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JUDGE W. I. WALLACE. Biography should be written for the sake of its lessons; that men everywhere may place themselves in contact with facts and affairs, and build themselves up to and into a life of excellence, where they may keep and augment their individuality. For this reason a sketch of Judge W. I. Wallace is here given, his career having been both honorable and useful. He was born in the Green Mountains, Franklin County, Mass., December 25, 1840, his parents being Zebina and Lucinda (French) Wallace, who were of Scotch-Irish lineage.
The Wallaces trace their genealogical ancestry back to the earliest colonists immigrating to Massachusetts. The paternal grandfather, Seth Wallace, was born in that State, but became an early settler of the Empire State, where he followed the occupation of farming, a calling which received the attention of most of the members of his family. He had fought his country’s battles as a soldier of the Revolution, during which time he was noted for his bravery and faithfulness to the Colonial cause. Zebina Wallace resided in Vermont until 1859, then moved to Dane County, Wisconsin, where he became the owner and resided on a farm near Madison until his death, which occurred in 1881. He learned the trade of tanning in his youth, but his last days were spent on a farm. His mother died in 1883, having borne her husband nine sons, seven of whom are living: William, Christopher, Dewitt C., Jonathan C., Francis E., Washington I. and Joseph W. One remarkable fact in connection with this family is that on the father’s side the grandfather and father died at the age of eighty-five years, and on the mother’s side the grandparents died at the age of eighty-five and eighty-four years, respectively.
Judge Wallace spent the first fifteen years of his life in his native county, then removed with his parents to Wisconsin, in which State his literary education was acquired. Being desirous of fitting himself for a professional life he chose the law course, for which he seemed to have a natural aptitude and a decided inclination, and for the purpose of fitting himself for this career he entered the Law Department of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, from which he graduated in 1866, having two years previously graduated from the University of Wisconsin. After finishing his law course he came directly to Lebanon, Missouri, where he entered into partnership with A. D. Groesbeck, a leading attorney and a very estimable gentleman, which firm continued as Groesbeck & Wallace until Mr. Groesbeck’s death, which occurred in 1870. Since that date Mr. Wallace has continued the practice alone and his unusual ability has won for him a large practice and much prominence. He has always been a man of quick perception, one of those who speak out boldly from conviction, and while a practitioner he commanded the respect of the court and his arguments carried convincing weight. In 1868 he was elected prosecuting attorney, serving until 1870, and six years later he was elected a member of the State Senate, in which he served faithfully four years. In 1884 he was elected to the position of circuit judge (his circuit comprising seven counties), and to this position he was reelected two years later and has since held it by reelection. He has held several other offices of trust and has filled all in an honorable and satisfactory manner. His long career on the bench has been marked by the utmost judicial ability, the soundest of judgment, impartial fairness and a correct judgment of men and motives, and to the honorable position which he fills he has added luster and honor. In 1863 he enlisted in Company D, Fortieth Wisconsin Infantry, and served until the regiment was mustered out, and although he was offered an officer’s position he declined to accept. He participated in many severe skirmishes and was a brave and gallant soldier. He was married in 1876 to Miss Louisa Groesbeck, by whom he has one child, Clara. Judge Wallace and his wife are members of the Congregational Church, and he is also a member of the Masonic fraternity, in which he has passed all the degrees.