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Title: Interesting Incidents
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A laughable incident occurred during the May term of court in this county in 1835, when a slander case was being tried-the first in Warren county. The jury had heard the evidence, received its charge from the judge and were ordered to retire. The sheriff was called to find a suitable place and to appoint a bailiff to conduct them to the place for deliberation. The log school house was selected and a Mr. Clark was chosen as bailiff. The bailiff locked the jury in the building and went to a nearby saloon to get a drink of "white whisky." Later, he returned to the jury room and demanded that the men proceed at once to find a verdict and said that if they did not he would kill every man of them by throwing stones at them.

The foreman ordered him to be quiet, saying they would attend to their own business. This remark enraged the bailiff and, going outside he gathered up rocks and commenced to bombard the building, windows and doors. The noise reached the ears of the sheriff, who came to the rescue of the jurors and discharged the bailiff.

Jack Stinson, whose real name was John Stevens, was one of the most eccentric men who ever lived in Warren county. He settled here about 1827 and his odd ways soon gained for him a peculiar notoriety. He possessed a fair English education, could read and write well and always carried, tied to his side, an ink-horn and pen and note-book. He styled himself the "Christian Philosopher of the Nineteenth Century." He had gained some knowledge of the law, by attending courts, and was very anxious for the coming of the sessions, as much as if he were an attorney in fact. He would always insist on taking a seat among the members of the bar and upon any dispute arising he would jump to his feet and offer volunteer information upon the question at dispute. This contempt of court usually landed him in jail for the remainder of the day. At one time Jack had been confined in jail for three days, and sought retaliation by hitching a yoke of heavy oxen to the stairs leading to the trap door over the jail and drawing it away.

In 1833, Judge John R. Porter, one of the best judges the state had ever had to that date, was fond of card-playing and out of office or court hours used to spend much time at the game. This greatly displeased Isaac Naylor (later Judge Naylor), accordingly, one evening, when the attorneys and judge were playing cards he went to the window of the old school house where they were, and watched them and finally heard Judge Porter say, "I have high, low, jack and the game."

By the time the Judge had fairly seated himself in court the next morning, ready for the trial of a case, the grand jury had found a bill of indictment against the Judge for card playing. The good Judge soon had to vacate the bench and take his seat as a common criminal. The associate judges soon assessed a fine of twenty dollars against him. He paid the fine, adding that "This is only lent."

A few evenings later, the Judge announced that the court and lawyers had been invited out to spend the evening and have a banquet. Naylor had been invited with others of the bar, and when the drink of the evening was passed around it was seen that he was quite fond of wine, so, through a slight of hand on the part of Judge Porter the glass containing Naylor's wine was partly filled, each time round, with strong brandy. Each glass it was stronger, until he was fairly drunk-indeed so much so that he fell to the floor, whereupon Porter and others assisted him to the open air, when they commenced to yell, "Fire, fire, fire," and then "Murder, murder, murder." This brought the whole village out and men came running with abated breath, asking, "Who is killed. What's the matter, etc." The Judge remarked to the crowd, "Oh, nothing, but Naylor is drunk, that's all." Then turning to Naylor, he said: "When you get sober enough, go and inform on me again for card-playing."


[Page 247-248.]

Date: 1/1/1913
Origin: Past and Present of Fountain and Warren Counties Indiana
Author: Thomas A. Clifton, Editor
Record ID: 00001338
Type: Book
Source Archive: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Date Entered: 8/10/2001
Collection: Williamsport-Washington Township Public Library
Entered By: Leslie J. Rice

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