January 1, (1957) will mark the merger of Kosciusko county's two oldest law firms in a new partnership to be known as Widaman, Bowser and Widaman, of Warsaw.
Allan Widaman, senior partner, made the official announcement today in the Widaman building on South Buffalo street where he began the practice of law with his father in June, 1906.
The first Widaman to become a lawyer was John D. who came to Warsaw from Westmoreland county, Pa., in 1875. A grandson and namesake, John II, is the second Widaman partner in the new firm. In politics the Widamans are traditionally republicans.
The Bowser name, outstanding in the legal profession since 1885, is represented by George Bowser, who was democratic candidate for county judge in November, losing to Seth E. Rowdabaugh in a GOP sweep.
Tentative plans for forming the Widaman-Bowser partnership were underway before George Bowser was drafted by his party to head its county ticket. A graduate of Indiana University and Harvard law school, he was admitted to the bar in 1927 and practiced law with his brother Francis K. Bowser. After the latter retired in 1948 because of illness, George carried on the firm alone for eight years in the Bowser building at the corner of Market and Buffalo streets.
Another attorney associated with the new firm is Robert Henderson, formerly of Gary. A Phi Beta Kappa at Indiana University, he is a graduate of the I. U. law school and was admitted to the bar on Dec. 5.
Widaman offices which have served three generations of lawyers, are remodeled and expanded to accommodate the larger staff. A compact library holds many volumes. Some published in 1872, have notes on cases running clear back to 1817, one year after Indiana became a state.
Those older books belonged to the first John Widaman. Born in 1851 he had a comfortable home in Pennsylvania and opportunities for a liberal education. His father wanted him to be a minister but John was determined to study law. He attended a college in Ohio, taught school three years and read Blackstone and other legal authorities in his spare time. In 1875 he came to Warsaw, completed his preparation with Woodson S. Marshall and was admitted to the bar.
Early Times Trying
Those early years were difficult ones for the young lawyer. In 1880 when Kosciusko and Whitley counties were still in one judicial circuit he defeated Thomas R. Marshall, of Columbia City for the job of prosecuting attorney. Marshall, three years younger than his opponent, practiced in Columbia City until 1908, served as Indiana governor for the next four years and then was vice president of the country for eight years under Woodrow Wilson. Many have forgotten his major contributions in law, but remember best his famous statement, "What this country needs is a good five-cent cigar." He died in 1925.
His son Allan was graduated from the Indiana school of law at Indianapolis which later merged with Indiana University. After his father's death in 1928 Allan practiced alone. Widaman law firm was not a father-son team again until December, 1945. John II had been admitted to the bar in May, 1942, but he served with the F.B.I and then the navy until after the close of World War II.
The Bowser family has been associated with this community for more than a century, coming here from Maryland. Frances E., grandson of the first settlers, was born in 1861 on a farm in Clay township. Later the family moved to Warsaw where he attended local schools before entering Indiana University. His father was appointed postmaster in 1886.
Young Francis was admitted to the bar in 1885 and shortly afterward formed a law partnership with Captain A. G. Wood that was to last 23 years. It was dissolved in 1908 when Bowser was selected circuit court judge on the democratic ticket. He succeeded Judge Lemuel W. Royse on the bench, serving until Nov. 17, 1920. His death occurred in 1925.
Both Bowser sons, Francis and George, have chosen the legal profession.
George served two terms as prosecuting attorney. The brothers practiced together until the war came along. Francis, who was a first lieutenant with the army engineers in France in World War I was assigned to a military government group sent to England in the second world conflict. George was in the judge advocate general's department in France and Belgium. After his return in December, 1946, the brothers resumed their practice together, continuing until 1948 when illness caused Francis' retirement.
Commenting on the merger which joins the long established legal firms of Bowser and Widaman, Allan said, "It's a pleasure for me to welcome George. I knew his father, one of the finest men to sit on the circuit bench, a fine and able lawyer."
George made it clear the pleasure was mutual, saying, "I'm delighted to be in the new firm."
Warsaw Times-Union Monday December 31, 1956
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