of the same matter Mr. Chadwick says by his sworn answer that as to the attempts of Mrs. Botsford to improperly approach Judge Eldredge he had the information direct from Judge Eldredge himself. Will you state whether you told Mr. Chadwick that Mrs. Botsford had made attempts to improperly approach you?
A.: I don’t think I ever said anything from which that ought to be a conclusion. It is among the possibilities, and I think I did, when I told him speaking of my acquaintance with Mrs. Botsford speak of the fact that I saw her in the judge’s office on the days to which it was adjourned. I don’t know as I mentioned the day at which the hearing was adjourned as the only time that I had seen her for years, or for a time anyway. But at no time did I undertake to convey to him the idea that she had talked to me in regard to the merits of this controversy at all. I may be possible I may have said that she spoke about the continuance or protested against the continuance. And that I declined to hear her or told her I couldn’t hear her or something of that kind but nothing that I ever said to Mr. Chadwick could give him the idea that Mrs. Botsford had approached me or attempted to talk to me about the merits of that case at all.
Q.: Now coming back to the time when you saw her in the judge’s office, say whether on your suggesting that it could not be right for her to talk to you about it, whether she persisted in any sense?
A.: Not at all. On my suggesting that she might not to talk to me about the case.
Q.: Do you remember whether anyone else was in the room while you were in the judge’s room in the presence of Mrs. Botsford at the time you mention?
A.: I think there were others in there, in and out. I think it was expected that the argument would be had there.
Q.: Let me suggest to you whether Judge Stevens was not there?
A.: I do not now recall to mind with certainty whether he was or was not. My impression is that he was, but I am not certain about it.
The Fitzgerald decision, A.E. Chadwick’s statement, and the Fitzgerald declaration ignited a firestorm between citizens of the community. Public outcry demanded the decision and potential issues for future business be addressed by the Common Council. A petition for a public hearing on the matter was demanded. The minutes from the November 12, 1894, council meeting read as follows:
“A petition for a public meeting of citizens signed by over 300 people in regard to helping industries was received and filed and ordered printed. We, the undersigned citizens of Port Huron request you to call a public meeting of the citizens of this city at once for the purpose of taking into consideration the question whether we shall encourage and develop manufacturing enterprises in this city, or whether we shall by our alliance and refusal to act lend our assistance to outlawing and suppressing industries already existing in the city.
We call your attention to the fact that by a recent decision of the circuit court for St. Clair County in chancery granted by Judge Eldredge is the case of McMorran and Botsford against James H. Fitzgerald and the latter is enjoined from carrying on any business on his property on the banks of St. Clair River.
We believe that in the future development of this city the bank of St. Clair River must necessarily be occupied by manufacturing industries. That the magnitude of the lake and marine commerce, together with the location of this city at the foot of Lake Huron renders the existence of machine shops and other industries on the banks of St. Clair River as imperative and necessary.
We believe that every inducement and encouragement should be given not only to other industries to locate here, but to those already born and that the prohibition of the court against such industries will injuriously affect the future growth of our city.
We believe that while the noise and smoke of furnaces and machine shops may produce some discomfort to the over sensitive but that the majority of our citizens believe that these industries are what makes cities and the people of Port Huron are asking for more furnaces, more machine shops, more smoke, more noise, and more employment for labor.
The citizens of Port Huron are vitally interested and injuriously affected by this decision, and we ask you, as its representatives, to call a public meeting to take such action in the matter as a majority of citizens thus assembled may think proper. “
Citizens Petition – Supreme Court Record
Testimony of J.B. McIllwain – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor
Q.: I show you this copy of the Port Huron News of November 13, 1894, and call your attention to a petition particularly upon the 4th page addressed to the mayor and common council and ask you whether you saw the original of that petition?
A.: I think I did.
Q.: When did you first see it?
A.: I don’t remember. This is Tuesday evening November 13, this purports to be the council proceedings of Monday previous. I should say in general terms that it would be the Saturday prior to this November 13th now it may be it was Friday prior to Nov. 13th, that would be the 9th or 10th of November, probably.
Q.: When did you first know that such a petition was to be circulated?
A.: It would be about that time.
Q.: Who drew the petition?
A.: You mean who did the manual work of writing it out?
Q.: Yes, we can take it piece meal that way if you wish.
A.: I think I did the manual work of writing it out on the typewriter.
Q.: Who dictated it?
