This friend of the Bar was an enemy of bootleggers.
From 1922 to 1932, Edward M. Biddle Jr. served as a judge with the Cumberland County Court of Common Pleas.
His single term on the bench spanned much of the Prohibition era during which Biddle proved to be “an arch foe of the liquor interests,” according to an editorial published in The Sentinel on March 29, 1955.
The newspaper ran the column as a tribute to the lawyer and civic leader who died Friday morning, March 25, 1955, at Carlisle Hospital following a lingering illness. At age 89, Biddle had practiced law in Cumberland County since November 1888 and was the oldest member of the county bar association.
A Warren County native, he graduated with honors from Dickinson College in 1886, earning a philosophy degree. As a student, Biddle was on Dickinson’s first football team, which was formed for intercollegiate competition in 1882. As an alumnus, he served on the college board of trustees for 50 years.
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The Sentinel described Biddle as a soft-spoken gentleman who never raised his voice during a legal argument “but debated and pleaded every case in a quiet and calm manner.
“With it all, for seventy one years, his mind remained keen,” the editorial reads. “His defense was logical and based on the law which he knew with an exactitude not often found in either lawyer or judge. Although on the bench for ten years, none of his decisions was reversed by a higher court.”
His expertise was sought after. During his career, Biddle worked as the solicitor for Carlisle, Lemoyne and Cumberland County. Aside from the college, he served as a trustee of the Sarah A. Todd Memorial Home, the J. Herman Bosler Memorial Library and the Hamilton Library and Historical Association – which later became the Cumberland County Historical Society.
Locally, Biddle was on the board of directors of the Carlisle Trust Company and the Frog, Switch and Manufacturing Company. A life-long Democrat, he was a delegate to the 1916 and 1924 national conventions.
“He had at his command at all times a sense of humor, which made him popular both in and out of the courtroom,” The Sentinel editorial reads. “He stood for all that is right and good and he lived that way. He set an example which others, especially in his profession can follow and be highly successful.”
Tour through Time runs Saturday in The Sentinel print edition. Reporter Joseph Cress will work the Cumberland County Historical Society each week to look at the county through the years. Send any questions, feature or tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Email Joseph Cress at email@example.com.