Friday, July 10, 2015

Dolphus Skinner Lynde (1833-1902)

                                                       Portrait from the Watertown Herald, February 27, 1897.

  Dolphus Skinner Lynde was for many years a political power player in St. Lawrence County, New York, being a four-term assemblyman and three-term state senator from that county. Mr. Lynde has been on my radar since locating his name via a New York Red Book way back in 2003, and for twelve years time no picture of him could be located (despite my best attempts at searching for one!) Earlier yesterday afternoon a newspaper print of him was (to my great surprise) finally located, via a February 27, 1897 edition of the Watertown Herald.
   A life-long New Yorker, Dolphus Skinner Lynde was born in Antwerp, Jefferson County, New York on July 1, 1833, being the eldest of eight children born to Benjamin Franklin and Catherine Cheney Lynde. His education began in the common schools of Jefferson County and as a youth attended the Gouverneur Wesleyan Seminary. Early in his life he would take work as a bookkeeper under Antwerp iron manufacturer James Sterling, and remained in his service for a period of three years. 
  In the early 1850s Lynde left Antwerp and resettled in the town of Hermon, located in St. Lawrence County. Lynde married in Hermon in 1853 to Esther Caul (1837-1936), to whom he was wed for nearly fifty years. The couple would have no children of their own but would adopt a daughterGrace Pauline (1872-1961).  Lynde's residency in Hermon saw him become a founder and stockholder in the Cooper's Falls Iron Works, and would accumulate a small fortune "selling goods, milling, buying and selling cattle and real estate."
   Prior to 1864, Lynde pledged allegiance to the Democratic Party, and in that year changed parties when he cast his ballot for Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. From 1868-1871 he served as Township Supervisor of Hermon and served on the St. Lawrence County Board of Supervisors. In November 1870 he was elected to his first term in the New York State Assembly and would be returned to that office on three further occasions in 1872, 1873 and 1874. Lynde would chair the assembly committee on Internal Affairs during the sessions of 1872, 1873 and 1874 and in 1873 was a member of the committee on Railroads, Engrossed Bills and State Prisons. During his final term assemblyman Lynde introduced the Compulsory Education Act, a piece of legislation passed by the legislature that required:
"All parents and those who have the care of children shall instruct them, or cause them to be instructed, in spelling, reading, writing, English grammar, geography and arithmetic. And every parent, guardian or other person having control and charge of any child between the ages of eight and fourteen years shall cause such child to attend some public or private day school at least fourteen weeks in each year."
   Following a three year absence from the New York political scene, Lynde reemerged as a candidate for the State Senate in 1877, hoping to represent the state's 17th district. That November he would defeat Democratic nominee James McNaughton "by a 5,859 majority." Lynde's first senate term saw him chair the committees on Manufactures and Agriculture and he would win a second term in the senate in November 1879, soundly defeating his Democratic opponent Albert Andrus by a vote of 18,922 to 10,179.

From the Norwood News, Sept. 9, 1879.

   The citizens of Lynde's senatorial district would elect him to a third term in the senate in 1881, and during the 1882-83 term was a member of the finance committee. In the mid 1880s, he and his family removed from Hermon and settled in the neighboring town of Canton. In 1887 he assisted in the founding of the town's First National Bank, serving as its president until January of 1898. A series of "financial reverses" marred Lynde's last years, and just a few days prior to his death had filed for bankruptcy, with his debts being recorded as "over $13,000." Lynde had died on June 30, 1902, just one day before his 69th birthday. His cause of death was attributed to a stroke suffered on the piazza of his Canton home, with death occurring later that evening. He was survived by his adopted daughter Grace and his wife Esther, who died a year short of her hundredth birthday in 1936. The entire Lynde family was later interred at the Evergreen Cemetery in Canton.

Lynde's obituary from the Potsdam Junction Commercial Advertiser, July 1902.

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