A.: Well there was half a dozen had a hand in dictating it, I should judge.
Q.: Who was the controlling spirit?
A.: The controlling spirit would be – I will state the facts to you if you desire.
Q.: Yes, that is what I would like to have.
A.: That facts are these, quite a number of people came into our office after the decision in that case and after they had read the reference in the Port Huron Times, as I see it now I recall the fact that there was such an article there, wanting to know if something couldn’t be done to help the Fitzgerald’s out. I cannot give the order in which they came in but I should say a number at least 15 or 20 different persons, mentioned it to me during different days, but the order in which they would come I couldn’t say. But Mr. Fitzgerald himself came to me and wanted that I should prepare up a petition that citizens could sign that they came to them and wanted to have a meeting in some way to raise a fund for the purpose of helping them to carry the case to the Supreme Court. As the case involved a record of 1200 pages of printed matter, which as printed now is about 1200 pages and would cost somewhere about $600 or upwards to print alone to say nothing of the labor of the counsel in the case or the brief. He desired that I should prepare up the petition to be signed by citizens asking the common council to call a public meeting. I probably suggested somethings and other gentlemen not at all connected with this case suggested somethings who were of the same opinion that citizens ought to assist in this matter; and the petition was drawn up and given to Fitzgerald.
Q.: How many days was this done after the publication of the Chadwick letter in the News?
A.: I don’t recollect it in that connection at all.
Q.: Now figure back, the Chadwick letter was published the 8th and 9th.
A.: You can probably tell by reference to the paper.
Q.: You think then that was prepared on the Friday preceding November 13?
A.: Friday or Saturday Mr. Fitzgerald can tell probably how long he was engaged in circulation or whatever did circulate it than I could.
Q.: Then if you did see it on Friday and Tuesday was the 13th it would be about the same date that letter was written would it not?
A.: I don’t know. I do not associate this petition with the letter in any respect. From the length of the petition it is barely possible it was earlier in the week, but if I give my recollection now I should say it was on either Friday or Saturday.
Q.: You are one of the defendants’ solicitors in the chancery case?
A.: Well indirectly, by being associated with Mr. Chadwick who was the solicitor of record.
Q.: You were active in the case weren’t you, assisted in taking testimony?
A.: I believe I did of one or two witnesses. I cannot say that I was active in taking the testimony in the case.
Q.: You made an argument in the case on its final submission?
Q.: Several hours argument did you not?
A.: An hour or so or two hours.
Q.: It is in fact a case to which you gave a great deal of attention in looking up the authorities?
A.: I did not. I didn’t know I was going to take part in the argument even until within 48 hours beforehand.
Q.: You were present at the public meeting in respect of the same matter in the Baer Block?
A.: I was.
Q.: There was a set of resolutions offered there?
A.: There was.
Q.: You prepared them?
A.: I assisted in the preparation of them.
Q.: Prepared in your office?
A.: I think so.
Q.: On your typewriter?
Q.: Mr. Chadwick assisted?
A.: I don’t recollect whether he did or not, I think not, but still he may.
Q.: You say you assisted, who assisted you if Mr. Chadwick did not?
A.: I say Mr. Chadwick may have. I don’t recall that fact at this time. Probably if I would see the resolutions — I haven’t seen them since that time, I might be able to tell you from the wording of them whether Mr. Chadwick did assist or not.
Q.: You are the J.B. McIllwain referred to in the report of the meeting who offered those resolutions for passage are you not?
A.: I am.
Q.: And was appointed as one of the committee to solicit subscriptions?
A.: That was a matter unknown to me and in which I refused to act.
Q.: Who called the meeting to order that night?
A.: The mayor.
Q.: Are you not in error about that? Didn’t you call it to order and then call the mayor to the chair?
A.: I did not.
Q.: How soon after the meeting began did you offer your resolutions?
A.: As I recall it now, the mayor called the meeting to order and stated the object of the meeting, that he then requested me to outline more particularly the object of the meeting. I think that until within probably 3 minutes before I offered the resolutions I did not know and did not understand that I should take any part in the matter at all but at the very last minute I was requested on account of the very large crowd of people that was there in the big hall, to read the resolutions which another party had been provided to read them, but it was simply a matter of accommodation to others that I read them at all and I confined myself solely to reading the resolutions with the statement that if those resolutions met with your approval you can adopt them and if they didn’t may adjust them to meet with your approval. Mr. Atkinson and McMorran were there.
