Abraham Lincoln and Susan’s Uncle

May 10, 2015 § 4 Comments

Judge Charles S. Zane

History is full of surprising parallels. Take the example of Abraham Lincoln and Susan’s uncle. On May 2 and 3, 2015, the citizens of Springfield and hundreds of visitors remembered the death of Abraham Lincoln, the long train trip that carried his body to Springfield, and his burial in Oak Ridge Cemetery 150 years ago. One hundred years ago Susan’s uncle Charles S. Zane, another lawyer whose influence reached beyond Springfield, was brought “home” to be buried in Oak Ridge.

Like Lincoln, Charles S. Zane came to the Springfield area as a young man. Arriving in 1850, the nineteen year old worked for Peter Cartwright as a farmer and brick layer in the Pleasant Plains area. Both men chose law as their profession. Zane was admitted to practice in 1857. While Lincoln’s early experiences were primarily on the judicial circuit, Zane was Springfield’s city attorney (an elected position) for three terms. Following the election of Lincoln as president, Zane became a law partner of William H. Herndon, former Lincoln partner. In 1873 Zane was elected judge of the Fifth Judicial Circuit and re-elected in 1879.

Both Lincoln and Zane found their life partners in Springfield. Zane married Margaret Maxcy, a sister of Susan’s mother Mary Agnes Maxcy Lawrence. The Zanes had eight children. While Lincoln went east to serve the nation, Zane went west. In 1883 President Chester Arthur appointed Zane the first chief justice of the Utah Supreme Court. The family moved to Salt Lake City for the next 30 plus years. There Judge Zane became a controversial figure because his decisions repeatedly upheld the federal laws against polygamy and illegal cohabitation. Although many Mormons saw him as a fanatic bent on destroying families and the church, he was admired by others as a courageous jurist who fearlessly enforced the law. He is credited by some as the primary force behind the elimination of polygamy in Utah.

Charles S. Zane died at age 84 on March 29, 1915, at the home of his daughter in Salt Lake City. After a funeral service at the First Congregational church in Salt Lake City, Zane’s son John accompanied his body on the train to Springfield. The train arrived on April 4, 1915, and Charles Zane’s remains were removed to the home of his niece Susan. Once again, the Lawrence House was the scene of a funeral. The services were held there the next Sunday afternoon with burial at Oak Ridge Cemetery.

Dr. Elmer Goshen, the officiating minister at Judge Zane’s Salt Lake City funeral, concluded his sermon with this tribute: “Take his body home and lay it beside his loved ones. Lay it next to the great Lincoln whose character was much like Judge Zane’s.”

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