Judge John Brownlee born 1816

The story of Judge John Brownlee of Indiana, USA


Judge John Brownlee, the eldest of four children of James and Catherine (Ewing) Brownlee, was born in Fayette County, Indiana, on the 9th day of June 1816. His father was a native of Pennsylvania, and of Scotch-Irish (sic) descent. He was conspicuous in the early history of Indiana; as a member of the first Constitutional Convention, form the County of Franklin, and a Representative in the Legislature for four terms thereafter; he helped frame the original constitution and organize Indiana. At his death, in 1828, he was Associate Judge of the Fayette County Circuit Court. His wife, also of Scottish descent, was a native of North Carolina, whence she removed with her parents to Indiana Territory when a quite a child. John Brownlee received in the subscription schools and the seminary of Fayette County a good education. The profession of the law had more charms for him than any other, and accordingly, in 1834, he entered the office of Samuel W. Parker, of Connersville, and two years later was admitted to the bar. It was soon observed that his mind was specially adapted to the mastery of legal principles, for such was his progress that when four years more had expired, he was licensed in 1840 by Judges Blackford, Dewey and Sullivan, to practice before the Supreme Court of Indiana. Two years previous to this event, in 1838, Mr. Brownlee removed to Marion. There were then only 300 voters in the county, but from the first he had a good and steadily increasing practice. In 1839 he was elected Prosecuting Attorney for the Eleventh Circuit, composed of the counties of Randolph, Jay, Blackford, Adams, Wells, Grant and Delaware, and served in that office a term of two years. Mr. Brownlee continued the regular duties of his profession until 1854, when he was appointed Judge of the Judicial Circuit embracing the counties of Cass, Carroll, Miami, Wabash, Huntington and grant, to fill the un-expired term of Judge John U. Pettitt, and in this capacity served one year and a half. He ahs held minor official positions in municipal and educational affairs. His attention has been devoted in a considerable degree to public improvements, among which may be mentioned the building of railroads and turnpikes, and a system of drainage of great value to the agricultural interests of the county. Judge Brownlee joined the Masonic fraternity at the age of twenty-one; has been a Master of Marion Lodge, and is now a member of Marion Chapter. He formerly entertained those political opinions so ably represented by Douglas, but at the beginning of the Civil War identified himself with the Republican Party, to which he still adheres. He is not, in the strict sense of the term, a partisan, but in local affairs votes for the most eligible candidate. He was a great admirer of the late Thomas A. Hendricks, with whom he was on terms of the warmest personal friendship. Judge Brownlee has been twice married, the first time, in 1839, to Miss Mary Goldthwait, of Ohio, who died in the spring of 1843, leaving one daughter - Margaret - wife of Gilbert Wilson. In October 1845, he married Miss Mary L. Weeks, of Vermont, a union which has been blessed with the birth of six children, viz: Hiram, Laura (Wife of E. S. Lenfesty), Charles, Robbie, Frank and Minnie. Judge Brownlee is the oldest lawyer in Grant County, and has practiced in Marion for a period of forty years. He has been a diligent student of law, and thus his mind has become richly stored with legal knowledge, enabling him to excel as a counselor and a jurist, and to acquit himself in the discharge of every professional duty. He has acted the part of the truly wise in pursuing his way without ostentation, and preferring truth and right to deceit and injustice, however expedient and profitable the latter may appear.

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