THE LEARNED PROFESSIONS
The Bench and Bar—The Medical Profession—Medical Societies—The Clergy.
The Bench and Bar of Chemung County has contained many able lawyers and some profound juries. Leading the procession which has worn the ermine is the veteran who, Cincinnatus like, has left the ranks of public life and returned to the plow, and is now enjoying his otium cum dignitate on his farm, just beyond the limits of the beautiful city he has seen expand from a hamlet to a thriving metropolis of trade and manufactures. We allude to HON. HIRAM GRAY, of Scotch-Irish parentage, who was born July 20, 1801, in Salem, Washington Co., this State, the then and continued residence of his parents, each of whom lived beyond threescore-and-ten, and died in the profession of that Christian faith, "whose mission it is to impart health and soundness to the race of man."
His father, John Gray, was by occupation a farmer, in pursuit of which he acquired the wherewith to place himself and family, while under his guardianship, beyond the reach of reasonable want; a man of firmness, integrity, and marked strength of mind, enjoying the respect and confidence of his fellow-citizens, by whom he was in 1808 elected to the Legislature of this State, and from time to time placed in other stations of public trust. His son, the leading incidents of whose career are the subject of this narrative, received his education, preparatory to entering college, at the Salem Academy, in the town of his birth. In 1818 he entered the sophomore class of Union College, and graduated in 1821. His attendance at college was required during only a portion of his senior year and in December of that year he entered the office of the late Chief-Justice Savage (then a practicing lawyer of Salem) as a student-at-law. Judge Savage was soon after appointed Comptroller of this State, and then under his advice he entered, in September, 1822, the office of the firm of Nelson & Dayton, consisting of the late Samuel Nelson, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, and Nathan Dayton, late Circuit Judge and Vice-Chancellor of the Eighth Judicial District of this State, then practicing law in Cortlandville, Cortland Co.
During his clerkship in their office, in April, 1823, Samuel Nelson, one of that firm, was appointed Circuit Judge and Vice-Chancellor of the Sixth Judicial District of the State; the business of the office being continued as the same place by Dayton, with whom he continued his clerkship until the October term of the Supreme Court, , held in the city of Albany in 1833, when he was admitted to practice as attorney of that court. After a short visit to his parents in his native town, he received from the late Chief-Justice Savage, with whom he commenced his clerkship and by whom his license to practice as an attorney at the Supreme Court was signed, a kinsman and true friend of his father, a letter, addressed to all whom it might concern, vouching for his good character and qualifications as a lawyer. With these testimonials he returned to Cortland village, intending there to pursue his studies until he could find a more suitable location for the practice of his profession. In November of that year Judge Nelson, who continued to reside in Cortland, loaned him a few elementary law books, such as the judge could spare, with which, and the first edition of Cowen’s Treatise as a text-book, he repaired to the neighboring village of Dryden, Tompkins co., where he remained until the spring of 1824, transacting business in the line of his profession sufficient to defray his expenses.
In the spring of 1824 he entered into partnership with Townsend Ross, of Homer, Cortland Co., an old practitioner,--not, however, with a view of remaining in Cortland beyond the time he could avail himself of a more eligible situation. In the spring of 1825, upon the invitation of Theodore North, Sr., a counselor-at-law of experience, learning, and skill in his profession unsurpassed, if it was equaled, by any member of the profession in the county of Tioga, he came to Elmira, then Newtown, an inconsiderable village of less than six hundred population, and entered into partnership with him in the practice of law.
The business of Elmira and its vicinity did not then warrant the hope of any considerable profits from legal professional services; it was the prospect of the then future growth of Elmira and its surroundings that induced him to accept the invitation. Soon after he came here he was admitted to the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County, Pa., where he practiced to his advantage, not only by an increase of his income, but by coming in contact with such lawyers as Horace Williston, George Dennison, Garrick Mallory, John N. Coyningham, and Edward Overton, of acknowledged eminence in their profession.
While retainers were few, as well as inconsiderable in amount, in Tioga County, an amendment of the constitution of 1821, adopted in 1826, went into effect, authorizing justices of the peace to be elected by the people. Under this provision four justices of the peace were to be elected in each town. The nomination and election took place in 1827. Political parties were then designated as the Jackson and Adams parties. North and three others were placed in nomination by the Adams party, while Gray and three others were placed in nomination by the Jackson party. The result was that both North and Gray were elected. One of those nominated upon the ticket with Gray being defeated, this led to the dissolution of the firm of North & Gray, which occurred shortly prior to the 1st of January, 1828, when the duties of their office commenced. Gray drew the two years’ term, at the expiration of which he was re-elected for four years. The increase of his professional business, and the duties of his office, so engrossed his situation that he necessarily discontinued his practice in Pennsylvania, and before the expiration of his four years’ term his professional business increased to an extent that compelled him to decline, so far as it was practicable, all applications for process for the commencement of litigated suits. He was now engaged in an earnest and successful professional career, and soon attained a high standing in the front rank of his profession; insomuch that for several years prior to entering upon his duties as member of Congress, in 1837, he was engaged on one side or the other of nearly every action tried in the courts of record in the western jury district of Tioga, comprising the present county of Chemung and the principal portion of Schuyler, as well as in many trials in adjoining counties.
In 1828, when the Anti-Masonic excitement ran high, it was assumed by the Anti-Masonic Convention of the county of Tioga that young Gray, who was not a Mason, was, of course, an Anti-Mason, and upon such assumption that body nominated him for member of Assembly; but entertaining the opinion that Masonry or Anti-Masonry was not a proper element in State or National politics, he promptly declined the nomination.
In 1830 he was married to Aurelia Covell, eldest daughter of Robert Covell, who was one of the oldest and most time-honored citizen of Elmira. She is an estimable lady, who has contributed her full share to his happiness and consequence.
In 1836 he was elected to the Twenty-fifth Congress, which held its first session in September, 1837, and was placed upon the committee of Claims. Although he was up to this time without legislative experience or familiarity with parliamentary law, having devoted himself exclusively to his profession, he discharged his duties on the committee to which he was assigned with ability, and sustained himself in other respects as a member of Congress creditably. At the termination of that Congress he returned to his profession, and was not again a candidate.
After his election to Congress he received into partnership Samuel G. Hathaway, Jr., a former student in his office, then a brilliant young lawyer of great personal popularity, who also soon became a distinguished and almost unrivaled advocate.
Judge Gray had then, as he has now, likes and dislikes, his convictions were then, as nor, thorough, and he uttered, with perhaps too little reserve, what he thoroughly believed to be right; and although it cannot be said that he was universally popular, it is nevertheless true that those who knew him longest and best were his best friends.
Several years prior to the resignation of Judge Robert Monell of the office of circuit judge and vice-chancellor of the Sixth Judicial District, it was believed he would soon resign.
William Woods (now deceased), then a prominent member of the Steuben County bar, who was the earliest common-school instructor of Judge Gray, and had known him well from that time, was desirous he should succeed to the office then (as he supposed) soon to become vacant. Unsolicited, he addressed Judge Nelson, then of the Supreme Court of the State, on the subject. The income of the office was then comparatively small. The answer of Judge Nelson was remarkable for the interest he manifested for the welfare of his early student, and sensible suggestions made by him as to what might be the consequences of retiring from his practice so early. It read as follows: "I think our friend Gray mistaken in desiring the place, if he is yet to make his fortune; it is the last place of respectability to be sought for by him; it will keep him poor through life; it ties up the hands and cramps the energies of youth, because the business of making money is incompatible with the duties and character of the office, and none is to be made by its income. I know, by experience, that it is gratifying to youthful aspiration to receive the appointment, but if he is like me he would regret the step in a year, as I did. He had better keep himself uncommitted in regard to any permanent place until he has placed himself in independent circumstances.
