Judges topic at Cornerstone Genealogical
Judge Farley Toothman, guest speaker at the August meeting of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society, holds a picture of the present day courthouse and the St. Pancras Church in London, England, the latter being the archetype of the present courthouse.
WAYNESBURG – At the August meeting of the Cornerstone Genealogical Society, Program Chairman Marilyn Eichenlaub introduced Judge Farley Toothman, who walked up with picture in hand.
The picture showed today’s courthouse and St. Pancras Church in London, England, which is the architecture style of the present day courthouse.
Toothman began by explaining that in Courtroom 1, there are 11 portraits of Greene County Judges. In 1955, the Greene County Bar Association held a dedication program for the portraits of these judges. During the jury selection process, which can take some time, Toothman regales his courtroom with the history of these judges.
On June 12, 1895, Greene County became the 13th Judicial District and separated from Fayette County. There was a time when Washington, Greene and Fayette counties were all together as one judicial district, said Toothman. At this time, Pennsylvania Governor Daniel Hastings appointed Allen P. Dickey to serve as judge until the first Monday of 1896.
At the general election in 1895, Remembrance L. Crawford was elected judge.
William Nalitz was the first judge elected to serve as the second judge in the Court of Common Pleas. He presides over most of the civil cases and some criminal cases.
Judge H. Terry Grimes is presently Senior Judge. He graduated from California University and Ohio Northern University Pettit Law School. He served as president judge from 1986 to 2009.
Born in Clarksburg, W.Va., Judge Glenn Toothman Jr. attended Potomac State for two years then went to Hampden Sydney College, Va., finishing at Washington & Lee Law School, Lexington, Va. He served as president judge from from 1966 to 1986. He was instrumental in preserving the Greene County Log courthouse, according to Toothman.
Judge John I. Hook served as president judge from 1946 to 1966. He was president of Greene County Bar Association, director of the First National Bank and coached the Waynesburg High School basketball team.
A jury room and living arrangements were built onto the courthouse during the term of Challen Waychoff, who served from 1936 to 1946.
The first elected Republican judge was Judge Albert Harwood Sayers, who also served as district attorney from 1926 to 1936.
Judge Joseph Warren Ray, a graduate of Waynesburg College, was elected in 1916 and served 10 years. He was a member of the 51st Congress and a founding member of the Greene County Historical Society.
When he was 12 years old, Judge James Inghram entered Waynesburg College, graduating in 1859. In 1863, he was admitted to the Greene County Bar and practiced law with J.A.J. Buchanan and Judge James Lindsey. In 1895, he ran as an Independent, but lost in the primary to Remembrance Crawford. He was elected in 1905 and served until 1916. He died in 1927.
From 1896 till 1906, Crawford served as president judge. He was a member of the Citizens National Bank board and Waynesburg College trustees.
The only judge to serve six months was Allen Parkinson Dickey, who died in office in 1896.
Chief Justice of the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court, Stephen Leslie Mestrezat, was the only person born in Greene County to achieve this honor. He graduated from Waynesburg College in 1869 and graduated from Washington & Lee University. Robert E. Lee was president of the university while Mestrezat attended there. He became friends with Lee and eventually served as a pall bearer for Lee’s funeral. He only served a short term as judge as he was elected to the Supreme Court while in office.
Greene County had one judge who was impeached. He was Judge Alexander Addison, who served from 1791 to 1803.
The next meeting of Cornerstone Genealogical Society will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 10 with Lynn Gough of California, with the “Jefferson Gold Rush Company.”