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History of the Mohawk Valley: Gateway to the West 1614-1925
Henry J. Semo

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[This information is from Vol. III, pp. 652-655 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 Greene," some information in this book has been superseded by later research or was provided incorrectly by local sources.]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 Henry J. Semo

Portrait: Henry J. Semo

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Back in 1909 there was among the students of the Free Academy at Rome, Oneida county, New York, one of Italian extraction, but of American birth. The student was Henry J. Semo, now a prosperous young attorney, practicing law in Rome, and especially noted for his activity in organization work for the betterment and improvement of the Italian population of the city, his efforts even leading to his teaching them nights in school. Mr. Semo was the first student of Italian extraction ever graduated from the Rome Free Academy, and there was no other of the nationality until 1921. Henry J. Semo was born in Rome, Oneida county, New York, on May 2, 1890. His parents were John and Jennie (D'Arca) Semo, both natives of Italy, who came to the United States and located in Rome. The father came to this country in June, 1880, and the mother followed with the balance of the fdmily in 1884. the mother died on June 5, 1904, and the father retired from active business in 1915. They were the parents of two sons and five daughters, Henry J. Semo being their youngest child.

Henry J. Semo obtained his elementary education in the public schools of Rome and at the Rome Free Academy, graduating from the latter in 1909. He also took a postgraduate course at the Rome Free Academy and a commercial course at the Utica School of Commerce. Mr. Semo's legal studies were pursued at the Albany Law School, which is part of Union University, from which he graduated with the degree of LL. B. in 1916. After serving a clerkship with the Hon. J. T. Cross of Rome for one year, Mr. Semo was admitted to the bar on July 2, 1917, and then remained with Mr. Cross until entering the United States Navy in 1918 for service in the World war. He enlisted as an apprentice seaman and was discharged on August 6, 1919, as a first-class yeoman. While in the service Mr. Semo acted for one year as United States naval court-martial yeoman at the naval academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Before entering the service he was instrumental in organizing the Italian war committee, which was composed of leading men of societies of Italian extraction. This committee was active in all branches for the benefit of its people, as well as assisting in other causes.

Mr. Semo is an active republican in politics. He is a member of the Forty and Eight of the American Legion, the Kiwanis Club, the Royal Arcanum, the Rome Columbus Club, the Rome Chamber of Commerce, the University Club of Utica, New York, the New York State and the Oneida County Bar Associations, and is a member of the executive council of the Boy Scouts. He is on the state legal committee of the American Legion, and has also been relief officer for two years, taking care of claims and temporary relief for Rome soldiers of the late war. In religion Mr. Semo is a Roman Catholic, a member of St. John the Baptist church, and was formerly secretary of the church. He is a bachelor, with a hobby for fishing, but is too busy a man with his law practice to find much time for indulgence in sport.

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