Two Indiana Supreme Court justices hailed from LaPorte County

   Did you know that two past justices of the Indiana Supreme Court hailed from LaPorte County?

fern   The two were Isadore E. Levine, who served from Jan. 13, 1955, to May 23, 1955, and Julius C. Travis, who served from Jan. 3, 1921, to Jan. 3, 1933.

Isadore E. Levine

   In 1890, Mr. Levine’s parents moved from Boston to Michigan City, where Levine was born March 25, 1897. His father established a tailoring business, and in 1905, opened a store in LaPorte. In 1930, the LaPorte store was renamed Levine’s Boston Store.

Isadore Levine

Isadore Levine

   Isadore Levine was the first of the Levine children to go to college. He enrolled at the University of Michigan, where he was in the ROTC. When World War I occurred, he became a 2nd lieutenant and was scheduled to go overseas on Nov. 16, but the Armistice was signed Nov. 11, 1916.

   He practiced law in LaPorte from 1921 until his death April 5, 1963. In 1954 he was appointed by the governor to the Indiana Supreme Court, where he served with distinction. He and his wife lived in Indianapolis, but after she suffered a heart attack they returned to LaPorte.

   Levine was honored by the Fort Wayne Achduth Vesholom Temple for his service to Indiana and for being the first Jew to serve on the Indiana Supreme Court. He is buried in the B’ne Zion Congregation Cemetery, located at the east side of Patton Cemetery in LaPorte.

Julius C. Travis

   Mr. Travis was born in Pleasant Township in LaPorte County on July 31, 1869. His father, Wesley Travis, was also born in that township and became a very wealthy farmer. His mother was a native of Schoharie County, NY. Julius assisted in farm chores — plowing, planting and harvesting — when not busy with school activities. He graduated from LaPorte High School and then from Michigan State University in 1894. He was admitted to the Bar and returned to LaPorte to begin practice. He was appointed by the governor to fill out the unexpired term of prosecuting attorney J.C. Richter.

   On Sept. 10, 1896, Mr. Travis was married in LaPorte’s Swedenborgian (New) Church to Ethel Closser, who came from a prominent LaPorte family.

Julius Travis

Julius Travis

   He ran for a full term as prosecutor in 1898, but was defeated. In the early 1900s he served as a LaPorte city councilman. His biography on the State of Indiana website also states he was a sports editor at several newspapers, including the Chicago Tribune.

   Mr. Travis was president of the Rustic Hickory Furniture Company in LaPorte. (Some pieces manufactured by this firm are on display at the LaPorte County Historical Society Museum). With other stockholders, he founded the LaPorte Lumber and Coal Co. in 1912.

   He served a total of 12 years on the Indiana Supreme Court, 1921-1933. Among important decisions of the court during his tenure was one upholding the murder conviction of D.C. Stephenson, former grand dragon of the Indiana Ku Klux Klan, in the slaying of a Statehouse secretary.

   Mr. Travis died in Indianapolis on March 11, 1961, at age 91. He is buried in Pine Lake Cemetery in LaPorte.

   More biographical information about these two gentlemen is contained in the new book, “Justices of the Indiana Supreme Court,” published by the Indiana Historical Society Press. The book is available to libraries, teachers and schools free of charge. For more information, e-mail Sarah Kidwell at skidwell@courts.state.in.us. You can also read brief biographies of all of Indiana’s Supreme Court justices at www.in.gov/judiciary/supreme/bios.html.

   And plan to visit the museum and read more about Levine’s and Travis’ distinguished careers. For more information on the museum, visit www.laportecountyhistory.org.

FERN EDDY SCHULTZ is the official Historian of LaPorte County.

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