As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 56, pages 598 - 603
FRANCIS FELLOWES, the oldest member of the Hartford County bar, died in the city of Hartford, where he had resided during his professional life, on the twenty-fifth day of April, 1888.
He was born in Montville in this state, November 20th, 1803, and graduated at Amherst College in 1826. Afterwards he took a post-graduate course of a year at Yale College, and in the fall of 1827 founded the Mt. Pleasant Institute at Amherst, Mass., which afterwards became widely known as a classical school. He conducted the school for four years, and in 1832 came to Hartford and took charge of the Hartford Grammar School, and here edited the Connecticut Observer, a weekly religious paper maintained by the Congregationalists, and the Advocate of Peace, a monthly periodical, and did much other literary work, some of it in connection with the revision of school books. At the same time he pursued the study of law, and was admitted to the bar in Hartford in 1835 and thenceforth devoted himself to the practice of that profession as his life work. His progress was slow at first, for he had none of the natural gifts or acquired arts by which popularity is gained, but by unremitting attention to business and a laborious and thorough preparation of the cases that were placed in his hands, he ultimately acquired a large and lucrative practice. About the year 1877, while still retaining his residence in Hartford, he opened an office in New York City, where he was consulted in cases of magnitude and difficulty, and employed in the trial of some of them before the higher courts. During that time he argued several important insurance and railroad cases before the United States Supreme Court at Washington, and in the spring of 1887, then in his eighty-fourth year, he prepared an elaborate brief and made a lengthy argument before that court.
As a lawyer Mr. Fellowes was a thorough master of his profession. He was very familiar with the principles of the common law and had made a special study of equity jurisprudence. His discussion of legal questions before the higher courts was in a rare degree upon the abstract principles involved. He was very accurate in his statements of legal points, and probably the state has never had a more exact special pleader. It was indeed an education in special pleading to be associated in trials with him, and still more of one to be compelled to prepare to meet him. He was much given to making technical points, and relied upon them in the conduct of his cases, and had no patience with the equitable notions that have found their way of late years into the administration of the common law. He was quick to perceive and ready to take advantage of any weak point, upon fact or law, in his opponent's case, and seemed always to carry concealed weapons for every possible legal fray. Indeed with him the trial of a case was a hand to hand combat, in which he gave no quarter and asked none. He was very pertinacious of his points of law and if the court ruled against him was sure the court was in error and left no means untried to set aside the decision. He was a good representative of the English lawyers of a century ago, and as he came into court with his green bag and rather shuffling gait, he seemed to have come directly from one of the old Inns of Court. He had no graces of oratory, no persuasiveness of manner, no personal magnetism; but his diction was that of a scholarly man, and his presentation of his cases before a court or jury was clear, forcible and always exhaustive. He had great power of endurance and seemed to know no fatigue in his professional work.
But he was far from being a student of mere law. He had kept up his early knowledge of the classics and continued through life a good Greek scholar. He was also familiar with the French and Italian languages and was able to converse fluently in them both. He also studied German, and was able to read books in that language, but had not acquired so complete a mastery of it, and he began the study of Hebrew when he was eighty years old. He kept up a knowledge of the best English literature, and was fond of gathering choice books for his library. He had a taste for the best binding for his books and few bookshelves present a more elegant array of books than did his.
With all his faculty for earning money in his profession and all his untiring industry, he never succeeded in accumulating property. An intercepting providence not infrequently found an ally in his own misjudgments. The autumn of his life found very little harvest from the unremitting toil of so many years.
Mr. Fellowes became a member in his early manhood of a Congregational church, and when he came to Hartford connected himself with that to which the celebrated Dr. Horace Bushnell ministered. He had the public confidence as a man of strict integrity. He never mingled in public affairs or held any political office, nor did he seem ambitious of office within the lines of his profession.
Mr. Fellowes was twice married; his second wife surviving him. One son, Charles E. Fellowes, Esq., is clerk of the Court of Common Pleas of Hartford County; another son, Francis, died several years ago at Hartford, where he was a practicing lawyer. He left also one daughter, who was the constant companion of his life for his later years, and who inherited his literary tastes and shared his literary studies.
At a meeting of the Hartford County bar, held immediately after the death of Mr. Fellowes, the following resolutions were offered by Franklin Chamberlin, Esq., and passed: -
Whereas, after a life of untiring industry and professional success, Francis Fellowes, an honored member of the Hartford County bar, has at a ripe and mature old age, been gathered to his rest, therefore: -
Resolved - That in his death this bar has lost an able, learned and industrious member, whose integrity, force of will, and of character, thorough education and extensive knowledge of law, commanded the respect of his associates.
Resolved - That his legal arguments in our state and national tribunals and his printed essays upon a variety of interesting legal questions, covering as they do more than a half century of time, are monuments of clear, logical and vigorous style, and of faithful and exhaustive treatment of the subjects and the causes which came under his consideration, and entitle him to the respectful remembrance of his associates of this bar.
Mr. Chamberlin, after reading the resolutions, spoke as follows: -
My acquaintance with Mr. Fellows began about thirty years ago, when he was in the prime of professional life and vigor, and had at this bar a highly respective practice. I was then located in Springfield, Mass. He was retained with me in a case of some importance in this state, in the preparation of which I found him an able and agreeable associate. After my removal here in 1862 I was frequently associated with him in the preparation and trial of causes and came to know him professionally and also personally quite well. His intellect and his will were strong and forceful, and while his controversial tendencies marked and vigorous, very few men were more fond of, or gave more attention to, classical and literary acquisitions. His learning in all directions, perhaps more especially in languages, ancient and modern, was broad and liberal and always seemed to be a source of great pleasure to him. He read the Bible in Greek, daily and with facility, and conversed in their own language with the Italian, French and German clients and acquaintances who came to his office. He was fond of books of the best kind and he loved to see them clothed in the best possible dress.
I should say that his habits of life were of the old school, and in his dress, in care of his papers, as in his literary and legal work, he illustrated the dignity, propensities and habits of days which are nearly gone by.
He used the old fashioned professional bag and his papers were carefully arranged and carried to the court room so as to be readily referred to. He was annoyed by the departure of the bar from what he considered the more appropriate dress of a lawyer in court, and its somewhat general adoption of the sack coat and the undress garments of the present day. His personality of character was in all respects marked and individual. As a lawyer he had few equals in logic and force of argument, and no man was more than he at home in the subtleties and casuistries of the common law, and he was also quite familiar with the general principles and the learning of the mercantile law of equity. The earliest of his legal essays which I have seen, is a discussion of " The Legal and Equitable Rights of Individual and Partnership Creditors," published in the American Jurist in October, 1841. The article covers thirty pages of that magazine, is a clear and logical presentment of his subject and a fair beginning of the numerous essays and reviews and the legal arguments in our state and national courts which occupied the subsequent years of his industrious life. He had none of the arts of the rhetorician, and his oral efforts and personal delivery of his arguments were sometimes perhaps less effective than a careful reading of them.
He had none of the tact and persuasiveness which are, when prudently used, so valuable to the lawyer, and perhaps despised them as surface work, often leading to a wrong result. His cases were always prepared with great care and research, and his legal arguments were thorough and exhaustive. His mind was in the highest degree logical, though he was perhaps too much inclined to trust to nice discriminations and legal refinements of precedents, but no lawyer can read the masterly arguments upon important and interesting legal questions prepared and delivered by him even within the last few years, during which his practice has been mainly confined to the national courts, without being impressed by their clearness and learning and exhaustive force.
Mr. William R. Cone spoke as follows: -
I cannot let this occasion pass without saying a few farewell words in relation to my life-long friend and one whom I knew well at the bar and as a neighbor.
When I saw in the Post of last Wednesday that Francis Fellowes, aged eighty-five, was dead, and that Julius Catlin, aged nearly ninety, was to be buried the next day, it carried me back a long life time, fifty-six years, when, after being admitted to the bar in New Haven in September, 1832, I became a permanent resident of Hartford, and very soon these two men became my familiar acquaintances and friends, and if I except two whose acquaintance I did not so early make, were the last survivors, so far as I know, of those in active business when I came here. As I look over the little city as it then was, bounded on the west by a line just east of the residence of Mr. Catlin, and on the north by a line extending east from the tunnel to the river, and on the south by the South Green, with a population of some four or five thousand people within these boundaries, I call up to myself what changes have taken place in these years, in the population, the resources, the prosperity and wealth and the whole aspect of the city.
Very soon after my settlement here I came to know almost every man I met upon the street; to-day how few! Then every member of the bar I knew intimately and well. Every judge throughout the state I could address as a personal acquaintance; to-day I cannot call their names even; and of the lawyers at this bar I scarcely know any. How very few of you here to-day ever heard Mr. Fellowes try a case. It is too true that another generation has taken our places, and I come here to-day, upon the very verge of life, scarcely knowing one in this court room, claiming my place as a member of the bar to say a word of my early and constant friend. So it is, time and tide wait for no man.
