Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Several times in this column we have mentioned the name of James S. Frazer, prominent attorney in Warsaw during the 19th century. Mr. Frazer opened his law office in Warsaw in 1845, and from that time until his death in 1893 he was one of our county's outstanding citizens.

Frazer held many high positions during his long career as lawyer, judge, administrator, and diplomat. For six years he was an Indina Supreme Court Judge and from that time on he was called "Judge" by the home folks. Probably the most responsible assignment which he received was that of a member of an international commission to settle certain claims arising out of the Civil War.

Relations between England and the United States were in a very delicate state during and after the civil War. England had built several ships (including the famous "Alabama") for the Confederate States and had in many ways been sympathetic to the Southern cause. Ships like the "Alabama" had sunk many American ships during the course of the war. consequently, there were many American citizens, who had claims against the British government for cargo shipments destroyed. In like manner there were British citizens who had claims against the United States government because many British ships with cargoes of cotton had been sunk by Northern ships.

The United States and Great Britain entered into a treaty at the close of the war in which they agreed to establish a three man commission to decide on the claims of both the United States and English citizens. Our own James S. Frazer represented the United States on this commission. together with Russell Gurney representing England and Cout Louis Corti of neutral Italy. Mr. Frazer considered about 220 million dollars worth of claims. The duties required the highest order of talent, both financial and diplomatic, and were performed to the satisfaction of both nations.

Judge Frazer was of Scot ancestry. His grandfather came to America during the early part of the Revolutionary War as a British soldier. A biographical record states that after a short time, his grandfather "resigned, without the consent of Britain."

Warsaw Times-Union Wed. May 13, 1953