Obit: Perry, George Milton (1848 - 1922)

Contact: Dolores (Mohr) Kenyon

Surnames: Perry, Martin, Jones, Stiles, Walker, Squires, Clancy, Bump, Smith, Newman, Brackett, Clark, Edmunds, Lewis, Humphrey, Matchette, O’Neill, Calway, Eggum, Vandervort, Livingstone, Chapman, Purnell, Paulley, Erickson, Landers, Baker, Mower, Whittaker, Chafey, Sechler, Dudley, Mulligan, Losacco, Harding

----Source: Badger State Banner (Black River Falls, Jackson Co., WI) 5/18/1922

Perry, George Milton (23 August 1848 - 17 May 1922)

George M Perry, a prominent attorney of this city and veteran of the Civil War, passed from this earth at 7:45 last evening May 17, after a brief illness. His death came unexpected and was a great shock to his many friends, who mourn his loss. Mr. Perry had not been in the best of health the past two years or so, and during the past year had been less active in his law office in partnership with his son and grandson, H. M. & D. M. Perry, but he had been out and occasionally down town. On Monday last, was his last trip down town and on his way home he was taken with an attack with his heart and obliged to stop at the home of his daughter, Mrs. R. A. Jones until later in the afternoon. Since that time he suffered more severe spells with his heart and grew weaker and weaker until the end came very peacefully. He was conscious until the last.

Funeral services will be held Sunday afternoon at 2 o’clock under Masonic auspices.

An obituary will be published next week.

----Source: Badger State Banner (Black River Falls, Jackson Co., WI) 5/25/1922

Attorney G. M. Perry suddenly departs; announcement as shocking as it was sudden - died of heart trouble - Able Court Lawyer and one of Leading Lawyers in State - Hard working man - Kind Sympathetic, and Generous.

Attorney G. M. Perry passed away at his home in the Second ward of this city on Wednesday evening last, may 17th, at 7:25, after a brief illness of heart trouble. Mr. Perry was down town on Monday morning previous to his death and returned home. In the afternoon, about four o’clock, his wife, with some friends, motored to Fairchild and Mr. Perry went down to the home of his daughter, Mrs. R. A. Jones, for supper. About five o’clock he suffered his first severe spell with his heart, and when his wife returned home in the evening he was taken home. He suffered another spell the following evening, one during the night and a fourth about six o’clock in the morning of the day of his final summons. His passing was peaceful and quiet. During his illness he seemed to have hopes of getting well again and never hinted that he expected he would pass on until about an hour before he breathed his last. His age was 73 years, 8 months and 34 days. Although Mr. Perry’s last illness was brief he had not been in the best health the past year and had retired from active business, since his grandson, Donald M. Perry, graduated from Law School and was admitted to the bar.

George Milton Perry, better known as “Milt”, was born near Perry’s Creek, south of this city, August 23, 1848, the oldest son of James and Lydia Perry, among the earliest settlers of Black River Falls. He lived with his parents until the death of his mother, which occurred when he was but a mere child. When he became fourteen years of age he began to drift away from home more or less, and followed log driving, running lumber down the river and working about sawmills.

In August, 1864, he seemed to hear the call to arms and although scarcely 16 years of age, the assumed the duties of a volunteer soldier, expecting to become a member of the 42nd Wisconsin Infantry. The recruiting officers under whom he enlisted were H. L. Walker, R. D. Squires and Joseph Clancy. When these recruits reached Madison they were allowed their choice between the 42nd regiment, or of joining the 5th Wisconsin Infantry, then in the field in Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, and by the unanimous vote of the company they became Co. G of the 5th Wisconsin Infantry. The new men found themselves in the midst of the fray and saw plenty of war and its terrors until the surrender of General Lee, April 9th, 1965. Mr. Perry, as a private was with his regiment in all of the battles of the campaign including the battles of campaign including the battles of Hatcher’s Run, Sailor’s Creek and the awful charge upon Petersburg. He was a splendid soldier and there was nothing that suited him better than to meet some of his old comrades and discuss their experiences during the Civil War, and to tell his other friends about it. Mr. Perry, with the rest of his company, was mustered out of service at Hall’s Hill, near Washington, June 25, 1865, and reached home the 28th of June.

