A Narrative History
The People of Iowa
SPECIAL TREATMENT OF THEIR CHIEF ENTERPRISES IN
EDUCATION, RELIGION, VALOR, INDUSTRY,
EDGAR RUBEY HARLAN, LL. B., A. M.
Curator of the
Historical, Memorial and Art Department of Iowa
THE AMERICAN HISTORICAL SOCIETY, Inc.
Chicago and New York
HORACE M. HAVNER has been engaged in the practice of the law for more than a quarter of a century, and has a secure place as one of the able and successful members of that profession, having served his native state for two terms as
attorney general. He is now established in practice in Des Moines, where his law business is one of a substantial and representative nature. He has given special attention to corporation law and has won standing both as a trial lawyer and counsellor. Besides being a lawyer of note he has achieved marked success as a business man. He has dealt largely in real estate, especially Iowa lands, and now owns and operates several Iowa farms. He also has large interests in Iowa as an executive. His offices are maintained in the Insurance Exchange Building.
Mr. Havner is a representative of the third generation of the Havner family
in Iowa, and was born on a farm in Wayne County November 22, 1871. David
Havner, grandfather of the subject of this review, was born and reared in
Lincoln County, North Carolina. From North Carolina he came with his family to the West and numbered himself among the sterling pioneer settlers in Washington Township, Wayne County, Iowa, where he obtained a quarter-section of land and reclaimed the same into a productive farm. On this pioneer homestead he and his wife passed the closing years of their lives.
Horace M. Mavner is a son of John D. and Rachel (Moore) Havner, the former
of whom was born in North Carolina and the latter in Ohio. The marriage of
the parents occurred in Wayne County, Iowa, both having been young when the
respective families there made settlement in the early '50s. The father of
Rachel Moore Havner was Burris Moore, who was born in Pennsylvania, later became a resident of Ohio, and finally numbered himself among the pioneer farmers in Wayne County, Iowa, where he and his wife remained until the close of their lives. John D. Havner assisted in the reclaiming and developing of the pioneer home farm in Wayne County, and there he eventually engaged in farm enterprise in an independent way. He represented the Hawkeye State as a gallant soldier of the Union in the Civil war, in which he served from 1862 until the close of the great conflict between the North and the South in 1865. He was a member of Company I, Fourth Iowa Cavalry, and the history of that command constitutes a virtual record of his active military service. He was a Republican in politics, and he and his wife were zealous members of the Methodist Episcopal Church, both having continued to maintain their home in Wayne County until their death and he having been long and actively affiliated with the Grand Army of the Republic. Of the five children three survive the honored parents: Frank holds a position with the Pershing Coal Company at Pershing, Marion County, Iowa; Horace M., of this sketch, is the next younger; and Nellie is the wife of M. T. Brewer, M. D., who is a representative physician and
surgeon engaged in practice in the City of Des Moines. It may be noted in this connection that Doctor Brewer was for a number of years a resident of Mexico, and there served as an official surgeon for the Mexican Central Railroad. In
the World war period he served as a member of the Medical Corps of the United States Army.
The district school near the old home farm in Wayne County afforded Horace
M. Havner his preliminary education, and thereafter he continued his studies
four years in Simpson College, this state. In June, 1899, he completed his
course in the law department of the University of Iowa, and his reception of
the degree of Bachelor of Laws was forthwith followed by his admission to the
bar of his native state. At Marengo, the county seat of Iowa County, he
initiated the practice of his profession and there became the junior member of the
law firm of Popham & Havner, in which his coadjutor was the Hon. R. G.
Popham, who is now serving on the bench of the Eighth Judicial District of the
state. This partnership alliance continued until January, 1917, when Judge
Popham took his position on the district bench, and his partner, Mr. Havner,
entered service as attorney general of Iowa, both having been elected in November of the preceding year.
Mr. Havner reached the position of attorney general by very natural processes. He had become an outstanding trial lawyer, his practice being varied and general. He had evinced resourcefulness and skill, and had achieved large
success in prosecuting leading violators of the prohibitory laws of the state. Mr. Havner tried the cases to put the open saloon out of Iowa County, his home county, Johnson County, Mahaska County and Polk County, the county which
included the capital of the state, Des Moines, in which were located eighty-six open saloons at the time the judgment of Ouster was entered. The people thought they saw in him not only the efficient lawyer, but a man of courage, and a man who had the will and ambition to succeed in the position. His friends think they were not mistaken.
