Joseph Palmer.

Necrology of alumni of Harvard college, 1851-52 to 1862-63 online

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commander of the New-England Guards. He had a rare
taste for the fine arts, and was a warm friend and admirer of
Washington Allston. His beautiful criticism on landscape-
painting, in an extended article in the " North- American Ee-

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 191

view," attests his information on this subject. " In political
life," says his classmate, the lion. Charles G. Loring, "Mr.
Dexter exhibited the same love of truth, and contempt of arti
fice, the same gentlemanly bearing, and marked ability for
debate, which distinguished him at the bar. Eminently faithful
to his convictions of duty to his country, he never sacrificed or
compromised them at the behest of a party, or under the more
insidious and dangerous influences of private friendship or
social influence. An enlightened and fervent lover of her in
stitutions, he was not lost in blind or extravagant admiration to
their peculiar weaknesses and dangers ; and contemned the
appeals to that infatuation, so generally characteristic of popular
addresses, and so often the cloak of basely selfish hypocrisy.
It was perhaps in this sphere of duty, more than in any other,
that his resolution and intrepidity were displayed. In the great
struggle of 1850, his convictions upon the great questions which
divided the country impelled him into painful opposition to the
principles avowed, and measures advocated, by the great
champion of the party with which he had hitherto united himself
and his associates, which drew upon him, not merely the re
proaches and suspicions of the zealous partisans, and many of
the public prints of the day, which he could patiently and
calmly endure, but alienated many whom he had been accus
tomed to look upon as personal friends, who turned from him
in coldness, or indulged in censure of his course; thus adding
another victim to that lamentable intolerance in public opinion,
by which our community has been too long and unhappily dis
tinguished, and which seems in strange contrast with its claims
to intellectual position and advancement. But no desertion of
friends, no blandishment or persecution, could damp his courage,
or shake his consistency. He never ceased to maintain, and
press upon the public mind, the views he entertained ; and hap
pily lived long enough at last to enjoy the satisfaction of seeing
them become those of the great mass of his fellow-citizens,
though his sensitive mind never recovered from the wounds thus
ungenerously inflicted, which, to use his own expressive lan
guage, were blows upon the heart. " In 1841, Mr. Dexter


accepted from President Harrison the office of district-attorney
of the United States for the district of Massachusetts. To his
conduct in office, his friend, who presides over the court in
which his practice necessarily lay, bore ample and just testi
mony. Judge Sprague said, "His official duties lay mostly in
the court in which I presided ; and I can bear witness that they
were performed with consummate ability, fidelity, and discre
tion. Vigilant and firm in the detection and punishment of
crime, it was always with that considerate calmness which
became the representative of a mild and paternal government.
While he effectually repelled and exposed every effort, however
bold or artful, to turn aside the course of justice, no amount of
opposition in a trial, whatever its force or character, could
convert it, on his part, into a contest for victory, or an occasion
of self-exhibition. He had the most exact appreciation of the
duties of his station, and every qualification for their perform
ance. Indeed, no man could come nearer to the ideal of a
perfect public-prosecutor." Mr. Dexter married, 28 Septem
ber, 1819, Catherine Elizabeth Fresco tt, daughter of Hon.
William Prescott. He had five children. One died in infan
cy : the others, with his widow, survived him. For a few years
before his death, he resided permanently in Beverly. In 1857,
the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon
him by Harvard College.

1818. JAMES B ARBOUR died in Barboursville, Orange
County, Ya., 7 November, 1857, aged 58. He was the eldest
son of the late Governor James Barbour, of Virginia, from
whom he inherited talents that would have distinguished him
in any walk of public life, but for a constitutional modesty,
which kept him in retirement. He was born in Orange county,
Va., 22 December, 1798. He graduated with distinction in a
class which exceeded in numbers any previous one which had
ever left the walls of Harvard. With strong literary tastes,
and a mind enlarged and improved by foreign travel, he pursued
the cultivation of polite learning in the intervals of leisure af
forded him in the management of a large plantation ; and there
were few men of wider information or sounder scholarship in

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 193

the state. In 1828, he accompanied his father to England,
where the late Gov. Barbour was sent as minister to that
country ; and served as secretary-of-legation to the court of
George IV. Old enough to have seen some of the greatest
men in Virginia, in the unreserve of social intercourse, around
his father s fireside, his conversation was rich in reminiscences
of political and literary celebrities on both sides of the Atlantic,
and embraced personal anecdotes of Mr. Jefferson, Mr. Madi
son, Mr. Monroe, Lafayette, Sir Walter Scott, and others : but
he never talked for effect ; and so little pretension was there in
his manner, that a careless observer might have passed him by
as a person of ordinary powers. But, as soon as he engaged
with zest in the conversation of the moment, it was impossible
not to perceive that he was a very uncommon man. A volume
of his recollections would have been a great addition to the
department of literature which embraces the ana of distin
guished people.