Jackson County was not at that time noted for the number of its schools nor for their efficiency, and Mr. Perry had very few advantages for gaining an education here, so in the fall of 1868 he attended the Howe Seminary at Enworth, Iowa, where he remained until the following June when he went to Denmark Academy, in Iowa, and afterwards for a short time at the I. I. U. at Champaign, Ill.

In 1871, he was married to Miss Nellie Martin, who died June 26th, 1904. There were two children born to them, Birdine, now Mrs. Rufus A. Jones, and Harry F. M., now one of the leading attorneys of this city and his father’s partner in the law business since the latter was admitted to the bar in 1914. Soon after their marriage, Mr. Perry began farming in the Town of Manchester. He remained there farming and teaching school until he was elected clerk of the court in 1877. His term began with January, 1878, but he had engaged to teach the Cataract School and did not assume personal charge of the office until the following March. He was clerk of the court for some over three years, when, upon the death of Judge Bump, he was appointed by Governor Smith to fill the vacancy as county judge. He continued as county judge nine years at a salary of $600 per year the first five years and $700 for the last four years. During these years he had been fitting himself for the bar, and while serving as clerk of the court was admitted to the bar of the circuit court under Judge A. W. Newman. Afterwards he was admitted to practice in the Supreme Court of Wisconsin and also in the Circuit and district courts of the United States. He entered in partnership with H. I. Brackett in 1890 and was a partner with him until 1893, when Atty. Brackett entered the government service, at Washington.

Mr. Perry built up a splendid practice in the law and the fact that he was given the management of large cases which took him to far distant states, and involved large estates, shows the confidence the people placed in his legal ability. His loyalty to the cause of his clients, his especially effective power with the jury, and his thorough work with witnesses place him among the ablest of lawyers in western Wisconsin. He has been twice mayor of the city and was a highly honored member of the Masonic, I. O. O. F. and K. of P. fraternal organizations in this city.

He was prominent in most public events, being always in demand for a public address.

Mr. Perry’s second marriage, to Miss Emma Stiles of Tomah, occurred in 1908. She had been a kind, faithful helpmate to her husband and will miss him sorely. Besides his widow and children, Mr. Perry leaves one brother, James D. Perry of Kenyon Valley, near this city, and one sister, Mrs. Ida Clark of McLaughlin, S. Dak., and many other relatives and a multitude of friends to mourn his departure.

The funeral was held from the home Sunday afternoon at 3 o’clock, under Masonic auspices, Rev. F. R. Harding delivering the funeral sermon. It was one of the largest funerals ever held in this city and friends were present from far and near. The relatives who came from abroad were: Mark F. Smith of La Crescent, Minn.; Arthur Edmunds of Casper, Wyoming; Mrs. C. L. Lewis and son Donald and Mrs. Humphrey of Belvidere, Ill.; Mrs. Jennie Matchette of Eau Claire; Ross Clark of Minneapolis; Mrs. Truman Stiles of Babcock; Miss Dorothy Jones of Beloit and Willard Jones of Madison.

This is probably the passing of the man who had in his head and at his command greater knowledge of early history events of this vicinity than any other if not all others at this time, and this earthly knowledge passes with him to eternal silence. That is part of it does - the major part - which had not already been formulated and put into black and white. He was as much attracted in his sympathy toward his early day friendships as he was toward his army comrades. His was a sympathetic nature of unusual fervor. He would go to most any length to accommodate a friend or help one in trouble or distress. He was liberal to such an extent as to be considered almost a fault - a fault in behalf of his own interests; and he was always in the foreground in giving to worthy public causes. He was a very hard worker, and he never spared himself in any endeavor to help his clients or his friends. Besides being liberal with his cash he has given thousands of dollars worth of legal advice and work to accommodate his friends and in the interest of the public. It is probable that the extra work he thus put upon himself had much to do with his untimely physical decline.

