Livingston County Historical Society (N.Y.).

Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 online

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Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 10 of 64)
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This was in July, 1889. In the autumn of that year he removed to Dansville and
commenced there the practice of his profession with a success that soon gave him
an eminent position at our bar. Strength of mind and executive ability were
distinguishing features in young Harwood*s character. He was most industrious—
IndeftigitabieTs perhaps the better word. He possessed an iron frame that never
tired, a mind that never lost its tone. He came out of a long and wearisome trial
as Aresh as when he entered it. He knew no timidity, no apprehension, and. to
osa the language which Reuben P. Wisner once applied to him, he had a metallic
front that never changed under any circumstances, that gave him independence
almost sublime. He was always sanguine, always hopeful, and always expected
Bttccess and usually gained It. In the cross-examination of an unwilling, dishon-
est or nntrathfnl witness, he was terrible. He would search their very souls, reach
Into their heart of hearts and drag the truth fkx>m villainous deceit with wonderful
findllty. He knew how to create an atmosphere around a cause favorable to his
elleot. He Knew, too, that the trial of a cause is very much like a game of chess,
and a game of chance, that more depends upon the skill of an advocate than the
law and Josttoe of a case. Another strong point with Harwood was his inimitable
maoner of opening a cause to the Jury, rendering the saying true that a cause well

rded Is half won. In the midst of his professional success Harwood yielded to
fiudnation of politics, and from that time to the close of his life the legal arena
was a secondary matter with him. As he possessed rare accomplishments for this
new field, his success was certain, and he soon became one of the leaders of the
Whig party In the state. He was fortunate in gaining the friendship
of Mr. Seward and Mr. Weed, and he soon became indispensable to these Illustrious
statesmen. On his entrance into the political field he Joined his fortunes to those
of David H. Abel, or Farmer Abel, as he was call(»d, and their united talents gave
them singular success. If their career has been criticised, I can only say they were
|i6lltlelans and used the resources of their calling. Mr. Abel was In every sense a
marked and singular character, a man of action and of few words, but those words
were always to the point and in the right place. It is said that as a politician he
was dishonest. Could he be a politician and be honest? His memorable corres-
pondence with Martin Grov^r exhibits the humor and wit of the man. When he
was a candidate fur state senator, Grover, who lived in his district, wrote him as
follows: D.H. Abel, Esq.— Dear Sir:— There are manv things in your character
that I like. They say you are dishonest, but if you will promise me in writing that
If yoa are elected you won't steal. I will support you. Yours, ete., M. Grover.
Abel replied to this letter in the following characteristic manner: Hon. Martin
Obovrr— Dear Sir: Your letter is received, contents noted. I cannot comply with
your request, as I desire, if elected, to enter the senate unpledged. Yours truly,
D. H Abbu When Grover received this letter he was so pleased with it that he
CRTO Its anthor a hearty support. *'I think much more of this reply," said he,
^ttian I should had it contained the usual claim of untarnished honesty, which
pblHIciaos persist in making." In the autumn of 1855 Mr. Harwood was nominated
lUld eleoted by the Whigs of the state clerk of the court of appeals. Mr. Harwood
died at Albany, in April. 1856, while discharging the duties of that office. He was
at the time of his death in the 37th ye»r of his age. In many respects he was a
marked character, possessing the mental affluence and abtll^ to mold the opinions
and direct the acU of others. We have considered him as th^i^f^^^^^Cj^m^^



20 Livingston County Historical Soctety.

really the sphere for whioh natare deBlgoed him. We alao have considered him mm
H polltlolaD. Here, though emloeotly saoceesfuK he was out of his sphere. Here
he was severely criticised. But so flagrantly corrupt has become party machinery
that with rare exceptions the best, the ablest men who mingle in politics are taint-
ed with corruption.

SNORESS FAULKNER.

