Collection: Daniel Mullen
Scanned by : James Whitlow
19th Century Lawyers
Until the early 1900’s, attending a university and passing a bar exam was not required to practice law. In fact, an individual who wanted to practice law could apprentice with a lawyer for a year or two, take an unstandardized oral examination, and be declared a lawyer.
So when William Edmund Beloate set up shop in Walnut Ridge in 1890, he was a rare breed with a law degree from an Ivy League school.
A native of Clay County, Arkansas, W.E. Beloate graduated from Cornell Law School in Ithaca, New York in 1890 at the age of 22. Cornell Law School had only been established 3 years prior in 1887.
W.E. Beloate’s office was in the first floor of the Rhea Hotel after it was built on Main Street in 1904. When the Hotel burned in 1914, he moved his office to the upstairs of the Lane Hotel on SW 2nd Street (now Abbey Road).
The Lane Hotel covered half of SW 2nd Street from the alley to West Elm Street. The building still stands, and is now occupied by Attorney Larry Steele and Mullen Abstract and Insurance. Half of the building near Elm Street is unoccupied.
The featured picture at the top of this page shows Mr Beloate at his desk in July, 1915, in the 2nd floor of the Lane Hotel. We know this because of the calendar on the back wall. The calendar was from the Chickasaw Machine and Foundry Company of Memphis, TN, which was a manufacturer of saw mill and special machinery and iron and brass castings.
The picture below is a much later photograph of him in the same office. The interior doors and transom windows are still intact in the 2nd floor of this building, which is currently used as storage.
Some of the Barrister bookcases shown in both of these pictures are still used in Dan Mullen’s office, which is on the first floor of the same building. In fact, the back of both pictures are inscribed “Roy Mullen purchased desk, chair, books, and bookcases shown for his practice.” This would be Judge William Roy Mullen, Dan’s grandfather.
1912 Blade Newspaper
The following is reprinted from a short biography from the March 22, 1912 Blade Newspaper of Walnut Ridge. W.E. Beloate had been practicing law in Walnut Ridge for 22 years by then.
“Mr. Beloate is a native of Clay County, but has been a resident of Lawrence County for many years. His ability and persistency has built up one of the largest and most lucrative law and insurance businesses in Lawrence County. His progressive spirit has been manifested many times and his efforts have not been in vain, as Walnut Ridge owes many of her public improvements to Mr. Beloate’s never-ceasing efforts.
Mr. Beloate’s rise to eminence in his profession has been steady and well founded. Many bitter legal battles have been fought and won, many knotty legal tangles have been unraveled and many difficult points settled, but the compensation is worth it, and his opinion in legal matters is respected wherever expressed.
A worthy citizen, an eminent lawyer, a generous, broad-minded man filled with civic pride and patriotism is but just comment on the character of W.E. Beloate.”