James Lycurgus Livingstone McCall biography

HON. JAMES LYCURGUS LIVINGSTONE McCALL, deceased, was for a number of year a distinguished and representative member of the bar of McLennan and Parker counties. He was a son of James and Anne (Valandingham) McCall, and was descended from honorable Scotch-Irish ancestry. His birth occurred at Mount Vernon, Rock Castle [Rockcastle] county, Kentucky, September 30, 1823, and in his native state he was reared to manhood, acquiring his education in Center College at Danville, Kentucky, from which institution he was graduated in the early forties.

On the 16th of November, 1845, Judge McCall was united in marriage to Miss Eliza Ann Strum, who was born in Blountville, Sullivan county, Tennessee, on the 4th of February, 1 825, and was a daughter of Jacob Strum, who was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, December 6, 1774, and died in Blountville, Tennessee, April 13, 1834. His wife bore the maiden name of Alice James, and was a daughter of Walter James. Her birth occurred February 27, 1796, and she passed away in Rogersville, Tennessee, April 7, 1850. It was on the 26th of February, 1815, that she gave her hand in marriage to Jacob Strum.

Having taken up the study of law, Judge McCall was admitted to the bar in 1845, and for eight years engaged in the practice of his profession in his native state. He then removed to Texas with his young family, arriving in Waco in December, 1853. There he opened an office and entered upon the practice of law, being connected with the courts over the great part of northwestern Texas for twenty years. Prior to and during the period of the Civil war he was district attorney of the old nineteenth district of Texas, which then included McLennan county. While in Waco he entered into partnership with James Norris, under the firm name of Norris & McCall, and this became one of the distinguished law firms of the state, especially in connection with criminal law practice. Thirteen years after the organization of the firm, Judge Sleeper was taken into partnership and the firm style of Norris, McCall & Sleeper was then adopted. Not only was Judge McCall actively associated with the practice of his profession in Texas, but also left the impress of his individuality upon the public life, thought and action of the state. He was a member of the Texas convention which voted for secession and during the war he held the position of receiver under the Confederate government. In 1873 he removed with his family to Weatherford, Texas, from which point he continued his practice throughout the northwestern part of the state. There he entered into partnership with his son, George A. McCall, who is now one of the leading lawyers of Weatherford. Called to the county bench of Parker county, he served from 1894 until 1896, and with the exception of that period was actively engaged in practice from 1845 until within a few days of his death. He was a man of broad legal learning, and of thorough familiarity with the principles of jurisprudence and in the presentation of his cause was logical, strong and forceful.

In 1896 Judge McCall was called upon to mourn the loss of his wife, who died on the 5th of January of that year. He afterward married Miss Josie Bowles of Dallas, Texas, in 1897, and she still survives him. Judge McCall died at his home in Weatherford, February 26, 1904, when more then eight years of age. He had become the father of fourteen children, seven sons and daughters, of whom ten are now living, namely: Judge George A. McCall, of Weatherford; Mrs. Edward Rotan, of Waco, Texas; J. S., of Colorado, Texas; James, of Weatherford; Mrs. Frank Gallagher, of Austin, Texas; Mrs. Charles C. Barthold, of Weatherford; Rev. John V. McCall, of Cleburne; Will S., of Waco; Miss Mary McCall, of Austin, Texas; and Samuel K., who is living in Norman, Oklahoma.

Judge McCall, at the time of his death, was and for sixty years had been a consistent member of the Presbyterian church. He joined the church of that denomination at Weatherford on its organization and was also a charter member of the First Presbyterian church of Waco, Texas. All through his life he lived in harmony with his professions, maintaining a high standard of professional and social conduct and of citizenship and of his means he contributed liberally toward the support of the church, not only when he was possessed of a competence but also in the early days when he was endeavoring to lay the foundation for his own prosperity. His individuality and mentality were in keeping with his wonderful physical strength and great stature. In his profession he displayed untiring devotion to the interests of his clients, and guarded their affairs with the same zeal that he displayed in the care of his own interests. He possessed all the essential qualifications of a great lawyer and as an advocate and practitioner had few equals and no superiors in practice in western Texas in his day. An exalted sense of profession honor ever characterized his bearing and conduct toward his professional brethren, and if he had faults they were rather the exaggeration of his virtues and it may be said as it was of Goldsmith’s “Village Teacher” that ‘en his failings leaned toward virtue’s side.” While his devotion to his client’s interests was proverbial, he never forgot that he owed still greater allegiance to the majesty of the law, and he never placed a witness on the stand that he did not believe was speaking the truth. Judge Nugent said of him, “he was the most natural lawyer he ever saw and it is impossible to trip him in the trial of a suit.” He won a notable reputation in cross examination and was quick to detect any note of insincerity or untruthfulness. In politics he was an old line Whig, and cast his first presidential ballot for Henry Clay. A man of the people he was always willing to take up the cause of the populace and stood in defense of the masses as against the monopolies. Charitable to a fault, his benevolent spirit was often detrimental to his own financial interests. In the early history of Texas he at one time belonged to a company of rangers under command of Captain G. B. Erath, and made one or two trips of considerable duration seeking for Indians on the frontier. Faultless in honor, fearless in conduct, and stainless in reputation, his life record covered a long period of usefulness and activity, and his name is inscribed high on the roll of eminent lawyers of Texas.

Source: B. B. Paddock, History and Biographical Record of North and West Texas (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Co., 1906), Vol. II, pp. 461-463.