"There is no position in the world more uncomfortable than splendid poverty, from which one can neither advance or retreat. He is now prosperous, and if he goes on—preserves his character and habits—every year will add to his consideration and ease, and he may at any time, in this free land, command whatever he may wish on the score of office. . . .
"I have thrown out these considerations, which please communicate to our friend, for I have a sincere attachment to him, and properly estimate his work. I know there is no danger in this course if he will keep contented and lay his foundation broad and solid. If at a later period of life he should make a mistake it is not so material, but one at his present time of life, and prospects in his profession, might be felt for years."
The office did not become vacant as soon as expected, nor until the spring of 1845, when the Senate was not in session. Silas Wright was then Governor.
The names of several gentlemen of the district, with ample testimonials of their undoubted qualifications, were presented to him and their appointment solicited, and among them the name of Judge Gray. At the time one of them was presented a gentleman was sitting with the Governor in the executive chamber, to whom he remarked after the party presenting the petition had retired, that he not only knew of Mr. Gray but knew him personally; that he had all the requisite qualifications for the office, and, unless he changed his mind before the Senate convened, he should, if the Senate concurred, appoint him to the office; and when the Senate convened, in January, 1846, he nominated, and the Senate, on motion of the celebrated Joshua A. Spencer, since deceased, then a member of the senate and a political opponent of Judge Gray, at once, and without the usual reference to a committee, unanimously consented to the appointment. Mr. Hammond, in his "Political History of New York," said, "The appointment of Judge Gray was decidedly popular. He had been a member of Congress for the district in which he resided, and sustained himself creditably in that station and was a man of remarkable urbanity in his social intercourse, and a sound and able lawyer."
By a change in the organic law of the State the office was soon after abolished, and its powers and duties conferred upon Justices of the Supreme Court to be elected in June, 1847.
He was elected one of those justices, and drew the four years’ term, at the expiration of which he was re-elected for the full term of eight years, which expired with the year 1859, and was not a candidate for a renomination or election.
Between the close of his term as Justice of the Supreme Court and his appointment as Commissioner of Appeals in 1870, he devoted a portion of his time to the disposition of issues referred to him and the trial of issues and argument of cases as counsel. In 1867 Union College conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Under a change of the constitution of this state adopted in 1869, a new Court of Appeals was organized, and such causes as were pending in this Court of Appeals on the first day of January in that year were to be heard and determined by five Commissioners of Appeals, to be composed of the outgoing members of the Court of Appeals, and a fifth Commissioner to be appointed by the Governor and Senate, who were also authorized to fill such vacancies as might occur in the commission. Under this provision of that constitution Judge Gray was nominated by Governor Hoffman as commissioner of Appeals, and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, a decided majority of whom were his political opponents. In this capacity he served from July, 1870, to July, 1875, when the business of the commission was completed and the commission terminated.
These testimonials of the esteem in which he was held by distinguished men, high officials, and the public, increasing with his years from early manhood to old age, with his judicial opinions published in the reports (remarkable for clear and condensed statement, concise and logical reasoning, and just application of the law), constitute a worthy memorial to an able jurist and upright judge.
While practicing his profession (from the practice of which he has now retired) he frequently became the unpaid counsel of clients without means, and advocated their rights with all the zeal and ability of well-paid counsel.
The Common Pleas of Tioga and Chemung was presided over more frequently by farmers than lawyers. The first judge of the Court of Common Pleas of Tioga County was a farmer of Chemung; he was succeeded by a non-professional man when a son of the first judge, also a farmer, was appointed to the bench. Coryell was a farmer, Barstow a doctor, and Burrows, the seventh in the succession, was the first lawyer called to the bench of the county. Baldwin, another lawyer, succeeded, and then non-professionals held it in Tioga till after Chemung was erected; and the first judge of the new county was from the same class, though subsequently admitted to the bar. Dunn was the only lawyer judge the Common Pleas of Chemung had. The county judges have all been gentlemen of the profession.
The first judge of Tioga County was ABRAHAM MILLER, of what is now known as the town of Southport. He was a native of Germany, and emigrated therefrom to Northampton Co., Pa., with his parents, when but a child. He was accorded but slender educational privileges, and made but a fair use of them; but his years gave him experience, and his common sense and sense of justice made him an impartial and, for the times in which he served, a good judge. He served as a private in the French and Indian war of 1754-60, and was captured with his mother and some of his neighbors by the Indians, who carried them away to Niagara, with the exception of Miller and two other men, who escaped while the party lay encamped near the head of Seneca Lake. Mrs. Miller was taken into the family of one of the French settlers near Niagara, where she died, her son never seeing her after his escape. He served through the Revolutionary was, also, as a colonel in command of a regiment of Pennsylvania troops. He located in Southport in 1788, where he, with others, bought a large tract of land. He was a blacksmith and wagon-maker by trade, but followed farming, as a business. He was appointed first judge Feb. 17, 1791, and held the position until March 27, 1798. He was the father of a fine family of four sons and eight daughters, all of whom were settled about him at one time. He was born in 1735, and died July 25, 1815.
JOHN MILLER, a son of Abraham Miller, was appointed first judge April 3, 1807, and held the office until March 31, 1810. He received a fair common-school education, and made the most of it, being well informed, and for a time was a prominent politician. It is said he was entranced by Aaron Burr, and went to the Southwest in his ill-fated enterprise. He lived for many years in Clark Co., Ind., with an only son, and was prominent in the politics of the Hoosier State for a time. He returned therefrom and located in Ithaca, where he died in 1833, and was buried beside his father, the veteran of two wars. He made a very fair judge, and was popular with the people.
GRANT B. BALDWIN, admitted to the bar in 1814, was appointed first judge Feb. 5, 1828, and held the position until March 27, 1833. He was, at the time of his appointment, a leading lawyer of Chemung, had considerable intellect, and had he given his full attention to the profession would have ranked among the foremost men in it. As it was, he was comparatively prominent, and was a good and capable judge.
JOSEPH L. DARLING, the first judge of Chemung County, was appointed May 4, 1836, and held the position until Jan. 24, 1844, and was reappointed May 4, 1846, and filled the office till the same expired by constitutional limitation, in 1847. He was not a lawyer, though admitted to the bar in 1841, ex gratia. He made a good and popular judge.
JAMES DUNN, appointed first judge Jan. 24, 1844, and filled the office till May 4, 1846, was an able lawyer and an impartial judge. He was a student of Aaron Konkle, and was also in the office of Baldwin & Maxwell, entering the latter office when but fourteen years of age. He was admitted to the bar in 1826, and was surrogate of the county from 1840 to 1844. He was not successful in his practice, and left it several years before his death. He was an ardent politician of the Clintonian-Adams school, and later, as a Whig and Republican. He ran for Congress in 1838, but was defeated, the party being in the minority in the district.
AARON KONKLE was one of the old lawyers of Elmira, admitted to the bar in the year 1805. He was the son of John and Anna Wurtz Konkle. John Konkle, his father, was born in the city of Philadelphia, June 3, 1755, whose parents were John and Elizabeth, who were emigrants from Germany. John Konkle’s children besides Aaron, the subject of this sketch, were Anna, wife of the late John Hughes of Elmira, and mother of Commodore Aaron K. Hughes, at present residing in Greenwich, Washington Co., N.Y., and Elizabeth, wife of Thomas M. Perry, formerly and for many years one of the old merchants of Newtown Point.
Aaron Konkle was born in Sussex Co., N. J., Oct. 5, 1786. He came with his father to this place, then Newtown Point, in 1788. His father was a land surveyor, and as the commissioners for locating lands in Tioga County were that year and thereafter laying off large tracts to actual settlers, and others, John Konkle’s services were called in requisition, and many thousands of acres were surveyed, platted, and subdivided by him.
