27 July 2009

And how was your day at work, dear?

Want to hear a story about an ancestor of mine? What if I promise it will make you laugh? Okay, here it goes.

This is Austin Oliver Sexton. He was one of the younger brothers of my third-great grandmother, Mary Ann (Sexton) Ennis. Austin was born 15 August 1852 in Chicago. In 1874 he passed the bar exam and began practicing law with Mary Ann's husband, James Ennis. Some time later Austin branched off on his own and no longer practiced law with James.

One time in 1885, Austin got into a fistfight in court with another lawyer because the other lawyer said he was too busy to move a court date. Fortunately for all of us, the Chicago Tribune printed a really splendid account of the fight:
You're a - - liar," yelled the German jurist. Sexton leaped for him, took his head under his arm, and punished the German badly.

Eppstein roared like a sea-calf and begged for mercy, and finally Sexton let him go. But by this time Eppstein was mad - he was very mad. He sent Sexton flying over tables and chairs; at last clinched with him and for a few moments hard blows and harder words were as thick as autumn leaves in Vallombrosa. By this time Justice White, who had been sent for to hear the motion for a continuance, arrived, and with him was Constable Glistropp, who soon separated the warring lawyers.

"Your Honor," gasped Eppstein, as he wiped his bloody face, "I move vor a gontinuance of five minutes vile I vash up."
As Eppstein moved off Sexton said: "Eppstein, can't you lend me a collor-butto?"

"Certainly - won't you come down and take a drink?"

The two went down and cemented their friendship with a glass of Pilsener, and as soon as Eppstein's dislocated shoulder is set and Sexton's left eye is pried open they will probably be as good as friends of yore.*

Now, aren't you glad I shared? Two things really strike me in this: (1) the poking fun of Eppstein's accent, and (2) the fact that Austin later went on to hold public office multiple times.



(Also, please excuse the poor quality photo. It was printed from a microfilm of a newspaper then scanned as a jpeg. I really need to go back and get digital images from the microfilms).

*Source: "A Legal Tangle," Chicago Tribune, 1 August 1885, p. 15.


7 comments:

allicat4 said...

LOL. You win the prize for the best ancestral article....ever! How does one roar like a sea calf?? I think I'll try to find a video of that on youtube!

John said...

Roar like a sea calf made me laugh too.

Science Teacher Mommy said...

What I love is that the newspaper wrote the story like that (so much more colorful than modern journalism) and that they went for a drink later. Men!

John said...

I just read it again, it reminds me of our local police blotter that is in the weekly paper.

Jenny said...

Echo the above comments... and I love that the reporter was clever enough to follow the two rapscallions down for their after-brawl drink. I must listen to the roar of a sea lion, and I wonder how they could make reference to such a thing in land-locked Chicago? I'm feeling the need to know more about Vallombrosa. Funny!

Angela Noelle said...

I agree with Science Teacher Mommy - I wish we could still read articles written in this fashion!

Angela Noelle said...
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