Hon. Stephen Major
Few men are more entitled to have their biography handed down to posterity than the subject of this
sketch, and few men leave their footprints so indelibly impressed upon the sands of time. He is one of the rare men we meet with in
life, about whom we have no unpleasant recollections. Honorable, honest and sensitive, he has vindicated, in his long life of usefulness, that love of justice and fair play that characterizes the Irish race from its lowly laborer to its Emmet, its Burke, its Grattan, its Shields and its Sheridan. The Majors came from Normandy, France, to England, with William the Conqueror: and the branch from which the subject of this sketch descends settled in Scotland; but, during the time of Cromwell, three brothers of the family moved to Ireland, two of whom settled in Granard County of Longford, where Stephen Major was born March 25, 1811. He is the son of Allen and
Martha (Hysop) Major, natives of the County Longford, Ireland, and was the second in a family of eight children-three sons and five daughters-five of whom are yet living. In early boyhood, he attended a neighboring school, where he acquired a ready knowledge of mathematics, going from there to classical school at Granard. He then attended Edgeworth School, which was quite a noted classical and scientific educational institution. In 1829, when but eighteen years of age, Mr. Major came to the United States and settled in Shelby County, Indiana. Soon after coming, he entered the law office of Phillip Switzer, of Columbus, who was then one of the most noted lawyers at the bar of Indiana. By diligent application and rigid study, he soon mastered the fundamental principles of the law profession and was admitted to the bar in 1831. On account of ill health, he did not begin active practice until 1834, when he located in Shelbyville. In 1836, he was admitted to practice before the Supreme Court of Indiana, and, in 1843, moved to Indianapolis, where a more extensive field awaited him in which to exercise his then well known ability as a lawyer and jurist. Soon after locating in that city, he was appointed by Gov. Whitcomb as one of the Commissioners of the Indiana Hospital for the Insane, which he held until the spring of 1853, when he was appointed by Gov. Wright as Judge of the Indianapolis Circuit, composed of six counties; and, in the fall of that year, he was elected, by a large majority, as his own successor, and occupied the seat six years. During the early practice of Mr. Major in Shelbyville, a young man-who has since risen to eminence as a lawyer and a statesman-entered his office as a student; and, in 1864, Mr. Major was admitted to practice before the United States Supreme Court, on the motion of that student, the Hon. Thomas A. Hendricks, who was then a prominent member of the Unites States Senate. In 1869, he returned to Shelbyville and entered into partnership with Alfred Major, since which time he has been actively engaged in the practice of his profession. He was then married in Shelby County, Indiana, April 9, 1840 to Miss Phoebe Gaskill, daughter of Dr. George Gaskill, to whom were born three sons. Mrs. Major was born in Dearborn County, Indiana; was a conscientious member of the Episcopal Church, and died October 4, 1874, with a strong and abiding faith in a happy immortality. Mr. Major was a member of the Episcopal Church, and belonged to the Masonic fraternity.
History of Shelby County, 1887, Brant & Fuller, pages 506-507
Submitted by Barb Huff for Charles Major