Aaron Konkle studied law in the office of Matthews & Edwards, two of the most eminent lawyers at that day in Western New York; became, when he commenced business for himself, agent for many of the large land-holders owing lands in this vicinity for their sale; and his business for many years was that of an extensive real estate lawyer, which he conducted with marked ability and scrupulous fidelity to his clients. Mr. Konkle in these respects had no superior. Although not occupying a prominent place as an advocate, he always tried his own cases, which he prepared with great care. He was not a politician, and it is not known that he ever held an elective office. He was appointed in 1826 district attorney of the old county of Tioga, by Governor De Witt Clinton, and held the office for three successive terms. He afterwards held the office of Supreme Court Commissioner, and after the adoption of the constitution of 1846, he was for a short time judge and surrogate of Chemung County, to fill the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Judge John W. Wisner.
John Konkle, his father, was the first postmaster at Newtown Point, and his son, Aaron, was postmaster from Oct. 1, 1809 till March 21, 1822. Mr. Konkle died at the ripe age of seventy-five years, Oct. 13, 1861. His wife, Mary, daughter of John Sly, survived him, and died April 21, 1870, aged seventy-four years.
The deaths and ages of the children of Aaron Konkle were as follows:
William P., died April 29, 1860, aged forty-three; Mary Ann died Nov. 20, 1854, aged thirty-five; Lucy H., wife of R. H. Lawrence, died Nov. 22, 1862, aged forty-one. No descendant of his is now living.
ARIEL STANDISH THURSTON was born in Goffstown, N. H., June 10, 1810. His father, Stephen Thurston, was a native of Essex Co., Mass., and the fifth in descent from Daniel Thurston, who settled Newbury, Mass., in 1638 (a remote relative, Sergeant Abner Thurston, of Exeter, N. H., was in the regiment of colonel Cilley, in General Poor’s Brigade, and was among the wounded in the battle of Newtown, fought six miles below the now city of Elmira, on Sunday, the 20th day of August, 1779). Judge Thornton derives his middle name from the Standish family, being the sixth in descent from Captain Miles Standish, the military commander of the Plymouth colony.
He was educated in the common schools of New Hampshire, Kimball Union Academy, and Amherst College. In November, 1829, he came to Chemung County (then Tioga) and entered the law-office of Judge Gray, as a student, in May following. During the period of his legal studies he taught school, and one year of the time was principal of an academy in Williamsport, Pa. In 1835, at the May term, in the city of New York, he was admitted an attorney of the Supreme Court, and for eighteen months thereafter he remained in that city, passing the summer of 1835 in the office of Benjamin F. Butler, then attorney-general of the United States, and one of the cabinet of General Jackson. In the month of September, 1836, he returned to Elmira, and married Julia C., second daughter of the late Dr. Erastus L. Hart. Shortly after that he formed a partnership with John W. Wisner, which continued till the latter was elected to the county judgeship, in 1847. On the resignation of Judge Wisner, in 1850, Mr. Thurston was elected to fill his unexpired term, and, in November, 1851, was re-elected and held the office for the full term of four years, discharging the duties of county judge and surrogate. From his admission to the Supreme Court, in 1835, to the present time he has been in active practice, more especially in actions and proceedings connected with real estate. Before the titles to land became, as they now are, quieted and settled, many involved cases passed through his hands. Charles P. Thurston, eldest son of Judge Thurston, was admitted as an attorney of the Supreme Court in 1872, and has been since 1873 associated in the law business with his father, and the firm has a good and remunerative practice.
In politics Judge Thurston has ever been independent, though his affiliation was with the Democrats until the organization of the Republican party, in 1856. In the previous year he ran for the office of State Treasurer on the same ticket with Samuel J. Tilden, nominated for the office of Attorney-General. Both were beaten. In 1857 he again was put in nomination for the office of Canal Commissioner, but was defeated with the rest of the ticket by the Know-Nothings.
Judge Thurston is now a favorite of machine-politicians, his vote being governed more by considerations of the fitness and capacity of candidates than by consideration of party fidelity. In 1859 he received at the hands of Governor Morgan, a Republican, the appointment of State Assessor for three years; and in 1876 he received from Governor Robinson, a Democrat, an appointment as one of the managers of the State Reformatory, which office he now holds, officiating as its treasurer and secretary. In 1861 he was associated with Judge Gray on the commission to build the Chemung County court-house, and with his colleague has the satisfaction of knowing that, casualties excepted, this building will long stand as a monument of good taste and an ornament to the city. There was saved from the appropriation some hundreds of dollars, the result of judicious and honest management.
In 1872 the judge made a European tour, taking in his way Great Britain, and the continent as far east as Naples, and northward into Russia, which it is needless to say was thoroughly appreciated by him. He is now enjoying a serene old age in the midst of his children and grandchildren, in the city which has expanded before his eyes from an inconsiderable hamlet to a commercial centre of 25,000 inhabitants. The judge’s interest in the history of Chemung Valley is intense, and he has cheerfully given much valuable information to the compilers of this work.
HORACE BOARDMAN SMITH succeeded Judge North, in October, 1859, by appointment, and was elected November for a full term, but resigned May, 1860. Judge Smith was born in Whitingham, Vermont, August 18, 1826. His father was Dr. Nathaniel Smith, of Bennington, and his mother was of the Connecticut Boardman family. He was a graduate of Williams College, Massachusetts, of the class of 1847, began his legal studies with Governor Robinson, in Benington, and completed them with Judge Aaron Konkle, in Elmira, and was admitted to the bar in 1850. In 1861 the present firm of Smith, Robertson & Fassett was formed, Judge Smith being the senior member, and has remained intact to the present time, and has an extended and various practice in the State and Federal courts.
In 1872 Judge Smith was elected to represent the Twenty-eight Congressional District of New York in the Forty-third Congress, and was re-elected for a second term in 1874, and served till March, 1877. During his first term he was a member of the Committee on Claims, Private Land Claims, and the New Orleans investigation, and during his second term he was chairman of the Committee on Elections. His majority in 1872 was over 3000, and increased in 1874. He is Republican in politics, and cast his first vote for Van Buren and Adams, in 1848.
ELIJAH P. BROOKS* was a son of Dr. Theseus Brooks, a native of Berkshire, Mass., and a prominent physician of Chemung County. The son was educated in Elmira, was a student of Messrs. Gregg & Dunn, and was admitted to the bar of the Common Pleas in 1838, and later in the Supreme Court. He was elected county judge in 1860, and served a single term of four years, and presided as such with impartiality and ability. He was an able lawyer, sagacious in financial matters, his aim being success. He was a successful collection lawyer, and had an extensive practice in that line.
THOMAS S. SPALDING was born in Summer Hill, Cayuga Co., N. Y., and moved into Groton, Tompkins Co., with his father, when a boy of two or three years of age. He was educated at the Homer Academy, and began his legal studies with Messrs. Love & Freer, attorneys in Ithaca. He completed them in Elmira with Gray & Hathaway, and was admitted to the bar in 1851, in the Supreme Court at Delhi. He commenced the practice of the legal profession in Elmira immediately thereafter, and has been in active practice ever since. He was elected to the office of county judge in 1868, for a term of four years, and in 1872 was re-elected for a term of six years. Judge Spalding is a Democrat in politics, and has good cause to congratulate himself on his popularity, for in 1872, General Grant, the Republican candidate for President, received over 600 majority, while the judge, the only candidate on the Democratic ticket elected, received nearly 300 majority. Judge Spalding has been closely identified with the city of Elmira in official positions for many years. For twelve years he has held the office of justice of the peace, for two terms of two years each has been a member of the Board of Education, the last year of his office being the president of the board.