When I first knew Mr. Fellowes he was engaged in teaching, for he did not come to the bar until 1835. As a teacher and a thorough scholar he had few equals. At the bar his scholarly attainments and classical learning enabled him to speak with ease and fluency, using the most appropriate language to present his views clearly, and everything he did marked him as a scholarly man. Besides his legal studies he was well up in the current literature of the day and able to read and converse correctly and fluently in French and Italian, and to some extent in German. As a scholar I have never known his superior at the bar.
He was a hard worker, thorough in the preparation of his cases, leaving no stone unturned either in their preparation or on their trial, and quick to see and avail himself of every expedient which would make for his client. As a special pleader his accuracy in the use of language often gave him an advantage over his adversary. In the examination of witnesses, though sometimes severe, he was hardly excelled by any of the profession then in practice. He was exceedingly tenacious of his rights, unyielding whenever he thought the right on his side; expecting himself to be met with every possible objection, he asked no favor of his opponent and granted none. With no sharp practices or narrow ways he prepared his cases and tried them without concessions on his part or asking any favor of his opponent.
He was not given to displays of eloquence, but he was a thoroughly good lawyer, making his points well. He was sometimes captious in the management of his cases, and in the excitement of the trial at times restive and reluctant to submit to the ruling of the court against him, and sometimes, to the trying of the patience of the judge, if not to the prejudice of his case, he would most earnestly protest against an adverse ruling. He was an honorable man in his practice and had a clientage which ought to have ensured him a competent fortune.
Mr. Fellowes has not been without his trials, misfortunes and disappointments. Visited by long and severe illness, at one time his professional labors were seriously interrupted. Just as an ample fortune was within his grasp, which would have secured to himself and family independence and ease and comfort for his declining years, his hopes were defeated. An engrossed contract, upon which his rights depended, was never signed, its execution being prevented by the sudden death of the other party the night previous to the date fixed for its completion. Yet he was never discouraged or disheartened. He had only to work on, and he did so, with patience, perseverance, and the most indomitable energy and endurance, keeping in the harness to the end of a long life, having the respect and confidence of all who employed or knew him, and the esteem of his early acquaintances and friends as a man of inflexible integrity and uprightness.
Speeches were also made by other members of the bar, and the resolutions were unanimously adopted.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 69, pages 736 - 739
AUGUSTUS HALL FENN, member of the Supreme Court of Errors, whose death occurred in Winsted, September 12th, 1897, was born at Plymouth Conn., January 18th, 1844. His parents were Augustus L. and Maria Hall Fenn. His ancestors settled in New Haven in 1635, and the sterling characteristics he exhibited indicate inheritance from sturdy ancestry of colonial days.
The foundation of his education was laid in the common school of his native town, upon which he built, later on, at the Waterbury high school. He early showed unusual literacy talent, and at fifteen published a volume of poems, which he studiously hid from public eye, however, in later years.
He began the study of law at the age of eighteen with Hon. Amma Giddings in his native town, but relinquished it after a few months to enlist in the army. He entered the military service as lieutenant in the 19th Conn. Volunteers, in July, 1862. The following year, when his Regiment became the 2d Conn. Heavy Artillery, he was advanced to a captaincy. The adjutant and historian of his regiment says of him: "He proved himself one of the best drill masters and disciplinarians in the regiment, and one of the most competent officers in every position." He served for a time on the staff of Gen. Emory Upton, and was five times detailed as judge advocate. At the battle of Cedar Creek he lost his right arm. Hospital surgeons who attended him proposed to muster him out for disability, but he protested, and through the influence of Gen. Ranald S. Mackenzie he was retained. "In less than seven weeks from the time his arm was taken off at the shoulder he reported for full duty," writes his regimental historian, and he subsequently participated in several engagements. He was promoted to major in January, 1865, and was brevetted lieutenant-colonel and colonel for conspicuous instances of bravery.
Colonel Fenn was mustered out of the military service with his regiment August 18th, 1865, and the following month resumed the study of law with Gen. S. W. Kellogg in Waterbury. He was admitted to the bar of Litchfield county, February 15th, 1867, after which he pursued a course of study for a year at the Harvard Law School, from which he received the degree of bachelor of laws. After practicing a year in Waterbury he opened an office in his native town, where he continued in the practice of his profession until 1875. He was judge of probate several years in Plymouth, holding also several other minor public offices. In 1875 he was republican nominee for secretary of state, but his party ticket was unsuccessful in that election.
In 1876 he removed to Winsted, which since that time has been his home. He became an ardent admirer of Samuel J. Tilden in his fight against the "Tammany ring" of New York, his admiration being so strong as to lead him to remark that if Tilden should be a presidential candidate he should support him. He was true to his word, and thus became allied with the Democratic party. He was judge of probate of the district of Winchester several terms, and by careful study of that branch of his profession became known as one of the best authorities in the State on probate law. In 1884 he represented Winchester in the General Assembly, serving on the judiciary committee, and as chairman of the committee on forfeited rights. In 1885 he was appointed by the Governor member of a committee to revise the statutes, a task of which he performed his full share.
Notwithstanding his changed political affiliations he continued to hold the highest esteem of his former political associates, for he was never regarded as strenuously partisan. He was nominated judge of the Superior Court in 1887 by a Republican governor, and as associate justice of the Supreme Court of Errors in 1892 by another governor of the same party. His appreciation of these advancements at the hands of his political opponents was such as to lead him to say - when his name was mentioned in various newspapers in connection with gubernatorial honors - that he should never allow himself to accept a nomination for any position which would bring him into competition with any Republican. He had been advanced in his profession by his political opponents and felt that it would indicate lack of appreciation, or ingratitude, were he to take advantage of his promotion to the bench as a stepping-stone to further political preferment.
It may be well doubted if there can be recalled, within the remembrance of the present generation at least, another equally conspicuous instance showing firmer or more intimate friendships than existed between Judge Fenn and those who differed with him politically . His relations with his towns-people, with his professional associates, and with him comrades of the war, were such as to indicate that political differences were not thought of, or if thought of, were no bar to the most intimate confidences. His loyalty to his personal friends and neighbors was not unlike that he exhibited to his country - firm and unwavering. In the presidential campaign of 1896 he affiliated with the Republican party.
As an advocate, Judge Fenn is remembered as possessing gifts which, if they did not draw spectators in the court room, at least prolonged their stay. His addresses were listened to with an attention rarely warranted by the merits of the cause at issue. His language was concise, and he had such excellent choice of expression as to make his arguments models of diction. It was clear to the listener that he had the main points of his argument well arranged in his mind. His citations from authorities indicated not only a well read lawyer, but the happy faculty of weaving them into the warp and woof of his argument with harmonious effect. His success as an attorney was so fully recognized during his period of practice that he was never without a long list of clients.
Judge Fenn first sat on the supreme bench as a regular member at the May term in Norwich, in 1891, although his appointment by the legislature was not completed until the 2d of February, 1893. His last duty was at the May term in Norwich, 1897. He was regarded by his associates of that tribunal as an agreeable companion, cheerful, kindly, sympathetic and generous. He had unusual power to acquire knowledge, a singularly clear and retentive memory, great industry and wonderful endurance. He had read not only the common books of the law but some which are not commonly looked at. He had read most of the text of Littleton in the Norman French, Fearne's Contingent Remainders, and had gone over Coke's second, third and fourth Institutes. His mind worked rapidly and he came to conclusions quickly. It is said of Lord Eldon that he was never quite ready to decide a case, because he always doubted. Judge Fenn, while he was always conscious that all human judgments are liable to error, gave to every case his best judgment, came to that conclusion which he deemed to be the correct one, and then laid it aside. He never seemed to be distressed by doubts. He had very little pride of opinion, and not any pride of position.
In consultation, Judge Fenn was always considerate and forbearing. He listened to others with the greatest patience, and was always ready to yield, so far as possible, in order to secure a unanimous judgment. It is difficult to recall a dissenting opinion written by him; he has joined another judge sometimes in a dissent. He was a favorite with lawyers who argued before the court, because he was always attentive. His written opinions are regarded as a pretty accurate reflex of his mind. He worked rapidly; his opinions indicate that quality, and some of them show a want of careful revision. His relations with his associates on the bench were always intimate and confidential rather than professional, and he appeared to be regarded as a younger brother rather than as a rival in his profession, or in the struggle for preferment, and his death came to them like a personal affliction.
Judge Fenn was president of the Connecticut Army and Navy Club at the time of his death, a member of the Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Loyal Legion. His patriotic impulses found their best medium of expression in public addresses on Memorial Day and on similar occasions. He was president of the Winchester Memorial Park Association, trustee of the Gilbert School and Home, and identified with various other local organizations. He possessed a reverent nature, and though not a communicant, was a regular attendant of the Congregational church. His domestic relations were of an agreeable character, and to him there was "No place like home." He was twice married in - 1868 to Frances M. Smith of Waterbury, and in 1879 to Mary E. Lincoln of Winsted. His widow and four children survive him - Emory, Augusta, Lucia, and Lincoln - two by each marriage.
