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John Hopwood DeFORD

Male 1798 - 1856  (58 years)

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  • Name John Hopwood DeFORD 
    Born 14 Feb 1798  OH Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 10 Nov 1856  Uniontown, Fayette County, PA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Buried Historic Presbyterian Public Cemetery, Uniontown, Fayette County, PA Find all individuals with events at this location 

    • (1) Hadden, James, A History of Uniontown, 1913, pp. 17-18, 26-27, 52, 229, 312, 378-403, 500-501, 675-676:


      John H. Deford succeeded [Samuel] McDonald on May 6, 1844. He was a member of the Fayette county bar.

      William Baily succeeded Deford May 5, 1845. He was a silversmith by trade and also a member of the bar. . . .

      S. D. Oliphant succeeded Wells May 3, 1852; receiving 206 votes to J. H. Deford 2 votes. He was a member of the bar.

      * * *

      The log building was either weatherboarded or torn away and a frame erected in its place which was occupied for several years for different purposes. Among the attorneys who occupied this as an office were . . . John H. Deford and others.

      * * *

      John H. Deford, Esq., purchased this property and occupied it for some time and had his office as an attorney in a small frame building on the east of the dwelling. He was one of the attorneys expelled from the Fayette county bar by Judge Thomas Baird, an account of which is given in full elsewhere. He made his last residence on Morgantown street in property formerly owned by L. W. Stockton. His first wife was Miss Biddle of Philadelphia, and a cousin of Charles Biddle. His second wife was a daughter of John Deford of Hopwood. Their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters.

      * * *

      John H. Deford, Esq., purchased this property November 26, 1847, and occupied it as a residence, and died here in 1856, at the age of 58 years. His widow subsequently married Dr. James Brownfield. John H. Deford's first wife was Miss Biddle of Philadelphia, a cousin to Charles Biddle. She came here to teach school and married Mr. Deford. His second wife was a full cousin, a daughter of John Deford of Hopwood. Their fathers were brothers and their mothers were sisters. They had three daughters and four sons, viz.: John W., Henry, Daniel and James who all went west and became prosperous.

      * * *

      John H. Deford built a frame tenement on the east side of Redstone street in which John L. Means lived for a while and his wife carried on her business as a mantua-maker. George H. Thorndell was another occupant of this house. The Pennsylvania Railroad company bought this property and tore away the house.

      * * *


      Thomas H. Baird, Esq., was commissioned president judge of the newly formed Fourteenth Judicial District, July, 1818, and during his term on the bench of Fayette county, disaffection arose between the court and several members of the bar, which, as time passed, increased in intensity until it was claimed that "the public confidence seemed to have been withdrawn alike from the bar and the court."

      In a case on trial before Judge Baird at September Sessions, 1834, an old lady was called as a witness, and upon hearing her testimony the judge indulged in the remark that the old lady was "too willing a witness." Her son hearing this remark and knowing it was intended as a reflection on his mother's veracity, took immediate offense, and procuring a cowhide, waited until his Honor appeared on the street and used his weapon with powerful effect on the person of the judge. The assailant was immediately taken into custody and held for trial, and at No. 10 January Sessions, 1835, he pleaded guilty of assault and battery, and a sentence of fifty dollars fine, and costs, and imprisonment in the county jail for twelve calendar months, and gave security for good behavior for one year after the expiration of his term, was pronounced by Associate Judge Porter.

      This event caused intense feeling throughout the county, and added fuel to the flame that had been long smouldering, and prompted the following communication from Judge Baird to Messrs. Ewing, Todd, Dawson and other gentlemen of the bar of Fayette county:

      Friday Sept. 12th, 1834.


      You have no doubt long been aware that the occurrence of a variety of disagreeable circumstances in the conduct of our business in court, has rendered my situation often exceedingly painful and perplexing. It is possible I have had my full share in the causes which have led to this state of things. I think, however, upon reflection, you will be satisfied that in a great degree it has been owing to the irregular manner of the bar in the trial of causes. It is unnecessary to go into particulars at this time. It has been the subject of complaint and of conflict, distressing to me and unpleasant to you. Finding a remedy hopeless without your aid, I have frequently brought my mind to the conclusion that perhaps I ought to withdraw and give you the opportunity of getting in my room some other gentleman who would have your confidence and co-operation. This determination has heretofore been yielded to the advice of friends upon whose judgment I have relied. Early in the present week I requested an interview with you, that we might talk these matters over, and perhaps agree to an united effort for reform. You were prevented from meeting as proposed. In the mean time the occurrence of a brutal attack upon me by a ruffian, growing out of a trial in court, has more and more convinced me of the necessity of coming to some conclusion, that may prevent the repetition of such outrages. On this subject I wish not to be misunderstood. The act of a brute, or bully can never drive me from the post of duty or of honor, I thank God that in the performance of my official functions I have been preserved from the operation of fear as I hoped have been from favor or affection. I never, I repeat, have been deterred by an apprehension of personal danger, although I have often been aware of peril. I have known that there was [sic] causes for it. The inadvertant [sic] - but as I think, indiscreet indulgence of side bar remarks, indicative of dissatisfaction with the decisions of the court, and perhaps some times of contempt have been calculated to make a lodgment in the public mind injurious to the authority and respectability of the court, and particularly of myself its organ, and has had a direct tendency to rouse the malignant passion of a disappointed or defeated party. I have often observed or been informed of these things, and thought they might lead to disastrous consequence. A correct, judicious man, if he thinks his case has not been correctly decided, will seek redress in the legitimate mode only, or if that is not accessible will submit to it, as we all do to unavoidable misfortunes, a ruffian, however, if told by his counsel that injustice has been done him in the administration of the law, may feel disposed to seek revenge on the Judge. In the case referred to I think the cause and effect can be distinctly traced. The earnestness and positiveness of the counsel in this trial, and expressions thoughtlessly dropped afterwards, perhaps inflamed an unprincipled fellow to make the attack. It may be, however, that it would not have occurred had he not been encouraged by other persons. I have only my suspicions, and make no charge against any one. I exculpate the counsel in that case, and I exculpate the whole bar from the most distant idea of producing such a catastrophe. All that I mean to say is, that the practice I have mentioned has a direct tendency to incite to such outrages, and that in this particular case (in connection with other causes) it did lead to the violence. This same cause may produce the same effect. I must be always exposed to such consequences if matter of excitement continues to be furnished to wrong headed brutal suitors. If I could have the confidence and support of the bar, and the assurance of a change in their manner towards each other the office I hold would be rendered dignified, honorable and pleasant, but otherwise, it must be altogether intolerable. On my part there is no want of good feelings, and I take this occasion to declare, that there is not one of you for whom I entertained unkind sentiments. On the contrary there is no one whose interests I would not advance or whose honor I would not maintain so far as in my power. As to myself I have no right to claim your friendship though I should be glad to have it, but I think in the discharge of my official duties, I ought to have your courtesy and respect and when I err, forbearance in manner and recourse directly to the proper remedy (which I am always disposed to facilitate) and not to inflammatory expressions, or disapprobation or contempt addressed to the public or the party. I have thus disclosed to you frankly my feelings and views. In reply I wish your sentiments and determinations as to the future in relation to the grievances I have presented, and propose therefore that you should take a few minutes to confer together and inform me of the conclusion to which you may arrive at.