The professional career of Endress Faulkner though brief was brilliant and ex-
emplary. Long enough, however, to exhibit strong Intellect and unusual forensle
powers. As a law-student he fully explored the science of Jurisprudence, and as a
lawyer his mind was a well arranged law library, in which he could easily lay bts
band on whatever he desired. His was what is rarely found, a legal mind io Its
truest sense It was imbued with the spirit of the science ; it InHtinctively perceiv-
ed and observed all its limitations, harmonies, modulations and discords, just as a
cultivated musical ear perclves what is congruous or Incongruous with the harmo-
nies of sounds. In this he manifested the true dlsllnctlon between a lawyer and a
rahdom speculator upon law. betwt-en the case lawver and the legal scientist. As
a real estate lawyer It is doubtfhl whether the Livingston bar ever produced his
superior. He studied the old writers on this branch or law with the purest delight.
I can recall repeated instances when I have (bund him in his ofllce late at night
absorbed in the study of one of those great, subtle and philosophic writers on the
law of real property, on the doctrines that govern the devolution of estates and the
interpretation of devises— Sugden or Feme or Preston— drawing as much delight
firom their black lettered law page as the novel reader finds in the enchantment of
romance or the beautiful flotluns of the poet. As a legal debater Mr. Faulkner was
so modest and unassuming, that a stranger might mistake bis modesty for
timidity. His language was plain, direct, forcible and free from tawdry rhetoric
He possessed a real talent for legal disquisition, and there whs a pleasing oonourd^
between his thoughts and his language. His brieft were elaborate and careftillv
prepared, they were a logical analysis of cases In full legal sequence, and althoogn
mr from being a case lawyer, no one was better versed in reported cases than be«
knowlngas be did when and how to apply them, but he never piled them one npoo
another, never launched them indiscriminately at an opponent, as soldiers some-
times load and fire at will. Endress Faulkner was bom at Dansville, N. Y., in the
year 1819. He was a son of Hon. James Faulkner. He prepared for college at Oan-
andaigua academy, entering Yale college in July, 1887, and graduated trom.
that Institution in 1811. In conformity with his early intentions he immediately
commenced the study of law, and was called to the bar in January, 1848. Opening
an oflSce in Dansville, he commenced there the practice of his profession. He was
for a time the law partner of Hon. Cyrus Sweet, now of Syracuse, the eminent sod
learned surrogate of Onondaga county. He was also a partner of Hon. Solonooa
Hubbard of Geneseo. His professional advancement was flattering to himself and
his friends. Very soon aOer his call to the bar he conducted the trial of several
important cases, with a degree of ability and success that could hardly have been
expected in one so young. Among these was the case of Streety agt. wood, Barry
agt. Bassett, McQuIgg agt. The Central Railroad, and other equally important oases.
In these trials he was opposed by the ablest lawyers at the bar. In one John B.
Skinner and Orlando Hastings, to whom I have referred, were his opponeuts. The
trials were conducted In a manner that elicited the sharpest collisions and ail the
subtle tactics of the forum, but Faulkner won ttom his opnonents that respect
which is due to ability, learning, and more than all, to high toned professlooal
courtesy. He won more than this, he won his causes. A.t the circuit at which
these cases were pending, a lawyer Arom New York dty conducted a case. He was
one of those lawyers who believe themselves modem Ciceros. or, what is more,
rlvalK of the fkmous old lawyer who tried causes in old Rome. In summing up the
case he made an attempt, as some city lawyers often do, to astonish ths country
bar. He was evidently a man of ability, and his speech though clumsy was strong.
When he closed some one asked Faulkner what he thought of the speech. ** WeH/'
said he with an expression of the infinite humor at his command, '^I can only say
of him as Harrington once said of an orator, * It was venementand fluent, and the
man's language was just what came uppermost. It had power, but it was the
power of a runaway horse, plunging and kicking all that approached.' " In the
midst of Mr. Faulkner's protessTonal career, then becoming so profltable to him-
self and gratifying to his friends, the hand of disease fellheavlly, though insidiously
upon him— fell, as it often does, when hope was highest and the fhture seemed the
most promising, when the ties or life were the strongest and he had much
to live for. For a time he indulged the hope that his disease would yield
to skillftil medical treatment. But as months wore away It t>ecame more and more
obstinate, until hope deferred began to make the heart sick. He sought more gen-
ial dimes, but in vain. It soon becnme apparent that his life was slowly but surely
drawing to a close. As disease wasted his form his mind seemed to strengthen,
seemed to fall back upon itself, and Intellectual objects became more attractive to
him. Though possessing wealth for beyond every ^ant, real or anticipated, his



love of pro^ssional labor grew more and more Intense as his physical powers de-
clined. He even uudertooa the management of a case that took the strongest bod-
ily and mental powers. With this case there was a circumstance so analagous to
one related by Judge Kent of an eminent Jurist, who was sutTerlng under the rav*
ages of consumption, that I can not refrain irom relating it here. **1 was engaged,*'
said Judge Kent, '*wlth him In the conduct of a case which for voluminous and
complicated pleadings and proof was, perhaps, unparalleled In our courts. It was
deemed necessary tba' a condensed statement of the evidence of the whole case,
and legal points, with minute references to the authorities affecting every point,
should be prepared for the court. I shrunk from the task as uXteuy J>e3|cmd my