*Prepared by J. H. Vaill, Esqr., at the request of the reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 62, page iii
Appointed to the Supreme Court February 1, 1893.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 69, page iv
Died September 12th, 1897.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 55, pages 602 - 603
Joshua Beal Ferris was born at Greenwich, Conn., January 13th, 1804. After attending the common schools of his native town he was at a very early age, placed under the tutelage of the Rev. Daniel Smith, who for forty years was the pastor of the First Congregational Church, at Stamford, with whom he remained until he entered Yale College, in 1819, at the age of fifteen years.
After pursuing the usual course of study at that institution he graduated therefrom with high honors in 1823, and immediately thereafter opened a preparatory school for boys at Stamford, and continued to teach with great success until 1833. Sometime after Mr. Ferris commenced teaching he began the study of the law with Hon. Charles Hawley, who at that time and long afterwards was one of the most prominent lawyers of western Connecticut. He continued his studies with Mr. Hawley until he was admitted to the bar in 1829, but did not commence the practice of his profession until 1833.
Soon after he commenced practice he took a high stand in the profession, at a time when the Fairfield County Bar was celebrated for the brilliancy and eminence of its members, and continued in successful practice until a short time prior to his death, which took place June 8th, 1886, being a period of more than fifty years.
Mr. Ferris represented the town of Stamford in the lower house of the General Assembly in the years 1838 and 1839, and the 12thSenatorial District in 1840 and 1841 in the upper house, and again in 1849 and 1850, and during the last year he was elected presidentpro tem. of the last named body. In the national election of 1849 he was elected one of the presidential electors, and cast his vote for Gen. Taylor and Millard Fillmore for President and Vice President of the United States.
He was Judge of the Court of Probate for the District of Stamford by legislative appointment from 1838 to 1842, and held the office of State's Attorney for Fairfield County during the years 1847, 1849, 1851, 1854, 1855, 1859 and 1860.
The standing of Mr. Ferris among his professional brethren was that of a shrewd, painstaking and careful lawyer, an able advocate, a safe and judicious counselor, seldom venturing upon hazardous experiments, but always pursuing a course eminently safe and practical.
His courteous demeanor and unaffected politeness rendered his companionship pleasing, and eminently qualified him to enter the conflicts of his profession in a manner better calculated to soothe and win than to overawe by force and severity. One of his chief characteristics was his uncommon ability to read human character, which, coupled with his politeness and urbanity, gave him great power over others, and enabled him to become a leader and manager of men.
During his long professional career he was engaged in many important and difficult cases, which he managed with great skill and success.
Mr. Ferris married Miss Sally Ann Peters of Stamford in 1823, who died about two years before his own death, to whom he was most tenderly and devotedly attached.
In his home and family and among his neighbors he was ever held in the highest esteem, and regarded as a kind and indulgent husband and father, a good neighbor, and a strictly honorable and high-minded gentleman. Of his religious opinions he was somewhat reserved, seldom making known his convictions on religious subjects, and then only to his most intimate acquaintances and friends. He was a regular attendant, during his long residence in Stamford, at St. John's Episcopal Church in that place.
*Prepared at the request of the Reporter, by Julius B. Curtis, Esq., of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 44, pages 602 - 606
ORRIS SANFORD FERRY, a member of the Fairfield County bar, was born at Bethel, August 15th, 1823 and died at Norwalk, where he resided, on the 21st of November, 1875. His father, Starr Ferry, was a manufacturer, and for a time sheriff of Fairfield County. Young Ferry was fond of athletic games and sports, and when grown to manhood greatly enjoyed a day's recreation with his gun or fishing rod. He worked a short time, when a boy, in his father's hat factory, but his growing love of books soon determined him to seek a liberal education. At the age of seventeen he entered Yale College, graduating in 1844. He excelled when in college in general literature, oratory and debate, being awarded by the faculty the highest literary prizes, and taking such rank among his fellow-students that they regarded his future eminence as assured.
Immediately after graduation he began the study of law under the late Judge Osborne, at Fairfield, and afterwards pursued it at Norwalk, in the office of Hon. Thomas B. Butler, since Chief Justice. He was admitted to the bar in 1846, and was for a short time in partnership with Judge Butler. Mr. Ferry about this time married Miss Charlotte C. Bissell, a daughter of Governor Bissell, who with a daughter, survives him.
Mr. Ferry soon became a conspicuous character in the community in which he lived. A native of the county, of popular manners, a generous disposition, a tall and commanding figure, a highly intellectual face, of fine abilities and culture, and already a practiced and eloquent public speaker, ambitious of professional distinction, with too much pride of character to be a self-seeker and yet a natural leader, he could not fail soon to attract the public attention. He soon found himself in the enjoyment of a good practice, which steadily increased, and though he was at times drawn aside from his profession, he never returned to it without finding an immediate and abundant call for his services. While he was yet a young man he ranked among the leaders of the bar in the amount of his business and the ability and success with which it was conducted.
If Mr. Ferry had devoted his life to his profession he would have been a great lawyer. He had a fine legal mind. It was not acute and subtle, but it was broad, comprehensive, logical, quick of apprehension, and rapid in its operations. He had an excellent memory, both of facts and principles. He was not a man of especial tact, nor of artful expedients, neither was he cool, calculating and passionless; on the contrary, he was always frank, open-hearted, ardent in temperament, and naturally so impulsive that he would often have made grievous mistakes but for the restraining power of his strong common sense and clear intellect. He had an excellent knowledge of the common law as a scientific system, and loved to read the abstruse treaties of the old writers. His conservative mind was somewhat impatient of modern innovations, yet had the flexibility to recognize and adapt itself to the actual condition of things. He was not deceived by sophistries, either in his own argument or that of his opponent, but was a clear, logical reasoner, and was especially powerful as an advocate, both before juries and courts. Great responsibility never depressed him or paralyzed his efforts, but always nerved him with increased energy and power. His legal arguments and opinions were rapidly but carefully and deliberately prepared; and he was a safe and judicious legal adviser. His mode of examining a legal question was characteristic of his mind. He never counted the authorities on one side and the other, but quickly turned to the leading cases, scrutinized the reasonings of the judges, rapidly seized upon the exact point decided, and then by comparison of the cases formed his own judgment of what was the true principle, with its just limitations. In the trial of his cases in court, where of course he was most conspicuous to the public eye, he was not especially conciliatory in manner, but was always courteous to his opponent, fair and candid in his statement of law and evidence, and always bold and aggressive, winning often where a timid man would have failed. He was always ready to try his cases when reached, never appeared at a disadvantage for want of preparation, and never had to rely on the good nature of his opponent to overlook his own remissness. He was prompt, faithful and conscientious in the discharge of all his professional duties, and manly and dignified in his intercourse with clients, members of the bar and courts.
Mr. Ferry was for a short time Judge of Probate for the district of Norwalk. In 1855 and 1856 he was a member of the State Senate, and from 1856 to 1859 was State's Attorney for Fairfield County.
When he entered the legislature he was a young man, and was then for the first time in public life. He there found himself associated with gentlemen of unusual experience and ability, but his own talents soon gave him a recognized rank among the ablest of them. He now became known to the state at large, and from this time was a positive power in the affairs of the commonwealth. He acted, when in the legislature, with the so-called American party, which was then dominant, but followed his own judgment when it differed from that of the majority, and manifested the same independence of party dictation which was characteristic of him through life. The Republican party, brought into being by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, was then just beginning its existence. Mr. Ferry was among the first to see that the principle it represented was to be the inevitable issue in politics, and he fully sympathized with it. He labored zealously to bring those with whom he was then acting into a union with the new party. This result was soon substantially accomplished, and Mr. Ferry was ever afterwards a Republican, though in his later years he often differed with the majority of his party, on questions of both principle and policy.
His services as an advocate of the principles of his party were much sought and freely rendered. He entered with great zeal into the Presidential canvass of 1856, making many public speeches in this and the neighboring states. In 1857 he was nominated for Congress and was defeated. In 1859 he was again nominated. It was not then common in New England for candidates to address the people in their own behalf. Mr. Ferry yielded reluctantly to the request of the convention which nominated him, and spoke in every town in the district. The contest was considered a doubtful one, but Mr. Ferry was elected by a handsome majority, and the result attributed in great measure to his own speeches.
