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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Watson Thomas Dunmore

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 84-87 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]

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Portrait of Watson Thomas Dunmore

Portrait: Watson Thomas Dunmore

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Watson Thomas Dunmore, a distinguished member of the Utica bar, has been connected with the work of the courts both as lawyer and jurist and has also achieved prominence in many other fields of endeavor. His life has been so varied in its activities, so honorable in its purpose, so far-reaching and beneficial in its effects that it has become an integral part of the history of the city and has also left an impress upon the annals of the state. He was born in Rush, Susquehanna county, Pennsylvania, March 28, 1845, a son of Matthew and Sarah (James) Dunmore and a grandson of Larry and Irene (Fairchild) Dunmore. His great-grandfather, Larry Dunmore, Sr., was a native of Ireland and migrated to this country prior to 1790. He settled at Kingsbury (now Johnstown), New York, and proved his loyalty to his adopted country by service in the War of 1812. David James, the great-grandfather in the maternal line, was a soldier in the Revolutionary war, in which he fought for eight years, from 1775 until 1783, and at the end of his service was presented with a certificate by George Washington commending his faithfulness and devotion to duty. The document is filed in the old war department at Washington, D. C.

In the acquirement of an education Watson Thomas Dunmore attended the high school at Montrose, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming Seminary at Kingston, that state. He afterward entered the Wesleyan University at Middletown, Connecticut, from which he received the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1871, and three years later that institution conferred upon him the Master's degree. He was principal of the high school at Bradford, Vermont, from 1871 until 1873, and afterward read law in the office of ex-Governor Roswell Farnham. He was admitted to the Vermont bar in June, 1874, and for a short time thereafter was superintendent of schools at Hornellsville, New York. In 1875 he was graduated from Hamilton College, winning the LL. B. degree, and in the same year began his professional career in Utica, where he has since engaged in the practice of law. He formed a partnership with Smith M. Lindsay, with whom he was associated until 1883, and then became a member of the firm of Searle, Dunmore & Willis. In 1888 the style was changed to that of Dunmore & Sholes; in 1893 to Dunmore, Sholes & Ferris; in 1907 to Dunmore & Ferris; and since 1916 the firm name has been Dunmore, Ferris & Dewey.

Mr. Dunmore has a comprehensive knowledge of the law and displays marked skill in its exposition. One of his most important cases was that of Williams vs. the Delaware, Lackawanna & Western Railroad Company, which after twenty years' litigation was finally decided in favor of his client, and has been cited by the appellate courts more than fifty times. Mr. Dunmore's legal learning led to his selection for judicial honors and from 1886 until 1892 he served as special county judge of Oneida county. In the latter year he was elected to the office of county judge, which he continued to fill until 1904, and the firmness and integrity which characterized his administration of justice won for him high commendation. At the time of his retirement the following resolutions were adopted at a meeting of the bar of Oneida county, held at the courthouse in Utica, December 28, 1904:

"Whereas, the Hon. Watson T. Dunmore, after twelve years of faithful and honorable service as county judge of Oneida county, is about to relinquish the duties of his office and to return again to the practice of his chosen profession: Now, therefore, Be it resolved: That by his retirement from the bench the county of Oneida loses the services of one who has given the best years of his life to hard and conscientious work in the discharge of his duty; who has always held the scales of justice with an even hand; whose rulings have been eminently fair; who has known no friend or foe. Fair and honorable in all things, clear, able, upright and honest, he will go into private life carrying with him the confidence and respect of his fellows and the consciousness of duty well done."

Among the many notable cases over which Judge Dunmore presided may be mentioned those of the Forestport Canal Break and the Vernon Bank Burglary. He has a large clientele and is president and trustee of and attorney for the Homestead Aid Association of Utica, the Highland Park Association and the Utica Homeopathic Hospital. He is connected in an official capacity with many large corporations, being president and a director of the Commercial Warehouse Company; vice president and a director of the Citizens Trust Company of Utica; and a director of the Utica Knitting Company and the Clayville Knitting Company. He is also a director of the Allied Real Estate Interests of the State of New York, of which he was at one time vice president. He was president, treasurer and a member of the executive committee of the New York State League of Building and Loan Associations, and at the world's congress of these associations, held at the World's Fair in Chicago in 1893, he was one of five Americans appointed to prepare and read a paper on the subject of their aims, growth and outlook. By special act of the New York legislature, in 1898, he was made one of the incorporators of the Mount McGregor Memorial Association, which has charge of the General U. S. Grant cottage. In 1915 he was a member of the constitutional convention and he was also a member of the judiciary and civil service committees. In January, 1924, he was elected a director of the Land Bank of the State of New York and in every office to which he has been called Mr. Dunmore has acquitted himself with dignity, fidelity and honor. He never undertakes a task unless he considers it worthy of his best efforts and his public service has been of a most important character.

On July 9, 1878, Mr. Dunmore was married to Miss Minnie E. Goodier, a daughter of Jonathan Goodier of Utica. Six children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dunmore: James Sterling; Watson Thomas, Jr.; Clara Treadway, now the wife of George I. Hovey; Russell G.; Earl W.; and Della. The wife and mother died in 1904. On June 27, 1908, Mr. Dunmore was married to Cora, daughter of Daniel B. Wheeler of Lempster, New Hampshire.

Mr. Dunmore is connected with the Oneida Historical Society and his fraternal relations are with the Knights of Pythias, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and the Masonic order. He is active in social affairs, being a member of the Yahnundasis Golf Club, of which he is an ex-president; a director of the Pine Lake Club, and a member of the Arcanum Club. He is a Presbyterian in religious faith and his political views are indicated by his affiliation with the Utica Republican Club. Mr. Dunmore has done much to uphold the prestige of the Oneida county bar and through his example and efforts has inculcated in men high regard for the law and respect for its observance.

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