      I am truly yours, &c.,

      T. H. Baird.

      To the above communication the gentlemen addressed made the following reply :

      Uniontown, Pa., Oct. 3d, 1834.

      Dear Sir:

      We have delayed replying to your letter, under date of the 12th September 1834, addressed to the members of the bar of Fayette county, until the present time, to afford an opportunity for consulting together, and also for mature reflection upon the matters to which you refer. We regret in common with your Honor, that we have not been able in harmony and with satisfaction to ourselves and the people of the county, to transact the business of our courts. The public confidence seems to be withdrawn alike from the bar and the court. Perhaps your Honor's retiring from the bench, as you have intimated a willingness so to do, and giving the people the power to select another, would be the means of producing a better state of things, and a more cordial co-operation from all sides in the dispatch of the business of the county. This expression of our views is made in candor and sincerity without a wish to inspire one unpleasant thought or unkind feeling; but under a sense of duty to the county in which we live to your honor and to ourselves.

      Very respectfully,

      Yours, &c.

      John M. Austin.
      John Dawson,
      Joshua B. Howell,
      John H. Deford,
      Joseph Williams,
      Robert P. Flenniken,
      Rice G. Hopwood,
      William McDonald,
      William P. Wells.

      The above communication was postmarked Uniontown, Pa., November 7, 1834, and addressed to Thomas H. Baird, Esq., Williamsport, Washington county, Pa., to which Judge Baird replied as follows:

      Harlem, Dec., 15th, 1834.

      Messrs. Austin, Dawson, Howell, Deford, Williams, Flenniken, Hopwood, McDonald, and Wells, members of the Fayette County bar:

      Your communication dated 3d Oct. (postmarked Nov. 7th) which purports to be an answer to my letter of 12th Sept., came to my hand on Saturday night last. It had been withheld from me by my friends during my recent illness, from an apprehension it might produce an increased excitement prejudicial to my health. In this they were mistaken. I have experienced too much of the ills of this life, and at present too many causes of agitating concern to be greatly disturbed by it. Perhaps, were it not for the knowledge of human nature which I have dearly bought, I might have been surprised and pained to receive such a paper from persons standing to me in the relation that you do. Not one of whom I have ever intentionally injured in thought, word or deed. I was, however, prepared for such an expression of your views, though there are some signatures I did not expect to see. Had your letter been framed immediately in answer to mine, and put into my hands at the time, I do not know what course I might have adopted in the hurry of my feelings. I certainly have often entertained a thought of leaving my situation, influenced by a regard of my personal comfort - and I will add also, from considerations towards you, that spring more from my heart than my head. This purpose I often yielded to the judgment and advice of my friends. I have also repeatedly said that unless a reform could be effected in the mode of doing business in court, I would not continue in office. I immediately after the commencement of last term, to which I referred in my last letter; I hastily expressed my intention never to return to the county. This purpose was formed not on account of the immediate outrage, which I was aware I could sufficiently punish, but because I believed, as I still do, that the ruffian was instigated by others. - It is not my recollection, that I declared in my communication to you, any present design of abandoning my office at your request, and I am confirmed in this idea, from the fact that a judicious friend strongly remonstrated against such an intimation being given. But if I had even so expressed myself, subsequent reflection, long before I received your letter, had abundantly convinced me that it would be wrong to do so at this time and under the circumstances in which I am placed in my official relation to you and to the people. The station I hold is not mine, nor is it yours. It belongs to the public, and has been conferred upon me, without my solicitation, by the constitutional agent. Unless from private consideration I think proper to give it up, and the right to do so is recognized by law, it cannot be taken from me but in the way the people have designated. It would be a violation of their rights, and a dereliction of duty, if I could be constrained or influenced to abandon it by any other process. I am now satisfied that I ought not to have addressed you as I did. It was compromising the dignity of the office entrusted to me, to solicit from you a reform in your manner of conducting your business at the bar when I ought to have compelled it. In concurrence with my brother judges, I should have prescribed the order and discipline of the court and enforced obedience. This error, however, also proceeded more from my heart than from my head; - and you are the last persons in the world who ought to complain of it. Henceforth it will be my endeavor to correct this mistake; - and depend upon it, if there is not a reform, without making it a matter of compact with you, it will not be my fault. But, however, I might be disposed to resign my office, from motives of private convenience and peace of mind, which I have a right to do, or perhaps from a wish to indulge you in a desired preference for some other person in my stead, the propriety of which I now doubt; yet still, the terms of your communication entirely preclude me from doing so without yielding my personal and judicial honor. You undertake to assert that, "the public confidence seems to be withdrawn alike from the Bar and the Court." If the first part of the proposition is to be understood as an admission of the state of things in relation to yourselves, it is not my business to combat it; - but I deny your right or warrant to make the latter allegation. It is of grave import and deliberately set forth, for you took time as you say, "to afford an opportunity of consulting together, and also for mature reflection." It is the basis of your request, that I should resign; for the other matters, in relation to the manner of conducting the business of the court, you were well aware was in your power to adjust: undoubtedly, therefore, it involves a charge of official delinquency; - such as would warrant the removal of the judges either by impeachment or address. - "Public confidence" is indeed the only foundation on which must rest the usefulness, respectability and authority of the courts: if that is destroyed all that is valuable in our judicial institutions must fall and the personal honor of the judges be involved in the general ruin. To weaken or impair then, that faith which the people ought to have in the integrity and capacity of these who administer their laws, is a great public mischief. Certainly there is no way more calculated to produce such a result, than to assert that such is the present fact. The laws will not allow, that the people have "withdrawn" their "confidence" from their judicial agents, unless, it has been so ascertained in the mode prescribed in the constitution. It cannot be tolerated that the official standing of judges is to be tested by the sneering remarks we may hear on the streets, or the vituperation of bar-room consorts. - I leave it to you therefore, as a matter of professional opinion to say - whether it would not be indictable as a libel, for any one to publish in writing, that the "public confidence is withdrawn" from a court. Perhaps when members of the bar so far forget the "fidelity" to which they are bound, as to promulgate such a declaration, a discreet but decisive exercise of the summary power vested in the judges, over the conduct of their own officers, may be considered the most obvious and proper course. On this point it would be premature in me to express an opinion now. Your communication will be before us at the next term and after deliberate examination and hearing, the decision of the court will be pronounced. - There is another matter which I think it proper to apprise you of, with the hope that a satisfactory explanation will be offered. I have understood that a report is in circulation, eminating [sic] from some of you, that I have charged the whole bar, with being concerned in the outrage lately committed upon me. - If it is true that such an idea has been thrown abroad, it is so base a perversion of language that I cannot conceive the malignity of the heart that could engender it. When such means are employed to excite popular prejudice, it would not be surprising if "public confidence" should be "withdrawn" - from me at least. - My letter will show for itself; - and I defy the ingenuity of Satan himself, to make out any such thing - on the contrary I think it contains a distinct exculpation of the whole bar from the most distant thought of producing such a catastrophe. The whole matter in relation to that outrage, will be before the court at the next term, - and the associate judges will be called upon to sustain, and assert the violated authority and dignity of the judicial office by the exercise of their summary power of punishing such gross contempt. At the last sitting, I made up my mind to take no step myself, as it might be thought I acted under excited feelings; and the public prosecutor, who is considered as particularly representing the people in relation to such things did not think proper to present to the court the propriety and necessity of this course. It is, however, indispensable; for a judicial tribunal that cannot protect itself, without resorting to another tribunal for aid or redress, must cease to exist.