Q.: It had been arranged with somebody else to read the resolutions?
A.: Mr. Fitzgerald has arranged with somebody else to read the resolutions.
Q.: How much money was raised as a result of these various efforts and following solicitations?
A.: I can’t say, I don’t know. I haven’t handled any that I know.
Q.: Have you no idea on the subject?
A.: Nothing except as I got it from others. I haven’t seen a dollar of the money at all.
Q.: Has your client informed you how much?
A.: I think I have been informed by Thomas Fitzgerald.
Q.: How much are you informed by him?
A.: I think he told me sometime ago, couple of weeks ago, that there was somewhere about $300.
Q.: How much on the whole was subscribed?
A.: I don’t know.
Q.: Hadn’t you seen the list?
A.: I hadn’t neither has he informed me.
Q.: At whose request did you offer those resolutions that were presented to the public meeting?
A.: At the request of Thomas J. Fitzgerald.
Q.: And you at that time read the Chadwick letter in the News?
A.: I don’t know. I don’t seem to associate the Chadwick letter with the preparing of those resolutions in any way, shape or form.
Q.: I am not asking you to do that?
A.: For that reason I can’t say whether I had or not as a matter of memory.
Q.: Did you read the Chadwick letter when first published?
A.: I think so, about that time.
Q.: Didn’t you read it before it was published?
A.: I did not.
Q.: But you think you did within a day or two?
A.: I think so.
Q.: These resolutions were not prepared long before the public meeting were they?
A.: I don’t know it would be my idea as a matter of memory as I stated before seeing that this was for the Monday meeting of the Common Council that the resolutions were prepared the latter part of the week before.
Q.: I am speaking now of the resolutions that you offered at the public meeting in the Baer Block and not the resolutions in the council.
A.: The resolutions at the public meeting in the Baer Block I think were prepared the forenoon of that meeting, whatever the date was.
Q.: And that being true and you having read the Chadwick letter within a day or two at least of its publication you had read it before preparing that resolution and knew of its having been published?
A.: I think it was before. I probably had read it but it seems to be on the 8th; what is the date of the meeting in the Baer Block?
Q.: Thursday evening November 15th was the meeting in the Baer Block. The Chadwick letter would be somewhere about a week prior t that.
Testimony of J.B. McIllwain – Cross Examination by Attorney Chadwick
Q.: What prompting, to your knowledge, came from Mr. Chadwick in respect to the action by the common council or the public meeting?
A.: I don’t think Mr. Chadwick as I recollect now had anything to do with it in anyway, shape, manner or form.
Q.: What prompting on your part lead to the action taken by the common council or citizens meeting?
A.: Nothing more than preparing this petition at the request of Mr. Fitzgerald and others.
Q.: Do you know from information who received any money raised by the citizens committee or contributed by the citizens, what was done with it?
A.: All I know is in a general way. There was a committee appointed. Mr. Henry W. Cooley was a member of the committee. Eugene Schoolcraft was another member and the committee said they had some money and we went on with the printing and as Mr. Murray would want some money we would give him an order on the committee. I never seen a dollar of the money myself but I understand that finally there was about $300 obtained.
I want to say one more thing your honor. That as far as we or anyone that was connected with us in any way took part in that public meeting it was for no other purpose than simply and solely the question whether the citizens desired to contribute to help appeal his case to the Supreme Court to pay the expenses and I do not think that at that public meeting there was the least particle of criticism of the motives of the judge but whether it was a matter that demanded the assistance of the people generally.
Testimony J.B. McIllwain – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor
Q.: Do you say there was no criticism of Judge Eldredge at that meeting? Do you remember the remarks by Alderman Cooley?
A.: I don’t recall them at this time.
Q.: Is it not a fact that he denounced him and all lawyers and judges in the most emphatic terms of which he was master?
A.: I have heard that statement made before but as I recollect it, there was no such statement made by Henry W. Cooley. He referred to lawyers generally and the way he referred to them was this, that he thought it would have been a great deal better had I not offered the resolution which was adopted at that citizen meeting because being one of the attorneys in the case and he didn’t think much of lawyers anyway. That is the way he came in. He had a very poor opinion he thought if we had less of them it would be a good deal better for the country, but it came in in that way.