Mr. Ferry was in many respects remarkable as a public speaker. He possessed a fine taste, and when the occasion required it, could prepare addresses of much literary merit. His delineations of the characters of Roger Sherman and of Governor Buckingham, on presenting to Congress a statue of the former, and on the death of the latter, (Mr. Ferry's last effort,) are models of chaste eloquence, seldom surpassed in their kind. In the discussion, however, of issues before the people or in public bodies, as well as in his arguments at the bar, he never spoke to amuse or be admired, but always to convince or persuade. With perhaps a few exceptions in the earlier part of his congressional career, he always spoke extemporaneously, his preparation being a clear comprehension and firm mental grasp of his subject, and a definite plan in his mind of his mode of treating it. He began with a clear statement of the issue in hand, and proceeded in an unbroken argument to the end, always carrying his audience with him in unflagging attention and interest; and yet he never attempted to amuse his audience or relieve the tedium of his argument by anecdote, wit or sarcasm, nor to embellish it by literary quotation. So much in earnest was he that he could not have done so even of he had possessed the faculty for it. He never raised a laugh. Unless in the discussion of purely legal questions before a court, where he spoke with calmness and deliberation, he was earnest and impassioned in manner, enchaining attention, and often, as it were, compelling assent. When great interests were at stake he seemed wholly enwrapped in his subject, his large eyes flashing with enthusiasm, and his whole person giving emphasis to his utterances. His statements of propositions of law or fact were admirable for clearness and force, and his reasonings lucid and compact. The learned and the unlearned alike appreciated his eloquence, and gave him their undivided attention. His language was well chosen, but not fastidious. There was nothing sententious, brilliant or especially original in his style of expression or mode of thought, but his words, tersely and forcibly expressing his meaning, issued forth, when in his impassioned arguments, like the rush of a torrent. He never halted or hesitated in the choice of language, nor had occasion to recall a word misused, to re-construct a tangled or obscure sentence, or to re-state a proposition to make it more clear. And in this respect his manner in private conversation was the same.
In the autumn of 1859, before taking his seat in Congress, Mr. Ferry made a public profession of religion by uniting with the First Congregational Church of Norwalk; and the profession of his faith was not with him a matter of mere form. From that time to his death he was a consistent and active Christian worker. When he was at home, as long as his health allowed, he taught a Bible class in the Sunday-school, and was a regular attendant and participant in the meetings of the church. When no pastor was present he often conducted evening meetings, and delivered lectures. His successive pastors have borne public testimony to the depth and earnestness of his religious convictions and the great value of his influence. He was a man emphatically of growth in religious character as well as intellectual power and breadth, to the day of his death.
While he was a member of the National House of Representatives he delivered two elaborate speeches on the slavery question, and the threatened secession of the Southern States, in which he ably set forth and defended the principles of the Republican party, and was a member of the celebrated committee of thirty-three on the state of the Union. In 1861 he was again nominated for Congress, and was defeated.
Being in Washington at the breaking out of the civil war, he enlisted in a volunteer battalion for the temporary defense of the seat of government, and served until troops were obtained from the North. He was soon after tendered and accepted the command of the Fifth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. He was afterwards promoted to be brigadier-general, and served through the war, with an honorable though not brilliant record.
Returning in 1865 to his profession, he was a year later chosen United States Senator for the term commencing in 1867, and was re-elected in 1872. The limits of this notice will not admit an outline of his senatorial career. Many questions of grave importance, growing out of the late war, demanded the attention of Congress. Corruption was rife in many departments of the public service. The conventional usages of the Senate restrained Mr. Ferry at first from taking a prominent part in the debates, and in the spring of 1869 an insidious disease, ultimately fatal, attacked his spine, and gradually impaired his physical powers, so that in the latter part of his career he could not mingle in the discussions to the extent that he would have desired. He was, however, always at his post of duty, and a laborious worker on committees, where he had a prominent place; and he spoke frequently, at first in more elaborate efforts, but afterwards generally in off-hand powerful arguments, inspired by his earnest and positive convictions, and remarkable for compactness, brevity and effective force. He came to be regarded as one of the ablest members of the Senate, and his acknowledged uprightness, independence and intellectual power combined to give him an influence in that body hardly surpassed by any in his time. He died with no blot on his good name, and no man ever suspected his integrity, or questioned his purity or his personal honor.
At his death his associates in Congress and his brethren at the Fairfield County bar paid fitting tributes to his memory. Hon. Carl Schurz, who was one of the most eminent members of the Senate during six years of Mr. Ferry's service, in opening a public lecture at Norwalk shortly after the decease of the latter, spoke as follows:
"I see around me the life-long friends and neighbors of Senator Ferry, now no more; a man whom I cherished as a dear companion and associate, and to whom I looked up as one of the foremost men of the republic, in talent, integrity and patriotic spirit. More than almost any one I knew did he possess those qualities of mind and character which just at this period of our history are so greatly needed for the guidance of public affairs. There was in him a clearness and grasp of judgment which no sophistry could baffle, a sense of right and wrong which no party spirit could stagger; a depth and strength of conviction which no self-interest could obscure; a force of will which no opposition could bend; an independence and pride of genuine manhood which no frown of power could frighten, and no blandishment could seduce. Had his body been as strong as his mind and heart, he would beyond doubt have compelled universal recognition as one of the very first of statesmen in American history.
*Prepared by Asa B. Woodward, Esq., of the Fairfield County Bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 80, pages 725 - 726
SAMUEL FESSENDEN was a member of the famous Fessenden family of Maine. Born in Rockland in that State on the 12th day of April, 1847, the surroundings and associations of his early life were such as invited and fostered his subsequent eminent career. His father, the Rev. Samuel C. Fessenden, was born in New Gloucester, Maine, in 1815. He was pastor of the Congregational Church at Rockland, editor of the Maine Evangelist, studied law, and became judge of a municipal court, was a member of the thirty-seventh Congress of the United States, was United States counsel at St. Johns, N. B., and subsequently examiner-in-chief of the United States Patent Office. His brother, the uncle of the subject of this sketch, was the Hon. William Pitt Fessenden of Maine, United States Senator and Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.
At the age of sixteen Samuel Fessenden interrupted his college preparatory studies at the Lewiston Academy to enlist, at the outbreak of the Civil War, as a private in the Seventh Maine Battery. Emerging from the fierce campaign of the Wilderness he was, upon recommendation of General Grant, commissioned first lieutenant by President Lincoln, and was soon promoted to a captaincy, serving on the staff of Gen. A. P. Howe until the surrender of Lee at Appomattox.
He acquired a legal education by preliminary studies and graduation, in 1870, from the Harvard Law School, and on his admission to the bar of this State he became associated with Joshua B. Ferris and Calvin G. Child at Stamford, Connecticut, where his parents then resided. Possessed of a robust constitution and a mental equipment unusually suited to the successful practice of his profession, he soon assumed and ever after maintained a high position at the bar, and was during the latter years of his life generally acknowledged the most eminent jury advocate and successful trial lawyer in western Connecticut. With an engaging and prepossessing personal appearance, a trained and agreeable voice, under remarkable control, and a mind that grasped intuitively those features of a case upon trial that seemed to control and dominate the situation, he was generally irresistible before the jury. From the time of his appointment in 1880 as State's Attorney for Fairfield County until his death, he performed the arduous duties of that responsible office in a manner to meet the warmest approval of the court and its officials, the members of bar, and the people of the State.
He enjoyed an extensive and lucrative practice in which he took great pride, but he also wanted and sought the esteem and applause of his fellowmen, and his incentive induced him, from an early date in his professional career to the time of his death, to devote himself more or less constantly to public and political affairs. At the age of twenty-seven years he was a member of the legislature, and repeatedly thereafter was returned to the lower or upper branch, and was Speaker of the House in 1895.
His eloquence and ability received national recognition and appreciation in four Republican National Conventions, and in 1884 he was secretary of the National Republican Committee when, with untiring energy and marked ability, he rendered valiant services for his personal friend, James G. Blaine, then candidate for the presidency.
Mr. Fessenden was married in 1873 to Helen M. Davenport by whom he had three children who survive him. Mr. Fessenden was generous, warm-hearted and sympathetic, and these qualities not only endeared him to his immediate family, but drew closely to him a large circle of devoted personal friends. During the last two years of his life, with unwavering cheerfulness and bravery, he met and fought the ravages of a fatal disease, but when, at last, on the 7th of January, 1908, the fight was over and his day drew to its close, he turned cheerfully to his friends gathered about him, and saying, "I think I will rest now," passed peacefully and quietly from among the living.
*Prepared by Hon. Goodwin Stoddard, of the Fairfield County Bar, at the request of the Reporter.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 201, page 823
1931 - 1986
Superior Court Judge Milton A. Fishman, 55, of Meriden, died on September 15, 1986.
Judge Fishman was appointed to the Circuit Court in 1973. He became a judge of the Court of Common Pleas in 1974 and joined the Superior Court bench in 1978.
Judge Fishman was born in Fairfield on July 30, 1931, son of the late Aaron and Rose (Elsky) Fishman. He graduated from Hillhouse High School in New Haven and from Yale University, where he received his B.A. degree in 1953. He served as a Captain in the United States Air Force between 1954 and 1956 and then enrolled in the Boston College School of Law where he received his J.D. degree in 1959. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar that same year.
Judge Fishman was engaged in the private practice of law in Cheshire from 1959 to 1966, serving also as a part-time prosecutor in the Circuit Court. He became a full-time prosecutor in 1966 and held that position until his appointment to the bench. He was a frequent lecturer in criminal law at seminars and training sessions for law enforcement officials.
During his career on the bench he attended the American Academy of Judicial Education and the National Judicial College.
Judge Fishman was a member of the Wolcott Masonic Temple, a founder of Temple Beth David in Cheshire and president of the Legal Foundation, Inc. He served on the Executive Board of the Connecticut Judges Association. He was a member of the American Bar Association and the Connecticut Bar Association.