      In conclusion, I will only say, that upon mature reflection it is my determination not to resign at present; and that it is also my abiding determination never to resign upon the ground stated in your letter. I hope to be able to take my seat on the bench in Fayette county, on the first Monday of January next. - If I have lost any degree of the public confidence, it shall be my endeavor to regain it, by a faithful performance of my judicial functions. With the aid of my brother judges, I will try to preserve the order and discipline of the court by a discreet but energetic exercise of the power which the law gives us; and perhaps you may be satisfied that the laxity, which has no doubt, been a considerable cause of complaint was more owing to my kind feelings towards you than to any want of moral courage to encounter the consequences that may result from the honest discharge of public duty; I shall perform my official functions with sincere desire to do right - and I shall expect from members of the bar that they behave themselves with all good fidelity to the court as well as to the clients.

      I am, &c.,

      Thomas H. Baird.

      At a Court of Common Pleas held at Uniontown, January 6, 1835, before Judge Baird and his associates, Charles Porter and Samuel Nixon, the following action was taken, viz.:

      A rule was granted upon Jno. M. Austin, John Dawson, Joshua B. Howell, J. H. Deford, J. Williams, A. Patterson, R. P. Flenniken, R. G. Hopwood, Wm. McDonald, and Wm. P. Wells, to show cause why they should not be stricken from the list of attorneys, &c.

      On the next morning the members of the bar presented to the court, the following:

      "The undersigned who are required by a rule of court, entered to show cause why they should not be stricken from the list of attorneys, present this answer to that rule. -

      We earnestly, but respectfully protest against the legal power and authority of the court to enter and enforce such a rule for the cause alleged.

      The rule appears to be founded and predicated on the letter of the undersigned, addressed to Judge Baird, dated October 3, 1834. To enable a full understanding of the whole matter, a letter of Judge Baird, dated September 12, 1834, is herewith presented (see letter).

      It is evident that the letter of the undersigned, which contains the supposed offensive matter, is a reply and a response to the letter of Judge Baird, to them addressed. It is certainly respectful in its terms, and, as is sincerely believed, and positively asserted contains neither in word, meaning, nor intention, the slightest contempt or the least disrespect to the court or any of its members.

      The respondents would be entirely at a loss to comprehend how it could be possible to give the letter, from its terms, an offensive interpretation were they not informed from another source, that the following paragraph is considered objectionable, "The public confidence seems to be withdrawn alike from the bar and the court." We by this paragraph expressed our honest conviction, and intended no contempt to the court. It is a response in some measure to that part of Judge Baird's letter in which he himself says that the circumstances to which he refers "were calculated to make a lodgement in the public mind injurious to the authority and respectability of the court and particularly of himself its organ."

      It will be perceived from the two letters referred to that the correspondence did not take place between the bar and the court - it was between the respondents and Judge Baird at his instance and request. The occurrence asserted as constituting some undefined offense did not take place in presence of the court - it took place out of court and in pais.

      Far, very far, therefore, are we from being guilty of any offense against the court. As to Judge Baird personally, the letter distinctly and unequivocally states that our views were "made in candor and sincerity, without a wish to inspire one unpleasant thought or unkind feeling."

      John M. Austin,
      John Dawson,
      Joshua B. Howell,
      Wm. P. Wells,
      Alfred Patterson,
      J. H. Deford,
      Wm. McDonald,
      J. Williams,
      R. P. Flenniken,
      R. G. Hopwood.

      This answer having been read, it was pronounced by the court as insufficient, because it did not embrace the publication of the correspondence. - The respondents then asked the rule to be postponed until the afternoon, when they would make answer to that part of the supposed offense also - which was granted.

      In the evening the respondents presented the following as their second answer:

      The undersigned, after reiterating the protest contained in a former answer, make this further reply to the rule entered yesterday against them.

      When the former answer was prepared it was not known that the publication of the correspondence between the bar and Judge Baird in the newspapers constituted a portion of the supposed offense against the court; the record not presenting that aspect of the case.