Q.: Is it not a fact that various speakers denounced Judge Eldredge and that at every intimation or reference to corruption on his part, that the crowd cheered?
A.: I do not think there was one speaker from beginning to end that intimated, as I now remember, corruption on Judge Eldredge’s part. If there is I do not recall it. I certainly did not leave the meeting with any such impression.
Q.: You thought there was no disrespectful remarks?
A.: There were some remarks. I would rather have seen not made but they were made by persons I had no idea were going to say anything.
Q.: So there were remarks of disrespect towards the court made there.
A.: It was not the court.
Q.: It was only to Judge Eldredge?
A: No it wasn’t to Judge Eldredge.
Q.: That is what I asked you about, Judge Eldredge? A.: I say there was some remarks made. There were none made towards Judge Eldredge as I recollect.
Testimony of J.B. McIllwain – Cross Examination by A.E. Chadwick
Q.: Let me ask you if the tenor of the discussion was not this that if there was the law they wanted to know it and they didn’t think they ought to rest upon it because they did not think it was sound, but it would be fatal to the city and so on?
A.: That is substantially the tenor of the argument that were used there.
Q.: They thought the cause ought go up?
A.: There was a great many of them that made the argument that they thought if the city of Port Huron increased in population it had to develop along the line of the river front by industries being built up on the river front and that the city was interested in knowing whether industries could be built up along the city front and that being a matter the city as a whole was interested in. They thought that the people of the city ought to help them gentlemen out who were poor young men.
Testimony of J.B. McIllwain – Examination by Avery, Prosecutor.
Q.: In that connection they desired to know whether the courts should drive business away from Port Huron?
A.: In that connection they desired to know whether the Supreme Court would sustain that decision.
Q.: Wasn’t it put in just that way, in the words I used in my question, whether the courts would drive business away from Port Huron?
A.: No, I don’t recollect that. I wouldn’t undertake to give the language word for word, but I didn’t get that impression. This question was up, whether we are going to drive away our industries now. I think I can fairly say that it was put in that way.
Q.: Then as I understand you, the ruling motive on the part of your firm in the part they took in having the resolutions presented to the council and the resolutions presented to the public meeting and your attendance upon the public meeting was to secure a subscription to assist Fitzgeralds in appealing the case?
A.: We had no ruling motive in the matter. We prepared the petition to the common council in the first place at the request of Mr. Fitzgerald who, with us, had been urged to have it done by a great many other people, simply at his request. I didn’t go near the common council. I understand the common council passed some resolutions.
Q.: Are you sure you are right, you weren’t at the council meeting?
A.: I was not at the council as I recall. I know I wasn’t. I took no part in it whatever but at the public meeting I did go and I did draw up the documents. But I had no part in circulating any of these petitions or papers of any kind as stated by Mr. Avery.
Q.: Weren’t you present in the clerk’s office just before the common council was called to order that night and in consultation with some of the alderman about this matter, about the matter of these resolutions?
A.: I think I was in the clerk’s office that evening that the resolution was adopted by the common council. The way I recollect it was by the fact that I remember now how that was prepared. I had almost forgotten it. That there was another petition there signed by all those parties there asking the common council to adopt the resolution.
Q.: Then the distinction is drawn when you say you were not at the council is you were not at the formal meeting. You say the alderman individually.
A.: I did not go there to see the alderman. I was simply accidentally there if I had gone there for that purpose So I should have stayed during the meeting.
The Public Meeting
The public meeting was held on November 16, 1894, as reported by the Port Huron News:
“The controversy over the case of Henry McMorran and J.E. Botsford v. Fitzgerald Brothers is creating no little interest in Port Huron. The common council’s call for a public meeting to consider the matter brought out a large attendance Thursday evening. The Circuit Court room was too small to accommodate the crowd and an adjournment was taken to the Baer block. There were probably 1,000 people present. The meeting was called to order by Mayor Boynton, who said he was much pleased to see so many people present. The city clerk read the resolutions adopted by the common council calling the meeting. He also read the petition of citizens presented to the council.
