The genealogy of the Hindman family is traced to Dutch and Irish sources and his lineal ancestors were conspicuous in the colonial period of our national history, one of whom, on the maternal side, having come to this country in 1620, on the Mayflower, and the great-grandfather, on the paternal side, was a valiant soldier and officer in the War of the Revolution.
The maternal ancestry was of Irish extraction and, as a part of the Plymouth Colony, settled in Massachusetts, while the paternal line was Dutch and formed a part of the Dutch West India Company, to which was committed the care and colonization of "New Netherland." This company, in 1626, purchased Manhattan Island and erected a fort thereon called "Fort Amsterdam." Soon afterward, this company purchased other tracts of land in the vicinity, including Governor's Island and Staten Island, and to this source certain of Mr. Hindman's kinsfolk to this day trace title to valuable real estate in the cities of New York and Brooklyn.
James Hindman, grandfather of Jay A., of this sketch, was born in the state of New York near the close of the eighteenth century, and there was reared to maturity. After his marriage, he emigrated to what was then regarded as the "far west' and became one of the pioneer settlers near Wooster, Wayne County, Ohio. He became one of the representative citizens of the state, and was a member of the convention which met at Chillicothe in November, 1802, and drafted, and for the people ratified, the first constitution of Ohio.
Crooks Hindman, son of James Hindman, was born in Wayne county, Ohio, February 23, 1821, and was married at the same place, November 30, 1848, to Matilda, daughter of John J. and Sarah (Mercer) Brown, her birth having occurred March 27, 1823, in the same county. To this marriage were born Frances E., September 13, 1849; Albert M., February 20, 1851, who died in 1859; Mary E., September 13, 1855, who died in the state of Oklahoma in the year 1907; Clarrissa J., August 24, 1857; Thomas J., October 2, 1859; Jay A., September 1, 1861, and Louisa A., April 23, 1864.
Both of these parents were educated at the Wooster Academy, a Presbyterian school, and at that time one of the leading educational institutions of the Buckeye state. The father excelled in mathematics, while the mother had an especial aptitude in music, and attained a remarkable proficiency in the languages, including Greek, Latin and Hebrew, and to the time of her death delighted to read her Bible in the original Hebrew tongue. Both were devout Presbyterians of the old school, and they applied their church discipline to their family government with rigorous exaction.
Soon after their marriage, yielding to a desire for adventure, as their ancestors had done, they left their native heath where they were surrounded with comfort and refinement, to make their home in the wilds of the "distant west." They settled in Jefferson township, Wells county, Indiana, and in the spring of 1849, built a cabin in the woods and for many years endured the hardships and privations incident to pioneer life. Here were their children born and reared, and by parental tutorage, were educated. Here also the father died in 1876, but he had lived to see those dismal forest disappear before the resolute blow of the woodman's ax, and in their stead were fertile farms, fruitful fields, blooming orchards, and happy homes, with schools and churches, towns and villages and good roads on every hand to reward him and his fellow pioneers for the many hardships and privations they endured while subduing an obstinate wilderness. The wife survived him many years, and in 1909 she departed this life at the home of her daughter, Frances E. Bowman, near the old homestead, ripe in years and rich in the love of all who knew her.
Jay A. Hindman was born in the original lob cabin on the old homestead, and has not only tasted, but drank deeply of the cup of pioneer experience. While a mere lad, he helped not only to clear away the forests and to ditch and fence the farm, but helped also to build the public highways or the township through bramble, swamp and woods, and many were the days during which he drove an ox team drawing logs to build corduroy roads across impassable "swales" that abounded in that region in those days.
The demands upon his labor were too pressing to allow him to attend public schools, but the educational attainments of his parents stood him in good stead, and by their aid he kept abreast of those who enjoyed the privileges of the public schools. When he was but fifteen years of age, his father died. This bereavement cast upon him a heavy burden for one so young to bear, but he was old beyond his years, and soon so shaped his home affairs as to enable him to go away to school. Placing the income of the farm at the disposal of his mother and sisters who were yet at home, he entered the Methodist Episcopal College at Fort Wayne, Indiana, from which institution he graduated at the age of nineteen years. This college was later removed to Upland, Grant county, Indiana, and is now the Taylor University. Later, he entered the Northern Indiana Normal School at Valparaiso, Indiana, now called the Valparaiso University, where he graduated from the Teachers' Department in the year 1883, and in the year 1887,he graduated from the Scientific Department of the same institution, receiving the degree of Bachelor of Science. These achievements were phenomenal from the fact that not only was he deprived of all privileges of the public schools, but that he made his way through college without any financial aid whatever, and in the meantime paid off a mortgage indebtedness of $800 on the home place in addition to contributing to the support of his mother and younger sister who remained upon the farm.
