William D Murphy.

Biographical sketches of the state officers and members of the Legislature of the state of New York, in 1858 online

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attends the Episcopal church, and although not a
regular member of that denomination, is always deeply
interested in whatever pertains to its permanent pros-
perity. He is a man much above the medium size,
being tall, with a robust and vigorous frame, and is
apparently the very personification*. of good health.
He ranks high as an orator, and his voice has often
been raised in different portions of the state in behalf
of the doctrines of the great Democratic party.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 21



ISAAC Y. YANDERPOEL,

TREASURER.

Mr. Vanderpoel was born in 1814, in Kinderhook,
Columbia county, New York, and is a descendant of
one of the oldest families in the state. His great-
grand-father emigrated from Holland as early as 1609,
and settled on Long Island. He was among the ear-
liest residents of what is now the state of New York,
as the Documentary History of the State will show.

The subject of this sketch is the son of the late
Benjamin Yanderpoel, of Kinderhook, an original
*' Buck-Tail" Democrat of the old school, who has
held several offices of honor and emolument in Colum-
bia county. He was appointed Sheriff under the old
Council of Appointment, by Gov. George Clinton, with
whom he was on intimate terms. The Vanderpoel
family was of the genuine Knickerbocker stock, and
their associations were with the Yan Burens, the
Yan Rensselaers, the Yan Nesses, the Livingstons,
the Yan Schaacks, the Yan Dycks, and others, whose
names and reputations are part and parcel of the his^
tory of the state.

Mr. Yanderpoel was educated at the Kinderhook
academy, under the tuition of Levi Gleason. Among
his classmates were the Hon. Isaac A. Yerplanck, of
Bulfalo, and H. H. Yan Dyck, of Albany — gentlemen
who speak in high terms of the thoroughness and
practical character of the instruction they received
at this institution, Mr. Yanderpoel completed the



22 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

full course of study here, and graduated with credit.
Soon after, he entered the law office of Messrs. J. &
A. Vanderpoel, in his native" village, where, for four
years, he read law and made occasional demonstra-
tions in the way of practice. At the expiration of
this time, he went to New York city, to complete his
legal studies and was admitted to the office of Price
& Sears, a firm well known to the profession as one
of high reputation. At the October term of the Su-
preme Court, in 1834, he was admitted to the bar,
and immediately removed to the town of Aurora, in
Erie county, where he became a partner of P. M.
Vosburgh, now the Clerk of that county. After
practicing in Aurora two years, he went to Buffalo
and formed a law partnership with F. P. Stevens,
who was then a Democrat.

In 1837, at the time of the Patriot war, Mr. Van-
derpoel was appointed Brigade Inspector of the 47th
regiment of the New York state militia, by Gov.
Marcy, which office he held eight years. He is
said to have discharged his military duties with
promptness and gallantry and to universal satisfac-
tion. In 1838, when Erie county was one Assembly
district, and when the Democratic party was in a de-
plorable minority, he was a candidate for the Assem-
bly, and ran ahead of his ticket. In those days the
most sanguine Democrat scarcely dared to dream of
"the good time coming," when the county should be
emancipated from the rule of the Opposition, and roll
up a respectable Democratic majority. From this
time until 1847 he declined to be a candidate, but



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 23

never failed to be heard on the stump in behalf of
Democratic principles. He was then again nominated
for the Assembly, and came as near an election as a
straight Democrat then could. He has been a dele-
gate to state conventions twelve different times from
Erie county, and has always occupied a prominent
position in the Democratic party. During the ad-
ministration of Franklin Pierce he was recommend-
ed by both branches of the legislature, by Gov. Sey-
mour, and by prominent gentlemen in the party
throughout the state for Charge d'Affairs to the Hague,
but it was not his good fortune to be rotated in, it
being, probably, thought advisable to keep the work-
ing Democrats at home.