John B. McIlwain was the first speaker. He said he was not present as the paid attorney of anyone. He was present to discuss what was best to be done. He said, ‘All classes of citizens are here, doctors, lawyers, business men and laboring men. Anything which injures any one part of the community will injure all. It is the duty of citizens to meet and repair the injury done by Judge Eldredge’s decision. We are all entitled to our opinion. I have no feeling against Henry McMorran, but I believe a wrong has been done to a business firm of the city.’ Mr. McIllwain then offered the following resolutions:
Resolved, By this citizens meeting of the city of Port Huron, that we heartily approve the prompt and unanimous action of the common council of this city in respect to the attempted destruction of the business of James H. Fitzgerald where now carried on, and we hereby re-adopt and re-affirm the said resolution of said council to wit:
‘We believe that any restrictions placed upon machine shops or other manufacturing enterprises located upon the banks of St. Clair River will injuriously affect the growth and development of this city as a manufacturing center, thereby greatly injuring the city itself, and that the decree of said court will do great injury to this city and retard other industries from coming to the city and is erroneous and ought not to stand. And further….
Resolved. That in view of these facts, it is the judgment of this meeting that the suits against and other attacks on James H. Fitzgerald as proprietor of the Dry Dock Iron Works, and his business are indefensible, and have also resulted in very serious injury to an honest and hardworking citizen and this community, and the active continuance of his said business at that point can injure no one judged by the fair standard of the plain people and their rights, and we, as citizens, extend to him our sympathy and encouragement, and urge upon him the necessity at appealing the case in the supreme court, not only to vindicate his own right but to defend the interests of the city and citizens, and to that end we urge the appointment of a committee of ways and mean to take such action as will give substantial encouragement and help said James H. Fitzgerald in this further defense of said action.’
Mr. McIllwain said a large number of prominent citizens had asked that the resolutions be drawn up and had taken part in their construction. Henry McMorran here asked Mr. McIllwain to name the citizens who had taken part in the drawing of the resolutions. He wanted to see everything conducted in a frank manner. Mr. McIllwain replied that he did not think it necessary to answer the question. He wanted the people to vote on the resolutions. Alderman Henry W. Cooley was called on. He said he was the father of the resolution calling the meeting of citizens. He was sorry matters had reached the point they had. Mr. Cooley said: ‘Henry McMorran is a good citizen. He has done more for the city than any other man in the town. All honor to him. But I believe the judge has made a mistake in this decision. Let us put our hands in our pocket and help the Fitzgerald Brothers out. The judge has made an awful error. I do not want to detract from the worth of Henry McMorran, who employs hundreds of men in the city.’
John S. Beach made a short speech. He said: ‘The lower courts of St. Clair County have decided that the banks of St. Clair River must be sacredly dedicated to private residences. Is it good sense to fence in the city? I think that the force of this meeting has been broken by introducing the counsel for the defense to open the matter. The case must now be taken to the Supreme Court. Let us put our hands in our pockets and help the boys out.’
A.S. Martin was called on. He said that personally there was no feeling on his part towards either of the contesting parties. ‘I protest against the attitude of Mr. McMorran toward the Fitzgerald Brothers. If the upper court decides against the Fitzgeralds’ it will mark the declining point of Port Huron’s industries.’
Mr. Martin wanted to appoint Mayor Boynton to wait upon Mr. McMorran and ask him to withdraw his suit. Mayor Boynton said that Mr. McMorran appeared to be the prisoner at the bar. He was present and could tell the people whether or not he would favor arbitration. Mr. Boynton said if he believed smoke was a nuisance, he would get out an injunction and stop navigation on St. Clair River, which runs by his residence. ‘If smoke is a nuisance, Great Heavens! What a nuisance the city of Pittsburgh must be. The court has rendered its decision and we must abide by its decision. What we do let us do in an orderly and legal way.’ Mayor Boynton closed by saying ‘Can’t we compromise?’
Mr. McMorran was called for but did not respond. O’Brien J. Atkinson was called on but asked to be excused. L.B. Forester: “We have no feeling toward either of the contesting parties. We feel for the future of Port Huron. Why is Port Huron not larger? Because all land has been held for high prices. Someone is hanging on all the time. I think Judge Eldredge made a mistake. I believe the Supreme Court would set the verdict aside.” J.B. McIllwain moved the adoption of his resolution.
It was adopted without a dissenting vote. A.S. Martin moved that Mayor Boynton be appointed to wait on Mr. McMorran and try and effect a settlement. Adopted. The meeting was evidently made up of men favorable to the Fitzgerald interest. When Mr. McMorran attempted to speak in the early part of the evening he was hissed. Neither Mr. McMorran or any of his friends attempted to say anything after this. This forenoon Mayor Boynton appointed the following citizens to set as a ways and means committee, as called for in the resolutions adopted: Abram S. Martin, Henry Cooley, Ed. F. Percival, Eugene J. Schoolcraft and John B. McIllwain.”
