Charles E. (Charles Elliott) Fitch.

Encyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) online

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Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 53 of 58)
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Syracuse, April 14, 1837, the son of E. Judge of the Court of Appeals.

Fuller and Lydia Wheelwright Wallace, From the beginning Wallace made a



mark in his profession. Equipped with
knowledge of the fundamentals, familiar
with the precedents, skilled in the techni
calities of the law, and with courag'e in
crossing swords with the veterans of the
legal arena, he acquired prominence un-
usual for his years ; before he was thirty
he ranked with the leading practitioners
of central New York. Enlisting in the Re-
publican party, he earnestly promoted i;
weal by public appeals and personal bene-
ficences — and the Union cause as well —
with the promise of a brilliant political
career opening before him. Indeed, in
March, 1873, at the age of thirty-six years,
he was elected mayor of his native city,
and as such, by his honesty and intrepid-
ity, gained popular distinction and favor
in combatting and overthrowing a corrupt
ring which had, for several years, ruled
the city government by sinister means for
its own profit.

Shortly succeeding, however, his retire-
ment from the mayoralty there came the
departure from political preferment, dv
to his appointment, April 7, 1874, at the
hands of President Grant, as judge of the
northern district of New York of the
United States Court, and thenceforth his
career was distinctly of a judicial char-
acter, the change closely paralleling that
of his legal contemporary and fellow citi-
zen, the Hon. Charles Andrews.

The district comprised the greater part
of the State, and its terms of court were
held at Buffalo, Rochester, Utica, Albany
and elsewhere, Besides holding these
terms Judge Wallace was frequently as-
signed by the circuit judge to hold courts
at New York City and Brooklyn, and h*^
performed a large part of his judicial
duties at these cities. In 1882 Judge Sam-
uel Blatchford, who was then a circr''
judge, was appointed a Justice of the
United States Supreme Court, and Judge
Wallace was commissioned, April 6, by

President Arthur, as his successor. The
office of circuit judge was one of great re-
sponsibility. The judge was the head of
the federal tribunals of the States of New
York, Connecticut and Vermont, and as
the reviewing authorit)' of their decisions
and the presiding judge in the common
law and equity branches of the courts, his
decisions were final in much of the im-
portant and complicated litigation that
occupied these courts. Judge Wallace
heard and decided between 1873 and 1892
many of the celebrated law suits of the
day. Some of them involved enormous
sums of money, and every variety of liti-
gation was presented for his considera-

In 1892 there was constituted, under
recent legislation of Congress, for each of
the judicial circuits of the United States,
a new appellate tribunal whose decisions
were to be final in various classes of cases,
which had theretofore been reviewed by
the United States Supreme Court, and
Judge Wallace became the presiding
judge for the Circuit Court of Appeals of
the Second Judicial Circuit. The terms of
this new court were held principally at
the City of New York, and from its organ-
ization until May, 1907, Judge Wallace
continued to be the presiding judge. His
duties in this court called him so con-
stantly from home that he concluded to
remove his place of residence from Syra-
cuse to a more convenient location. Ac-
cordingly in 1892 his home, which, for
many years had been situated on Jam^s
Street Hill in Syracuse, was transferred
to Albany.

In May, 1907, Judge Wallace resigned
from the bench after a term of thirty-
three years of continuous service. The
event was commemorated by a compli-
mentary dinner tendered to him by the
bar of the State, at which were present
judges and lawyers from more than half



of the States of the Union. It was a
notable afifair in its large array of highly
distinguished members of the bar, as well
as of the judiciary and in the quality of
the speeches and letters of regret it elic-
ited. In all of these were emphatic trib-
utes to his standing as a jurist and
through all ran a vein of personal affec-
tion rarely tendered upon a similar occa-
sion. Thus Justice Lurton, of the United
States Supreme Court, upon Judge Wal-
lace's national repute :

It has not been my fortune to have had any
great degree of personal acquaintance with Judge
Wallace, but I have known him long and well
through a long line of opinions that have en-
riched for all time the judicial literature of his
country. For thirty years he has sat in judg-
ment without reproach and with increasing fame,
until it has come about that his name is known
throughout the land no less for his splendid
balance and his unsullied integrity than for his
accurate expoundings of the law.