      They now reply to this matter, and to cause a more perfect understanding thereof, they present herewith a letter from Judge Baird to the undersigned, dated December 15, 1834. We now ask that the three letters on record may be carefully examined in connection with our former answer to the Rule to show cause. We cannot but think that the court will then be satisfied that the last letter of Judge Baird contains imputations and strictures not warranted by any thing said in our communication to him when properly understood. In some way the existence of the controversy reached the public ear. It immediately assumed a false shape in connection with an assault committed upon the Judge by a suitor in court. Misapprehensions about the nature of the correspondence was produced. For want of correct information, false assertions were made and false inferences drawn. It became a public matter involving seriously public interest. The correspondence related to public affairs. The letter by no means being private and confidential, we consider it our imperative duty, in justice to ourselves, and in justice to the public, to lay the whole correspondence as it really was, before the whole community. It was accordingly done and for the purpose intimated. The court will clearly perceive that in this act there was no offense committed against the court, but was a proceeding rendered every way necessary, as it gave the true state of the controversy, and supplied the place of false rumors in relation both to Judge Baird and ourselves.

      John Dawson,
      John M. Austin,
      Wm. P. Wells,
      Joshua B. Howell,
      J. H. Deford,
      J. Williams,
      R. G. Hopwood,
      A. Patterson,
      R. P. Flenniken.

      William McDonald not concurring with the majority of the respondents in the views taken in their second answer, presented a separate one as follows:

      On the subject of the difficulty between the bar and the court, I take the liberty of making the following statement: I was opposed to the publication of the correspondence from the beginning, and have frequently so expressed myself, thinking it would have a tendency to widen the breach without being calculated to do any good. From first to last I have been free from the control of any intention to cast disrespect or contempt upon the court or any of its members.

      Wm. McDonald.

      The court then adjourned - It being understood judgment on the rule was to be pronounced the next morning. In consequence, however, of various delays this was not done until the evening when the judgment of Baird & Porter was delivered by Baird as follows:

      Jan. 8th.

      The court has given to the papers presented by the respondents in this case, the most careful consideration and the most favorable construction their import would at all admit. It is with the deepest regret, we are constrained to say, that they are by no means satisfactory. We cannot regard them as removing the offensive and injurious operation of the matter which has been published to the world in relation to this court, and which forms the gravamen of the rule. All that we have required is, that the gentlemen would distinctly place in their answer a disavowal of any intention to impute to the court or its members any thing which would lower them in their official character, in the esteem and confidence of the people. This has been, and is still refused. No alternative therefore remains. We must abandon our judicial honor, respectability and authority, or endeavor to sustain them in what we conceive to be the legitimate mode.

      It is not the common law, or statutory power to punish contempts, which we are about to exercise. It is the coercive control and discipline which the courts have always legally employed in order to preserve in the members of the bar the observance of that trust, courtesy and respect which is indispensable to the safe and orderly administration of justice. An early act of Assembly (22nd May, 1722) declares that attorneys if they misbehave, shall be liable to "suffer such pains, penalties, and suspensions as attorneys at law in Great Britain are liable to in such cases," - and by an act of last session, "If any attorney shall misbehave himself in his office of attorney, he shall be liable to suspension, removal from office, or to such other penalties as have hitherto been allowed in such cases by the laws of this commonwealth."

      By these three acts, then, the power of the courts here is the same as is exercised by the courts in England. We consider it unquestionable wherever there is misbehavior in an attorney. The exercise of this power is a judicial act, and although it is summary, yet it can no where be so safely lodged, both as respects its prompt and efficient application when necessary, and also as respects the security and interests of the members of the bar, who have always the feelings and attachment of the judges with them when they conducted themselves with propriety.

      The term "misbehavior" in our acts of Assembly, has an evident relation to the official oaths of an attorney. He is sworn to "behave" himself "with all good fidelity to the court as well as to the client." What does this include? As between counsel and client it seems to be well understood. A lawyer would not betray the interests or the fame of the man who has given him a paltry fee nor would the law allow him to do so in any case in which he is engaged. Does it not import any thing as respects the court? Can an attorney be tolerated in publishing to the world that "public confidence is withdrawn from the court," and then come in and claim to stand in that relation which the law contemplates as essential to the decorous, orderly administration of the public business? If so, we do not understand the meaning of the word "fidelity", or the relation it creates.

      In this case we think there has been "misbehavior" on the part of the gentlemen against whom the rule is granted. The publication in relation to the court we consider a libel. It has been done in the office of attorneys, as they themselves show. The whole matter refers to the public relation between the court and the bar. The first letter of the president is in truth the act of the whole court for although signed by him, it was the concurrence of his brother judges. It was intended as a kind appeal to their good sense and generous feelings, and by no means as insinuating any imputation more than occasional inadvertant [sic] side-bar remarks and other irregularities, as the letter plainly imports. It was communicated in a private manner, because it was thought more likely to produce a good effect than a public address. They, in all their proceedings, and in their answers, speak of it in their official relation. The only question then is, does their conduct amount to "misbehavior"? and to what degree? We think it does, and to such an extent of aggravation as virtually to destroy the relation of "fidelity" which must exist towards the court by the members of the bar. If that relation is extinguished, and no longer exists, the official connection must necessarily be dissolved, otherwise the spirit of the law is violated.

      As we have no personal feelings to indulge except those of regret: we forbear any harsh commentary upon the matters involved. We would leave it to the calm reflection and better feelings of the gentlemen themselves, and would hope that they may yet be induced to avail themselves of the door which is still open to a returning sense of duty. We have no appeal to make to the public, except what a just estimate of our rectitude of purpose may present to their virtue and good sense.

      It is ordered that the names of John M. Austin, John Dawson, J. B. Howell, W. P. Wells, Alfred Patterson, John H. Deford, J. Williams and R. P. Flenniken be struck from the list of attorneys of this court, and in the case of Rice G. Hopwood the rule to be continued.

      In the case of William McDonald the rule to be discharged.