The leadership of the bar of Chemung of the olden days, when there were giants in the profession, has been unanimously and heartily awarded to
GENERAL VINCENT MATHEWS. From "Sketches of Rochester," compiled by Henry O’Reilly and published in 1838, we clip the following: "This veteran left Orange County for Newtown, in Tioga (then Montgomery), about 1789, where he located for awhile. He was admitted in 1790 to the Supreme Court of the State, and in the following year to the bars of Montgomery -*-and Ontario,--Oliver Phelps presiding at the time in the court of the latter county. Then there was no road but an Indian path between Newtown and Geneva; between Geneva and Canandaigua a road was ‘cut,’ but it was almost impassable. . . He was for several years a commissioner associated with the late Judge Ernot and Chancellor Lansing for settling disputes growing out of the frauds of persons who sold patents for land in the Military Tract rather oftener than law and honesty allowed. In 1795 he was elected to the Assembly from Tioga County, and in 1796 he was chosen a Senator from the Western District, which included all lthat portion of the State west of Schoharie, Montgomery, and Otsego Counties. (He served eight years) In 1809 he was chosen to represent his district (14th) in Congress, and was in the special session when Erskine’s treaty was rejected, during the first year of Madison’s presidency. In 1821 he settled at Rochester, where he has filled several offices, such as assemblyman, district attorney, etc."
*Tioga County is probably meant, as he was admitted in that county at the first session of the Common Pleas that year.
As a tribute of respect and esteem, the bar of Rochester with great unanimity joined in placing a steel portrait of General Mathews in the work above quoted. The junior members of the bar, some years previously, had procured a portrait in oil of the great jurist and placed it in the court-house at Rochester. General Mathews was the first resident attorney in what is now Chemung and Tioga Counties. Among his earliest practice was the defense of the German rioters on the Pulteney estate in 1793-94. They resisted the efforts of the agent of the English association, Charles Williamson, for the improvement of their moral condition, and became riotous to such a degree the Governor ordered in the militia to suppress the disorder. They were arrested, tried and convicted, and pardoned,--and what is better, reformed their ways. General Mathews was an ardent Federalist, and a power in his party. He was elected as such in 1796, and again, in 1800, to the State Senate, where his abilities as a partisan leader were acknowledged and his counsels followed. He was elected to Congress in 1808, also as a Federalist, but the district in 1810 was Democratic or Republican, as the opposition to the Federal party was called. He died several years ago, at an advanced age.
WILLIAM H. WISNER was another eminent lawyer of Chemung. He too was from Orange County, from whence he came with his father, Henry Wisner. He was a student of General Mathews, and was admitted to the bar in 1806. He was said to have been the most promising young lawyer ever reared in Chemung County, being unsurpassed as an advocate. He was a compeer, for a time, of Mathews, Dana, Avery, and Platt, and gave indication of becoming one of the most distinguished lawyers of the State, powerful as an advocate and persuasive and eloquent as a speaker. At this stage in his life he experienced a change in his tastes and inclinations, and, after studying theology for a year, began to preach. He remained in Elmira for a time, then accepted a call from Ithaca, where he remained for many years; then went West, but subsequently returned to Ithaca, and for years was a remarkably successful pastor. He resigned his pastorate in 1855.
GEORGE C. EDWARDS, one of the old lawyers, appears on the records of the courts of this county about the year 1810 for the first time. He was from New England, and a scion of the Pierpont-Edwards family, and a man of fine education and a sound lawyer. He was a partner of Mathews, and when the latter removed from the county he continued his practice for a time, and removed to Bath, where he became the first judge of Steuben County, and died about 1838. He was esteemed a sound and able jurist, but lacked power as an advocate, and rarely, if ever, attempted to plead in court.
SAMUEL S. HAIGHT was also from Orange County, his wife being a sister of General Mathews. He was first admitted to the Tioga courts in 1804, and was a partner of General Mathews for a time. He was an active, energetic, nervous man, a rapid talker, but not deeply versed in legal lore. He removed to Bath, and died at Angelica some years ago, over eighty years of age. His son, Fletcher M. Haight, was educated in Bath, admitted to the bar of Tioga in 1823, and was regarded eminent as a lawyer; on his removal to San Francisco he attained to the front rank of his profession. His son was the late Governor of California.
THEODORE NORTH, the elder, came from Connecticut in 1823. His father was a Revolutionary soldier. He was highly educated and a sound lawyer, a fine writer, and profound in his legal research. He and Judge Gray were partners for some years, and afterwards Judge James Dunn was associated with him in practice; the latter was a brother-in-law, the two marrying sisters.
A story is told of a case once tried before Esquire North which illustrates the sense of justice possessed by the pioneers, regardless of the technicalities of the law. A case was brought for the collection of a bar bill. The statute prohibited the collection of more than twenty shillings for such a score, and the demand was for a considerably larger amount. A jury was impaneled on which one John Winters, a reputed grand-uncle of President Lincoln, was a juror. The court called the attention of the attorney for the plaintiff to the law prohibiting the collection of a larger sum than twenty shillings for his score, when the attorney innocently suggested that the law was repealed, and asked the court if he had the law, well knowing the published laws were not in the court. The magistrate admitted that he had not the law in his office, but, as he understood twenty shillings only could be collected on a bar account. Whereupon Winters arose, and delivered himself thusly: "Judge North, ef you hev any statoot that does away with equity and justice, or that let’s a man go through life without paying his quota, you must produce it, for, by the gods! We won’t take no man’s word for it."
Mr. North died in 1842, aged sixty-two years.
HON. WILLIAM MAXWELL was a son of Guy Maxwell (see early history of Elmira for Maxwells). After several years devoted to practice, he left the profession and became a cashier of the Chemung Canal Bank, where he continued for ten years. At that time the bank became somewhat embarrassed during the money pressure of 1837, which lasted to 1842,--a misfortune which extended to all the banks of the State,--when it became necessary to suspend specie payments. A change of officers and directors took place.
He was then in easy circumstances, and the amount of private business demanded much of his time. He also added to the care of his real estate that of the agency of the Lawrence tract of wild land situated in Southport. About this time he became greatly interested in the project of the first Erie Railway, which was designed to be built on piles. He was one of the original directors. This fell through, and he sustained some loss; but he afterwards lived to see the project fully completed. He was the very pattern of kind-heartedness and generosity. He never refused a kindness to a friend, and by indorsements sustained quite serious pecuniary losses. He was a member of Assembly twice, and also served in the Constitutional Convention of 1846, and was the first member elected to the Assembly after its adoption. He was elected as a member of the old Hunker party, by Whig votes, against the Barn-burner split. There was a time when he was the most popular man in the county. He died of paralysis, in 1858.
STEPHEN SEDGWICK was one of the old attorneys, having come to the county in 1808. He was the father of Syracuse Sedgwicks and an uncle to the distinguished general of that name. He practiced but a short time here, but was regarded as one of the keenest intellects, and in the trial of causes was a match for Mathews. His intellectual powers were brilliant and fascinating, and he was gigantic in form. He died early, the victim of intemperance.
ANDREW K. GREGG, SR., was admitted to the practice of the law in the Common Pleas of Tioga in 1822, and subsequently as an attorney and counselor in the Supreme Court and of the United States Courts. He was of Irish parentage, his father, John Gregg, for many years a resident of Elmira, being a native of Enniskillen, Ireland. He and his father, Andrew, came first to Northumberland Co., Pa., in 1775, and twenty years later to Elmira. The grandfather of Andrew, also named Andrew, was sixty-three years old when the family came to Elmira, where he died at an advanced age. Mr. Gregg was a student of Mathews & Edwards, and completed his studies with Judge Gray. He was district attorney of Tioga County two terms, from 1835 to 1841, and followed the practice of his profession forty-six years. He removed to Chippewa Falls, Wis., in 1857, where he built up a large and remunerative practice, and where he died, April 5, 1868, at the age of about sixty-nine years.
