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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Hon. Irving R. Devendorf

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 66-69 of History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925, edited by Nelson Greene (Chicago: The S. J. Clarke Publishing Company, 1925). It is in the Reference collection of the Schenectady County Public Library at R 974.7 G81h. This online edition includes lists of portraits, maps and illustrations. As noted by Paul Keesler in his article, "The Much Maligned Mr. Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

Contents | Portraits | Illustrations | Maps

Portrait of Hon. Irving R. Devendorf

Portrait: Hon. Irving R. Devendorf

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The Hon. Irving R. Devendorf of Herkimer, justice of the supreme court of New York, was born on a farm in the town of Danube, Herkimer county, New York, on November 2, 1856, the son of Levenus and Margaret (Walrath) Devendorf. His father was born in the town of Fairfield, Herkimer county, June 27, 1823, and died at Baldwinsville, New York, on August 10, 1906, at the venerable age of eighty-three years. His mother was born in the town of Minden, Montgomery county, this state, on January 4, 1826, and died at Baldwinsville, Onondaga county, New York, on the 16th of January, 1914, shortly after the eighty-eighth anniversary of her birth. She was the daughter of Peter and Elizabeth (Duesler) Walrath, who lived in the town of Minden. Peter Walrath was also born there and served in the War of 1812. His father, Henry Walrath, was in the battle of Oriskany in the Revolutionary war and during the colonial period served with the British in the French and Indian war. Elizabeth Duesler was born in the town of St. Johnsville, Montgomery county, and died in Minden, in 1877, at the age of ninety-two. Her father, Marcus Duesler, was also a Revolutionary soldier and served under Colonels Willett, Clyde and Copeman. The first American ancestor of the Devendorf family was John Devendorf, who was born in Switzerland, of a German line, in 1700, and came to this country as a young man, settling in Tryon county, near Fort Plain, where he was married to Elizabeth Keller in 1725. He died on the 23d of February, 1791, and was at that time the father of ten children whose families provided him with forty-seven grandchildren and the same number of great-grandchildren. The branch of the family to which Judge Devendorf belongs is descended through Johannes (in some of the war records called John), one of John's sons, who married Catherine, the daughter of Augustinus Hess, who served in the Revolutionary war and was a member of the Committee of Safety preceding it. Johannes served during the Revolutionary war under Colonels Cox and Clyde and was in the battle of Oriskany. John Devendorf, son of Johannes and Catherine (Hess) Devendorf, married Catherine Klock, by whom he had a son, John, Jr., born at Klocks Fort, Montgomery county, on Christmas day of 1799. Adam Klock, father of Mrs. Catherine (Klock) Devendorf, was also a soldier in the War for Independence. John Devendorf, Jr., married Catherine Pickert, a native of Manheim, Herkimer county, and lived in Little Falls, New York, where he passed away in 1879. Bartholomew Pickert, the grandfather of Mrs. Catherine (Pickert) Devendorf, was a private in Klock's regiment of the New York militia during the Revolutionary war. John Devendorf, Jr., was the father of Levenus Devendorf and grandfather of Irving R. Devendorf.

Judge Devendorf has spent most of his life in Herkimer county. He attended the country district school, then the public schools of Little Falls and was graduated from the Little Falls Academy in the class of 1877. After finishing his course at the academy, the young man took up the study of law under the direction of the Hon. George W. Smith of Herkimer, and continuing his reading under the tutelage of Joshua A. Steele, prepared for his bar examinations. In October, 1880, he was admitted to practice before the New York bar. Since then he has lived in Herkimer, where he practiced law until he was elevated to the bench of the supreme court of New York state in 1906. Early in his career he served two terms as district attorney for Herkimer county, filling that office from 1889 until 1894 with such ability and fidelity to duty that he won the admiration and confidence of all who followed his course in that position. It was only natural that his name should be mentioned favorably for the post of county judge and surrogate of his county the following year, and once his name was fairly before the voters his election was assured. Judge Devendorf presided in this court continuously from 1895 until December 31, 1905, resigning to take up his new duties as justice of the supreme court of the state of New York on the 1st of January, 1906. A republican, he was elected to that high office on his own party ticket in 1905 and was reelected in 1919, receiving the combined nominations of the republican, democratic and prohibition parties. Judge Devendorf's course on the bench has commended him to all good citizens, regardless of party affiliations, and he is highly regarded by his colleagues and the members of the legal profession. It is a matter of regret in this country that more men of Judge Devendorf's caliber are not available for the important public offices within the gift of the nation and the state.

During the World war the Judge was very active in the Liberty Loan drives and a tireless worker in behalf of the American Red Cross. As a member of one of the oldest families in this section of the country, he takes more than an ordinary interest in local and state history, belonging to the Herkimer County and the New York State Historical societies. He is a Mason, his affiliations in that order being with Herkimer Lodge, No. 423, F. & A. M.; Iroquois Chapter, No. 236, R. A. M.; Little Falls Commandery, No. 26, K. T.; Central City Bodies, A. & A. S. R.; and Ziyara Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. of Utica, New York. He is also a member of the local organization of the Benevolent Protective Order of Elks at Little Falls; Fort Dayton Grange, No. 567, of Herkimer; the Down and Out Club of Herkimer; the Fort Schuyler Club and the Republican Club of Utica; the National Republican Club of New York city; and the Black River Valley Club of Watertown, New York. Fishing, hunting and golf rank highest in the Judge's list of favorite sports. For thirty years he has been a trustee of the Universalist church of Herkimer, in which he holds membership.

In Herkimer, on the 11th of October, 1882, Irving R. Devendorf and Miss Margaret Bellinger were united in marriage. Mrs. Devendorf was born in Herkimer, New York, on the 8th of December, 1862, and is the daughter of the late Jacob G. and Mary (Graham) Bellinger of Herkimer, who died here, the father on May 24, 1901, at the age of seventy-four, and the mother in June, 1916, at the age of eighty-two. Two children have been born to Mr. and Mrs. Devendorf, a son and a daughter: The son, Dr. Frederick Christopher Devendorf, who was born July 18, 1883, graduated from the local high school, after which he entered St. Lawrence University at Canton, New York, where in 1905 he received the Bachelor of Arts degree. From 1905 to 1908 he attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York city and transferred from there to the Long Island Hospital College, from which he later received his M. D. degree. He is now ship surgeon aboard the United States ship Leviathan and makes his home in New York city; Marion Devendorf was born August 4, 1895, in Herkimer, and in June, 1917, was united in marriage to George L. Porter of Ilion, New York. She now resides at Herkimer.

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