Thursday, August 30, 2012

Glenni William Scofield (1817-1891)

Portrait courtesy of the Library of Congress.

    An intriguingly named U.S. Representative from Warren County, Pennsylvania, Glenni William Scofield rose from humble origins in Chautauqua County, New York to become one of the Keystone State's most prominent 19th century public officials. Since beginning this project over a decade ago, Mr. Scofield has been one of my favorite strangely name politicians to point out, not only for his unique first name, but for his ties to my home county of Chautauqua. During a distinguished public career of over forty years Scofield served in both houses of Pennsylvania legislature, was a six term U.S. Representative, Register of the U.S. Treasury and later was named to a judgeship on the U.S. Court of Claims.....truly a man of many achievements! Scofield is honored today on the 121st anniversary of his death as the newest profile added to the site and his extensive article here will conclude with a few photographs I took of his gravesite at Warren's Oakland Cemetery during two trips, one in October 2010 and one in May of this year.  
   Glenni William Scofield's story begins with his birth in the small village of Dewittville in Chautauqua County, New York on March 11, 1817, the fifth of eight children born to Darius (1788-1862) and Sallie (Glenni) Scofield (1788-1860). Glenni received his education in the common schools of his native county and didn't attend school beyond age 14, having left to learn the printing trade. He engaged in printing until age 17 and soon after returned to his studies, eventually enrolling at the Hamilton College at Clinton, New York in 1836. Scofield graduated from Hamilton in 1840 for the next few years was a teacher in Fauquier County, Virginia and later in the McKean County, Pennsylvania area.
   In the early 1840s, he left his teaching career behind and began pursuing a law degree, studying under future U.S. Representative Carlton Brandaga Curtis (1811-1883). Scofield was admitted to the Pennsylvania state bar in 1842 and shortly thereafter relocated to Warren, Pennsylvania, where he would reside and practice law for the rest of his life.
  After opening a law practice in Warren, Scofield married in November 1845 to Laura Margretta Tanner (1823-1909), with whom he had three children, Ellie G. (born 1850) and Archibald Tanner (born 1854) and Mary M. (1859-1887). Laura Tanner Scofield came from pioneer genes in the Warren, Pennsylvania area, being the daughter of Archibald Tanner (1786-1861), a deputy Warren postmaster, county treasurer and newspaper publisher. Tanner is also recorded as helping to bring "the first steamboat on the Allegheny river to Warren".
   Glenni W. Scofield began treading the political waters in 1846, when he was named by then Pennsylvania Governor Francis Rawn Shunk as Warren County District Attorney, a post he'd continue to fill until 1848. In the following year, Scofield was elected to his first term in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives and was reelected to that body the following year. During his house service Scofield was mentioned in the 1887 History of Warren County as "one of its most effective debaters" and as a firm abolitionist, Scofield "never relinquished his early convictions in hostility to slavery."
  In the last part of the 1850s, Scofield continued his rise through the Pennsylvania political ranks, winning election to the state senate in November 1856. Taking office in January 1857, Scofield served in the Senate for three terms, the last of which concluded in 1860. Two years later he won the first of six elections to the U.S. House of Representatives, defeating  Democratic candidate Milton Courtwright by a vote of 9,954 to 9,462

                      Scofield as he looked early in his term in the U.S. House of Representatives. 

   Scofield's twelve years in Congress saw him serve on the Committees on Revisal and Unfinished Business, Indian Affairs, Elections, and later chaired the committee on Naval Affairs. For a good majority of his house tenure, Scofield was aligned with the "radical" faction of the Republican Party, and he is noted as being a prime mover behind reconstruction legislation while in Congress, and was also a strident advocate for racial equality and black voting rights. In numerous speeches on the House floor, Scofield made impassioned pleas on the subject, arguing that Congress should "awaken the hope and ambition of the whole race throughout the country" and that "the ignorant white people have been led to believe that the elevation of the Negro is the equivalent to their debasement. The reverse is true. The more we improve this unfortunate race, the more we improve our own."
  While Mr. Scofield was obviously a man of honor and good character, his sterling reputation took a hit in 1872 when it was discovered that he had involvement with Congressman Oakes Ames of Massachusetts, President of the Crédit Mobilier Company. Four years previously in 1868, Scofield had purchased Cedar Rapids stock bonds from Congressman Ames, who then suggested to Scofield that he purchase some stock in Crédit Mobilier. No contract was ever consummated between the two men, as Scofield later "disinclined to take the stock" and after a settlement was reached, he was recorded as taking "a thousand dollars Union Pacific bond and ten shares of Union Pacific stock." Obviously, this action was a miscalculation in judgment on Scofield's part, one which left a blemish on an otherwise sterling career in the public forum.