The Public Meeting – Supreme Court Record
Testimony of Charles Rawlins – Examination by Attorney Avery, Prosecutor.
Q.: You are one of the editors of the Port Huron News?
A.: I am.
Q.: I show you what purports to be a copy of your paper of November 16, 1894, and ask your attention to the first article. Did you attend that public meeting?
A.: Yes, I did.
Q.: Did you write that article, that is there printed?
A.: I did.
Q.: State whether that is a fair representation of the occurrences of the meeting?
A.: I think it is even fairer than it might have been if I had given everything that occurred there. I left out somethings out of friendship for Mr. Chadwick and McIllwain and also for Fitzgeralds.
Q.: There is one part of that where you refer to and say at one point that there was derisive cries for Eldredge. In that connection will you state whether any disrespectful remarks were made in the meeting in respect of Judge Eldredge?
A.: I cannot say as to any disrespectful remarks, but I heard hisses.
Q.: At the mention of his name?
A.: Yes, and the whole spirit of the meeting was anarchistic.
Testimony of Charles Rawles – Cross Examination by Mr. McIllwain, Counsel for Chadwick
Q.: I see that you have quoted several of the alderman with making anarchistic speeches, several of the citizens?
A.: I haven’t done anything of the kind.
Q.: What part of the article represents the anarchy of that meeting?
A.: It does not represent any of it.
Q.: Was this intended as a fair report?
A.: It was intended as a report that wouldn’t give offense to Fitzgeralds and would partially do justice to McMorran.
Q.: Henry Cooley seems to be the first speaker did he say a word of reflection upon Mr. McMorran?
A.: He did not.
Q.: Or Mayor Boynton?
A.: He did not.
Q.: When you published this did you not intend to give the people of Port Huron the benefit of a fair publication of the public meeting?
A.: As fairly as we could and handle a matter that was as delicate as that matter was to handle with the public divided somewhat.
Q.: Mr. McMorran was there was he not?
A.: He was, but he was not allowed to speak either.
Q.: Do you state that under oath?
A.: I state that he was hissed down.
Q.: When was he hissed down?
A.: When he got on his feet to talk, he was drowned with hisses.
Q.: Was not a request made by a large number of citizens there present including Mayor Boynton, Henry Cooley, the alderman, Mr. Abe Martin, and other prominent citizens that they would like to hear from Mr. McMorran and see whether or not as citizens they could not interest themselves in a way to affect a compromise of this suit?
A.: I don’t remember about that; I remember that when he started to talk, he was hissed and jeered so that he sat down and kept quiet.
Q.: Did he start to talk at all?
A.: He did.
Q.: Was he called for to speak?
A.: He was after he had been hissed and jeered.
Q.: You have not got any hisses in this article?
A.: No, I don’t think the word “hiss” or “jeer” occurs in the article.
Q.: Wasn’t there a resolution adopted at that meeting by the citizens urging Mr. McMorran as a citizen to compromise this suit and not drive out industries from the river front?
A.: I do not remember distinctly what the resolution covered.
Q.: You wouldn’t have put it in your paper unless it took place, would you?
Q.: A resolution was then unanimously adopted, also a resolution asking Mr. McMorran to compromise was that a fact?
A.: I believe that is right.
Q.: Does that breathe a spirit of anarchy?
A.: It does not.
Q.: What speaker addressed the meeting that night that used this anarchistic talk?
A.: I didn’t hear any speaker that was on the platform I heard speakers in the audience say, “to hell with Fitzgerald” and about the same language with regard to McMorran – or I mean “to hell with Eldredge” that is the word they used not “Fitzgerald” but “Eldredge.”
Q.: Who did you hear us that?
A.: I don’t know.
Q.: Can you given the name of one single man that you heard say that?
A.: No, I cannot give you his name. I would recognize him if I ever saw him.
Q.: Was he drunk or sober?
A.: Apparently as sober as I am, and I am sober.
Q.: Whereabouts was he located?
A.: Right down in front.
Q.: While the meeting was pending?
A.: Yes, while the meeting was in progress.
Q.: Which side of the room?
A.: I think he was to my left as I sat facing the audience if I remember right, I think he was at my left.
