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Almon Mitchell Warner
THE LIFE of a lawyer or jurist is one of toil and continuous labor. It has its high and important responsibilities, as well as conscious satisfaction and pleasure of
duty well performed. The practice of the law is a
continued contest between truth and error, between right and wrong, and our courts form the battlefield. Energetic thought, indomitable perseverance, and varied learning, are indispensable qualities of success. He must understand, in some measure at least, all the arts, professions, and occupations of life. It is well said that fame in the legal profession, like truth in science, admits to its temple none but faithful worshipers. The law is, indeed, a jealous mistress, demanding constant and undivided attention. Realizing these facts at the outset of his career, Judge Almon Mitchell Warner, a well-known attorney and jurist of Ohio, who for a period of nearly forty years has been one of the legal lights of Cincinnati, did not seek any royal road to success, but by close application, profound study, and honorable practice, has sought to advance himself up the ladder of professional success. How well he has succeeded, is shown by the fact that he has been honored with important public trusts, in each of which he has discharged his duties in a manner that has reflected great credit upon himself and to the eminent satisfaction of the people. Thus, for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that he is a gallant veteran of the "grand army" that saved the Union in its direst crisis, his name is eligible to a conspicuous place in the history of the great Buckeye commonwealth.
Judge Warner was born at Plainfield, Hampshire County, Massachusetts, March 6, 1843. He is a son of James and Fidelia (Whiting) Warner. The mother was a native of Plainfield, and in that town the death of the father occurred, in 1891, at the advanced age of ninety-two years, his birth having occurred in 1799. He devoted his earlier life to the manufacture of clothing, but after the birth of his son, Almon M. Warner, followed general agricultural pursuits until his death. These parents each represented sterling old Colonial families, and were noted for their industry, fortitude, hospitality, and honesty.
Judge Warner received his early education in the common and select schools at Willston Seminary, East Hampton, Massachusetts. He had planned on finishing his education in Yale University, but the breaking out of the Civil War caused him to sacrifice personal ambition for his country's welfare, and, although but a boy nineteen years of age, he proved his courage and patriotism by enlisting at Plainfield, Massachusetts, in August, 1862, in Company H, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, this regiment becoming a part of the Sixth Army Corps, commanded by General Sedgwick until he was killed, then by General Wright. The regiment was sent from its home town to Washington, D. C., where it went into camp, but was soon ordered to the front, at Downsville, Maryland. It remained in the Sixth Army Corps throughout the war. It received its first great baptismal fire at Fredericksburg, December 11, 12, 13, 1862. The following summer it took part in the great conflict of Gettysburg, after which it was ordered to New York City to quell the riots and remained there four months, then was ordered to join the Army of the Potomac in Virginia. About this time, Mr. Warner was promoted to first sergeant of Company E, Thirty-seventh Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, and as such fought at the battles of Mine Run and Rappahannock Station, also other minor engagements, the regiment then going into winter quarters at Brandy Station; then followed the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5, 1864, the Thirty-seventh helping dig the trenches and erect fortifications at the beginning of the fight, later fighting under General Grant at Spottsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg, and other engagements. After Petersburg, the Sixth Army Corps was sent on double-quick time to Washington to head off the advance of General Early, and it was during this trip that our subject saw President Lincoln at Fort Stevens. General Early was repelled, the Confederates being pursued by the Sixth Army Corps and other troops. While in Washington during this expedition, the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts was armed with the Spencer seven-shot rifles, the most formidable small arm the world had ever seen up to that time. They chased General Early's army down the Shenandoah Valley until Winchester was reached, September 19, 1864, when the Confederates turned and gave battle, which started out auspiciously for them, but General Sheridan turned the tide and the Southerners were badly defeated. The Thirty-seventh Massachusetts lost about forty per cent. of its number in killed and wounded. Then this regiment did provost guard duty at Winchester until January, 1865, after which it was ordered to the Army of the Potomac in Virginia. During the winter it was in several minor engagements, and on April 2, 1865, the regiment saw some desperate fighting, and, after storming and breaking the Confederate lines, the corps captured the city of Petersburg. It followed the fleeing enemy, who gave battle at Sailors Creek, April 6, in which engagement Mr. Warner was wounded by a minnie ball which shattered his left arm. He was sent to City Point, below Petersburg on the James River, later was removed to Annapolis, Maryland, and placed in the General Hospital, finally to Dale General Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts. He had been promoted for bravery on the field of battle, and was honorably discharged August 28, 1865, as second lieutenant. He was regarded as an efficient, courageous, and trustworthy officer and enjoyed the esteem and admiration alike of his superior officers and his comrades. He was in command of his company most of the time before Petersburg. He was wounded when he gallantly rushed out from the line of battle to seize a Confederate flag. He saw many of the members of his company and regiment perform acts of heroism in different engagements. There was no better regiment in the Federal army than the Thirty-seventh Massachusetts. Mr. Warner took part in eighteen battles
and a number of skirmishes, but he never shrank from his duty no matter how arduous or dangerous, and he was commended for his bravery and honorable services by his commanding officer.
After his military career, Mr. Warner returned home, and on January 1, 1866, went to Albion, New York, and began the study of law in the office of Church and Sawyer, attorneys. He made rapid progress and was admitted to the bar in Buffalo, New York, in 1869, and he engaged in practice in Albion until March, 1870, when he went to Leesburg, Virginia, and practiced there for two years, then went to Huntington, West Virginia, and practiced there two years. In May, 1874, he came to Cincinnati, Ohio, in which city he has since made his home, now owning a commodious residence at 2643 Alms Place, Walnut Hills. He was actively engaged in the practice of his profession until January 7, 1907, when Governor Harris, of Ohio, appointed him judge of the the Court of Insolvency of Hamilton County, and he was later elected to this position, and reelected for another term. Upon retiring from the bench, he formed a partnership under the firm name of Warner, Madoff, and McCauley, with offices in the Provident Bank Building, for the general practice of law, and the partnership was continued successfully.