He was survived by his wife, Linda, and two children.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 129, pages 716 - 719
In New Haven on the early morning of November 17, 1942, death brought to an end the earthly career of one of the most gifted and extraordinary of men in the person of David E. FitzGerald. At the great man's bedside in the hushed room were his family, whom he loved more than life itself. The Angel of Death was so gentle yet firm in the irrevocable summons as to give rise to the query,
"O death, where is thy sting?
O grave, where is thy victory?"
The life of David E. FitzGerald was so dynamic, so filled with activity and accomplishments, that even a partial recital would occupy more pages than it is possible to devote in this writing. Accordingly, reference herein will be made only to the highlights of his illustrious career.
He was born in New Haven, Connecticut, on September 21, 1874, the eldest son of Edward and Anne (Conway) FitzGerald. His parents were natives of County Kerry, Ireland, who came to America in their youth and located in New Haven. His father conducted a grocery store in New Haven for many years, and on many occasions Mr. FitzGerald has paid tribute to the early opportunities afforded him in his father's store to "size up" his fellowmen and to listen to the opinions of his elders relating to public affairs, expressed around the cracker barrel on winter nights and summer evenings in that long-ago time. The corner grocery store has had its place and made its contributions to society in cities no less than in rural communities.
Mr. FitzGerald first attended St. John's Parochial School in New Haven, and later entered and was graduated from the Hillhouse High School. To be a lawyer was his life's ambition. He matriculated at the Law School of Yale University, and in the spring of 1895 received the degree of bachelor of laws. Although he passed the state bar examinations immediately following his graduation, his actual admission to the bar was deferred until he attained his majority the following autumn. His thirst for legal knowledge, coupled with the delay in embarking upon the profession of his choice, led him to pursue graduate studies in the law at the university which culminated in his being awarded the degree of master of laws in 1896. Before the turn of the present century and for years thereafter it was indeed rare for one to seek and obtain a graduate degree. But David E. FitzGerald, even in early manhood, was no ordinary person. He saw eye to eye with Tennyson in the philosophical expression:
"To follow knowledge like a hidden star
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought."
On November 14, 1900, Mr. FitzGerald was married to Alice Clark of Milford, Connecticut. To them two children were born, David E. FitzGerald, Jr., and John Clark FitzGerald. Both sons, to their father's great pride and joy, subsequently entered the profession of the law.
Mr. FitzGerald began his active legal career in 1896 in association with James P. Piggott, a former member of Congress. In 1897 he formed a partnership with the late Walter J. Walsh of New Haven under the firm name of FitzGerald & Walsh. This partnership continued until 1920. From 1920 to 1933 he was the senior associate of the firm of FitzGerald & Hadden, in which the junior associate was William L. Hadden, now lieutenant-governor of Connecticut. In early 1933 the firm of FitzGerald, Foote & FitzGerald was organized, of which Mr. FitzGerald was the senior member and in which were associated his two sons, David, Jr., and John, and Judge Ellsworth B. Foote of North Branford. Later the counsel staff was increased to include Jeremiah D. Shea of Hamden, Joseph M. Brandon of New Haven, Richard C. Hannan of West Haven and Thomas F. Keyes. Jr., and Charles G. Albom of New Haven. This was the personnel at the time of Mr. FitzGerald's death with the exception of John Clark FitzGerald who, on July 1, 1941, had ascended the bench of the Court of Common Pleas.
On the latter aspect, it is interesting to note that the oath of judicial office was administered by the father to his younger son on that memorable occasion in the FitzGerald family. Seldom, if ever, has a father the opportunity to induct his son into high judicial office. It was an auspicious moment in the life of an honored veteran at the bar enjoyed by few men of this or any other generation.
Early in his career Mr. FitzGerald assumed the role of trial lawyer, and soon became recognized at the bar as one of the outstanding court lawyers of his time. His triumphs were innumerable. To attempt to list even his most noteworthy successes would prolong this writing to an inordinate length. His power of cross-examination in the courtroom was acquired in large part through his vast knowledge of human nature and the forces which motivate human conduct. He was a strong advocate because he believed in his cause. The rich and the poor alike sought his services. No cause for him was too insignificant nor too great, providing he believed in its merits.
It is deemed fitting to refer to one specific episode in his legal career. In his early thirties he was named, with Clarence Deming and Judge William Case of the Superior Court, to serve as an arbitration board in the dispute between the Connecticut Company and its employees over an increase in wages, and he joined with Judge Case in making an award in favor of the employees. This was the first tribunal of its kind in this state, and was among the first in the United States to deal with such matters involving so many persons.
No sketch of Mr. FitzGerald's life would be complete without mentioning his great service to the city of New Haven, of which he was elected mayor for four terms, serving from 1918 to 1926. His administration was noted for its wise policies in the direction of the destinies of New Haven through the first World War and in the years immediately following.
Mr. FitzGerald also performed other services of note in the political realm, having been chairman of the Democratic state central committee from 1913 to 1922, Democratic candidate for governor of Connecticut in 1922 and a delegate-at-large from Connecticut to every Democratic national convention since 1912. At the time of his death and for many years prior thereto he was Democratic national committeeman for Connecticut and vice chairman of the Democratic national committee. He numbered among his close friends two presidents of the United States, namely, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Mr. FitzGerald was the only civilian member of the Admiral Foot Post of the Grand Army of the Republic in New Haven, an honorary member of the Allan Osborn Camp of the Spanish-American War Veterans and an honorary member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. So also at the time of his death he was honorary captain and judge advocate of the Second Company Governor's Foot Guard. His memberships in various fraternal organizations and social clubs were many.
Yale University, in recognition of his extreme labor as a public servant, his devotion to the furtherance of education and his abiding interest in matters relating to the general welfare, signally honored him fifteen years ago by including his portrait in her Hall of Fame in Harkness Memorial, thus constituting the lawyer and man of public affairs one of the University's "Thirty Immortals." So also New Haven, the city of his birth and the scene of his triumphs, caused to be erected some ten years ago in its Hall of Records a bronze tablet commemorating the man and his services to the community where he lived, worked and was to die.
Mr. FitzGerald was an indefatigable worker in his chosen profession and in all things to which he gave himself. On his desk in his private office was this motto, which demonstrated his viewpoint: "Blessed is that man who has found his work." He believed also in the motto that "Unless a man finds joy in his work, he will not find it at all."
In the summer of 1942 he became seriously ill. His vitality waned. He suddenly became tired. Yet he wished so much to live, for he loved his family, his associates and his work. It was not to be. In the early hours of the morning of November 17th, he passed away in peace. Shortly before the end he turned to his family and quoted Tennyson's immortal lines:
"Sunset and evening star,
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar,
When I put out to sea."
On a hillside of St. Lawrence Cemetery, overlooking the city of his birth, "Little Dave," as he was affectionately known to his intimates, now rests. In the distant vista appear the lofty buildings of the city which he served with distinction and with love, the towers of immortal Yale, and the dome of the county courthouse. Yes, death has come to a truly great lawyer and public-spirited citizen of Connecticut, but only death in a physical sense. The spirit of David E. FitzGerald is eternal.
*Prepared by Ellsworth B. Foote, of the New Haven bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 122, page 673
Michael John Flanagan was born in Bridgeport on November 5th, 1873, and lived there continuously until his death on February 22d, 1936. He was the son of Christopher and Ann (Rogerson) Flanagan, both of whom were born in Ireland. He received his early education in the public and St. Mary's Parochial School in Bridgeport, later in the Bridgeport High School.
In 1896 he entered Yale Law School, graduating therefrom in 1899, and was admitted to the bar of the State of Connecticut in that year. Early in his professional career he became interested in real-estate law, and devoted his time almost exclusively to title searching, in which work he became the outstanding member of the bar of this city, his service being continually sought, not only by individuals but by business corporations and banks. The accuracy and application which he gave to his work in this field was characteristic of his work in all other fields in which he engaged.
In 1900 he was elected an alderman and served with credit and distinction. For four years he was clerk of the board of appraisal, and his knowledge of real-estate law was invaluable to that body. In 1900 he was appointed assistant clerk of the Superior Court for Fairfield County, became clerk of that court in 1925, and it was in this position that he displayed those qualities of mind and heart which endeared him to all with whom he came in contact. His administration of that office was characterized by a broad and comprehensive knowledge of procedure, which was always at the disposal of these who sought his advice and counsel.
He was quiet and modest, but performed all the duties which he was called upon to perform with care and accuracy, and was ever ready to sacrifice his own personal interests to any cause which helped others. He was a serious student of the works of Shakespeare, and could quote at length from his works. He had a legal mind in the truest sense of that term. He could understand and appreciate the nicest distinctions involved in a legal proposition, and was responsible for the institution and development of many innovations in the office over which he presided.
He was married to Mary A. Ginty, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James Ginty of Danbury, who survives him. He was a communicant of St. Augustine's Catholic Church of Bridgeport.
