Robert M. Townsend

Contributed by Rene' Treffeisen

Robert M. Townsend, ex-Disctrict Attorney, and a prominent lawyer of Oneonta, a member of 
the firm of Townsend & Huntington since January, 1888, has been a resident of this
place since 1886. He removed to Oneonta from Cooperstown, where he had been in the
practice of the law for six years, and it was while he was a resident of Cooperstown
that he served for theree years as District Attorney. He also served as Supervisor of
the town of Milford for one term. He was admitted to the bar, and began the practice
of his profession at Portlandville, Otsego County, and has since pursued it with increasing success. Mr. Townsend was born in the town of Milford, March 14, 1832. He was reared on his
father's farm, and afterward entered the Cazenovia Seminary of Madison County, NY,
whence he graduated with the class of 1854. He comes of a good family, who have lived
in Otsego County for many years. The ancestors of the subject of this sketch were
members of the family who made the iron chains to span the Hudson River for the purpose
of keeping the British vessels from going up that stream. The father of Mr. Townsend
was Solomon Townsend, Jr. who was born at Rensselaerville, Albany County, NY, and was a
son of Solomon Townsend, Sr., who was born in Westchester County in 1783. His father,
Solomon Townsend, was of English ancestry; and was born on Long Island, but the family
all favored the colonists through the Revolutionary war. Late in the eighteenth
century the family became identified with the iron industry of Albany County, but it
was the fortune of Solomon Townsend, Sr., to be reared on a farm. Afterward he
enlisted from Rensselaerville as a private soldier in the War of 1812, and served
throughout that struggle in defense of his country's rights. He afterward removed to

Otsego County, NY., and there became interested in the management of the cotton
mills, as superintendent of the mechanical department. He was also for some years
superintendent of the spinning department. he was in different mills in the county,
but spent his last years in business at Oakesville, Otsego Coutny, retiring when too
old to work, and going to live with his daughter in Franklin, Delaware County, dying

there at a very advanced age. His wife, who was before her marriage Rhoda Watson,
died in Otsego County, also at an advanced age. She was born in Albany County, NY of
English parentage. Solomon Townsend, Sr., and his wife were Baptists. Solmomon Townsend, Jr., was born in Albany County, NY, in 1805, and grew up in that county.
When the war was over and his father returned, he was put out to live with a farmer in
his native county, and later resided in Schoharie County. About the time he attained
his majority he removed to Otsego Coutny, NY, and secured land in the Crumhorn Mountain
tract, his being the last of the State lands left in that section, and being the scene
of the early Quaker settlements. He began on this place a single man to make a home,
but was soon afterward married in Schoharie Coutny to Miss Charlotte Lester. She was
born in that county, in the town of Broome, of Quaker ancestry, and was the daughter of
James and Elizabeth (Marvin) Lester, natives of Dutchess Coutny, NY, where they were
married. But according to the custom of the Quakers, Mr. Lester, in order to keep out
of the Revolutionary War, went to Schoharie County, and with other members of the same
society established a Quaker settlement, and erected a church. In that county Mr. and
Mrs. Lester became prominent people, and he became a successful farmer of the town of
Broome. He died when about seventy eyars of age. Mr. and Mrs. Lester were the parents
of five children, one son and four daughters, all of whom are dead. Mrs. Townsend
died in 1877, in the town of Milford, strong in the faith of the Friends. Robert M. Townsend is the eldest of his father's family. He was carefully reared and to
the Quaker faith, but for many years has been an Episcopalian, and for some years has
been a warden in his church, both at Portlandville and also at Cooperstown, while
living respectively in these places. He is now a member of the vestry of the Oneonta
Episcopal Church. He is also a member of the Board of Missions of the Diocese of
Albany. He is a Democrat in political faith, and takes considerable interest in local
politics. He has been a delegate to numerous State Conventions, and was a delegate to
the Democratic National Convention in 1884 that nominated Grover cleveland for the
Presidency. Mr. Townsend has been three times the nominee for Assemblyman, but his
party being greatly in the minority in the district he was each time defeated. He is a
member of Otsego Chapter No. 26, r.A. M. Mr. Townsend was married in the town of Milford to Miss Mary Lent, who was born in Otsego
County, NY and was educated at Oneota and at Fort Plain seminary, NY. She has had two
children, both of whom died young, viz: Robert, at the age of two, and Clark L., at the
age of twelve.
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