In the fall of 1856 Mr. Vanderpoel was nominated
on the Democratic Presidential electoral ticket for
his district, but, unfortunately for the Democratic
party, he and thirty-three other sound Democrats
were deprived of the privilege of casting their votes
in the electoral capacity for Mr. Buchanan. He took
a very active part throughout the whole campaign,
and besides speaking in nearly every ward in Buffalo,
and every town in Erie county, canvassed largely
in several other counties in Western New York and in
Pennsylvania. He has always been popular with the
masses as a speaker. With a clear perception of the
issues involved, a lucid style of speaking, and a pleas-
ing address, he combines an agreeable modicum of
pleasantry, so that he iwver fails to attract and hold
the attention of his auditors.

Mr. Vanderpoel was not an applicant for the office



24 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

which he now holds, but the Democratic convention
which nominated him, recognizing the proud position
of Erie county in the party, and taking into conside-
ration the fact, that after so many years of Whig rule,
she had elected the only Democratic Congressman
west of Albany, could not refuse to place his name
upon the ticket as a compliment to that county. He
was accordingly nominated by acclamation, and was
triumphantly elected by a handsome plurality of votes.
He has barely just entered upon the discharge of the
duties of the office, and it remains to be seen with
what success he will meet the expectations of his
friends and the just demands of the people of the
state. He is doubtless one of the finest looking men
at the state capital, being tall and well proportioned,
with a full, rosy face, and a frank, open and intelli-
gent countenance; but he is married and hence not in
the matrimonial market.



LYMAN TREMAIN,

ATTORNEY GENERAL.

Mr. Tremain was born on the 14th of June, 1819,
in Durham, Greene county, N, Y., a thriving agricul-
tural town, situated beneath the shadow of the Cats-
kill mountains, about twenty miles west of the Hudson
river. His father, Levi Tremain, with his wife, emi-
grated to that place, in 1812, from Berkshire county,
Mass., a section cf country to which any one might



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 25

well be proud to trace his ancestry, and to which may-
be referred many of the brightest intellects now to be
found in many portions of the country. His parents,
who are still living, are distinguished in a more than
ordinary degree for the shrewdness and intelligence of
their fatherland, mingled with a humor and spright-
liness but seldom found in those who have passed the
meridian of life. His grandfather, Nathaniel Tremain,
who died only a few years since at Pittsfield, Mass.,
was a Revolutionary soldier, and having contributed
his full share of service to the purchase of American
freedom, turned his attention, at the close of the war,
to the honest and quiet occupation of the husbandman,
which he followed during the remainder of his days.
The only means of education enjoyed by Mr. Tre-
main, were those afforded by the common and select
schools of his native town and the Kinderhook aca-
demy. He was, however, a faithful and diligent scho-
lar, always taking the lead in his studies, and, at the
close of his academic career, had acquired a far better
education than most of the young men at the present
day possess at the end of a regular college course. In
1834, although then but fifteen years of age, he entered
the law office of John O'Brien, of Durham, as a student
at law, and immediately commenced trying causes in
Justices* courts, not only in his own county, but in the
counties of Schoharie, Albany, and Delaware, in which
he was very successful, acquiring great skill in the
management of all the cases entrusted to him. At
these trials crowds always flocked, as they said, "to
hear the boy plead law," and seldom failed to be
3



26 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

amazed at the skill and ingenuity with which he, at so
young an age, conducted his causes. During this ex-
tensive practice, however, his studies were by no
means neglected, and no student ever attended more
closely to them, as an evidence of which, it is said,
that while pursuing the ordinary course of studies, he
read through every volume of Cowen and Wendell's
reports — a task from which older heads might well
shrink in despair. After leaving the office of Mr.
O'Brien, he passed a few months with Samuel Sher-
wood, an eminent lawjer in New York city, and was
then, at the age of twenty-one, admitted to practice
in the Supreme Court of New York. His fame as a
lawyer having already become extensive, he immedi-
ately entered upon a large and lucrative practice, in
his own, and the adjoining counties, which has been
steadily increasing ever since.

Early in life Mr. Tremain embarked on the exciting
and stormy sea of politics, and, unlike many others,
has successfully guided his bark in safety, amid the
dangers, seen and unseen, peculiar to that troubled
ocean. His voice was heard and his pen known and
felt on all suitable occasions, and contributed in no
small degree to the advancement of the principles of
the Democratic party in his county and state — a party
of which he has always been a warm, ardent, and
consistent supporter. His resolutions, speeches, and
addresses evinced a knowledge of history, of public
and political afifairs, and a maturity of judgment but
seldom surpassed by the older veterans of his party,
and his fame became so well known that his voice and



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 27

pen were often, subsequently, called by his party to
other portions of the state, to take an active part in
the various political contests between the two great
parties of the country.