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Annual Address by L. B. Proctor. 2 1

powers, and It fell to bis Mir-SAOrtflclDg indagtry. Oor oonfereDOM tn remrd to it
were n'eqaeut, and I observed witb alarm Its n^aal elTecls oo bis healtb. Often
I lea him at noon bending over bis task, and wben I returned in tbe evening be
was In tbe same poeture; wblch bad been varied in tbe Interval by only a brief in-
termission. I remonstrated, often serlouHly, almost angrily, but it was impossible
to draw bim from bis work ; and wben bis task wa« flnlsbed. tbe anxioos eye of
fMendsblp saw too sarely tbat he had made rapid prugress toward tbe grave*' At
last Paalkner's fHeuds induced him to slve up all professional care; but it was too
laie. He lingered long alter all hope or bis recovery was gone, and finally, witb
calm fortltode and Christian resignation, the inevitable hour came. He died in
December, 18Gc2. In tbe S5th year of bis age. And so lived, so died Endress Faulkner.
Am In life he adorned tbe bar, may I not say tbat his history will embellish our
society r

COL. JOB C. HEDGES.

Job. C. Hedge9 was a member of the Livingston bar who wore tbe wreath of
Justinian twined with laurels of the soldier. He left the forum, at bis country's
call, where, though yet young, be was rapidly growing eminent, and a practice
already remunerative and increasing. True to his duty heserved on many a weary
march, on many a blood-F.talned field, amid the harvest of death, leading his col-
umn of nery valor where ^showered the death-bolts deadliest the thin*d files along.*'
T<»-day we turn to him In memory as we do to many of the unretuming brave
who lell where

"Tbe earth vas covered thick with other day.
Which her own clay soon covered, heaped and pent,—
Rider and horse, friend and foe,— In one rude burial blent.*'

For bIm as for them, nbtere have been tears and breaking hearts.'* Though
time wear out tbe keener pangs of agony, though surviving ft>lend8 discharge life's
dotlee, foster its affections, sufnsr no pause in their career, yet the death of the
loved, on tbe field. In camp or in prison, caused a wintry change to come over their
heartM, dimming a sun-beam tbat once radiated their homes. Col. Job C. Hedges



was bom In the city of New York In June, 1836. While yet very young his parents
removed to Dausville. where Job spent tbe remainder of bis life witb tbe excep-
tion of a few years. He received his rudimentary education and prepared for col-



lege at Dansville, and was graduated with bonors at Lima, N. Y. Having decided
to adopt the legal profession for his fbture calling, he entered tbe law oflflce of
Meiwra. Hastings A Newton of Rochester. Under the iosi ruction of these accom-
plished lawyers be prepared for the bar, and In October, 1868. took his degree as an
attorney and counsellor at law. He commenced bis practice in the dty of New
York, as an assistant of Hon. Stephen B. Cushing, who had recently retired f^m
tbe ofllce of attorney general of the state. Such were tbe legal qualifications of
yoong Hedges that his services soon became Invaluable to Mr. Cushing, who oflRBred
to make bim his partner on terms the most flattering, but he preferred to practice
bis profession alone, and yielding to tbe solicitations of his friends returned to
Dansville and opened an ofllce. His severe labors in Mr. Cushlng's oflflce, though
they gnmtly taxed bis mental and physical energies, were profitable, giving him a
tboroagh preparation for tbe professional career he had marked out for himself.
His first professional eflbrt. In yonder court bouse, was tbe trial of a cause of much
importanoe^ttractlng considerable I nterest. His opponen t was one of the veterans
or tbe bar. Hedges conducted his case unaided. Though there was then at our bar,
as ttaore was In those days at most bars, two orbits in which lawyers moved, tbe
inner circle for the older lights, who were not disposed to allow any rising young
Bun to enter it, ftowningdown all who were bold enough to make tbe attempt
Hedges, believing there was no royal road to legal eminence. Indifferent to all dis-
tlncUons, bold and self-reliant, entered on tbe trial of the cause, as we have said,
wiiboat a legal chieftain to aid him; not, however, without tbe usual advice and
warning of mends. **Had you not better,'* they said. ** have Mr. 8o-and-8o to help
yoaT He Is Just tbe man you want, be hat> so much influence witb tbe Judge and
with tbejury,'* etc Thecase proceeded, contested inch by inch. As Hedges represent-
ed tbe plaintiff he dosed theargument tothe jury In an add rees that exhibited foren-
sie talents of a high order, and a strong, vigerous, well-stored mind. Unlike most
yoang men who occupy such places, be made no attemptat eloquence, but be made
atbor ugh, practical analysis of the evidence, presenting It to tbe Jurors fW>m a
stand -point like their own, which was an earnest effort to reach the real Justice of
the case. He caught all its weak and strong points, cautiously selecting bis grounds
of defence and attack. Tbe Jury retired and the labors of the young lawyer were
soon rewarded by a verdict in his ftivor. The result of this trial greatly accelerated
bis professional progress. One of Col. Hedges's characteristics was the rapidity
witb wblch his intellectual powers moved. 1 bough he was somewhat precipitate
in his conclusions, he was cautious in bis manner of conducting a legal campaign,
and be was regarded as a safe, carefbl and flar-seeing adviser, and a rising young
lawyer. But in tbe midst of bis promising career the war for the Union broke out,
and Hedges, inspired by tbe patriotic spirit that everywhere pervaded tbe north,
engaged with Captain C. S. Benjamin in the work of recruiting tne depleted ranks
of'^Uie bloody, flgbtlng 18th Regiuient N. Y. S. V. Their efforts were crowned with
SQoceas, and Hedges was commissioned flrst lieutenant, and very soon afterward
was promoted to tbe rank of adjutant. In this position be marched with bis regi-
ment to tbe peninsula. He was engaged in all tbe battles tbat were fousht on it,
and in all tbe other battles in which his regiment were subsequently engaged. To
OM tbe language of a difttlnguisbed and gallant officer who was flgbtlng by his side
whtia be fell : *^M^Jor Hedges was a brave and efl^dent officer, and his conduct on
bard-fought battle fields elicited the highest commendation from his supe-
' His gallant conduct on the bloody field of I^;^^f|J<5^(^f\[|^^^®



