New Horizons Genealogy

"Specializing in New England and New York Colonial American Ancestry"

Washington County New York Biographies - Surnames P-Q

Transcribed by Lynn Tooley

Try our genealogy search engine

Washington County New York Biographies - Surnames P-Q, extracted from the Washington county, New York; its history to the close of the nineteenth century by Stone, William Leete, 1835-1908.

PARIS, Hon. Charles Biography

Hon. Charles R. Paris was born at Sandy Hill, N. Y., August 9, 1851, and was educated in the schools of his native place. He studied law in the office of his father,- the late U. G. Paris, who was one of the ablest and most successful lawyers of his day in this state. Charles R. Paris was admitted to the bar in 1880, and since that date has been a prominent factor in the legal and political life of Washington County. Indeed, before his admission, he was active in public affairs. In 1878 he was elected Supervisor for the Town of Kingsbury and held the office for three years, 1878- 1879- 1880, and during the last year he was chairman of the Board. From that time up to 1894 he devoted himself entirely to the practice of his profession and attained a distinction which was destined later on to bring him the highest legal honor in the gift of the county. During the years 1894 and 1895 he was President of the Village of Sandy Hill and his popularity in his native place was strikingly illustrated by the fact that not a single vote was cast against him when he was a candidate.

Always a Republican, ready and able to aid his party, his services and ability were recognized, when in 1897 he was elected to the State Legislature and at the expiration of his first term was re-elected. During both terms he was active in the House and served on several important committees. During 1897 he served on the Committees on Insurance, Trades and Manufactures and Military Affairs; and during 1898 on the Committees on Codes, Taxation, Retrenchment, Labor and Industries.

In the summer of 1899 Hon. Charles R. Paris was nominated by the Republican Convention for County Judge, and the contest which followed gave an emphatic illustration of his great populai it}^ and the public confidence reposed in him. Opposed by a strong Republican who was endorsed by the Democrats, Judge Paris carried the County by a majority of 1174 votes, his own town of Kingsbury which is about 400 Republican, giving him a majority of 749.

Successful as a lawyer, as a politician, and as a business man, he is eminently qualified for the bench, and his large and varied experience is enriched by a sterling integrity which is the great source of his popularity.

Judge Paris is vitally interested in the business life of Sandy Hill. He is President of the People's National Bank, a stockholder in the Standard Wall Paper Company, a stockholder in the Dunn Water Supply Company, which constructed and owns the water works at Corinth, Saratoga County; and he is counsel for all these concerns. He was a stockholder and treasurer of the Washington County Park Association, and was for two years treasurer of its successor, the Washington County Agricultural Society.

In 1879 Judge Paris married Alma Biggart, and they have a family of three children, namely, Urias G. Paris 2d, Cordelia A. Paris and Cola K. Paris. His parents were Urias G. and Cordelia (Rogers) Paris.

For family genealogy see biography of Hon. U. G. Paris.

PARIS, Hon. U. G. Biography

Hon. U. G. Paris. — The bench and bar of Washington County contained no more notable man of his day than Hon. U. G. Paris, and yet it was not only as a jurist that he left his impress upon the history of Washington County, for he was a strong factor in its public affairs^ and even its finances and commercial prosperity were enhanced through the operations of his splendid mind.

He was born at Fairfield, Herkimer County, N. Y., August 14, 1819, but his parents removed to Harrisburgh, in Lewis County, while he was still quite young. There he was reared upon a farm, which he assisted in clearing and reclaiming from the wilderness. Thus his opportunities for acquiring an education were necessarily limited, and at the age of twenty-one he went to Watertown, Jefferson County, where he learned the trade of carpenter; yet as if aware of his own capabilities, and as if catching a glimpse in the distance of the bright Career which was his destiny, he devoted his leisure hours and evenings to reading and study, while he was working at his trade. He made rapid progress in his studies and his tastes leading him toward professional life, he abandoned his trade and entered the office of Judges Rosecrans and Ferris, with whom he studied law, and at the end of the prescribed course was regularly admitted to the bar. Shortly after his admission to the bar he removed to Sandy Hill, which he made his permanent residence, and which was destined to become the theatre of his successful life. He was cotemporary with many brilliant legal minds in northern New York and with those he came in contact from the very outset of his career, yet he always proved himself the peer of the ablest among them, and soon was regarded as one of the safest counsellors and strongest advocates of the bar in the state.

He always made an exhaustive preparation of his cases to which he was able to direct the energies of a splendid mind and always fought them to completion. As a consequence he attracted a large and remunerative practice, and his fame and fortune increased simultaneously.

