Friday, August 17, 2012

Cyrillo Southworth Lincoln (1830-1900)

                         Cyrillo S. Lincoln,  from Milliken's "A History of Ontario County", published in 1911.

    Following up on yesterday's article on Jefferson County resident Lotus Ingalls, our profile today centers on the life of one Cyrillo Southworth Lincoln, a prominent figure in the town of Naples in Ontario County, New York. Mr. Lincoln represented his home county in the New York State Assembly for four terms during the 1870s and was for many years viewed as one of Naples' most honored citizens. Two days ago (August 15, 2012), I was lucky enough to be on vacation near Naples and made a point to locate Lincoln's final resting place in the Rose Ridge Cemetery. Lincoln is honored today (on the 112th anniversary of his death) as the newest addition to the site, and some photographs from Rose Ridge Cemetery will conclude his extensive profile here!
   Cyrillo Southworth Lincoln was born on July 18, 1830, in the village of South Bristol, New York, one of seven children born to Lucius (1801-1875) and Amelia Fellows Lincoln (1806-1876). Cyrillo received his education at both the Genesee Wesleyan and the New York Conference Seminaries and in 1858 graduated with honors from the Union College in New York. Shortly after his graduation he began reading law under Frederick L. Durand of Rochester and was admitted to the New York state bar in 1859. Lincoln eventually became a law partner with future U.S. Representative (and Naples native) Emory Bemsley Pottle (1815-1891), and together they maintained a law practice in Naples until its dissolution in 1864.
   In 1859 Lincoln married Charlotteville, New York native Mary Abigail Brown, with whom he had one daughter, whose name has been lost to history. Both Mary and her infant daughter died within a year of her marriage to Lincoln, and in August 1862 he remarried to Laura A. Clarke, and this union produced two children, Mary Clark (born 1864) and Spencer Francis (1868-1944). Spencer Lincoln followed in his father's footsteps and also went on to a distinguished career in the public forum, serving as District Attorney for Yates County, New York from 1906-1912 and again from 1925-1933.

          This portrait of Spencer Francis Lincoln appeared in the Penn Yan Democrat in January 1944.

   Throughout the 1860s Cyrillo S. Lincoln maintained a successful law practice out of his home in Naples, and was also involved in that areas grape industry, maintaining "one of the finest vineyards in that section of the State." His expertise in the field of law won Lincoln many friends throughout Ontario County and his 1900 obituary (published in the Naples Record) gives note that "his good influence was also early felt in all matters of public interest and town improvement. He had fine oratorical gifts, speaking readily and convincingly, and was thus brought into frequent service as an entertainer and educator."
   While Lincoln's career in law continued to win him local acclaim, he didn't pursue political office until the mid-1860s, when he was elected as Naples Justice of the Peace, serving in this capacity until 1871. In November of that year, Lincoln was elected to his first term in the New York State Assembly as a Republican, beginning a legislative tenure that was "most creditable to his constituents and to himself." During his four terms in the assembly Lincoln held a seat on the Committee on the Petitions of Aliens and the sub-Committee on the Whole, and later chaired the Committee on Claims during the 1873 assembly session. 

                                    A New York State Red Book roster bearing Lincoln's name.

     During his four terms in the Assembly, Lincoln was remarked to be "a man of acknowledged ability, sound principals, and flexible integrity" and it was this sterling character assessment that eventually led then New York Governor Samuel Tilden to appoint Lincoln (along with future New York Governor David Bennett Hill) as special prosecuting attorneys during the 1872 impeachment trial of New York State Supreme Court justice George Gardner Barnard.  Lincoln's assembly tenure concluded with the end of the May 1875 session and his Naples Record obituary notes that "few men, if any, on the floor of the House exerted more influence or were more honored."
   After his service in state government, Lincoln returned to his Naples law practice and throughout his later years was an active figure in town affairs. For over thirty years he was a member of the local Presbyterian church and is listed by his obituary as being a Sunday school superintendent and church trustee. Lincoln returned to political service in 1880 when he was named as a delegate from New York to the 1880 Republican National Convention in Chicago that nominated James Garfield for President. In 1889 he was named as a trustee for the Naples Union School, serving in this post until 1895. Lincoln was also a charter member of the Nundawaho Lodge of the International Order of Odd-Fellows and was a past president of the Naples Lyceum.
   In 1898 Lincoln's health began to fail due to a "complication of diseases", and while he continued in the practice of law, health concerns continued to plague him for the last two years of his life. In the weeks preceding his death, he suffered a relapse which confined him to his bed, and he passed away at his home at 1 p.m on August 17, 1900, at age 70.