1821. Dr. OLIVER HUNTER BLOOD died in Worcester,
Mass., 8 April, 1858, aged 57. He was son of Thomas
Howard and Polly (Sawyer) Blood, and was born in Sterling,
Mass., 31 May, 1800. He was fitted for college by Eev.
Lemuel Capen, of Sterling (H.C. 1810). On leaving college,
he determined to become a physician, and pursued his profes
sional studies under the instruction of Dr. John Green, of Wor
cester (B.U. 1804). Having received his degree of M.D.
in 1826, he began the practice of his profession in Brook-
field, Mass., where he remained two years. He then removed
to Worcester, where he resided during the remainder of his life.
He married Ellen Blake, daughter of Hon. Francis Blake, of
Worcester (H.C. 1789), and had eight children, four sons
and four daughters. One son died at the age of four years : his
other children, with his widow, survived him. He was a man of
small stature, but of great physical strength ; and, on this account,
when in college he became the possessor of the huge herculean
club, which bore the significant name of the "Thundering
Bolus ; " a weapon of formidable size, which, for many years,
was transmitted from class to class to the strongest member in



each. Dr. Blood was a man of social and genial disposition.
With a fund of ready wit always at command, he was ever a
welcome guest at the festive board. His name, originally, was
Oliver Blood : but, a short time before he entered college, he,
with some juvenile companions, went on a hunting expedition,
which was attended with but indifferent success ; and on their
return, merely out of sport, he assumed the name of Hunter,
quasi lucus a non lucendo, which he ever after retained. Pos
sessed of the kindest feelings, and of a most obliging disposi
tion, he was greatly beloved, not only by his family, but by the
community among whom he had so long lived.

1821. WILLIAM FOSTER OTIS, of Boston, died in Ver
sailles, France, 29 May, 1858, aged 56. His disease was
" syncope of the heart." His death was very sudden, he having
been in perfect health until about fifteen minutes before he
breathed his last. He left Boston on the 17th of June, 1857,
for Liverpool, and had been travelling in England and on the
Continent. The last winter he spent in Paris, and had been
about two weeks in Versailles at the time of his death. He
was the third son of Hon. Harrison Gray (H.C. 1783) and
Sally (Foster) Otis ; and was born in Boston, 1 December,
1801. He was fitted for college at the Public Latin School in
Boston. Having chosen the profession of law, he pursued
his legal studies with his eldest brother, Harrison Gray Otis,
jun. (H.C. 1811), and Augustus Peabody (D.C. 1803), of
Boston. On his admission to the bar, he established himself
in the practice of his profession in Boston. In early life he
took an active part in political and military affairs. He was an
officer in the New-England Guards ; was a member of the
Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company in 1828 ; and was
commissioned as a major in the Boston regiment. He was
elected a representative to the legislature in 1830, and was re-
elected the two following years. On the 4th of July, 1831, he
delivered an oration before the young men of Boston, which
excited much attention from the spirit of "Young America"
which he displayed in it ; and which at that time, among the
older class, was deemed to be too much in advance of the age.

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 195

He early retired from public life and from the practice of his
profession, preferring the quiet of private life to political strifes
and forensic contests. He was a gentleman of polished manners,
affable in his deportment, and of unblemished moral character.
He was, for several years, president of the Young Men s
Temperance Society ; was an active member of the Church of the
Advent in Boston, was a liberal contributor to its support, and,
at the time he left for Europe, was its senior warden. He
married, 18 May, 1831, Emily, daughter of Josiah Marshall,
Esq., a merchant of Boston. She was a lady of remarkable
personal beauty and accomplishments, which were exceeded
only by the goodness of her heart and the loveliness of her life.
She died, 17 August, 1836, at the early age of 29. Her death
was a severe affliction to her husband, from which he seemed
never to recover. He left two daughters. His only son died
24 October, 1848, at the age of 12 years.