      Judge Nixon dissented from the majority of the court, and presented the following opinion in relation to the case:

      I concur with my brother judges, that certain parts of said publications are calculated to bring this court into disrepute with the people, and ought to be punished; but taking into consideration the cause that elicited, or drew forth these publications, and the concessions and explanations that have been made by the respondents to the court, the penalty of an indefinite suspension would be very severe. Had our rule been left open so as not to require a specific punishment, I would have been very happy in co-operating with my brother judges in inflicting some adequate punishment, if any, but as there is no alternative I must dissent from their judgment, and think the rule ought to be discharged.

      January 9th. Judges Porter and Nixon on the bench.

      Rice G. Hopwood, in whose case the rule was postponed to this date, presented the following answer:

      In answer to the rule granted by the court upon the members of the bar to show cause why they should not be stricken from the list of attorneys, the undersigned candidly, but respectfully submits the following reply as to the publication:

      That he intended no contempt of court, nor did he intend to call in question in any shape, the integrity of their official conduct, or detract from their standing in the estimation of the public.

      Rice G. Hopwood.

      Rule discharged.

      Nathaniel Ewing, Esq., one of the members of Uniontown bar feeling anxious to reconcile the difficulties which had arisen between the court and bar submitted to the court some very appropriate remarks, of which the following is an abstract:

      Mr. Ewing said he conceived that he was capable of giving the subject a more calm consideration than either the court or the gentlemen of the bar who were concerned, and he felt it a duty he owed to both to express his opinion of the legal power of the court, as well as of the rights and privileges of the bar. There were, he said, but three cases at most - and possibly but two - where the court could strike an attorney from the rolls. 1st. Where he is guilty of some high crime or misdemeanor involving moral turpitude that the fountain of justice might not be contaminated by such impurity. 2d. When he misbehaves himself in his office of attorney. To understand this matter aright it was necessary, he said, to remember that an attorney possesses both an official and a private character and relation - when he acts in his official character he acts as the representative of another person - his client. He stands in his stead - his acts are in law the acts of his constituent - when he acts for himself he does not, cannot act as an attorney, the word itself, ex vi termini precludes such an idea. If he is a party in court he is liable for the same offenses and to the same extent as other suitors. In his intercourse whether oral or written with the judges out of court he is amenable to them only as one gentleman is to another. The court seemed to suppose, he said, that there was a kind of personal allegiance due by the members of the bar to the judges at all tunes and in all places. This was a gross misapprehension of their relation. The judges were not lords and the attorneys their vassals or liege subjects. It is only when they act in their official characters respectively that they sustain a relation to each other different from that sustained by other gentlemen in the community. All official business is supposed to be done in court, whether it be actually sitting or not. And it is only while acting in official business that an attorney, as such, is responsible to the court. This view of the subject was fortified, he said, by a reference to the acts of Assembly. The act of 1722 says, that attorneys "shall behave themselves justly and faithfully in their practice, and if they misbehave themselves therein, they shall suffer such penalties and suspensions," etc. And the oath which is prescribed by the act of 1752, which was to be taken only where they acted for others, is "Thou shalt behave thyself in the office of attorney within the court." And the late act of 1834 uses the same words, and provides "if any attorney at law shall misbehave himself in his office of attorney, he shall," etc. 3d. Possibly a third case might be, he said, when an attorney was guilty of gross misbehavior during the sitting of the court - in the face of the court. He was, however, inclined to think that if it was not in the transaction of official business, he must in this case be dealt with as any other person guilty of like misconduct.

      What then, he continued, is the case in hand. It could not fall under the first or third class. It was not a high crime or misdemeanor, nor was it done in the face of the court during its sittings. Can it be classed under the second head? It cannot. The gentlemen who wrote the letter to Judge Baird and who afterwards published it, were not, in those acts, acting in their office of attorneys. Whom did they represent? Whose attorneys were they? Who were their clients? They had none - they acted for themselves in their private, individual and personal characters and relation. In regard to the publication of the correspondence it is submitted, he said, whether there is not enough in the last letter of his Honor Judge Baird to palliate, if not to excuse that act. (Here Mr. Ewing was about to remark upon Judge Baird's last letter when he was stopped by Judge Baird who observed that the matter was closed last evening. Mr. Ewing then took his seat.)

      Thus eight members of the bar of Fayette county stood suspended from the court, one of whom was the deputy attorney-general. They forthwith industriously applied themselves to present their case to the legislature of the state. Among the accusations against Judge Baird were the following:

      Frequently did not arrive in Uniontown until Monday evening of the week in which court was to be held, affording the constables of the county no opportunity to make their reports, and adding greatly to the disappointment of jurymen, witnesses, litigants and attorneys, and adjourning court on Thursday, against the interests of the county.

      The reading of newspapers during trials.

      Taking no notes of testimony.

      Giving opinions before the trial was gone through with.

      Neglect to take down testimony in writing or to reduce his opinion to writing when required to do so.

      The following points were submitted to the legislative committee:

      Claiming the power of punishment under the act of 1809. The second section of said act having no bearing on the case, because the defamatory writing of the Fayette county gentlemen had no relation to any case pending or question before the court.

      Neglect of duty in Fayette county in not devoting that time and attention to the business of the county which the public interests have required; and in disregarding the duties enjoined by the act of the 24th of February, 1806, entitled an act to alter the judiciary system of this commonwealth.

      His irritable nature, impatient temper, violent and partial feelings, etc. Want of legal knowledge, fluctuating and uncertain opinions, offensive manners and behavior both on and off the bench being such as to disqualify him for a proper discharge of his judicial functions, and lessen or destroy that respectability which a judge ought always to possess.

      The committee were also informed of the manner of the judge in charging juries, and his conduct when required to reduce his opinions to writing, etc.

      Address of Judge Baird in his own defense before a committee of the House of Representatives, consisting of Messrs. Cox, chairman, Richards, Conrad, Lacock, Reed, Pennypacker and Bidlack, appointed to investigate his official conduct in relation to certain specification of charges preferred against him by eight attorneys of the Uniontown bar.

