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LACY, Benjamin William

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Headstone in Linwood Cemetery
LACY, Benjamin William. (Locke, NY, Mar. 12, 1849-Dubuque, IA, Sept. 28, 1912). In 1868 Lacy was a penniless young school teacher from Lima, Iowa, the son of an unsuccessful country doctor, when he was invited by a distinguished relative, Judge Westel Willoughby of Alexandria, Virginia, to study law in his office. After a year, he obtained a job in the Bureau of the Census as a clerk. He moved into Washington and continued his law studies. He received his law degree from the Columbia School of Law in 1871. In Washington, Lacy was introduced to Congressman William Boyd ALLISON as a constituent and a relative of Judge Willoughby. Allison advised young Lacy to move to Dubuque after his graduation and seek a place in a law firm there.

With a letter from the influential senator-elect and introduced around Dubuque by David B. HENDERSON, Lacy received a clerkship in the office of Adams & Robinson, one of the leading law firms in the city. Hard work, initiative, and intelligence led to membership in the firm, marriage to partner Robinson's daughter, an appointment as district judge, and later a place as counsel to and then president of the IOWA TRUST AND SAVINGS BANK. He also served on FINLEY HOSPITAL (THE) board, director of the Union Electric Company and the KEY CITY GAS COMPANY, and a member of the board of trustees of the CARNEGIE-STOUT PUBLIC LIBRARY.

In 1907 Allison was challenged by Progressive Republican governor of Iowa, Albert Baird Cummins, for the Republican nomination for senator, in a preferential primary in June 1908. Judge Lacy took a place on the Committee of Seven, headed by their fellow townsman, John Taylor ADAMS to lead and guide Allison's campaign for the nomination. Allison narrowly won the nomination -- but in two months he was dead from cancer. Lacy was appointed Allison's sole executor and trustee without bond.

Judge Lacy soon found himself with another assignment. He was the designee to finish the legal work necessary for carrying out Allison's role as executor of his own wife's estate and also the estate of Mrs. Allison’s aunt, Mrs. James W. Grimes, who had died in 1890. These tasks were to run on for several years before they could be completed.

Full retirement never happened, although the major burden of his firm's business was assumed by his partners, Glenn Brown and his son, Frank Robinson Lacy. Family matters, attention to his large personal property holdings, extra work at the bank of which he was president, travel, reading, and illnesses consumed most of his time and energy. Under the date of August 26, 1910, he refers in his diary to a "constant numbness, with some prickly feeling, and at times a feeling of fullness and heat" in the thumb and forefinger of his left hand. This disappeared with therapy. On March 12, 1911, he refers to his sixty-second birthday, his apparent good health, his ability to turn out work without fatigue, but at the same time a great desire to take life easier, to "take in sail," voluntarily, not from absolute necessity.

Headstone in Linwood Cemetery
The diary closed rather abruptly on July 14, 1912, and death followed on September 28, 1912.

The Benjamin William Lacy Memorial was erected in JACKSON PARK.

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Source:

Sage, Leland. "Two Gentlemen From Dubuque," Online: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/spec-coll/bai/sage.htm