1828. FREDERIC DABNEY died in Fayal, Azores, 29 De
cember, 1857, aged 48. He was son of John Bass and Roxa
(Lewis) Dabney, and was born in Fayal (where his father resided
as United-States consul for many years), 2 August, 1809. He
was fitted for college, partly by Rev. Henry Colman (D.C. 1805)
at Brookline, and partly by Jacob Newman Knapp (H.C. 1802)
at Jamaica Plain, Mass. He was one of the youngest in his
class, and one of the most juvenile in appearance ; he had
however, a manly deportment, which won from his associates
the love given to a younger brother, and the respect paid to an
equal. He entered with great earnestness into the athletic
sports of the gymnasium (which were introduced during his
collegiate course) ; and was one of the most graceful and skil
ful performers, especially in those exercises which require agility
rather than strength. He was not ambitious of college distinc
tions, but was faithful in the discharge of his duties ; held a
respectable rank in every department of study, and enjoyed the
confidence and esteem of his teachers. Immediately after
leaving college, he returned to Fayal, and engaged in the mer
cantile business as a partner in the firm of which his father was
the senior member. There was his permanent residence ; and


he led an active, useful, and happy life. He visited Boston a
few times, and spent some time in Europe, seeking the restora
tion of impaired health. In 1835, while in England, he mar
ried Roxana Stackpole, of Boston. His business, the duties
of a wide hospitality, his books, and his family, filled, up his
time pleasantly and profitably. His classmates, at their period
ical meetings, occasionally received an aiFectionate letter from
him, in which tenderness of feeling that comes with growing
years was in touching contrast with the boyish light-heartedness
of his college-life. He was greatly esteemed and valued in the
community in which he dwelt ; and the general sense of the
loss sustained by his death was expressed in the most emphatic
manner, alike by native and foreign residents, by Catholics and
Protestants. He died of disease of the lungs. He had long
been in failing health, and was watched with much anxiety by
his family and friends ; but his summons was at last sudden.
He took part in the Christmas festivities of his household, and
even dined with his family the day before his death ; but, in his
enfeebled condition, a few hours of suffering sufficed to release
his spirit. He had ten children ; five of whom, with his widow,
survived him.

1828. Hon. JOHN JAMES GILCHEIST, of Charlestown,
N.H., died in Washington, D.C., 29 April, 1858, aged 49.
He was the eldest son of Capt. James and Susan (Wyman)
Gilchrist, and was born in Medford, Mass., 16 February, 1809.
His father was an active and enterprising shipmaster, sailing for
many years from the ports of Boston and Salem, in the China
and East-India trade ; until, having acquired an ample compe
tence, he retired from a seafaring life, and removed with his
family from Medford, in February, 1822, to Charlestown,
N.H., where he had purchased a farm ; and devoted himself to
agriculture until his death, which occurred 15 June, 1826. The
subject of this notice began his preparatory studies for college
under the instruction of Rev. Jaazaniah Crosby, D.D., of
Charlestown (H.C. 1804). He was afterwards sent to Med
ford, and placed in the private academy of Mr. John Angier
(H.C. 1821), where he made such rapid progress, that,

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 197

although not intending, when he went there, to enter to an
advanced standing, he was enabled to pass a satisfactory exami
nation, and was admitted in 1825 to the sophomore class.
His conduct, while in college, was exemplary, and his character
unblemished. He was not ambitious for distinction, and his
course of studies was rather general than confined to the
requirements of a collegiate course ; and therefore his rank in
his class, although always respectable, was not so high as he
might hare attained. After leaving college, he began the study
of the law under the instruction of the late William Briggs, of
Charlestown (D.C. 1799), and completed his legal studies at
the Law School in Cambridge. On his admission to the bar, he
began the practice of his profession in Charlestown. He rapidly
rose to distinction, and soon formed a business connection with
the late Gov. Henry Hubbard (D.C. 1803). He took a pro
minent part in politics, and was early elected to offices of trust
and importance. He repeatedly represented Charlestown in the
legislature of New Hampshire, and was also elected solicitor of
Sullivan county. In March, 1840, at the early age of thirty-
one, he was appointed an associate-justice of the Supreme
Court of New Hampshire. The ability with which he discharged
the duties of this high station developed the eminent qualifica
tions he possessed for the post to which he had been elevated ;
and when, on the retirement of the Hon. Joel Parker (D.C.
1811) from the office of chief-justice, in June, 1848, he was
at once appointed his successor. This office he held until
March, 1855 ; when he resigned it to accept that of judge
of the United-States Court of Claims, to which he had been
appointed by President Pierce, and which he held at the time
of his death.

