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Crawford County

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History of Crawford County, Pa 1885  Read it on line at Free trial
Our county and its people : a historical and memorial record of Crawford County, Pa Read it on line at Free trial
Directory of Crawford County, Pa. for 1871-72 Read it at Free trial
Titusville and Meadville cities and Crawford County directory, 1897-98 Read it on line at Free trial
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Hon. Pearson Church    

Hon. Pearson Church,  Engraving from the Centennial edition of the Daily Tribune-Republican, 1888. Click to enlarge

HON. PEARSON CHURCH, President Judge of the Thirtieth Judicial District, consisting of Crawford County, Penn., is a son of Hon. Gaylord Church (deceased), who was also President Judge of this district. He was born in Mercer County, Penn., but has resided all his life in Meadville. He was graduated at Allegheny College in 1856, previously studying law one year with his father, and was admitted to practice February 9, 1858, at the age of twenty. He has ever been a Democrat in politics. He was married in 1868, to Miss Kate, daughter of Hon. Samuel A. Law, of Delaware County, N. Y. To this union have been born two daughters, Mr. and Mrs. Church are members of the Episcopal Church at Meadville, of which he has been Vestryman for over twenty-five years. He has always taken a lively interest in all that pertains to the church here and elsewhere in Crawford County. He has also been active in almost every public enterprise in this place; was elected a member of the School Board in 1870, and in 1872 President of the Board of Control of the Meadville schools. In the same year he was elected a delegate to the Constitu­tional Convention, and during 1872 and 1873 assisted in forming the present Constitution, which was ratified and adopted December 16, 1873. In 1859 he was made a Freemason. He is now a member of the Grand Lodge of the F. & A. M. member of the Grand Chapter R. A. M., and of the Grand Commandery of K. T. He has taken thirty-two degrees in Masonry, and for ten years was D. D. G. M. of Masons for the district of which Crawford County was a part. In 1877 he was elected President Judge of the Thirtieth Judicial District. He has rendered several important decisions while an incumbent of this office, being the first Judge in Pennsylvania, and perhaps in the Union, to decide that colored children should have the same access to our public schools as white children. After this decision the Legislature of the State of Pennsylvania made it a part of the statute law. In 1879 the Legislature passed an act making it the duty of the Judge of the county to hold a term of the courts four times a year in the city of Titusville. This measure created considerable feeling upon the part of the citizens of the county as it tended to greatly increase the public expenses and to complicate the ordinary processes of the courts. Meadville and Titusville were especially interested as the movement affected them locally to a considerable degree, and of course it was not long before the whole matter came before the courts. The suit was brought by numerous tax-payers to compel the county authorities to carry into effect the bill. Judge Church, in an able and exhaustive opinion, decided the law to be in conflict with the Constitution and therefore void, and consequently refused to administer it. The next year another act of a similar import was passed designed by its promoters to avoid the constitutional difficulties of the former act. Like litigation was resorted to to prevent its enforcement, but Judge Church decided the second act to be also unconstitutional and void. Both of these decisions were affirmed by the Supreme Court of the State. This ended the efforts of the city of Titusville to have a court held within its borders. In 1883 he decided the Tidewater Pipe Line case, which put an end to the great Standard oil monopoly for carrying oil. Another effort was made in behalf of the Standard Oil Company to injure and destroy its only rival. A stockholder of the Tidewater Pipe Line Company, acting in the interest of the Standard Oil Company, used his position as stockholder in an effort to dissolve and thus legally destroy the company. After a sharp contest he was signally defeated, and Judge Church, in an elaborate and exhaustive opinion, settled the rights of all parties to the litigation, deciding in favor of the Tidewater Company. This decision was acquiesced in by the defeated party, as no appeal was taken from the decision of Judge Church, but the same parties afterward took the measures above mentioned with the result as above stated. It has been the good fortune of Judge Church to be very often called upon to decide grave questions of great public as well as private importance and interest—indeed, more than often falls to the lot of a Common Pleas Judge. They have been affirmed in every instance by the Supreme Court of the State.

History of Crawford County, Pennsylvania: containing a history of the county, its townships, towns, villages, schools, churches, industries, etc., portraits of early settlers and prominent men, biographies, history of Pennsylvania, statistical and miscellaneous matter, Chicago: Warner, Beers & Co., 1885, page 719-720


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