At the early age of twenty-three Mr. Tremain was
nominated by the Democracy of his native town as a
candidate for Supervisor. The town was then strongly
Whig, but notwithstanding this, and the old maxim,
that a *' prophet is not without honor save in his own
country," he was triumphantly elected by a handsome
majority. In February, 1846, he was appointed Dis-
trict Attorney of Greene county. The county judges
were divided by the divisions which then distracted
the Democratic party, but they all united in conferring
the appointment upon him. An unusual amount of
important criminal business fell to his lot during the
brief period which he held the office, but he discharged
it with an energy and fidelity that elevated him still
higher as a lawyer in the estimation of the people and
his associates at the bar. In 1847 he received the
regular nomination of his party as a candidate for the
office of County Judge, and was elected at the Judicial
election in June of that year. In his election to this
office, which embraced that of Surrogate, he had a
Whig and Democrat competitor, both of whom were
popular and leading men in the county, and resided
at the county seat, which gave them a great advantage ;
but he was elected by a large majority over both, and
a majority over the regular Opposition candidate of
twelve hundred, which was a larger majority than was
ever given in the county when the Democratic party



28 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

was united. He was again nominated for the same
office in 1850, and although, by throwing out the returns
of one election district on the ground of fraud, the can-
vassers awarded him an election, he declined, under
the circumstances, to accept the office, in an address to
the people of the county,which was satisfactory to them
and creditable to himself. In Nov., 1853, he removed
from Greene county, and locating himself in Albany,
where he still resides, formed a law partnership with
the Hon. Rufus W. Peckham, of that place, which
still exists, and continued his practice with increased
success. His reputation as a lawyer now increased
more rapidly than ever, and in the fall of 1857, he was
nominated with great unanimity, by the Democratic
State convention at Syracuse, as a candidate for At-
torney-General. The contest which followed, and in
which he took an active part, addressing large meet-
ings at different prominent points in the state, was
spirited and enthusiastic, and although, according to
the result of the Presidential election the year pre-
vious, his party was greatly in the minority, he was
successful by a plurality of upwards of sixteen thou-
sand.

Mr. Tremain gave unmistakable evidence, very
early in life, of more than ordinary capacity as a
speaker and now occupies a prominent position be-
fore the country as a first class orator. When only
fourteen years of age he delivered an original speech
at the semi-annual exhibition of the Kinderhook aca-
demy, which was loudly applauded and universally
admired. He possesses a voice of great compass and



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 29

richness, combined with a good articulation and that
self-possession, easy flow of language, and earnestness
of manner, which are so essential in the real orator,
and whether before a jury, the court, or a promiscuous
audience, rarely fails to influence the will and the
judgment of his hearers. To this he adds an obliging
disposition and courteous manner, and is thus gene-
rally rendered very popular wherever he is known.
He is truly a striking example of the influence of re-
publican institutions in assigning to genius and talent
their proper station and reward; and being now only
in the prime of life, with a large robust frame, and a
sound vigorous constitution, he has doubtless still
before him a long career of usefulness and honor.



VAN R. RICHMOND,

STATE ENGINEER AND SURVEYOR.

Mr. Richmond was born in January, 1812, in the
town of Preston, Chenango county, N. Y. He is the
eldest son of Oliver Richmond, a farmer in that
county, who died at an advanced age, in 1853. He
received a good practical business education at the
Oxford academy in Chenango county, and as early as
1834, when quite a young man, received from the state
the appointment of chairman in the engineering force
engaged upon the Chenango canal, which was then
in process of construction. Here he remained until
1837, gradually rising in point of rank, when he was