Q.: Which side of the room did you sit on?
A.: I sat at the end of the room on the platform.
Q.: Which end of the platform, north or south?
A.: I don’t remember whether we were at the end or not, were about in the center, I think.
Q.: You cannot give the name of any person?
A.: I don’t remember his name.
Q.: Mr. Atkinson was on the platform was he not?
A.: I believe he was.
Q.: He was requested to speak?
A.: I believe he was. Yes, I know he was.
Q.: This Alderman Cooley what is his business in this city. Who is Mr. Cooley?
A.: Henry Cooley, he is an alderman here of the city at present.
Q.: Of the firm of Cooley & Smith running a planning mill?
Q.: And the next speaker seems to have been Captain John Beach. Where did he live at that time?
A.: I don’t know. I thought he lived on Beard Street at that time.
Q.: Didn’t he live down next to Mr. and Mrs. Botsford?
A.: I don’t know. I don’t think he did at that time.
Q.: And the next speaker seems to be Abe Martin, who is he?
A.: He is a prominent merchant here on Huron Avenue.
Q.: Of the firm of Martin Brothers & Co?
A.: Yes, sir.
Q.: Then Mayor Boynton is the next one and then the next is L.B. Forrester, who is he?
A.: I don’t know. He is a man that talks a good deal.
Q.: Do you remember Mr. Chadwick being called upon to speak?
A.: No, I do not remember that he was called on at all. I don’t know whether he was. I couldn’t state as to that.
Q.: Don’t you remember that he was called upon and refused to speak?
A.: No, I don’t remember that.
After the Storm
The McMorran & Botsford v. Fitzgerald case and the Chadwick contempt case did go to the Supreme Court on appeal. Both cases were upheld. In fact, the McMorran & Botsford v. Fitzgerald case is still considered good law today. Its case citation is McMorran v. Fitzgerald, 106 Mich. 649. The last time it was cited was in a dissenting opinion in a 1992 nuisance case, Adkins v. Thomas Solvent Co., 440 Mich. 293. So if you wonder why Port Huron does not have factories along the river front like our Canadian neighbors consider this case as the likely reason.
The Fitzgeralds did end up staying in business in Port Huron. They moved their shop to Merchant Street.
The ironic twist to all of this is in researching the case, I found my way down other historical paths and discovered interactions between so many other people involved with the parties in the case. First, McMorran purchased the property to build his home from John Howard. John was in the lumber business with Cummings Sanborn. John also had business dealings with Edmund Fitzgerald, James Fitzgerald’s father. Edmund would work in the lumber industry until he engaged in sailing as a Master. He would become the Master of the schooner Hard Times in 1847 and the schooner M. Kingman in 1849. Each of these vessels were reported as being owned by Cummings Sanborn. Edmond also was listed as Master of the J.B. Skinner, which he owned in partnership with John Howard.
The fact that many years later McMorran would become involved in a lawsuit with the Fitzgeralds over a dry dock business when the Wolverine Dry Dock operated north of McMorran’s home on Military Street is downright bizarre. Now, I understand the outrage over such a business in the area, but why the concentration on the Fitzgeralds and not the Wolverine Dry Dock?
Weirdly, when Edmund Fitzgerald left sailing vessels as a Master for shipbuilding, he built the Henry Howard and Hattie Wells with William Stewart in 1867. William Stewart was an early pioneer who initially engaged in the lumber business with Cummings Sanborn. William later engaged in the hardware business with Peter Sanborn and Ezra Carleton. His son, Charles, would go on to own the Wolverine Dry Dock with William Botsford. William Botsford was J.E. Botsford’s brother and cousin to Henry McMorran. Which in the end all circles back to Henry McMorran, who owned stock in the Wolverine Dry Dock, which he passed to his daughters, Emma and Clara, though a living trust upon his death. Could that explain why no one made a peep about the Wolverine Dry Dock?
What this court case does present is factual proof of an interesting series of events that took place in the Port Huron community back in the 1890s. It gives us a bird’s eye view of the people involved with the case through deposition testimony and newspaper accounts. It also gives us a chance to see Henry McMorran in action and to experience how far he would go to preserve and defend his home. Do not get me wrong, I love photographs. But when I found this case and the deposition testimony, I put down the photographs for a minute and paid attention. I consider this case a gem of a find. For in it, I found a piece of Henry that is deeply personal.
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