University Archives


U.S. S. Court Justices Brewer and Miller 29 Docs, 75 pp. Fabulous Archive Re: Railroad Case in Midwest 1883-1900

This intriguing archive involving a legal case between a Kansas county and a Chicago railroad includes an affidavit by Supreme Court Associate Justice David J. Brewer. His fellow Associate Justice Samuel F. Miller heard the case in the U.S. Circuit Court in Missouri. When the railroad incorporated other railroads in Missouri and Iowa, Leavenworth County Commissioners sued to have the court appoint a receiver to pay the stockholders, of which Leavenworth County was one. The County Commissioners lost in the U.S. Circuit Court but appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which upheld the lower court’s ruling in 1890.

DAVID J. BREWER and SAMUEL F. MILLER. Archive of 29 documents, 1883-1900, relating to railroads in the Midwest. Total of 75 pp., four letters and an affidavit signed by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice David J. Brewer, and one letter signed by U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel F. Miller. Some toning and edge tears to some documents; most very good.

Highlights and Excerpts:

David J. Brewer, Autograph Letter Signed, to Thomas F. Withrow, June 16, 1885:

“Enclosed find aff’t as requested. If it does not cover all points desired, please suggest.
“Can you send me a trip pass for my wife & daughter from here to Chicago & return good for 60 or 90 days. In this I do not wish the road to do anything outside its ordinary custom.... So while I don’t go into the ‘Pass business’ & don’t wish any co. to deviate in the least from its ordinary practice, yet if the co. is issuing under circumstances named I should be thankful for the favor.”
Thomas F. Withrow (1833-1893) was the general solicitor for the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific Railroad Company from 1873 until his death.

Affidavit of David J. Brewer, Autograph Document Signed, June 16, 1885:
“David J. Brewer being duly sworn deposes & says that during the years 1869 & 1870 he was the county attorney of Leavenworth County, that during a part or all of the same time George R. Hines was a member of the Board of County Commissioners of said county, that while acting as county att’y (but at what particular time I am unable to state) he was requested by the County Commissioners to go with Mr Hines to Chicago to look after the interest of the county in the Chicago & Southwestern R. R. Co., that with Mr Hines he did go to Chicago,...that at that time the parties were discussing the terms of a contract for the construction of said road or at least the greater portion of it & the terms of the proposed contract were frequently spoken of to affiant.”

David J. Brewer, Typed Letter Signed, to Robert Mather, February 8, 1900:
“I have a family pass over your road for the year 1900, as in prior years. My married daughter has been for some years a member of my family, living with me constantly, but her name is not Brewer, and I do not wish her to have any discussion with the conductors as to her right to use the pass.”

Samuel F. Miller, Autograph Letter Signed, to James C. Huchins, May 30, 1886:
“I have the [?] record or abstract of the case Muller & others v [Dows?] and others with a stipulation secured by counsel that it was to be used in the case of [Leavenworth?] [Coms?] v the N. C. P. & R Co. before me. I shall be in Chicago this day (Sunday) week and will bring it with me.”

Numerous pleading documents and copied pieces of evidence from the case of Board of County Commissioners of the County of Leavenworth v. The Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railway Company et al. in the U.S. Circuit Court for the Western District of Missouri.

The Leavenworth County Commissioners filed the case in the U.S. Circuit Court for the Western District of Missouri in 1882, asking that a receiver take charge of the Chicago, Rock Island, and Pacific Railway and the disbursement of assets to stockholders. U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Samuel F. Miller dismissed the case, and the Leavenworth County Commissioners appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Thomas F. Withrow and M. A. Low represented the railroad in the appeal. In April 1890, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the circuit court decision, but Associate Justice Brewer did not sit in the case or take any part in the court’s decision.

David J. Brewer (1837-1910) was born to missionaries in the Ottoman Empire. His uncle and future Supreme Court Justice Stephen J. Field, was living with the family at the time. His family returned to the United States in 1838 and settled in Connecticut. He attended Wesleyan University and graduated from Yale College in 1856. After reading law in the office of his uncle David Dudley Field, Brewer attended Albany Law School and graduated in 1858. He settled in Kansas and became a judge there by 1861. After serving on the Kansas Supreme Court from 1870 to 1884, President Chester Arthur appointed Brewer to the U.S. Circuit Court for the Eighth Circuit. Five years later, President Benjamin Harrison appointed Brewer to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he joined his uncle Stephen J. Field. Brewer served on the court until his death twenty years later. A moderate conservative, Brewer was an active member of the Court, writing many unanimous, concurring, and dissenting opinions.

Samuel Freeman Miller (1816-1890) was born in Kentucky and graduated with a medical degree from Transylvania University in 1838. While practicing medicine, he studied law and gained admission to the bar in 1847. In 1850, he moved to Iowa, where he freed his few slaves and became active in politics. President Abraham Lincoln appointed Miller to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1862. He had such a high reputation that the U.S. Senate confirmed him only a half hour after receiving notice of his nomination. Miller served on the Court until his death. During his 28-year tenure, Miller wrote 616 opinions, more than any other justice in the history of the Court.

From the famous Supreme Court collection of Scott Petersen.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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