Francis Norton Mann
Francis Norton Mann

Information on this page is from History of Rensselaer Co., New York by Nathaniel Bartlett Sylvester, published in 1880.

FRANCIS NORTON MANN. Prominent among the long list of able men who, during the last half-century, have contributed so much to the material, industrial, social, educational, and religious interest of Troy, who have literally grown with its growth and strengthened with its strength, stands the name of Francis N. Mann.

Judge Mann was born in the town of Milton, Saratoga Co., N. Y., on the 19th day of June, 1802. His father's name was Jeremiah Mann, who was a son of Joel Mann, one of the pioneer settlers of the town of Milton. His mother was Lydia Norton, a daughter of Francis Norton, of Hebron, Tolland Co., Conn. His grandfather, Joel Mann, removed from Hebron, Conn., about the year 1793, and settled on what has since been the homestead of the Mann family, in Milton, Saratoga Co.

Jeremiah Mann, the father of Francis N., was a farmer, and it was his earnest desire that Francis should follow the same occupation. Bur Francis had more ambitious views than his father, and, being naturally inclined to reading and study, early resolved to acquire the advantages of a liberal education. During his boyhood and until his eighteenth year he worked upon his father's farm, attending the district school of the neighborhood some three months in the winter season. But the meagre, although so far as they went excellent, facilities of the common schools of the time did not satisfy the eager and inquiring mind of young Francis, neither did they afford the necessary instruction required of a candidate for collegiate honors. To pursue this course it was necessary for Francis to leave home. To this course his father was strongly opposed. His father urged upon him the propriety of continuing his occupation of a farmer, and insisted that for that purpose his education was already sufficient. So strongly was his father opposed to his leaving home that he utterly refused to afforded Francis any pecuniary aid whatever in case he should do so, but generously offered to give him a find farm should he remain. But Francis had already made up his mind otherwise, and, unaided and alone, the farmer-boy took the incipient steps towards accomplishing his own destiny as the future leader in the affairs of an important city, then in its infancy.

Some sixteen miles from the Mann homestead there resided, in the town of Charlton, Saratoga Co., a Presbyterian minister whose name was Joseph Sweetman. To Dr. Sweetman Francis resolved to apply for admission into his family upon some terms whereby he could in return for his services receive at the doctor's hands such instruction as should fit him to enter college.

On foot and alone he went to the residence of Dr. Sweetman, and the result of the interview was that Francis became a member of Dr. Sweetman's family for a period of two years. He then entered Lansingburgh Academy, then under the care of George A. Simmons as principal. Here he remained one year, and on the 24th of June, 1823, entered the junior class of Union College. He was graduated on the 24th day of July, 1825, and on the 4th day of October of the same year he entered upon the study of the law in the office of Ashley Sampson and John Dickson, at Rochester, N. Y., supporting himself while there by acting as clerk.

After leaving Rochester he continued his studies in the office of Daniel Cady, of Johnstown, for a while, and finally, coming to Troy, finished them in the office of Samuel G. Huntington, and was admitted to the bar as attorney and counselor of the Supreme Court at the August term, held at Utica in 1828. He immediately opened an office in Troy for the practice of his profession, which he has continued to the present day, - a period of over fifty years, - although for the last twenty years his whole time and attention has been devoted to the care of his own large and increasing estate.

As a lawyer Judge Mann never encouraged litigation, uniformly declining such cases as he deemed to be without merit. He was usually successful in the courts.

His official career began in 1835, when he was elected to the office of Supervisor of the Second War of the city of Troy. He also represented this ward as supervisor in 1857. He was alderman of the Second Ward from 1844 to 1847. For five years - from 1840 to 1845 - he was one of the judges of the Court of Common Pleas of Rensselaer County.

In March, 1847, he was chosen mayor of the city of Troy, to which office he was three times re-elected by increased and flattering majorities.

Judge Mann, during his long professional, official and business career, has been distinguished for his integrity, his carefulness, painstaking, and vigilance as a business man.

In early life Judge Mann became a communicant of the Protestant Episcopal Church. He was one of the founders of St. John's Church in Troy, in the year 1830; was a member of the first vestry, and has continued a member of its vestry ever since. At all times he has taken a deep and active interest in matters of religion and charity.

On the 25th day of October, 1848, Judge Mann was married to Miss Mary J. Hooker, daughter of Marquis de La Fayette Hooker, of Poultney, Vt., a lineal descendant of the Rev. Thomas Hooker, who founded the city of Hartford, Conn., in the year 1636. Mrs. Mann died on the 28th of July, 1875. Three children were the fruit of this union, - two sons, Francis N. Mann, Jr., Elias Plum Mann, and a daughter, Emma M. Mann.

Francis N. Mann, Jr., was graduated at Yale College, class of 1870, and at the Albany Law School in the year 1872. He was admitted to the bar as attorney and counselor-at-law in the year 1872, was alderman of the Second Ward of the city of Troy from 1873 to 1877, and in the year 1879 is a member of Assembly from the First District of Rensselaer County. Elias Plum Mann is a graduate of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute of Troy, class of 1872.

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