If among his many admirable traits one could be selected as the most pronounced, it was his sterling honesty, so that while his practice grew and his wealth increased, he continued to rise higher and higher in the esteem and confidence of his fellow men.

In politics Mr. Paris was at first a Whig, and afterwards allied himself with its successor, the Republican party. In 1859 he was nominated and elected Surrogate of Washington County for a term of four years, and was re-elected in 1863 for a second term. In this office he was highly popular, because his profound knowledge of the law was ever tinctured with the finest sense of justice.

He did much to foster business enterprises in Sandy Hill and was one of the founders of the Peoples National Bank, of which his son, Hon. Charles R. Paris, is now president.

Although he did a great deal for his community and generation — and indeed for the present generation, for the results of his work survive— his life was mainly devoted to his profession. He was a man of clear perceptions and strong convictions, who planted himself squarely on the right, and was absolutely fearless in defense of his position.

In 1850 Mr. Paris married Cordelia Rogers, daughter of Hon. Charles Rogers, of Sandy Hill, who was also a prominent citizen of the county, and served both in the State Legislature and as a member of the XXVIIIth Congress. Their children living are Hon. Charles R. Paris, County Judge of Washington County; Dr. Russell C. Paris, a noted physician of Albany; Preston Paris, Treasurer of the Standard Wall Paper Company at Sandy Hill, and two daughters, Mrs. Katharine P. Walters, of New York City, and Mrs. Susan A. Robertson. One son, Lincoln Paris, was a well known banker, and was Cashier of the National Bank of Sandy Hill at the time of his death, which occurred suddenly, in July, 1898, He had previously been cashier of a bank in Cawker City, Kansas, and returned east in 1896.

During the latter part of the summer of 1891 the health of Hon. U. G. Paris began to fail, and he took a trip to the southern states and the West Indies, but without any beneficial result. He died September 15, 1892, and was buried in Union Cemetery, between Sandy Hill and Fort Edward.

The life of Mr. Paris is a notable proof of Disraeli's statement, that "if a man be true to himself he can always realize his ambitions," for he raised himself from a farmer's son to a position of both fame and fortune, entirely through his own efforts.

PARRY, John Biography

John Parry of Sandy Hill became a member of the firm of Wait & Parry at Fort Edward, the senior member being Hon. A. Dallas Wait. Mr. Parry, after a few years, abandoned law for the lumber business. He died during the War of the Rebellion.

POTTER, Hon. Joseph Biography

Hon. Joseph Potter was born in the town of Easton, Washington,. County, N. Y., November 17th, 1820. He received his preliminary education at the district schools in Easton, a Quaker boarding school at Chatham, Columbia County, N. Y., of which the afterwards celebrated Hon. William S. Fullerton, was at that time preceptor, and at. the Union Village Academy, Greenwich, N. Y., an institution then celebrated as a preparatory school. He entered the sophomore class of Union College at Schenectady, N. Y. , and after a distinguished course was graduated with honors in the class of 1842. Subsequently his Alma Mater conferred upon him the degree of L.L D. Having decided to enter the legal profession he studied law with Judge Culver and Judge A. D. Baker at Greenwich, and subsequently in the office of Wheaton, Hammond, Doolittle & Hadly at Albany. In 1845 he was admitted to the bar as Attorney and Counsellor of the Supreme Court and as Solicitor in Chancery.

While in the office of Culver & Baker he taught in the Union Village Academy at Greenwich. Shortly after his admission to the bar he came to Whitehall and formed a partnership with judge William H. Parker, who died in 1849. Judge Potter's subsequent partners were J. D. Blount, Hon. A. H. Tanner, and his son, J. Sanford Potter, all of whom were students in his office.

From the very commencement of his legal career, Judge Potter evinced not only unusual ability as a lawyer, but also attained a reputation for integrity and soundness as a counsellor, so that early in his career he became prominent in the front rank of the lawyers of northern New York.

The citizens of Washington County were not slow to recognize his abilities and worth, and in 1849 he was elected District Attorney of the County, and at the expiration of his term of office was re-elected. He also served as District Attorney from September 7, 1862, until January 1, 1863, serving out the term of Colonel A. L. McDougall, who had gone to war with his regiment. In 1863 he was elected County Judge, and to this office also, was re-elected at the expiration of his first term, so that he held the position until December 31, 187 1. In November, 187 1, he was elected Judge of the Supreme Court, and after serving out his full term of fourteen years was re-elected in November, 1885, to the same office and held the position until his term expired by constitutional limitation, at the age of seventy years, in 1890. He also served three years in the Court of Appeals, Second Division, and received his appointment thereto from Governor Hill, a Democratic Governor.