*Prepared by Henry P. Lyons, Esq., of the Bridgeport bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 255, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court February 7, 2001, to take effect February 7, 2001.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 146, pages 746 - 747
Carl Foster, a judge of the Superior Court from 1927 to 1942 and an active state referee from 1942 until shortly before his death, died at Bridgeport on March 13, 1959, after an illness of only a few days.
Judge Foster was born in the town of Waterford, Virginia, on August 28, 1872, the son of Isaac McKendrie Foster and Julia E. Masher Foster. His father was a minister and Civil War veteran who returned to Connecticut, where his ancestors had lived for more than 250 years, six months after the birth of his son.
Judge Foster was graduated from Dickinson College, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in 1893 with an A.B. degree. In 1894, he returned to Bridgeport and entered the law office of the late Alfred B. Beers, a close family friend, where he studied law. He was admitted to the bar of this state in 1896. He rapidly developed a large practice and became known as one of the leading trial lawyers of the state. He also took an active part in community affairs. As a Republican, he was elected for a two-year term to the board of alderman of the city of Bridgeport. He served as a judge of the City Court six years. He also served five years as a trustee of the Connecticut School for Epileptics. For more than thirty years he was a director of the City Trust Company and its predecessor, the City National Bank. At one time, he was a trustee for the First Presbyterian Church of Bridgeport.
For almost twenty years, Judge Foster lectured weekly at the New York University Law School on Connecticut practice. These lectures were always held on Friday afternoons, and it was his regular practice following the short calendar to go to New York on that day. He scarcely missed a single lecture during the entire period of time. He also took a great interest in the affairs of Masonry and was a Scottish Rite Mason of the 33d degree, a Knight Templar and a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 104, A.F. & A.M., Pyramid Temple Shrine, Lafayette Consistory, Jerusalem Council and Jerusalem Chapter. At one time, he was active in the affairs of the Independent Order of Redmen, serving a term as national leader of that organization. He was a member of the American Bar Association, the Connecticut Bar Association, the Bridgeport Bar Association, the Mayflower Society, the Sons of the American Revolution and the Sanford Society of America. He was also a member of the University Club, the Brooklawn Country Club and the Graduates Club of New Haven. After his elevation to the bench, he gave up most of his other activities and devoted his full time and energy to his judicial duties.
The recital of his many activities gives some idea of the full life he led and enjoyed, but his chief interest was always the practice of law. He was a prodigious worker, an able advocate and an aggressive and thorough trial lawyer. His experience in trial work, more extensive than that of most appointees to judicial office, equipped him admirably for the performance of his judicial duties. His service on the bench was characterized by skill and technical ability of a high order, a deep-seated respect for the majesty of the law and the dignity of the court, and a sense of the drama of the courtroom. He was indeed a colorful figure as he presided at the trials in this state.
On June 29, 1897, Judge Foster married Delia Norcross of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, whose wise counsel contributed much to her husband's success in life. They both enjoyed traveling and spent many of their vacations visiting the scenic and historic places of this country and Europe. Mrs. Foster died in 1951.
Judge Foster left five daughters, Mrs. Milton Heath of Floresville, Texas; Mrs. J. Foster Hawkes of Fairfield; Mrs. G. E. Menzel, Jr., of New York City; Mrs. Schuyler Voorhess of Amsterdam, New York; and Mrs. Edward B. Lang of Bridgewater; a son, George N. Foster of Fairfield; ten grandchildren; and ten great-grandchildren. Another son, Sheldon J. Foster, died in 1931.
*Prepared by Lorin W. Willis, of the Bridgeport bar.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 44, pages 606 - 609
Few men have ever lived in New Haven whose death called forth an expression of sorrow so universal and so sincere as that of Judge Foster. For more than thirty years he had been a conspicuous figure in that community, and so hale and fresh and full of life he always seemed, that when it was announced that his illness would probably prove fatal, an expression of surprise and grief fell from the lips of every one.
ELEAZER KINGSBURY FOSTER was born in New Haven, May 20th, 1813. His father, Eleazer Foster, son of Edward Foster and Rachel Newell, was born in Union, Conn., graduated at Yale College in 1802, and was a prominent lawyer in New Haven at the time of his death, in 1819. His mother, Mary Pierpont, was a lineal descendant of Rev. James Pierpont, who settled in the ministry in New Haven, in 1684, and was one of the founders of Yale College; and of Mary Hooker, daughter of Rev. Samuel Hooker, of Farmington. Their descendants have ever since resided in New Haven, and the sisters of Judge Foster still retain and occupy a portion of the original homestead of Rev. James Pierpont.
Mr. Foster graduated at Yale College in 1834, studied law partly in New Haven and partly in the office of W. T. Worden, Esq., at Auburn, N.Y., was admitted to the bar in New Haven in March, 1837, and resided there in the practice of his profession until his death, June 13th, 1877.
He married Miss Mary Codrington, then of New Haven, a lady of English birth, and formerly of Kingston, Jamaica, January 2d, 1838. Three sons survive him, all graduates of Yale College - William E., now an editor of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser; Eleazer K., a practicing lawyer at Sanford, Florida; and John P. C., a practicing physician in New Haven. A beloved daughter, Mary, died December 12th, 1864, at the age of twenty-one. His wife died September 25th, 1872.
Soon after his admission to the bar he was elected prosecuting grand-juror of the town. He was appointed judge of probate for the New Haven District in the years 1845, 1846, 1848, 1849, and chosen a delegate to the Republican National Convention at Chicago in 1860. In 1854 he was appointed State Attorney for New Haven County, and nominated Register in Bankruptcy, by Chief Justice Chase, when that office was created, and continued in both these positions until his decease. He was a member of the Common Council of the city of New Haven during six years. He represented the town of New Haven in the General Assembly in the years 1844 and 1845, and also in 1865, when he was elected speaker of the House. In 1858 he was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the office of governor of this state, but was defeated by Governor Buckingham. Later his friends again proposed to him to be a candidate, when he would probably have been nominated and elected, but he withdrew from the canvass for private reasons.
This brief record of offices and honors conveys no idea of the man. At the bar, in public life, and in society, Judge Foster was a man of mark. The eminence that he attained at the bar was not due to laborious application or systematic study. A noble presence, a grand voice, the graces of oratory rising often to eloquence, wit and humor, a thorough knowledge of human nature, and a quick sympathy with all ranks of men - these were the gifts that always secured to him a place in the front rank of the profession. For many years his official position had confined him chiefly to the practice of criminal law. But in this department he was repeatedly required to deal with the most important causes, and to encounter the ablest, the most gifted, and the most laborious of his brethren. To these demands he was always equal, and was ever regarded as a most formidable antagonist before the jury. With this tribunal he was especially successful. His tact, his ready wit, his quick perception of all their prejudices and preferences, always kept him in harmony with the jury, and often he seemed able to carry them along with him to whatever conclusion he desired. As a cross-examiner he was remarkably skillful, and many an unhappy culprit has seen the secrets of his breast laid bare by him, even while believing that every avenue of approach to them had been securely closed. In the administration of his office of State Attorney he sought to do justice, rather than to exact the extreme penalty of the law. He never demanded the pound of flesh, but whenever the case would allow, he mitigated the severity of the prosecution, and tempered justice with mercy. His management of causes was honorable and manly; he treated antagonists, both parties and witnesses, kindly and generously, so that it was not uncommon for persons, with whom the necessities of the case required him to deal severely, to thank him for his forbearance.
Judge Foster was the last survivor, (save Hon. Alfred Blackman,) and also the youngest, of that brilliant circle of lawyers whose fame in the past is already becoming a tradition to the lawyers of this generation.
In many respects Judge Foster was peculiarly fitted to adorn the highest positions in public life, and no doubt, at times, conscious of his own abilities, he aspired to those higher walks which he failed to reach. In politics he was a whig until the dissolution of that party, after that always an earnest republican. As a public and political speaker he was necessarily a great favorite.
The political and public meetings and ceremonial occasions which were graced with his presence, and enlivened with his wit and eloquence, seem, as we recall them, almost countless. Though the people loved him, and honored him whenever they had an opportunity, he was not the master of those arts by which nominations are secured, and less able and more contriving men often grasped the prizes which might have been worthily bestowed upon him.
But in social life he was pre-eminent. All men counted his society a privilege. He was a man of infinite humor, fresh, constant and inexhaustible, and ever a fountain of cheerfulness and entertainment to all with whom he came in contact. He had dramatic power that would have distinguished him as an actor. The cultivated, the refined, the learned, found pleasure in his society. The humblest and poorest were cheered and brightened by his conversation. Although fond of the pleasures of the table, at which on festive occasions he was the central figure, his personal habits were simple and unostentatious. He was a very early riser, and those morning hours which most professional men devote to sleep, he spent in walking about the town, meeting and chatting with people of every sort, and brightening himself and them with his cheerful talk.
Beneath these gay and lighter aspects of his character rested a thoughtful and serious mind. He had on all important subjects deep and earnest convictions. He loved justice, and truth, and honor, and his passionate outbreaks of indignation at any thing false, or mean, or cruel, often startled those who had only seen him in his pleasant moods. He was some times irascible and impatient, but the deep-seated kindness of his nature soon absorbed these temporary feelings, and nothing that he said left any sting behind. He had great physical strength and courage, and as is often the case, these were combined with most gentle and tender feelings. He loved little children, and they always attracted his notice, and he was an immense favorite with them. He loved to surprise some poor man or woman with a kindly and generous gift, to reward a little street gamin beyond his expectation, or to draw a hearty laugh from a knot of the common folk.
Without special culture in any branch of the fine arts, he instinctively appreciated and delighted in whatever was excellent in these. He was very familiar with the Bible and with Shakespeare, and his quotations from these books, as well as from many others, were frequent and felicitous. He was very thoughtful of the feelings of others, and had the happy faculty, in whatever society he was thrown, of saying something to please and to be remembered. A marked trait in his character was the real and sincere pleasure he felt and expressed in the prosperity and happiness of others, and in their enjoyment. These characteristics made him an universal favorite, and in every circle of society, in his native town, he was missed and mourned.
Judge Foster was a man of deep religious convictions. He believed firmly in the fundamental doctrines of the Episcopal Church, of which he was a member. His Christian faith and hope and his entire resignation to the divine will were often and fully expressed by him during his last illness.
The Greeks had a proverb that no man should be pronounced happy while he lived; yet we surely may now call him happy who, having closed a long and honorable career, has advanced with courage and hope from this life temporal into the life eternal, leaving the rich legacy of an honored name and the tender affection of the people among whom he had always lived, to children worthy to receive and to cherish it.
*This notice was originally prepared for the New Haven Palladium, by Arthur D. Osborne, Esq., of the New Haven Bar, and has been revised by him at the request of the Reporter for insertion here.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 47, pages 606 - 612
The HON. LAFAYETTE S. FOSTER, for twelve years a Senator in Congress from this state, and for several years afterwards a judge of the Supreme Court of the state, died at his residence in Norwich, on the 19th day of September, 1880. He had been ill but a few days and no notice of the fact had been given to the public, so that it was with the shock of a great and most painful surprise that the community heard of his death. Though he had attained his seventy-fourth year, yet he was so full of both mental and physical vigor that no one thought of his dying for many years. Few men of sixty are in better condition for effective and valuable service than he then was. He had also been so long a marked figure in professional and public life that he had come to seem like an abiding one.
Judge Foster was a rare man. Of remarkably fine personal appearance, with elegant manners, and cultivated tastes, yet genuinely cordial and kindly feeling, he made himself exceedingly agreeable to those who knew him intimately. He was no seeker after popularity, certainly he never descended to any truckling arts to secure it, and probably to some extent he lost favor by the high tone of both his character and bearing, and by the selectness of his friendships. He was a man of the most absolute integrity. In social life he was one of the most delightful of companions. At the dinner table, especially in dispensing the elegant hospitalities of his own house, he was rarely equalled as a brilliant contributor to the table-talk, which he never monopolized. With a keen sense of humor and great facility of expression, he was always ready with brilliant retort or apposite and well-told anecdote, and always had at hand most pertinent citations from the stores of literature, especially the old English classics, both poetry and prose, which he could repeat, often at great length, from memory. To his duties upon the bench he brought a vigorous and well-trained understanding, clearness and acuteness of intellect, a good knowledge of law, an abhorrence of legal chicanery, and a strong sense of justice. He found however a more congenial employment in the political discussions and duties of his senatorial career, and it is mainly as a prominent figure in congressional life, as a clear and forcible debater upon great public questions, and as an unsurpassed presiding officer in the Senate, that he was most widely known and will be best remembered.
Judge Foster had been for nearly fifty years a church member in connection with the Congregational denomination, and in his later years stood prominently before the public as a representative man in that denomination. He was throughout life a man of high moral and religious principle, and had acquired a remarkable self-control and evenness of temper as a result of Christian self-discipline.
Appropriate resolutions expressive of the affectionate respect and admiration in which he was held by his professional associates were passed at a largely attended meeting of the New London County bar on the occasion of his death; and on their presentation to the Superior Court by a committee of the bar, the Hon. John T. Wait, after requesting that they be entered on its records, gave the following admirable sketch of his life and character in an address to the court.
ADDRESS OF MR. WAIT.
Death has again invaded the ranks of our profession and taken from us one of our number, who for many years has not only been the acknowledged head of the bar in this county, but occupied a conspicuous position among the leading practitioners at the bar of this state.
The Hon. LaFayette S. Foster, our associate and our friend, has been suddenly struck down by a fatal disease, full of years indeed and crowned with honors, but still in the midst of his usefulness, with his physical powers unshaken and his intellect unclouded. In this county, in which he was born and passed his entire life, except when temporarily absent in the discharge of public duties, where his character was best understood and his great abilities and many virtues most highly appreciated, his loss as a public man, a personal friend and a professional brother is painfully felt and deeply lamented.
I can but keenly feel the death of one who has not only been my contemporary and companion in my career at the bar and in public life, but was my friend and associate before I completed the preparation necessary for the pursuit of my profession, and with whom, from the day on which we first met until the hour when he was removed by death, I maintained the most intimate and agreeable relations.
Mr. Foster was born in the town of Franklin, in this county, on the 24th of November, 1806. He was a direct descendant from Miles Standish, the eminent Puritan leader, and also a lineal descendant of Doctor John Sabin, a citizen of this state, who was prominent in the list of its early settlers. His father was Captain Daniel Foster, also a native of Franklin, who distinguished himself in several of the battles of the Revolution for his gallantry and efficiency as a military commander. His mother was Wealthea Ladd, also a native of Franklin, a lady possessed of more than ordinary intellectual gifts and remarkable energy, and who was connected by blood with many of the leading colonists in this section of our state. His early education was such as could be obtained in the common schools of his native town, but he prepared for college under the training of the Rev. Abel Flint, of Hartford, and the Rev. Cornelius B. Everest, at that time pastor of the Congregational Church in Windham. He entered Brown University in February, 1825, and graduated from that institution in September, 1828, with the first honors of his class.
When I first became acquainted with Mr. Foster he was a student in the office of the Hon. Calvin Goddard in Norwich, and I was pursuing studies preparatory to entering Washington, now Trinity College, at Hartford. The last few months in which I was so engaged I recited in the classics to him, and enjoyed very great advantages in having him as my teacher, for he had just graduated, as I have said, from Brown University, with the highest honors of that institution, and was a ripe scholar and admirable instructor. On my leaving college I at once entered the law office of Mr. Foster and remained with him as a student, with the exception of a short period that I pursued the study of law with the Hon. Jabez W. Huntington, until such time as I was admitted to the bar. I allude to my personal relations with the deceased to show the excellent opportunities that I enjoyed to thoroughly know him, and which now enable me to bear pleasant testimony to his nice sense of honor, his unsullied private character, his rare intellectual endowments, and his many and varied accomplishments.
Ardent and aspiring, he had decided at an early age to pursue the profession of law. Animated by an honorable ambition, determined to succeed in this controlling purpose, confident in his own ability to overcome all ordinary obstacles, from means principally obtained by teaching, supplemented by such pecuniary aid as a devoted mother could render, Mr. Foster qualified himself to enter and sustained himself through college and acquired his profession. At the November term of the County Court, 1831, he was admitted to the bar of this county, and at once commenced to practice in the courts. The early friends of Mr. Foster will recollect that he attracted attention at that time as a young man of unusual promise, and his future prominence as a jurist and advocate was then anticipated. At the time that he commenced practice the bar of this county presented an array of gifted men, who had already won distinction. Goddard, Strong, Child and Rockwell at Norwich, Law, Isham, Brainard, Perkins and the younger Cleveland at New London, and McCurdy at Lyme, were the recognized leaders, and were formidable competitors of the young aspirant for professional honors. But though the task was arduous and the struggle severe, it was not many years before Mr. Foster succeeded in winning a high reputation as a lawyer. He had been a close student, not only when preparing for admission to the bar, but also in the early years after he was admitted, when he had leisure to familiarize himself with the principles of the common law, the statutes of our state and the practice of the courts; so that when he was subsequently called to the trial of important causes he realized the fruits of this course of study, and was prepared to successfully contend with men who enjoyed the advantages of a larger experience and longer established reputations. Mr. Foster's exertions to take a high rank in his profession and obtain a lucrative practice were soon crowned with success. His retainers rapidly increased, his engagements multiplied, litigants that appreciated his great ability eagerly sought his services, and not only his rise at the bar of this county but at that of the state was marked and rapid. He was soon enrolled in the highest rank of counselors and advocates. Even when in the full enjoyment of public honors, he clung to his profession. On his retirement from the Senate he returned to that pursuit to which he had devoted his early life, and of late years has been often engaged in the trial of important causes. In the argument of cases Mr. Foster's manner was easy and impressive, his voice was clear and well modulated, he had a wonderful command of language, an adroitness in grouping the telling facts developed by the testimony and a forcible mode of presenting the same that had a potent effect on the court or the jury. All through his long and brilliant professional career he so conducted as to win the respect of his associates at the bar, and to lead the public to place unlimited confidence in his professional honor and integrity.