Judge Gilchrist was a man of ample and varied learning ; a
clear and good reasoner ; and, as a judge, quick, attentive, and
courteous. Apart from his judicial sphere, he was a great
lover of literature, and was thoroughly versed in the standard
works of England and his own country. In private life, he
was possessed of a genial, social, and cordial disposition, sea
soned with a fine sense of humor, and a keen perception of the


ludicrous, which rendered him an agreeable and entertaining
companion. He married, 25 August, 1836, Sarah Dean Hub-
bard, daughter of the late Gov. Hubbard, by whom he had
two children, a son and a daughter, who, with their
mother, survived him ; his son being then a student of Har
vard College.

In his domestic relations, as a son, husband, father, and
brother, he was all that could be wished. His house was the
home of hospitality ; and his many friends who have been wel
comed at his board will recall with pleasure the many happy
hours passed in his society, with a melancholy regret "that they
shall see his face no more."

1832. Hon. ALBERT HOBART NELSON, of Woburn, died
at the McLean Asylum in Somerville, Mass., 27 June, 1858,
aged 46. He was son of Dr. John and Lucinda (Parkhurst)
Nelson, and was born in Milford, Mass., 12 March, 1812. He
was fitted for college at Concord Academy. After leaving col
lege, he entered his name as a law-student in the office of the
Hon. Samuel Hoar, of Concord, Mass. (H.C. 1802) ; but soon
afterwards entered the Law School at Cambridge, where he com
pleted his studies, and was admitted to the degree of Bachelor of
Laws in 1837. On his admission to the bar, he began the
practice of law in Concord, where he remained until 1841 ; when
he removed to Woburn, which was his subsequent home, al
though he had an office in Boston. He was a well-read lawyer,
a fine speaker, and a most pleasing, persuasive, and successful
advocate before a jury. He was much in public life. For sev
eral years, he held the office of district-attorney for the counties
of Middlesex and Essex. He was elected as a whig senator,
from Middlesex District, to the legislature in 1848 and 1849 ;
and in 1855 he was appointed one of the executive-council,
which station he resigned a few months afterwards, having
received the appointment of chief-justice of the Superior
Court. He continued his seat on the bench until the 6th of
March, 1858 ; when he was compelled to resign it in consequence
of ill health. Mental alienation ensued, which increased to such
a degree, that it became necessary to place him in the asylum for

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 199

the insane, at Somerville, where he remained until his death. In
the discharge of his duties as prosecuting-attorney, he was can
did and courteous. His elevation to the bench was entirely
satisfactory to the bar of Suffolk county ; and the manner in
which he discharged the duties of the station evinced the judi
cious decision of the executive in making the appointment. His
ample experience at the bar had made him familiar with the
rules of evidence and practice ; and his instinctive legal percep
tions and quickness of mind enabled him to decide promptly,
and generally correctly, the questions that came before him.

To the town of Woburn the death of Judge Nelson was espe
cially a loss. He had done much for its interests, and with an
enthusiasm which showed that it came from the heart. Many
of the public measures of the town for the last fifteen years bear
the impress of his mind and hand. It was by his efforts, more
than by those of any other individual , that the High School
an institution that reflects the greatest lustre on the town, its
intelligence and generosity was established ; and his memory
was appropriately honored at his funeral by the pupils of the
school, who came forth with sorrowful countenances to pay a
last sad tribute to the worth of their thoughtful benefactor.

Judge Nelson married, September, 1840, Elizabeth B.
Phinney, daughter of the late Elias Phinney, of Lexington
(H.C. 1801), clerk of the courts in Middlesex. His widow and
one daughter survived him. He had one other child, a son, who
died in infancy.