While pursuing his first course in college, through the influence of a fellow student from Blackford county, he was employed as teacher in one of the rural schools of that county, in which capacity he demonstrated superior ability and to which position he was recalled for five successive terms, during the intervals of which he attended college, where he also taught four hours a day in addition to carrying the regular work of the prescribed course, and was thus enabled to complete his college education with the other members of his class.
In the year 1889, he was elected County Superintendent of the public schools of Blackford county, and was re-elected to the same office in the year 1891. Entering upon the duties of the office, he found the county without any definite educational system and the schools disorganized, and he laid hold of the work of bringing order out of chaos with that zeal and determination which has characterized his whole career. He inaugurated a system of graduation and reports, prescribed a uniform course of study, raised the moral and educational requirements of teachers and strove to make teaching a profession and not a "job," and gave impetus to the educational interest of the county which is felt to this day. Such was the transformation in so short a time as to attract wide attention and the methods employed by him were largely adopted in many of the counties of the state. As an index to the esteem in which he was held by the educational fraternity, we take pleasure in quoting from The American School Journal, a periodical devoted to the cause of education and of wide circulation in the middle west:
"Perhaps nowhere can be found more striking evidence of the value of efficient, vigorous and intelligent supervision than in Blackford county, Indiana. Although the youngest county superintendent in the state, Prof. Hindman has wrought a marvelous transformation in the rural schools of that county. He has been at the head of the educational interests of the county but three years, and within that brief time has inaugurated and put into successful operation a public school system which is equal to the best and which has brought the schools under his supervision boldly to the fore-front. But to know the man, is to discover the cause. He is energy personified and his soul is in his work. While he is primarily, and in every true sense, a "school man," he is also a man of affairs and possessed of wonderful versatility. He is not only a scholar, but an organizer as well. He is an orator of high rank, possessing a fluency of language, ease of manner, dignified poise, graceful gesture and pleasing voice so harmoniously blended as to place him in the front rank as a forceful and pleasing platform speaker, with few equals and none superior in the state.
"In politics, Mr. Hindman is a democrat and is the present chairman of the county central committee of his party. And while a partisan with strong convictions, he is too broad to allow party politics to enter educational affairs, as even his political opponents admit. He has ever been a close student of political history and the science of government, and is strong in the conviction that a tariff levied for the purpose of protection is wrong in theory and unjust in practice. His public utterances on this and kindred questions, coupled with his superior oratorical ability, soon attracted wide attention and his services are in great demand as a public speaker, especially in political campaign work. As early as the national campaign of 1884, he canvassed this and adjoining states under the auspices of his party organization and was billed as ‘The Boy Orator of Indiana.' And in each subsequent campaign, including the one just closed, he has been heard throughout the states of the middle west and is universally esteemed as one of the ablest and most convincing advocates of the principles for which his party stands."
Early in life, he resolved to become a lawyer, and this purpose to him was a "polar star" in guiding his subsequent career. His choice in this respect was determined by an incident which occurred in his early childhood. His father was a justice of the peace of the township in which he lived. A case was tried before him which, at the time, was considered an important event, and the people,—men, women and children,—from "all the regions round about Jordan," came out to hear it. To accommodate the assembled hosts, the floor of the double log barn was converted into an improvised temple of justice. There in the presence of the motley throng, the case was tried before a jury which had been summoned from all quarters of the township. Appearing for one of the parties to the action, was the Honorable Joseph S. Dailey, a rising young lawyer of Bluffton, subsequently judge of the supreme court of the state. The occasion was a auspicious one to the future disciple of Blackstone. With wide-eyed admiration and every faculty alert, he drank in every word which fell from the lips of the young attorney, and then resoved to emulate him in his chosen profession. As an interesting sequence, years afterward, and when both had become prominent, these men were warm personal, political and professional friends and mutual admirers, and they were engaged, as opposing counsel, in the midst of the trial of an important case at the time of the sudden and untimely death of Judge Dailey, whom Mr. Hindman had so long regarded as his patron saint.