The bench and bar of this state will profoundly feel the great loss that they have met with by the death of Mr. Foster. By his brethren in this county will it be the most deeply appreciated, for they have ever found him in his daily walk a pleasant associate, in forensic struggles an honorable opponent, and, when connected with him in the transaction of business and relying upon his advice and assistance, an able, faithful and efficient adviser and friend. In his own professional conduct he has ever presented a high standard of honor, integrity and courtesy, and sought in every way to impart propriety and dignity to the practice of law. May we all ever hold in memory the noble qualities of the great man that has left us, and resolve to pattern after his admirable example.
It was not as a lawyer of rare ability only that Mr. Foster at an early age became favorably known to the public and won merited distinction. While engaged in the study of the law he took a deep interest in public affairs, and immediately after entering his profession connected himself with the national republican, and subsequently with the whig and present republican parties. He loved his profession, but at the same time he had a laudable ambition to take a prominent part in the exciting and arduous duties of public life. His political friends in Norwich felt, if he would consent to enter the General Assembly of the state, that they would have in him a faithful and efficient representative, and his party an able and reliable champion. He was many times elected a member of that body - from 1839 to 1854 - and was three times chosen Speaker of the House. He entered that service in the freshness of his youth, and he was called from it to a higher and broader field of public duty in the maturity of his manhood. He had remarkable gifts for a successful performance of the duties of the speakership. He was quick, self-possessed, firm of purpose, had an iron control over his temper, and thoroughly understood those parliamentary rules that clothed him with authority and commanded the obedience of the House. Each time that he retired from the Speaker's chair the members of the House, without distinction of party, bore ample testimony to the ability, courtesy and impartiality that he displayed as its presiding officer.
In 1855 Mr. Foster entered the Senate of the United States and remained a member of that body twelve years. He was elected its President pro tempore in 1865, and held the position until his retirement from the Senate in 1867. After the assassination of Mr. Lincoln and the advancement of Mr. Johnson to the presidency, he became the acting Vice-President of the United States, and held that high office while he remained a member of the Senate. As the presiding officer of the Senate he maintained the same reputation for great ability that he had earned as Speaker of the Connecticut House of Representatives; and by blandness of language, firmness of purpose, and personal dignity, commanded the respect and won the esteem of the members of that body.
While Mr. Foster was connected with the Senate it numbered among its members some of the most illustrious statesmen that this republic has ever produced. Fessenden of Maine, Foote and Collamer of Vermont, Anthony of Rhode Island, Seward of New York, Trumbull and Douglass of Illinois, Sumner and Wilson of Massachusetts, Sherman and Wade of Ohio, Grimes of Iowa, Breckenridge and Davis of Kentucky, Salisbury of Delaware, McDougall of California, Hunter of Virginia, Benjamin of Louisiana, and Frelinghuysen of New Jersey, were among his intimate senatorial associates.
As a scholar, a lawyer, and a statesman, Mr. Foster ranked among the most distinguished members of the Senate, and the record that he made, during the twelve years that he was a member of that body, is one of which the state that honored him by placing him there may well be proud. When he first took his seat in the Senate the slavery question, which had long and violently agitated the country, had nearly reached its culmination. Mr. Foster united with his associate senators from the northern states in resisting the arrogant demands of the slave power, and by voice and vote sustained the doctrine of human freedom and the equality of all men before the law. In the great struggle to save the life of the nation and to preserve our free institutions for posterity, from the day when the first southern state attempted to secede from the Union till the final surrender of the rebel leaders at Appomattox, he took no hesitating nor uncertain part. All his declarations and acts, in the national council or at home, were such as loyalty inspired and love of country demanded.
In 1870 the town of Norwich again sent Mr. Foster to the legislature of the state; he was once more chosen Speaker; and, before the close of the session, he was elected a Judge of the Supreme Court, a position which he filled until 1876, when, having reached seventy years of age, he was disqualified by a provision of the constitution. As a member of the court Mr. Foster so conducted as to win favorable opinions from lawyers and litigants. His courteous manner to counsel, the patient attention which he exhibited in the trial of causes, his dignified demeanor on the bench, and the strict impartiality and unbending integrity that governed him in his decisions, led the people of the state to hold him in high estimation. His opinions, which he gave as a judge of the court of last resort, are contained in the recently published volumes of our state reports, disclose extensive research, great legal acquirements, and a clear, active and well balanced intellect.
Other honors were at different times bestowed upon Mr. Foster. He was twice elected Mayor of the city of Norwich, twice he was the candidate of his party for the office of Governor of the state, and in 1851 his Alma Mater conferred upon him the honorary degree of Doctor of Laws, a distinction eminently due to his well known attainments as a scholar as well as a jurist.
The friends of Mr. Foster who knew him intimately can bear testimony to the versatility of his genius, his untiring industry in the pursuit of knowledge of every kind, and his familiarity with ancient and modern history, and English and American literature. His mind was a storehouse of interesting and valuable information; and his fertile imagination, great command of language, and easy utterance, made him a most interesting and instructive companion.
Mr. Foster was twice married, first to Joanna Boylston Lanman, daughter of Hon. James Lanman, a Judge of the Supreme Court of the state and United States Senator, and the second time to Martha P. Lyman, daughter of Hon. Jonathan H. Lyman of Northampton, Mass., a prominent lawyer of his day in that state, who died young. His first wife died in 1859; his second survives him. Those of us who through his married life have seen him in his home, can truly say that he was beloved beyond expression in the family circle, and that his house was the abode of generous hospitality and of unalloyed domestic happiness.
Had I time I would be glad to allude to other admirable traits in the character of the deceased which he exhibited through life, and which shone with increased luster as that life drew near its close. But I feel that I have already too long occupied the attention of the court. I will close my imperfect remarks by saying that my brothers of the bar unite with me in the desire to bear public testimony to the worth and virtues of the Hon. LaFayette S. Foster, and that the resolutions which have been presented to the court are the heartfelt expression of their regard and affection for the lamented dead.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 37, page iii (also printed in volume 38, page iii)
Appointed [Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] by the General Assembly, in May, 1870.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 44, page iii
Resigned [as Judge of the Supreme Court of Errors] in May, 1876, the resignation to take effect November 12, 1876.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 205, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court November 2, 1987, to take effect November 2, 1987.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 272, page iii
Retired January 25, 2005, under constitutional limitation as to age.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 220, page iii
Appointed to the Appellate Court January 9, 1992, to take effect January 10, 1992.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports, volume 231, page iii
Senior Judge effective September 1, 1994.
As Printed in the Connecticut Reports volume 129, pages 719 - 720
Harrison Barber Freeman, who died in this city on April 9, 1942, at the age of seventy-two, was born in Hartford on August 22, 1869, the son of Harrison B. Freeman who for many years was judge of the Probate Court for the district of Hartford. He graduated from Yale University in 1892 and from Yale Law School in 1894. He was admitted to the Connecticut Bar in 1894 and after that time practiced law in Hartford until his death. He held many and varied public offices. From 1895 to 1906 he served first as assistant prosecutor and then as prosecutor of the Hartford Police Court. He represented Hartford in the House of Representatives in 1899 and 1901. During the First World War he headed the war rallies division and the speakers' bureau and was chairman of the state defense council law enforcement committee, and after the war he was identified with many groups formed to study worldwide conditions.
While his chosen profession was the law, he paid little attention to the familiar maxim "The Law is a jealous mistress." However true that maxim may have been, it has become more and more widely recognized that a lawyer who is nothing but a lawyer has not contributed as much as he should to the good of his community. Mr. Freeman always regarded his association with a public enterprise as a call upon him to make his office more than a nominal one and he contributed to it the benefit of his time, his training and his energy.
For many years during which the advocates of woman suffrage received only scanty recognition he was an enthusiastic champion of that cause and its success was a great satisfaction to him.
One of the particular benefactions of which he was the author and a leader was the Almada Lodge-Times Farm Corporation, to which he gave a farmhouse and land for a summer camp for underprivileged children, in memory of his first wife.
He gave the best of his work to the Connecticut College for Women, of which he was successively trustee, president, and chairman of the board of directors, holding the latter office until his death. During the years he occupied these offices, the institution grew from a small college into a large and successful one. The Connecticut College for Women owes a great deal to Mr. Freeman.
For about twelve years he was president of the Northern Connecticut Light & Power Company, and he was the receiver of the Hartford & Springfield Street Railway Company. As a lawyer he would work night and day for the interests which he represented, and his side was seldom unprepared for an attack or defense, whichever became necessary.
His first wife was Alma Crowell Newell of San Francisco, who died in 1910; his second wife, who was Marguerite Gibson of Chicago, survives. Mr. Freeman leaves two sons, H. Crowell Freeman of Farmington and H. Hoyt Freeman of West Hartford.
*Prepared by John H. Buck, of the Hartford bar.
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