In the position of attorney general he gave a characteristically loyal and
efficient administration, was the incumbent of this office from January, 1917,
until January, 1921, and thus he was in service during the entire period of
the nation's participation in the World war and consequently had to deal with
many problems and questions of exceptional importance. While thus
maintaining his executive headquarters in Des Moines, the capital city, he continued to keep open his law office at Marengo, as senior member of the law firm of Havner & Hatter, which became the virtual successor to the business of the original law firm of Popham & Havner. After retiring from the office of attorney general Mr. Havner resumed his law practice at Marengo, but since June, 1923, he has maintained his home and professional headquarters in Des Moines. During his term as attorney general of Iowa he prosecuted some of the most important cases in the legal annals of the state, among which were the Villisca Ax Murder case, in which eight people were killed on the night of June 9, 1912; the famous Rathburn and O'Meara rape case at Ida Grove, Iowa, in connection with which occurred the impeachment proceedings with reference to Gov. W. L.
Harding. In the trial of this case a suit was brought by Mr. Havner as attorney general to cancel the pardon issued by Governor Harding to Ernest Rathburn. This last suit established for the first time in the judicial history of
Iowa the right to cancel by legal procedure a pardon issued by the governor where there was fraud used by the person procuring the same.
In retrospection-while serving as attorney general of Iowa Mr. Havner derives much pride and satisfaction that he had as assistant attorney generals some of the most prominent men in the state today, namely: Judge Horace H. Carter of Corydon, Iowa, Judge Freeman C. Davidson of Emmetsburg, Iowa, Justice James W. Kindig of the Supreme Court of Iowa, Sioux City, Iowa, Judge Shelby Cullison of Harlan, Iowa (now deceased), W. R. C. Kendrick, insurance commissioner of Iowa, Des Moines, Iowa, Hon. J. W. Sandusky of New Hampton, Iowa, B. J. Powers of Des Moines, Iowa.
The political allegiance of Mr. Havner is given to the Republican party; he
has been influential in its councils in Iowa, has done his share in speaking
in many political campaigns, and from this state he was a delegate to the
Republican National Convention of 1912, which met in Chicago. On retiring from
the office of attorney general he was a candidate for the Republican
nomination for governor, and although he failed to reach the goal he made a most
creditable showing both in the primary and in the convention, which had to
select from the four aspirants. He is affiliated with both York and Scottish Rite
bodies of the Masonic fraternity, and while a student in the University of
Iowa he there became affiliated with the Phi Delta Phi law fraternity. He and
his wife are earnest members of the Grace Methodist Episcopal Church in
their home city, and he is serving as a member of its Board of Trustees. While
living at Margeno his prominence as a lay member of the church was signalized
by his being elected four times to membership in the General Conference, the
conferences of 1908, 1912, 1916 and 1920, and by his being a member for
eighteen years of the Book Committee, the directing functionary when the General Conference is not in session, of that great world religious organization. As a young man Mr. Havner upheld the military honors of the family name by
volunteering for and entering service in the Spanish-American war. He enlisted soon after war was declared, in 1898, and became a member of Company I, Fiftieth Iowa Volunteer Infantry, his command having been stationed at Jacksonville, Florida, at the time the war closed, and he having soon afterward received his honorable discharge.
On the 3rd of January, 1900, was solemnized the marriage of Mr. Havner and Miss Ada Dean, who was born in Pottawattamie County, Iowa, daughter of the late Warren Dean, who was born in the State of Rhode Island and who came to Iowa about 1856 and established himself as a pioneer farmer in Pottawattamie County, he having been one of the substantial and honored pioneer citizens of the Hawkeye State at the time of his death, and having represented this state as a loyal soldier of the Union during three years of the Civil war. Mrs. Havner and her daughters are members of the Daughters of the American Revolution, gaining their membership on the maternal side. Mrs. Havner is a daughter of Georgianna (Hardenburgh) Dean, who recently passed away at the age of eighty-five. She was a pioneer of Iowa, and was descended from an early Dutch family who emigrated from Holland to Germany, then settled in America, coming to Pine Bush, Ulster County, New York, from whence her parents journeyed West in the early 1850's, settling in Cass County, Iowa. Mrs. Havner passed the period of her child-hood and early youth on the home farm, and she supplemented the discipline of the public schools by four years of study at Simpson College. Ada Dean, elder of the two children of Mr. and Mrs. Havner, was graduated from the home economics department of Iowa State College at Ames, and she is now the wife of Kenneth Jones, a landscape architect, their home being in Davenport, Iowa. Rachel Moore Havner, the younger daughter, remains at the at the parental home, she having received the advantages of the celebrated Ward-Belmont Schoolin the City of Nashville, Tennessee, and is now a student in her Junior yearin the home economics department of Iowa State College at Ames,
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