Hugo O. Hanft

Judge Hugo O. HanftHugo O. Hanft was born in 1871 in St. Peter, Minnesota to Oscar and Anna Hanft.  Oscar was a tinmaker, and died when Hugo was only six years old.  Young Hugo attended school in New Ulm.  Graduating at age 16, he desired admission to the University of Minnesota Law School, but was too young.  Instead he enrolled in the German-American Teachers’ Seminary (Miwaukee), and graduated from there in 1889. He then taught at the Peru, IL High School until 1894, where he served as principal his final year. He finally enrolled in the University of Minnesota Law School, and graduated in 1896.  He was admitted to the Minnesota Bar that same year.

Hanft served as assistant Ramsey County attorney in 1896 under Pierce Butler.  The following year he went into private practice, and returned to the University of Minnesota to receive his masters in law degree.  He left his practice in  1898 to serve as First Lieutenant in the Army during the Spanish-American War.  Upon returning he married Laura Holly, and they had one child, Hugo Holly Hanft. He resumed private practice until his election to the Saint Paul Municipal Court in 1906.  He served as a municipal judge until he was elected as a Ramsey County District Judge in 1914, where he served from 1915 to 1943.  Judge Hanft also presided over the sensational 1917 case against Frank Dunn for the murder of his separated wife, which resulted in Dunn being found guilty and spending the rest of his life in prison. ( This story is captured in the popular book Murder has a Public Face: Crime and Punishment in the Speed Graphic Era, by Larry Millet.)   Hanft was also a candidate for Minnesota Supreme Court Justice in 1924. He finally retired from the Ramsey District Court bench in 1943.  Hugo Hanft died in 1949, preceded by his wife, Laura, who died in 1931.

As a judge, Hanft was very protective of youth, but was otherwise a “hands-off” guy as he understood the role of government.  As a municipal judge he was concerned about the effects of alcohol, “penny parlors,” and dance halls on the young, as well as what he thought was lack of proper parental supervision.  He thus inaugurated “compulsory economy” as a municipal judge, requiring young men charged with drunkenness to put portions of their income in savings, and to pay their parents for room and board.  As a district judge he continued to protect youth with his long-term campaign against alcohol ”bootleggers.”  Conversely, in 1928 he denied the right of state agencies to control the financial policies of the University of Minnesota.  In 1934 he also struck down state income tax as unconstitutional, only to see it reinstated by the Minnesota Supreme Court in Reed v. Bjornson et al. (253 N.W. 102).


The Law Librarian extends special thanks to the George Latimer Central Library.  Their collection of historic newspaper clippings from the Pioneer Press and Saint Paul Dispatch were invaluable in locating the information presented here. 



Restorations in Progress

Giant lightThe huge, high-tech light pictured on the right is not part of a hospital- at least not in the traditional sense. This is one of the tools that one can see when they visit the Midwest Art Conservation Center (MACC). We paid a visit last week, where the last installment of our judge portraits were getting their state-of-the-art restoration treatment. This visit provided us a rare opportunity to see our judges up close, even under the microscope! The details of the portraits, including the canvases, varnishes, brush strokes, are simply unbelievable!  We also witnessed the painstaking process of cleaning each portrait, with hand-rolled cotton swabs. (Keep in mind that years of “smoking” had left a yellow-brown film on all of the gentlemen.)

Another interesting detail as to the history of the portraits was revealed during our visit. See the photo below taken on the back of a particular portrait indicating that Brewer entered it in the 16th Annual Exhibition of the Art Institute back in 1930. Is it possible that this was in fact the first of the portraits, which led Brewer to paint most of the others?

We would like to extend a huge thank you to Chief Conservator David Marquis and the other MACC staff for allowing us to visit the restoration in progress. Their informative explanation of the restoration process was most enlightening.  Until the portraits return to our walls, enjoy these pictures from our visit.



Entry tag from 1930 Art Institute exhibition

Entry tag from 1930 Art Institute exhibition

close-up of canvas

Close-up of canvas and Judge Wilkin’s spectacles

Judge Sanborn on easel

Judge Sanborn “on the stand”



The Judge Portraits Identified

Restored portraits await return to wallsAs countless people surf the web every day, it behooves the Law Librarian to actually list the judges of the historic portrait collection on our walls. It’s always exciting for us when a visitor to the library (or our blog) points out a portrait as being of their deceased relative.  So as we near the completed restoration of all the portraits, we want to encourage people with connections and memories to come forward and share them with us.