COLONEL SAMUEL GILBERT HATHAWAY, JR., was one of the eminent attorneys of Chemung County, and was admitted to the bar in 1835. he was a son of General Samuel G. Hathaway, an active and prominent Democratic politician, who was a State Senator and subsequently a member of Congress (1833-35) from the Twenty-second District, residing at the time in Cortland County. He was the oldest living major-general of militia in the State at the time of his death. Colonel Hathaway was born in Freetown, Cortland Co., Jan. 18, 1810, and was the oldest of six sons in a family of eleven children.
The sobriquet of colonel attached to him while a member of his father’s staff, when but eighteen years of age, but he sealed his right to wear it by his blood at the close of his career. He was a graduate of Union College soon after his majority, and entered the law-office of Hon. Jonathan L. Woods, in Cortland, where he remained one year pursuing his legal studies. In 1833 he entered the office of Judge Gray, in Elmira, where he completed his clerk-ship of three years, and was admitted to practice in Albany, in the Supreme Court. In 1836 he formed a law connection with Judge Dunn, which continued for a year, and then he formed a partnership with Judge Gray, which continued until the judge’s appointment to the circuit judgeship, in 1846. Then the well-known firm of Diven, Hathaway & woods was created, and became the oldest and most celebrated law firm in the Southern Tier. After fifteen years of prosperity, General Diven, the senior partner, withdrew in 1861, Mr. Hathaway and Mr. Woods continuing associated until the death of the former severed the connection.
As a lawyer Colonel Hathaway was deservedly eminent, and graced the profession. His mental abilities were of a high order and remarkably fitted for his chosen profession. He, however, shone less brilliantly at a law term of the court than before a jury, before whom he was irresistible. His eloquence frequently supplemented his case so admirably that his client was the gainer by more than strict justice. He was, however, honorable in his practice, and preferred defeat to unfair advantage and dishonor. His form was manly and majestic, his diction elegant and concise, his gesticulation easy and graceful, his manner dignified and commanding. He was witty and sarcastic, plaintively pathetic, and bitter in invective, as occasion required.
In politics he was termed the "Democratic War-Horse of the Chemung Valley," and was invariably chosen leader of the Democratic party when the issue was at all doubtful. He was not disheartened by defeat, and on the stump he was peerless, his fund of wit, humor, and anecdote having full play.
In the summer of 1862 he was persuaded to enter the military service as colonel of the 141st New York Volunteers, being urged thereto that his name would rapidly fill the ranks of the regiment. On his announcement that he would go, eighteen companies were at once recruited, each one anxious and striving to be of the ten who should march to battle with him as their leader. The history of the regiment and Colonel Hathaway’s service will be found recorded elsewhere. During his service as acting brigadier-general he contracted disease of the heart, and his illness progressed to that degree of danger that in March, 1864, he was compelled to leave the field and return to Elmira. But no medical skill availed to arrest his malady, and he continued to fail until April 16, 1864, when he died, at his father’s house.
We herewith append a list of the attorneys who have resided in the
territory now comprised within the limits of Chemung County, and the dates
of their admission to the Common Pleas Courts of Tioga or Chemung, or their
first appearance before the courts in the prosecution of causes. It has
been revised by the oldest practicing attorney in the county, and it is
hoped that it will be found substantially correct. The dates after 1846
may vary some from the true date of admission to the bar of the courts
of the county, but it is believed they will not materially.
|1791||Vincent Mathews*||1854||J. Davis Dunn +|
|David Powers*||D. W. C. Curtis +|
|1792||Peter Loop*||1855||H. N. Comstock|
|1804||Samuel S. Haight*||Rufus King +|
|1806||William H. Wisner*||George L. Davis +|
|1808||Aaron Konkle*||1856||Edward Lowman*|
|Stephen Sedgwick*||1857||R. H. Ransom +|
|1810||James Robinson*||1858||John T. Davidson +|
|George C. Edwards*||E. F. Babcock +|
|J. T. Haight*||1859||S. C. Reynolds +|
|1814||Grant B. Baldwin*||J. B. White +|
|1815||William Maxwell*||1860||George M. Diven +|
|1817||M. B. Canfield*||J. H. Hardy +|
|1822||Andrew K. Gregg*||1861||M. V. B. Bachman+|
|1823||Theodore North*||Cyrus Barlow|
|1826||Hiram Gray +||1862||George Beebe|
|James Dunn *||S. C. Taber +|
|1828||Edward Quin||Robert T. Turner +|
|1831||Elijah Carpenter||1863||W. L. Muller +|
|Hezekiah Woodruff*||Robert Stevens +|
|1832||Thomas Maxwell||1864||James Flynn|
|Anson Little||David B. Hill +|
|Isaac B. Goodwin*||E. M. Hulett|
|Lucius Robinson +
(Governor of New York)
|Lewis M. Smith|
|1835||John W. Wisner*||1865||E. B. Youmans +|
|John A. Gillett*||1866||R. S. Ransom|
|Samuel G. Hathaway, Jr.*||Seymour Dexter +|
|Joseph Herron||J. A. Frisbie +|
|1836||Ariel S. Thurston +||C. C. Gardiner|
|1837||David Herron||John A. Reynolds +|
|1838||Elijah P. Brooks*||1867||A. F. Babcock +|
|George A. Gardner*||A. D. Blair +|
|1839||James H. Leavitt||1868||Jerome Banks|
|1841||R. L. G. Bancroft||David C. Robinson +|
|William North||1869||Platt Rogers|
|Joseph L. Darling*||Leroy A. Baker +|
|Stephen T. Covell||J. Wood Green|
|1842||George P. Tyler||S. S. Taylor +|
|E. P. Hart +||Laurens A. Thomas|
|1843||E. O. Crosby||Edward C. Vanduzer +|
|Isaac B. Gregg||C. A. Collin +|
|Walter L. Dailey +||1870||Hala Barnes +|
|Daniel Marsh||O. C. Harrington|
|Wm. P. Konkle||H. H. Rockwell +|
|Thos. S. Spalding +
|R. F. Randolph|
|1844||Chester B. Evans||Thomas M. Hite +|
|George B. Woods||J. T. Atwill +|
|1845||Alexander S. Diven +||1871||M. A. Horton|
|James L. Woods +||G. Smith Carman|
|1846||Frederick Phelps||1872||C. R. Pratt +|
|Theodore North*||James A. Towner|
|1847||----- Adams||William Fowler|
|1848||G. A. Brush +||Charles P. Thurston +|
|Archibald Robertson +||James Wright +|
|1849||Jeremiah McGuire +||J. W. Work|
|J. A. Christie +
|E. K. Roper +|
|N. P. Fassett +||Jabez R. Ward +|
|Gabriel L. Smith +||1873||John R. Joslyn +|
|E. H. Benn||George E. Pratt +|
|O. W. Palmer||P. M. Baum|
|Peter G. Vanderlyn*||1874||E. J. Baldwin +|
|Thomas C. Welch||Roswell R. Moss|
|1850||F. O. Rogers||1875||Frederick Collin|
|H. Boardman Smith +||E. L. Hart|
|S. B. Tomlinson +||Jacob Schwartz|
|1851||John Murdoch +||1876||Charles A. Dolson|
|William H. Gale||A. V. Murdoch|
|----- Hunt||De B. Goodell, Jr.|
|----- Van Voorbis||Marquis D. Curtis|
|1852||Levi Gibbs||Charles d’Autremont, Jr.|
|F. C. Dininny +||H. H. Baldwin|
|John K. Hale||1877||----- House|
|D. W. Gillett||O. A. Hungerford|
|D. Y. Overton||----- Pike|
|1853||W. H. Patterson||E. E. Harding|
|H. H. Phelps||G. W. Harding|
|A. S. Lowe +||1878||Lawrence M. Young|
|J. F. Thompson +|
+ Members of the present bar
THE MEDICAL PROFESSION.
