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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dress, and graceful and dignified in his general deport-
ment. He belongs to the class of good fellows, and
is very popular among the great mass of his immediate
constituents. He is always active and energetic in
the deliberations of the Senate. He has a good voice,
and is a pleasing speaker. He addresses the Senate
frequently, but

" He is so full of pleasing anecdote,
So rich, so gay, so poignant in his wit,
Time vanishes before him as he speaks."



SMITH ELY, Jr.

Senator Ely is about thirty years of age; is a
bachelor; and, with the exception of Col. Pratt, is
the youngest man in the Senate. He was born in
Morris county, N. J., and his parents removed to the
city of New York, when he was a few months old,
since which time he has constantly resided in the dis-
trict he now represents. He was educated as a law-
yer ; but after spending four years in the study of the
profession, was obliged to abandon it, in consequence



54 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

of impaired sight, induced by too close application.
Quitting the legal fraternity he then embarked in the
leather trade, in Ferry St., N. Y., where he was engaged
until about a year since, when, his connection with
his partner having expired by limitation, he withdrew
from active business with an ample fortune. It is
said, however, that he still retains some interest in
the leather trade in New York, and is connected with
some tanning establishments in this state and Penn-
sylvania.

Senator Ely has been quite prominent in the literary
circles of New York during the past ten years, and
has been proprietor of, or a regular contributor to, a
number of the periodicals published in that city and
Boston. He has never held, or been a candidate for
office previous to the last campaign, except that of
trustee of public schools, which he now holds. His
course in the administration of the affairs of the
schools, while designed to develop the practical ad-
vantages of the system, has been characterized by the
most rigid economy. In the school district under his
supervision, which has an attendance of about seven
thousand children, the average expense per scholar is
less than one half the cost in other districts in the
city, and forty per cent less than the general average
of the whole city.

Senator Ely has participated actively in politics
only during the past year or two. He was selected
as a member of the New York Democratic General
committee for 1857, and took his seat in January of
that year. Shortly after, as is well known by city



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 55

politicians, a movement was made to change the
organization of the party in the city, ostensibly to
reform the system of primary elections. This move-
ment resulted in the establishment of two General
committees, each claiming to represent the city De-
mocracy. He adhered to the organization of which
Wilson Small was chairman, and in September last
was elected a delegate to the State convention, at
Syracuse, where a settlement was effected of the dif-
ferences between the rival committees, he being ad-
mitted as one of the joint delegates to the convention,
in which he took an active part in the nomination of
the Democratic State ticket that was elected in No-
vember last, and which, it is generally conceded, has
not been surpassed for respectability and competency
by any ticket nominated by the Democratic party, for
many years.

Senator Ely represents the most populous district
in the state — a district containing nearly two hundred
thousand inhabitants. The late Senator, Joseph H.
Petty, and Col. Pinckney, were his opposing candi-
dates, but he was elected by an overwhelming major-
ity, having received about three-fourths of all the
votes cast. It is said that he received the vote of
every man in the district with whom he was person-
ally acquainted, which was certainly a high compli-
ment in these days of party discipline and prejudice.
He appears to be devoting himself in the Senate to
matters pertaining to the immediate interests of his
constituents, and to those benevolent institutions in
the city of New York and the state, with which he



56 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES*

has been intimately associated, and with the merits
of which he is perfectly familiar.

Senator Ely is somewhat tall and slender in stature;
has dark hair and eyes; nicely trimmed side whiskers;
and a pale, intellectual face. He is kind and unassum-
ing ia his manner; generous and hospitable; and is by
no liieans recreant to the weighty responsibilities with
which the people of the Fifth Senatorial district have
entrusted him.



JOHN J. FOOTE.

Senator Foote was born in the town of Hamilton,
Madison county, N. Y., on the 11th of February,
1816. He is a son of John Foote, a prominent
lawyer in the village of Hamilton, and a grandson of
Judge Isaac Foote, of Chenango county, who died
about fifteen years ago. On his father's side he is of
English descent, and on his mother's, Scotch. He
was educated at the Hamilton academy, and partially
pursued a classical course. After finally leaving
school, in 1836, he became a clerk in a store in his
native place which belonged to his father, though he
had previously spent considerable time in the estab-
lishment, and, in fact, took the almost exclusive
charge of it, when only about fourteen years of age.
He occupied this position until 1838, when he em-
barked in the mercantile trade for himself, and has
been so engaged ever since, in his native town. He
is one of the most prompt, active, straight-forward,



• BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 57

thorough-going, consistent and honest business men
in all that section of the state, and has been emi-
nently successful in all his business transactions. He
has not been a speculator, venturing outside of his
regular calling to engage in doubtful financial schemes
or enterprises, but has pursued a steady, quiet and
attentive course in his occupation as a merchant, until
he has succeeded in the acquisition of an honest com-
petency for life.

At the age of twenty-four Senator Foote was
elected Inspector of common schools in his native
town. In 1839 he was appointed Adjutant of the
65th Regiment of the militia of the state of New
York, thenunder the command of Col. John At-
wood, now of Albany, and occupied the position
for some time, with considerable successas a mili-
tary man. In 1853 he received the unanimous
nomination of the Whigs of the Twenty-first dis-
trict for a seat in the Senate, but peremptorily
declined being a candidate. In 1854 he was elected
Supervisor of the town of Hamilton, and again in
1856, holding the post of chairman of the Board
during both terms. In the fall of 1857 the Se-
natorial convention of the Republican party in the
Twenty-third district brought him forward as its
candidate, and he was elected to the seat now filled
by him in the Senate, by upwarcis of two thousand
majority over the combined vote of the Democratic
and American candidates.

Senator Foote was formerly a Seward Whig, but
when the Missouri Compromise was repealed he iden-



58 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. .

tified himself with the Republican movement. He
was among the first to take an active part in the or-
ganization of the Republican party in Madison county,
and was a delegate to the first Anti-Nebraska. State
convention, held at Saratoga in 1854. He was, alsb,
a member of the convention subsequently held at Au-
burn, where the Republican movement was inaugurat-
ed, and in 1855 was a delegate to the Republican
State convention at Syracuse.

In 1840 Senator Foote was married to Miss Mary,
daughter of Amos Crocker, a prominent merchant
in the village of Hamilton, and a lady much admired
for her excellency of character and general qualifica-
tions. He has three children — one boy and two girls.
He attends the Presbyterian church, but exemplifies
the true Christian character more by his uprightness
and integrity as a man, than a mere conformity to
religious customs and formalities. He is a person of
medium height; has brown silvered hair and brown
whiskers; large grey eyes, and a prominent intellect-
ual forehead. He seldom addresses the Senate, and
is a practical working member. It can, indeed,
safely be said that no man has been less ambitious
of political preferment or more faithful in the dis-
charge of his duties as a public officer, than Senator
Foote.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. ' 59



JOHN B . H A L S T E D .

Senator Halsted is the oldest man in the Senate.
He was born on the 7th of November, 1798, in Pitts-
ton, Luzerne county, Penn., in the valley of the
Wyoming. He is of English and partially of Irish
descent. His parents were both born in Orange
county, N. Y., and his father was a soldier through-
out the Revolutionary war. He emigrated to Penn-
sylvania about the year 1795, and after living in that
state until the year 1817, returned to New York and
settled in what was then Ontario county. He was a
farmer, and died about thirty-five years ago, at the
age of sixty-three. His wife, the mother of John,
died about the same time, and was about fifty- five
years of age.

Senator Halsted did not enjoy the advantage of a
regular course of education. His father who re-
mained poor in consequence of his having lost his
health during his services in the Revolution, could
render him no material assistance, and he was thrown
almost exclusively upon his own resources at a com-
paratively early age. After receiving the benefits af-
forded by a common district school in those days, he
took charge of a school himself, teaching during the
winter, and working at the carpenter and joiner's
trade during the summer, until he was about twenty-
four years of age, when his health failing him, he
turned his attention to the study of medicine. He
devoted himself closely to his studies for some time,



60 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

when, discovering that his health was still growing
worse, he embarked in the mercantile business, in
which he has been engaged ever since. About the
year 1827 he removed across the Genesee river into
Wyoming county, then Genesee county, where he has
always since been a resident. He was married on the
26th of October. 1832, to Miss Eunice Talcott, of
Vernon, Tolland county, Conn., a daughter of Dea-
con Phineas Talcott, of that place, and has never
had any children. He was brought up a Baptist, but
now attends the Presbyterian church.

Senator Halsted was formerly a strong Seward
Whig, and was actively engaged in the promotion of
the principles of that party until it lost its organiza-
tion, when he enlisted in the Republican ranks. With
the exception of a few unimportant town offices he
never held any public position until 1855, when he
was presented to the people of the Thirtieth district,
then composed of the counties of Allegany and Wyom-
ing, as the Republican candidate for Senator, and was
elected by about fourteen hundred majority. He was
re-nominated for the Senate by the Republicans of the
same district, in the fall of 1857, and was again suc-
cessful by a majority of about thirty-six hundred.
Shortly after taking his seat at the opening of the
present session of the Legislature, he was elected
President pro tern, of the Senate, and now acts as
presiding officer of that body in the absence of the
Lieutenant-Governor. Being the oldest member of
the Senate, he presides with becoming dignity and
impartiality.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 61

In person Senator Halsted is somewhat above the
medium height; has light gray hair; a peculiar brown
eye; sharp features; a pale face, denoting general
debility, and is of the nervous temperament. He has
never been an inactive politician, and while cheer-
fully conceding to others the undisputed right to think
and act for themselves on all public and private ques-
tions, is very decided and uncompromising in his
political views, when once thoroughly formed. He is
a fair speaker, but seldom participates, to any extent,
in the discussions of the Senate. He is courteous
and unassuming in his manner, and is deservedly
popiilar wherever he is known. Doubtless the inte-
rests of his constituents are perfectly safe in his
■^ ha.nds.



ALRICK HUBBELL.

Senator Hubbell was born on the 4th of October,
1801, in Utica, Oneida county, N. Y., where he has
always resided. He is of Welsh descent. His father,
Mathew Hubbell, emigrated to New York from Berk-
shire county, Mass., in 1789, and settled in Oneida
county, which was then a part of Herkimer county.
He was in the Revolutionary w^ar, and was at the
battle of Bennington, in 1777. He also took an active
part in the war of 1812, during his services in which
he contracted a severe cold, at Sackett's Harbor?,
which finally, in 1819, terminated in his death. He
6



62 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

was a successful farmer, and died at the age of fifty-
seven.

After his father's death, Senator Hubbell remained
at home with his mother, on the farm, until he was
twenty-four years of age, going to school occasionally
and attending to things about the premises. This
was all the schooling he ever received, and on the 1st
of January, 1826, he became Deputy-Sheriff of Oneida
county, which office he held three years. During
this period he also held the position, a year, of Police
Constable of the then village of Utica. He was one
of the committee of young men from the village of
Utica, in 1855, to celebrate the opening of the Erie
canal, and was on the first boat, with Gov. Clinton,
that came through the canal and entered the Hudson
river at Albany. In June, 1826, he was married to
Miss Laura E. Squire, of Lanesboro, Berkshire county,
Mass., by whom he has five children living, a young
lady possessing all the good qualities for which the
Lanesboro ladies were then so well known. With a
capital of $1000, which was equal to that of his part-
ner, Edward Curran, he went into the mercantile
business in his native place, on the 1st of April, 1829,
and remained so engaged until 1855, when he retired
from business, having met with the most eminent
success.

Senator Hubbell was elected Colonel of the 211th
regiment, in 1827, having advanced to this position
through all the regular gradations of military disci-
pline. He held the office until 1830, when he resign-



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 63

ed. In 1829 he became a Fireman in the village of
Utica, and is still connected with the department as
an active member. He was elected Chief Engineer
of the department in 1836, and filled the position
about ten years. In 1840 he was the successful Whig
candidate for Alderman in a ward that was then
strongly Democratic, and held the office two years.
In the summer of 1856 he was a delegate to the Na-
tional Republican convention at Philadelphia, and
took an active part in the nomination of Col. Fremont
for the Presidency. He was elected Mayor of the city
of Utica in the same year, and w^as re-elected in the
spring of 1857. Besides these he has held various
other responsible positions, though not of a political
character.

Senator Hubbell began his political career as a
warm friend of Gov. Clinton, and his first vote for
Governor was cast for him for that office. He was
one of the original Whigs, and always acted zealously
with that party while it retained its organization.
He was a very warm personal friend of Gen. Taylor,
for whose election as President of the United States,
he labored zealously throughout the contest of 1848,
as president of the " Rough and Ready Club " of the
city of Utica, and a ''high private" in the Whig
ranks. The Whig party having ceased to exist, he
joined the Republican party, where he has ever since
remained. During the campaign of 1856, he was pre-
sident of the "Fremont Club " at Utica, and in 1857
was elected by a large Republican vote, to his present
position in the Senate.



64 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

Senator Hubbell is a member of the Baptist church,
and has been a trustee of that denomination for
twenty-ei^ht years. He is active and influential in
all the transactions of the church, and as regularly as
sabbath rolls around, is present to instruct a Bible
class which he has had under his immediate charge
for many years. In person he is a large, healthy,
vigorous man, being six feet in height, and weighing
nearly two hundred pounds. He is perfectly straight;
walks as erect as an Indian; has heavy, dark brown
Jiair, somewhat mixed with gray; a smooth, full face;
and dark brown eyes. He seldom speaks in the
Senate, but is a heavy worker, never failing to fulfill
all his duties as an honest legislator.



GEOUGE Y. JOHNSON.

Senator Johnson was born in 1820, in the town of
Guilderland, Albany county, N. Y., where he has ever
since resided. His paternal ancestors were English,
and his mother's family came from Holland. His
paternal grandfather was a Revolutionary soldier.
His father, Dr. Jonathan Johnson, was born in Wor-
cester county, Mass., and after graduating at the New
York Medical College, and spending some time in his
practice as a Physician at the New York Hospital and"
in his native state, emigrated to the state of New
York about forty years ago, and finally settled in
Guilderland, where he is still a practicing physician.



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 65

His wife, the mother of the subject of this sketch,
whose maiden name was Gertrude Waldron, is a native
of the town where the family now reside, and they
are both in the enjoyment of vigorous health. It
is a remarkable fact that there are no other Johnsons
in New York who are closely related to this family,
although the name is by no means an uncommon one.

Senator Johnson was sent to a district school in his
native town, at an early age, where he remained, until
he was about 16 years old, when he became a clerk in
a dry goods store in that town. Here he remained in
this capacity until he was nearly tv\^enty years of age,
when, with a small capital, he entered into the mer-
cantile trade for himself. He remained in this busi-
ness about ten years, when he took his brother into
his establishment as a partner, under the firm name
of G. Y. & J. Johnson, which firm still continues to
exist. About five years ago he purchased a farm in
the town where he resides, and has since then been
devoting some of his time and attention to the honest
pursuit of the husbandman. Durisg all this period,
however, he has been a faithful student, and besides
Tamiliarizing himself with the study of medicine, has
become well acquainted with the law, and in 1856
was admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of New
York. He has, however, never practiced his profes-
sion, and has always been a merchant and a farmer.

Senator Johnson was elected Supervisor of the town
of Guilderland in 1854, and was subsequently elected
twice to the same position. During his second term
in this office, he was chairman of the board of super-



66 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.

visors. On the 8th of October, 1857, the Americans
of the Thirteenth district brought him forward as a
candidate for Senator. On the 26th of the same month
the Republican convention endorsed his nomination,
and he was elected by a handsome majority to the
seat he now fills in the Senate. He was formerly an
uncompromising Whig, of the Henry Clay school, and
always remained firm in his support of the principles
of that party while it had an organization. He early
enlisted under the American standard, and has always
since been among the most active, zealous, and effi-
cient members of that party.

Senator Johnson is a man of medium height, rather
heavy set, and will weigh about one hundred and sixty
pounds. He has blue eyes, light brown hair and whis-
kers; and is one of the only three bachelors in the
the Senate, Senators Ely and Doherty being the other
two. He is afi^able and courteous in his manner; is
a fair speaker; a close debater; and by no means inat-
tentive to his duties as a legislator.



