MUENCH, Robert L., was a son of the late Charles F. Muench. He was born in Harrisburg, February 9, 1831. His education was begun in the schools of Harrisburg, which he left to enter the printing office and bindery of his father, where he remained for a short time and then went to Tennant School, Hartsville, Bucks county, to prepare for Yale College, which he entered in 1852 in the class of 1856. He was a thorough German, Latin and French scholar, having a taste for the latter language, in which he became proficient in reading and graceful in speech.
He began the study of law with R. A. Lamberton and was on his motion admitted to the bar of Dauphin county January 22, 1856. His progress at the bar illustrated the energy of the man. Ardent and zealous in his profession and honestly devoted to his clients he rose gradually but surely until he secured a large practice and attained position ranking him among the ablest of the attorney’s with whom he practiced.
He was a prominent Mason of high standing, past master of Perseverance Lodge, No. 21, and many years district deputy grand master for this district.
He was the first president of the select council when the old council was divided into two branches- select and common. His ability as a presiding officer was displayed to great advantage, and to his sagacity may be attributed legislation which proved highly beneficial to the city, with the defeat, too, of measures full of mischief. But he was not an office seeker, though an ardent politician of the Jacksonian school of Democrats. Forced into the field as a Democratic candidate for district attorney against J. M. Wiestling, one of the strongest men in the Republican party, Mr. Muench ran ahead of his ticket and reduced the Republican majority lower that it had been since the organization of the party up to that time.
Robert Leyburn Muench was from early boyhood, in his youth, his young manhood and the prime of life one of the best known citizens of Harrisburg and Dauphin county. By organization fitted for active pursuits, whatever he did in the printing office, the bookbindery, at school, as a teacher, a collegiate, a student of law and a practioner, was with a spirit of resistless force. His mental endowments were of a high order, and personally he had qualities which commanded both admiration and respect. Where he placed his friendship, it was held with hooks of steel, and where his enmity was provoked it remained until satisfied. Open-hearted and frank of speech, courageous, generous and faithful, the man had no concealments to make in any direction and was of the nature that delights in the daylight of life, wherein what he said and did he could be seen and heard of all men. Such a man never lost a friend once made, and had the faculty of unmaking enemies who were capable of listening to reason. He was of use in his day and generation, a good citizen, a faithful husband, affectionate father, generous brother and a dutiful son. He leaves a widow and three daughter, the eldest of whom is the wife of Martin E. Hershey. He was the last male descendant of Capt. Charles F. Muench, a sister, Mrs. W. H. Snyder, being the only survivor.
The Dauphin County Bar Association met in the court room at four o’clock on Saturday afternoon, April 4, 1885. H. Murray Graydon, Esq., was called to the chair and J. M. Lamberton chosen secretary. A committee of five, consisting of Messrs. J. M. Wiestling, Francis Jordan, W. B. Lamberton, F. M. Ott and George Kunkel, was appointed to draft resolutions expressive of the sentiments of the meeting relative to the death of Robert L. Muench, late a member of the association. The following is their report, which was unanimously adopted:
The members of the Dauphin County Bar convened to testify to the affectionate regard which they ever cherished for their departed friend and brother, Robert L. Muench, Esq., to give fitting expression to their sincere sorrow for his death, and to pay a just and friendly tribute to his memory, do resolve:
First. That by his death the Bar has lost a member whose devotion to his profession and long experience in its active practice had won for him a prominence and reputation as a lawyer, distinguished for his industrious and painstaking preparation of his cases, fidelity to his clients in counsel and in trial, and conscientious regard for the responsibilities involved.
Second. That in all our intercourse with him, both in the practice of our profession and in social life, we always found him to be true to his honor, faithful to his friendships, and mindful of all the obligations and courtesies of both relations. His genial nature and cheerful disposition, exhibited in genuine humor and witty repartee, made his companionship and conversation ever agreeable and attractive.
Third. That in the world of literature Mr. Muench was proficient, and for his general knowledge of choice standard authors we justly render our tribute to his memory.
Fourth. As a native and life-long citizen of this community he was esteemed for his integrity, generosity, honesty of purpose and general good qualities.
Fifth. While lamenting his death we yet recognize it as the dispensation of an All-wise Providence, who cannot err, and is too beneficent to inflict but for good; and to his wise decree we submissively and reverentially bow, accepting the death of our late associate as another evidence of man’s mortality and life’s uncertainty. It is to all of us a solemn admonition to be always ready for that supreme summons, which, with awful certainty, will call us all from time into eternity.
Sixth. That to the sorrowing household of our deceased brother - bereft by this their great affliction of a loving husband and father - to his distressed widow and children we extend out most profound and sincere sympathy and regard. With unquestioning confidence we commend them to him who is the husband of the widow, the father to the fatherless.
Seventh. That this Bar will attend the funeral in a body, and that a copy of these resolutions be presented to the family, and that the court be requested to order that these proceedings be entered at length upon the proceedings of the court.
