The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia


STURGES, H., Judge - Cooperstown

Hezekiah STURGES is a native of the county of Otsego, and is 
descended from genuine Yankee stock. He was born on the third 
day of November, 1810. His parents, directly after their marriage 
in 1810, emigrated from Fairfield Co., Conn., and settled in what 
was then regarded as the western wilderness. He passed the greater 
portion of his boyhood on the original homestead, which had been 
cleared and cultivated by his father. He often referred to the "old 
farm" in later years as crowning the summit of the highest range of 
hills separating the Butternuts valley from the Susquehanna, through 
which ran the boundary line of the towns of Butternuts and Unadilla; 
and he related, with great glee, the youthful pride and pleasure with
which he was wont to stand upon his ancestral domain and, facing 
the north, trace the winding course of the Butternuts from its source 
in the distant highlands to its confluence with the Unadilla river; and 
then, turning to the south, survey the rugged intervening country 
spread out before him to the banks of the Susquehanna.
Pursuing the beaten track of boys of his age in the agricultural 
districts, he worked with his father on the farm during the summer 
months, and attended the district school in winter. He gave early 
promise of mental vigor, and evinced so strong a predilection for 
intellectual tastes and books that his father, who was a man of more 
than ordinary discernment and ability, announced his intention of 
affording him, if possible, a more than common-school education; 
and when the boy had reached the age of fifteen years the father 
placed him under the care of an excellent teacher in a select school 
at Butternuts, and remained there until the spring of 1836. He gave 
unremitting attention to his studies during this period, and his
was rapid and satisfactory. The school being discontinued for the 
reason of the failing health of its master, he reluctantly returned to 
the farm for the summer, and the following winter was himself 
master of a district school.
In the spring of 1837, with the approbation of his father, he 
entered Oxford academy, with the avowed intention of preparing to 
enter college. His zeal and progress was such in his preparatory 
course, that in the fall of 1838 he left the academy, with a 
recommendation from its faculty that he was prepared to enter 
the sophomore class of Yale college. Alone, and an entire stranger, 
he presented his certificate from the academy to the then venerable 
president of the college; had a preliminary examination by one of 
the professors, and was thereupon enrolled in the class of 1841 of 
Yale college.
While at times he found the duties of college life severe, yet the 
acquisition of learning he there made, the life-long acquaintances 
and cherished friendships he there formed, render the recollection 
of his days at Yale, and the associations that cluster around them, 
among the most agreeable of the memories of the past.
Having graduated in August, 1841, for the purpose of 
replenishing his resources, for expenditure during his professional 
studies, he accepted the position of tutor of Latin and Greek in 
the Gilbertsville academy, and continued in that occupation till the 
spring of 1843.
He was then entered as a clerk in the law office of Morehouse 
& Lathrop, then a leading firm in the county, and with them and 
with Hon. Charles C. Noble, of Unadilla, pursued the study of 
the law till 1846, when he was admitted to practice as an attorney-
at-law and solicitor in the court of chancery, and afterwards was 
enrolled as an attorney and counselor in the supreme court of the 
United States.
Unfortunately, the same year that he was admitted to the bar 
his father died, and that event seemed to make it necessary that he 
should relinquish his design of commencing the practice of his 
profession in some one of the then rapidly-growing commercial 
towns of the State, and to remain in the circle where the family 
resided. He yielded to that apparent necessity, which has always 
been regarded as the mistake of his life.
He commenced the practice of his profession at Butternuts, and 
remained there till 1862, when he removed to Cooperstown, having 
then formed a co-partnership with Hon E. Countryman, then of 
Cherry Valley, now of the city of Albany, under the firm-name of 
Sturges & Countryman.
This firm had a large business in this and the adjoining counties, 
and continued in full practice for many years until it was dissolved 
by the elevation to judicial office of each of the partners.
In the fall of 1867 he was elected to the office of county judge 
of his native county, and discharged the duties of the office in a 
manner that reflected honor upon him and the position he occupied 
till 1872, when he resumed the practice at the bar.
In 1877 he was nominated by Governor Robinson, and confirmed 
by the senate, to the office of canal appraiser, which position he 
now holds, with Hon. Charles G. Myers and Hon. Vivius W. Smith, 
his associates. In presenting cases to a jury and in his public 
addresses, especially where his feelings have been wrought into the 
occasion and the circumstance, he displays oratorical powers and a 
fervid eloquence which have often in his professional and political 
career won the admiration of those who have had on those occasions 
the pleasure of listening to him.
In his intercourse with his brethren at the bar, and indeed in all 
his social life, he is uniformly genial and courteous; and from him, 
as far as in him lies, indigence or poverty is never turned empty away.
In 1863 he married Elizabeth, daughter of Hon. W. W. SNOW, of 
Oneonta. He has two children, - a son, Weston Snow Sturges; a 
daughter, Elizabeth Sturges; and his domestic life, so far as is known 
or can be observed, is as happy as his social and public life is 

Excerpt from History of Otsego Co., NY, page 264


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