Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus Elmer (1793-1883)

  Long before Lucius Q.C. Lamar became a prominent American political figure, there was Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus Elmer, a historian and politician from New Jersey. Born in Bridgeton, New Jersey on February 3, 1793, Elmer lived a long life, dying one month after his 90th birthday on March 11, 1883, in the town in which he was born. He was the son of General Ebenezer Elmer (1751-1843) a prominent New Jersey physician, military figure and member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1801-07. 
   Elmer attended private schools in the Bridgeton area as well as in Borden, Woodbury, and Philadephia. He was later awarded an honorary degree from Princeton in 1824 and married Philadelphia native Catherine Hay (1795-1884) in 1818. The couple's sixty-five years of marriage would produce four daughters, who are listed as follows in order of birth: Hannah (1819-1882), Caroline (1821-1911), Catherine (1825-1914) and Mary (1827-1914).
    A veteran of the War of 1812, Elmer served as a lieutenant of artillery in the New Jersey state militia and would advance to Brigade Major and Inspector. Elmer earned his law degree in 1815 and in 1820 was elected to the New Jersey State Assembly, serving here until 1823. In his last year in the state assembly, Elmer was elected as its Speaker. In 1824 he was named U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey (serving in that capacity from 1824-29) and in the last named year became a trustee for Princeton University, continuing in that role until his resignation thirty-five years later.
   In October 1842 Elmer won election to the U.S. House of Representatives from New Jersey's 1st congressional district, defeating Whig candidate Edmond Wales by a vote of 5,668 to 5, 374. Elmer was defeated for reelection in 1844 by fellow Bridgeton resident James Giles Hampton (1814-1861). After leaving Congress, Elmer returned to practice law and would experience further political success when he was elected as Attorney General of New Jersey, serving in this post from 1850-1852. In his last year as Attorney General Elmer was appointed to a seat on the New Jersey State Supreme Court, serving as an Associate Justice from 1852-1859 and again from 1861-1869. 

           Elmer as he appeared in the History of the counties of Gloucester, Salem and Cumberland.

  In the early 1870s, Elmer retired from public office and after his retirement authored a number of works on local New Jersey history, including the History of the early settlement and progress of Cumberland County, New Jerseyand of the Currency of this and the adjoining colonies, published in 1869. Elmer also authored and revised works on New Jersey state law and statutes during his twilight years, including Elmer's Digest of the Laws of New Jersey and Elmer's Book of Law Forms, the latter being published in 1868. Elmer is also recorded as serving as the President of the Cumberland County Bible Society for many years.
   The History of the Counties of Gloucester, Salem, and Cumberland, New Jersey notes that Elmer suffered the effects of blindness in the last few months of his life, and was confined to his bed during his final days. After his death in 1883 at age 90, Elmer was buried in the Old Broad Street Presbyterian Church Cemetery in Bridgeton. He was survived by three of his daughters as well as his wife Catherine, who died a year after her husband at the age of 89. Ten years following his death, Lucius Q.C. Elmer received the distinction of having a New Jersey borough named in his honor, the borough of Elmer in Salem County, incorporated in January 1893.

This death notice for Elmer appeared in the March 12, 1883 edition of the Kingston, NY Daily Freeman.


  1. The town of Elmer, New Jersey is named in honor of L.Q.C. Elmer because while as a member of Congress he helped the community to get a post office.

  2. I work at the Elmer Post Office....thank you L.Q. C. Elmer!!