Hon. James O’Neill and C. D. Calway of Neillsville and O. J. Eggum of Whitehall were among the attorneys from abroad who were present at the last sad rites.

The army comrades of Mr. Perry who came to bid their last farewell to their faithful friends were: M. L. Vandervort, James Livingstone, L. L. Chapman, John Purnell, Jacob Paulley, A. Erickson, Isaiah Landers, Hugh Baker, Charles Mower, Jacob Whittaker and Charles Chafey of this city, Charles Sechler of Sechlerville and Fayette Dudley of Alma Center.

The Women’s Relief Corps attended in a body, and any of the world’s war veterans were present. Something like 75 automobiles accompanied the body to its last resting place in the beautiful Riverside Cemetery. The floral offerings were nearly as numerous as his friends - coming from far and near.

The sorrowing widow and children have the deepest sympathy of the whole community.

Following is a tribute to the character of the deceased, prepared by Judge James O’Neill, before whom Mr. Perry practiced actively during the whole of the judge’s term:

An Appreciation of Judge George Milton Perry

A long life; a busy life; a worthy record; in what words, may the merits of our departed friend be fittingly described? I have been intimately acquainted with Judge Perry for nearly half a century. During many years while I practiced at the bar, I met him often in the trial of cases. For over twenty years he practiced in courts over which I presided. In private life our acquaintance has been intimate. So I feel that I am able to estimate his character as a citizen and his ability in professional life.

As a mere boy he offered his services to his country, in her hour of need. He served until the close of the Civil War with a perfect record. He was intense in everything he did and he fought for his country with enthusiasm. In those days we had men among us who were disloyal at heart. Then we had those whose patriotism was colorless. They would stand by the flag so long as it was popular. But they trimmed their sails to suit the prevailing breeze. Then we had ardent patriots who would fight for the flag and give up their lives in its defense, without question or hesitation. Of this class was young Perry.

Judge Perry had a strong feeling of friendship for the “boys” who had served with him in the army. He has told me that when one of them was shot through the breast, he threw his coat over him expecting never to see him again. But his comrade lived; and a few years ago Mr. Perry learned where he lived and made a journey to visit him.

Many times Judge Perry inquired of me about one who served with him and who lived and still resides at Loyal, Clark County Oliver Mulligan. I invited him to come to Neillsville and go with me to see his comrade. He brought Mrs. Perry with him and we visited his old friend. Words may not describe how happy they were after the lapse of fifty years, in looking into each other’s faces.

Judge Perry was an able lawyer. He was not as strong as a drafter of pleading but he was a power in the actual trial of cases, especially in arguments before juries. I have heard him make many eloquent addresses which often brought him favorable verdicts.

Of one thing his clients were certain. He was faithful to their cause to the end. He looked neither to the right nor to the left. He was bound to win if the case was just. I have heard this criticism made, that he could see only his client’s side of the case and not the equities of the other party. This may be excused because of the zeal inspired by the heat of a legal battle.

Judge Perry was ardent and constant in his friendships.

A few years ago an Italian boy got into trouble and Judge Perry defended him in court. The Judge, when the matter was disposed of, became interested in this boy, who was far away from his native land and without friends. For years Judge Perry has been like a father to the young man. At the funeral, Mike Losacco sat with the family as one of the mourners. It is another illustration of the spirit of altruism which inspired to kindly acts and deeds.

Rev. Harding in his remarks at the funeral said he had had many conversations with Mr. Perry in which religious questions were discussed and that while his views were not what would be called orthodox; he was a believer in the essentials of the Christian religion. However this may be, I feel sure he came nearer than many of us in fulfilling the requirements of the Scriptures, to do justly, to love mercy and to walk humbly with his God.

By James O’Neill, May 22, 1922



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