      "Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Committee of Investigation:

      ["]I avail myself of your permission to reply to the charges exhibited against me in the specification filed. I cannot be insensible of the difficult circumstances in which I am placed. I have not merely the resentful feelings of the eight gentlemen who were stricken from the rolls of Fayette county, and the formidable array of their friends to contend against, but they have been the moving power by which popular clamor and prejudice have been stirred up for the destruction of my fortune and my fame. The groundwork of their complaints is their expulsion from the bar. If the court did wrong in that proceeding, a legal or constitutional remedy was accessible without an appeal to the passions of the people. If there was error in the construction of the law, the Supreme Court would have at once restored them by mandamus. If it was corruption or oppression, the legislature was the proper tribunal for redress. I was not anticipating this procedure. Not only have inflammatory appeals to passions, prejudices and even party feelings of the people have been addressed through the newspapers but the machinery of a county meeting has been brought into action, the proceedings and resolution of which are laid before you.

      ["]For years, great irregularities in the manner of conducting business at the Fayette county bar had existed and had been a constant source of embarrassment and vexation. The Court had made repeated efforts to remedy the evil, but in vain. It was, at length, determined to address to the gentlemen a kind appeal to their good sense and feelings of propriety. This gave rise to one of the most vindictive persecutions that ever had been exhibited in a county of laws. The letter of the bar is grossly libellous [sic]. It charges that the public confidence is withdrawn from the court, and calls upon me to resign.
      In answer to the rule, they say it was a matter between the respondents and Judge Baird, and, therefore, no offense against the court. Now if the court had dismissed the rule on that ground, and I had brought my action or indicted for the libel, what would have been the defense? We have it in their second response; "The correspondence related to public affairs; a public matter, involving seriously public interests."

      ["]The Fayette lawyers complain that they were deprived of the benefit of a trial by a jury of the county. Suppose they had been indicted, and a jury was impannelled [sic]; what would have been the issue? The question whether rebellious or not is for the legal direction of the court. The only matter to be found then is the intention. This the law presumes to be malicious unless the contrary is shown. Their plea must be "not guilty", which the jury might negative by their verdict. They then would stand convicted of a crime that has been held in all ages in abhorrence and detestation; which by the Roman decemviri was punished by death; by the Remmia lex was branded with a hot iron in the face, and later with whipping, and even in England, punishment by fine, imprisonment and pillory, and for the second offense by transportation. Even in our own system the penalty is fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the court, and removal from office. All this might have been the consequence, even if this publication had been with a view of examining the proceedings of the court, or investigating its official conduct.

      ["]They could have been restored on the day following their expulsion if they had wished it. The court evidently intended it to be so understood. They well knew that they had but to say that they did not intend to degrade the court in public opinion, and they would have been at once restored to all their privileges.

      ["]As to the second specification, - neglect of duty, - I aver that I have endeavored to perform the duties of my office, not only with faithfulness and integrity, but with diligence. Since I have occupied a seat on the bench (a period of nearly seventeen years), I have never lost a single term. Through rain and snow, in sickness and in health, I have been at my post, employing my best efforts for the dispatch of the public business, and so far from having been dilatory and inattentive, I have been often complained of for urging the gentlemen of the bar to a more rapid course. There is not so much business done in Fayette county in the same time as in Washington and Greene; the cause, however, I positively assert, is in the very gentlemen who now bring it forward as a matter of accusation. In every trivial matter presented to the court the attorneys will persist in making long speeches when in truth there is nothing to say.

      ["]The third specifications; - It is possible I have an irritable nature and impatient temper, and if so it certainly would be indicated in Fayette county more than at any other place, because there are more exciting causes. The fault is not entirely in my constitutional temperament but is in a good degree attributable to the gentlemen who make the complaint.

      ["]As to the charge of "want of legal knowledge", I plead guilty to some extent. I admit I do not know as much as I ought to know and I beg that the committee will test the qualifications of the gentlemen who may appear to give evidence as to mine.

      ["]Fluctuating and uncertain opinions - If it is that I have given up the wrong to adopt the right, I must plead guilty. If I have abandoned correct views to embrace erroneous ones, I call for the proof of the particular case.

      ["]Fourth Specification - Had lost the confidence of the people of Fayette county. May be now true to some extent; but who made it so? Who are they that have been endeavoring to poison the public mind? Who directed the press in bitter invective and denunciation against me? Who got up the public meeting that by its resolutions became my accuser? Who framed these very resolutions and directed the movements of the people?

      ["]My sense of injury will not allow me to speak on this particular with that calmness which the respect to the committee requires. I submit my case, therefore, "to the law and to the testimony;" to the intelligence and firmness of the committee and to the virtue of the people acting through their representatives."

      The above address of Judge Baird delivered before the committee of the legislature was printed in full and comprised 17,800 words.

      The public meeting referred to in Judge Baird's address was known as the "Searight meeting " and was held in response to notices published in the newspapers, as follows:

      A general county meeting will be held at the house of William Searight at 12 o'clock on Saturday, the 24th of January, inst., for the purpose of ascertaining the sentiment of the people of Fayette county in relation of the coercive power claimed and exercised by the court in the recent expulsion of two-thirds of the members of the bar. A fall expose of the case is expected to be given by gentlemen in every way competent. A general attendance of the people of the county is invited, as it is a question of momentous importance - a question of LIBERTY and DESPOTISM.

      The result of the Searight meeting.

      Pursuant to previous notice inserted in the Newspapers, a very large and respectable meeting of the citizens of Fayette county, Pennsylvania, took place on the 24th inst. at Searight's Hotel. The object of the meeting was to enable the people to express an opinion in relation to the Judicial affairs of the county; more especially in relation to the proceedings had at the last court, which resulted in the expulsion of eight attorneys from the bar. -

      Col. James A. McClelland, was appointed President.

      Uriah Springer, William Vance, Capt. Hazel, G. D. Evans and Robert Boyd, Vice-presidents.

      John I. Dorsey and George Meason, secretaries.

      On motion, a committee of twenty-two was appointed by the meeting to draft resolutions for its consideration. The committee consisted of: -

      John Huston, (Iron Master), Gen. Beeson, Jess Antrim, Col. Gilmore, Elias Jeffries, William Hastings, James McSherry, Samuel John. Major McNeal, Aaron Hibbs, William Conden, Benjamin Roberts, Esq., Major Lynch, John Huston, farmer, Dr. John Townsend, Wm. Searight, Geo. Walker, Washington Bute, John Ball, Esq., Thomas Todd, Capt. Whaley, Edward Hyde.