Thus Judge Colt, of the first circuit,
now United States Senator from Rhode
Island, upon him as a judicial authority:

Judge Wallace's high standing on the Federal
Bench, his learning, ability and attainments, have
long been recognized in the First Circuit; his
decisions have been respected and followed and
his character held in the highest esteem. We
have recognized in those decisions rare legal in-
sight, a mastery of legal principles, close and
cogent reasoning and the power of terse and
luminous expression. He has been a sound lawyer,
a just and upright judge, an ornament to the
Federal Bench.

Thus his colleague. Judge Lacombe,
froiTi intimate knowledge of the habit of
Judge Wallace's in the conduct and de-
termination of cases :

Whether writing his own opinions or discus-
sing a subject with his associates, the trend of
his mind was always logical; no looming up of
some "hard case" would swerve it from following
the argument to its conclusion. But at the same
time a marvelous facility of resource in detecting

all phases of a question (sometimes most ob-
scure ones) would develop some wholly different
mode of approach which would leave the "hard
case" far off to leeward. To all this is to be added
the circumstance that he always came to the
consultation room with absolutely no pride of
opinion ; that while clear and forceful in express-
ing his own views, he was always quick as a flash
to appreciate another's and ready to treat both
with equal consideration.

Judge Wallace's own address, in pecu-
liarly felicitous diction, embraced exalted
eulogy of the judiciary with which he
was so long identified, earnest appeal for
the safeguarding of its integrity against
malicious demagogues and frenzied mal-
contents, pleasant reminiscences of his
tenure and graceful acknowledgment of
courtesies extended him by the profes-
sion, with these words of valediction and
intention :

And now, brothers of the New York Bar, who
have so long made my life among you a happy
and contented one, I must say the final word. It
is not "good bye" because I look forward, so
long as my health and strength last, to a life
which will give me constant opportunities of meet-
ing you in the future, as it has been my privilege to
do in the past and. indeed, I feel that if it were
to be otherwise, life would hardly be worth the
living. But it is a farewell as a judge, and I am
glad, glad with an exceeding joy, to leave the
bench and join you, without the judicial robe, as
comrade and companion.

After resigning from the bench Judge
^^'allace resumed, as indicated, for three
years the practice of the law at New York
City, as the head of an historic firm, under
the title of Wallace, Butler & Brown.
During this time he was retained in many
notable litigations and enjoyed a lucra-
tive practice. Since retiring from prac-
tice he has divided his leisure between his
winter home at Winter Park in Florida
and his summer home at Cazenovia, New
York, occasionally occupying his resi-
dence at Albany. He was the candidate
of the Republican party in 1897 for the



Chief Judgeship of the New York Court
of Appeals, bi:t, in the general defeat of
the party in that year throughout the
State, failed of an election, although he
received nearly 16,000 votes more than
the party ticket. He was laureated by
Hamilton College with the degree of Doc-
tor of Laws in 1S76, and later received a
similar degree from Syracuse University.
He was the first president of the Century
Club of Syracuse, and his interest in club
life may be inferred from his membership
for many years in other clubs, including
the Century, the Metropolitan, and the
Union League, all of New York City, as
well as the New York Yacht Club and
the Fort Orange Club of Albany. Judge
Wallace's first wife was Josephine Rob-
bins, of Brooklyn, who died in 1874. In
1878 he married Alice Heyward Wheel-
wright, of New York, who died in 191 1.
None of the children of either marriage

At the time of the preparation of this
sketch Judge Wallace enjoys vigorous
health, which he largely attributes to his
activities as a sportsman, fisherman and
lover of the horse. He enjoys good din-
ners, good wines, good cigars, good books,
and more than either the society of good
friends, with as much zest as in his earlier

WILLIAMS, Sherman,

Edncator, Historian.

Sherman Williams, prominent in the
educational field and as an historian, was
born November 21, 1846, on a farm near
Cooperstown, the son of Justin Clark and
Mary (Sherman) Williams. He is of
Welsh descent, the founder of the family
in America being Captain Robert Wil-
liams, who migrated in 1638 and settled
in Cambridge, Massachusetts Bay. Sev-
eral of Sherman Williams's forebears

served in the French and Indian wars
and in the Revolution. His paternal
grandfather was for three terms a repre-
sentative in Congress.

