Thursday, October 1, 2015

Delcour Stephen Potter (1843-1908)

Portrait from "The Men of New York", Volume II.

   Many oddly named members of the New York state assembly have been posted here over the past four years, and that already impressive list grows ever larger with the addition of Saratoga County resident Delcour Stephen Potter, an attorney and three-term assemblyman from that county. The son of Stephen and Amanda Haskins Potter, Delcour Stephen Potter was born in the small Saratoga County town of Coveville on April 19, 1843.  He removed with his family to the town of Fort Edward while still a child and studied at the Fort Edward Collegiate Institute.
  In 1862 Potter took on the post of Assistant Paymaster n the U.S. Navy, and at the close of the Civil War began the study of law in Glens Falls, New York. After being admitted to the New York bar in 1866 Potter resettled in Schuylerville where he established a law office. Also in 1866 Potter married in Schuylerville to Anna Mary McNaughton (1841-1897), with whom he had two children, Malcolm and Bessie. 
   From the mid-1860s until 1890 Potter resided and practice law in Schuylerville, during which time he earned the reputation as "one of the best known lawyers in Northern New York", and in 1878  took on the case of Jesse Billings, a Ballston Spa resident then charged with the murder of his wife.  Along with fellow attorney Charles Hughes Potter successfully defended Billings, who (after a hung jury during the first trial) was acquitted during a second trial. 
   Delcour Potter first entered state politics in 1879, when he won election to the New York State Assembly. Taking his seat at the start of the 1880 legislative session, Potter served on the committees on General Laws, Affairs of Villages and Public Education. Reelected to a second term in 1880, Potter would win his third term in the assembly in the fall of 1881, defeating Republican nominee Elihu Wing by a vote of 2,870 to 1.705. During the 1882 session, Potter continued service on the Affairs of Villages and Judiciary committees and was also named to the committee on Insurance.
   Following his third term in the legislature Potter returned to practicing law in Schuylerville, and in 1890 moved his practice to Glens Falls in neighboring Warren County. Four years after his removal Potter formed a law partnership with Joseph Kellogg, and in 1893 became affiliated with the campaign of Addison Beecher Colvin, who would be elected as New York State Treasurer. Upon Colvin's entering the office of treasurer Potter was named as Capitol Paymaster, serving in that capacity from 1894-1898. 
   Active in several fraternal groups in addition to public service, Delcour Potter was a member of the Senate lodge of Free and Accepted Masons and Elks Lodge of Glens Falls. A prominent booster for the Saratoga Battle Monument, Potter served as the treasurer of the Saratoga Battle Monument Association and is noted as having deserved " great credit for his exertions to keep intact the different sites of the Battle Grounds."
  Widowed in 1897, Delcour S. Potter died at age 65 his home in Glens Falls on August 4, 1908. He had been ill for "a long duration" and was survived by his two children. His remains were later returned to Schuylerville for burial at the Prospect Hill Cemetery.

Potter's obituary from the Lake George News, 1908.

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