Landmarks of Niagara County
Bench and Bar Personal Biographies

Source: Landmarks of Niagara County, New York, by William Pool, D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, 1897; Personal Biographies appearing under the Bench and Bar section of the book.

Donated by Lisa K. Slaski, 10/1/2017.

Due to the size of this work, there may be typographical irregularities from the original text, and possible missing information. If you find corrections or additions to turn in, please feel free to email in the correction. One thing this text did not do, was alphabetize the sketches. I am taking the opportunity to do so. I hope you find this useful!

The following biographies were found under the "Bench and Bar" section of the book. These men are all lawyers and judges, but they are not the only ones who served in this capacity.

John L. Buck, father of John H. Buck, was long a respected member of the Niagara county bar. He was a native of Reading, Vt., and was born in 1801. After studying law he was admitted to practice in 1825. In 1851 he settled in Lockport, and by his natural and acquired qualifications for his profession he soon gained a large practice. In 1853 he was elected district attorney and filled the office with distinction. He served as a member of the Board of Education twelve years and for several years was a United States commissioner. His death took place in 1880, while associated with his son, John H. Buck, in law practice.

Cyrus E. Davis was born at Queenston Heights, August 29, 1827. In 1837 he removed with his father to Lewiston, finished his academic education there, and studied law in the office of S. B. Piper of that village. In 1847 he removed to Buffalo, entered the office of Dyer Tillinghast, and a year later was admitted to the bar. He practiced in Buffalo until 1857, when he removed to Niagara Falls and successfully followed his profession. While he was repeatedly brought forward as a candidate for public office, the strong Republican majority in the county and district almost always prevented the election of a Democrat, however worthy. He was nominated in 1859 for the office of district attorney of Niagara county; in 1861 for member of assembly and again in 1862 and 1863. In 1870 he was nominated and elected, but the Court of Appeals in its construction of the new judiciary article of the constitution, decided that no vacancy e.xisted at the time of election. In 1873 Judge Davis was prominently mentioned for the office of attorney general of the State and in the same year was again nominated for county judge. In 1874 he was supported by many leading journals throughout the State for the nomination for lieutenant-governor, but when the convention assembled and evinced its probable preference for a "liberal" candidate, Judge Davis withdrew his name. In 1878 he received the nomination for Congress and ran largely ahead of his ticket. In June, 1883, he received the appointment of county judge from President Cleveland (then governor), and ably filled the position until January 1, 1884. As a lawyer Judge Davis was an eloquent pleader, a close reasoner, and won many signal victories at the bar. His death took place December 8, 1891.

Hiram Gardner was born in Dutchess county, N. Y., February 9, 1800. He carved out his own fortune with his own hands. After pursuing his academical studies as far as circumstances would permit, in 1818 he became a student of law in Rensselaerville, where he studied about two years, and removed to New York, where he finished his law course. In 1822, about a year after he began to practice in the lower courts, he was admitted as a practitioner in the Supreme Court. In October of the same year he came to Lockport. The next year he was appointed to the office of justice of the peace, and in his official capacity he took cognizance of nearly all the business transacted in the Court of Common Pleas. In 1825 he was appointed associate judge of the Court of Common Pleas. In 1827 he was appointed Supreme Court commissioner, and was admitted as a master in chancery. In 1831 he was appointed surrogate, which office he held for five years, and then resigned it that he might represent his district in the State Legislature, to which position he had already been elected. In 1845 he was elected a member of the Constitutional Convention which revised the second and framed the third State constitution. In 1847 he was elected county judge and surrogate; in 1858 canal commissioner for the term of three years. In the fall of 1868 he was appointed to the office of county judge to supply a vacancy and was elected in November, 1869, to the same position. Judge Gardner was for more than half a century a legal practitioner, and his conspicuous ability and talent were successfully directed to the elevation of the judicial office and of the legal profession. He was not a politician. His ideas of political honor were of the most elevated character, and though holding public offices more than twenty-five years, he never sought official preferment or solicited the vote of any man. Judge Gardner's benevolence, and devotion to the interests and prosperity of Lockport during his fifty years of citizenship, endeared him to the entire community. In the church he was a pillar of strength. reflecting in his life the beauty and power of Christianity. He died at his residence on Niagara street March 13, 1874.

Alfred Holmes was born in Berne, Albany county, N. Y., August 5, 1804, and at the time of his death was the oldest practitioner at the bar of the Eighth Judicial district of this State. After the death of his father, the widow and children settled in 181 5 on a tract of land a little east of Lockport, where he remained with his brothers clearing and cultivating the farm until April, 1827, when he entered the law office of Elias Ransom in Lockport as a student and clerk. Admitted to practice in 1832 he was taken as partner by Judge Ransom, and the firm became known as one of the most reputable and successful in the county. In his political affiliations he was a Whig and later a Republican. He served as a master in chancery several years prior to the abolishment of the office in 1840. In 1841 he was elected district attorney, in which office he demonstrated his possession of many of the natural attributes that combine to make the successful attorney. In 1857 he was elected judge of the county and served two terms of four years each to the eminent satisfaction of the bar and the general good of the county. Only one of the great number of his decisions made during the eight years was reversed by a higher court. A volume compiled by the secretary of state giving the results of indictments for violations of criminal law for one year in each county of this State, shows that Niagara led all others in the number of convictions in proportion to the number of indictments.

Judge Silas Hopkins, the first to hold the office in Niagara county after Erie was set off, and at the time of his death the oldest living settler in the county, came westward with his father from New Jersey in 1787, driving cattle for sale. He came again on the same business in 1788 and in that year purchased a lot of furs which he carried back to the eastern markets. He settled in what is now the town of Porter in 1802. He served in the militia in the war of 1812 and held the post of colonel. He was successful as a farmer and administered the office of county judge with integrity and fair ability. His death took place on the home farm about seven miles east of Lewiston, August 26, 1862, at the age of ninety years. He left a son named Silas S., who was also a successful farmer and father of two sons, Willard, of Lewiston, and Silas.

Washington Hunt was born in Windham, Greene county, N. Y., August 5, 1811. His youth and young manhood were passed in his native place, where he obtained the foundation of his education. In 1828 he settled in Lockport and began his life work in the humble capacity of clerk in the general store of Tucker & Bissell. Two years later he determined to adopt the study of law, for which purpose he entered the office of Lot Clark. After his admission to the bar, however, he became heavily interested in real estate and other business operations, and never practiced his profession. In 1833 he became a member of the firm of Hunt & Walbridge, who purchased from the Albany Land (Company 32,000 acres of land in this county, which was the foundation of a considerable fortune. When only twenty-four years old he was appointed first judge of the county (l836-41) and filled the station with dignity and ability. In 1840 he left the Democratic party on financial issues, joined the Whigs, and was elected to Congress, serving from 1843 to 1849. He was next honored with appointment as comptroller and in 1850 received the Whig nomination for governor, in opposition to Horatio Seymour, over whom he was elected by a majority of only 262 in a vote of 428,966. Receiving a renomination at the next term he was defeated by his former opponent. In these various official positions Governor Hunt exhibited characteristics that gave him the confidence of his fellow citizens and enabled him to perform the duties ihat devolved upon him with a good measure of success. Governor Hunt died in New York city February 2, 1867.

George D. Lamont was born in Orleans county, N. Y., in 1819, and was graduated from Yale College in 1837. In the following year he settled in Lockport and began the study of law in the office of J. L. Curtenius. In 1841 he was admitted to the bar, and his energy and ability soon brought him a good practice. His natural qualifications of earnestness in whatever he undertook, keenness of intellect, and breadth of judgment enabled him to take a position in the front rank of his profession. Upon the organization of the Republican party he allied himself with its interests and ever after upheld its doctrines and supported its candidates for office. His first public office was that of school commissioner. In 1859 he was elected State senator to fill a vacancy for only thirty days, but in that brief time he found opportunity to distinguish himself and gain a State reputation. In 1862, when President Lincoln created a provisional court for New Orleans, Judge Lamont received the appointment of United States district attorney to hold that court, with very broad jurisdiction. He held the position until the necessity of the court ceased to exist on account of the close of the war and returned to his home. In 1865 he was elected judge of Niagara county, but before the close of a year was appointed a justice of the Supreme Court in his judicial district to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Noah Davis, and in 1871 was elected to that high oflfice for the full term of fourteen years.

Charles H. Piper, sr., son of Jonathan Piper, was the first and oldest lawyer at Niagara Falls, and was born in Nortlnvoods, N. H., April 2, 1824. He received his education in Lewiston Academy and studied law with his brother, and later in Lockport. He was admitted to practice in 1849 and in the following year settled as the first attorney in Niagara Falls. He married a daughter of Judge T. G. Hulett, and was father of Charles H. Piper, jr., a practicing attorney at the Falls.

Sherburne B. Piper, who was a graduate of Dartmouth College, studied law and located for the practice of his profession at Lewiston. He was prominent at the bar, a leader in the Democratic party, and three times received the nomination for Congress; he served a number of years as supervisor, was twice elected to the Legislature and once as district attorney. He died at Lewiston in 1885 at the age of seventy-seven years.

Burt Van Horn, is a son of Judge James Van Horn and was born in the town of Newfane, Niagara county, October 28, 1823. His grandfather (also named James) was a native of New Jersey, where his son James was born in 1770. He settled in Newfane in 1815, was a blacksmith, a farmer, and a miller ; he built the first grist mill, which has been described in earlier pages of this volume, and which was burned by the British in 1813. It stood on Eighteen -mile Creek on the site of the Lake Shore mills. He also built the first woolen mill in this county, When Niagara county was organized he was chosen as one of its judges and performed the duties of the office with intelligence and probity. His son, Burt Van Horn, is one of the prominent citizens of the county.

List of Other Lawyers for the County

The following is a list as nearly complete as it has been possible to make it of Niagara county attorneys with post-ofifice address and date of their admission to the bar. It was prepared by John E. Pound of Lockport, and will be valuable for future reference (alphabetized by transcriber):

Fred M. Ackerson, Niagara Falls
Eugene M. Ashley, Lockport, January, 1880

S. Park Baker, Youngstown
Leonard Baldwin, North Tonawanda
Harry I. Benedict, Lockport
George W. Bowen, Lockport, November, 1848
Artemas A. Bradley, Lockport, January, 1883
William W. Brim, Lockport
Daniel E. Brong, Lockport, January, 1882
Myron L Burrell, Lockport, January, 1839

R. N. Campbell, Suspension Bridge
William E. Carr, Niagara Falls
Eugene Cary, Niagara Falls, June, 1884
Frederick Chormann, Niagara Falls
M. H. Clark, Royalton
Nathan M. Clark, Lockport
T. F. C. Clary, Niagara Falls
Morris Cohn, jr , Niagara Falls
Charles E. Cromley, Niagara Falls
Richard Crowley, Lockport, December, 1860

Henry M. Davis, Lockport, January, 1882
Charles C. De Lude, Lockport, September, 1872
S. Wallace Dempsey, Lockport, January, 1886
Joseph Donelly, Lockport, October, 1875
F. A. Dudley, Niagara Falls, June, 1886
C. E. Dunkleberger, Lockport, October, 1887
W. E. Dunlap, Niagara Falls

Timothy E. Ellsworth, Lockport, December, 1858
W. Caryl Ely, Niagara Falls, May, 1881

R. A. Feagles, Lockport, June, 1875
Norman B. Fish, North Tonawanda

Amos H. Gardner, Lockport
Joshua Gaskill, Lockport, December, 1860
L. P. Gordon, Lockport, May, 1876
Selden E. Graves, Lockport, March, 1866
William C. Greene, Lockport, April, 1881
H. N. Griffith, Niagara Falls

Edward B. Harrington, North Tonawanda, March, 1889
E. C. Hart, Lockport, April, 1873
Charles Hickey, Lockport, October, 1884
Montford C. Holley, Lockport
Abner T. Hopkins, Lockport, April, 1885
M. S. Hunting, Lockport, May, 1842

Frank H. Innes, Niagara Falls
Augustus H. Ivins, Lockport

D. Elwood Jeffrey, Lockport, October, 1883
Edwin L. Jeffrey, Lockport, June, 1881
C. W, Johnson, Suspension Bridge, May, 1876
Garwood L. Judd, North Tonawanda, Fall of 1850
George W. Judson, Lockport, October, 1882

Patrick F. King, Lockport, June, 1886
J. G. Kirkpatrick, Niagara Falls
George W. Knox, Suspension Bridge

Garrett G. Lansing, Lockport
C. W. Laskey, Middleport, June, 1874
Spencer J. Lawrence, Niagara Falls
John H. Leggett, Lockport
George C. Lewis, Lockport, March, 1889
John E. Lillis, Lockport
William E. Lochner, Lockport
Wyllys Lyman, Niagara Falls

Franklin J. Mackenna, Niagara Falls
John McDonough, Lockport
Lawrence McParlin, Lockport, October, 1875
John A. Merritt, Lockport, June, 1887
David Millar, Lockport, May, 1869
Charles Molyneux, Lockport
Andrew C. Morgan, Niagara Falls
Augustus Morris, Lockport
Fred D. Moyer, Lockport, January, 1887
John T. Murray, Lockport, May, 1842

Charles L. Nichols, Lockport

William L. Olmsted, Lockport
Charles S. Orton, North Tonawanda
George P. Ostrander, Lockport, January, 1872

Edward G. Parker, Lockport, June, 1881
Q. G. T. Parker, Lockport, June, 1889
Spencer B. Parker, Niagara Falls
John K. Patton, North Tonawanda
Lewis T. Payne, North Tonawanda, April, 1886
C. H. Piper, jr., Niagara Falls
Alvah K. Potter, Lockport, October, 1865
Cuthbert W. Pound, Lockport, June, 1886
George W. Pound, Lockport, September, 1888
John E. Pound, Lockport, November 18, 1867
Augustus F. Premus, North Tonawanda

H. Gardiner Richardson, Lockport
Frank A. Ransom, Lockport
Washington H. Ransom, Lockport, May, 1867

William M. Saraw, Lockport, June, 1883
J. Boardmaii Scovell, Lewiston
H. H. Sheldon, Suspension Bridge
Albert R. Smith, North Tonawanda
Charles M. Southworth, Lockport, October 14, 1881
E. H. Southworth, Lockport
Burt G. Stockwell, Lockport
William W. Storrs, Lockport, January, 1888
Burt A. Smith, Lockport
J. Frank Smith, Lockport
P. M. Sullivan, North Tonawanda

Edward J. Taylor, Lockport, March, 1880
Augustus Thibaudeau, Niagara Falls
G. W. Thompson, Middleport
David Tice, Lockport, January, 1884
Carl Tucker, Niagara Falls
E. J. Turner, Lockport, October, 1889
George M. Tuttle, Niagara Falls

Homer J. Upson, Lockport, October, 1875

Harry Van Horn, Niagara Falls
William H. Vicary, Lockport, October, 1889

B. F. Wallace, Niagara Falls
W. C. Wallace, Niagara Falls
H. E. Warner, North Tonawanda
W. E. Willey, Suspension Bridge

It is a difficult as well as a delicate task to recall and relate the records of the many prominent lawyers who have in times past been members of the bar of Niagara county, but who are now either deceased or have removed to other places and there continued and increased their enviable reputation. Sketches of some of them have already been given, but aside from these there have been many others whose records it would be most agreeable to recall. This we cannot do. We must content ourselves with giving their names. Among them there may be mentioned as at present living not now residing in the county (alphabetized by transcriber):

Frank M. Ashley
A. A. Boyce
William J. Bulger
John M. Chipman
Isaac C. Colton
Hon. George W. Cothran
Hon. Jacob A Driess
Edward C. Graves
Hon. George C. Greene
Don A. Porter
Charles K. Robinson
Elias Root
Henry D. Scripture
W. Byron Simson
Alfred S. Trude

Among those who have deceased we recall the names of (alphabetized by transcriber):

Alvin C. Bradley
Andrew W. Brazee
R. Hudson Bond
Samuel Brown
John H. Buck
Sullivan Caverno
Joseph Centre
Lafayette Chaffee
Dewitt Chapin
Samuel DeVeaux
William S. Farnell
Freeman J. Fithian
James F. Fitts
Seth C. Hart
John B. Heroy
Henry K. Hopkins
Mark Hopkins
Ben J. Hunting
Charles D. Metz
Joseph C. Morse
S. Cady Murray
Luman H. Nichols
Sylvester Parsons
Sherburne B. Piper
De Forest Porter
Frank A. Ransom
Schuyler Reynolds
Elias Safford
Sparrow S. Sage
Milton Seaman
Volney Simson
Albert Stevens
Robert H. Stevens
Homer H. Stewart
Horatio J. Stowe
Charles Williams
John S. Williams
Samuel Wisner