Mr. Hindman's rise in the legal profession was rapid and brilliant. From early in life, he was a close and interested student of Blackstone, Kent, Greenlief, Chitty and other eminent authorities and before beginning the active practice, few lawyers were better grounded in the basic principles of the law. During his incumbency of the office of county superintendent, he pursued the study and practical application of the law in the office of Shinn & Pierce in Hartford City. In 1892, he was nominated, without his solicitation, as candidate, on the democratic ticket, for the office of prosecuting attorney for the forty-eighth judicial circuit of Indiana, then composed of the counties of Grant and Blackford, and although the normal political majority in the circuit was overwhelmingly against him, he was defeated in the election by a very narrow margin. At the next session of the state legislature, by a special enactment, the forty-eighth judicial circuit was changed by segregating Grant county, and Blackford county was united with Wells county, creating thereby the twenty-eighth judicial circuit. In this circuit there was a vacancy in the office of prosecuting attorney and, on March 8, 1903, Mr. Hindman was appointed by Governor Matthews to fill this vacancy, to accept which he resigned the county superintendency.
On assuming the duties of the office, Mr. Hindman displayed the same energy and ability which had characterized his previous efforts and he soon became recognized as one of the strongest prosecuting attorneys in the state. Instead of devoting his attention to petty infractions, he looked more especially to grave violations of the law and soon struck terror to the hearts of hardened criminals. In discharging the duties of the office, as in all of his undertakings, he was conscientious to a high degree, and was guided by the theory that it was as much the duty of a prosecuting attorney to protect the innocent as to convict the guilty, and in cases where he had reasonable doubt as to the guilt of the accused, he frankly told the jury so and asked for an acquittal.
At the expiration of the term for which he was appointed, he was nominated by his party for the ensuing term and stood for election in November, 1904. During his incumbency, the criminal and lawless element had learned that they could receive no quarter at his hands, and that party fealty afforded them no immunity from prosecution. Accordingly, the lawless element of all parties combined to encompass his defeat, and the war was on. Courageously, he hurled defiance at his proponents and would make no bargain. He warned all criminals that, if elected, their only means of protection from prosecution was to violate no law. He was importuned by influential members of his party to dismiss certain prosecutions then pending in the courts, as a condition upon which he would receive the support of a powerful criminal element, but he replied that his self-respect was not for sale and that he could not be purchased at any price. As a result, the law-abiding voters, regardless of party affiliations, came to his support. That election was a republican "land-slide' throughout the state and his party went down to defeat, but he was elected by a large majority, and was the only candidate on the democratic ticket that carried his home county.
At the expiration of the term of office for which he was elected, he engaged in general practice of the law in Hartford City, and his advancement in his profession was rapid and distinctive, as shown by the success he has achieved. Oil and natural gas having been discovered in that part of the state, he made an especial study of the law pertaining to this class of property and soon his clientage extended to all of the oil and natural gas fields in this country and in the Dominion of Canada, and he is everywhere recognized as authority on this branch of the law. So great has been the demand for his services in this class of litigation that in late years it became necessary for him to abandon the local practice and devote his time to this special class of work, much of which was in the Federal Courts and in the highest courts of various states.
While, for a number of years, he has been well known among "oil men" of this country, it was not until the year 1909 that he came into national prominence.
For many years natural gas was known to exist in southern Kansas, and the supply had been regarded as inexhaustible. The Kansas Natural Gas Company and the Wichita Gas Company were organized by eastern capitalists as distributing companies. Contracts were made with local companies in the various cities of Kansas and Missouri by which these distributing companies obligated themselves to deliver a designated supply of natural gas to the local companies for a fixed period of years. Replying upon these contracts, the local companies, in turn, made similar arrangements with their customers to supply them with this valuable fuel. Pursuant to these arrangements, systems of pipe lines of enormous capacity were laid, pumping stations were installed and other equipment supplied, representing an expenditure of many millions of dollars. In 1906, the supply began to fail, and in 1909, these companies were unable to fulfill their contracts for want of an adequate supply of natural gas. Across the state line, in the state of Oklahoma, was an abundant supply, and these companies made arrangements to extend their trunk lines into that state to acquire this much-needed supply, whereupon the legislature of the state of Oklahoma enacted a statue, the purpose of which was to prevent the piping of natural gas out of the state. Efforts to lay a pipeline into the state were met with armed resistance. The state line was patroled by the state militia, who, by command of the governor, tore up the pipe lines which were laid into the state, and threw them back into the state of Kansas. To protect their investments and to make good their contracts, it was necessary for these gas companies to resort to heroic measures. The question was, What could they do? Resort to the state courts would be useless, and to pursue the usual method of reaching the Supreme Court of the United States after traversing the tedious routine of the State Courts, meant financial ruin by delay. The ablest lawyers in the country were consulted and retained, among whom were Parker, Hatch & Sheehan of New York; Scarrett, Scarrett & Jones of Kansas City; Zeveley, Givens & Smith of Muskogee, Oklahoma; Lee & Mackey of Pittsburgh, and Jay A. Hindman of Hartford City, Indiana. After careful consideration, it was determined to go into the Federal Court, in the first instance, to enjoin the Governor, Attorney General, and all of the executive officers of the state from attempting to enforce the Oklahoma statute in the State Courts, on the ground that the statue was in violation of the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution, and also of the XIV Amendment. Although without a precedent for such procedure, the action was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, and because of his ripe knowledge of the questions involved, Mr. Hindman was selected by the counsel engaged to present the case, which he did, and the briefs which he filed in the courts are regarded by the legal fraternity as classics on the subject of Constitutional Law. The case was won in all of the courts through which it passed, including the Supreme Court of the United States, and the decision rendered therein is a valuable precedent on the important questions involved.