Dr. Williams received his preliminary
education in the common schools of his
native town, and, as a youth of promise
worked on the farm summers and taught
school winters. Determined upon teach-
ing as his profession in life, he entered
the Albany Normal School (now college)
and, was graduated therefrom in 1871.
He received from the college the degree
of Doctor of Pedagogy in 1894. His re-
pute as a teacher was achieved early and
he was appointed, in 1872, superintendent
of schools at Flushing, Long Island, in
which capacity he served until 1882, hav-
ing married, August 12, 1874, Margaret
H. Wilber, of Pine Plains. In 1882 he
became superintendent at Glens Falls, re-
maining as such until 1899.

As superintendent in both places he
made a decided mark. His first work of
note was at Flushing. There he taught
science and was one of the first to make
considerable use of home-made and im-
provised apparatus. With his pupils he
performed nearly all the experiments
mentioned by Faraday in his holiday lec-
tures and many others. A water lantern
was made that showed on the screen the
diffusion of liquids and the formation and
breaking up of crystals and other phe-
nomena. At Flushing also he began the
direction of the reading of pupils for the
purpose of creating a love of good litera-
ture, of which he made much more at
Glens Falls, and in this field — too much
neglected in our common school system,
it may be remarked en passim — he has
been a constant inspiration and assiduous
laborer. In Glens Falls he organized a
summer school for teachers, which he
supervised for thirteen years. The ablest
instructors were employed and students


cvn. nUlicww^


from all sections of the land and from all
classes of teachers were enrolled therein.
One year nearly seven hundred teachers
were present, representing thirty-eight
States and territories, Mexico, Canada
and the West Indies. He was for years
a member of the committee appointed by
the State Council of Superintendents to
secure the enactment of a compulsory
education law, taking an active part in its
investigations and deliberations and mak-
ing valuable suggestions which subse-
quently received legislative sanction. Pie
was also largely instrumental in securing
the act providing for the establishment of
kindergarten schools.

In 1899, he was appointed a conductor
of teachers' institutes, and, for the ensu-
ing decade, was thus engaged. As a con-
ductor he was eminently successful.
With competent teachers and instructive
lecturers scheduled upon his programs,
himself indulged in little theorizing, in
his periods, but drew for his points
mainly upon his experience as a teacher,
dealing with reading and the creating of
a taste for good reading, arithmetic and
the development of the habit of accuracy ;
English and the ability to speak briefly,
logically and forcefully ; history and how
it should be taught and for what pur-
pose ; and school management. It may
be added pertinently that his stately pres-
ence and authoritative mien were not
without influence in the conduct and con-
trol of his audiences. Since January i,
1912, Dr. Williams has been chief of the
Division of School Libraries, an impor-
tant position, congenial to his taste. Dr.
Williams's favorite study, as already inti-
mated, has been that of history — particu-
larly that of his own State— and in this
line he has published a number of books,
primarily intended for supplementary
reading in the schools, but, precise in in-
formation and couched in a perspicuous
and pleasing style, they have attracted

the attention of students and readers gen-
erally and have wide and remunerative
circulation. Among these are "Selections
for Memorizing," with L. C. Foster (1890)
and "Choice Literature" (1906), both in-
telligent compilations ; and he is the
author of "Some Successful Americans"
(1904), "Stories from Early New York
History" (Colonial, 1912), and "New
York's Part in History" (1915), his most
ambitious production.- Dr. Williams is a
charter member of the New York State
Historical Society, and to him its remark-
able growth and abundant activities are
largely due. He has been a trustee from
the start ; was for a number of years a
vice-president and is now (1916) serving
his second term as president efficiently
and acceptably.

In each community, in which he has re-
sided — notably in Glens Falls, his long-
est habitation — he has been a public-
spirited citizen, identified with its social,
literary and religious life, its institutions
and its well-being. Pie has been, among
other things, trustee of the Crandall
estate, and of the Crandall Free Library,
and he organized the Building and Loan
Association, being a director thereof so
long as he remained in Glens Falls. In
religion he is of the Methodist Episcopal
communion. In politics he has ever been
an earnest Republican, not hesitating,
however, to combat all wrong-doing
which has been perpetrated in its name,
and independent in his action when in-
dependence was demanded, candid in his
speech and bold, even severe, in his criti-
cism of evil policies and corrupt leader-
ship. He now resides at 290 West Law-
rence street, Albany.

