For many years a prominent practitioner of law in the Warren, Pennsylvania area, Delford Urson Arird would later serve a two decade tenure as Judge of the 37th Judicial District of Pennsylvania (comprising the counties of Warren and Forest), being elected to the bench at age 70. He retired at age 90, one of the oldest serving judges in America at the time of his retirement.
Delford Urson Arird was born on May 31, 1851, the son of Joseph Arird (1817-1887, a native of France) and his wife, the former Anna Cooper. Born and raised in the Sugar Grove, Pennsylvania area, Arird began his education in that town's schools and as an adolescent he and his brother Clemons began study at the Jamestown Union School and Collegiate Institute, graduating in 1881. Following his graduation Arird returned to Pennsylvana and began teaching, later holding the post of Superintendent of the Youngsville Union Schools for five years.
In 1885 Delford Arird entered into public office for the first time, being elected as the Warren County prothonotary and clerk of courts, serving two terms in office (1885-91). Around this same time Arird began the study of law, and in 1892 was admitted to practice by the Pennsylvania bar, later establishing a practice in Warren which he would operate for over fifty years. Through the duration of his practice, Arird earned the reputation as an "able trial lawyer" and that "in his profession he is very successful and somewhat aggressive in the trial of causes."
More than once during his life Arird was called on to defend murder suspects, and several of these occurrences were reported in the April 11, 1911 edition of the Warren Evening Mirror (which also gave a brief overview of Arird's life.) Among these cases was an 1895 incident in which Arird was appointed by Warren County Judge Charles Noyes to defend "four tramps" suspected in the slaying of another tramp in the Warren vicinity. The Mirror reported that upon an indictment being returned, Arird:
"Demanded four separate trials for the defendants. The first defendant, and the one against whom the commonwealth had the strongest evidence, was found guilty simply of manslaughter and sentenced to three years imprisonment as there could be no accessories in cases of manslaughter. The other three who had been indicted for murder were acquitted and released from custody."In 1911 Arird was again called to defend a murder suspect in the case of Warren County Water Works superintendent John M. Andrews, indicted for shooting and killing Emile Amann (a waterworks employee) at the Warren reservoir in January of that year. Andrews, the former head of the company, had been seen with Amann at the reservoir on the day of the killing and was further implicated in the slaying due to information supplied to police by one Arthur Offerlee, Amann's son-in-law. A firearm located near Amann's corpse was later found to be similar to one given to Andrews a few weeks previously by an acquaintance, W.H. Allen, a railroad attorney. Upon being presented with this information Andrews admitted to being given a similar weapon by Allen but had left it in the office of the water works company upon resigning from office some weeks prior to the January 1911 murder. Andrews had also been accused of misuse of company funds and it is believed that Amann would have gone to the authorities to tell of Andrew's alleged deed.
Despite a "hard-fought trial" Andrews was later found guilty in June 1911 and received a death sentence of hanging by a Pennsylvania jury. However, a new trial was later granted in 1912, and as defense attorney Delford Arird hoped to present evidence at this new trial that it was actually Stella Hodge who had killed Amann at the reservoir. Arird and the other members of Andrew's counsel had interviewed Hodge, who had admitted:
"Why, I killed Emile Amann, but it was not intentional; it was an accident."
Stella Hodge and John Andrews, from the July 1, 1911 Richmond Post Dispatch.
Andrews' counsel later applied for a change of venue and the new trial was relocated to the Erie County court. This trial resulted in Andrews' acquittal, and the following Find-a-Grave link to Emile Amann's grave in Warren's Oakland Cemetery notes that after his acquittal Andrews and his family later moved to Brooklyn, where he died in 1914.
A decade after the Andrews trial Delford Arird achieved further prominence in Warren when he was elected as judge for Pennsylvania's 37th district in 1921. Taking office in 1922, he was a successful candidate for reelection in November 1931, with the Buffalo Courier reporting on his candidacy. The Courier also notes that Arird had previously been a member of the Warren School board and "borough council."
From the June 22, 1931 Buffalo Morning Courier.
Arird remained on the bench until his resignation in January 1942 at age 90, one of the oldest active judges in the United States at the time of his retirement. Arird was succeeded on the bench by the significantly younger Judge Allison D. Wade (1902-1954), later to make headlines himself as a homicide victim, being the first sitting judge to be assassinated in Pennsylvania. Arird spent the remainder of his life in Warren and died there on January 15, 1945 at age 93. A lifelong bachelor, Arird was interred in his family's plot at the Youngsville Cemetery and was survived by a niece, Alice Meade (1875-1958), who is buried next to him.
As luck would have it, Judge Arird happens to be buried within a half hour drive from where I reside, and, like a few other persons profiled here in the past, I decided to pay the man a visit! The Arird family plot is located on a steep hillside at the Youngsville Cemetery, and besides the judge and his niece, this plot also is the resting place of his brother Clemons D. Arird, who died in 1887 at age 37, and his wife Emma Axtell (1851-1906.
From the Titusville Herald, January 18, 1945.
The Arird family headstone.
The graves of Delford Urson Arird and his niece Alice (1875-1958).
The large stone pictured above belongs to Delford's brother Clemons, who died in 1887.