                          This article on Scofield's involvement in Credit Mobilier appeared in 1884.

  The Credit Mobilier scandal tarnished a number of political careers (including that of Vice President Schuyler Colfax) but Scofield (who declined to run for another term in the house in 1874) is mentioned as having "no interest in the Crédit Mobilier stock" after the settlement with Ames, and "derived no benefit therefrom."
  Despite the sting of Crédit Mobilier, Scofield's public career continued on the upswing after leaving Congress. After returning to Warren in 1875 he maintained a private law practice until 1878 when he was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes as Register of the U.S. Treasury, serving in this post until May 1881. Soon after leaving the post of registrar Scofield was named by new President James Garfield to a seat on the United States  Court of Claims. Scofield was confirmed and served on this court until July 29, 1891, when health concerns compelled him to resign.

                                  Scofield as he appeared in the 1887 History of Warren County.

   For the last month of his life Scofield is listed by his New York Time obituary as suffering from debilitating health problems, and in the week preceding his death suffered a paralytic stroke that confined him to his bed. He died from "heart trouble" on August 30, 1891, at age 74 at his home in Warren, and his funeral was held the following Tuesday at his home. He was memorialized in the Titusville Herald as a man "full of anecdote and reminisce", and that "his strong sense, his accessibility, his varied experience, his familiar acquaintance with statesmen and business of the departments of Washington made his counsel much sought for, and his influence was often exerted on behalf of his friends and constituents."

                          Scofield's obit as it appeared in the New York Times on August 31, 1891.

                             Another death notice for Scofield that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times.

   On October 10, 2o10 I visited Oakland Cemetery in order to photograph Scofield's gravesite, and after some tedious searching found his impressive monument overlooking a tree-lined hill towards the middle of the cemetery. On April 8th of this year, I returned to Oakland to photograph the grave sites of two other oddly named politicians buried here (Rasselas Brown and Lansing Ditmars Wetmore) and took the following pictures below!

   Buried in this plot are Judge Scofield, his wife, their children and Warren pioneer Archibald Tanner (1786-1861), who was the father of Glenni's wife Laura. In the above picture, Glenni Scofield's headstone is third from left.

  Buried a few yards downhill from the Scofield impressive monument (which as you can see stands well over twenty feet tall) is the resting place of Judge Lansing Ditmars Wetmore (1818-1905) who served as Presiding Judge for Warren County's 37th district from 1874-1881. Congressman Carlton Brandaga Curtis (whom Scofield studied law under) is also buried here, although I wasn't able to find his gravesite!

  On either side of the Scofield monument are the names of the family members buried within the plot. Directly to the right of Glenni's inscription is his wife Laura's. Laura Tanner Scofield survived Glenni by nearly twenty years, dying at age 86 in 1909.

120 + years of wear and harsh weather have eaten away at the inscription, as you can see from the photo above. Algae is also quite prevalent on both the monument and Glenni's headstone, which is shown below.

                                                                   "Glenni W. Scofield"


  1. My Husband is the great grand son of Glenni ... so our 2 daughters are the great great grand daughters of Glenni... Thank you for this post!!!

    1. Thank you for your comments You should feel honored to be related to so prominent a resident of Chautauqua County, NY/Warren County, PA! As I mentioned in the article I'm glad he's at least a few short minutes away from where I reside and he's been one of my personal favorites here on the site due to his close proximity to my area (plus there's that really cool name!!) In case you may be interested, Glenni's parents and brother Darius are buried in the Dewittville Cemetery in Dewittville,NY.

  2. Pretty sure the certificate of his judgeship is the one that hung on the wall in the hallway in my house growing up.

  3. FYI the comment from tedd is the great great great grand son of Glenni... I am only related via marriage and my husband is the great great grandson of Glenni... I want to send you some photos of Glenni's great great grade son that is the splitting image of Glenni... Tedd's father and the brother of my husband... so please e-mail me at with Glenni in the subject and i sill blow your sox off with some photos of Glennni's great great grand son "Larry Scofield" the brother of my husband also great great grand son of Glenni and brother of Larry...

  4. Oh and one more thing .... We named our 2nd daughter Daria and if she had been born a he the name would have been Darius....because of the family heritage... Daria seemed the feminine of Darius...