John H. Colby
John H. Colby

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

JOHN H. COLBY. The parents of John H. Colby came to the city of Troy from the counties of Grafton and Sullivan, in the State of New Hampshire. Their ancestors were among the early settlers of the Granite State. His grandfathers, upon both the paternal and maternal side, were engaged in the Revolutionary struggle of the American colonies for independence, one participating at the battle of Bennington and the other upon the field of Saratoga. His father's name was Caleb K. Colby, and his mother's was Abigail Howe. Mr. Colby was born at Troy, March 27, 1835. and received his education at the common schools of the city and at the private academy of the Rev. John Smith, AM., who was a graduate of one of the Scottish universities. Upon leaving school he entered the law-office of Olin & Geer, at Troy, the senior member of the firm being the Hon. Abram B. Olin, who was, until quite recently, one of the judges of the District Court of the District of Columbia. Upon his admission to the bar, Mr. Colby became a member of the legal firm of Olin. Geer & Colby, and continued therein until the election of Mr. Olin as a member of Congress, since which time he has practiced law without any partner. He is the author of Colby's Criminal Law and Practice," a publication well known to the legal profession both within and without the State, and has also published a commentary upon the law and practice governing the disposition of surplus funds arising upon sales of land under mortgage foreclosures.

Politically he has always been an uncompromising Democrat and an active member of the party, having been several times chosen a delegate to State conventions, and having been a member of the Democratic State Committee. he was a delegate from the State of New York to the Democratic National Convention held at Baltimore, Md., which nominated Horace Greeley for President, and was also a member of the Electoral College of the State of New York. in 1868 which cast its vote for Horatio Seymour for President.

He has been a member of the board of education of the city of Troy; was appointed city attorney of Troy by its common council, and at the age of twenty-six years was elected district attorney of Rensselaer County. While district attorney he was one of the most prompt, efficient, and fearless public prosecutors that ever served the people of his county. He was an active member of the citizens' committee which in 1870 framed the new city charter, and one of the special committee selected to secure its adoption by the Legislature. While city attorney, and acting under the direction of the common council, he compiled the statute laws and municipal ordinances relating to the city of Troy, which were published by the city in a printed volume of seven hundred pages.

From the time of his admission to the bar he has been actively engaged in the practice of the law in his native city. and is well and favorably known as a safe and prudent counselor - one of untiring zeal in his fidelity to his clients. Although leading the life of a busy advocate, coupled with the discharge of the duties of public offices, he has found rime to become largely identified with the purchase and sale of real estate in the cities of Albany and Troy. He is a man of uncommon energy, industry, and perseverance, he is a married man - the name of his wife was Ellen Desmond - and he has two children, named John D. and Mary J. His religious proclivities are of the Universalist persuasion.

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