The physician of whom we have record as residing the earliest in Chemung County was DR. JOSEPH HINCHMAN, ++ late of Newtown (now Elmira). He was born at Jamaica, on Long Island, Aug. 28, 1762. His father and grandfather before him, both named Joseph, were physicians and surgeons. Surgical instruments of singular shape, used by them all, were in the family at a late date. The father of our Dr. Hinchman was a surgeon of an English man-of-war in August, 1757, and an uncle was surgeon’s mate. The vessel was wrecked while cruising among the West India Islands, a little to the north of Hayti. Twenty-four only of the whole number on board escaped in a yawl, including the two brothers. For four days they were without food or water, and at the end of the time fell into the hands of the French and were put in prison. While confined at Cape Francois, an engagement occurred, Oct. 21, 1758, between a formidable French naval force, consisting of four ships of the line and three frigates, under M. Kersin, and three English frigates (the "Augusta," "Edinboro," and "Dreadnaught"), under Commodore Forest, in which the latter gained a decided advantage, notwithstanding his inferior force. On the 24th of November following an exchange of prisoners took place and the two brothers were liberated, who proceeded at once to New York and thence to Long Island, where they found their families. The father of Dr. Joseph Hinchman, of Chemung, died when the latter was of a tender age, and at the age of sixteen years the son entered the Revolutionary army as a soldier. He was in several severe engagements and was in camp at Morristown during a winter of great privation and sorrow. When the term of his enlistment expired he studied medicine with his uncle in Florida, Orange Co., N. Y., and commenced his medical practice at Minisink. On Dec. 20, 1787, he married Zuriah Seeley, a daughter of B. Seeley, of Milford, on the Delaware, and removed to the town of Chemung, then in the county of Montgomery, in June, 1788, settling upon what has since been known as the Lowman farm. In 1793-94 he removed to Newtown, where he had an extensive practice as a physician and surgeon.
He was appointed by Gov. George Clinton sheriff of Tioga County, Feb. 18, 1795, being the second officer of that name in the county. On Nov. 13, 1800, Governor Jay appointed him a commissioner to inspect and improve the road leading from Catskill Landing, in Greene County, to Catharine’s town, in Tioga County.
In personal appearance Dr. Hinchman was of medium size and of a florid complexion; his manners were affable and pleasing, and at the same time his energy of character was remarkable.
He died July 23, 1802, regretted by a large circle of prominent individuals who were his warm personal friends. The doctor was a bright and zealous Mason, one who had made a deep research into the hidden meaning of its rites and ceremonies, and was by reason of his findings in that direction the more ardently attached to the order. The fraternity held their regular meetings in an upper room in his house for many years. The doctor was the first person buried in the new burying-ground of Newtown, now called the "old one of Elmira."
++This sketch is drawn from the History of Chemung Valley, before quoted.
DR. ELIAS SATTERLEE was another old physician of Chemung, coming to Elmira from Athens in 1803, when about thirty years old. His father, Benedict Satterlee, of Wyoming, was the progenitor of twelve children, of whom the doctor was the youngest son. The old gentleman died when Elias was abut three years old, and shortly afterwards his mother, then in the last stages of consumption, was obliged to flee with her family to the eastward, to her relatives, where she survived but a short time the fatigues and terrors of her flight. Elias remained there until about twenty years of age, and soon after that date came to Athens, Pa., and began the study of medicine with Dr. Hopkins. He practiced there a few years and then came to Elmira. From 1805 till his death, Nov. 11, 1815, he had a large practice, and was celebrated in obstetrics, and was the first physician to practice that branch of his profession in this section. He was killed by the accidental discharge of a gun in the hands of a gunsmith who was repairing it. The piece was not known to be loaded, and the doctor happening to be in the shop with his little boy, stepped in front of the muzzle to give his child a better opportunity to see the operation, when, after snapping the lock several times, the gun was discharged, the ball entering the doctor’s body and remaining therein, from which he died four hours after receiving the injury.
His family consisted of two sons and three daughters.
DR. AMOS PARK came from Orange County to Newtown Settlement in 1793. Not much is known of his life prior to that time. He built, it is said, the first framed house erected in Elmira, on the banks of the river where the gas-works stand. He is said to be the first preacher as well as the first physician in Elmira, and for a few years followed the one profession as much as the other. His rides extended to the farthest limits of settlement, whenever his patients furnished him a horse to ride; otherwise his walks were thus prolonged. He looked to his own comfort, however, as an anecdote related of him will show. One cold December night one Mrs. Wynings roused him from his slumbers, she having come several miles through the deep snow on horseback, leading another horse for the doctor to ride back on. He was, after much persuasion, induced to return with the lady, and so dressed himself to withstand the rigor of the weather. He hardly left his own door, however, before he began to complain of the cold, and his murmurs lest his feet should freeze became at last so intolerable the lady took the oversocks from her own feet and drew them over the doctor’s boots, and his shanks were thus kept warm by a woman’s stocking. He was twice married, and was the father of some twenty children, many of whom died in early life. He was a Freemason, and was for many years the Worshipful Master of the first Masonic lodge of Elmira, which he aided to organize.
DR. JOTHAN PURDY was a prominent surgeon of the county. He was born in Westchester County, May 4, 1799, and removed with his father’s family, in 1804, to Spencer, Tioga Co., and at eighteen years of age began the study of medicine with Dr. Lewis Beers. Of that place; he attended lectures at the College of Physicians and Surgeons of New York City, and was admitted to practice in 1821, remained in Spencer two years and then came to Elmira, where he continued in the practice until his sudden death, Aug. 11, 1858. He, early in his practice, earned the reputation of a surgeon, which he retained till his death, doing for many years an exclusively surgical practice, his skill being unquestioned, and his calls being from far and near. He was an eminent Mason, and prominent in the various grades of the order. He married Dr. Satterlee’s eldest daughter.
DR. NATHAN BOYNTON was another of the leading physicians of the earlier days. He was born in Hampshire Co., Mass., June 30, 1788, removed thence to Otsego County, 1795, thence to St. Lawrence County, 1806. He commenced the study of medicine with Dr. Colby Knapp in Guilford, Chenango, in 1814, and attended lectures at Fairfield 1816-17, and received a license from the censors of the Chenango Medical Society in February of the latter year, and began his practice immediately in Bainbridge in that county, where he married, and continued in practice for eighteen years. He then removed to Southport, Chemung Co., and five years later to Elmira, where he was engaged in active practice till his death, in June, 1859. Dr. Boynton was an active, ambitious, and prominent man in the profession.
DR. CHRISJOHN SCOTT was an eccentric German physician, who came to Newtown before 1800. His turnout was as unique as its driver, being a gig with two horses tandem. He was a great story-teller, and pretended to possess the power of divination, and mingled magic with his medicine, and consulted his crystal as often as his dispensatory. He used to say he once met and defeated the devil, his satanic majesty saying he would give the doctor another bout at a more convenient season. It was claimed by those who knew him best that he was well educated, and it is certain he possessed surgical instruments and made pretenses of surgical knowledge. He married, but left no issue.
DR. THESEUS BROOKS was among the leading physicians of the county, and was born in Berkshire Co., Mass., in 1778, studied medicine with Dr. Henry Mitchell, of Norwich, Chenango Co., whither his father’s family removed in 1800. He removed to Big Flats in 1821, where he resided, having an extensive ride, until 1835, when he removed to Elmira, where he died March, 1856. Dr. Brooks was a successful and popular physician, gentle and affable in his ways, and accumulated a fine property. Hon. Elihu P. Brooks, county judge of Chemung County, was his son.
