On the pages of rhe history of jurisprudence in California there are found no names more distinguished than that of Henry Vinson Morehouse, to-day one of the most prominent lawyers of San Francisco. He has also been connected with political and military affairs of the state and has thus left the impress of his individuality on many lines affecting the progress and prosperity of the commonwealth. He was born on the 1st of April, 1849, in Elkhart, Elkhart county, Indiana. His father, Nathan B. Morehouse, was a native of New Orleans and was of Welsh descent, belonging to an old family that was established in the United States at a very early period in the colonization of the new world. The first settlement of his ancestors was made in New York, but at a later date representatives of the name went to New Orleans. The father was a steamboat captain on the Mississippi river in his younger days, but subsequently turned his attention to farming. He came to California in 1867 and spent his remaining days on the Pacific coast, passing away in Santa Cruz county, this state, in 1892. His wife was Susan Feese, a native of Holland, who came to America with her parents, the family homes being established in Ashland, North Carolina. Mrs. Morehouse passed away in 1894. In the family were three daughters.
Henry Vinson Morehouse, the only son, pursued his education in the public schools until seventeen years of age, and putting aside his text-books he began working on a farm. Not content, however, to make the labor of the fields his life occupation, he devoted his leisure hours during this period to preparation for the practice of teaching. He afterward secured a school and continued teaching in Mendocino county for the year of 1868. In 1869 he went to Salinas City in Monterey county, where he was employed at farm labor for a year. He then engaged in teaching school between the years 1871 and 1877, and at the same time pursued the study of law, devoting his leisure hours to the mastery of the principles of jurisprudence. he had progressed so far in his knowledge that in 1874 he was admitted to the bar, but did not enter upon the active practice of his profession until 1877. In that year he was chosen district attorney of Monterey county, and he also performed other official service there, having been a member of the county board of education from 1871 until 1877. he continued in the practice of law at that place until 1890, when he removed to San Jose, California, where he spent about eleven years. In April, 1901, he came to San Francisco, and he ranks to-day as one of the most distinguished representatives of the bar in this city. He has for eighteen years been attorney for the Southern Pacific Railroad Company and is the representative of various corporations, as well as important private litigated interests. He has won special fame as a criminal lawyer, and was connected with the case of the people versus John A. Prewitt, which was a murder trail in San Benito county. This case was tried five times, and after exhausting the entire qualified jurymen of that county it was removed to Monterey county, where the case was acquitted. Mr. Morehouse was attorney for the defense, and thus won a most signal victory. His reputation as a lawyer has been won through earnest, persistent effort, careful preparation and marked ability. His knowledge of the law is comprehensive, and he marshals the facts of every case with the precision of a general upon the field of battle, giving to each its due prominence, presenting them with regard to their relative value, and never for a single moment losing sight of the important point upon which the decision of every case finally turns. In his presentation of a case to court or jury he employes his oratorical powers with excellent effect, but never for a moment deviates from the truth which he wishes to present by the grace of rhetoric.
In October, 1871, occurred the marriage of Mr. Morehouse and Miss Jennie F. DeWitt, a native of Savannah, Missouri, and a daughter of William and Galusha DeWitt, who were early settlers of Missouri. They had two children, Evelena E. and Sybil. In his social relations Mr. Morehouse is a Mason, an Odd Fellow, a Knight of Pythias and and Elk, and is much esteemed in the various fraternities with which he is connected. His political allegiance has long been given to the Republican party and he has been honored with official preferment aside from the positions already mentioned. In 1897 he was elected to represent the thirty-fourth district in the state senate, and was a member of the upper house of the California assembly for four years. During the administration of Governor Stone he served as judge advocate of the Fifth Regiment of the National Guard of California, with the rank of major. He has for a number of years occupied a prominent position in the foremost ranks of the leading practitioners of central California, and his life of untiring activity has been crowned with a high degree of success. He is not the less esteemed as a citizen than as a lawyer, and his pleasing manner and charming cordiality have rendered him exceedingly popular among all classes.
Source: History of the New California Its Resources and People, Volume II
The Lewis Publishing Company - 1905
Edited by Leigh H. Irvine
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