The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia


MOREHOUSE, Eben B., Hon. - Cooperstown

Hon. Eben B. MOREHOUSE was born in Hillsdale, county of 
Columbia, in this State, in the year 1791. The delicacy of his 
constitution while a youth was such as to induce his friends to 
believe he would fall an early victim to an hereditary consumption; 
and for that cause he was, at an early age, taken from a boarding-
school and placed in the office of a medical practitioner, as it was 
thought the exercise incident to the practice of physic would be the 
most sovereign, and, indeed the only means of giving health and 
vigor to his slender constitution.
At the age of sixteen, he therefore entered upon the study of 
medicine, as he said, with the same cheerfulness that he would have 
received from the hands of a nurse or physician a dose of medicine 
he was designed to mix for others; although the practice of medicine, 
as he felt satisfied, would be distasteful to him, yet he was fond of 
the science as a study and pursued it with great diligence and pleasure, 
and received from the State medical society, in February of 1812, a 
diploma to practice as a physician and surgeon in this State. He 
commenced business as such at Caughnawaga, county of Montgomery, 
and while there practiced with marked success, and secured the 
respect and high esteem of the citizens of that locality. Intending, 
however, to change his residence to a larger town, he accepted, in 
1813, an offer to be attached to a regiment of militia marching from 
that county to Sackett's Harbor, for service in the war then pending 
with Great Britain. 
After his term of service expired he continued the practice of his 
profession at Athens, in his native county; but his distaste of the 
practice of medicine so increased upon him that he resolved to 
renounce the mortar and pestle and abandon the profession forever; 
and, accordingly, in September, 1815, he entered as a clerk in the 
law-office of STRANAHAN & JORDAN, in Cooperstown, and 
began to dream of life anew. He came here on the invitation of Mr. 
Jordan, who was also a native of Columbia county, and between 
whom there was an acquaintance of long standing. His student-life 
was devoted to laying board and deep the foundation of those legal 
requirements for which, in after-life, he was so eminent. He was 
admitted to the bar as an attorney of the supreme court in January, 
1818, his license was signed by Chief Justice Thompson, and in 
June following he was commissioned by Governor De Witt Clinton, 
as brigade judge advocate of the second brigade of infantry in this 
In 1821 he was admitted as counselor of the supreme court of 
the State, Ambrose SPENCER then being the presiding judge. In 
the same year he was made solicitor in the court of chancery, and 
his license was signed by Judge Kent; and in 1824 he was admitted 
counselor of that court, and in the same year he was made a master 
in chancery, and afterwards was appointed "injunction-master," an 
office which conferred upon him many of the powers and duties of 
vice-chancellor. He held the office many years, receiving his 
commissions successively from the chancellor, from Governor Troop, 
and in 1833 from Governor William L. Marcy. In 1836 he was 
admitted to practice in the supreme court of the United States.
In 1831 he was one of the four members that represented this 
county in the assembly. He held the office of district attorney in this 
county form 1829 to 1837, and in June, 1847, was elected justice of 
the supreme court of the Sixth judicial district, and died while holding 
that office, in December, 1849.
His literary taste and acquirements, his ready wit and genuine
humor, his genial disposition and courteous manners, made him a conspicuous ornament in the social and literary circle for which Cooperstown was then distinguished; his legal erudition, his manly bearing, his ability and fidelity in all the trusts, public or private, reposed in him, rendered him eminent at the bar; his inflexible love of right, his clear and lucid perception of vexed questions of law, his perspicuous exposition of 
intricate questions that came before him to be decided, distinguished 
him as a judge.
In 1827 he married Eliza, daughter of Dr. Thomas FULLER, of 
Cooperstown. She was a lady thoroughly educated, but her kindness 
of heart, her refinement of manner, her mild and gentle disposition, 
and her unostentatious piety, were the marked traits of her character; 
and whoever have been recipients of their refined hospitality, at 
"Woodside," their beautiful residence, constructed on the mountain-side, 
overlooking the main street of Cooperstown, erected under the 
superintending care and guidance of the taste of Mr. Morehouse, know 
something of the graceful and accomplished manner in which she 
presided over that delightful home.

Excerpt from History of Otsego Co., NY, page 30


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