Although eminent as a jurist, it was as a judge that Hon. Joseph Potter achieved his greatest distinction. His rendering and interpretation of the law, in which he was thoroughly posted, was ever tempered with the finest and highest sense of justice, and it was almost futile to carry a case to the Court of Appeals from his decision. In his conduct of the business of the courts he was always prompt, energetic and decisive, and cases brought before him were not allowed to lag, but were carried through to an issue; nor were his decisions long delayed. Accuracy and dispatch characterized him in all his duties.

One instance will illustrate well his character and greatness as a judge, because in this case he was brought face to face with one of the strongest and most dangerous forces of his age, and, through his ability and magnificent courage, has made himself a name in the judicial history of America.

Having been called upon in the usual way, to hold a term of court in the City of New York, and relieve the judges of that city, overburdened with an accumulation of business, he was sitting in Special Term when ah application was made for a stay of proceedings, pending an appeal, in the case of Jacob Sharpe, convicted of bribery.

An applicatitm of this kind, under the circumstances existing in the Sharpe case, is ordinarily made without opposition and granted as a matter of course; but Sharpe had been convicted, according to the claims of the Metropolitan newspapers, solely through their efforts, and with great unanimity and persistence they demanded that the provisions of the constitution and the statutes of the state applicable to cases of this kind should be ignored, and that a stay of proceedings upon the judgment of conviction, pending an appeal to the higher courts upon questions of law and evidence, involving the legality of his conviction, should not be granted. The subject became one of universal interest, and of supreme importance. The press threatened the judiciary, and upon Judge Potter, standing alone, rested the responsibility and the burden of asserting its independence.

Speaking of the subject in hand, the Hon. Daniel Dougherty, one of America's greatest lawyers and greatest orators, said in his address before the State Bar Association of New York, in the Senate Chamber of the Capitol in Albany, January 17, 1888: "Scarcely known in America in the past, it stirs the present, and may foreshadow grave troubles in the future. It concerns us as citizens as well as lawyers. It may test to the quick the honor, integrity and independence of the bar. It is, shall the newspapers invade the sanctity of courts of justice and assail litigants, intimidate witnesses and dictate the verdicts of juries and the judgments of courts. The great journals of different cities are breaking down the barriers of the past, and assuming authority to comment on, criticize, condemn or approve of, proceedings pending in our courts of justice. They pour into every home their opinion of an undetermined case. They condemn the accused before the evidence is heard; name the amount the verdict ought to be, the day the jury will decide; judges comprehending the direful results, resist, within the limits of the law, this outrageous interference. Yet it is to be feared that now and then there may be those elevated to the bench by favoritism, devoid of experience, tasting for the first time the sweets of popular applause, who caught by the breeze, will float with the current, try the case, and sentence prisoners to please the press."

Judge Potter did not please the press. Faithfully and fearlessly he performed the solemn trust reposed in him, assigning the reasons therefore in an unanswerable opinion. He granted a stay, and vindicated the great principle which he represented.

Mr. Dougherty described the incident in the following eloquent words: "Ay, when a judge, whose name deserves to be printed in letters of gold and kept bright forever, in despite of the storm that he knew would be heaped upon him. for good and weighty reasons, the case being one of first impressions, the first of the kind tried under the State Constitution, the first alleged briber ever indicted, 'granted the stay, some of the journalists assailed his purity, ransacked his career, insinuating if they did not brand him as a bribetaker."

Judge Potter wrote an elaborate opinion deciding the case which is reported at length in the reports of the decisions of the Supreme Court.

"Subsequently the Court of Appeals 'calm as the lake that slumbers in the storm' patiently heard elaborate argument, carefully examined cited authorities, studied printed briefs, deliberated fully, and without a dissenting voice, sustained the decision of Judge Potter in every detail and delivered an opinion which proved that an elective judiciary, to its lasting honor, will decide the law undismayed by the fiercest storm that ever bursts on an American court."

Judge Potter has not only achieved greatness himself, but he has the felicity to see his sons also become prominent during his life.

On October 23, 1845, Judge Potter married Catharine E. Boies, daughter of Judge Boies, and they have a family of three sons, namely: J. Sanford Potter, Commander William P. Potter and Henry Whitbeck Potter. J. Sanford Potter is one of the best known lawyers of Washington County and is the senior partner in the firm of Potter & Lillie of Whitehall. Commander William P. Potter has attained distinction in the American Navy and is at present in charge of the Ordnance Department of the Navy Yard at Philadelphia. He, in conjunction with Admiral Sampson and Captain Chadwick constituted the Court of Inquiry appointed by the United States Government to determine the cause of the destruction of the Battleship Maine. Henry Whitbeck Potter is a very successful electrical engineer and has charge of the Spanish-American business for the Westinghouse Company whom he now represents in Brazil.

