Rollin J. Britton (1864-1931) was distinguished as a lawyer, historian, literatus and poet. He grew up on a farm near Pattonsburg, MO, and was a confidant to those grouped by photographs in the “Hall of Fame” featured in the Daviess County Courthouse in Gallatin, groups in which included two U.S. Senators, members of Congress, three members of the President’s cabinet, a Governor, numerous judicial and military officers and business, literary and professional men. But here in his innate modesty, he refused to permit his own photograph to be included.
The following account was published in the Gallatin North Missourian on Jan. 30, 1936, under the headline “Gallery at Courthouse 10 Years Old This Month”:
One of the most interesting portrait galleries in the state of Missouri is 10 years old this month. It was in January, 1926, when the late Rollin J. Britton, beloved Gallatin attorney, gave to the city the collection of pictures of important men he had spent some 20 years collecting. Those pictures are today hanging in the circuit courtroom at the Daviess County Courthouse here in Gallatin.
There are approximately 200 pictures of Gallatin men who have made names for themselves in their respective professions; men who have won the esteem of their fellow citizens for work in government, public welfare and community service. Among those men so honored are included Albert Gallatin, for whom the town was named. Mr. Gallatin was Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Jefferson and Madison, and devised a money county system that was used for many years. It remained for another of the honored men, and a Gallatin citizen, to change that money county system originated by Gallatin. That man was the Hon. Alexander Monroe Dockery. It was during Dockery’s administration as a member of President Wilson’s “Little Cabinet” that he changed the money counting system. Dockery was governor of Missouri for four years, was in Congress 16 years and served eight years under President Wilson.
Another well known citizen of Gallatin honored in Atty. Britton’s collection is the Hon. Joshua W. Alexander who was a circuit judge here before he served 14 years in Congress. Later he was made Secretary of Commerce in President Wilson’s cabinet. Judge Alexander still resides in Gallatin and is in good health. Mrs. Alexander and their daughters, Mrs. Julia Jenner and Miss Roe Alexander, live with him.
Others mentioned in the 10-year-old account were Chester I. Long, former Kansas U.S. Senator and President of the American Bar Association; Webster Davis, former Mayor of Kansas City and Assistant Secretary of the Interior under President McKinley; Wm. T. Kemper, former head of the Commerce Trust Company at Kansas City; and Ed Howe, the “Sage of Potato Hill” and famous editor of Atchison, KS. Editor Howe was at one time editor of the Gallatin North Missourian.
Gallatin has never boasted of more than 2,000 population. Yet it has much more than its share of famous men, locally and nationally; men who have won recognition here at home, at Jefferson City, at Washington D.C., and even abroad at London and Paris. These Gallatin men have gone far in the eyes of their neighbors, and have been partially rewarded by this marvelous collection of the late Rollin J. Britton.
The following is an example of the Britton collection: