The History of Otsego County, New York


D. Hamilton Hurd

Published by Everts & Fariss, Philadelphia


STEWART, Alvin - 

But of all the lawyers at the bar at the time we speak of, Alvan 
STEWART was the most remarkable. He was not noted for his 
ability as an elementary lawyer, but for his wit, drollery, and
Stewart was about six feet three inches in height; loosely made, 
large bones, long arms, with large blue eyes, which he would roll 
about upon the audience in a sort of stare; awkward in his movements 
and careless in his dress. His very appearance would raise a laugh. 
His powers of ridicule were beyond all conception. In an action 
brought by Starkweather in favor of Swain Seward, against a man 
by the name of Moore, Stewart appeared for the defendant. It 
was an aggravated case of slander, and a respectable verdict ought 
to have been rendered by the jury. Stewart had contrived to get the 
fact out that Swain had dug for money in the Blenheim mountains, 
and that he understood palmistry. Swain happened to sit directly in 
front of Stewart while addressing the jury. After making a few 
remarks applicable to the case, Stewart starts Swain off, with a 
crowbar upon his shoulder and a hazel switch in his hand, for the 
Blenheim mountains, to dig for hidden treasure in the bowels of the 
earth. By and by there was a dip of the hazel switch, and Swain 
laid down the switch and went to work with the crowbar. In the 
mean time a storm had arisen, and it thundered and lightened, and 
the stubborn oaks bent beneath the blast, but Swain kept at his work 
with the crowbar, Stewart drawing back his long arms and imitating 
the manner in which Swain was digging into the bowels of the earth. 
By and by Swain hits the chest containing the treasure sought, and 
he cries out "Eureka!" at the top of his voice, which made the whole 
court-room, even the judge on the bench, start; and the instant of 
time Swain struck the chest, the devil, his co-worker, seized hold 
of the ring of the chest, and it went clink, clink, clink, into another 
part of the mountain, and it was gone. Stewart was solemn and 
grave during the whole time, and looked as though he had suddenly 
appeared from the lower region. After breathing a while he proceeds, 
"Gentlemen of the jury, that is Swain, sitting there," pointing to him; 
"he understands palmistry. He can tell by the line in the hand now 
many children your wife will have, how many of them will be boys, 
and how many gals. He can tell you by this line in the hand whether 
the oldest gal will marry a miller or a doctor, a clergyman or a tailor, 
a tall man or a short man, a man with a broad-brimmed hat or a 
narrow-brimmed hat." Every person in the court-house was in a 
perfect roar of laughter, and the result was, a verdict of six cents.

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


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