1836. GEORGE MIXOT died at his residence in Reading,
Mass., 16 April, 1858, aged 41. He was son of Hon. Stephen
(H.C. 1801) and Rebecca (Trask) Minot, and was born in
Haverhill, Mass., 5 January, 1817. His father was son of
Capt. Jonas Minot, of Concord, Mass., where he was born
28 September, 1776, and has been a lawyer in Haverhill. He
was appointed a judge of the Circuit Court of Common Pleas,
and held the office until 1820, when the law which created that
court was repealed. In 1824, he was appointed county-attor
ney for Essex ; which office he resigned in 1830. He died
6 April, 1861. Mr. Minot s mother was a daughter of Samuel


Trask, of Bradford, Mass., and deceased several years since.
He began to fit for college at Haverhill Academy, and concluded
his preparatory studies at Phillips Academy in Exeter, N.H.
Immediately after graduating, he entered the Law School in
Cambridge, where he remained two years ; when he left, and
completed his legal studies in the office of the Hon. Rufus
Choate (D.C. 1819). He was admitted to the Suffolk bar in
April, 1839 ; and immediately opened an office in Boston. He
rose rapidly to distinction, and soon attained an eminent rank
in his profession. Possessing a mind remarkably clear and logi
cal, his counsel was sought in cases, which, from their intri
cacy, required great acumen, keen discernment, and a nice dis
crimination. But he was more widely known by his editorial
labors. He was the careful and accurate editor of the "United-
States Statutes at Large," during the last ten years. He also
rendered valuable assistance to the late Mr. Peters in the pre
paration of the first eight volumes of the statutes published in
1848, the full and complete general-index of which was the
exclusive result of his labors. His name is also familiar to the
legal profession as associate-reporter of the decisions of the late
Judge Levi Woodbury in the first Circuit Court ; and his edition
of the nine volumes of "English Admiralty Reports," repub-
lished by Little, Brown, and Co., in 1854, bears evidence of
his industry and learning in this branch of his profession. In
1844, he edited the work which has made his name familiar to
every Massachusetts lawyer, " The Digest of the Decisions of
the Supreme Court of this State," to which he added a supple
ment in 1852 ; and, until compelled by the state of his health
to lay aside his labors, he was intending to recast the entire
work, and, including the later reports, to make it more com
pletely useful to the profession, more just to his own reputa
tion, and to that of the court, whose learning and ability it would

Mr. Minot was for many years solicitor of the Boston and
Maine Railroad Corporation. As such, he was called on to ad
vise in many very delicate and difficult controversies and delibe
rations ; and in all he was remarkable at once for honesty of

1857-58.] OF HARVARD COLLEGE. 201

purpose, firmness, and discretion. Beyond his profession, he
read and speculated more variously and more independently than
most men of any profession. Elegant general literature ; music,
of which, in its science and practice, he was a lover and master ;
politics ; theology, in its relations to a religion revealed in the
Bible, and to that philosophy which performs its main achievement
in conciliating faith with reason, were his recreations. To
sacred music and poetry he devoted himself with fervor. He
loved especially the standard hymns and tunes of the church in
which the congregation united in public worship. While in col
lege, he was the organist of the chapel ; and, during most of
his maturer years, he himself conducted the sacred music of
the religious society with which he worshipped. In his religious
belief, while he did not receive, as a whole, the creed of any
sect, he w r as sincere, earnest, catholic. He made the Bible his
constant study ; .he read and explained it in his house ; and his
heart embraced, as his reason had acknowledged, its truths.

He married, first, in 1844, Mrs. Emily P. Ogle, widow of
Dr. Richard Ogle, of Demarara, an Englishman by birth. She
was the daughter of Dr. Gallup, formerly of Woodstock, Yt.,
but who resided many years at the Hague, Netherlands, where
he married Susan Maria Eversdyk, a Dutch lady, and where
this daughter was born. She died in Boston, 21 November,
1853 ; and Mr. Minot married, second, 12 December, 1854,
Elizabeth Dawes, daughter of Thomas Dawes (H.C. 1801),
a lawyer in Boston, and grand-daughter of Hon. Thomas
Dawes (H.C. 1777), who is well remembered by the elder
portion of the community as the learned judge successively of
the Probate, the Municipal, and the Supreme courts. He left
two children, a son by his first wife, and a daughter by

Online LibraryJoseph PalmerNecrology of alumni of Harvard college, 1851-52 to 1862-63 → online text (page 18 of 49)