22 Livingston County Historical Society.

18th or December, 1862, when serving as aid to Oen. Barnes, who oommaDded the
first division of the 5th corps, was esp^ially mentioned by that officer in his re-
port. Though severely wounded Hedares kept the field until the battle ended. Id
the summer of 1864 the far-famed 14th Heavy Artillery was recruited at Rochester.
E. G. Marshall was commissioned colonel and Hedges a maJor. On the 2d of May.
1864, the regiment marched to the Rapldan. crossing it on the 6th. It participated
In the battles of the WiJLderness and Spotsylvania where It was under nre four sao-
cesslve days. From that time until the fatal 17th of June 1864, the regiment was In
constant active service. At Petersburgh, Va.. on the morning of that day, MflJor
Hedges was instantly killed while bravely leading his regiment to a charge on the
enemy's lines. The Meverity of the fighting in this assault is attested by our loesea,
which were estimated at 1,000 men. The losses of the rebels were heavy. In tiie
entrenchments they lay three orfDur deep, while the ground between their en-
trenchments was covered with their dead. Indeed it was a bloody day when
Hedges fell, but he fell

'*With hlM back to the field, and his feet to the foe!

And leaving In battle no blot on his name.

Looking proudly to heaven from a death-bed of Ikme.*'

I met him a few weeks before his death, and I nhall never forget the touching,
even beautiful manner in which bespoke of his wife, child, his father, mother, sis-
ters, and other Triends, whom he was destined never to meet again. The moistened
eye, tbe quivering lip, and the stifled utterance told how tender and deep was his
aflfbctlon for these. A very short time before his death he was made Colonel by
brevet, of his regiment for gallant conduct on the field, but he fell befbre bewae
aware of this dlMtingui^hing recognition of his valor and efficiency as a soldier.
Though the LivlngKton bar was valiantly, Ihad almost said gloriously, represented
by the private soldier, through all grades, un to the general officer, in many a bloody
field in the late war, Col. J. C. Hedges was the only member of it who died in battle.
It is meet, therefore, that his memory should be embalmed in the archives of oar
society, for he was not only an able lawyer, but a splendid example of the calling,
career and valor of the citizen soldier.

McNKIL SEYMOUR.

