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Lyman Sanford


Upon opening of the March term of the County Court and Sessions of 1881, the legal fraternity assembled and took appropriate action in expressing their honor and appreciation of the subject of this memorial, and tender condolence in the death of their legal brother and associate. His Honor, Judge Charles Holmes, presided, and was thus addressed by Hon. Peter S. Danforth:

"It is not, your Honor, to contribute to a mere ceremony, or to conform to any custom, upon such an occasion, that I supplement these resolutions with a few remarks. My feelings are far too deep for such lip service demonstration.

"It was my fortune to have enjoyed an intimate acquaintance with the deceased for almost half of a century. He was my tutor in the years of 1832 and 1833, preparing me for college in the classics and mathematics. In the fall of the latter year we separated, he soon after going to New York and I to Union College. I saw him there frequently at New York, where he had established himself in a large and lucrative practice. In 1837 I received a letter from him kindly inviting me to attend his wedding, and how well I remember that bright, beautiful day at the old family mansion of Governor Bouck, where he was united in marriage to the accomplished daughter of the Governor. It was a joyous occasion. How well he has filled the position of husband and father. His home has been a model home. He removed from New York to Middleburgh in 1839. On the first of January 1840, I having just been admitted as a co-partner, we commenced the practice of law. How changed since that time! as I stand here to-night (sic) and bring up to mind those days, no wonder, your Honor, and I know I will be pardoned, if my lip quivers and my eyes are filled with tears. I stand here almost alone, as my hand rests on the broad shoulder of my brother, Brewster, who came to the practice in July, 1840. Of all those who were engaged in the practice of the law prior to that time, all, all are gone save William H. Davis, Hamilton and Goodyear, Houck and Mann, Holladay and Gebhard, at Schoharie, Spafford and McClellan, at Middleburgh, Thomas and Demosthenes Lawyer, Thomas Smith and Jedediah Miller, of Cobleskill, William Beekman, of Sharon, and John C. Wright, of Esperance. They were men who could have been an honor to any county of the State. The then four Judges of the old Common Pleas have entered into rest. Sheriff, clerk, and crier, are no more, aye, the courthouse even has crumbled into ashes, fired by the torch of an incendiary prisoner.

"The venerable form of John P. Cushman, the then Circuit Judge and Vice-Chancellor of this district, long ago has passed away. Other Judges have come to us: Harris, Wright, Watson, Gould, Hogaboom and Peckham, are gone, never to return! Other lawyers have since come to this bar and have gone, and we shall see them no more - Frost, Clark, Smith, Salsbury, Strain, Mackey, Underwood, and now Sanford. The lesson of the hour is one full of instruction and admonition. Judge Sanford, immediately upon the commencement of his professional career, took a prominent position as a good lawyer and a safe counselor.

I often had occasion to admire the fidelity he manifested in protecting the estate of the widow and orphan. As a citizen he was exemplary, and no stigma or reproach can be remembered against him; as a public man he was always adequate to his position."

Ralph Brewster, Esq., in a few well chosen words, gave expression to his worth as a man and professional, and was followed by Hon. S. L. Mayham, who in the course of his remarks said:

"No man ever held in higher esteem the honorable relations that the true lawyer bears to the community in which he lives, or the scared and confidential duty he owed to his client, and no man ever did more to elevate the standard and preserve unsullied the honor of the legal profession in his sphere, than he. It was the profession of his choice, and he made it the business of his life to impress it with the dignity and respect which it deserves; and relieve it from all unjust criticisms.

"Few men possessed colloquial powers or gifts equal to the deceased, to which were added a high order of culture and scholarly attainments; a noble and commanding presence, with a voice rich and melodious; thus combining him at once all the talent elements of an orator; and he had overcome in early life his native modesty, and brought all of those reserved forces into requisition, he would have been in forensic eloquence more than the equal of his brother, Mitchell, by whose burning words the people, juries, courts and senates, were moved and molded."

Hon. William H. Engle paid an eloquent tribute to the character of the deceased as a lawyer and jurist and closed as follows upon his affability as a gentleman and a neighbor:

"On his countenance rested always the genial smile and in his utterance the warm greeting that revealed the heart of the man. Decline could not destroy it, and nothing but the grasp of death could extinguish the external evidences of a kindly, noble and loving nature.

"To his neighbors therefore the recollections we all delight to cherish, come down to a recent date. But the bar need nothing to remind them of the pleasure his presence gave. It will be fresh and green in our memories as long as 'life and thought and being lasts.'"

Hon. William C. Lamont in full, and earnest and feeling remarks, paid a high compliment to the virtues and ability of Judge Sanford and attested that:

"Amid all this, the highest praise that can be awarded to a man, rightfully was his. In all places requiring ability of a high order, integrity, the best and proudest thing that can be said, he did his duty. It was well done."

Hon. Hobert Krum followed and in referring to the Judge's legal status said:

"He was not a great lawyer, but he was a good one; and he was a noble county judge. As a lawyer he scarcely ever entered the arena of the bar, or mingled with the fights and strifes of the trial of a cause.

"His modesty and diffidence made him shrink from such an encounter, and therefore he never took such prominence in the profession as his abilities justly entitled him, and although he was known as a safe counselor, as a good pleader, and as a fine office lawyer, yet his legal ability was never fully made manifest until after he was promoted to the bench.

"In that position he exhibited the well read lawyer, one well grounded in legal principles who could carefully discriminate cases, and when his opinion was rendered, it pronounced the law. He was an honest lawyer and an honest judge, because he was an honest man."

John B. Grant, Esq., George L. Danforth, Esq., Hon. William S. Clark, W. P. Thomas, Esq., Almerin Gallup, Esq., and Lyman Sanford Holmes, Esq., followed in feeling and eloquent language, expressive of the appreciation the younger members of the bar held toward the deceased who had welcomed each in turn to the profession, and encouraged them in their first efforts to gain their present prominent and successful positions. Hon. Henry Smith being indisposed, and not in attendance, paid by letter, a high tribute to the deceased, which was read by the clerk when his Honor in conclusion made the following remarks:

"Gentlemen of the bar: - For myself I do not expect by the few suggestions I shall offer, to supplement to the grateful tribute of respect which you have already so well and deservedly rendered to the memory of our respected departed brother and friend. Yet to me it seems most fitting and appropriate that from this bench, once so highly adorned by Judge Sanford, an expression of approval and endorsement should come, commendatory of your action, which I most cheerfully give. I had known Judge Sanford quite intimately, since the fall of 1855, when he was elected to the position I now hold; I then being a candidate for another place, running on the same ticket with him, we were frequently brought together. From that period our relations were of the most friendly character, whether of a personal, professional, political, official or social nature. As members of this bar we had learned to love and respect him for his great virtues, and should strive to imitate them, as we cherish his memory.

"We have always received from him, in his own pleasant, graceful manner, a recognition and greeting so cordial that we felt easy in his presence, while sensibly impressed by his manner and bearing with the fact that he was indeed possessed of all good grace to adorn and grace a gentleman. But he has gone from us forever into that tribunal over which presides the Judge of all, who will not, cannot err.

"Full of years, enjoying the honor and respect of all who knew him, he has finished his work, and entered into eternal rest, and as well said of another, we can say of him: -

"He sank as sinks the morning star,
Which goes not down behind a darkened west
Nor hides obscured amid the tempests of the skies,
But melts away in the bright light of Heaven."

Of him, of his virtues, we can only exclaim as we venerate his memory, Hail and Farewell!"

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