Other prominent physicians of the earlier days were Dr. Uriah Smith, born in Southport, 1799, and a student of Dr. Lemuel Hudson, and began to practice in 1821, and continued until his death, Sept. 14, 1864, having an extensive ride in Southport and Elmira. Dr. N. Aspinwall was a long-time practitioner of Cayuga County, and came to Elmira to spend a ripe old age, where he died July 3, 1861, aged eighty-three years. Dr. Lemuel Hudson was for years a noted physician of the county, being an early member and president of the Tioga County Medical Society.
DR. HORACE SEAMAN came to Veteran in 1830, and was the first physician to pitch his tent in that town, where he still resides and follows actively his professional practice. He is a graduate of the Castleton Medical College, Vermont. His obstetrical practice has been very extensive, he having been present at 2100 accouchements during his long practice. His skill is undoubted in this direction. Dr. Seaman is seventy-one years of age, his muscular energies failing, but his intellect and mental vigor unimpaired. He is the only physician living of the original organizers of the Chemung Medical Society.
THE CHEMUNG COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY
was organized May 3, 1836, at a meeting called at the public-house in the village of Elmira kept by E. Jones, which stood on the site now occupied by the Advertiser publishing-house, the following physicians being present: Lemuel Hudson, Asa R. Howell, N. D. Gardiner, John Payne, Erastus L. Hart, Nelson Winton, Theseus Brooks, Horace Seaman, H. M. Graves, W. E. Boothe, F. Demorest, Uriah Smith, and Z. H. Monroe. Dr. Hudson was chosen chairman, and Dr. Howell secretary, of the meeting, and Drs. Payne, Hart, Winton, Demorest, and Howell were appointed a committee on "constitution." The committee reported a constitution at the same meeting, which was adopted, and remained in force until June 6, 1851, when a second constitution of this society was adopted. The first officers of the society were elected at the same meeting on the adoption of the constitution, and were as follows: President, Dr. Lemuel Hudson; Vice-President, Dr. Nelson Winton; Secretary, Dr. Asa R. Howell; Treasurer, Dr. F. Demorest; Censors, Drs. Erastus L. Hart, Theseus Brooks, H. M. Graves, Horace Seaman, W. E. Boothe. At a later stage of this meeting, Drs. E. H. Eldridge and Lewis Miller were admitted as members of the society. Three honorary members of the society have been admitted: Drs. Hatch, May 3, 1856; James Herron, May 4, 1859; and Norman Smith, April 4, 1866. But two licenses to practice have been granted to the society: to Edward H. Tompkins, Jan. 10, 1837, and to Orson Smith Gregory, April 10, 1844. Interesting and able papers have been read from time to time before the society by its president, vice-presidents, and others, giving much valuable information on the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases, by which the usefulness and influence of the society have been enlarged and the practice of medicine by its members improved and elevated. Dr. Horace Seaman, of Millport, is the only survivor of the original thirteen physicians who organized the society
The presidents of the society have been as follows: 1836-37, Lemuel Hudson; 1837-38, Nathaniel Aspinwall; 1838-40, Erastus L. Hart, and also 1849-50, 1852-54, 1859-60, 1864-65; 1840-41 and 1848-49, Theseus Brooks; 1841-42, John Payne; 1842-43, P. E. Concklin; 1843-44, Jothan Purdy; 1844-45, 1851-52, 1863-64, 1866-67, Dr. Hollis S. Chubbuck; 1845-47, Nelson Winton; 1850-51, 1860-62, 1865-66, Wm. Woodward; 1867-68, Henry Meisel; 1868-69, T. H. Squire.
LIST OF MEMBERS, WITH DATE OF ADMISSION
1836, May 3—Lemuel Hudson,* Asa B. Howell,* N. D. Gardiner,* John Payne,* Erastus L. Hart,* Nelson Winton,* Theseus Brooks,* Horace Seaman, H. M. Graves,* W. E. Boothe,+* F. Demorest,* Uriah Smith,* Z. H. Monroe, E. H. Eldridge,* Lewis Miller.+*
1836, Oct. 4—Henry K. Webster,* Peter E. Conklin.*
1837, Jan. 10—Tracy Beadle,* Nathan Boynton,* Alfred Griffin,+ E. A. Tompkins,+ Guy Hulett,+ Hovey Everitt.*
1837, May 2—Rulandus Bancroft,* Jotham Purdy,* Nathaniel Aspinwall.*
1838, Oct. 2—Seth B. Nelson.*
1839, May 2—Hollis S. Chubbuck.
1839, May 7—A. W. Benton.+
1839, Oct. 8—Corbett Peebles.
1840—Wm. Parinton,+ Levi Thompson.+
1841—Joseph Dixon Ford,+ H. H. Smith.+
1842—W. R. Hopkins,* Sumner Rhoads,* Wm. Woodward.
1843—Edward L. Ford.
1844—Jno. Jones,+ G. D. Bailey,* J. F. Dunlap,+ S. L. Disbrow,+ Ralph Shepard.+
1845—George T. Hinman.+
1848—Rowland Wilcox,* Samuel C. Rogers,+ J. L. Lawrence.+
1849—Wm. C. Wey.
1850—N. R. Derby,+ Geo. W. Holbrook,* T. H. Squire, D. W. C. Tenny.*
1852—Ira F. Hart, Jonathan E. Leavitt.*
1859—P. H. Flood, J. K. Stanchfield, E. H. Davis,+ H. H. Purdy.
1863—Aaron Rice,+ Ebenezer Gere, George Dean, Henry Meisel.*
1865—Z. F. Chase, J. M. Flood.
1866—Charles C. Lee,+ E. R. Wheeler, Daniel Holmes,* P. L. St. Croix.
1867—Frank B. Abbott,* Louis Velder,* W. H. Davis, L. W. Bailey.
1868—M. G. Myers,+ Albert M. Flood.*
1869—George M. Beard.
1872—E. A. Everett,+ C. M. Spaulding.
1873—d. J. Chittenden,+ J. M. Newman, Geo. H. Woodward.
1874—Charles L. Squire, Henry Flood, R. P. Bush, J. F. Smith, C. F. Hawkins.
1875—J. Stuart Hill, A. A. Jackway.
1876—C. P. Godfrey, John E. Eldred.
1877—Edward T. Gibson,+ Thomas A. Davie, Charles W. Brown, E. W. Krackowizer, John S. Christison, Charles Woodward.
1878—H. D. Wey, J. Maroney, W. S. Ruch, W. Jennings.
+Removed from county.
Eleven non-resident physicians have been members of the society since its organization, of whom four are known to be dead at the present time.
The last annual meeting was held June 19, 1878, at the society’s rooms in Elmira, at which the following officers were elected: President, Dr. J. F. Smith; Vice-President, Dr. J. E. Eldred; Secretary, Dr. C. W. Brown; Treasurer, Dr. Wm. Woodward; Censors, Drs. W. C. Wey, T. H. Squire, Chase, Chubbuck, and Stanchfield. The retiring president, Dr. Chubbuck, read an interesting address on the early history of medicine, and several papers were read on medical subjects and cases, which were discussed by those present.
The first physician to introduce the practice of medicine into Chemung County after the school of Hahnemann was Dr. Towner, about the year 1843. He was a graduate of the old school, and changed his practice about that time and located in Elmira, where he followed the practice for some years. He removed to Clinton, Iowa, where he died in 1857. His colleagues and successors up to the organization of the Homeopathic Medical Society in 1861 were Drs. Doane, Maniere, Patrick W. Gray (1852, and who died in 1866), Groom, Reid, Henry Sayles, and Nathaniel R. Seeley. The latter was a student of Drs. Towner and Gray in 1853, was a graduate of Cleveland Homeopathic Medical College, admitted to practice in 1857, and was for a short time in company with Dr. Gray, then went to Corning, and remained there some eight years, and then returned to Elmira, where he is yet in successful and lucrative practice. Dr. Seeley was born in Tioga Co., Pa., and educated at the Elmira Academy.
