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California Genealogy and History Archives

Sonoma County


Edward Spalding Lippitt

One of the prominent men of Sonoma county and one of the most esteemed members of the bar is Edward S. Lippit, senior member of the law firm of Lippitt & Lippitt, Petaluma. He is a native of Connecticut, born in Woodstock, Windham county, September 17, 1824, a son of Edward Lippitt, of English stock, although the family first originated in Germany. From there they emigrated to England at an early period and thence came to America in the Colonial period, as the name is found in 1634 in Cranston, R. I., where John Lippitt was one of the committeemen in 1638. The family are of Revolutionary stock, as it is known that Moses Lippitt, grandfather of Edward S., was a soldier in that struggle for independence and after the war settled on a farm in Connecticut. He lived to reach the ripe age of ninety-five and was buried on the farm he had cleared. Moses had a brother who was an office in the army, holding the rank of colonel. In the family were six sons and one daughter, all of whom lived to be over eighty-five.

The father, Edward Lippitt, was a soldier in the war of 1812 as captain of the Black Horse Cavalry, which guarded the coast from British invasion. He settled in Thompson, Conn., in 1832 and made that his home the rest of his life. He married Miss Lois Spalding, native of Connecticut, and daughter of Ezekiel and Mary (Cady) Spalding and was related to the late president, Grover Cleveland. Edward Lippitt was a man of deep religious convictions and for many years was a preacher in the Methodist church.

Edward S. Lippitt is one of the nine children born to his parents and was reared in the primitive surroundings of the home. At the age of sixteen years he left school and began to learn the trade of joiner and finisher in Thompson, serving an apprenticeship of two years. In the meantime, in addition to working at his trade, he studied Latin and perfected himself for entering Yale College. Three months afte5r he had entered he was offered a scholarship in Wesleyan Unive4rsity at Middletown, Conn., and accepting it, was graduated from there in 1847 with the degree of A. B., and three years later received a degree of A. M. Three months prior to his graduation he was elected president of his class. He was selected as principal of the schools in Pembroke, N. H., and remained there three terms, after which he took up the study of law in Harvard Law School remaining one term. He went to Cincinnati and was given the chair of professor of mathematics and science at Wesleyan Female College and remained there four years. While in this position he completed his law course and was admitted to practice in 1854. He was a member of the firm of Probasco, Lippitt & Ward in Cincinnati from that time until 1857, when the senior member of the firm died and Mr. Ward left the city. Mr. Lippitt then formed a partnership with the late president, Rutherford B. Hayes, and this was in force till the breaking out of the Civil war, when Hayes entered the army and Mr. Lippitt came to California. Settling in San Jose in 1862 Mr. Lippitt was professor of mathematics and science in the University of the Pacific f9r one year. Coming to Petaluma in the following year he had charge of the public schools of the town for five years, during which time he brought them to a well-established basis. In 1868 he began the practice of the law and has since been actively engaged and has been associated with many of the prominent cases in the county. In 1874, when the San Francisco and North Pacific Railway was being built, he was appointed chief counsel and remained in that capacity until 1890, when the road changed hands. That same year he with his son Frank K., opened an office in San Francisco, continuing it for five years, when they gave it up to look after their increasing interests in Petaluma.

At his advanced age Mr. Lippitt is hale and hearty, and while practically retired from active life, still is to be found at his office, and he takes an active interest in all that transpires in the city. He has accumulated one of the largest private law libraries in the state. He has been a Democrat and has taken an active part in every campaign from 1867 to 1900. On account of the free silver issue and being an admirer of McKinley, he stumped the state for him during his campaign. Mr. Lippitt is a Mason, joining the order in Ohio and becoming a member of Pleasant Hill Lodge No. 71; in 1870 he joined Petaluma Chapter, R. A. M.; in 1880 he obtained the petition for and assisted in the organization of Mount Olivet Commandery, K. T., of Petaluma, and 1895 was elected Grand Commander and represented the California Grand Commandery at the conclave in Boston and became a member of the Grand Encampment of the United States. He has never sought public office at any time, but is a believer in clean men for official positions. He was one of the organizers of the free library and one of the trustees ever since, and has also been a director of the library.

On July 2, 1851, Mr. Lippitt was married to Miss Sarah Lewis, a daughter of a prominent physician of Monroe, La., and they became the parents of nine children, four of whom died in childhood. Those who grew to maturity are as follows: Mary, the wife of J. Homer Fritch, of San Francisco and who died in August, 1910; Helen Marion, the wife of Judge Daugherty of Santa Rosa; Edward L., a well-known musician and a resident of Petaluma; Frank K., junior member of the firm of Lippitt & Lippitt; and Lois, who resides with her parents.

History of Sonoma County, California
Biographical Sketches of The Leading Men and Women of the County Who Have Been Identified With Its Growth and Development from the Early Days to the Present
History By: Tom Gregory
Historic Record Company, Los Angeles, California (1911)

Transcribed by Peggy Hooper 2011