HON. HENRY J. COGGESHALL
Hon. Henry J. Coggeshall, lawyer, was born April 28, 1845, in Waterville, Oneida county, N. Y., where he has always resided. His ancestors emigrated from England in 1632 with Ann Hutchinson, and settled in Massachusetts. Driven from that colony on account of religious convictions, they went to Rhode Island, where John Coggeshall became provisional governor. Thus it will be seen that the subject of this sketch, the present senator from Oneida county, sprang from stock that was horn to rule, or to sway and influence those with whom he came in contact. Senator Coggeshall's grandfather, when quite a young man, settled in Chenango county, N. Y., where he held several local offices, and served as a soldier in the war of 18l2. He rose to the rank of colonel of the State militia, and in 1840 removed with his family to Waterville. His son, Dr. James S. Coggeshall, the senator's father, was a physician of wide and honorable repute. Henry J. Coggeshall was educated in the Waterville Seminary, but on account of impaired health, through overstudy, was obliged to give up a contemplated collegiate course, and decided, after a suitable rest, to enter upon the study of law. Having pursued his studies for a term of four years, he was admitted to the bar. He commenced the practice of law in 1866, and at once attained a prominent and successful position in the profession.
Mr. Coggeshall was the possessor of a laudable and masterful ambition, and. he likewise cherished a catholic and sympathetic spirit. His natural tendencies and his acquired tastes led him quite easily away from the active practice of the law, and into the broader and more exciting field of politics. He made an early alliance with the Republican party, and such was his zeal and energy and devotion to the principles of his chosen organization that he was called frequently to the occupation of public office. His first public position was that of assistant district attorney. In 1872 he was elected to the Legislature as member of assembly from the Second District of Oneida county, and in 1879 was elected county clerk. He served in that office until January 1, 1883. In November of that year he was elected to the State Senate, and is still a member of that body. During his senatorial service (which has extended over a period of thirteen years) he has been a member of many important committees; he has been chairman of the committees on miscellaneous corporations and of railroads, and a member of the judiciary, insurance, commerce and navigation, canals, public buildings, engrossed bills, general laws, and grievance committees. His work as senator has been characterized by patience and industry, fidelity to every duty, a strict attention to all demands of the public, a careful consideration for the general weal, and an earnest advocacy of legislation beneficial to his own immediate constituents. He is interested in agricultural pursuits, and, be it said to his credit, he has always taken great interest in legislation looking to the benefit of the agricultural classes;. and, at the same time, he has been the champion of wise and consistent legislation in behalf of the laboring classes of the State. His eloquence, tact, and parliamentary skill have always been used to the advantage of the people. He has advocated and caused to become laws the bills to abolish the State paper, to prohibit the adulteration of food, to prefer soldiers in civil service examinations to exempt disabled soldiers from poll tax, to make the 30th of May a legal holiday, to abolish imprisonment of insolvent debtors, to prohibit employment of children under thirteen years of age in manufactories and to regulate the hours of labor therein, to prohibit the use of substitutes for hops in the manufacture of ale and beer, to prohibit the manufacture and sale of oleomargarine, to compel the use of fire escapes in hotels, public buildings, and manufactories, to substitute electricity in the place of hanging in the execution of criminals, and to prevent hazing in colleges. He has at all times been an earnest advocate and champion of the rights of the common people.
Senator Coggeshall possesses great powers of persuasive eloquence, coupled with the fine intuitions and lofty aspirations of the genuine poet. As an orator he is the possessor of a quick perception, a ready tact, a fluent diction, a magnetic presence, a comprehensive judgment. He is not only an eloquent orator, but he is remark ably ready as a debater; quick to observe the salient weaknesses of his adversary, and sure of aim when seeking to pierce the armor of his opponent with the feather tipped shafts of sarcasm, or beating back the force of every assault with the skillful application of the mitrailleuse of repartee. Possessing, as he does, remarkable and brilliant gifts, Senator Coggeshall has long been an effective speaker upon the stump, a place which he has graced honorably and successfully for many years. He has wide repute as a lecturer, and has written several poems of merit, notable among them being the poems entitled, "Papa, be True to Me," and " The Silver Wedding Day." Mr. Coggeshall is not alone an orator and a poet, and likewise a man of great public spirit and enterprise, but he is also so .genial and pleasant and unaffected in his bearing that he commands everywhere the esteem and the admira- tion of the common people. Like all progressive men, and men who believe in the final triumph of the best qualities of humanity, Senator Coggeshall is versatile, widely read, carefully cultured, and able to think and to speak upon a large variety of subjects, especially those subjects which affect most directly and most potently the active, every day interests of mankind.
At his home Mr. Coggeshall has long been favorably known and so highly esteemed as to prove an exception to the old adage that "A prophet is not without honor save An his own country, and among his own kin." Where he is best known he is most highly regarded, In the village of Waterville he has has been identified with every public measure, and has at all times taken an active interest in the promotion of its prosperity and success. He has served as a member of the board of trustees, and has been president of the Fire Department, and a member of the hoard of Education of the village. Mr. Coggeshall is a member of various orders and organizations. He is a prominent Mason and Odd Fellow, a member of the Order of Red Men, of the Patrons of Husbandry, of the Benevolent Order of Protective Elks, and of numerous other societies.
In 1867 Senator Coggeshall married Lillie Alene Terry, of Waterville, N.Y. The result of this union is five children, all bright, active, and strong in body, and scholarly in mental habit. These children have enjoyed not alone the example and the training of their father, but they owe much to the patient and persevering and ever-watchful care of a most admirable and self-denying mother. Senator Coggeshall's oldest son is married and now lives in California.
In concluding this brief and imperfect sketch of a useful life it is proper to state that Senator Coggeshall unites in his character and composition the active energy and the great perseverance of his Puritan ancestors, with the broad and generous and optimistic tendencies of the present times. He is patriotic both in the service of his State and in the frequently voiced sentiments of his heart. In fact it may be truthfully asserted that in Mr. Coggeshall are found those highest and best qualities which characterize a well-rounded, thoroughly ripened, and fully developed American citizen.