THE HOMEOPATHIC MEDICAL SOCIETY OF CHEMUNG COUNTY
was organized Feb. 5, 1861, under the act of 1857, for the organization of such societies. There were present at the organization Drs. P. W. Gray, N. R. Seeley, and T. B. Sellen, of Elmira; H. S. Benedict, of Corning; W. H. Whippey, of Millport; and J. L. Corbin, of Athens, Pa. A constitution and a code of by-laws were adopted, and the following offices elected subsequently: President, Wm. Gulick; Vice-President, P. W. Gray; Secretary and Treasurer, H. S. Benedict; Censors, W. L. Purdy, E. W. Rogers, N. R. Seeley, H. S. Benedict, and T. B. Sellen.
The presidents of the society have been as follows: 1861-64, Wm. Gulick; 1865-68, H. S. Purdy; 1869, T. W. Read; 1870-71, O. Groom; 1872-73, N. R. Seeley; 1874-76, Henry; 1877, Dr. Parkhurst; 1878, E. D. Leonard.
The vice-president for the present year is Dr. Jenks, and Charles E. Sayles is secretary and treasurer. The meetings of the society are fairly attended, and the diagnosis and treatment of disease according to the foundation principle of homeopathy, Similia similibus curantur, are freely discussed thereat.
The list of members of the society and the dates of their admission are as follows:
1861—Patrick W. Gray, Nathaniel R. Seeley, T. B. Sellen, H. S. Benedict, W. H. Whippey, J. L. Corbin, Athens, Pa.; W. S. Purdy, Addison; R. W. Rogers, Dundee; Wm. Gulick, Tyrone; Orlando Groom, Henry Sayles, E. M. French, E. W. Lewis, Watkins.
1863—G. Z. Noble, Dundee; E. I. Morgan and Alonzo Bishop, Ithaca; R. N. Mills.
1864—Frank Tompkins, Havana.
1868—T. W. Read, C. B. Knight, Tyrone.
1869—H. P. Hollett, Havana; G. A. Tracy, Hector.
1870—E. D. Leonard, C. F. Miller, E. M. White.
1875—B. W. Morse, R. B. Jenks, Chas. E. Sayles.
Where the residence is not otherwise specified it is in Chemung County.
THE ECLECTIC MEDICAL SOCIETY OF THE SOUTHERN TIER
was organized July 10, 1874, under the act of the Legislature providing therefor, as the Eclectic Medical Society of the Twenty-seventh Senatorial District, and in January following changed the name to that at the head of this article. The jurisdiction of the society at first embraced but three counties, but now it includes six, to wit: Tioga, Tompkins, Chemung, Steuben, Schuyler, and Yates. The first officers were Drs. M. Skinner, President; Charles A. Janes, Vice-President, Miles Stevens, Recording Secretary, John W. Hedding, Corresponding Secretary; George M. Post, Treasurer—all of Schuyler County. The Censors were all of those named except Hedding, Dr. Remington, of Steuben, being on the board.
The presidents have been Dr. Skinner from 1874 to June, 1876, and Dr. Alfred Force, since to the present time. Dr. Miles Stevens has been the secretary from the organization, and the treasurer for the past three years.
The members are as follows: F. Remington and W. B. Remington, Painted Post; M. Skinner, Chas. A. Janes, J. W. Hedding, George M. Post, Schuyler County; C. H. Woodruff, Horseheads; Alfred Force, Starkey; John M. Crane, Addison; L. E. Horton, Campbell; F. A. Stewart, Avoca; T. H. Horton, Bath; O. S. Brown, Odessa; Bradley Blakeslee, Steuben; J. K. Richardson, Greenwood; I. E. Hill, Trumansburg; Mrs. S. E. Pratt, Miss M. R. Davis, Miles Stevens, O. D. Stiles, Elmira; E. B. Collins, Veteran.
The usual business transacted by the other medical societies is the order at the annual and semi-annual meetings of the society.
The earliest resident clergyman of whom any record is preserved was Rev. Jabez Colver, who located on lots 54, 55, and 56 of the old town of Chemung, during or before the year 1788. A deed from one Jacob Stoll to Mr. Colver for lot 55 was executed Dec. 20, 1788, which is the earliest dated deed on the records of Tioga County. This lot runs to the river-bank, across Seeley Creek, near the lower end of Big Island, in Southport. Here, in the latter part of March, 1791, Colonel Procter was entertained by the old clergyman one night while the latter was on his journey to hold a treaty at Buffalo Creek with the Indians. Colonel Procter describes Mr. Colver as a dissenting minister, meaning some other than the Episcopal Church. He was probably a Baptist. He did not preach much, and in 1791 conveyed all his property, real and personal, to his sons.
Rev. Roswell Goff was here as early as 1789, for during that year he organized the old Chemung (now Wellsburg) Baptist Church, and was its pastor for many years.
Rev. Daniel Thatcher was a missionary of the General Board of Missions, and was in Elmira in 1795, and laid the foundation for the Presbyterian Churches of the city. He died afterwards at Wysox, Bradford Co., Pa.
Dr. Amos Parks added preaching to his practice after Mr. Thatcher left, having a license from a New Jersey ecclesiastical body.
Judge Brinton Paine officiated in the desk occasionally. Rev. Clark Brown, afterwards a Unitarian, and Rev. John Smith preached for a short time, and occasionally in the early days.
Rev. Simeon R. Jones, in 1805, was the earliest pastor in Elmira, and taught school and preached in the school-house. He was one of the Boanerges’ of the border, who held up the terrors of the law to persuade men to Christ, rather than delineating the beatitudes. He was a Presbyterian, but organized the first church as a Congregationalist. He preached many years.
Hezekiah Woodruff was a minister, lawyer, and doctor by turns, and neither long. He was highly educated, possessed fine talents, had a polished style, and was a fluent speaker. He was disappointed, it is said, in a certain affaire de coeur with a worthy lady of the village, and became insane, or at least very eccentric. He was inordinately fond of dancing, and was deposed from his ministry on account of his reputation. He lived a hermit’s life in Erin for twenty years, and during the time translated the Greek Testament into the English vernacular. He died a few years ago. He was a Presbyterian.
Rev. Henry Ford, remarked for his piety and devotion, Rev. Eleazer Lathrop, a talented young divine, and Rev. John Frost, were also of the early Presbyterian preachers.
The Methodist Church had its itinerants early in the field, but not so early as either the Baptists or Presbyterians. Among the earliest ministers of this denomination were Revs. G. Lanning and Loring Grant.
Rev. Jonas Dodge was a power in the church in 1830 and subsequently. Rev. Allen Steele also was a zealous and talented minister.
Rev. R. D. Gillette was a Baptist clergyman of French extraction, and noted for his labors in the Church. He organized five churches in the Chemung Valley and adjacent regions. He belonged to a family of clergymen and physicians, and died at Horseheads, March 28, 1845.
The Episcopal Church numbers among its early rectors Revs. John G. Carder, Clark, Richard Smith, Gordon Winslow, Kendrick Metcalf, B. F. Whitcher (who was the husband of the author of the "Widow Bedott Papers"), and Washington Van Zandt, all of Elmira.
Probably the most noted preacher who has ever resided in Chemung County is at present a resident of the city of Elmira, Rev. Thomas K. Beecher, pastor of the Park Church of Elmira, and a brother of Henry Ward Beecher, whose fame is world-wide. A more extended sketch of Mr. Beecher will be found in connection with the history of Park Church. (Note from JMT - Rev. Beecher was also brother to Harriet BEECHER Stowe who wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin and whose fame has outlasted either of her brothers.)