             This death notice for Cyrillo Lincoln appeared in a Gloversville, New York newspaper.

   The death of Cyrillo S. Lincoln was widely reported in a number of New York newspapers and was front-page news in the August 22, 1900 edition of the Naples Record. His obituary gives mention that his death "removes from us not only a most genial and lovable man, but one of the most useful and honored citizens of the county, and is not only a personal loss to a great multitude but a public calamity." The Naples Record obituary has been posted in its entirety below, and this author must note that it gives a truly in-depth overview of the life of this wonderfully named Naples resident!

   As one can read from the impressive memorial given to Lincoln in the Record, his demise robbed Naples of one of its most highly regarded public servants. His funeral is recorded as taking place at his home on Monday, August 20, 1900, and judging from the number of persons listed as being present at the services, it was obviously well attended by both relatives and friends alike. His remains were then escorted by a funeral procession to the Rose Ridge Cemetery, where he was then interred. Lincoln was survived by his wife Laura, who died at age 87 in 1918 and was interred next to her husband.
   I fast forward now to August 15, 2012, the day my family and I visited Rose Ridge to seek out Lincoln's gravesite. As a funny backstory to the search that followed, it was nearing 8 o'clock and getting dark rapidly by the time I reached the cemetery, so one can certainly say time wasn't on my side! Compounding this was the fact that I was also searching for another oddly named politician buried here, a Mr. Shotwell Powell (1808-1896), a past member of the New York State Assembly from Ontario County. 
   After locating two Lincoln plots in the cemetery (neither of which was the Lincoln I was looking for), I was beginning to get worried! It was practically dark by this time and I shouted to my father (who was helping me in the search) that I was going to the far side of the cemetery near a tree-lined area. After a few more minutes of poking around, I located the man I was looking for! Cyrillo Lincoln's gravesite is tucked away in a far corner of this out of the way cemetery, and behind me in the photo below is a wooded area which descends sharply downhill into an even larger woods!

   In the picture above (which turned out remarkably well, considering that it was taken at 8:30 at night) I stand next to Cyrillo's marker, while he and his wife Laura's headstones are directly behind me. 

   Lincoln's headstone is quite hard to read, as 112 years of wear and exposure to the elements have covered it with spots of algae. Directly to the left of Cyrillo's stone is that of his wife Laura, whose stone is in similar condition. Interred in the two other Lincoln plots I mentioned earlier are the remains of Cyrillo's father and mother and older brothers Linus and Theron. 

   In an intriguing coda to this article, the grave of Shotwell Powell was discovered by my father less than fifty feet away from Cyrillo Lincoln's stone! I find it truly fascinating that we managed to locate both of these oddly named politician's grave sites in so short a span of time, and I'm certain that a fair bit of serendipity was involved in their discovery! It's even more interesting to note that I discovered Lincoln's grave within 36 hours of the 112th anniversary of his death!! August 15, 2012, will forever be remembered by me as the day that I managed to locate several oddly named political grave sites in two separate counties, including the final resting place of Lotus Ingalls, who was profiled yesterday!
  With that being said, I take great pride in knowing that this profile on Cyrillo S. Lincoln marks the first time that an actual "biography" of him is available online, and my hope is that more people will learn of the life and exploits of this oddly named Ontario County resident! 

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