Judge Warner's ripe legal scholarship is recognized by the members of the Cincinnati bar, and his advice and opinion are frequently sought by attorneys, he being regarded as more of a counsellor and philosopher of jurisprudence than a trial lawyer, although he has always met with pronounced success in the courts. On September 21, 1915, Governor Frank B. Willis, of Ohio, appointed him a judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Hamilton County, to fill the vacancy caused by the death of Judge Wm. L. Dickson. This high honor was not conferred by the Governor until after due deliberation, and it indicates that he regards our subject as a man of rare legal talent and commendable qualities. We quote the following, which appeared in the newspapers of Ohio the day the selection was made, under a Columbus date line:
"In announcing the appointment of Judge Warner to the Common Pleas Bench of Hamilton County, Governor Willis gave out this statement:"
" 'Ordinarily the recommendations of county organizations are followed in making appointments, but in the judiciary I feel justified in making selections upon the consideration of personal qualification and fitness of the candidate, and independently of committee recommendations."
" 'There are but few opportunities left fitting to recognize the Civil War veterans in appointments of the high character of this one. Careful investigation was made of the many candidates for this place. Judge Warner is known universally as a man of high character and ability, distinguished public service, and is satisfactory to all classes of citizens. He is strongly indorsed by the Grand Army of the Republic and the Legion of Honor. He fought in eighteen battles of the Civil War. He has had eight
fears' experience on the bench, where he served to the satisfaction of his constituents and with credit to himself.' "
The "Cincinnati Post," in its issue of about September 21, 1915, has the following to say:
"Governor Willis deserves the congratulations of all good citizens for his appointment of Judge A. M. Warner to the vacant Common Pleas judgeship."
"He is the kind of a Republican party men should be proud of. He is the kind of judge whose presence on the Common Pleas bench will be especially fortunate, in view of the great utility questions the Common Pleas judges will have to consider in 1916. He has never bent the neck to any clique or interest. It is to his credit that he was last year turned down for renomination by the organization to which he never yielded either deference or devotion. His career on the Insolvency Court bench was made especially notable by his injunction against the so-called Public Landing grab."
"In appointing Judge Warner, Governor Willis well said:"
" 'Judge Warner is known universally as a man of high character and ability, distinguished public service, and is satisfactory to all classes of citizens.'"
"In honoring A. M. Warner, Governor Willis honored himself."
Judge Warner was married October 12, 1870, to Elizabeth H. Densmore, a daughter of Dennis and Christina Densmore, who lived on a farm near Albion, New York, where Mrs. Warner grew to womanhood and was educated. She was a woman of beautiful attributes, and her encouragement and sympathy were responsible in no uncertain measure for our subject's merited success in his chosen vocation. She was called to her eternal rest March 5, 1911. The union of the judge and wife was blessed by the birth of two children: Maude Loraine Warner, single, was a Vassar College graduate and is successfully practicing osteopathy in Cincinnati; Carrie Elizabeth Warner is also unmarried and resides with her father at home; she, too, was given collegiate educational advantages. The judge had a brother, James Emerson Warner, now deceased; also four sisters, all of whom have passed away but one, Sarah W. Warner, who has remained unmarried and makes her home in Cincinnati.
Politically, the judge is a Republican, and was very active and influential in political matters up to the time of assuming the duties of judge. He has worked for clean politics and reliable, honest men for the various public offices. Fraternally, he is a member of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows, and is a thirty-second degree Mason, belonging to the Scottish Rite. He is an honorary member of the Junior Order of American Mechanics. He belongs to the Grand Army of the Republic, being past commander of Post No. 67 at Cincinnati, and he is also past department commander of Ohio, and at this writing he is patriotic instructor of his post. He has long been one of the most influential and active Grand Army men in the State.
Judge Warner is a man of imposing personal presence, his fine physique is still well preserved for he has been a man of careful habits. His mind is keener and more capable of high-grade service to mankind than perhaps ever before. Because of right thinking and clean living, time has refused to dim his brilliant intellect. He has become a profound scholar, not only of the law but in a general way, although he did not get to gratify his early ambition to go through college. He has become a fine type of the successfully self-educated and self-made man. He has a large and carefully selected library, and is particularly fond of reading Shakespeare and Scott. He is also a great reader of the Bible and is exceptionally well versed in the Scriptures. He can quote entire chapters and interpret Holy Writ in a manner that would do justice to a bishop who had spent his life as a student and expounder of theology. He is also very fond of the outdoors and is a deep student of nature. He attributes his splendid health in his old age to the fact that he has lived as close to nature as possible and led a strictly temperate life. He has set a worthy example before the young men of his city in this respect. The city also owes him a debt of gratitude for his advocacy of clean politics. He is a bitter enemy of the crooks and the unscrupulous, who too often rise to positions of public trust. His exemplary habits, his probity of character and pleasant social ways have won for him the deepest respect and esteem where he is familiarly known. He is a most companionable gentleman. There are, we believe, few men who have a higher appreciation or set a greater value upon the friendship of those he respects, trusts, and in whom he confides, than Judge Almon M. Warner.
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