Monday, March 19, 2012

Adolphus Freeman Morrison (1805-1852), Adolphus Dykeman Zabriskie (1854-1947), Adolphus Hawxhurst Searing (1856-1907)

  Today's write-up once again centers on an oddly named Chautauqua County resident who made his name by serving in the New York State Assembly. The man in question is one Adolphus Freeman Morrison, an obscure 19th century resident of Hanover, New York. Unlike Sextus H. Hungerford and Waterman Ellsworth (both profiled a few days ago) very little information could be located on Morrison's life, excepting a few brief mentions in Andrew Young's History of Chautauqua County, published in 1875. A portrait of Morrison is not known to exist at the time of this writing, but the photographs of his gravesite in Forestville, NY (located below) more than make up for it!
  Adolphus F. Morrison was born on November 29, 1805 to Samuel (1771-1827) and Lurena Patterson Morrison (1775-1848), both of whom were residents of Washington County, New York. He received his odd first name in honor of his cousin Adolphus Freeman,  a prominent physician in the Washington County area. Adolphus's father Samuel was originally born in Massachusetts and he and his wife settled in the Chautauqua County area in the early 1820s with their six sons, who are listed as follows: John, Adolphus, Robert, Ransom, Wilson and Orrin.
  Adolphus Morrison is listed (along with his brothers  John and Orrin) as a merchant in the Forestville area, although no mention is given as to what business they were involved in. At some point in the 1820s he married Ms. Ann Dennison, a union that lasted until Adolphus's death in 1852. This marriage also produced one son, Leverett A. Morrison (1832-1871) who is buried in Erie, Pennsylvania.

     This roster shows the members of the 1848 Chautauqua County Board of Supervisors, with Adolphus 
    Morrison's name highlighted in yellow. Future NY Governor/United State Senator Rueben E. Fenton  
   served as chairman of this board.

   Although few sources mention him at great length, Adolphus F. Morrison served in a number of local public posts during his short life, and this is a true testimonial that he was a man held in high esteem by his fellow Chautauquans. In 1839 he was named as Hanover town supervisor and was reelected to this position in 1848. During his years as town supervisor Morrison also held a seat on the Chautauqua County Board of Supervisors, and it is worth noting that this board was chaired by future New York Governor and U.S. Senator Reuben Eaton Fenton (1819-1885).
  Adolphus Morrison achieved his highest level of public service in November 1842 when he was elected to the New York State Assembly. Representing his native town of Hanover, Morrison took his seat at the beginning of the assembly's 66th session on January 3, 1843. During his service (which extended to the end of the session on April 18, 1843) Morrison served alongside fellow Chautauquans Odin Benedict (1805-1874) from the town of Ellery, and Emory Force Warren (1810-1895, from Charlotte) who also won assembly seats in the November 1842 election.
   Little is known of Morrison's life after his legislative service. An 1847 New York Agricultural Society report lists him as being elected as a Vice President of the "Chautauque County Agricultural Society" for the year 1848. Adolphus Freeman Morrison died in Hanover on September 20, 1852 at the young age of 46 and was subsequently buried in the Forestville Pioneer Cemetery.
  Yesterday (March 18) I made a visit to Morrison's gravesite in Forestville to photograph his gravesite. The Forestville Pioneer Cemetery is one of the more interesting cemeteries to visit in Chautauqua County. There are some very early gravestones here (the earliest I found dated from the mid 1810s) and there's also an ancient looking fountain/reflecting pool located near its center. This fountain is covered over by a clapboard shack and looks to be in dire need of restoration. Still very interesting to visit though!

  Adolphus Morrison's stone is quite substantial and also bears the name of his wife Ann, who survived him by 26 years, dying in May 1878 at age 82. She is actually buried under the small marker in the left of the above picture, and its also interesting to note that she was nine years older than her husband!

  There is also a badge shaped insignia towards the top of Morrison's stone. Though it is not very readable in the picture above, the insignia reads "MY FATHER", a dedication from Adolphus's son Leverett.

  Despite being erected over 160 years ago all of the writing and names are legible, though a fair amount of algae and a century and a half of wear have taken their toll. So there you have it! Even more obscure Chautauqua County history you may not have known about....brought to you by the Strangest Names In American Political History!

From the Legislative History and Souvenir of Connecticut, 1901.

  Preston, Connecticut resident Adolphus Dykeman Zabriskie was for many years a prominent citizen of that town, being elected as its representative to the Connecticut General Assembly in 1900. Although a resident of Connecticut for nearly all of his life, Zabriskie's birth occurred in Brooklyn, New York on  October 1, 1854. The son of Thomas Henry and Marie Cleveland Zabriskie, Adolphus received his schooling in New York state and married in 1875 to Sarah Kimball, with whom he would have six children: Charles Cross (born 1877), Luther Kimball (born 1879), Mary Cleveland (born 1883), Maria Louise (born 1887), Alice Mabel (born 1889) and Edward Henry (born 1892). 
    Three years following his marriage Zabriskie relocated to Preston, Connecticut, where he would engage in farming. Elected to the Connecticut Assembly in November 1900, Zabriskie served on the house committee on agriculture during his one term, which concluded in 1903. Little else is known of Zabriskie's life following his time in the legislature. He did however have a long lifespan, dying sometime in 1947 when he would have been either 92 or 93 years old. He was interred at the Preston City Cemetery in Preston, New London County, Connecticut.

From the Notable Men of Central New York, 1903.

    Cayuga County, New York jurist Adolphus Hawxhurst Searing may have lived to just fifty years of age, but during his short life carved a notable career for himself on the Cayuga County bench, serving as Judge of that county from 1901 until his death. Born in Cayuga County town of Scipio on August 27, 1856, Adolphus was the son of Leonard Hawxhurst and Alice Hudson Searing. A student at the Sherwood Academy in Cayuga County, Searing would continue his schooling at Swarthmore College, graduating in the class of 1878. 
   Following his graduation from Swarthmore Searing decided upon a career in law and enrolled at the University of Michigan's Law School at Ann Arbor. A graduate of that school in the class of 1882, Searing returned to New York and settled in Auburn, joining a law firm operated by Horace Howland. Searing married in 1884 to Sarah McKeel (born 1864) and the couple would remain childless through the entirety of their marriage.
   Adolphus Searing practiced law in Auburn until 1889, when he was selected to serve as a special county judge for Cayuga County.  He would serve until 1901, when he won election as Judge of Cayuga County, and remained on the bench until his death at age 50 on March 26, 1907. He was survived by his wife Sarah and was interred at the Aurora Cemetery in Cayuga County.


  1. Adolphus means "noble" & "wolf" from its Germanic origin. Our Adolphus was noble, of good heart, righting wrongs, and serving the greater good of the public. How inspiring the old names were; Worthy, Patience, Experience, and Adolphus. How wonderful to honor the honorable by naming children for their character and contributions. We are honored Adolphus is our ancestor. Could you provide the primary or secondary sources for his parentage and birthplace? Andrew Young's book says "Robert" was Adolphus's father, not Samuel, and nowhere have I found documentation that his mother's maiden name was Patterson, although I have extrapolated as much from my research.

  2. Hello K,

    Adolphus's parents' names Samuel and Lurena were orginally found listed at the below link. The names are again listed as Samuel and "Lorena" (Lurena) Patterson, who was the daughter of William Patterson. Adolphus also had a number of siblings, nine in fact, and three of them lived well into the 1880s and 1890s. Adolphus himself died aged only 47, so a few other of his siblings inherited better longevity genes! Hope this helps!----Andy