Judge William Wormer Drummond arrived in Salt Lake City in July 1856, accompanied by an attractive woman he referred to as "Mrs. Drummond."
Although Drummond frequently invited her to sit on the bench with him during court sessions, it was soon discovered that she was not his wife at all -- but a prostitute named Ada Carroll."Skinny Ada," as she was called, was said to be "a ravishing beauty whose only physical defects were a slight lisp and a split in one of the fingers of her left hand."
Bill Knecht is an energetic retired lawyer who "never leaves a question unchased." For the past 45 years, Knecht has been meticulously researching Judge Drummond's life and has "several file cabinets filled with raw stuff." Currently, he is writing a book on the judge.
In an effort to find more about the judge, Knecht posted a note on the Internet, a note that caught the eye of Douglas S. Drummond, the judge's great-great-grandson.
Doug Drummond, a city councilman and former police administrator and vice mayor of Long Beach, Calif., was working on his family history when he came upon Knecht's posting.
Up to that time, he had no idea about his ancestor's colorful past.
"My dad died at age 50 in 1959, so I really had no information to speak of," says Drummond. "He had come from Burlington, Iowa, in the late 1920s."
Drummond responded to the note and recently visited Knecht in Salt Lake City to collect information about his family history.
"I'm very, very pleased," Drummond said. "It's knowledge I could not have gotten otherwise. Now I want to find my way back beyond the judge to find his kinfolk."
Knecht says Judge Drummond was a blatantly immoral man who deserted his wife, Jemima, and five children at Oquawka, Ill. When he was asked about them, he lied that he had obtained a divorce.
Stories of the judge's misdeeds abound, such as when he sent a servant, Cuffy Cato, to violently settle a personal argument he had with "a Mormonized Jew" named Levi Abrams, a shopkeeper in Fillmore, where Judge Drummond presided. Abrams survived the attack, but both Cato and Judge Drummond were arrested for "assault and battery with intent to murder." Although the case was never brought to trial, it threw Judge Drummond's reputation into a shambles.
A clue about Judge Drummond's intentions came in the spring of 1857, when he sold his law books to Hosea Stout. Afterward, he went to Carson Valley, which at the time was a part of the Utah Territory.
Ostensibly, he was there to hold court, but he secretly intended to leave Utah for the East via California and the Isthmus of Panama.
While Doug Drummond doesn't have much to add to Knecht's research on the judge, the modern-day Drummond has continued his search for other kinfolk. He continues to work on his family history in the LDS stake center in Long Beach.
"When you get into family history work," he says, "there's nothing in the world like the LDS Church."
In California in 1857, Judge Drummond spread numerous vicious rumors about Brigham Young and the Mormons, including charges of treason and murder, and he recommended that a non-Mormon be appointed in Young's place.
Other federal officials quickly denied Judge Drummond's assertions, but not before he had circulated them all over the country. Brigham Young had argued for some time that the judge should be removed from office, because he "transcended his authority, and demeaned himself very much like a dog or wolf, vicious and brutal, whining and snappish, vain as a peacock and ignorant as a jackass."
In March, Judge Drummond sent a letter of resignation to the U.S. attorney general, then went to Chicago to practice law.
The judge had a desire to help Illinois Sen. Stephen L. Douglas in his campaign for president, but the senator was shocked to read a story in the newspaper about Judge Drummond stealing two of his children from the wife he deserted. After that, says Knecht, Douglas wanted no more to do with Judge Drummond.
In the next several years, Judge Drummond worked as a sewing machine salesman, then fell into obscurity and poverty. In 1885, he was sentenced to the Illinois House of Correction for stealing postage stamps. Finally, in 1888, in his 70th year, he died a pauper in a grogshop (a low-class barroom) in Chicago.
Many historians consider Judge Drummond to have played a major role in getting Johnston's Army, the ill-fated military expedition, sent to Utah in 1858, and in the replacement of Brigham Young as territorial governor by Alfred Cumming.
Doug Drummond discovered on his own that the judge's 15-year-old son, Americus, joined the Union Army and fought in the Civil War under General Thomas, "and at the elbow of General William T. Sherman when he made that campaign all the way down to Atlanta."
The teenage soldier was part of the 84th Illinois infantry, including 850 men, 680 of whom died. He was promoted to sergeant in the Union army when he was only 17.
"That," says Doug Drummond, "was astounding. I think he was a bright side to the family. Maybe he was trying to atone for his daddy's sins."
Doug Drummond is treating the skeleton in his family closet with good humor. "I had no idea of the nature of the Judge's life or his troubles. There is no question that the judge was a rogue, and by the end of his life he was an alcoholic."
Both Knecht and Doug Drummond share one major objective -- to find a photograph of Judge Drummond. Knecht has found pictures of 80 percent of the other Utah judges, and some pictures in Utah Historical Society's records remain unidentified.
"I'm more full-faced than my father or my grandfather," says Doug Drummond, "but all of us have similar eyes, and it seems that I should be able to spot the judge."
Knecht remains resolute. "I want a photograph of the judge in the worst way," he says.
It would certainly look good on the cover or the frontispiece of his book when it's finished. Piercing eyes and a ravaged face might strengthen the judge's obstreperous past, but gentle eyes would soften his widespread image of unkindness and immorality.
Any reader with information about a photograph of Judge Drummond may telephone Bill Knecht at 801-572-7835 or e-mail him at ([email protected]).