30 BIOGiliLPHICAL SKETCHES.

appointed Resident engineer on the Erie canal, and
was located at Lyons, where he now resides. In 1843,
his location was changed from this place to Syracuse,
when he took charge of the entire Middle division of
the New York State canals, under Jonas Earll and
Daniel P. Bissell as Canal Commissioners. In 1848
he resigned this position, and accepted an appointment
on the Oswego rail road. It was decided about this
time by the Whig Canal board to run an independent
line for the enlarged canal from Jordan to the Cayuga
marshes; but they had no man in their employ to
whom they felt safe in entrusting the work, and after
canvassing the merits of all the engineers of the state,
an appointment for the execution of the task, in a
separate capacity, was tendered to Mr. Richmond.
He accepted, and immediately entered upon the work.
He submitted a line for the canal, and a plan for the
aqueduct across the Seneca river, which were adopted,
and the work was immediately put under contract.
This aqueduct is doubtless the most important struc-
ture on the Erie canal, and fittingly attests the skill
and genius of its originator.

In 1850, when Mr. Richmond had satisfactorily
arranged the plan of this noble piece of work across
the Seneca river, he resigned his position, to take the
appointment of Division engineer of the Syracuse and
Rochester direct railroad, in which capacity he was
engaged until 1852, when, at the instance of Wm. J.
McAlpine, he was appointed Division engineer of
the Middle division of the New York State canals.
In the fall of 1853, a Whig Canal board was again



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. dJ^

elected, including the Hon. John T. Clark, as State
Engineer. As Mr. Richmond had always been a De-
mocrat, strong efforts were made to accomplish his
removal; but Mr. Clark refused to give his sanction
to the measure and he was retained — a circumstance
as creditable to Mr. Clark as it was complimentary
to Mr. Richmond. In the winter of 1856, the Ameri-
can party came into possession of the Canal board,
and being a Democrat, he was removed from office
for the first and only time in his life. From that
period he lived in retirement at his home in Lyons,
until he was nominated and elected for the distin-
guished position which he now occupies as State
Engineer and Surveyor.

During the twenty years Mr. Richmond has been
in the service of the state as an engineer, he has
proven himself equal to any in industry, integrity,
and fidelity to the interests of the people, and there
is scarcely more than one, perhaps, in the state, who
can surpass hiiji in the line of his profession. He is
no doubt well calculated to adorn the responsible
office in which he is now placed, and while preventing
the fraud and corruption hitherto too often practiced
at the connivance of some of his predecessors, he will
doubtless make an eminently honest and economical
disbursement of the public moneys falling into his
hands for the prosecution of the various enterprises
connected with the great canal works of the state.

In 1837 Mr. Richmond was married to Miss Anna
A. Dennison, who died in the spring of 1854, and by
whom he has three children living. In person he is



32 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

tall and slender, though having the indications of an
ability for more than ordinary physical endurance;
has light hair, light blue eyes, fair complexion, and a
quick, active step, denoting a restless, working mind.
With him the old maxim, *' nil mortalibus ardui est,''
is a standing rule in his capacity as an Engineer,



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 33



SENATORS.



CHENEY AMES.

Senator Ames was born in 1808, in the town of
Mexico, Oswego county, N. Y. His parents, who
emigrated from Connecticut with a young and small
family, were among the first settlers of that then
wilderness, and were subject to all the privations, toil,
and difficulties peculiar to a pioneer life, having to go
a great distance to mill, and being without schools,
churches, or any of those social advantages we now
enjoy. The limited means and scanty requital of their
hardy labor deprived them not only of many of the
ordinary comforts of life, but rendered it necessary for
the children of a subsequently numerous family, con-
sisting of four sisters and seven brothers, all of whom
still reside in the county of Oswego, to join in the
labor of self support.

The father of Senator Ames was a man of strict
integrity ; upright and honorable in all his dealings, and
lived and died respected by all who knew him. His
mother was a woman of much more than ordinary ca-
pability. Endowed by nature with a strong and abiding
constitution, light, agile frame, and buoyant and hope-
ful in spirit, with much vivacity of mind and elasticity
of character, she was fully enabled to successfully adapt



