JUDGE SAMUEL E. PERKINS.
Samuel E. Perkins was born in Brattleboro, Vt., on the 6th of December, 1811. He was left without parents or property when five years old, and was adopted into the family of William Baker, a respectable farmer of Couway, Mass., with whom he lived and labored till he was twenty-one. During this period, by the aid of three months’ schooling a year in the State free schools during the winter months, and by devoting rainy days and evenings to books, he secured himself a good English education and made a beginning in the study of the dead languages.
After he had reached his majority he pursued his studies in different schools, working mornings and evenings and during vacations to raise money for tuition and support. The last year of this course of studies was spent in the Yates County Academy, New York, of which Seymour B. Gookins, a brother of Judge Gookins, of Terre Haute, was Principal. Sometime about 1834 he attended the Fellenburg Academy at Shelburn, Mass. After this he studied law in Penn Yan, N. Y., writing in law offices for his board and tuition.
In the fall of 1836 he came alone on foot to Indiana. He was not acquainted with any one in the State. He arrived at Richmond and spent the winter reading law in the office of Judge Borden. In the following spring he was admitted to the bar at Centreville, the county seat of Wayne County, but opened his office in Richmond. He became editor of the Jeffersonian, a lately established Democratic paper. He soon found himself in this plaee in the midst of a large and lucrative practice.
In 1843 he was appointed Prosecuting Attorney by Governor Whitcomb for that judicial district, and in 1844 was one of the electors who gave the vote of the State to Polk. In 1841 he was nominated by Governor Whitcomb to a seat on the Supreme Bench, but was not confirmed. The same thing occurred the following year. On the adjournment of the Legislature Judge Perkins received from the Governor the appointment for one year to the Supreme Bench. On the re-election of Governor Whitcomb Judge Perkins was renominated and his nomination was confirmed by the Senate. When called to the Supreme Bench he was but thirty-four years old.
While on the Supreme Bench he prepared the Indiana Digest, a volume of over 800 pages, requiring great research, and one then of great use to and highly esteemed by the Indiana bar. In the following year he prepared ” The Indiana Practice,” in size and appearance like the “Digest.” In 1852 he was elected and in 1858 reelected to the Supreme Bench, and again in 1876. In 1857 he received the appointment of Professor of Law in the Northwestern (now Butler) University, and in 1870 was chosen Professor of Law in the Indiana University, which post he occupied till 1872.
Judge Perkins was a man of large intellect and endowments. He was a profound thinker, a bold, incisive and scholarly writer, and an enlightened and impartial Judge. Judge Perkins was married twice, first in 1838 to a daughter of Joseph Pyle, of Richmond, Ind. His second wife was also a daughter of Joseph Pyle.
Judge Perkins died at the close of the year 1880.Source: Indiana University; (ITS HISTORY FROM 1820, WHEN FOUNDED, TO 1890) Biographical Sketches of Its Presidents, Professors and Graduates, and a List of Its Students from 1820 to 1887. THEOPHILUS A. WYLIE, INDIANAPOLIS: Wm. B. Burford, Lithographer, Printer and Binder; 1890
Judge Samuel E. Perkins
Judge Samuel E. Perkins. Perkins is one of the names most suggestive of the honorable traditions and achievements of the Indiana bar, to which the services of three generations have been given.
First in time, and because of his position as a justice of the Supreme Court perhaps most widely known, was Judge Samuel E. Perkins, whose life bulked large in the affairs of Indiana during the middle decades of the last century. He was born at Brattleboro, Vermont, December 6, 1811, the second son of John Trumbull and Catherine (Willard) Perkins, both of whom were natives of Hartford, Connecticut. His father was also a lawyer, but had little opportunity to influence the mind of his son, who was only five years old when the father died.
Thereafter until he was twenty-one Judge Perkins lived on the farm of William Baker near Conway, Massachusetts. The liberal education of his mature life was the result of studies largely self-directed and from schooling the expenses of which he had paid by teaching and other employment. He read law in the office of Thomas J. Nevius at Penn Yan, New York, and in 1836, at the age of twenty-five, started west from Buffalo on foot to seek a location. Eighty years ago there were few spots in the Middle “West which had outgrown the spirit and habits of pioneer days. It was in one of the thriftier towns of Indiana, Richmond, that Judge Perkins made his first location. The winter following he did office work for his board, and in the spring of 1837, after examination, was admitted to the bar.
