« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
a lecture on Edmund Burke; an address before the general convention of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity at Indianapolis, September 5, 1878, on the Unsolved Problem, having reference to the unequal distribution of property; an address on Character, delivered before the Nebraska State University at commencement, June 27, 1877; an address before the Nebraska State Bar Association on the Lawyer in Politics, and addresses on the occasion of breaking ground in Omaha for the construction of the Union Pacific Railway; the presentation of colors to the contingent supplied by Omaha to the army of the Union; the laying of the corner stone of the present Douglas county court house; the memorial meeting of citizens after the death of the Right Rev. Robert H. Clarkson, Episcopal bishop of Nebraska, besides a large number of other addresses and speeches delivered on occasions of public or social interest. Many old residents will remember his appeal at a mass meeting of citizens for aid for those rendered destitute and homeless by the great Chicago fire. He possessed a full vocabulary, a glowing style, and elevated sentiments, as a perusal of those addresses will attest.
Mr. Poppleton retained his connection with the Union Pacific Railway Company until February, 1888, when he was obliged to resign on account of failing health, carrying with him from the officers and directors warm and recorded expressions of their confidence, esteem, and appreciation of his long and faithful services.
During the spring following his resignation he sought recreation in travel, visiting the City of Mexico, where he was accorded the privilege of meeting the judges of the supreme court of that republic. Returning to Omaha he again took up the practice of law, intending to engage only in the more important cases.
In 1890, at the earnest solicitation of Mayor R. C. Cushing, he accepted the office of city attorney of Omaha, serving therein for two years. In advising the city authorities Mr. Poppleton gave free access to all who desired his counsel and applied to all questions democratic principles of economy and strict observance of law. During the greater part of his term he was without
an official assistant, but succeeded in bringing to a final disposition in the courts 196 cases brought against the city, besides performing all the advisory duties of the office.
In 1891 and 1892 Mr. Poppleton was engaged as one of the leading counsel in behalf of the Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific, and Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway Companies in litigation before the United States courts with the Union Pacific Railway Company, the result of which was to break down the Union Pacific bridge barrier and secure to the companies named the right to use the bridge and tracks of the Union Pacific at Omaha on reasonable terms for the purpose of bringing in and through the city their freight and passenger traffic.
On June 12, 1878, he received the degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Nebraska. In June, 1895, he received the degree of Master of Arts from Michigan University.
He was one of the organizers and the first president of the Omaha board of trade and the present Omaha Bar Association. He was an organizer and a president of the Law Library Association, and also one of the organizers, a president, and long a director of the Omaha Public Library.
In 1879, Mr. Poppleton, in connection with Mr. J. L. Webster, made an earnest effort to secure the release on a writ of habeas corpus of Standing Bear, a Ponca chief, and his tribe, who had been unlawfully dispossessed by the government of their homes in Nebraska and were being transferred to Indian Territory under military custody. This case was exhaustively argued and is a "cause celebre” in the history of our Indian affairs, and was the first instance in the judicial history of the United States in which the writ of habeas corpus was invoked and obtained on behalf of a tribal Indian.
In 1890 Mr. Poppleton was elected a trustee of Union College, Schenectady, N. Y.
In 1891, in his dual capacity of director of the Omaha Public Library and city attorney, he aided in securing the acceptance by the city of the Byron Reed bequest for public library purposes, and the voting of bonds to carry out its provisions.
Mr. Poppleton served in many citizens' associations and committees. He has always been especially interested in questions involving the Omaha city charter and the status and future of Omaha as a railway center and manufacturing and distributing point. A firm believer in the future of Omaha, his surplus earnings were invested almost without exception in Omaha and Douglas county real estate, and the erection of buildings therein, resulting in the accumulation of a large fortune.
In 1871 he was one of the original promoters of the building of the Grand Central hotel, the first large hotel built in Omaha, and later joined with Edward Creighton and others in loaning $100,000 to the hotel company for the purpose of completing the enterprise.