So, here they are (in alphabetical order):

Charles Bechhoefer (1923-1931)
John W. Boerner (1923-1949)
Hascal Russel Brill (1875-1922)
Kenneth Gray Brill (1929-1954)
George Lincoln Bunn (1897-1911)
Frederick Miles Catlin (1913-1921)
William Daltin Cornish (1890-1893)
Royden Smith Dane (1947-1959)
Frederick N. Dickson (1911-1921)
James J. Egan (1891-1897)
John W. Graff (1959-1974)
Archie L Gingold (1960-1978)
William Sprigg Hall (1867-1875)
Oscar Hallam (1905-1912)
Hugo O. Hanft (1915-1943)
Charles C. Haupt (1917-1922)
Marshall F. Hurley (1959-1960)
Edwin A. Jaggard (1899-1905)
William Louis Kelly (1887-1923)
Charles D. Kerr (1889-1897)
Olin Baily Lewis (1897-1929)
Gustavus Loevinger (1931-1955)
Carlton F. McNally (1924-1959)
James C. Michael (1915-1946)
Richard D. O’Brien (1923-1939)
Grier Melancthon Orr (1903-1930)
Charles E. Otis (1889-1903)
E.C. Palmer (1858-1864)
John B. Sanborn (1922-1925)
Orlando Simons (1875-1890)
Arthur A. Stewart (1946-1961)
Levi M. Vilas (1889-1891)
Richard Ambrose Walsh (1931-1938)
Howard Wheeler (1930-1931)
Wescott Wilkin (1865-1891)
John Willey Willis (1892-1899)

We are also interested in information related to the artists, including Edward V. Brewer and James L. Artig


John W. Boerner

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John W. Boerner was born on August 16, 1874 at the Army post of Fort Hays, Kansas where his father was stationed. His family moved to Saint Paul, Minnesota when he was five years old.  His father initially worked as a bookkeeper, but later joined the St. Paul Police force, where he achieved the rank of captain.  Young John Boerner attended Cretin High School in Saint Paul.  Later he played amateur baseball, starting on both the Northern Pacific and Knights of Columbus teams.  After that he went to work for the Great Northern and Omaha railroads while he took evening classes at the St. Paul College of Law (Now William Mitchell).  He graduated in 1903 and went into private practice.  At some point Boerner married “Marguerite,” and they had two daughters.

Boerner also went into private practice, later becoming Assistant Ramsey County Attorney, first under Thomas D. O’Brien, and then under Richard D. O’Brien. Boerner was elected District Court Judge in 1923, defeating Judge Frederick M. Catlin (appointed the previous year). He was re-elected to four more terms, finally retiring in 1949. (He was 73 years old, which was the mandatory retirement age for judges back then.)  He died on November 9, 1955 at Miller Hospital due to complications of a heart condition. He was 81 years old.


Royden S. Dane

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Royden Smith Dane was born on December 24, 1893 in the Minnesota Iron Range town of Biwabik.  He spent his youth working in logging and mining camps.    Here he learned to operate steam shovels and fire locomotives, and even held a boiler operator license for years.   Through his life he remained proud of his humble beginnings.

He entered the University of Minnesota, but left to join the Army when World War I began. After serving in this capacity for 18 months, he returned and entered the St. Paul College of Law.  He graduated in 1926 and was admitted to the bar that same year.  He spent 17 years in private practice before he was appointed as Municipal Court Judge in 1943.  He was elected to the Ramsey District bench in 1946 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Judge Hugo Hanft.  In 1956 he married Roseville teacher Fern Nelson.  Judge Dane suffered a heart attack in his chambers on February 4, 1959 and died four days later at St. Joseph’s Hospital.  He was 64 years old.

Judge Dane was a colorful storyteller, plus an avid horse trainer and conservationist.  He kept a duck farm between Lexington and Victoria Avenues, between County roads E and F (present day Shoreview).  He was also active in the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.  Shown in the painting wearing a fresh flower and a friendly smile, Judge Dane just might be the most handsome image in the judge portrait collection.  Having died in office, Judge Dane wouldn’t have posed for a traditional portrait as part of a judicial retirement. The Law Librarian speculates that his portrait might have been based on a snapshot taken at his wedding three years earlier.



Bar Endorses Dane for Judge, St. Paul Dispatch, Oct. 1943

District Judge R.S. Dies, St. Paul Dispatch, Feb. 7. 1959.

Just How Does a Judge Relax?  St. Paul Pioneer Press, May 17, 1953



Judge Charles Bechhoefer (1864-1932)

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Charles Bechhoefer was born on January 1, 1864 at Woodbury, Pennsylvania.  He graduated from the University of Michigan Law Department in 1985.  He moved to Minnesota shortly thereafter, arriving in St. Paul on July 4th, 1885.  He was admitted to Minnesota practice on July 25, only three weeks after his arrival.  He worked as law clerk in the firm W. H. and John B. Sanborn for the next two years, after which he started his own practice of probate, real estate, and taxation law.  He continued this solo practice until he was appointed Judge of the Ramsey County District Court by Governor Preuss on January 23, 1923.