While his entrance into the profession as into this state was attended by modest circumstances, his sterling abilities soon manifested themselves and his practice was as large and important as almost any of his contemporaries enjoyed. Incidentally he became interested in journalism, and at one time was editor and publisher of the Jeffersonian. By appointment of Governor Whitcomb he became prosecuting attorney of the Sixth Judicial District in 1843. In 1844 he was one of the electors who cast the vote of Indiana for James K. Polk.
In 1844 and again in 1845 he was appointed by Governor Whitcomb to a seat on the Supreme bench of Indiana. Neither appointment was confirmed, but during adjournment of the Legislature he was once more appointed, and served without confirmation one year. He was extremely young for such honors and responsibilities, being only thirty-four when he went on the bench. After a year he was renomi- nated for the bench, and the senate confirmed him by a two-thirds vote. Under the new constitution the office of supreme judge became elective, and he was chosen by popular ballot in 1852 and in 1858. Altogether his services to the Supreme Court of Indiana covered nineteen vital and progressive years in the state’s life. He retired from the bench in 1864.
In the meantime, in 1857, he had become professor of law in Northwestern Christian University, now Butler College, and from 1870 to 1872 held a similar office in the Indiana State University at Bloomington. As a contributor to legal literature he prepared “Indiana Digest” in 1858, and “Indiana Practice” in 1859. In 1868 he turned from private practice to assume the heavy and taxing responsibilities of editing the Indianapolis Herald, formerly and afterwards the Sentinel. In 1872 Governor Baker appointed him to fill a vacancy on the Superior bench in Marion County, and in 1874 he was elected to this office without opposition. Then in 1876, at the age of sixty-five, he was again elected a judge of the Supreme Court, and he was a member of that court when he was called to the Great Assize on December 17, 1879. His fellow justices prepared an appreciation and estimate of his work and character which is found in the Sixty-eighth Indiana Reports. All that was said of him was well deserved. He was a great lawyer, a great jurist and a great man.
Judge Perkins married in 1838 Amanda J. Pyle, daughter of Joseph Pyle, of Richmond, Indiana. Ten children were born to them.
The oldest son, Samuel E. Perkins II, was born at Richmond September 2, 1846. The year following his birth his parents moved to Indianapolis in order that his father might attend to his duties as Supreme judge. In the capital city he spent his boyhood and youth, finishing his schooling in Northwestern Christian University, now Butler College. Under his father he guided his mind in its first acquisition of legal knowledge, and subsequently was a student in the law school founded by Judge Perkins and Hon. Joseph E. McDonald.
He and his father, during the few years when the latter was not on the bench, were actively associated in practice, but upon the death of Judge Perkins his son sought no further opportunities to build up his clientage and found his time well taken up by managing the various property interests he had acquired. He was more widely known as a counsellor than as a court practitioner. He had a thorough knowledge of the law and was wise in its application. Perhaps his chief characteristics were his industry and his love of home. He was universally respected for his upright life and for the general good he did in the community. He had a well rounded and useful life, though he did not attain the age of three score and ten. He died April 8, 1915.
On July 11, 1877, he married Susan Elizabeth Hatch. She is still living in Indianapolis, and her marked literary talents have brought her much esteem in literary circles. She is the mother of two sons, Samuel E. and Volney. The latter died in 1900, while a student at Purdue University.
Samuel E. Perkins III, whose secure position in the Indianapolis bar serves to connect the present with the older generation distinguished by his grandfather, was born at Indianapolis May 8, 1878. After attending private and grade schools in Indianapolis he entered Wabash College, from which he graduated Bachelor of Arts in 1900. The Indiana Law School gave him his LL.B. degree in 1902, and since that year he has been steadily winning the honors of his chosen profession.
On September 11, 1901, he married Mary F. Milford at Crawfordsville. They have two children, a daughter Susan L., fifteen years of age, and the son aged ten bears the name Samuel E. IV and represents the fourth generation of this honored name and family in Indiana.
Source: Indiana and Indianans-Vol. III ~ 1919