Mr. Poppleton was one of the original incorporators of the Pacific Express Company and Interstate Bridge and Street Railway Company, and at the time of his death was a stockholder and director of the First National Bank of Omaha.
About the first of January, 1892, his eyesight began to fail, and in a few months was completely lost. This misfortune was accompanied during the summer by general illness. Later he recovered his general health and engaged in affairs as far as was possible for one suffering his affliction.
Mr. Poppleton possessed literary tastes and derived a great consolation from their indulgence. He was the owner of a large and valuable private library, especially rich in historical works.
He was never a member of any church. He contributed, however, to the support of church organizations and has always possessed warm friends among clergymen.
Mr. Poppleton died at his home in Omaha on Thursday, September 24, 1896. His illness was of short duration and his death was most unexpected when it occurred.
The following is from the tribute paid to the memory of Mr. Poppleton by the Hon. James M. Woolworth at a meeting of the Douglas county bar held September 28, 1896:
“A long, useful, and honorable life has come to an end; it was a happy life, barring some of the pains and troubles which are
more or less the lot of all-even the most fortunate. We cannot suppress our sorrow; it is part of our humanity to grieve when one is taken from us who has had part in our lives; but in the end of a career of good report that we ourselves have seen in its whole course there is rejoicing in the midst of mourning.". In closing Mr Woolworth said: “Mr. Poppleton's pride was his profession. His great motive was to contribute to its fame. His desire was to live to a great age and give his years to the last to its exercise and service. He had no other ambition. When he saw his end drawing near and he and I were about to separate never to meet again on this earth, prostrate as he was, his voice, strong as ever, gave me his high command, 'Hold up the standard. If I have ever done anything for the profession to which he and I have given forty years of life together, the most I now can do is to keep on our way and pass on to you, my brethren of a younger generation, his great words, 'hold up the standard.'
"Four years ago last April he called me to him to tell me of his impending calamity of blindness. No one of all his friends, except his wife and children, knew what was upon him. Perhaps he remembered the sympathy of the days when, after his first great sickness, he was struggling back into strength and professional success. It was not long before the darkness came. As with Milton, from his natural eye the beauties of the earth and the heavens were excluded. To him returned not
‘Day or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn
Or flocks or herds or human face divine.' “A long season of great distress followed; but when it was passed he composed himself to his new conditions with a calm and serene spirit. They were four years of happy.life. He consoled himself with the pleasures of literature, communing with the great spirits of the past, bent on high thoughts, and reasoning of the great problem of life and history. He dwelt in the high places where the light first comes and shines the longest, not in the valleys, where common men hold their way among common things.
“I must say one word of another great happiness. In the home were his treasures. God keep them now.
“Mr. Poppleton held strong opinions upon all subjects of social and political order and the conduct of life. Reared by his father in the school of Jefferson, he believed that the true function of the government was limited; and that as far as is consistent with the equal rights of others, every man should be left to the exercise of his powers, capacities, and faculties in such ways and measures as he in his judgment believes will give them their highest enjoyment. And he held in abhorrence the contrivances and assiduities of those who by statutes seek to create wealth and make private gain of official opportunity. In private life he believed that it is much the best for men to avoid ostentation and hold a simple, frugal, and sincere way among their fellows. For vice he had no tolerance. Good men he held in reverence. Chief among his friends were Bishop Garrett, when that great man lived among us, and Dr. Sherrill, who, at his request, committed his body to the ground, earth to earth, dust to dust, ashes to ashes. If I were to sum up his character I would take the injunction of the apostle, who wrote to his people: 'Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.'
“With these virtues he clothed himself as with a garment; and in such covering I verily believe he presented himself before the Judge of all the earth.”'
A TRIBUTE TO MR. POPPLETON.
By Hon. J. Sterling Morton. Thirty-eight years ago a democrat, just in the sunrise of a strenuous and manly career, began with others in the first session of the legislative assembly of the territory of Nebraska to lay the foundations in Nebraska of civil government.
With other able and temperate, frugal and industrous pioneers