SYMONDS, Charles S.,


Charles Stanley Symonds, prominent as
financier. State and city official and littera-



teur, was born in Watertown, Jefferson
county, New York, the eldest son of
Charles Fitch, manufacturer, and Sarah
Louise (Grannis) Symonds. In the pa-

the bank of which he has so long been the
head, to a high standard of efliciency and
usefulness, with abundant resources, a
splendid building, hosts of depositors and

ternal line he is in descent from the Rev. the entire confidence of the community — a

marked trust also in him personally, as
evidenced in the large number of estates
committed to his charge either as execu-
tor or administrator. He has also been
engaged in many business activities, in-
dependent of the bank, and an officer in
many corporations. He is a director in
llie International Heater Com.pany of
Utica ; the Utica Gas and Electric Com-
pany ; the Consolidated Water Company
and the Robert Wicks Company. He is
secretary, treasurer and director in the
L^tica, Clinton & Binghamton Railroad
Company; director and treasurer in the
Utica Canning Company and director and
vice-president of the Utica Trust and De-
posit Company; trustee of the Savings
Bank of Utica ; has been director in the
Northern New York Trust Company and
Binghamton Trust Company ; was a trus-
tee for many years of the Utica Ceme-
tery Association, also of the Utica Art
Association. He has also been identi-
fied notably with city and State philan-
thropies. In religion he is of the Protes-
tant Episcopal communion and vestry-
man of Grace Church and trustee of the
House of the Good Shepherd. He was
trustee of the Young Men's Christian As-
sociation (1887-89). He was appointed
manager of the State Lunatic Asylum by
Governor Hill, April 13, 1890, and of the
Utica State Hospital by Governor Flower,
November 30, 1894, reappointed by Gov-
ernor Morton. May 16, 1895, to fill a
A-acancy and again by Morton, December
2, 1896, for the term of five years to Janu-
ary I, 1902: and to the board of visitation
by Governor Odell — these successive des-
ignations by executives of the two great
parties showing that Mr. Symonds' pref-

James Fitch, closely identified with the
work of the "Apostle," John Eliot, and
the principal founder of Norwich, Con-

Charles Stanley Symonds was educated
at the grammar schools and Jefferson
County Institute of his native city, and
at Charles Bartlett's High School at
Poughkeepsie, a famous institution in its
day. Although prepared for, he did
not enter college, but read law, for a
time, in the office of Brown & Beach,
but did not complete his legal studies.
He found employment in W^ooster Sher-
man's Bank and the Watertown Bank,
thus beginning the business in which he
has been engaged continuously for over
fifty years. Removing to LTtica, he en-
tered the Bank of Central New York as a
clerk, and later the LItica City, which
was subsequently made the Utica City
National Bank, of which, rising through
various grades, he became cashier March
6, 1868, and president April 17, 1885, the
position he still retains. He married, Jan-
uary 18, 1876, Mary Ella, second daugh-
ter of Thomas Brockway and Ursula Ann
(Elliott) Fitch, of Syracuse — an espe-
cially happy union, sadly ended by her
death on her thirty-fifth birthday. May
23, 1885, two sons, Charles Fitch and
Harold Wilson Symonds, both now busi-
ness men in Utica, surviving. Mr.
Symonds has not again married.

He is, to-day, among the oldest, as well
as one of the most prominent and suc-
cessful, bankers in the State, outside of
the metropolis. The soul of integrity,
sagacious in thought and conservative in
his administration, courteous in address
and helpful in all his ways, he has brought



erment was quite independent of any
political considerations.

Mr. Symonds has always been an earn-
est Republican and has received much
consideration from his party, such offices,
however, as he has held, in all instances
have been without emolument, voluntary
service on his part, although he has been
repeatedly pressed to become a candidate
for legislative and executive positions.
The only elective office he has filled, and
that without fees attaching to it, is that
of school commissioner for seven } ears.
He was commissioned by Governor Mor-
gan first lieutenant in the Forty-fifth
Regiment, Twenty-first Brigade, Sixth
Division New York State Militia, August
3, 1861. He was elected a member of the
Republican Congressional Committee of
his district in 1886, serving thirty years,
twenty of which he was chairman. He
was a member of the Republican State
Committee for six years. He had the
honor of nominating James S. Sherman
for Representative in Congress each time
he ran, save twice. The relations, per-
sonal, political and business, between Air.
Symonds and Mr. Sherman were of the
most intimate character; and the last
office which Mr. Symonds performed for
his friend was as chairman of the Citi-
zens' Reception Committee on both occa-
sions when the latter was notified of his
nomination for Vice-President of the
United States.