Bechhoefer married Helen Goldman at Holidaysburg, Pennsylvania on April 28, 1892.  They had two children.  Helen died on October 24, 1917, shortly after which her surviving sister Caroline Goldman came from Pennsylvania and took charge of Bechhoefer’s household.  Judge Bechhoefer married Caroline on November 8, 1924.

The Minnesota Supreme Court affirmed the final district court order issued by Judge Bechhoefer in the case of In re Estate of Taylor,  222NW 528 (1928), holding that the state could levy an inheritance tax on Minnesota-based state and municipal bonds, even though the deceased lived in New York.  Two years later on appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Minnesota Supreme Court decision, holding in the case of Farmers Loan & Trust Co. v. State of Minnesota, 280 U.S. 204 (1930) that a state may not tax anything beyond the boundaries of its jurisdiction without violating the 14th Amendment (280 U.S. 204).    Farmers Loan & Trust came to be a much-cited case in regards to inheritance taxes and states’ powers of taxation.

On March 10, 1931, Judge Bechhoefer resigned from the bench due to ill health.  He died on January 25, 1932, and was buried at Mt. Zion Cemetery in St. Paul, Minnesota.


The Ramsey County Bar Association, MEMORIAL:  Judge Charles Bechhoefer (1864-1932), THE MINNESOTA LEGAL HISTORY PROJECT;,d.aWw

Judge Bechhoefer Weds, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Nov. 9, 1924


Charles D. Kerr (1835-1896)

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Charles Deal Kerr was born in 1835 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  His family moved to Jacksonville, Illinois when he was a child, but his father died soon thereafter.  Young Charles soon assumed the position of looking after his widowed mother and four younger brothers and sisters.  Nonetheless, he graduated from Illinois College at Jacksonville in 1857.

He began working in the law office of Samuel Miller (later a Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court) of Keokuk Illinois in 1858.  He was an “original” Republican that actively participated in the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860.  He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1861, but enlisted as a private in the Illinois Volunteer Infantry shortly after Fort Sumpter was fired upon.  He was commissioned a full colonel by the end of the Civil War.  Army life had been hard on his health, however.  He came to Minnesota in 1865, hoping that the climate would do him good.

Kerr first settled in St. Cloud and entered law practice with James McKelvey. In about 1867 he became county attorney of Sherburne County, and also served as mayor of St. Cloud for several years.  Shortly after McKelvey became judge of the 7th District, Charles Kerr moved to St. Paul.  It was about this time, in 1874, that he married Mary E. Bennett of Rochester New York.  They had one daughter and two sons.  In addition to his St. Paul law practice, Kerr served as an alderman and President of the “Common Council” of St. Paul.  As a lawyer he was a powerful and sought-after orator.  “His arguments were clear and simple and lifted the veil of doubt from the minds of the most obtuse juror.”  In 1888 he was appointed to the Ramsey County District Court.

By 1896 Judge Kerr had apparently given up his previous belief about Minnesota’s climate and its health benefits.  That December he traveled to San Antonio Texas with his wife, hoping that rest and the warmer climate there would help his health.  Judge Kerr died on December 25, 1896 at the age of 61 the day after arriving at his destination.  The only cause given for his demise was “heart trouble.”



His Life Work Over, Judge Kerr Passes Away in San Antinio, Tex., St. Paul Globe, December 27, 1896 pg. 3


Oscar Hallam (1865-1945)

Oscar Hallam

Oscar Hallam

Oscar Hallam was born on a farm near Linden WI in 1865, the youngest of seven children.  In 1892 he married Edith Lott.   He received his bachelors degree from University of Wisconsin in 1887, and his law degree from that institution in 1889.  Shortly thereafter he moved to St. Paul and took up the practice of law.   He was appointed to the Second Judicial District in 1905.  From there he was appointed to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1912.  He served on this bench for ten years until he resigned in order to run for the United States Senate in 1924. Following his defeat in the primaries, he returned to the practice of law in St. Paul.

Hallam was Dean of the St. Paul College of Law (now William Mitchell College of Law) from 1901 to 1941, and from thereafter as President of the college until his death.  His 23 year stint as dean was longer than anyone else’s in the school’s history.  Under Hallam, the college also gained its ABA accreditation in 1938.   A respected figure in criminal law, in 1926 he served as Chairman of the Minnesota Crime Commission.  During this time he helped originate the State Department of Criminal Apprehension and the Board of Parole.  He also served as Chairman of the Section on Criminal Law of the American Bar Association.  He authored much-cited Some Object Lessons on Publicity in Criminal Trials, 24 MN Law Rev. 453 (March 1940).  This article details the trial of Bruno Richard Hauptman, who was ultimately convicted of the abduction and murder of the Lindbergh baby.