Since his retirement from the bar Judge Potter has been practising law and acting as referee, and always has important cases in his charge. Although he has about completed his 8oth year his intellectualit}' has not waned and he is today as, clear and forceful mentally as he was in his vigorous prime, and but for the age limitation imposed by the Constitution of the State he might still adorn the bench to which for so many years he lent both strength and dignity.

Judge Potter has long been interested in the iron mines of Washington Countv. These mines have not been operated of late because of the low price of northwestern ores and cheaper transportation.

Judge Potter's parents were Joel and Anne (Austin) Potter. The Potter family is an old American one; its branches are many and its reputable men not a few, and the Hon. Joseph Potter has certainly added his share of luster to the name.

POTTER, J. Sanford Biography

J. Sanford Potter, son of Hon. Joseph and Catherine E. (Boies) Potter, was born June 27, 1848, and was educated at the Norwich University and Williams College. He was admitted to the bar in 1871 and became a member of the law firm of Potter, Tanner & Potter. This firm subsequently became Tanner & Potter and finally Potter & Lillie, which is today one of the leading law firms of the county.

PRATT, Albert V. Biography

Albert V. Pratt is the son of Myron and Elizabeth (Van Ness) Pratt and was born at Fort Edward, Washington County, N. Y., June 30, 1858. In January, 1884, he became a student in the law office of Robert Armstrong, Jr., of Fort Edward. In 1886 he was admitted to the bar and since then has built up a good practice, being active in his profession.

PRATT, Charles O. Biography

Charles O. Pratt was born in the town of White Creek, Washington County, November 15, 1863. He attended the district school and was an earnest student evincing the spirit of application and indicating the ability which has since made him one of the brightest legal minds in northern New York.

He completed his literary studies in the Troy Conference Academy at Poultney. Vermont, and Fort Edward Collegiate Institute. He then read law for two years in the office of Westfall & Whitcomb at Cambridge, N. Y., after which he entered the Albany Law School and was elected President of his class. He was admitted to the bar February 8, 1889, and immediately began the practice of his profession with John Warren at Granville, N. Y. After a brief residence in Granville he became a partner with Willis E. Heaton, of Hoosick Falls, N. Y., who is a prominent attorney and politician of that place. This partnership was dissolved in 1891 and Mr. Pratt opened an office in the Crocker building. Main street, Cambridge. On November 12 of that year he was appointed Justice of the Peace to fill the vacancy caused by the death of R. King Crocker and held this office until December 28, 1898, when he resigned. From February 12, 1893, to February 12, 1894, he was managing clerk in the office of Hon. D. M. Westfall. In 1892 he was elected Police Justice for the Village of Cambridge and held this office concurrently wi,th that of Justice of the Peace until December 28, 1898, when he resigned both offices to accept the nomination for District Attorney. He was unanimously nominated March 16, 1898, at the Republican Convention held in Salem. N. Y., for the office of District Attorney, and was elected by a large majority.

Mr. Pratt's record before the courts as District Attorney would be very flattering to any man and therefore particularly so to a man on the youthful side of his prime. He is well versed in the law and is eminently able as a public prosecutor, but withal is such an ardent lover of justice that he makes an ideal prosecuting" attorney. His present office is in the Cambridge building on Broad Street where he has a large and well selected library to which he is constantly adding.

Mr. Pratt is an enthusiastic agriculturist, and to the gratification of his taste for this pursuit he devotes his spare time.

On June 26, 1889, Mr. Pratt married Lilla, R. Clark daughter of Harry G. and Florence (Sherman) Clark. They have three children, viz: Flora M , Charlotte and Daniel Harry. Mr. Pratt's parents were Daniel H. and Charlotte A. (Conant) Pratt. Daniel H. Pratt was an influential man in the Town of White Creek where he held several public offices. Among them that of Justice of the Peace for a term of sixteen years. His grandfather, also Daniel H. Pratt, when a boy of fourteen years, carried an important dispatch from General' Stark at Bennington to one of his outposts at Hoosick Corners, a distance of ten miles, which fact is on record at Washington, D. C. Charles O. Pratt's father was a farmer, carpenter and builder and aided in the construction of nearly all the lattice bridges over the many creeks in and around the old town of Cambridge and the town of Hoosick. Mr. Pratt's maternal grandfather, John Conant, was a soldier in the war of 1812.

Charles O. Pratt is a member of Cambridge Valley Lodge No 491, F. & A. M.

[ Surnames R ]