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History of Iowa From the Earliest Times to the Beginning of the Twentieth Century/4/Norman W. Isbell

NORMAN W. ISBELL, lawyer and jurist, was a native of Ohio, born in about the year 1818. He received but a common school education, before entering upon the study of law. He came to Iowa in 1842 when it was a Territory, locating at Marion, in Linn County, where he opened a law office. He served as a county judge at the period when that officer had almost supreme financial power in conducting the business of his county; a most efficient system, when the judge was competent and honest, but a most dangerous system when occupied by an unscrupulous man clothed with despotic powers by law. Judge Isbell was of the best class and rendered most excellent service. He belonged to the old Whig party in early days but when the slavery issue sent that neutral party out of existence, Mr. Isbell became a Republican. In 1854 he was a law partner of N. M. Hubbard and from 1857 to 1860 the partnership was renewed. Under the old Constitution, he was in January, 1855, elected by the Fifth General Assembly Supreme Judge, resigning in 1856 on account of failing health. In September, 1862, upon the resignation of Judge Wm. E. Miller of the Eighth Judicial District, Governor Kirkwood appointed Judge Isbell to fill the vacancy. He was elected at the expiration of the term but after serving until August 31, 1864, resigned and removed to California, where he died of consumption the same year. Judge Hubbard, his former partner, pronounced Judge Isbell to have been an able jurist, thoroughly equipped in all that makes an excellent judge.