      The committee having retired for a time, reported to the assembly (who had in the meantime adjourned to a meadow, the house not accommodating all the people) the following resolutions: -

      1. The people have a right, in a peaceable manner, to assemble together for their common good, and apply to those invested with the powers of government, for any proper purposes.

      2. The proceedings of our courts are not often, nor should they be, the subjects of public discussion in the primary assemblies of the people. When, however, cases arise involving the great principles of the constitution, and of Liberty itself, it becomes proper for the people deliberately to examine them, and express their opinions. They should at all times be jealous of their rights and privileges, and never slow in maintaining them.

      3. The late summary proceeding in our court which resulted in the expulsion of eight of our fellow citizens from the bar of Fayette county - by which the administration of the law has been obstructed - and by which they are deprived of their profession and the means they had chosen to enable them to support themselves and families - is well calculated to create alarm, and demands a public investigation and a public decision.

      4. The power of inflicting "summary punishments", for alleged offenses committed out of court, without giving the accused the benefit of a trial before a jury of his country is repugnant to the principles of our Republican institutions and ought not to be tolerated in a free country. Such a power partakes of the very essence and rankness of despotism.

      5. The right of trial by jury is the sacred and invaluable privilege of freemen, and should, at all hazards, be maintained and preserved inviolable.

      6. The free communication of thoughts and opinions is one of the invaluable rights of man. The free expression of opinions about the public character and conduct of men in a public capacity, is a primary and essential principle in our happy republic, and any attempt to restrain or abridge this privilege and punish any supposed abuse thereof without a legal trial before a jury of the country, should meet with the indignant disapprobation of every true republican.

      7. It is an excellent rule, that no man should he a judge in his own case. More especially should it be determined beyond all doubt, that no judge should be permitted to decide cases in which his own feelings, passions and character are deeply interested and involved. To permit any human being in a judicial capacity, arbitrarily to punish a citizen for a supposed personal or other insult given, or disrespect shown out of court, or for an offense constructively derived therefrom as against the court, would be most dangerous to the liberty of the citizen, the liberty of the press, and the welfare of our Republic.

      8. This meeting view[s] with serious alarm the doctrines advanced in the late decision and opinion pronounced by Judge Baird in the case of the members of the Fayette bar whose names were thereby struck from the roll of Attorneys. That whole proceeding we deem repugnant to the spirit of all our laws, and the genius of all our republican institutions. It is in our opinion, a direct violation of the true intent and meaning of the seventh section of the "Declaration of Rights" in the Constitution of Pennsylvania.

      9. The people of Fayette county have great cause to represent as a grievance, no longer to be borne, the manner in which business has been conducted in our court for some time past. This has been a subject of almost universal complaint in this county for years past, and has had a tendency to alienate the confidence of the people from their judicial institutions, which, as much as any other, should have their affection and respect.

      10. The meeting direct[s] that the foregoing resolutions, views and opinions be transmitted to the Legislature of Pennsylvania, and they respectfully ask the members thereof to take the same into consideration and do in relation thereto what to them may seem expedient and right.

      The resolutions having been considered by the meeting, were carried and adopted unanimously.

      It was further and finally resolved, That the proceedings of this meeting be signed by its officers, published in the several newspapers of this judicial district, and that copies thereof be addressed to the Speaker of the Senate, and Speaker of the House of Representatives of Pennsylvania, to be laid before their bodies respectively.

      James A. McClelland, President.
      Uriah Springer,
      William Vance,
      Wm. Hazel,
      G. D. Evans,
      Robert Boyd,
      John I. Dorsey,
      George Meason,

      Monday, January 26th, 1835.

      On the 14th of March, 1835, an act was passed by the provisions of which the Supreme Court was required to take jurisdiction of the proceedings whereby the eight members of the bar were stricken from the roll.

      In pursuance of the provisions of the Act of Assembly, the letters of Judge Baird, the answer of respondents and ruling of the court were presented to the Supreme Court, in session at Philadelphia, March 19, 1835. The eight gentlemen whose names had been stricken from the roll appeared by their attorneys, G. M. Dallas and Joseph R. Ingersoll, who presented the following bill of exceptions:

      First. The Court of Common Pleas of Fayette county erred in considering the said attorneys as the authors of a letter to the Honorable T. H. Baird, under the date of October 3, 1834, liable to the penalty of being struck from the roll for an alleged libel upon the court.

      Second. The court below erred in considering that by the writing or publishing of the said letter the said attorneys did "misbehave themselves in their offices of attorneys" respectively.

      Third. The court below erred in considering that by the writing or publishing of said letter the attorneys had departed from their obligation to behave themselves in the office of attorney within the court according to the best of their learning or ability, and with all good fidelity as well as to the court as to their clients.

      Fourth. The order of the court below, that the name of the said attorneys be struck from the list is unconstitutional, illegal and oppressive, and the same should be forthwith reversed and annulled."

      The Court of Common Pleas of Fayette county was represented by J. Sargeant. Lengthy arguments were made by both sides. After due deliberation the opinion of the court was delivered by Chief Justice Gibson, March 31, 1835, who stated that "the language of the respondents' letter was 'bland and respectful.' They had earnestly and uniformly protested that the object of the publication was not to afflict the judge, but to disabuse the public mind; and professing this to be their motive, and in the absence of evidence to disprove it, we are bound to receive it as the true one. They too acted from the impulse of excitement, for which allowance is to be made, believing that the president had implicated them in the disgraceful assault on his person. The publication was made by them, not as members of the bar, but as persons put upon their defense by an intimation that they were to be dealt with criminally. In conclusion, it appears that a case to justify the removal of the respondents has not been made out; whereupon it is considered that the order to make the rule in this case absolute be rescinded and the rule discharged: that the respondents be restored to their office, and that this decree be certified to the Court of Common Pleas of Fayette county."

      "Decreed accordingly."

      An interesting episode occurred in connection with the expulsion of the eight members of the bar. On Thursday, January 8th, Colonel Samuel Evans, rose, and in a mild but firm tone of voice requested that the court strike his name off with those that had been stricken off. Evidently the colonel esteemed it an honor rather than a disgrace to meet with the displeasure of the judge. The court records of January 10, 1839, show the following:

      "To the Honorable: the Judges of the Courts of Fayette county:

      ["]The undersigned, in the year 1835, considered it his duty to withdraw from the bar of Fayette county. The circumstances which induced this course no longer existing, I now apply to the court to be restored to all my rights and privileges as a member of said bar.