Hon. A. J. Herr addressed the meeting as follows:
Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen of the Bar: Robert Muench was my friend and as such I mourn his death. I come to bury him, not to praise him. For the garland of friendship which we lay on his grave should have no artificial flower in it. Time shall not wither its freshness nor steal away its perfume so long as memory shall hold within its golden cells the impress of his devotion and attachment to his friends. As a friend rather than as a lawyer let him be remembered; for the friend whose adoption has been tried should be grappled to your soul with hooks of steel. And if there was one trait in his character more pronounced than another, it was his steady, sturdy, robust friendship. When he professed it you might be sure that its roots entwined themselves about the very fibres [sic] of his heart and, like the oak fixed in its native soil, no storm of detraction could overthrow it. Let that be his epitaph, for it outsounds [sic] the clarion voice of fame! With him the laws of friendship were great, austere, eternal, of one web with the laws of nature and morals. His friendship was a solemn league and covenant against time and want and slander and persecution. It was a bond which death could not destroy, only sanctify, while his instincts taught him that the man who was worthy of that title was crowned above his fellows and bore the signet seal of uncommon royalty. This nature was intense, not being but strong, liking and disliking with no negative force, but with the energy of his own positive character. Bold, blunt and brave when he thought he was right, he was so open and straightforward that from the necessity of his moral constitution he hated hypocrisy and scorned sham, never fawning upon power or cringing before wealth, because the hinges of his knees were not oily enough to bend to sycophancy. There was no difficulty in discovering on which side of the question he was, for he would proclaim himself without stopping to count the cost or waiting to see whether his views were popular. What he felt was the right of the matter that he would maintain and contend for, and his word, when given, was as sacred as his oath. He wore his heart upon his sleeve and with the simplicity of a child he would let you read his inmost thoughts with no wish even to disguise them. These rare and sterling traits of character won for him and retained for him through life many true friends, and now, as we pay the last tribute of respect and esteem to him, is there one here who cannot bear testimony, tender and affectionate testimony, that he was greatly loved as a staunch friend, a good citizen and an honest man? In his professional career he never aspired to be a leader. He was modest in the judgement he passed upon himself and never overrated his own acquirements. No unseemly vanity prevented him from seeking advice or soliciting counsel, and when doubt and perplexity encumbered his way he would not hesitate to dismiss the natural pride of intellect and lay under contribution the larger knowledge of some of his fellow-members, for he was always sensitively anxious to leave nothing undone to protect, defend and secure the rights of his clients. He was a laborious worker in gathering his facts and always came tot the trial of the cause with a thorough mastery of its history. In the presentation of his views he was plain, logical, exact, with no rhetorical embellishment of ornamentation of language, aiming to convince the reason of the jury rather than to excite their imagination. If he was not a brilliant orator, he was an earnest advocate at least, and kept faithful watch and word of his client’s interests. He possessed fine literary taste and a discriminating appreciation of art> While he was more or less familiar with the ancient classics, English literature had special charms for him and he took peculiar delight in wandering through its rich and varied domain, gathering here and there apt quotations and beautiful thoughts from Shakespeare, Dryden, Milton and other worthies with which he would adorn his conversation in the intimate intercourse of his friends and companions. But the finger of god touched him and he sleeps in that quiet haven to which we are all drifting - drifting like autumn leaves on the bosom of a flood. Before man his days are as grass. As a flower of the field he flourisheth; the wind passeth over it and it is gone, and the place thereof shall know it no more! Never again will his voice resound within these walls. Never again will his well-known form pass in and out among us, tall, stately and dignified. He is gone! And silence comes to give us praise! What does it all mean? What do our eager struggles, our petty rivalries, our little jealousies, our honorable ambition or our lawful contests for fame or wealth or distinction - what do all these end in? Silence - darkness - six feet of mother earth and that is all, unless one be wise and learn the lesson, each for himself, that this earth is but a nursery from which we may be transplanted to a garden where immorality [sic] shall fill up and round out every faculty of the soul so as to be in perfect and everlasting harmony with the Divine will.
At the same meeting Mr. F. K. Boas spoke as follows: "I have known our friend and brother, Robert L. Muench, from his childhood until his death yesterday. I was his near neighbor for upwards of twenty years. We were close friends. I rejoice in the permission given me in saying that he was an affectionate son, husband and father, and in all the elements that make a gentleman the peer of either of us. In the profession I found him courteous and kind. While true as steel to the interests of his client, he ever regarded the rights of others. He has gone with the great majority to the untried realities of another and I trust a better world, leaving the priceless legacy of a blameless life and untarnished reputation to those who were near and dear to him."
H. Murray Graydon, Esq., followed Mr. Boas with an impressive and touching address, after which the meeting adjourned.
Historical Review of Dauphin County
Transcribed by Linda Mockenhaupt firstname.lastname@example.org for The Dauphin County, Pennsylvania Genealogy Transcription Project - http://maley.net/transcription.
Date of Transcription: 3 December 2000
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