Hallam wrote a series of sketches about his youth which were published in the Minnesota Historical Society periodical.  (27 MINNESOTA HISTORY 2 (June 1946)) In his Bloomfield and Number Five sketch, he describes his parents’ immigration to the United States, and his own growing up years.  Oscar Hallam died on September 23, 1945.  Oscar Hallam even has a Wikipedia page devoted to him.

Other Sources:

Douglas R. Heidenreich, With Satisfaction and Honor:  William Mitchell College of Law 1900-2000, (William Mitchell College of Law 1999).

Proceedings in Memory of Association Justice Ingerval M. Olsen and Associate Justice Oscar Hallam, 220 Minn. xxix (1946)


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Many guests who come to the Law Library ask about our judge portrait collection, and comment with admiration on the late Edward V. Brewer’s masterful painting style.  With Brewer’s reputation, it is not surprising that the other portrait artists seem to suffer by comparison.  The prime case in point is that of artist James Artig, who painted the portraits of Judge Carlton McNally and Judge Marshall Hurley.  The Law Librarian would like to shed some light on the late Mr. Artig, and hopefully pay some credit to his artistic legacy.

James Lonsdale Artig was born in 1921.  Reading this obituary of Judge McNally’s daughter Catherine, we learn that she was married to Artig, and that together they had five children.  We can see that the portrait of Judge McNally was dated 1960, and know that it was painted by his son-in-law.  The Hurley painting is not dated, but given that Hurley served from 1959-1960, it is safe to say it was painted within the same time frame.  It is highly possible, though not certain, that Artig landed this portrait gig through family connections. James and Catherine Artig divorced in 1973, and he died on February 28, 1991.

Artig’s artistic style cannot be fully appreciated from these two judge portraits.  In contrast to Brewer’s delicate brush strokes and subtle lighting, Artig’s artistic style featured stronger lines and heavier use of white pigments.  It turns out that Artig built his reputation on painting rugged outdoor scenes and wildlife.  Serving trays painted by Artig depict moose, antelope, and other wildlife.  See also this painting done for the Hamm Brewing Company, which features a bright outdoor scene of sailboats under a summer sky.  So to judge Artig simply on two judge portraits is to really underestimate his strengths as an artist. If you have additional information regarding artist James Lonsdale Artig, please share it with us!


Edwin Ames Jaggard (1859-1911)


Edwin Ames Jaggard was born on June 21, 1859 in Altoona Pennsylvania.  He graduated from Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA) in 1879, and received his Bachelor of Laws from the University of Pennsylvania in 1882.  He came to Minnesota that same year, and joined the St. Paul law practice of Young & Lightner.  In 1890 he married Anna May Averill. He was elected to the Ramsey County District Court in 1898.  He served as a district judge for one term, and was then elected to the Minnesota Supreme Court in 1904.

A reputable legal scholar, Jaggard was a lecturer on medical jurisprudence at the St. Paul Medical College.  He went on to lecture at what is now the University of Minnesota Law School for 19 years, where then-Law School Dean W.S. Pattee stated that Jaggard was one of the most popular professors of the department.  He was also the author of several treatises on torts and taxation, including the familiar Jaggard on Torts.  The last work he did on the bench was the opinion of the court in the case of Keever v. City of Mankato (113 Minn. 55) establishing that a city is responsible for the quality of water it furnishes to its citizens.

Judge Jaggard was known as a popular and generous man, whose Christmas gift recipients list contained roughly three hundred names.   A post-mortem tribute tells of him placing his overcoat on the shoulders of a homeless person one cold day, and forgetting about it.   He was also an avid outdoorsman.  He was known to go fishing in the Mississippi River at the end of his workday, and commented favorably on the quality of the aquatic life therein.

He served as Associate Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court until his death on February 13, 1911 from heart failure while on a trip to Bermuda.  He was only fifty-one years old.   It was thought that his body was weakened due to a case of ptomaine poisoning (or just food poisoning).


  • “His death was unexpected:  Demise of Judge Jaggard of Minnesota Court,” The Bemidji Daily Pioneer Feb. 15, 1911, p. 4
  • “Hobbies of Judges,” Saint Paul Globe, May 25, 1902, p. 30
  • History of the Bench and Bar of Minnesota, Legal Publishing and Engraving Company (1904)
  • “A man named Jaggard,” St. Paul Dispatch Feb. 20, 1911,
  • “Death of jurist regretted by all,” St. Paul Pioneer Press Feb. 15, 1911,
  • Proceedings:  Memory of Associate Justice Jaggard, 113 Minn. R. 1-10 (1911)