Putnam County

JUDGE GEORGE W. STIPP

judge of the Ninth Illinois circuit, including the counties of Will, Grundy, La Salle and Bureau, is justly numbered among the honored pioneers and leading citizens of Princeton, where he has made his home for over forty years. He has been prominently identified with her business interests as a member of the legal profession, and is now serving his eighteenth year as circuit judge. His is an honorable record of a conscientious man, who by his upright life has won the confidence of all with whom he has come in contact.

The judge was born in Champaign county, Ohio, March 2, 1818, and is a son of Peter and Elizabeth (Harrison) Stipp, the former born on the Potomac, near Sheppardstown, Mrginia, and the latter near Cynthiana, Kentucky. On the paternal side he is of German extraction, while his grandfather Harrison was of English or Scotch descent, and the latter's wife, who was a Crocket, was of Irish lineage. Bv occupation the father of the judge was a farmer, but during his later years preached for the Newlight branch of the Christian church. His death occurred in Fulton county, Illinois, at the age of fifty-seven years, being instantly killed by a runaway team. The mother of our subject, who was a member of the same church, died at the age of thirty years. From Virginia her family had moved to Kentucky, and later to Champaign county, Ohio, where the parents of the judge were married. The maternal grandmother, Martha Harrison, emigrated to Dubuque, Iowa, where she became well known and there died at the age of eighty-four years, in the faith of the Newlight church. Judge Stipp is one of a family of seven children, four of whom died in early life, but the other three are still living. His brother, James, of Pratt, Kansas, is the oldest. In 1837 he settled in Fulton county, Illinois, making the trip from Urbana, Ohio, on horse back, and has now reached his eightieth year. The sister, Mrs. Martha Jane Everett, a widow lady, resides in Dubuque, Iowa.

The early education of our subject was largely obtained under the guidance of his father, who engaged in teaching during his early days, and was quite proficient in mathematics and grammar, leaving a manuscript for an English grammar, which would have been published had it not been for his sudden death. For eighteen months the judge also attended school in a primitive log school house. He began his business career as a farm hand, receiving four dollars per month, and was thus employed for a few months, after which he learned the coopers' trade, working at the same until he was fourteen. For eight years he then engaged in clerking in Bellefontaine, and from twenty-two until thirty years of age engaged in teaching school and reading law.

Judge Stipp has a military record of which he may justly be proud. In 1845 he came to Illinois, and after a severe illness enlisted for service in the [Mexican war, becoming first lieutenant of Company K, Fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry, under Captain Lewis W. Ross and Colonel Ed. D. Baker, who was killed at Ball's Bluff. He was taken ill at New Orleans and was sent to Camp Belknap, on the Rio Grande, in Texas. On receiving an honorable discharge he returned to his home in Ohio, in the fall of 1846. He was given a land warrant and the bounty accorded the soldiers in that day. For four months he engaged in teaching at West Liberty, Ohio, after which he went to Bellefontaine, where he studied law with William Lawrence until October, 1847, when he entered a law school at Cincinnati.

In the spring of 1848 Judge Stipp located at Canton, Fulton county, Illinois, where he was admitted to the bar, one of his examiners being Hon. Richard Yates. In that city he engaged in practice until the following fall, when he went to Ellisville, Illinois, and for three years was in partnership with his brother in the mercantile business. In 1851 he first came to Princeton, but the same year went to Lewiston, where he engaged in practice with Lewis Ross until the fall of 1853, when he permanently located at Princeton, for five years being in partnership with Joseph I. Taylor. In February, 1857, he was elected state's attorney for one year for Bureau, Marshall and Putnam counties. Bureau was then attached to the La Salle circuit and Woodford added to the other. He refused to accept the office longer and engaged in general practice in Bureau and surrounding counties until his election to the judgeship of the ninth judicial circuit in 1879, which important position he has since creditably filled, his decisions being impartial, giving general satisfaction and seldom reversed by the higher courts.

At one time Judge Stipp had served as a lieutenant in the Ohio militia, and when the late Civil war broke out he raised a company, which left Princeton September 8, 1861, going to the front as Company B in a battalion called the Yates Sharp Shooters, of which he was captain. Being joined by other companies it became a part of the Sixty-fourth Illinois Volunteer Infantry. In November, 1862, Captain Stipp was promoted to major, but was forced to resign soon afterward on account of impaired health brought on by his arduous service, and for one year was quite ill.

On the 28th of May, 1849, Judge Stipp married Miss Louisa C. Wolf, who was born March 23, 1833, and is a daughter of Truman and Mercy (Perry) Wolf. Ten children have been born of this union, all yet living, namely: Elizabeth M., wife of William Kitterman, a farmer of Bureau county; Dr. James H., of Putnam, Illinois, who married Harriet Barnhardt; Peter C, who married Harriet Lawrence, and resides in Chicago; William W., an attorney of Princeton; Jessie May, wife of George Kitterman, a farmer of Bureau county; George M., an attorney of Princeton, who married Rose Q. Clark; Jennie Louisa C, wife of Adelbert Hamrick, a farmer of Bureau county; Richard C, a blacksmith of Princeton, and David C, a successful teacher of Bureau county. The wife and mother is an earnest member of the Presbyterian church, and socially the judge belongs to the blue lodge and chapter of the Masonic order and the Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

As an advocate Judge Stipp took front rank and was remarkably successful in the trial of causes. In early life he took to public speaking, especially in political campaigns, and was called upon where Lincoln, Douglas, Lovejoy, Browning, were the orators. He is a forcible, eloquent and attractive speaker, and always held the attention of his audience.

Judge Stipp was born and brought up a whig of the Henry Clay school, but upon the dissolution of that party he supported the republican party up to the spring of i860. During the campaign of that year he became convinced that the only hope of peace between the North and South was the election of Stephen A. Douglas, whom he supported as the compromise candidate for the Presidency. Since then he has supported the democratic ticket, except in the campaign of 1876, when he voted for Peter Cooper. In the estimation of the judge Mr. Cooper was an honest, capable man, and a sound democrat, and of his vote for him he is still proud.

The judge was pleased with the nomination of Mr. Bryan and voted for him at the late presidential election.

Judge Stipp always held that the judiciary should be disconnected from partisan politics, and was three times elected as an independent candidate in a republican circuit. The judge is a man of dignified bearing, gentle and winning in manners and popular with the people.

Source: The Biographical Record of Bureau, Marshall and Putnam Counties, Illinois  published in 1896, page 180.


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