ADDISON H. L AFLIN.

Senator Laflin was born in the town of Lee, Berk-
shire county, Mas3., on the 24th of October, 1823.
He is the eldest son of Walter Laflin, late of Lee, and
now of Pittsfield, Mass. In 1839 he entered Williams
college, and graduated with the second honors of his
class, at the semi-centennial anniversary of the estab-



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 67

lishment of that institution, in 1843. While in col-
lege, he unfortunately lost the use of his eyes, to such
an extent, that he was unable to read for nearly a
year, which induced him to abandon his intention of
preparing himself for one of the learned professions.
After leaving college he returned to his native town,
and engaged in the mercantile business about a. year.
In the spring of 1845 he removed to Hard wick, Wor-
cester county, where he engaged in the manui'acture
of fine writing paper. In the fall of 1847 circum-
stances led him to Herkimer, Herkimer county, N. Y.,
where he purchased a building, and water po^wer
connected therewith, for the manufacture of fine
writing paper on an extensive scale. In the spring
of 1849, in connection with his brother, he went to
Herkimer to reside, and, establishing the firm of
Laflin Brothers, commenced the manufacture of paper.
This establishment proved to be an eminently success-
ful one, and having acquired a good reputation, they
were soon enabled to easily dispose of all their manu-
factures. The mill operated by them was, and still
is, by far the largest of the kind in the state, employ-
ing about one hundred and thirty hands, and yielding
annually a product valued at about $150,000. On the
1st of August last, Mr. Laflin, in connection with his
brother, sold his interest in this establishment to an
incorporated company.

Senator Laflin has always been a YJhig of radical
tendencies, and continued warmly attached to the in-
terests and principles of that party, until the nomi-
nation of Gen. Scott, in 1852, and the abandonment by



68 BIOGEAPHICAL SKETCHES.

the party of what he regarded as its Free Soil pro-
fessions. While continuing to act with this party,
his political efforts had but one object, and that was
the disruption of the two old political organizations,
and the formation of a new organization, whose con-
trolling principle should be, opposition to the ftirther
extension of slavery. In 1855, for'the first time, act-
ively and publicly, he took grounds in favor of the
formation of a new political party, and was among the
very first in the formation of such an organization in
the county of Herkimer.

In the fall of 1855 Senator Laflin received the Whig
nomination for Senator of the Sixteenth district, then
comprising the counties of Herkimer, Montgomery,
Fulton and Hamilton, which nomination he immedi-
ately and peremptorily declined in favor of Hon. F. P.
Bellinger, whose antecedents had been Democratic,
and who received the nomination for the same office
from the Republican and Democratic conventions,
which were held on the same day, and at the same
place, as that which conferred the nomination upon
Mr. Laflin. During all that fall he labored actively
and earnestly for the success of the Republican ticket,
and for the first time took the stump in behalf of the
Republican candidates. The same zeal and earnest-
ness which he exhibited in the campaign of 1855, was
continued by him in the Presidential contest of 1856,
during which he labored in season and out of season
for the success of the party he had so warmly espoused.

In the fall of 1857 an active canvass was made in
the county of Herkimer, among the Republicans, for



BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 69

the Senatorial nomination for the Twentieth district,
comprising the counties of Otsego and Herkimer, the
principal candidates for which were the Hon. John
H. Wooster, of Newport, and Mr. Laflin. Without
creating any acrimonious feeling between the friends
of the parties, the contest resulted in the choice of
delegates favorable to the election of the latter. The
Senatorial convention which met at Richfield, was
composed of an equal number of delegates from each
of the two counties constituting the district, and each
delegation presented a candidate from their respective
counties. Upon the question of locality alone, there-
fore, the convention was equally divided, and so re-
mained for nearly twenty-four hours, during all of
which time the best of feeling prevailed. The volun-
tary withdrawal, however, on the part of the candi-
date from Otsego, led to the unanimous nomination
of Mr. Laflin, upon the motion of a delegate from that
county. The Democratic party, presuming upon the


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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 4 of 15)