Biography of Hon. Henry Hogeboom


History of Columbia County, New York

By Captain Franklin Ellis

Published by Everts & Ensign

Philadelphia, PA



Between Pages  112 & 113


    Hon. Henry Hogeboom, late judge of the Supreme Court, was prominently before the public in various legal and judicial capacities from more than thirty years, and came of distinguished ancestry.  His grandfather, Hon. Cornelius Hogeboom, was a descendant of the oldest Knickerbocker stock of the State.  He was for several years high-sheriff of Columbia county, and while an incumbent of that office, and in the discharge of official duties, he was killed in the town of Hinsdale, in the year 1791.  Hon. John C. Hogeboom, the father of the judge, was a gentleman of the purest integrity, and of commanding influence in the county.  He was high-sheriff for two terms, and discharged the duties of that position with an energy, fidelity, and promptitude which won him universal commendation and respect.  He was twice elected member of Assembly from his native county; was once elected State senator; was a member of the old council of appointment; was presidential elector an cast his electoral vote for Hon. George Clinton, with whom he sustained relations of warmest personal friendship.  He was also the first president of the the old Bank of Hudson, whose banking house was the same building occupied by the subject of this biography until the time of his death.

     Hon. Henry Hogeboom was born in Ghent, Columbia county, N. Y., on the 25th of February, 1809.  He pursued his academic studies preparatory to entering college at the old academy in Hudson, and graduated at Yale College, after a full course, at the early age of eighteen years.  Soon after he left college he began the study of law in the office of Messrs. Power and Day, eminent legal practitioners in the village of Catskill, and completed his course of legal reading with Hon. Mr. Bushnell, then a prominent lawyer of Hudson.  He was admitted to practice in 1830, and in 1831 was appointed by his excellency, Enos Throop, then governor of New York, a master in chancery and one of the county judges of Columbia county.  Immediately after this appointment to this position he was chosen by his associates presiding judge of the county, which office he filled with dignity and universal acceptance for three years.

     After the expiration of his judicial term he resumed the active practice of his profession, becoming the law partner of Hon. Abraham Van Buren, in 1836.  He then formed a copartnership with Hon. Joseph D. Monell, which continued until 1845.  While a partner with Mr. Monell, Judge Hogeboom was elected a member of Assembly from Columbia county, and immediately upon the meeting of the Legislature took rank with the ablest, purest, and most influential members of that body.  Soon after the dissolution of the partnership with Mr. Monell, he became a partner with Casper P. Collier, Esq., of Hudson; subsequently with his favorite nephew, Hon. William A. Porter, late chief justice of the superior court of Chicago; and after the election of Mr. Porter to the office of district attorney of Columbia county, Judge Hogeboom became connected in law business with the late William Boies, Esq. his son-in-law, under the firm name of Hogeboom & Boies.  During this period that law firm opened an office in the city of Albany.  This partnership continued until the removal of Mr. Boies to the city of New York, when Judge Hogeboom formed a law partnership with the late P. Bonesteel, which continued until the elevation of the former to the bench of the Supreme Court in 1858.

     Judge Hogeboom had been from his earliest manhood a member of the Democratic party, and by that party was nominated for judge of the Supreme Court in 1847, his opponent being the late Hon. William B. Wright, who received the certificate of election.  In 1849 he was again nominated by the same party and opposed by the same candidate, and although the result was the Judge Wright received the certificate of election, yet a legal investigation proved the existence of frauds in Rensselaer county which more than nullified the one hundred majority claimed and finally conceded to Judge Wright.

     1857, Judge Hogeboom was made the candidate of a popular nomination in favor of an anti-partisan judiciary.  He was indorsed by the Republican organization of the Third Judicial district, and elected by the overwhelming majority of twelve thousand in the district, his own county giving him a majority of two thousand nine hundred, and the town of Austerlitz, in the county, out of a popular vote of two hundred and four, gave him a majority of two hundred and two.

     In 1865 he was again elected by a large majority, and in a district whose party was several thousand against candidates on the same ticket.

