Judge Earl Sample

Earl Sample, judge of the Hancock circuit court, was born on December 6, 1875, on the farm entered by his grandfather, John Sample, near Cleveland, in Hancock county. He has lived in his native county all his life. His parents, Andrew V. B. Sample and Zettie Emma (Moore) Sample, have for many years been honored and influential residents of this locality. Andrew V. B. Sample was born on the old homestead near Cleveland, April 29, 1836, and grew to manhood in Jackson township. Mrs. Sample, the daughter of John W. and Julia Ann (Hayzlett) Moore was born in Kanawha county, Virginia (now West Virginia), September 20, 1846. She came to Indiana with her parents in 1840, the family also locating in Jackson township. Mr. and Mrs. Sample were married in 1873. Two children were born to them, Earl, now judge of the Hancock circuit court, and Mary, at present the head of the English department of the high school at Kankakee, Illinois.

John Sample, the Judge's grandfather, was one of the earliest settlers in Jackson township. His son, familiarly known in the county as V. B. Sample, was an apt student. After mastering all that the local schools could offer, he began teaching. He taught for a number of years, but was also closely identified with the public affairs of his county and township. In March, 1861, he was appointed county examiner and served one year. In June 1868, he was again appointed and served three years more in the same capacity. The office at that time was similar to the present office of county superintendent of schools. On three occasions he was also elected township trustee of Jackson township, in 1874, 1876 and 1882. In 1894 he was elected clerk of the Hancock circuit court for a term of four years. He was a life-long Methodist and took an active part in the church and Sunday school. Fraternally he was affiliated with the Masonic order, being also a Knight Templar, a member of the Greenfield commandery. His untimely death was caused by the cyclone of June 25, 1902. Mrs. Sample is still living and resides at Greenfield. The daughter, Mary, graduated from Indiana University several years ago. She taught in the high school at Courtland, Indiana, and later took charge of the English department of the Greenfield high school. In 1913 she went abroad, spending a year at the University of Berlin and in traveling. For the past several years she has been at the head of the English department of the high school at Kankakee, Illinois. She spends her vacations, or at least a part of each summer, with her mother at Greenfield.

Judge Sample spent his early years on the old homestead in Jackson township. In 1894 he graduated from the Greenfield high school, and entered the county clerk's office as his father's deputy. This office offered a splendid opportunity to become familiar with legal forms. He also devoted himself assiduously to the study of law and on June 20, 1898, on motion of Edward W. Felt, he was admitted to the bar. In 1898 he also entered the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, giving his time to literature and law, and graduating from the law department in 1900. Upon returning to Greenfield a partnership was formed with Edward W. Felt, which continued until the latter's election as judge of the Hancock circuit court. Mr. Sample then continued in the practice alone until 1906, when he formed a partnership with the late U. S. Jackson, which continued for a period of five years. In 1912 he became the Democratic candidate for the judgeship in his native county, and was elected. He has now served nearly four years as judge of the eighteenth judicial circuit. The usual number of appeals have been taken from his rulings and decisions, but to this time the higher courts of the state have not reversed him in a single case. With the exception of serving as city attorney for the city of Greenfield from 1904-1908, he has sought no other office.

Judge Sample has had the common experience of attorneys, and has a clear understanding of the term "lean" as descriptive of the early years of a lawyer's practice. He is preeminently a trial lawyer, and for this work he is gifted by nature and qualified by training. During the six or seven years preceding his election to the bench, there was hardly a case of any importance before the court in which he did not appear upon one side or the other. As an advocate he is easily the peer of any lawyer that addressed the juries impaneled in the Hancock circuit court.

Since 1896 he has also taken an active interest in political affairs. In that memorable campaign he "stumped" the sixth congressional district in behalf of the Democratic ticket. In the campaign of 1914 he spoke in twenty-one counties of the state. In addition to campaigning, the Judge has been upon the lecture platform, and has refused attractive offers from bureaus in order that he might devote himself exclusively to the law.

On July 15, 1908, Mr. Sample was united in marriage with Roxie Thomas, who was born in Jackson township, June 18, 1884, the only child of William M. and Sophronia Alice (Barrett) Thomas. Her father, William M. Thomas, was a prominent farmer of Jackson township, and in 1892 was elected county commissioner of Hancock county, serving two terms. The daughter still owns his farm of one hundred and sixty acres in Jackson township, in the management of which Mr. Sample takes an active interest. The Judge's family consists of three members, a daughter, Louise, having been born September 1, 1910.

Mr. Sample was reared a Methodist. For about twelve years he taught a class in the Methodist Sunday school, and for a time was the Sunday school chorister in the church at Greenfield. Mrs. Sample is a member of the Christian church.

Fraternally, the Judge is a Royal Arch Mason, a Knight Templar, a noble of Murat Temple, Ancient Arabic order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine at Indianapolis, a member of the Fraternal order of Eagles, and a Modern Woodman. He was prelate of the Greenfield commandery for three years, and was the first worthy president of the Greenfield Aerie, Fraternal Order of Eagles.

Transcribed from History of Hancock County, Indiana, Its People, Industries and Institutions by George J. Richman, B. L., Federal Publishing Co., Indianapolis, Indiana, 1916. Page 1016-1018.

Submitted by Sylvia (Rose) Duda, Laingsburg, MI October 25, 2001.

Corrections and additions by the contributor:

Zettie Sample died in 1921 and is buried on the Sample lot, Park Cemetery, Greenfield, Indiana.

Mary Sample, who moved to California and taught in the Arcata schools for many years, retired to Gray Gables, Retired Teachers' Home in Ojai, California, She died in February, 1964 and is also buried on the Sample lot.

Judge Earl Sample died May 6, 1928. After the divorce from Roxie (Thomas) Sample , he left Greenfield, going to Gary where he lived until moving to Newcastle. He died there on May 6, 1928, after a brief illness.

Roxie Jane (Thomas) Sample was born June 19, 1887 and passed away November 10, 1951. She was at that time the widow of Omer Perry Gordon, a Greenfield architect. She is buried on the Thomas lot at Knightstown.

Roxie had three sisters: Fannie Bell Collier, born 1876 married Curtis Collier; she died in 1929; Emma Florence, born Sept. 1, 1873 and died Sept. 29, 1892 of catarrhal fever; Mary Ida Kirkpatrick, married October 8,1891 to William F. Kirkpatrick, four children were born to this union: Claud, Lawrence O.,Mrs. Myrtle Chandler and Kenneth. Ida died May 1, 1924.

Louise Sample, the daughter of Earl and Roxie was married to Stanley Rairrden Rose in March, 1934, Two daughters were born of this marriage: Mary Ruth Rose , stillborn in 1935 and Sylvia Jane Rose, born September 18, 1936, now living in Laingsburg, Michigan. Louise later married Roland F. Roosa and moved to Michigan. She graduated from Greenfield High School and attended Indiana University, retiring as Chief Accountant for the Michigan Department of Agriculture. She died in October, 1974 and is buried on the Sample lot in Park Cemetery, Greenfield, Indiana.

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