Home | Mission & Goals | Meeting Schedule | Search | Contact Us | Submit A Story | Links

William's History of Frederick County

Judge John Columbus Motter

Judge John Columbus Motter: Associate Justice of the Sixth Judicial Circuit of Maryland, is recognized as one of the leading and most prominent citizens, of Frederick County, Md. He is a native of Emmitsburg, Frederick County, in which place he was born December 1, 1844. He is the second son of Jacob and Jemima (Troxell) Motter.

The Motter family were originally residents of Alsace, but during the religious persecutions in the reign of Louis XIV., of France, they crossed to the German side of the Rhine. The American ancestors, of this old and respected family were George and Anna Maria Eber Motter, who emigrated in 1751 from the Palatinate to America, and settled in York County, Pa.

George Motter was the father of six children, four sons and two daughters. The Motter family is one that was identified with the history of Pennsylvania, during the early days of its settlement, later generations removing to Maryland.

Jacob Motter, a descendant of George and Anna Maria Eber Motter, was the great-grand-father of Justice John 0. Motter, and he was a soldier in the 'Revolutionary War.  Jacob Motter was married to Anna Marie Bene. They had a son, John Motter.

John Motter, son of Jacob and Anna Marie (Bene) Motter, and grandfather of Justice John C. Motter, served at the defense of the city of Baltimore in 1814, being a member of  Captain Jacob Deitrich's company, 2nd Regiment, 18th Brigade, Pennsylvania State troops. He was the father of Jacob Motter.

Jacob Motter, son of John Motter, and father of Justice Motter, was born in 1812, and died in 1870. He passed the best part of his life in Emmitsburg, Frederick County, and was one of the leading and best known business men of that community. For many years be conducted a tannery in Emmitsburg and met with much success. In politics, he was an adherent of the Republican party, but never sought public office, preferring to devote all his energy and time to the management of his business. In a religious way, he was I allied with the, Methodist Episcopal Church, of which he was a zealous member and an officer in the local church.

In the days when churches were not as numerous as now, his home became the headquarters for ministers. He assisted in the erection of a number of edifices, and in other ways promoted the cause of Methodism in his community. He was an ideal type of the Christian gentlemanly and was held in high esteem by all with whom he came in contact.

Mr. Motter was married to Jemima Troxell, daughter of George and Elizabeth (Crabbs) Troxell. Her grandfather was John Crabbs, who was a member of Captain Henry Williams' Company from Emmitsburg in the Revolutionary War. They were the parents of four children: George T., deceased, served as an assistant surgeon in the Union Army during the Civil War, and afterwards practiced at Tanneytown Md., where he stood at, the head of his profession; John Columbus of whom presently; Anna died a short time after her graduation from Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport, Pa., and Emma, who became the wife of Ezra Zimmerman, a prominent citizen of Frederick County, still resides in Emmitsburg.

Peter Troxell, the great-grandfather of Mrs. Jacob Motter, was the American ancestor of the well-known Troxell family. Immediately upon his arrival in this country, he settled at the Huguenot colony in White Hall Lehigh County, Pa. It was in this locality that the old Egypt Church was built, of which Mr. Troxell was a prominent member. He was the father of a large family, of whom are known John, who served as a lieutenant during the Revolutionary War, and Peter.

Peter Troxell, Jr., was married to Magdalena Schrieber, now spelled Shriver. About the beginning of the Revolution, he removed, with his wife, from Pennsylvania to Frederick County in Md., and settled in the Tom's Creek region, near Emmitsburg. He also was father of a large family, among his sons being George. George Troxell, the father Mrs. Jacob Motter, was a well-known farmer and large land owner of Frederick County, residing on Tom's Creek. He was a prominent and consistent member of the Reformed Church, and assisted in the erection of a house of worship for that denomination at Mechanicstown. He was married to Elizabeth Crabbs a native of Pennsylvania. They became the parents of Jemina Troxell, who Jacob Motter.

