Biography of Willard Huntington Smith
FROM: History of Livingston County, New York
By James H. Smith
Assisted by Hume H. Cole
Published By D. Mason & Co. 1881


Willard Huntington Smith was born in Chesterfield, Mass., Sept. 30, 1785, and died Dec. 25, 1856. He was the fourth son of Joseph and Ann (Stuart) Smith. At the age of six years his parents removed to Barnardston, Mass., where he remained engaged in agricultural pursuits until eighteen years of age when, feeling that this mode of life was entirely unsuited to his tastes or inclinations, he resolved to adopt a different one. Having a good common school education, and unaided by his father who had a large family of children, he left home and entered the academy at Salem. Mass. Upon leaving that institution, he placed himself under the tutorship of Rev. Orville Dewey. By teaching at intervals he earned sufficient to enable him to finish his preparatory course, and entered the junior class of 1808 in Williams College, from which he was graduated in the class of 1810.

From thence he went to Albany, where he commenced the study of law in the office of Bleeker & Sedgwick. He read during the day, and devoted his evenings to the instruction of a class of young gentlemen who were fitting themselves for college, and was thus enabled to pay his board and other expenses. He remained in Albany till after his marriage on Nov. 24th, 1811, to Mary, youngest daughter of Col. Caleb Johnson, of Hampstead, N. H.

In August, 1812, he went to Waterford, N. Y., and entered the office of Samuel M. Huntington, where he completed his law studies. October 17, 1813, he was admitted to the bar by Hon. James Kent, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, and in December of the same year came to Caledonia (then Genesee county). It being impossible for him to obtain a boarding place for himself and wife, he rented the rear part of the "red store" owned by Col. Robert McKay, at the west end of the village, where they commenced housekeeping and remained two years.

In the meantime he had purchased a village lot, consisting of half an acre of land, of McKay L. Mumford-that being all any one individual could, at that time, obtain for building purposes-and succeeded in procuring from another party a deed of a half-acre lot adjoining his, upon which he built the house in which he resided till his death. For about two years he used a portion of this house for an office, and then built one upon the same lot near his home.

March 2, 1814, he received the appointment of Master in Chancery, under Daniel D. Tompkins, Governor, "to have and to hold said office during our good pleasure." In 1823 he was reappointed to the same office under Gov. Joseph C. Yates, and was again appointed under Gov. Wm. L. Marcy, holding that office till the Court of Chancery was abolished.

March 17, 1826, he was appointed County Judge, under Governor DeWitt Clinton, and March 4, 1831, was reappointed to the same office. March 24, 1832, he received the appointment of First Judge of Livingston county, under Gov. Enos T. Throop, which office he continued to hold till June, 1847.

His wife died March 26, 1844, aged fifty-nine years, and on May 1, 1845, he married for his second wife Charlotte, widow of Colonel Thomas Johnson of Syracuse, N. Y., youngest daughter of Moses Johnson, a former merchant of Canandaigua. She survived him three years, and is buried by the side of his first wife in the cemetery at Mumford, where also his mortal remains repose.

He had seven children, four of whom are now living as follows :-Llod K. in Rochester; Frances Connor, widow of the late Dr. Harlow W. Wells, now residing in Caledonia; Mary Ann Stewart, wife of Thomas Frothingharn of Rochester, N. Y.,; and Sarah Lovejoy, wife of Hon. Wm. N. Emerson, also of Rochester.

The legal attainments of Judge Smith, were of a high order. He was a man of sterling integrity, irreproachable moral character, and ever a genial and instructive companion. These characteristics combined with fine literary tastes, and a highly cultivated intellect, endeared him to a large circle of friends. When upon the Bench, his clear and comprehensive mind enabled him to dispatch business with great rapidity.

His is a fragrant memory and no eulogium can add to it one jot or iota in the estimation of those who remember him. His was a progressive mind, and to the latest moment of his life, his intellect remained perfectly clear, and his last hours were peaceful and serene. Perfectly resigned to the will ofhis -Father, and with an unfaltering trust in his redeemer, he passed away, cheered by the hope of a blessed immortality beyond the grave.

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