Mr. Hindman is now engaged in what he regards as the crowning legal battle of his life. An action was brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Illinois, in which the controlling question involved affects the validity of more than ninety percent of the contracts for the production of oil and gas in this country. Previous to the bringing of this action, Mr. Hindman had raised the same question in a case in the Supreme Court of the State of Illinois, and had secured a favorable decision. The vital question involved related to the effect of what is known as a "surrender clause" in leases on land for oil and gas purposes. It was the contention of Mr. Hindman that a provision in a lease which gave the lessee the right to terminate it at any time, by implication, gave the same right to the other party; that an estate at the will of one of the parties, is equally at the will of both; that contracts, unperformed, optional as to one of the parties, are optional as to both. The Supreme Court of Illinois adopted this view, and as practically all oil and gas leases contain a clause giving the lessee a right to terminate the lease at any time, this decision, if it should become a ruling precedent, would practically nullify all leases for oil and gas purposes in this country. For this reason all of the great oil companies, especially the Standard Oil Company, were eager to neutralize the Illinois decision, and this was the purpose for bringing this action in the Federal Court. In that court, Judge Wright refused to follow the State Supreme Court, but announced a different rule, although the lease in controversy was executed in Illinois, related to property in Illinois and could be performed nowhere except in Illinois. Mr. Hindman contended that the decision of the highest court of the state created a rule of property in that state which was binding upon the Federal Courts, and, refusing to abide by the decision rendered, he appealed to the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, in which court his contention prevailed, and the decision of the lower court was reversed. The case was entitled Smith et al. vs Guffey et al., and the decision is reported in Vol. 202 Federal Reporter at page 106.
Having thus failed in their purposes to nullify the rule established by the Supreme Court of Illinois, this case was taken to the Supreme Court of the United States by writ of certiorari, where it is now pending. Being defeated in the United States Circuit Court of Appeals, the allied oil interests added to their previous array of eminent counsel other lawyers of national fame, among whom were the firms of Phildander C. Knox of Pittsburgh, Levey Mayer of Chicago, J. W. Moses of Washington, D. C., and Senator Joseph W. Bailey of Texas.
Representing the respondents, Mr. Hindman is alone. Such is the confidence which his clients have in him that, although the amount involved is a princely fortune, they are willing to stake all on his ability to cope with his distinguished adversaries. They prefer to give him free rein and leave him unhampered, and the brief and argument which he has filed in the highest court of the land fully vindicate their judgment in this respect. The paramount question involved is the relation existing between State and Federal Courts, under the Constitution, and the duty of the Federal Courts, under our dual system of government, to follow precedents established by the decisions of the highest courts of the State when each decisions establish rules of property within the state. His brief consists of more than two hundred pages and is a masterful presentation of the questions of "Judicial Comity" and "Share Decisis."
Although in the prime of life, Mr. Hindman has retired from the general practice and his talents, in the future, will be employed in an
advisory capacity only. Having earned a competency sufficient for the necessaries and conveniences of life, he has gone to the Pacific Coast, where he hopes to enjoy his remaining years amid the perennial flowers and sunshine of "The Golden West."
Blackford and Grant Counties, Indiana A Chronicle of their People Past and Present with Family Lineage and Personal Memoirs Compiled Under the Editorial Supervision of Benjamin G. Shinn
Volume I Illustrated
The Lewis Publishing Company Chicago and New York 1914
Submitted by Peggy Karol