Mr. Sym.onds is a lover of music, versed
in its literature and practiced in its art,
especially skilled as a player upon the
piano. He was president of the Utica
Mendelssohn Club for ten years, of the
St. Cecilia Musical Club for a long period,
is a member of the Maennerchor Club
and is also honorary president of the
Utica Philharmonic Society. He is a
man of scholarly tastes, a lover of books.

a linguistic student, versed in German
literature and singularly well informed
on the (jerman drama. He possesses a
splendid library, intelligently selected and
his house is adorned with many works of
art. He was elected a member of the
Oneida Historical Society, 1886, made a
life member, January 9, 1900, and served
two terms — 1902 until 1904 — as its presi-
dent. He was a member of the literary
clul), distinctively known as "The Club,"
for many years, composed of the leading
professional and lettered men of the city,
before which he read a number of
scholarly papers, among them, "Henry
Clay," "John C. Calhoun," "Mohammed
and the Koran," "Music," "Gotthold Eph-
raim Lessing," "Usury," "The Drama
from Athens to the Press Writers of Eng-
land," "Daniel Webster" and "Eduard
Leopold Van Bismarck." He also pre-
sided, October 5, 1903, at the celebration
of the two hundredth anniversary of Jon-
athan Edwards in the Munson-Williams
building of Utica and delivered an ad-
dress upon his life and work. Other ad-
dresses might be cited, but sufficient has
been given to reveal the scope of his
thought and the felicity of his utterance.
He is a member of the societies of Colo-
nial Governors, Colonial Wars, May-
flower Descendants, Sons of the Amer-
ican Revolution and Sons of Oneida.

He is passing his declining years among
his books, and his children — a grandfather
now — in his elegant residence on Genesee
street, and at his bank, still vigorous in
his faculties and receiving the fullest
measure of puldic esteem, with intervals
of travel, and the enjoyments of the
Maganassippi Fish and Game Club, Can-
ada ; the Yohnundasis Golf Club of Utica.
He is a member also of the Fort Schuyler
Club of Utica, the Rome Club and the
local Republican Club.





Honored is the name of Webster wher-
ever Americans are found, not only in
New England, where John Webster, the
founder, first settled on coming from Eng-
land in the earliest Colonial days, but
wherever the English language is spoken,
the names of the lexicographer, Noah
Webster, and the statesman, Daniel Web-
ster, are spoken with the deepest respect
and admiration. In Rochester, where a
descendant of John Webster, the founder,
settled about the middle of the nineteenth
century, the name is an equally honored

cash and enabling him to complete a
course in law study in Boston, where he
was admitted to the Massachusetts bar.
In looking about for a location he decided
upon Rochester, but he did not at once
begin law practice. For two years he
taught in old public school No. 6, then
accepted a position as assistant editor of
a Boston, Massachusetts, newspaper
Later he became chief editor and while
in that position wrote an editorial upon
his kinsman, Daniel Webster, the states-
man, whose death had just occurred.
Rochester soon after again called him and
for several years in that city he edited the
"Rural New Yorker." With the estab-

one, borne by Edward Webster, a gradu- lishment of the Rochester Free Academy
ate of Dartmouth College, editor and he became assistant principal of that in-
lawyer, and his son, Roy C. Webster, who stitution and in 1857 was chosen princi-

since 1880 has been a member of the
Rochester bar. The founder of this
branch of the descendants of John Web-
ster in the State of New York was Uri
Webster, a second cousin of Noah Web-
ster, the lexicographer, who like his cous-
in was born in Litchfield, Connecticut.
Uri Webster came to West Bloomfield,
New York, about one hundred years ago.
and conducted his own woolen mill at
Factory Hollow for several years.

There his son, Edward Webster, was

pal, serving until 1863, his connection
with the academy greatly increasing the
reputation of the school and establishing
Mr. Webster among the able educators of

Online LibraryCharles E. (Charles Elliott) FitchEncyclopedia of biography of New York, a life record of men and women whose sterling character and energy and industry have made them preëminent in their own and many other states (Volume 5) → online text (page 53 of 58)