Letter Signed, 2pp. on stationery of the Reymert law firm, Los Angeles. To his brother, New York lawyer August Reymert, New York. Also includes four documents and letters relating to August Reymert’s NY law practice, 1885-91.
James DeNoon Reymert, a Norwegian immigrant who helped write the Wisconsin Constitution, became an Arizona silver baron and publisher, then a judge in Los Angeles, was remembered, at his death in 1896, as a “noble-hearted gentleman” and “astute lawyer”. But this letter, written five years earlier by his nephew and law partner, describes uncle “JD” as a “villainous man…detested by everybody…trying to practice law in a shabby backroom…quarrelling with his associates and heavily in debt”.
The writer’s uncle first came to the US from his native Norway at age 17, studied law in Scotland, settled in frontier Wisconsin, where he was a state legislator and delegate to that Territory’s constitutional convention, then practiced law in New York until moving to territorial Arizona in 1877. There, while publishing a newspaper, he discovered a Silver Lode, “one of the richest mines in the Territory”. He managed his mine for ten years – a nearby mining town bore his name - before purportedly selling part of his interest in the property for $300,00, leaving the balance to his son, and moving to Los Angeles, where he acquired a lavish home in Alhambra and was given a minor judicial post. His nephew and law partner tells a different story: His uncle was “busted”; his law practice was in shambles; he still owned 1/3 of the Arizona mine, which was “idle in the Sheriff’s hands”, itied up in legal disputes, and controlled by feuding business partners. His son James, the nominal manager, was “loafing in Arizona”, awaiting trial for some unnamed offense while living with a woman “who feeds him.” “JD” did not “care a damn” for any of his family, but was attempting to lure another young relation “with lies about getting him a position at the Mines at a BIG salary… honeyed promises, which amount to nothing..."
The recipient, August Reymert, was notable in his own right for lobbying the US Government to adopt the Norwegian-designed Krag rifle, used by US troops during the Spanish-American War and Boxer rebellion.