John Columbus Motter, son of Jacob and Jemima (Troxell) Motter, received his elementary education in the select schools of Emmitsburg, his native place. He afterwards, attended Dickinson Seminary, Williamsport, On September 1, 1866, he commenced the study. of the law in the office Grayson Eichelberger, Esq., in Frederick City, who at that time was one of the leading lawyers of Western Maryland. In the fall of 1868, he completed his legal studies, and on September, 21 of that year, be was admitted to the Frederick County Bar. Mr. Motter immediately began the practice of his profession in Frederick, and within a short time built up large and lucrative practice.

From the very outset he met with success, and soon became recognized as one of the leading members of the bar. Possessing a mind admirably adapted to the law, he had not erred in the choice of profession. Identified with much litigation of an important character, and in every instance noted for the skillful manner in which he safe-guarded the interests of his clients, he won the regard and admiration of all, and established himself as one of the leading lawyers of Western Maryland.

In early manhood, Mr. Motter took an active part in politics, being a stanch adherent of the Republican party. Four years his admittance the Bar, he was appointed counsel to the Board of County Commissioners of Frederic County. In 1875, he was nominated by the Republican party for the Office of State's Attorney of Frederick County, and was elect by a handsome majority. In this capacity, he discharged his duties with such ability and fidelity, that in 1879, he was re-nominated and again elected by a greatly increased majority.

In 1882, before the expiration of his term as State's Attorney, he was made the candidate of his party for Associate Judge of the Sixth Judicial Circuit. His opponent, however, was elected by a small margin, although Mr. Motter carried his own county by over six hundred majority. In the fall of 1897, he was a second time the choice of his party for the position of Associate Justice of the district. The contest was vigorously waged, and he had strong men to battle against, but he was elected by a large majority. Before his elevation to the bench, Judge Motter's advice was often sought in the local councils of his party - with which he has been active and identified, for forty years and be was also a prominent figure in County, State and National conventions.

As Associate Justice, Mr. Motter enjoys the confidence and esteem of the people of the Sixth Circuit. A man of strong and untiring energy and will power, he has worked his way to success by the force of a determined character and ambitious spirit. Since his election many important and intricate cases have come up, and in these be has rendered his decision. to the satisfaction of the unprejudiced and impartial. Judicial honor could not have been conferred upon a more worthy or capable person. He is pre-eminently fitted to perform the duties of this high office. A man of un-doubted integrity, independent in his beliefs and fearless in his opinions, his elevation to this position insured justice to all without fear or favoritism. His broad knowledge of the law and accurate judgment of human nature have enabled him to discharge the duties of this position creditably to himself and satisfactorily to others.

As a citizen of Frederick, Judge Motter has been prominently identified with its material interests. He is public spirited to a material degree, and every movement that tends to the advancement of the general interests and the development of the community has received his hearty and active cooperation. He is in intimately identified with the business interests of his city and county, being president of the Emmitsburg railroad Company, and a director, of the Washington, Frederick and Gettysburg Railway Company, as well as a director of the Citizens' National Bank, and a trustee of the Masonic and Elks, Building Associations. He is also interested in various other leading enterprises, both as stockholder and director

It is noteworthy that some years ago, Motter purchased a most attractive, property on the outskirts of Frederick, along the Frederick and Opossumtown turnpike where he has fitted up a charming home that is provided with every modern comfort, and which is typical of the fullest refinement.

In 1875, Judge Motter was married to Effie Buhrman Marken, daughter of Josiah And Ann Buhrman Marken; her father being a successful businessman of Frederick. Judge and Mrs. Motter are the parents of nine children of whom seven survive: Roger, Alan, Bessie, Lolo, Amie, Emily and Helen. A daughter Jessie, died in her second year, and a son, George, shortly after his attaining his majority.

Return to index on Emmitsburg names in William's History of Frederick County

Do you know of an individual who helped shape Emmitsburg?
If so, send their story to us at: history@emmitsburg.net

Back to Previous Page >