34 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

herself to all the vicissitudes of her long and toilsome
life. Not only did she discharge with promptness and
fidelity, all and every duty of a wife and mother, but
she was rendered eminently worthy of imitation by her
kindness of heart and sympathy for the poor and dis-
tressed. Her enlarged benevolence and open hand
were restrained only by the means to relieve, but still
her sympathetic tear and kind words often encouraged
many an one to try again. She was peculiarly a coun-
selor of the young, whom she always exhorted to make
God their early choice, and to adopt tlie maxim, that
"honesty is always the best policy," and with these
principles as their guide, she would bid them press
forward in honest industry, as the way to success was
open to all. With the precepts of such a mother,
Senator Ames was sent forth, at the tender age of
fourteen, without educational advantages, and appren-
ticed to the hatting business, in the little village of
Delph, Onondaga county, N. Y. After spending five
years in the hard and toilsome service of this occupa-
tion, with but a few months' common schooling in the
mean time, his employer failed in business, leaving our
young adventurer once more upon his own resources.
True to the strongly expressed wish of his father, that
all his boys should be brought up to laborious trades,
instead of the popular professions, he sallied forth with
his little all, consisting of his wardrobe and a few
books, the reading of which occupied his leisure, for
further employment. He sought and found employ-
ment in the same business, in the village of Cortland-
ville, Cortland county, where, after spending one year



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 35

in the further prosecution of his trade, he induced
his former employer, although, like himself, without
means, to purchase the establishment, and once more
undertake to retrieve his broken fortune.

Senator Ames remained in this village eight years,
in the capacity of apprentice, clerk, partner and prin-
cipal in the business to which he had been educated,
and met with that success with which uprightness, in-
dustry and frugality are ever crowned. Becoming
dissatisfied, however, with the limited business of his
trade, in an interior town, he was, in 1837, induced
to turn his attention to a wider sphere, where his
active mind might have more scope and a larger field
in which to operate. Accordingly, in May of that year,
he settled in the village of Oswego, where he has since
lived, mingling with the most active citizens of that
place, in all that is calculated to promote its growth
and prosperity. Active in business and energetic in cha-
racter, he has stemmed the current of events, and met
the various adverses ol life with a mind and a will to
overcome that has enabled him to progress from one
.stage of success to another, until he has achieved a
position in business and society worthy of imitation.
Senator Ames is now the leading partner of a firm
extensively engaged in the grain and flour trade, as a
commission merchant in the city of Oswego. He suc-
cessfully carried his establishment through the late
financial crisis, without suspension or extension, and
now ranks as one of the first in his profession, as a
man of honor, integrity and ability, worth the toil and
perseverance it has cost to attain it.



36 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.,

In his youth Senator Ames adopted the principles
instilled into his mind by his pious mother, and has
always been a firm believer and supporter of the Gos-
pel, as preached and held forth by the Presbyterian
branch of the church. He is also a consistent advo-
cate of the cause of Temperance, and all other moral
and benevolent objects that have for their design the
amelioration of the condition of mankind. In politics
he is a warm and cordial Republican, often taking the
stump, and is ever ready and willing to give his rea-
sons for the hope and faith within him on this subject.

With a unanimity seldom equaled, Senator Ames
was brought forward by the Republican Senatorial
convention of the Twenty-first district, in the fall of
1857, as a suitable person to fill the seat which he
now occupies, and was most triumphantly elected. It
remains to be seen with what credit he will discharge
the new duties to which he has been called. He brings
with him to the position, the experience of a practical
man, who has hitherto neither disappointed himself or
friends ; and should he succeed in guiding the legisla-
tion of the Senate on the important subject of Com-
merce and Navigation (on the Standing Committee of
which he is chairman), as successfully as lie has hither-
to guided his own destiny, his constituents and the
state will doubtless have no cause to regret his pro-
motion to his present position.

In person he is rather below the medium size ; is
thin visaged, with a quick, active step, sharp, blue
eyes, and a high intellectual forehead.



BIOGRAPHIC&L SKETCHES, 37



TRUMAN B A R D M A N .

Senator Boardman was born in February, in the year
1810, and is therefore forty-eight years of age. He
is a thorough-bred Yankee, and a native of the town of
Covert, Seneca county, N. Y., where he has always
resided. His father, Allyn Boardman, was an old
established resident of that place, and followed the
honest occupation of a tanner and currier. He had


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Online LibraryWilliam D MurphyBiographical sketches of the state officers and members of the Legislature of the state of New York, in 1858 → online text (page 2 of 15)