No member of the Livingston bar was held in higher esteem than Mr. Seymour.
He was one of those men who without apparent effort inspire confidence and es-
teem. In the alchemy of his character there was no dross. He made, no preten-
sions to showy talents, or any of those attributes that win popular applause, and
yet few men stood higher in tbe estimation of the public than he. This was ex-
hibited when a candidate for county Judge. He accepted the unanimous nomina-
tion of the democratic county convention with reluctance. Impressed with the be-
lief that it would be degrading in a candidate for a Judicial office to enter thu can-
vass in bis own behalf. He remained Inactive during the campaign, and though
the republican party was strongly dominant, in the county, such was Mr. Seymour^s
popularity that he was dei'eated by so small a mnJority it was evident that a tri-
fling eflort on his part to succeed would have resulted in a triumphant election.
Wtien a friend expressed his regret at his inactivity, he replied : ** I am better sat-
isfled with my defeat than to have secured my election at the loss of my self-re-
spect; any candidate for a Judgeship that will electioneer for himself ought to be
defeated for he would not be fit for the position." Another instance in which Mr.
Seymour's popularity was exhibited, occurred in the autumn of 1854 when he was
a candidate fbr member of Assembly, from the second assembly district of Living-
ston county. Notwithstanding his opponent was a very strong and popular man.



he was elected by a very large majority. In the legislature he took a high poal
er, his solid but unostentatious attributes, his '
latred of legislative pyrotechnics gave him i

standing as a legislator. Mr. Beymour possessed a Judicial mind and method.



tlon. His unassuming manner, his solid but unostentatious attributes, his tiappv
eccentric abilities, and his hatred of legislative pyrotechnics gave him a high



hence, the members of the bar knowing his legal learning, fairness and impartial-
ity, were in the habit of referring the must important and intricate cases to htm.
HlH decisions were usually acquiesced in by the defeated party as the only true re-
sult of a Just construction of the law and facts or the case. The theatre of Mr. Sey-
mour's career was, I believe, mainly in Livingston county. He settled In Mount
Morrlssoonafter his admission to the bar, where he resided until his death. He
died in the prime of his manhood. In the midst of his usefulness as u lawyer and
citizen. He died regretted by all who knew him. particularly by his fellow mem-
bers of the bar. As was said by an eminent writer of Sir. Robert Peel, ** the failing
of the column revealed the extent of the space it had occupied." Mr. Seymour was
a brother of the Hon. Norman Seymour of Mount Morris, the eloquent and effi-
cient secretary of our society, and one of lis founders.

HARVEY J. W^OOD.

One of the most agreeable and pleasant members of tbe Livlngrston bar was
Harvey J. Wood. He was an accomplished practitioner, profoundly learned in the
law. His counsel was always received not only by his clients but by members of
the profession, in entire confidence that they could be salely Kulded by IL During
the sittings of a circuit court, at the general or special term, Mr. Wood was a sort
of legal oracle in the practice of drawing rules, orders, decrees or Judgments in difl*-
icult cases. He always disliked the trial of causes. If, however, he was forced to
conduct a trial, a prosecution or defense, as he often was, he was strong, vigorous,
able,— an opponent to be dreaded. He prosecuted his case in such a manner that
all its best features were exhibited with advantage, but he made no pretension lo
oratory. In his address to the Jury he was plain, direct, sincere, but pointed and
searching. Wood had lively sensibility and quick perceptions, a thoroughly culti vat-



Annual Address by Z. B, Proctor, 2 3

ed mlod, a chaste, Uterarv tastejpollshed by an enlarged acquaintance wltb the best
writers, ancient and moaem. His refined taste extended to the fine arts and to
line mechanism. Finally, all bis talenls and instincts were those of a gentleman.
High minded, generous and honorable himself he demanded these qualities in
those he selected as his intimate friends. He detested fraud, trickery and every
form of rascality. His word was sacred among his professional and other friends,
and no client ever feared that his rights would suffer while intrusted to him. His
social qualities, his genial nature, his deep sympathies were exhibited in his every
day life, among his own immediate Hrlends and extended to all with whom he
came in oontacL He loved to meet and enjoy the bociety of the young, and t^ke
by the hand the newly admitted members of the bar, struggling to gain their first
foothold in the thretbold of proiesHional life. His favorite amusement was fish-
ing, and excepting Judge Fltzhugh, Izaak Walton never bad a more accomplished
pupil at our bar tnun be. In his earlier years his gun resounded on every marsh,
every wooded hillside, in every dell or glen within his reach, where a bird could
be flushed or game of any kind started. Several years before his death he pur-
chased a beautiful site on Conesus lake where he erected a cottage, and which he
embelllhhed in a style that Calypso and her nymphs might envy. Indeed, Pope



Online LibraryLivingston County Historical Society (N.Y.)Annual meeting of the Livingston County Historical Society, Volumes 1-15 → online text (page 10 of 64)