     Judge Hogeboom married in early life Miss Jane Eliza Rivington, daughter of Colonel James Rivington, of New York, and granddaughter of John Rivington, Esq., of Revolutionary memory.  She was one of the most charming women, a lady of refinement, culture, grace, and great personal beauty.  The peculiar elegance of her manners; the soft and gentle graces of her character; the sweetness and spotless purity of her Christian life; and the delightful and fascinating amenity of her disposition, made her a favorite in every social circle, the favored object of devoted friendship and respectful admiration, and the pride of her noble husband.  With the departure of his companion, in 1858, went all the joy and light of his life for a time, and in the grave of that loved one he laid away that sacred affection of his heart, free from all other earthly love except that next akin to it which he bore for his and her children.

     From an early period in his professional career Judge Hogeboom excelled as a nisi prius lawyer and advocate, and he soon attained high distinction.  His mind, cultivated and affluently stored with all rich and rare thought from the classic lore of the past, from the "wells of English undefiled," from rhetoric, history, philosophy, and poetry of ancient and modern times, poured forth its glittering and jeweled abundance whenever a fitting occasion offered.  He possessed a voice of mellow cadence and rich compass; his language was rich, ornate, and fluent, yet chaste and appropriate; his fine figure, his dignified bearing, the grace, force, and eloquence of his gesticulation, all made his forensic efforts masterpieces of excellence.

     He was a profound lawyer, most skillful in his analysis and felicitous in his application.  His views on all legal questions were broad, and he seemed equally at home before the court in banc or before a jury.  No one who ever heard him when fully aroused could forget the impressiveness, grace, and power of his efforts.  He awed, captivated, and charmed, all in one.  Perhaps his grandest forensic effort was upon the trial of Mrs. Robertson,---known as the "veiled murderess."  His effort then was masterly, and carried the case to a conviction.

     His latest and perhaps his greatest exhibition of judicial ability was upon the trial of the notorious murderer, Ruloff, at Binghamton, in January, 1871.  Never will his charge to the jury in that case be forgotten by an one who heard it.  "It possessed the grand conciseness of Lord Mansfield, with the same majesty, serenity, and all the implacability of incarnate justice itself, equally devoid of favoritism or fear."

     As judge he was upright and unapproachable, yet suave, courteous, and conciliatory.  No one suspected him of favoritism or partiality; no one accused him of fear of timidity.  Above all, he believed when placed upon the bench the judge should sink the politician, and ignore all the arts of the partisan and the demagogue.  His judicial ability is certified to in every volume of our State reports; is universally recognized wherever he has borne aloft the scales of justice; and was attested at his death-hour by the sad yet unanimous acclaim of the bar and bench of the whole State and city, and by all the litigants who had ever been before him.

     As a man and a friend he was the kindest and truest.  Tender in his domestic relations, and generous and kind towards all, he loved right better than success, and the promotion of justice better than to wear the laurels of glory.  He was loved by every young member of the bar, for he never wantonly injured their feelings, or unnecessarily checked any laudable ambition for advancement.  On the contrary, he unselfishly recognized and encouraged merit and talent wherever found, and gave a helping hand to aspiring youths in the rugged and difficult paths of their profession.

     He departed this life Sept. 12, 1872, in the sixty-third year of his age, ripe in experience and wisdom, and universally mourned as one whose place cannot be easily filled.  His heart was large with all,---embracing beneficence, warm with tenderest love for family and friends, liberal towards all charities, and trustful in simple Christian faith in the goodness and unfailing care of his God.  His funeral obsequies were among the most imposing ever witnessed upon the decease of any citizen, being attended by nearly the whole bench of the State, and a large concourse of distinguished citizens from abroad.

     He left three children, ---John C. Hogeboom, a well-known citizen of this county; Susan R., wife of the late William Boies; and Margaret, wife of Hon. Herman V. Esselstyn, recent surrogate of the county.  John C. Hogeboom has one son, who bears the name of his grandfather.