JUDGE CHARLES D. LEGGETT.
Few lawyers have made a more lasting impression upon the bar of the state, both for legal ability of a high order,
or for the individuality of a personal character which impresses itself upon a community than has Judge Charles
D. Leggett, now practicing as a member of the firm of Leggett & McKemey. A large law practice is accorded him
in recognition of his ability, which enables him to successfully cope with the intricate problems of the law and
by reason of clear analysis and keen insight to reach a logical conclusion. He has spent almost his entire life
in Jefferson county, although his birth occurred in Carrollton, Carroll county, Ohio. October 8, 1849, his parents
being Richard H. and Beersheba (Viers) Leggett. The father was for many years one of the enterprising and prominent
citizens of Fairfield, to which city he removed with his family in 1855. He was born in Washington county, Pennsylvania,
March 25, 1811, and was a son of Jesse and Mary (Cheek) Leggett. He came of English ancestry in the paternal line,
the family having been founded in America during colonial days by representatives of the name who settled in Maryland.
Richard H. Leggett was a little lad of six years when he accompanied his parents to Carroll county, Ohio, and to
the common school system of that district he was indebted for the educational privileges he enjoyed. Early in his
business career he engaged in merchandising and subsequently became proprietor of a hotel in Ohio. When the country
became involved in war with Mexico he put aside all business and personal considerations to espouse the American
cause and raised a regiment and was commissioned its colonel. The troops, however, were never called out for active
duty on account of the termination of the war.
While living in Ohio, Richard H. Leggett was married in Jefferson county, on the 25th of April, 1833, to Miss Beersheba
Viers, who was born at Island Creek, that county, April 29, 1815, her parents being Elisha W. and Margaret (Ferrell)
Viers. Her father, who was of English descent, was born in Montgomery county, Maryland, while her mother, who came
of Irish parentage, was a native of Virginia. Mr. and Mrs. Leggett began their domestic life in Ohio; there they
retained their residence until 1855, and then came to Fairfield, Iowa. For eighteen years he had been engaged in
the conduct of a hotel in Carrollton, Ohio, and upon his arrival in Jefferson county, Iowa, opened a hotel in Fairfield,
remaining for a considerable period the proprietor of a popular hostelry known as the Leggett House. This brought
him a wide acquaintance and his genial manner and personal worth gained him the warm friendship of the majority
of those with whom he came in contact. His early political allegiance was given to the deomcratic party but when
Fort Sumter was fired on he joined the republican party and continued one of its stanch supporters until his demise.
His fraternal relations were with Clinton Lodge, No. 15, A. F. & A. M. and his wife was a member of the Presbyterian
church, which she joined in 1858. The death of Mr. Leggett occurred September 8, 1884, and his wife passed away
October 23, 1892. In their family were nine children, of whom three died in childhood, while two sons and four
daughters reached adult age. These are: Samantha, the wife of Rev. John Huchuly; Ella, who became the wife of Dr.
Thomas Smith, of New Philadelphia, Ohio, and died March 15, 1857; James Milton, who wedded Jessie Coulter, and
died in Chicago, April 15, 1890; Perihelia, the wife of George W. Phelps, of Fairfield; Charles D., whose name
introduces this review; and Frank E., the wife of Charles Whiting, of Aradell, New Jersey.
In taking up the personal history of Charles D. Leggett we present to our readers the record of one who is widely
known in Jefferson county, having for fifty six years made his home within its borders. He was a lad of six summers
when the family came to Iowa and in the schools of Fairfield he pursued his early education, which was supplemented
by study in Griswold College, Davenport, and a course in Kenyon College, at Gambier, Ohio, where he was graduated
in 1869 at the head of his class. A review of the broad field of business in its agricultural, commercial and professional
departments, led him to decide upon the practice of law as his life work and he therefore began reading with the
Hon. D. P. Stubbs, of Fairfield, as his preceptor. He thoroughly acquainted himself with Kent, Blackstone and other
commentaries and after careful preparation successfully passed the examination that admitted him to the bar on
the 5th of January, 1872. Soon afterward he was admitted to practice in the United States circuit and supreme courts
and on the day of his admission to the Iowa bar he formed a partnership with his former preceptor, D. P. Stubbs,
under the firm name of Stubbs & Leggett. For five years he practiced in that connection and then on the dissolution
of the firm was joined in a partnership relation by Jacob S. McKemey. They were associated under the firm name
of Leggett & McKemey until the senior partner was elected to the bench of the second judicial district in 1886.
He served for one term and his course was distinguished by high legal ability. His opinions were exceptionally
free from all bias. His thorough legal learning and wide experience in the courts, the patient care with which
he ascertained all the facts bearing upon every case which came before him, gave his decisions a solidity and exhaustiveness
to which no members of the bar could take exception. Upon his retirement on the expiration of the four years' term
he resumed his former partnership relation and the firm of Leggett & McKemey remains as one of the most prominent
in the annals of Iowa's jurisprudence. Judge Leggett has argued many cases and lost but few. No one better knows
the necessity for thorough preparation and no one more carefully prepares his cases than he. His course in the
court room is characterized by a calmness and dignity that indicate reserve strength. He is always courteous and
deferential toward the court, kind and forebearing toward his adversaries and his handling of a case is always
full, comprehensive and accurate, while his analysis of the facts is clear and exhaustive.
On the 2d of September, 1885, was celebrated the marriage of Judge Leggett and Miss Beatrice Cunningham, of Centerville,
Iowa, a daughter of P. F. Cunningham. She was born in Centerville and is a graduate of Parsons College, at Fairfield.
The children of this marriage are: Richard C., born October 8, 1886; Ruth, born March 21, 1889; George P., born
January 19, 1893; and Elizabeth, born January 21, 1897. Judge Leggett has always given his political allegiance
to the republican party but has never sought office outside the strict path of his profession, preferring to concentrate
his energies upon the duties that come to him as a member of the bar. His devotion to his clients' interests is
proverbial and his position in the public regard is indicated in the fact that his name is always found high on
the list of the leading citizens of Jefferson county.
History of Jefferson County, Iowa
A Record of Settlement, Organizatin,
Progress and Achievement
BY: Charles J. Fulton
The S. J. Clarke Publishing Co.
Jefferson County, IA
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