Lake County Ohio GenWeb

Reuben Hitchcock

This biography is taken from History of Geauga and Lake counties; Williams Brothers, 1878.

Transcribed and submitted by Becky Falin, 1996.

Reuben Hitchcock, lawyer, born at Burton, Geauga County, Ohio, September 2, A.D. 1806, and now (1878) living at Painesville, Lake County, Ohio, was the son of Peter Hitchcock, hereinbefore noticed, and Nabbie Cook. His parents were married in 1805, and in the folllowing year removed to Burton from Cheshire, Connecticut, where they had both previously lived. He received his preparatory education at the Burton Academy, his preceptor being Rev. David S. Coe; and in the spring of 1823 entered Yale College, having made the journey there from Burton on horseback. In September, 1826, he graduated and returned to his home in Ohio, where, for the next three years, he had charge of the same academy where he had acquired his preparatory education. His spare time was occupied with the study of law in his father's office. In 1831 he was, by the Supreme Court of the State in Geauga County, admitted to practice in several courts of the State, and at once removed to Painesville, where he commenced practice in partnership with Stephen Mathews. This association continued but a short time, and after a few years he formed a copartnership with Eli T. Wilder, now of Minnesota, which continued until the year 1841, when he was appointed by the governor president judge of the court of common pleas for that district. Having most satisfactorily performed the duties of this appointment, he resumed practice in Painesville with Mr. Wilder, and continued it until 1846, when he removed to Cleveland, and formed a partnership with H.V. Willson and Edward Wade, under the firm-name of Hitchcock, Willson & Wade. This firm ranked among the first in the State. In 1850 he was elected from Cuyahoga county to the constitutional convention of the State, and was an influential member of that body. He also there rendered especial service in devising a system for liquidation of the public debt of the State. In 1851 he returned to Painesville to live, still retaining some business interests in Cleveland, and in the same year was elected judge of the court of common pleas of the district of which Lake County was part. This position he filled with acknowledged ability until January, 1855, when he yielded to the solicitation of Governor Tod that he should take an active interest in the management of the Cleveland and Mahoning railroad. Resigning his place on the bench, he became vice-president and general legal adviser of that company, and continued to devote his time and attention closely to its business until the road was substantially completed. Although this road proved a decided success, the company was much embarassed during its construction, and his position was consequently one of much labor and anxiety. When measurably relieved from active service here, he resumed practice in Cleveland with James Mason and E.J. Estep, under the style of Hitchcock, Mason & Estep, his time being divided between the railroad company and that firm until 1865, when he retired from general practice, but retained his connection with the railroad company, as director and general adviser. Soon after his admission to the bar he attained a high standing as a lawyer, and his practice extended throughout northern Ohio, and continued thus extensive until his retirement, as aforesaid. His familiarity with the affairs of the said railroad, and with the railroad management and legislation, led to his appointment, in 1869, as receiver of the Atlantic and Great Western railroad, and again, in 1875, as referee in the affairs of the reorganized company, which became the owner of the road under the sale made by him as such receiver. In his extensive railroad connection, he has secured and still retains the respect and confidence of all parties, by the ability and unswerving integrity he has displayed in the management of the great interests committed to his trust. In addition to the railroad investments, he had been, and still is, a stockholder in several companies in Cleveland, incorporated for the purposes of banking and manufacturing, and was one of the original trustees and one of the early presidents of the Cleveland Society for savings.

He has always taken a strong interest in education; has been one of the trustees of the Western Reserve College for many years; was one of the original founders of the Lake Erie Female Seminary; has been its most liberal contributor, and the president of its board of trustees from its organization. To his labors and pecuniary aid are due, in a large measure, the placing of the institution on the firm foundation it has secured, and the high reputation it has attained. His political affiliation was originally with the Whig party, but at the Buffalo convention of 1848, of which he was a member, he joined the Free-Soil party, and on the organization of the Republican party became an active member of that political organization, and still adheres to it. At the convention which nominated Joshua R. Giddings to Congress for his second term his name was presented for the nomination, under circumstances which assured success, but without consultation with him, and he would not allow its use, but withdrew it. At a subsequent period he was again pressed for the nomination by a large number of friends. He was a member of the peace congress which met in Washington in 1861, and labored to avert the threatened war. When hostilities actually commenced, he threw himself with all the energies of his nature on the side of the Union. Incapacitated by age from actual service in the field, he promoted, in every way in his power, the raising and support of troops; his eldest son, Peter M. Hitchcock, now of Cleveland, enlisting, and having three years' active and honorable service as lieutenant in the field, under General McPherson. His religious connection has been and is with the Presbyterian or Congregational Church, of which he has been for about fifty years an active, consistent member, and in which, for the greater portion of that time, he has held position as a committee-man or elder. In social as well as in public life he has been universally beloved and esteemed, and has been widely known throughout the State as an able lawyer, especially versed in the important and intricate details of railroad law.

He was married in 1834 to Miss Sarah Marshall, of Colebrook, Conn., who still survives. Four children of theirs are now living, to wit, Peter M., residing at Cleveland; Edward M., at Northfield, Minn.; Lizzie M. Morley, married and living at East Saginaw, Mich.,; and Helen T. Morley, married, and living at Cleveland.

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