Historical society shares history of local attorney

Historical society shares history of local attorney

In 1916 Brooklyn B. Bridge ran unsuccessfully for the Tuscarawas County Probate Judgeship.


Reprinted from The Chronicler, the newsletter of the Tuscarawas County Historical Society

In 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge was completed, linking Manhattan Island and Brooklyn, New York. On June 3, 1889, in Columbus, Ohio, a son was born to Marion and Corrella Bridge, who named their child Brooklyn B. Bridge.

Young Bridge graduated from Ohio State University and its law school and was admitted to the Bar in the early 1910s.

In 1914, after practicing law in Columbus for a short time, Bridge decided to migrate to Tuscarawas County and set up his law practice in Newcomerstown. The lawyer first made his presence known in the county seat when the chief clerk at the Reeves Hotel reported to the New Philadelphia Police that he had suspicions about a person signing the hotel register as “Brooklyn Bridge, Newcomerstown.”

After a few years of practice in Newcomerstown, Bridge moved his practice to Dennison. Upon his leaving town in 1921, the Coshocton Tribune announced “Newcomerstown is Lawyerless.”

The New Philadelphia Daily Times advised its readers, “Don’t start fights in Newcomerstown — No counsel for defense.”

Bridge joined the Dennison law practice of his cousin and later Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Judge Jonathan Hare.

The Daily Times reported on Feb. 16, 1925, Bridge had opened a branch location in New Philadelphia, taking over the office formerly occupied by newly elected Judge E.E. Lindsay. The paper said, “Bridge is one of the Bar Association’s younger members and has built up a large practice in the Twin Cities and vicinity.”

In 1921 he had been elected vice president of the county bar association. Clearly Bridge was an ambitious young man on his way up.

Bridge’s legal practice included personal injury cases. In one notable case he represented an individual injured in an automobile accident resulting, ironically, from faulty bridge construction.

He frequently appeared before the Ohio Court of Appeals and the Ohio Supreme Court. Together with attorney G.W. Reed of Uhrichsville, he appealed to the United States Supreme Court a case involving the Dennison Brick and Tile Company.

In addition to his private law practice, Bridge served as appointed solicitor for the villages of Newcomerstown, Dennison and Strasburg.

In 1924 he was appointed to assist prosecuting attorney James E. Patrick in the prosecution of George McKane, who was charged with the dynamite bombing of a Dennison home.

Home bombings in Tuscarawas County were more frequent than one might think. A Uhrichsville home was bombed the prior year. The home of Henry Bowers, the father of prosecutor Russell Bowers, was bombed in 1921, and the home of Probate Judge Ralph Finley was bombed in 1956.

Personal injury attorneys are frequently, and mostly unjustly, described as “ambulance chasers.” On two well-publicized occasions, Bridge got to the scenes of accidents before the ambulances.

In 1924 the Daily Times reported Bridge pulled a driver from a car, which had exploded while being fueled. In 1925 he was the first person on the scene of an auto accident on what is now state Route 800, north of Mineral City.

According to theDaily Times, the driver and his three children “narrowly escaped death” when Bridge “stood upon a narrow ledge on the edge of the cliff” and pulled all four from the car.

However, Bridge’s timing was not always the best. TheDaily Times reported during an afternoon rainstorm Bridge was “hurled out of his bed” when lightning struck his bedroom while he was sleeping. The paper described him as merely “stunned.”

Like many attorneys, now and then, Bridge was active in many civic organizations. He was the founder of the Newcomerstown Rotary Club, president of the Dennison Rotary Club and president of the Dennison Booster Club, a chamber of commerce forerunner.

He was a founding member of the Newcomerstown Rescue Club, which, according to the Daily Times, was created for the purpose of rescuing drowning persons. Apparently, Newcomerstown had an inordinate number of drownings.

Bridge was appointed secretary of the county health board, which the Daily Times reported was “formed under provisions of the mysterious Hughes health bill.”

Bridge was a staunch Republican and ran for election to several public offices. Other than his election as a part-time solicitor for the Village of Dennison, he was a disappointed office seeker.

In 1916 he ran unsuccessfully for the Tuscarawas County Probate Judgeship. In 1924 he ran for a seat in the United States House of Representatives for the 16th District, which included Tuscarawas County, losing to his Democrat opponent. Perhaps because of the discouraging loss in 1916, he applied to the U.S. Army Officer Training School. He was not accepted.

In 1927 Bridge left Tuscarawas County and returned to Columbus, where he joined the prestigious law firm, Knepper and Wilcox. He would return occasionally to Tuscarawas County to appear in court on behalf of his former clients.

On March 4, 1946, Bridge died in Columbus and was buried in Green Lawn Cemetery. The Brooklyn Bridge is still standing in New York.

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