      ["]Signed, Samuel Evans.

      ["]January 10, 1839, Ordered that Samuel Evans, Esq., be re-admitted to the bar as an attorney of the court, and be entitled to all the rights, privileges and immunities pertaining to that office."

      * * *

      At the general conference of the Methodist Protestant church, convened at Baltimore, Md., May 7, 1850, a proposition was made by the trustees of Madison college tendering to that conference the control of the college. A select committee made favorable report of the measure. The report was laid on the table, and the following preamble and resolutions, offered by Rev. George Brown, were adopted:

      "Whereas, the trustees of Madison college have made an offer of said college to this general conference, and whereas the general conference feels very grateful for the aforesaid offer: Resolved, 1st, That in view of accepting of Madison college, this general conference now proceed to appoint seven commissioners whose duty it shall be to report to the Pittsburgh conference at its next session: Resolved, 2nd, Should the commissioners report favorably, the conference and commissioners shall then proceed to elect trustees to take charge of the college property, and make necessary arrangements for a commencement of operations: Resolved, 3rd, That said trustees shall make annual reports to the Pittsburgh conference, and also to each succeeding general conference.["]

      The commissioners appointed under this action were: . . . John H. Deford, Esq., of Uniontown, who reported favorably to the Pittsburgh conference. . . .

      * * *

      John H. Deford died November 10, 1356, age 58 years, 8 months and 27 days. Mr. Deford was admitted to the bar of Fayette county September 9, 1835. He owned and resided at the time of his death the property on Morgantown street now owned by Wallace Miller.

      (2) A household headed by John H. DEFORD is listed in the 1840 census of Union Township, Fayette County, PA.

      Listed in John H.'s household are 2 free white males under 5 years of age; 1 free white male between 10 and 15 years of age; 1 free white male between 30 and 40 years of age; 1 free white female under 5 years of age; 1 free white female between 15 and 20 years of age; and 1 free white female between 20 and 30 years of age. Also listed in John H.'s household is 1 free colored female between 10 and 23 years of age.

      Assuming that John H. is the free white male listed in the 1840 census as then being between 30 and 40 years of age, he would have been born between 1800 and 1810, according to the 1840 census.

      Assuming that John H.'s wife is the free white female listed in the 1840 census as then being between 20 and 30 years of age, she would have been born between 1810 and 1820, according to the 1840 census.

      The free white male listed in the 1840 census as then being between 10 and 15 years of age, and the free white female listed in the 1840 census as then being between 15 and 20 years of age, seem to have then been too old to have been children of John H. and his wife.

      Assuming that the other free white persons in John H.'s household are children of John H. and his wife, those children would have consisted of 2 sons (which sons would have been born between 1835 and 1840, according to the 1840 census) and 1 daughter (which daughter would have been born between 1835 and 1840, according to the 1840 census).

      (3) A household headed by John H. DEFORD is listed in the 1850 census as a lawyer who was then 47 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, he was born in about 1803. According to the 1850 census, he was born in OH.

      Listed with John H. is his wife, Harriet, who was then 41 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, she was born in about 1809. According to the 1850 census, she was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his son, John W., who was then 15 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, he was born in about 1835. According to the 1850 census, he was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his daughter, Lydia A., who was then 13 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, she was born in about 1837. According to the 1850 census, she was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his son, Henry , who was then 11 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, he was born in about 1839. According to the 1850 census, he was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his son, Daniel , who was then 8 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, he was born in about 1842. According to the 1850 census, he was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his daughter, Anna F., who was then 5 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, she was born in about 1845. According to the 1850 census, she was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is his daughter, Harriet E., who was then 3 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, she was born in about 1847. According to the 1850 census, she was born in PA.

      Also listed with John H. is Martha CONE, who was then 17 years of age; therefore, according to the 1850 census, she was born in about 1833. According to the 1850 census, she was born in PA. The relationship between John H. DEFORD and Martha CONE is not listed in the 1850 census.

      (4) Fayette County Genealogy Project <>:

      Historic Presbyterian Public Cemetery - Uniontown, Compiled from records by E. M. Whetsel and Beverly Sellers-Niel From Ellis and other sources. GPS Location: 39.90224 N, 79.71996 W:

      Surname: DEFORD
      Given Name(s): John H
      Died: 11/10/1856
      Notes: 58y 8 m 27 d

      [From the above information, the compiler has calculated John's birth date to have been 14 February 1798.]


      John H. Deford
      Birth: Unknown
      Death: Unknown

      Note: 58 y 8 m 27 d

      Burial: Historic Presbyterian Public Cemetery, Uniontown, Fayette County, Pennsylvania, USA

      Created by: Jennifer F. Shank Scherzberg
      Record added: May 08, 2008
      Find A Grave Memorial# 26698231
    Person ID I25899  Frost, Gilchrist and Related Families
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 

    Father Merchant DeFORD,   b. Abt 1772, Kent Island, Queen Anne's County, MD Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Aft 29 Jun 1860  (Age ~ 88 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Mother Elizabeth HOPWOOD,   b. 1779,   d. Bef 29 Jun 1860  (Age < 81 years) 
    Relationship natural 
    Family ID F11313  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 1 Lydia M. BIDDLE,   b. Abt 1799,   d. 27 Sep 1833, Uniontown, Fayette County, PA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age ~ 34 years) 
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 19:11:43 
    Family ID F11314  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family 2 Harriet DeFORD,   b. 10 Apr 1809, Woodstock [now Hopwood], Fayette County, PA Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Apr 1897, Ottawa, Franklin County, KS Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 87 years) 
     1. John W. DeFORD,   b. Abt 1835  [natural]
     2. Lydia A. DeFORD,   b. Abt 1837  [natural]
     3. Henry DeFORD,   b. 15 Dec 1839  [natural]
     4. Daniel DeFORD,   b. Abt 1842  [natural]
     5. Anna F. DeFORD,   b. Abt 1845  [natural]
     6. Harriet E. DeFORD,   b. Abt 1847  [natural]
     7. James DeFORD,   b. 1853  [natural]
    Last Modified 29 Dec 2018 19:11:43 
    Family ID F11315  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart